A small sample of my needles.
Picking out needles for beginners is always tricky. There’s usually a good chance of sticker shock when you first start shopping for needles because they can be pretty pricey. You want something that’s good quality, but cheap, but a nice size because you want to use them again.
I’m going to recommend what I think are the best, but I want to warn you that there’s a very small chance you’ll pick them again in the future so I also want them to less expensive as well.
First, let’s look at straight needles. Most beginners pick these up and use these for their first project. They have a knob on one end, which prevents the stitches from sliding off and your project becoming unraveled. This sounds helpful, but really, that’s the only benefit I can think of for straight needles. And to be honest, usually only beginners use straight needles. They are not very versatile when it comes to future projects. Pass if you can.
Double Pointed Needles
Next are double pointed needles. Exactly as it sounds, the needles are pointy on both ends. Double pointed needles are sold in packs – so you get 4 or 5 of the same size. You’ll knit with all of the needles to create a 3-D object – like sleeves, socks, a cute little amigurumi figure. DPNs are also necessary if you want to cable, which, obviously you will want to do. A pack of these are essential for most projects.
Finally we have circular needles, which are two needles with a cord connecting them. Circulars can be great if you’re creating something large, like a blanket or something large and round, like a sweater.
Between the three, I would say double pointed needles are the most versatile for a beginner and are what I would recommend… but then that brings us to the sizes.
As you probably noticed from the pictures above, there are many different sizes of needles, ranging from hardly larger than a splinter to larger than a drumstick. It all depends on what kind of yarn you’re working with and what you want the final project to look like.
US size 8, engraved on the end of the needles.
Oh, and did I mention that there are 4 different size categories? There is the US size, the UK size, millimeters, and centimeters. Usually the US size and the size in millimeters is printed somewhere on the needle for easy locating, but it’s usually handy to keep a conversion guide nearby as well.
Additionally, needles also come in different lengths. You can get short ones that are about 4 inches long and I’ve seen some circulars up to 60 inches in length.
But wait! Did I mention you get a choice of material for your needles as well?
I’ve worked with quite a lot of different materials, and it really comes down to personal preference.
Plastic: These are usually the cheaper needles, which is great if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. The downside is that they’re cheaper quality and a little difficult to move the stitches back and forth.
Bamboo or Wood: Wood needles are great to grip onto and easy to handle, but they can break and you can even get splinters. Some of mine also have bite marks from where the cats got into them.
Metal: These are also more budget friendly, but stitches slip right off the needles very easily. They also get colder a lot quicker – brr!
So what to do?
For our beginner projects that use worsted weight yarn, I recommend double pointed needles in either wood or plastic in a US size 6 or US size 7. You can certainly go larger, which will create a looser cozy (i.e. more holes), but I wouldn’t go much smaller than that until your fingers get used to knitting.
As far as price, you don’t want to go too cheap because you will be learning on them and so you’ll need something solid, sturdy, and easy to hold onto, but since you probably won’t use them again for awhile, I wouldn’t spend more than $10. Look for sales in your local stores and check ebay for lots of used needles.