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Which knitting needles do you need?

Whether it's wood, metal, or plastic, what your needles are made of really does matter! Here we help you pick the right ones for you and your knitting…

How to choose knitting needles
Published: February 9, 2021 at 11:38 pm
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Knitting needles come in all shapes and sizes, but they're also available in a variety of materials – the most popular being bamboo, plastic, and metal. These materials can make all the difference to your knitting. You’ll need to think about both the yarn you’re using and your own skill level when selecting your knitting needles. If you’re a beginner then you’ll want to avoid slippery needles (such as metal and plastic) as your stitches are more likely to slip off. More experienced knitters might actually prefer more slippery needles as their stitches will move easier and quicker.


Bamboo needles

Bamboo needles are lightweight and comfortable to hold. They also have a slightly textured surface, keeping stitches in place (which is great for beginners). Bamboo needles tend to work well with all yarns, but are best used with smooth and lightweight yarns. They’re quite flexible and while this can be a bonus, the smaller sizes tend to bend and break easier than other types of needles.

Bamboo knitting needles

Metal needles

Unlike bamboo needles, metal needles are very strong and therefore do not bend easily (or break). However, they are quite heavy and can be cold to the touch. Their slippery surface allows for faster knitting as stitches can glide with less friction, and this makes them a preferred choice for more experienced knitters. Metal needles suit all types of yarn, but work best with wool (including wool blends) and acrylic.

  • Buy metal knitting needles (Etsy)
Metal knitting needles

Plastic needles

Plastic needles are just as smooth as metal ones, but are a lot lighter and very flexible (even more than bamboo). They work with any type of yarn, but are great for chunky yarns that need a larger needle size as they won’t be as heavy as other types of needles. Plus they come in lots of different colours!

Plastic knitting needles

Wooden needles

Wooden needles aren’t slippery (just like bamboo ones), but they still have a smooth feel. They’re great for both experienced knitters and beginners, and work well with slippery yarns. You can find a variety of wooden needles, but the hardwoods are best as they’ll be sturdier. Still, like bamboo, wooden needles have a tendency to break (especially in the smaller sizes).

Wooden knitting needles

When starting a project, try to think about what yarn you’ll be using and how well it will work with the needles you want to use. However, many people simply prefer a certain type of needle and use them with every project. Find your favourite material and stick to it if that’s what you knit best with!


Zoe WilliamsEditor,

Zoe is Senior Editor of, with over a decade of craft publishing experience under her belt. She's a quilter and sewist who works with the UK’s best-selling craft magazines including Today’s Quilter, Love Patchwork & Quilting, Simply Sewing and The World of Cross Stitching. Zoe loves being immersed in Gathered’s quilting content, tweaking our tutorials and publishing new patterns. Zoe has previously written for, Simply Knitting and The World of Cross Stitching and was previously Deputy Editor of Papercraft inspirations magazine. She has guest-lectured at Bath Spa University. She’s a keen quilter with 5 projects in progress at any one time and another 12 or so planned.

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