It’s common knowledge that knitting requires needles and yarn but knitting needles come in many styles, sizes, and materials and it can be confusing to know which kind to use when. Let this be your guide whether you’re buying your first set of tools or expanding your existing collection.
There are five basic types of knitting needles, with some overlap:
- Straight needles
- Circular needles
- Interchangeable needles
- Double-pointed needles
- Cable needles
The diameter or size of knitting needles determines the gauge of your knitting. But beyond this, they also come in different lengths, which affects how big of a project you can work on the needles. No matter what type of knitting needle you use, the points of the needles can make a big difference. Sharp points make it easier to accurately work with the stitches, especially on fine yarn. Needles with a more rounded point are good for bulky yarn and safer for kids.
Below we’re going to break down the different types of needles so you can get the best tools for your next project. Keep in mind that some yarn feels better on needles made from certain materials. If you find that your stitches are sliding off the needles too easily or that they aren’t sliding along the needles enough, try another set with a different finish.
#1 Straight Needles
Straight knitting needles are your classic knitting needle. Made for flat knitting, these single point knitting needles are your most common type. They come in pairs and are available in lengths of 9” to 14″, so the larger your project, the longer the needle you’ll need.
#2 Circular Needles
Circular knitting needles are any needles that provide the function of knitting in the round. They may have a cord attached between them, they may not. These types of needles are common for dishcloths, socks, mittens, sleeves, headbands, and children’s hats & garments.
#3 Interchangeable Needles
Interchangeable Knitting Needles are much like the Circular Knitting Needles, in that they are made up of a pair of needle tips joined in the middle by a flexible cord. Depending on what your project is, they’re often considered to be better. You can take these needles apart and assemble again as you wish to build the knitting needle you need for the moment.
#5 Double-Pointed Needles
Double pointed needles are used to knit things in the round that are too small for circular needles. For example, when you knit a hat on a circular needle, toward the top of the hat the stitches become so few that they no longer reach around the circular needle. They’re also perfect for gloves when you’re creating the fingers.
#5 Cable Needles
When you see those twisty braided designs you’re most likely seeing the handiwork from Cable Needles. Cable needles are very short knitting needles with an oddly-shaped, double-pointed needle. They can come in various sizes and shapes, sometimes with a rounded hook on one end. These needles are primarily used for knitted cables, where they help in holding the stitches in place. When working with cable patterns, these needles allow you to slip the stitches onto the work pattern and also keep them in the correct shape.