Whether you're just getting started with knitting or you've been doing it for a while, your knitting needles are an important tool for the craft. In fact, it's only one of the two tools that you have to have for traditional hand knitting; the other being yarn, of course!
So you're looking to purchase some new knitting needles.
How do you choose the best option for your experience level and your budget?
Choosing Your Knitting Needles
I know this makes picking out your knitting supplies a little more difficult, but I do want you to know that there's a reason there are so many different options: everyone has a different preference when it comes to their knitting. Especially with their yarn and needles. That also means there is no right or wrong selection, and there is no universally "best" option. As knitters, we each have a different tension, and different ways of holding our needles and yarn.
Another thing that I want to point out, which may seem a bit obvious, is that cheapest isn't necessarily always the best route to go. If a knitting tool that you're using is making your knitting process frustrating or irritating, it may be a good idea to start looking at an alternative tool, which often requires a larger investment.
This year I finally invested in some new knitting supplies that have been absolute game-changers. The decision to purchase these products was something I had been hmm'ing and ha'ing over for multiple months. I finally let myself invest in these knitting supplies, and it truly makes my knitting so much more enjoyable. One of those investments was a set of Chiagoo interchangeable needles (don't worry, I talk all about them later on!), and now I don't have to fight my old broken knitting needles as I work on a project. It feels so good!
Alright, so let's talk about selecting your knitting needles.
That seems like it should be an easy enough task, right? Yes, until you find out there are straight knitting needles, circular knitting needles (including interchangeable knitting needles), and double pointed knitting needles... as well as bamboo knitting needles, metal knitting needles, and plastic knitting needles! Oof -- so many options!
The most important things to keep in mind are:
If you're a tight knitter, you might prefer metal knitting needles. If you're a loose knitter, you might prefer bamboo knitting needles. That's because your yarn slides easier on the metal needles than the bamboo needles. (However, I'm a loose knitter, and I like metal knitting needles, because I like that the yarn slides so easily!)
Metal knitting needles will likely last you longer than bamboo, because they won't break nearly as easily when you sit on them, step on them, etcetera.
If you have trouble finding your second needle when working with straight knitting needles, I highly recommend circular knitting needles.
Unfortunately, the only way you'll figure out the best option for you is to try them out for yourself.
So let's get into my top knitting needle recommendations!
Note: this blog post may contain affiliate links (so, if you purchase using the link, and the product qualifies, I may receive a small monetary compensation for recommending the product; it does not change the cost of the product for you), but I continue to recommend the exact same products that I've always recommended!
Straight Knitting Needles
If you're an absolute beginner knitter with a limited budget, I recommend a simple pair of straight bamboo needles, like this set with 18 pairs from Amazon.
Now, if you plan to knit for many years to follow, don't plan on these being the only knitting needles you ever use. They likely will break, and you may decide you like a different material or style of needle, but these will be great for getting you started!
In fact, these are what I started on. I still have mine, I'm only missing a few pairs (because they broke), and sometimes I'll still use them when I'm working on a dishcloth knitting pattern. (If you're looking for a free, simple dishcloth pattern, you can check out a few of my patterns here.)
Price: This set of 18 straight bamboo knitting needles currently costs $10 USD on Amazon.
And if you're looking for an inexpensive pair of straight needles with a needle case, check out this set with 16 pairs of needles for $13.99 USD on Amazon.
I find the bamboo needles are easier to work with as a beginner knitter because of their weight, but if you're having trouble with your yarn not sliding well on your bamboo needles, or you're interested in trying out some inexpensive metal needles, I recommend this set of 11 metal knitting needles, which comes with a simple case and a few additional knitting supplies, from Amazon for $13.97 USD.
If you're looking for a higher quality straight knitting needle, I recommend Knit Picks' wooden Straight Needle Sets. The wood material will be a little more slick than bamboo. You have the option to choose from 10 inch needles (for $49.99 USD) or 14 inch needles (for $59.99 USD), but either option includes 9 pairs of needles and a vinyl knitting needle case.
Now the reason I don't use my straight knitting needles very often any more is because I discovered patterns that are worked in the round (often projects such as hats, mittens, socks, and sweaters are worked in a circular so you don't have to seam your project in the end -- brilliant!).
