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My Favorite Knitting Needles
Use the Right Tool for Each Knitting Project
Using the right needles for a project can mean the difference between hours of relaxation and hours of aggravation. Over several decades of knitting, I have learned which needles work best with different types of yarn and different types of projects. I have also found some needles more comfortable than others for extended knitting sessions, especially as the hands get a bit stiff with age or cold.
Allow me to make suggestions in three categories: straight needles, double-pointed needles, and circular needles. Use these suggestions as a starting point in your quest to find your own favorites.
All photographs in this hub are my own.
Favorite Straight Knitting Needles
Basic Tools of the Trade
Needles for sweaters: Inox needles are strong and coated with Teflon for the fastest knitting imaginable. Stitches glide effortlessly along the needle as you knit row after row. The perfect points are great for getting into stitches to execute twists and cables, too.
Needles for travel: Children's plastic needles from Lion Brand are short enough that you can keep them in a purse. These are perfect for a cotton dishcloth to be knit on the train or in the doctor's office. The plastic points won't poke a hole in your purse or tote bag. You might even be allowed to take them on an airplane, but check with your airline beforehand.
Needles for beginners: For a student's first knitting lessons, I recommend wooden straight needles in one of the larger sizes, e.g. U.S. 10 or 11. Large needles make big, easy-to-see stitches and wood is less slippery than aluminum or teflon. While this slows down an experienced knitter, it helps the beginner by making it less likely stitches will accidentally slide off the needle.
Best Learn-to-Knit Book for All Ages - Indispensable Resource for Knitting Teachers
I use this to teach anybody to knit, old or young. It's just that good! Clear photographs and illustrations make knitting crystal clear. Great projects include spiral ribbed socks, beanbags, hats, scarves, and a sweater. It teaches the continental method of knitting.
Best Double-Pointed Needles
Seamless Knitting in the Round
Double-pointed needles come in sets of 4 or 5 needles. I definitely prefer sets of 5 so I can arrange my stitches in a square on 4 needles and knit with the 5th. Th triangular arrangement necessary with a set of 4 is fine, but I don't like my stitches crowded on the needles.
Budget sock needles: Susan Bates makes a sock needle set that is very affordable and practical--4 sets of 5 needles in sizes 000 through 1 (U.S. sizing.) I do all my fingering-weight socks with these needles.
Better sock needles: For knitting with sport weight or worsted yarn I like Swallow needles, made of casein. Casein is a plastic made from milk protein. These needles are strong, yet flexible enough to be comfortable to the hands. Many knitters with arthritis prefer these needles.
Knitting in Art
Favorite Circular Needles
Addi Turbos Win!
The Madonna in the picture above did not have circular needles. She would have needed double-pointed needles long enough to hold all the stitches in the seamless garment she is knitting. Knitters today can still use long double-points, but most opt for the convenience of circular needles.
(Image from Wikimedia Commons: Detail from Visit of the Angel, from the right wing of the Buxtehude Altar, 1400-1410)
Addi turbos are my absolute favorite circular needles. The joins between the needles and and cables are so smooth they don't even register as I knit around and around for hours. The points and the slick finish enable me to work at "warp speed" even with textured yarns. I own the lace turbos and use them for lace and for knitting two socks at a time.
I've used plastic, aluminum, and bamboo circulars in all price ranges. Addi turbos out-perform them all.
Links About Knitting
Expand your knitting universe by checking out these helpful websites and articles for knitters.
- Ravelry is a Community of Knitters
Keep track of your stash of yarn, share projects with other knitters, join knitting groups, and much more with a free Ravelry account.
- 5 Books about Historical Needlework, Plain and Fancy
Annotated bibliography of five books covering different aspects of historical needlework.
- Knitting with a Plan
Knitting is a relaxing activity, but a plan can make that knitting even more rewarding. Plan to learn or make something today.
- Knit a Pair of Texting Mitts: a book by Janis Websdale
Improve your texting in cold climates with these thumbless mittens. They keep your hands warm and expose your thumbs when needed.