aluminum vs bamboo

What is your preference.  When i first started, I bought  all aluminum needles from 1 to 10.  It is what walmart carried. I hear that the bamboo is the prefered needle of choice.  What is better about the bamboo over the aluminum?


Hey Bear.  Being relatively new, take my opinion with a grain, but I prefer the slicker aluminum/nickel needles for most yarns and bamboo for more slippery yarns that have a  tendency to slide off other needles.  I find that most yarns tend to catch slightly on bamboo.  Bamboo was helpful when I was learning to use DPNs as they didn't fall out of the work so easily.  Hope this helps.



Bill's picture

I love the warmth of bamboo...not fond of metal ever...
(but I've tried the turbo's...and like them for speed...)
and love bone DP's from Lacis in Berkeley...

I also use a lot of faux tortoise shell from Austrailia...


kiwiknitter's picture

After I learned to knit (on bamboo needles) I quickly switched to all Addi Turbo circulars and can't go back - and probably wouldn't even if I could.  I agree that wood is somehow easier on my poor left hand but if I watch how I grasp the left-hand needle, I can avoid most of the discomfort I find with the metal needles.  The thing that I don't like about bamboo is the surface tension with most wools which slows down the knitting.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

I have never got on with bamboo.  They seem to grip the wool so it doesn't flow along the needle smoothly.  I have some bamboo sock/glove needles and it's like knitting with cocktail sticks! I don't like aluminium very much either.

I actually prefer steel needles.  Very difficult to get hold of these days so I hunt out vintage/antique ones.  They are a little heavy but knit beautifully.  Steel double-pointed needles are great for socks and collars and I've got a few circular needles as well.  These never kink and remain a perfect circle so are very comfortable to knit with suprisingly.  So it's steel every time.

Have you tried an old umbrella rib for steele needles? Used to be a common practice in England and Scotland. Or so the older knitters say.

Have fun, Randal 

Yes I have!  Trashed a damned good umbrella to get them as well.  They turned out fine but I couldn't grind the tips to a satisfactory point;  too blunt.  In Greece they turn them into hooked needles like long crochet hooks and apparently they knit extremely well if using a continental style of knitting.  I've just bought a set (8) of Guernsey knitting needles.  They are about 40cms long and 2mm gauge.  I'll get a photograph done at the weekend and post it on site.  These are the type of needles that people substituted umbrella ribs for. They used to call them 'wires' and this is exactly what they look like.  They would be unusable without using a knitting belt which I also have somewhere but can't find at the moment... watch this space...

JPaul's picture

***UPDATE*** Quick review of my Lantern Moon DPN's, now that I've had an opportunity to use them.  They are, of course, slower than metal needles, but much faster than I expected from any wooden needles.  I didn't feel like I was fighting to get the stitches to move along the needle.  I love using them, although wood is still not my preference.  They're just so nice and the points are nice and...well, pointy.  Will I buy more?  I'd love to, but that on:

The bad news...I already broke one!  I was knitting with it (as opposed to sitting on it) and I snapped it in half doing a K2Tog.  I saw it coming...these are size 1 and I noted how much they flexed while I was using them, so I could have been more cautious, but they ARE knitting needles and I was knitting...not pole vaulting.  One of the needles also came with a cracked tip.  It's barely visible, a hairline, but it catches on the wool when I insert the needle into a stitch and pulls strands of wool out of the yarn.  Sadly, it wasn't the cracked needle that broke, so now I need to replace two.

Someone mentioned that Brittany offers a replacement warranty, so I'm hopeful that either Lantern Moon or the fine folks at Seaport Yarn will stand behind the product.  I've sent an e-mail to Lantern Moon and will post an update when I hear back.  If Lantern Moon won't offer a replacement (at least for the cracked tip), then I probably won't buy any more.  These aren't cheap needles.  Seaport Yarn, by the way, was a fabulous company to do business with.  They had a booth at Stitches West and they weren't taking credit cards.  When they realized I didn't have cash to buy the needles, they bagged them up for me anyway and sent me on my way with the needles and their address so I could mail a check!  I love service like that!  If they come back to Stitches West, they'll have at least one customer, but it may be for something other than Lantern Moon needles.  ***end of Update***

I don't use wooden needles, as a rule, but I did recently purchase some beautiful ebony double-pointed needles from Lantern Moon.  Quite a purchase for someone who doesn't like wooden needles, but they seem to be very smooth and are nicely polished.  I haven't used them, yet, but I'm itching to cast on a pair of socks just so I can hold them and knit with them...

