Welcome to our interchangeable circular needles buyer’s guide! Whether you’re looking for your first set or hoping to upgrade to a higher-end option, we can help you decide which are the best interchangeable knitting needles for you.
So what are interchangeable knitting needles? If you’ve tried knitting in the round you may be familiar with circular needles (sometimes known as ‘fixed’ circulars), which consist of two knitting needle tips joined by a cable. With interchangeable knitting needles, these needle tips are removable, so you can mix and match different tips and cables to create a whole range of needle sizes.
Like circular needles, interchangeable knitting needles can be used either for knitting in the round or for knitting flat. They’re great for big, heavy projects such as blankets, because the weight will be carried on the cable, rather than on the needle, which can put extra pressure on your wrists. They’re also useful if you want to use the Magic Loop method for knitting small diameters, such as for socks. And if you need to switch to a different needle size mid-project, all you have to do is swap out the needle tips, and carry on knitting!
There are a few things you need to consider when buying a set of interchangeable knitting needles:
1. What are the needle tips like?
Before buying your needles, think about what you like to knit, and what kind of needles might suit those projects. Are you a speedy sweater knitter who loves slick metal needles? Or do you prefer grippy wood for a bit more control of those stitches? How about shorter tips for socks and hats? Or would longer ones be easier on your wrists? Consider the sharpness and tapering of the tips too. Would you like super-sharp, lace-friendly tips, or something a bit blunter and less likely to split your yarn?
If the answer to any (or all) of these questions is “it depends…”, that’s ok! Interchangeable knitting needles are all about mixing and matching, so look for a brand such as KnitPro that offers a wide variety of compatible ranges, and you can create your own perfect collection.
Check too whether the needle sizes are printed or lasered onto the needle, as sizes can often rub off, leaving your needle unidentifiable without a gauge. And look out for the tiny holes that enable you to thread a knitting lifeline through your needle so you can rip back easily, should you need to.
2. What are the joins like?
For interchangeable fans, this is a biggie! There’s nothing more frustrating than needle tips that frequently unscrew themselves, or have noticeable joins with the cable that snag the yarn. Many interchangeable needles use a screw fitting to attach the tips to the cables, which may require an extra tool for tightening, while others (notably Addi) attach with a simple push and click action.
Generally speaking, higher-end needles tend to have smoother joins, but personal preference also comes into it, and your knitting style too. One knitter may find a particular brand often unscrews or snags as they knit, while another can have no problems with the same needles. We recommend reading plenty of reviews to see how your planned purchase performs, and if you have a knitting friend who already owns a set, asking if you can give them a test knit.
3. What are the cables like?
It’s easy to overlook the cables when buying an interchangeable knitting needle set, but they’re a crucial part of the knitting experience and can vary a lot between brands. Some will be more flexible than others, some will twist and kink more, and some may be all-round unruly! You can tame your cables by soaking them in hot water for 30 minutes or so before use, but a simpler solution is a memory-free cable that’s easier to control as you knit. A cable with a swivel function that enables it to rotate freely at the join is also a bonus.
Make sure you find out whether the cables can be joined to each other via a connector. This can be very useful when you find yourself running out of cable space in the middle of a project (especially if you’re already using your longest cable!), or if you have multiple projects on the go and need to recreate a particular cable length.
4. Are spares available?
Accidents happen and needles get lost or broken, so it’s worth checking whether there are spares available for your chosen set. You may also find there are needle sizes at the top or bottom end of the size range that aren’t included and would be useful to have. Plus buying a big set of interchangeable needles can be a major investment, so you may prefer to build up your collection over time instead. Many brands sell the needle tips, cables and connectors individually, so you can mix and match them to suit your needs. Look out for smaller starter kits too, which enable you to try out a brand before investing in a larger set.
So now you know what to look for, it’s time to see our pick of the best interchangeable knitting needles…
Best interchangeable knitting needles 2021
KnitPro Karbonz interchangeable knitting needles
Go high-tech with these carbon fibre needles, finished with sharp brass tips. Smooth, warm and lightweight to hold, they’re a great alternative to traditional wood or metal. Buy the needle tips and cables separately, or try the starter and deluxe sets, which contain everything you need to get knitting.
