Straight needles are used to make a flat piece of knitting.
Most patterns will instruct how to knit several flat pieces & sew them together to construct the finished garment/project.
Circular needles are used to make tubular pieces such as garments without seams.
They are also very helpful when knitting a large flat piece. Due to their size they are capable of holding a large number of stitches at one time.
Double Pointed Needles (DPNs):
Double pointed needles are also used for making tubular pieces.
They are most helpful when creating tubes that are too small for circular needles such as socks.
The chart below was taken from the UK Hand Knitting Association & shows the varying size of needles available.
It is also helpful to convert from US & UK sizes.
|OLD UK||UK METRIC||US|
NB: If you are ever unsure of what size needle you have it is helpful to buy a needle gauge to avoid any confusion.
Needles can be made from a number of materials (some people use their hands & arms but that’s another blog post!) but generally needles are made from metal, plastic or wood.
It doesn’t really matter which of these you use.
Plastic needles tend to be the cheapest & for this reason are probably the best to buy if you are just starting out with knitting. However after a while they have a tendency to warp slightly so if you intend to carry on knitting metal or wooden may be a better investment.
I have found that old needles tend to be made from metal. All the metal needles that I own have either been given to me by generous relatives or I have bought them in charity shops.
Now that I have been knitting for a little while I have grown to love wooden needles. They are quieter than plastic or metal & I find them more tactile.
Everyone of course has their own opinion which tends to be moulded once you have found your own way of knitting.