Choosing the Right Knitting Needles for Your Next Project

Welcome to the world of knitting! As you dive into this craft, you’ll quickly learn that your choice of needles can make all the difference in your knitting experience.

In this beginner’s guide, we’ll explore the basic differences between knitting needle types and materials! Whether you’re wondering about the pros and cons of straight versus circular needles or simply want to understand what size needles to use for your project, this guide has got you covered!

All about knitting needles!

Learning the different names of knitting needles and their uses can help improve your knitting experience. Each type of needle is made to assist a knitter in completing a specific project with minimal difficulty.

If you’re ready to widen your knowledge of the world of knitting, keep scrolling!

Different Types of Knitting Needles

Because knitting needles come in so many shapes, sizes, and materials it’s easy for new knitters to feel a little bit lost when it comes to choosing the perfect pair for each project. To help, we’ve come up with a beginner-friendly guide for knitting needles!

Check out this awesome list of the types of needles you’ll encounter on your knitting journey!

Different types of knitting needles!

1. Straight Needles

When you think of ‘knitting needles’, your first thought is probably a pair of straight needles! They’re iconic and the most traditional knitting needle style. Straight needles come in pairs and each needle has a pointed tip with a stopper at the back.

These needles are designed for projects knit flat, back and forth, in rows. You can get straight needles in a bunch of different lengths too! When choosing a pair of needles make sure to get a set that’s slightly longer than your project. Having more stitches than the needles can hold makes it pretty likely that you’ll drop stitches and no one likes that!

What about knitting afghans on straight knitting needles?

Big projects on straight needles can be hard! Having that many stitches on the needles makes it more likely you’ll drop a few as you go and it also puts a lot of strain on your wrists and hands. Instead of sticking with straight knitting needles we recommend switching to circular knitting needles instead!

Straight Knitting Needles
Straight Knitting Needles

Straight Knitting Needle Pros:

  • Traditional Feel: Straight needles are the classic choice for knitting, providing a sense of familiarity and tradition.
  • Ideal for Flat Projects: They are well-suited for knitting flat pieces such as scarves, dishcloths, and blankets.
  • Simple to Use: Straight needles are straightforward and easy to handle, making them great for beginners.
  • Easy to Store: Straight needles can be stored standing in a vase or rolled into a knitting needle holder. They’re so pretty that they can do double duty as craftroom decor!

Straight Knitting Needle Cons:

  • Limited Length: Straight needles are limited in length, which can be restrictive when working on larger projects such as afghans or shawls.
  • Hand Fatigue: Long knitting sessions with straight needles can cause hand fatigue due to the weight of the project being concentrated on one hand.
  • Not Suitable for Circular Knitting: They are not suitable for circular knitting or working in the round, requiring additional techniques or tools for such projects.
  • Limited Mobility: Straight needles can be cumbersome when knitting on the go or in tight spaces like airplanes!
  • Limited Stitch Capacity: Straight needles have a limited number of stitches they can hold, which can be problematic for wider projects or patterns with many stitches per row.

Suggested projects:

  • Scarves
  • Afghan squares
  • Dishcloths

2. DPN or Double Pointed Knitting Needles

DPN or Double Pointed knitting needles can be used to make projects that are worked in a round, small, require a lot of flexibility — or a combination of all three!

These usually come in sets of four to six and have a point at each end of the needle. These needles are typically 3- 8 inches long to fit different diameter proejcts.

DPN or Double Pointed Knitting Needles


  • Ideal for Small Circumferences: DPNs are perfect for knitting small circumferences such as socks, sleeves, mittens, and hats without the need for additional tools or techniques.
  • Seamless Knitting: They allow for knitting in the round seamlessly, resulting in projects without visible seams.
  • Versatility: DPNs can be used for a wide range of projects, making them a versatile addition to any knitter’s toolkit.
  • Easy to Maneuver: DPNs offer precise control, allowing you to knit stitches easily, especially when working with intricate patterns or decreases.
  • Portable: DPNs are compact and easy to carry, making them convenient for knitting on the go.


  • Learning Curve: Beginners may find DPNs challenging to use initially, especially when managing multiple needles simultaneously.
  • Potential Laddering: DPNs can sometimes create “ladders” or gaps between stitches if not used correctly, resulting in an uneven finish.
  • Limited to Small Circumferences: While great for small projects, DPNs may not be suitable for larger circumference projects like sweaters or blankets.
  • Needle Poking: Working with multiple needles can increase the risk of accidentally poking yourself, especially if you’re not accustomed to using DPNs.
  • Dropped stitches: because there are points on each end of the needle with no stopper, stitches can accidentally slide off the needles resulting in dropped stitches!

