What are the Different Types of Knitting Needles

When starting to knit, the act of knitting and using knitting needles feels quite new and at this stage you won’t have developed a strong opinion yet on which type of knitting needles you prefer to work with. With all the choices available we understand that it can be overwhelming to figure out which knitting needles to choose from, so we’ve created a helpful guide. Below you’ll find all the information you need to pick the knitting needles you think will work best for you.

The Different Types of Knitting Needles

Knitting Needle Materials

Wooden Knitting Needles

Knitting needles made from wood are smooth and have just the right amount of texture to them so the yarn does not slip off the needles as easily. Allowing you to develop an even knitting speed and forming your stitches in a precise manner. A common type of knitting needle used is bamboo, it has similar qualities to wooden knitting needles but at a lower price point. Making it a great choice for beginners over wooden knitting needles like birch. They are durable and lightweight, a favorite among many knitters.

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Metal Knitting Needles

Knitting needles made of metal are commonly made of aluminum while some are nickel plated or made of steel. These knitting needles provide the smoothest surface for knitters, increasing the speed of stitching, which is why metal knitting needles are more suitable for more advanced knitters who are comfortable with their tension. Metal knitting needles also create that classic ‘click’ sound while knitting!

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Plastic Knitting Needles

Plastic knitting needles are the least expensive option for knitting needles. They’re a great first set of knitting needles for someone who is interested in trying out knitting for the first time. They are also great for beginners as they are the most lightweight and have a smoothness comparable to wooden knitting needles.

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The Different Types of Knitting Needles

Knitting Needle Styles

Straight Knitting Needles

Straight knitting needles are the more traditional style of knitting needles. These knitting needles come as a pair, are straight and come in lengths of 7’ and up. They are still used today however;many knitters reserve these knitting needles for smaller projects where you won’t find much bulk sitting onthe needles as you work. They are great for working on scarves, baby blankets and projects worked up in separate pieces like mitered squares.

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Circular Knitting Needles

Circular knitting needles are made of two short pointed ends connected by varying lengths of cord that is usually made of plastic. For some, these knitting needles are the most comfortable to work with as they provide a more even distribution of your stitches. For this reason, they are an excellent choice for those working on larger projects. They are also ideal for working in the round on larger circumferences. However, circular knitting needles are also great for knitting smaller projects making them a versatile style of knitting needles to own. Circular needles can also be used for projects such as afghan that require more sts than what a straight needle will hold.

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Double-Pointed Knitting Needles

Double-pointed knitting needles are shorter needles with two points at the end. These knitting needles referred as DPN’s and are designed for knitting in the round. This means knitting without a seam, which includes some hats, baby hats, socks and some garment sleeves. Double-pointed knitting needles are also great for making i-cords and can be substituted for a cable needle in a pinch!

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Interchangeable Knitting Needles

This style of knitting needles are circular knitting needles with an interchangeable cord. An interchangeable knitting needle set is great for a dedicated knitter since usually these sets come with knitting needles and cords in plenty of sizes, so you can change the length of the cord on your circular knitting needles depending on what your project calls for.

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Knitting Needles Sizes

Your knitting needle size is dependant on what yarn you are using. The thicker the yarn you’re using the bigger the knitting needles you will need. This is so that you can obtain proper gauge. Gauge is the amount of stitches per inch you knit with a specific yarn. You can easily find out what size knitting needles and gauge you will need to achieve with a specific yarn by looking at the product details on a yarn page or by simply looking on the label of a skein of yarn. The knitting symbols below are what you are looking for:

The Different Types of Knitting Needles

Different ways of Knitting

While there are many different types of knitting needles there are two different styles of knitting; English knitting and continental knitting. For all knitters, the following way to hold your knitting needles is the same whether you knit English or continental.

The Different Types of Knitting Needles
The Different Types of Knitting Needles

You hold one needle in each hand with your fingers lightly curled over the top of the knitting needles and your arms slightly bent.

English Knitting

English Knitting is when you use your working hand to also wrap your yarn around your working needle.

Continental Knitting

Continental Knitting is when you use your other hand to wrap the yarn around your working needle, meaning you do not let go of your work while knitting.