Which knitting needles do you need?
Whether it's wood, metal, or plastic, what your knitting needles are made of really does matter! Here we help you pick the right ones for you and your knitting…
Knitting needles come in all shapes and sizes. Do you like knitting on straight knitting needles? Some knitters like to work straight knitting projects on circular knitting needles, as the cable between the two needles make it much more straightforward to manage lots of stitches in larger knits, or if you like to take your knitting out and about with you. But as well as the different types of knitting needle, knitting needles are also available in a variety of materials. The most popular materials are 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.
As you take on more and more knitting projects, you'll likely collect a set of lots of different knitting needles in a whole host of sizes and materials! But let's take a look at the pros and cons of different knitting needles and which knitting needles you need in your stash.
Bamboo knitting 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. As bamboo grows so quickly, knitting needles made from bamboo are a popular choice for knitters looking to reduce their impact on the environment. As a material, it is faster growing than wood, and will eventually break down unlike plastic knitting needles or metal knitting needles. But they cab be quite fragile, especially at smaller knitting needle sizes, so can be prone to break if you don't treat them with care
Metal knitting needles
Unlike bamboo needles, metal needles are very strong and therefore do not bend easily (or break), so they are a good choice for taking out and about with you in a bag, especially if you are using a small needle size as the needles are then so thin. However, metal knitting needles are quite heavy and can be cold to the touch. This can be unpleasant in the colder months, especially fi you have issues with arthritis or trouble with dexterity in your hands. But this is balanced out by their slippery surface, which lets stitches glide with less friction, which can help for a more smooth and pain-free knitting experience. It also allows for faster knitting 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.
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Plastic knitting 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!
- Buy plastic knitting needles (Amazon)
Wood knitting 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).
- Buy wood knitting needles (The Knitting Network)
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!
Cable knitting needles
Circular knitting needles
Zoe is the launch Editor of Gathered.how. She has 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 radiotimes.com, 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.