There's a lot of variety out there in needles.  Not just bamboo or aluminum.  Brittany makes needles from birch (they used to make beautiful walnut needles that now go for way too much money on eBay).  There are lots of options.   You may even prefer wooden needles for one fiber or yarn, but not another.  We can tell you what we like, but you really need to see what YOU like.  Try them out.

For me it depends on the yarn I'm using. Some yarns work better on bamboo others on metal. I do like tha Addi Turbos too for some projects. 

Knit away, knit away

"They say best men are moulded out of faults; and, for the most, become much more the better for being a little bad." William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Aaronknits's picture

I prefer the bamboo.  They're lighter, and warmer in my hands, and I like the fact that they hold the stitches and don't fall off as easily as on some metal ones.  I'm still a new knitter, and still a very slow one at times.  I like that my stitches don't fly off the needles easily but I'm sure that as the skill develops, I would be okay with using another material.

drmel94's picture

I use both wood and metal. I love, love, love my Addi Turbo circs. I don't know if it's the nickel plating or because they're hollow and don't conduct away as much heat, but I don't find them to be too cold in my hands. I have some Clover bamboo needles that I use a little, but I've found the Brittanys to be much nicer to work with overall with a smoother finish. When working with slick yarns (alpaca, silk, etc.), in particular, the wood needles are nice, as the stitches are less likely to slip off the needle. To avoid problems with yarn gripping the wood needles too much, I will sometimes go to a smaller needle so I can knit more loosely and maintain gauge. I stick to circs and dpn's now because of tendonitis issues.

"Hatred does not end by hatred; hatred ends by love. This is the eternal law." - Buddha

Try lightly oiling your wood (or bamboo) needles once in a while. Not enough oil to show up on the yarn, just a drop of lanolin rubbed into the surface. Helps the yarn to move easily over the needle and increases the life of the needles.

Have fun, Randal 

What a great discussion! Verges on discussing religion, as I find most knitters can get quite passionate if their particular needles are disparaged. My favorites are the AddiTurbos for sweaters, DPN's (wood, aluminium, bamboo, or plastic depending on the yarn) for socks. But a lot of knitters prefer other needles, as the posts to this topic clearly show.

Bryson Company makes a line of plastic circulars that are inexpensive and marked as "good for arthritic hands". Tried them and they do OK but I still prefer my Addi's. Unless my hands are acting up and I need some relief from the stiffness.

Bear, you may want to try something other than the WalMart aluminiums. Most of the WalMarts carry either Boye or Susan Bates. Both do good work. The main drawback is the catching when you slide loops of yarn over the joint between cable and needle, making it difficult to knit fast. Not a great problem to many knitters but ... I tell most of my students that, until they are sure they like a particular type of needle, only buy one or two in that style. Otherwise, you can spend an inordinate amount of money on needles.

Have fun,


Bear's picture

Thanks for all the great info.  From what ive read so far, I think I will get a set of addi turbo circ. and try them.  I thought they were only for socks, gloves and hats.  go figure.   Thanks everyone.


Kilted Knitter's picture

I love the Bamboo needles. The metal needles are cold and I just love the way the wooden ones feel in my hands. I would like to try a pair of Brittneys, have a friend that collects these and she said that Brittneys are the best.

vt_shua's picture

Hey Bear - Addi Turbos are swell - that's true. And also very expensive. A set in a range of sizes could set you back some dough. I'd suggest discovering which sizes you use frequently - and perhaps splurge on those particular sizes. I own only one Addi Turbo - a 16 inch size 10.5 - something I use almost exclusively for hats (I made a LOT of hats one Christmas - and this did increase my knitting productivity, useful for a large family...) I do love Addis - they are pretty uniue in the needle world and it's true that stitches move quickly on and off them. But in many cases, regular old aluminum or plastic (like Inox) may suit you just fine, and at a fraction of the cost. Have fun!

JPaul's picture

Good call on the Inox needles!!!  That's probably what I have more of than anything else, and it's because I can't really complain about them.  Inox makes great needles for not a lot of money.  They make the Express, which is nickel plated aluminum and a good alternative to Addi Turbos.  And they also make aluminum needles that are coated with grey teflon to make them smoother/faster.  Nice needles at a reasonable price.

mikej's picture

I prefer bamboo over the metal ones.  I just like the feel of them.  I purched one of those needle master sets and wont use it.  What a waste of money that was.  I just about always knit in the round and when Im working on socks with metal needles, the needles fall out at the wrong time.  Never have that problem with the bamboo