Lykke Indigo interchangeable knitting needles
If you’ll be knitting with your interchangeable needles a lot, a larger collection such as this one from Lykke is a worthwhile investment. In their Indigo Driftwood set you’ll find twelve pairs of handcrafted birch wood needle tips (3.5mm-12mm) and four cords, plus connectors, keys and stoppers, all in a handy carry case. Look out for the Umber and Driftwood sets in different colours too.
Buy Lykke Indigo needles from Ebay.
HiyaHiya Sharp Steel interchangeable knitting needles
Particularly popular amongst lace knitters for their sharp, tapered tips, this HiyaHiya set (sizes 2.75mm-5mm) would also make a great all-rounder. The steel needles are slick and smooth for fast-moving stitches – ideal if you like to knit at speed! Plus the clever swivel cables help to stop the needle tips from unscrewing as you go.
Buy HiyaHiya Sharp Steel needles from Amazon.
Tulip CarryC Bamboo interchangeable knitting needles
We love how this set from Japanese brand Tulip not only features a generous 11 pairs of bamboo needle tips (3.5mm-9mm), but also those handy accessories that every knitter needs: tapestry needles and a needle gauge with built-in yarn cutter. The needles themselves are well-thought-through too, with a tool-free tightening system and rotary cable joins to minimise twisting.
Buy Tulip CarryC Bamboo needles from Etsy.
Best knitting needles
Whether you’re looking for straights, circulars or DPNs, we can help you find the best knitting needles for your next project. Take a look at our guide for our top ten knitting needles to suit knitters of all abilities.
Pony Perfect interchangeable knitting needles
Made from a blend of three types of sustainably sourced wood, these Pony interchangeable circular knitting needles are beautiful to look at and easy to use. The patented Glydon joints provide a smooth transition between needle and cable, and make switching between needle tips a hassle-free process.
Buy Pony Perfect needles from The Knitting Network.
DROPS Pro Classic interchangeable knitting needles
A great value set that’s perfect for anyone looking to give interchangeable knitting needles a try without making a big investment, DROPS Pro Classic includes eight pairs of tips in sizes from 3.5mm-8mm, plus four cables and cable keys. The needles are made from shiny brass/nickel, making them light, smooth and durable.
Buy DROPS Pro Classic needles from LindeHobby.
Addi Click interchangeable knitting needles
As the name suggests, what makes these interchangeable knitting needles different is the way the tips join onto the cables: not with a twist, but with a click. Addi’s plug-and-knit system keeps things simple, and promises a snag-free knitting experience. With 10 pairs of needle tips (3.5mm-10mm), three cords and a connector, you can create a combo to suit pretty much any project.
Buy Addi Click needles from Amazon.
ChiaoGoo Twist interchangeable knitting needles
ChiaoGoo interchangeables are best known for their flexible, memory-free red cables, which always return to their original shape, and the smooth, almost imperceptible joins between the cables and tips. Take your pick from two different tip lengths and four set sizes, including Mini (ideal for sock and lace knitters) and Large (great for chunky yarn fans), to create your perfect collection.
Buy ChiaoGoo Twist needles from Ebay.
Denise Needles interchangeable knitting needles
Helpful colour coding makes it easy to see at a glance which tips you need with this interchangeable knitting needle set from Denise. It includes 10 pairs of tips (3.75mm-10mm), six cords of varying lengths, two connectors and four stoppers. Plus it all comes in a compact carry case for extra portability.
Buy Denise Needles from Amazon (US import).
Clover Takumi interchangeable knitting needles
Clover’s gorgeous Takumi bamboo needles are also available as an interchangeable set. Smooth but not too slippery or slick, they’re a great choice for Fair Isle knitters who are looking for a bit of grip to their needles. The set includes 12 needle tip sizes, from 3.25mm to 10mm, plus five cables ranging from 41cm-100cm, all contained in a handy wallet case.
Buy Clover Takumi needles from Amazon (US import).
Need something to knit with your new needles? Take a look at our knitting starter kits, easy knitting patterns for beginners and complete collection of knitting patterns. We also have some great storage ideas, with our best knitting bags and craft storage solutions.