Knitting Needles for Working in the Round
There are two types of knitting needles that you can use for knitting in the round: circular knitting needles and double pointed knitting needles. Circular knitting needles are comprised of two needles that are joined by a cord, which is known as the cable. Double pointed knitting needles look a bit like straight knitting needles, but there's nothing to keep the stitches from sliding off the end; instead there's a point on both ends! When working with double pointed needles in the round, you'll typically use four or five knitting needles.
Personally, I prefer circular knitting needles because:
You can use a longer circular needle for any project you want, whether it's worked in the round or worked flat, and whether it's a small project or a large project. This means you only need one circular knitting needle in each size you use.
You only have to keep track of one knitting needle!
I find working with several knitting needles (for using double pointed needles) quite fiddly.
Now, the only way you can use a longer circular knitting needles for every type of project is by using magic loop, and some people hate magic loop! So, it's totally a personal preference thing. If you're just getting started with working in the round, I recommend purchasing a cheap set of circular needles and a cheap set of double pointed needles, or purchasing one size of each to test out. You can also check out my working in the round knitting tutorials, where I demonstrate using circular needles with magic loop, and I demonstrate using double pointed needles. Watching those videos in and of itself might give you a good idea of which you'd prefer!
Ok, so into the actual recommendations!
Circular Knitting Needles
Inexpensive Circular Needles
If you're just wanting to try out circular needles and you have a small budget, I completely recommend this inexpensive bamboo circular knitting needle set on Amazon. It's the first set I had, and I still use them frequently (and Snickerdoodle Knits has been my full-time business for nearly three years now!). I've broken several (where the needle joins the cord), especially in the smallest sizes and from working with heavy projects. But, it was completely worth the price, and I can't believe how well they've held up. I believe they are the best circular knitting needles for beginners that aren't ready to make the investment for higher-priced needles.
Note: the connection for the smallest sizes is a little rough, so the yarn tends to catch. So that is something you will have to deal with in exchange for the money savings. (However, when we're beginning, we often aren't using those smallest sizes anyway!)
I actually don't have the case for my circular knitting needles, but it looks really nice, and the set includes all sorts of other knitting supplies that I'll be listing below! If you don't want the extras, you can also get the set of needles by itself on Amazon. If you go this route, you have the option to get the 16 inch length or the 32 inch length. I personally prefer (and recommend) the longer length, because you can use it for more projects. However, if you know you'll be working entirely smaller circumference projects, the 16 inch length will be great for you!
Price: At the time I'm writing this post, the set with the knitting needle case and additional knitting supplies costs $17.99 USD, and the set without the case costs $9.99 USD. Yes, both sets include 18 circular needles! (And both sets are on Amazon.)
Or, if you want to try out straight knitting needles and circular knitting needles, you can get this set, also on Amazon, which includes 18 pairs of bamboo straight knitting needles, 18 pairs of bamboo circular knitting needles, plus several additional knitting accessories for $18.99 USD.
Mid-Range Circular Knitting Needles
If you're looking for a mid-price circular knitting needle that is a little bit better quality, I primarily recommend metal or plastic. These needles typically cost around $2 USD per needle when purchased as part of a set. (The inexpensive needles above are about $0.55 USD per needle when purchased in a set.)
This set of five 24 inch circular needles on Amazon includes a smaller range of sizes and won't work as well for large projects, but they are a nice needle, and the joins are smooth, which makes for a great knitting experience.
This set of six 40 inch circular metal knitting needles on Amazon includes a large range of sizes, but that means you will also have quite a few gaps in that range. If you are a beginner, you may get frustrated with the very long cables, but this is a great cable length for your bigger projects!
Price: The five pairs of 24 inch metal circular knitting needles currently cost $9.99 USD, and the six pairs of 40 inch metal needles cost $12.99 USD on Amazon.
Another material possibility is plastic knitting needles. This is a great in-between material: more slick than bamboo needles a nice, lightweight material. Sometimes when you purchase plastic knitting needles, you end up with a hard plastic cord that isn't flexible, but this set of 12 circular needles on Amazon has the same cords as the wooden circular needles that I recommended above. You will find the connections with these needles are also similar to the wooden needles. This set is currently $21.39 USD for twelve 32 inch (my preferred length!) circular needles.