Suggested projects:

  • Gloves/ Mittens
  • Socks
  • Hats
  • Toys
  • Sweater sleeves
  • Baby projects

3. Circular Knitting Needles

Circular knitting needles

If you’re taking on a large knitting project, then a pair of circular knitting needles is what you need. These are needles connected by a tube or cord in the middle.

Much like the needles in this article, circular needles come in different lengths, thicknesses, and made with a variety of materials. There are two types: Fixed circular knitting needles and Interchangeable circular knitting needles. Let’s talk about them:

Types of Circular Knitting Needles:

Interchangeable Knitting Needles

Interchangeable knitting needles are the Swiss Army knife of knitting! They offer versatility and convenience in one compact set. Interchangeable knitting needles come in sets of multiple needle tips that can be screwed onto different lengths of cables, allowing you to customize the needle size and cable length for each project.

With interchangeable needles, you’ll have the freedom to experiment with different needle sizes and cable lengths, all while enjoying a seamless knitting experience.


  • Versatility: Circular needles can be used for both flat and circular knitting, providing versatility in your projects.
  • Seamless Knitting: With circular needles, you can knit in the round seamlessly, eliminating the need to seam up the sides of your project.
  • Even Distribution of Weight: The weight of your project is distributed across the entire length of the needle, reducing hand fatigue during long knitting sessions.
  • Ideal for Larger Projects: Circular needles can accommodate a large number of stitches, making them perfect for knitting larger projects such as sweaters, shawls, and afghans.
  • Travel-Friendly: They are compact and travel-friendly, making them convenient for knitting on the go or in confined spaces.


  • Learning Curve: Beginners may find circular needles slightly more challenging to use initially compared to straight needles.
  • Joining Techniques: Joining your work in the round can require learning new techniques, such as the magic loop or using double-pointed needles.
  • Potential Cable Twisting: The cable connecting the needles can twist, leading to misaligned stitches if not properly managed.
  • Cost: Circular needles can be more expensive than straight needles because they’re harder to make or come in large sets.
  • Different brands are incompatible: One needle tip from a set doesn’t necessarily work with the cable from another brand! This means you can’t mix-and-match pieces across different sets or brands.

Fixed Circular Knitting Needles

Just like the interchangeable knitting needles, fixed circular knitting needles have a cord connecting two knitting needles in the middle! However, the needles are fixed to the cable which means you can’t mix-and-match tips and cables to change sizes or lengths. This variation of circular needles is also perfect for larger projects and projects knitted in a round.


  • Seamless Knitting: like interchangeable knitting needles, you can knit projects in the round easily.
  • Versatility: They can be used for both flat and circular knitting, offering versatility in project options.
  • No Need for Cable Changes: Unlike interchangeable circular needles, fixed circular needles have a permanent connection between the needles and the cable, eliminating the need for frequent cable changes.
  • Durability: Fixed circular needles are often more durable than interchangeable needles since they have a permanent connection between the needles and the cable, reducing the risk of breakage.


  • Limited Cable Lengths: Fixed circular needles come in specific cable lengths, which may limit the size of projects you can knit in one piece.
  • Storage Space: Due to their fixed cable length, fixed circular needles may require more storage space compared to interchangeable needles, which can be stored compactly.
  • Cost: Depending on the brand and material, fixed circular needles can be more expensive than interchangeable needles.
  • Limited Needle Options: Fixed circular needles come in a predetermined needle size and cable length, which may limit your options compared to interchangeable needles.

Suggested projects:

  • Hats
  • Socks
  • Sweaters
  • Shawls
  • Afghans and blankets

Different Knitting Needle Materials

Naturally, the material used to create the knitting needle itself can also have an effect on your knitting experience. So let’s talk about them!

1. Wooden Knitting Needles

Wooden knitting needles
Wooden Knitting Needles

Wooden knitting needles are beloved by knitters for their warmth, smoothness, and natural feel. Crafted from various types of wood such as bamboo, birch, or maple, these needles offer a gentle grip that’s easy on the hands, making them perfect for extended knitting sessions. Their slightly grippy surface helps prevent stitches from slipping off, making them particularly suitable for beginners or those working with slippery yarns. Plus, the natural properties of wood can help regulate temperature, keeping your hands comfortable while you knit.


  • Smooth
  • Accessible
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight


  • Uncoated bamboo needles might snag yarn
  • Thin needles may curve or bend over time
  • Can come with imperfections unlike manufactured metal and plastic needles

There are two common types of wooden needles: Bamboo and Laminate.

Types of Wood Knitting Needles:

Bamboo knitting needles are common and very popular among knitters of all skill levels. They are known to be strong, sturdy, and quite affordable! Laminated wood knitting needles are sturdier and smoother than bamboo needles.

