Emily Explains: How do I choose the right needles for my yarn?

When I first learned how to knit I was given a set of pink size 11 metal needles and a skein of hot pink yarn – a bulky wool and mohair blend. The needles felt long and a little awkward in my hands but I eventually got the hang of it and began knitting away. For the longest time, I didn’t understand that when I changed my yarn I should probably switch the size and type of my needles.

Here is what I have come to find… 

I find that blunt wooden or plastic needles are great for delicate, fluffy or more bulky yarns like North Star, Ultra Alpaca Chunky, Cirrus, etc. They are also really important to use if you find that your yarn is splitting. I like to use blunt needles when working with Modern Cotton and Comfort yarns, which are made of many plies and are more likely to split. If you find that it is becoming difficult to do a decrease or have precision the way you want, pointy metal or plastic needles are a good alternative. They are great for ribbing, cables and lace with yarns like Ultra Alpaca Fine or Cosma.

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blunt needles
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pointy needles

Then there are circular needles and double pointed needles…

If the straight needles are feeling heavy and awkward, give circular needles a try! It took me a while to catch on to this but you don’t have to just knit in the round with circular needles. You can knit flat, too! You can find circular needles that are super sharp or nice and blunt. They can be purchased in a variety of lengths for you to knit something as big as a blanket or as small as a sleeve cuff.

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Double pointed needles are great for small projects, too. You can use double pointed needles for your mittens, fingerless mitts, gloves, crowns of hats and the cuff of your sleeves. Double pointed needles come in different lengths, too! I find I like the shorter one for when I working on fussy parts of projects like fingers to gloves or the thumb of a mitten. I like my double pointed needles to be a bit longer when I am working on my sleeve cuffs or the top of my hats. The length gives me a bit more security as I knit. Double points, still make me worry sometimes as the stitches can slide off the needles on either end! I’m just a silly worrier though : )

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Ultimately, you will learn what your preferences are for choosing the type of needles you like to use per project and yarn.

What works best for you?

2 Comments

  1. My heart sinks a little when I teach a beginner class and someone has those heave 14″ aluminum needles from gramma’s stash and won’t give them up. Makes it so much harder.

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