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What Are the Best Knitting Needles for Beginners?

Wondering where to begin? The perfect beginner knitting needle is hard to define, but it's easy to find.

By: Toby Kuhnke, Editor, AllFreeKnitting.com
Best Knitting Needles for Beginners

When learning how to knit, the last thing you want to worry about is needles that are uncomfortable. But when you go to that craft store for the first time and see all of the options, it can be overwhelming and difficult to know what knitting needle size and type to choose!

What size? What length? What material? And what on Earth are circular needles?!

So what are the best knitting needles for beginners? When you're just getting started with knitting, it can be hard to know exactly what you like. Lucky for you, we've put together this handy guide to making the right choice for you.

Our best piece of advice for shopping for your first pair of knitting needles is to ask a friend to try theirs first. Until you know exactly the types of needles that work best in your hands, why invest tons of money in needles that you may or may not like.

Buying Your First Knitting Needles

Choosing the Length

When shopping for your first pair of knitting needles, the length is probably the first thing you'll want to take into consideration. It's easy to disregard needle length because it's the size (or diameter) that really makes a difference when it comes to the finished product.

Length is one of the biggest comfort factors with needles. Often longer needles are cumbersome and can be challenging to use for beginners! If you're new to knitting, try out different lengths to see what suits your hands best.

As a rule of thumb: shorter is probably better for beginners.

Choosing the Size

While there are no hard-and-fast rules about which needle size you should start out with, it's important to remember that the needle size depends on the particular project and yarn weight that you're using.

For your first project
Choose a pattern that uses medium weight yarn. As you get used to how the needles and the yarn interact, you don't want to be working with anything that's too thin or too cumbersome.

Start in the middle
“When you are learning, don’t start off with needles on either side of the diameter spectrum. In the beginning, you’ll likely be using a light or medium weight yarn, so stick with needles in the range of US size 5-9 and don’t get needles that are any longer than what you absolutely need.”
-Ellen from thechillydog.com

Choose a size that lets you easily see the stitches
"I love to teach with wooden size 8 (5mm) needles that are 10 inches long because most hands are comfortable holding needles of this size. It also helps that you can clearly see your stitches with a larger diameter needle and thicker worsted weight or aran yarn when learning new techniques."
-Alnaar from leeleeknits.com

Choosing the Material

Much like the length of your knitting needles, the material can be a big comfort factor. But it really just comes down to what you prefer.

Some people like bamboo knitting needles because they're softer in the hands, which is helpful when you're getting started. Others prefer metal needles because the yarn slips easily on and off.

Learn what you like
“I've found that many knitters have a preference for a specific material. When I first started knitting, I struggled with acrylic needles until I discovered wood needles and "pointier" points work better for me. I would suggest that any new knitter who finds that stitches are slipping off the needles too easily (or who is struggling with actually getting the needle underneath the stitches) try out needles made with a different material."
-Marie from undergroundcrafter.com

Don't be afraid to try different things
“As a teacher, I have a set of several needles - thin to thick, short to long, bamboo to metal. I usually start them with either worsted or bulky yarn and a pair of needles. I let them try metal vs. bamboo. Some beginners prefer that their yarn slides on the metal surface. Some prefer bamboo because their stitches stay put and they feel more in control of not dropping the stitches.”
-Bronislava from handmade-rukodelky.blogspot.com
 

Choosing the Type

Circular, straight, and double-pointed knitting needles all have their pros and cons. If you want to start out with more "traditional" knitting needles, we recommend straight needles. Over time, give all of these styles a try and see which ones work best for you.

For fans of circular needles:
“If you do end up preferring circulars, I highly recommend investing in a nice set of interchangeable-tip needles early, before you end up with the same rat's nest of different lengths and sizes that I have (half of beginning a new project for me is just finding the right needle to start!!!).”
-Gretchen from ballstothewallsknits.com

Knitting Needle Shopping Tips

Start out with needles that won't let the yarn slip
“I would suggest beginners search for straight bamboo or wooden knitting needles since they are lightweight and easier to handle. The yarn doesn’t slip off as easily as it does with metal needles, so beginner knitters are less likely to make mistakes."
-Alnaar from leeleeknits.com

Find knitting friends
“If any beginner is starting to knit on their own, then it would be great for [them] to join a knitting group in the area and ask knitters to try out their needles before [they] buy [their] first needles. After a beginner establishes what is best for [them] and after [they] have some experience of knitting, then [they can] move onto needles that were designed for more elaborate projects, such as double pointed needles or circular needles.”
-Bronislava from handmade-rukodelky.blogspot.com

Keep track of the needles that you already have
“If there was one thing I wish I had known about knitting needles when I first started knitting, it would be to keep a log of the needle sizes and lengths that you have in your collection. I’m pretty sure that there was a year where I bought four sets of 8-inch long US size 8 needles because I needed them for patterns but when I got to the store I couldn’t remember if I already had that size or not."
-Ellen from thechillydog.com

Remember you might not always like your first pair of needles
“It's impossible to identify the single best type of knitting needles for beginners because everyone develops preferences for different materials and configurations as they continue to knit; for instance, some of us become die-hard metal circular fans while others prefer bamboo straights.”
-Gretchen from ballstothewallsknits.com

What type of knitting needles did you start out with?
Let us know in the comments!

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I started out with metal knitting needles. I actually wasn't a big fan - I didn't like that they were cold to the touch and were difficult to hold on to. Later on I tried bamboo needles and I definitely prefer them now! I find them much more comfortable.

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