When to Use Wooden Knitting Needles:

  • When you’re working with slippery yarn
  • You don’t like the clicking sounds that metal needles have

2. Metal

Metal knitting needles

Metal Knitting Needles

Metal needles are perfect for knitters who want a smoother knitting experience. Metal knitting needles are often made out of aluminum, carbon, or nickel and are a lot more durable than their wooden and plastic counterparts. It’s also much easier to make very sharp, fine points in metal which makes metal needles great for complicated stitches like knitted nupps and or cables.

While these do last long, the smoothness of metal can make it challenging for new knitters as loops can very easily slip off! The slick surface is also a great choice for yarns that are “sticky” and need extra help sliding off the needles.


  • Smooth
  • Sturdy
  • Affordable
  • Won’t snag your yarn
  • Satisfying “clicking” sounds


  • Loops can easily slip off
  • Longer/thicker needles can be heavy
  • Some knitters don’t like the clicking sounds
  • Carbon needles tend to be more expensive than the needles on this list


Aluminum knitting needles are solid but lightweight and are some of the most commonly used needles by knitters of all skill levels. They offer a smooth knitting experience, minimal snags, and satisfying ASMR clicking sounds!

Steel knitting needles offer the same gliding knitting experience as aluminum needles, steel needles are fantastic for knitters struggling with creating even stitches. It’s anti-snag quality makes it perfect for intricate patterns!

Carbon fiber knitting needles Are super lightweight, slick, and easy to use. They’re a great choice for knitters with arthritic hands and other hand-related conditions!

When to Use Metal Knitting Needles:

  • You’re an intermediate knitter
  • You have arthritic fingers
  • You want to knit with speed
  • You’re knitting with textured or “grabby” yarn

3. Acrylic

Acrylic Knitting Needles
Acrylic Knitting Needles

Smooth but not too slippery, acrylic/plastic needles are also a good starting point for beginner knitters. These types of needles are very easy to find, affordable, and available in various knitting needle sizes. They also come in a wide variety of colors, designs, and styles — some can even be customized to your preferences! Cool, right?


  • Accessible
  • Affordable
  • Smooth but still has some grip
  • Lightweight — even with jumbo needles


  • Can bend and warp
  • Very bad for the environment
  • Rounded/blunt tips might make it difficult to use on certain projects

When to Use Acrylic Knitting Needles:

  • You’re a beginner knitter
  • When you’re working with slippery yarn
  • You’re knitting a bulky project and need jumbo needles

How to Store Your Knitting Needles

So, how do you store your knitting needles? Are there specific storing conditions that need to be met?

Well, it’s actually much easier than you think. Heck, you might even have a few household items available to you right this moment! Check out these handy storage ideas:

Storage Tip #1: Unused Mug, Jar, or a Pretty Vase

Storage Tip #1: Unused Mug, Jar, or a Pretty Vase

Starting out with our favorite storage go-to’s; mugs, jars, and pretty vases! Basically anything tubular can be the perfect place to store needles and other knitting materials.

This is a good way to keep frequently-used materials within arm’s reach!

Storage Tip #2: Zippered Binders

Zippered binders are another awesome way to keep needles. This is an especially nifty way of storing needles of the same gauge, material, and type.

Zippered binders are amazing in keeping all your needles in one place. If you run out of sleeves, all you have to do is buy a couple of refills and you’ll be all set!

Storage Tip #3: Knitting Needle Organizers

Of course, let’s not forget about the classic needle organizers. These containers are specifically made to store knitting needles and other materials that you may need.

I also love taking these while I’m out and about as they prevent my needles from poking holes through my bag!

Storage Tip #4: Sturdy Clear Storage Containers

Clear storage containers is perfect for knitters who have accumulated enough knitting needles and materials that it’s starting to become a problem (i.e. like me).

You can stack these on top of each other without worrying about accidentally deforming or ruining any of your hoar- I mean, collection…

Storage Tip #5: Dedicated Craft Drawers

Storage Tip #5: Dedicated Craft Drawers

If you’re a hardcore knitter or hobby collector, then you might want to start organizing your materials in dedicated drawers.

I also have a full-sized cabinet filled with only yarns, needles, and crochet hooks. Yes, it works really well. No, it’s not enough!

There’s no such thing as a perfect set of knitting needles!

There’s no need to stress out about finding the perfect pair of knitting needles. The truth is that there is no such thing as the perfect pair!

It’s very likely that you will have your favorites over time. Don’t be afraid to explore each category. I’ve been knitting for half a decade now, but I still cycle through different needles too.

So if your first pair didn’t work out well for you, it’s fine! Just pick out another one. You can always donate unwanted needles to charity or even find someone willing to trade needles with you.

Find more beginner knitter tips and tricks here:

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