I am just beginning knitting and I am looking for some advice on what type needles to get. There are so many types metal wood glass plastic should I pay more than a few dollars for needles, the ones I have now are like $5. Then they come in different lenghts should I have some of both, like the kind that are attached to each other, some 8" some 14", I am guessing it depends on how big the project is you are working on.


AKQGuy's picture

Well, you are correct, it depends on the size project you are working with. I find that my needle may change with the type of yarn you are working with. I prefer a slicker yarn to be on a less slick needle. See the logic? I simply lose less stitches. As for that, when I am teaching beginning knitting, I usually put my students on a wood needle. Wood tends to have more texture to it's finish and hold onto stitches a little nicer. On that note though, I typically also have them start with a nice wool that has some bounce and stretch to it. One, it's easier to work with, two, it makes a more even and appealing end product even for a newbie because of that elasticity. A lot of people buy beginners a cheap acrylic yarn. I find it to not be a nice bouncy yarn to learn with, and all that learning about tension shows very obviously in the end.

I have had several students show up with needles they either had already bought, or were given, or even inherited that were metal. Almost all of them were purchasing wood by the end of the night after I had loaned them a set.

Now, with all that said, you're going to find that you have a preference, and believe it or not, that preference is going to change. I myself liked wood for a long time, then switched to bamboo which has a little less grip, but still a natural feel even though they are more rigid. I still use bamboo whenever I use double points or straights, but recently, I have found for circular needles, I have gone to metal's. Why, I can't tell you other than I think they're is less risk on a circular needle from losing stitches when it's in the project bag. They are faster, but I never cared for cool metal needles before and suddenly I've been buying them regularly as needed. So be prepared as you get along in skill, that your needle of choice will alter.

I do suggest if able, when buying a circular, pick up a set. It's much cheaper. I in fact am looking at buying a knit picks metal set though I already have a KA bamboo set. Make sure any said set, has a nice smooth transfer from the circular portion to the actual needle portion so as not to snag your yarn.

Remember... it's what works for your hands. As you knit you will find some yarns, some knitting styles, and some needles feel better to you. So work with what feels best, and most importantly, ENJOY! Welcome to the world of Knitting Martin


Bill's picture

Martin, Welcome to our family! the beginning...try everything. Your preferences will change as you get experience. I recommend wood or bamboo to start....metal can be too slippery...and consider a circular needle rather than two's more comfortable. And as Quinton suggested...please use wool rather than's so much nicer to knit with.

Buck Strong's picture

Ditto to what has been said. I'm all about the circulars. They make knitting life a breeze.
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace.
~Milan Kundera

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace.
~Milan Kundera

TheKnittingMill's picture

Hi Martin! First, I want to say WELCOME to MWK. Second, I want to echo the wonderful advice that Geoff, Bill and Quinton have offered. I absolutely think that bamboo/wood needles are the way to go for a beginner. I also agree circular needles are so much more comfortable to knit with than straight needles and a bit less awkward. I recently wrote a post on my blog about knitting on a budget, but it also includes some information you may find very useful as a newbie. Good luck and have FUN!

The Knitting Mill

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Welcome to our world...of knitting, anyway. Great advice from everyone. I use a mixture of materials for my needles. Wood, metal, bamboo, plastic. It just happens that I use what feels comfortable with the yarn. My suggestion is that you use the best that you can afford, both with needles and yarns. If it means that you use acrylic yarns and metal needles...then that is how it is. As time goes by, you'll be able to get better materials and tools. Still, check out garage/estate sales and the various reuse/thrift shops for needles and yarns. Sometimes you can find great buys at very reasonable prices. Good luck and good knitting. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

CLABBERS's picture

Welcome to MWK!
I'm also new to knitting as of September, 2010. I started with bamboo and cheapo aluminum needles by Susan Bates (not my favorites since buying the Knit Picks nickle-plated needles). I also tried out some plastic ones that. I bought what was available at Michaels Craft Store. Your profile says you are in Dacul, GA...which I think is really Dacula, GA...just guessing. I found three Michaels Stores not far from you. It's nice to go and touch the yarn and examine the needles in person.

Since I started knitting washcloths, cotton was my choice of yarn and the 10" straight needles worked great for that. I made a lot of washcloths! They may nice Christmas gifts, despite their peculiar shape and stitch tension issues. I emphasized that they were "handmade" which, of course, increased their intrinsic value! I have good friends who have great senses of humor. Then I moved on to scarves and hats, for which I used a combination of straight, circular, and bamboo double-pointed needles (DPN).

I like the bamboo because it holds the yarn better and allows newbies to get the hang of things without dropping too many stitches. As was already mentioned by others, the quality of yarn and the makeup of the yarn tends to make it behave differently on different styles of needles. One thing that I did was knit a scarf with different needles of the same size, as well as different materials. It was a very strange looking thing, but once I had exhausted all that I wanted to try, I could lay it out and examine how the different yarns and needles affected the outcome of the knitting. I was amazed at how much tighter the bamboo stitching was as opposed to the nickle-plated needles. I also think that some of that stitch tightness was the result of my developing my stitch tension. I think I tended to hold on to things too tightly and pull things too tightly when I was first beginning.

After 6 months of knitting daily, I have a pretty good collection of all sorts of knitting needles, as well as a healthy collection of scrap yarn, and yarn to yet be used. When I see yarn that is attractive I buy a few skeins for small projects here and there. Of course, there isn't enough time in the day to knit as much as I want, but it's nice to see it sitting on a shelf waiting. I think I would faint to find out how much I have spent on needles alone. Thankfully, I was given a set of the nickle-plated, interchangeable, circular needles by Knit Picks. Now they are my choice for almost everything.

Again, welcome to MWK. I have found this to be an amazing resource. They guys here are among the nicest and most genuine I have found in any forum on the Internet. Just ask a question and you'll get all sorts of suggestions. The knowledge base is amazing and these guys are so willing to help, even take extra time to email you directly sometimes to explain things step-by-step. With webcams there is even the possibility of getting visual help, depending on your technology experience.

Be well, and happy knitting!


Kerry's picture

Martin welcome to MWK, I can't add anything to the good advice already given.