Every skill comes with it’s own set of tools and know-how. This post is especially for the newbee who is overwhelmed with the options of needles in the craft store or online. Other knitters might read on just to see if they learn something new, or you might have some valuable knowledge to lend us in the comments!
I am not endorsing any particular brand or place to shop for them. See the Disclosures page.
What I have experienced, is that learning to knit on long bulky needles is not a good idea. And really, they have no place in most knitters toolbags.
Large needles are awkward and makes a person feel very clumsy in the new motor skills they are trying to acquire. Learning to knit can have that same awkward feeling you had when you were first learning to write the letter “a”. Long knitting needles are good for the experienced knitter who is planning on making a large blanket, and doesn’t have kids who will pick up the knitting-causing the stitches to fall off. This very experience had me give up all yarn crafts several times in my young mommy-hood.
I am recommending that you start with either double-pointed needles, or Circular needles.
Double-pointed needles (DPNs) are shorter in length, and come in packs of 5 or 6. These are a very valuable set to have. You can use just two to knit a small flat piece of work, such as a dishcloth or they are used to knit in the round to make the simplest hat or the most complex socks. My first experience with DPNs was when I learned to knit newborn hats-I still prefer this type of needle for those projects.
Circular needles (circs) are two needles connected by a flexible cable. Some have been designed with a long cable to knit in the round on larger projects such as a sweater, others have shorter sized cables for hats and socks . Recently I have discovered that these are the best all-in-one type of needle to have in your toolbox. You can use these to knit straight flat projects with these but larger projects than the DPNs, such as a blanket. The longer cabled circs work great for knitting in the round on smaller projects when you use the magic loop method. Learning Magic loop, literally changed my knitting life. More on that in future post. You will want to have a good set with a nice flexible cable and smooth join at the needle. The stiff ones just won’t work. The other plus side to Circular needles is that you can safely slide your work to the center- far, far away from the tips. This way when you throw down your knitting to get a goat out of the house and the toddler decides to help with the project, you are less likely to loose your stitches.
Here are a few tips on searching out the right kind of circular needle at your local craft store:
Most packages have a pocket type closure, so don’t be afraid to open it up and check it out. I really recommend doing this with a circular needle that has a cable you are unsure of. Bend it around and back and forth, it should flex easily. (just be sure to put it back neatly, we want knitters to be known as respectful shoppers.)
This is the most flexible from a local craft store that I have found:
If you have really committed to using circular needles, I recommend investing in a set of inter-changeables. You will never need to buy any other needles. One of these sets can do everything, as long as you choose a set that has the sizes you think you will need.
There are many other brands including ones from Addi, and Knitpicks. It was hard for me to choose, but like mentioned above, the reason for my choices was based on the sizes I needed and I found the ChiaoGoo to have the largest range. My hubs went all-out and bought me the full set for Christmas, even though I only requested the smaller half set!
Picking out your DPNs:
In this category I have found that I prefer anything BUT the aluminum type. This means I usually go for wood.These sets from Clover are usually what I use. I do find that the tiny ones have fragile tips and they have broken in use before. The reason my first choice isn’t aluminum is because they are too slippery. With DPNS you run the risk of you work falling off the ends more than other needle types. So the wood has a surface that grips the yarn a little better for staying in place.
My last trip to the store these caught my eye:
I couldn’t resist the beautiful wood grains and a size 4 (or was it 5?) ended up in my cart.
Don’t forget to check the craft area of your favorite Thrift shop! I have often found a bargain there.
Happy needle shopping!
Don’t forget to look at the Free Patterns available!