The Best Knitting Needles for Beginners

Posted by Alison Manning on

The question of which knitting needles are best for beginners comes up pretty frequently here. Unfortunately, it's a lot like asking which is the best car to drive because there are a lot of variables and personal preference plays a big role in needle choice. 

So with that in mind, here are some thoughts on the different needle styles, pros and cons and why I might (or might not) recommend them for beginners.

Needle Style

  1. Straight Needles: Straight needles are the most traditional type of knitting needles and are great for beginners who are just starting out. They are typically used for flat knitting projects like scarves, dishcloths, and blankets. This is also their biggest limitation - that you can only work flat items.

  2. Circular Needles: Circular needles have two needle tips connected by a flexible cable, making them versatile for both flat and in-the-round knitting. They are excellent for projects like hats, socks, and sweaters.

    Tip: Many beginners find circular needles more comfortable to use than straight needles because they distribute the weight of the project more evenly.

  3. Interchangeable Needle Sets: These sets come with a range of needle tips and cables that can be mixed and matched to accommodate various needle sizes across a range of products for considerably less than purchasing all the fixed needles individually. Additional cables and tips can be purchased as needed.

    Tip: These sets can be costly so I recommend that you try a project with an interchangeable tip and cable before you purchase an entire set.

Needle Material

  1. Bamboo Needles: Bamboo needles are lightweight, warm to the touch, and have a slightly grippy surface, making them ideal for beginners who are still getting the hang of tension and control. Bamboo needles are less slippery than metal needles, which can help prevent stitches from sliding off accidentally. Be aware that bamboo is the most easily broken.

  2. Plastic Needles: Plastic needles are another good option for beginners because they are lightweight, affordable, and have a smooth surface that allows yarn to glide easily. Note that some people find that they get sticky with acrylic yarns. Others simply don't want more plastic.

  3. Metal Needles: I don't typically recommend metal needles for really new knitters because the needle is so slippery that stitches fall off and make for a frustrating experience.

  4. Powder Coated Metal: This is my usual recommendation for new knitters because you get all the benefits of the metal needle with a bit of grip provided by the power coating.

Ultimately, the best knitting needles for beginners are the ones that feel good in your hands and suit your knitting style, preferences and budget. Don't be afraid to try out different types and materials until you find the ones that work best for you. Happy knitting!

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