types of knitting needles

Types of Knitting Needles

Knitting needles come in many different materials, styles, and sizes. It can be confusing to understand which kind of knitting needle is meant for which type of project. Whether you are buying your first pair of knitting needles or just want to add more to your ever-growing collection, here’s a guide to help!

Knitting starts with two basic things – knitting needles and yarn. Without these two, there’s no moving forward in the world of knitting. So, to begin your journey into the magical wonderland of yarns, we have compiled all you need to know about the knitting needles. 

Whether you are just starting to knit or a pro, you need a good pair of knitting needles to make it work. Without a good quality pair, you’ll never be able to have as much fun as you could. 

There are so many different types of knitting needles. You can have needles made with different materials and different styles or forms of knitting needles. 

You can check out our guide on knitting needle sizes. The diameter of the knitting needle will determine the size of the gauge of your knitting.

But, before buying a pair, you gotta understand what’s what. So, here are all the different types of knitting needles we’ve come across to date. 

Types of Knitting Needles based on Material

Knitting needles are made using different types of materials ranging from bamboo to aluminum. All of them have some pros and cons, but they all work well!


Just as the name suggests, these knitting needles are made from plastic. They are very lightweight and super affordable! As compared to a metal knitting needle, they are less slippery. So, if you are just starting and figuring out whether you want to pursue knitting long term or not, they are a great option to work with.


Bamboo knitting needles are soft, and they give you an excellent grippy feeling. Think like thin chopsticks! You might think that yarn will snag over the bamboo surface, but they are smooth. The yarn moves smoothly on the soft bamboo surface without any snag.

Metal (Aluminium)

Knitting needles made of aluminum are the most common and the most traditional ones. They are strong and durable, but a bit costlier than the other options. The super-smooth surface makes the yarn glide over the needle very easily, which in turn helps you knit faster. 

Different Styles of Knitting Needles

Other than knitting needles differing based on the manufacturing material, there are different types of knitting needles based on their style and design. There are five basic types of knitting needles:

  • Straight needles
  • Double-pointed needles
  • Circular needles
  • Interchangeable needles
  • Cable needles


Straight needles are the best choice if you’re a beginner in the knitting world. They come in pairs with each knitting needle having a point at one end and a stopper knob on the other end. 

straight knitting needles
Straight Knitting Needles

When you’re using these straight knitting needles, you work row by row with turning your work around after each row. 

Sizes: Most typical sizes for these are 9″ to 14″ long.

Materials: You can find straight needles in all the materials mentioned above. 

Uses: These needles are primarily used for smaller projects which are usually knit flat, like a scarf or sweaters or even a dishcloth, which are made in different pieces and then sewn together.


When you want to knit smaller projects in the round, then these double-pointed needles (DPNs) are the best choice. They are usually available as a set of 4 or 6 and have points on both ends. The double-pointed knitting needles are smaller in length than the regular straight needles. 

double pointed knitting needles
Double-Pointed Knitting Needles

When you’re using these, you don’t need to turn the work; instead, it is worked in the rounds (or circles).

Sizes: Most typical sizes for these are 4″ to 8″ long.

Materials: They are also available in all the materials mentioned above. 

Uses: These needles are used mainly for smaller circular projects, like knitting a pair of socks or a hat or cowls or mittens/gloves. They are also the most common choice for knitting an i-cord.


Circular knitting needles are the best option when you want to work on a large knitting project in the round. Usually, you would buy these as a set, which includes all sizes from say, 3 to 15. This varies by manufacturer, but those are the sizes that are most commonly available. 

circular knitting needles
Circular Knitting Needles

They are a pair of needles that are attached together with a long flexible plastic cord, thus making it a super long and flexible double pointed needle.

Sizes: Most circular needles are 16″ to 48″ long.

Materials: They are also available in all the materials mentioned above. However, bamboo and metal are more common. 

Uses: These needles are used for bigger circular projects, like cowls and sweaters. They are also commonly used for bigger flat knitting projects like blankets, shawls since the large number of stitches required for these don’t fit in the regular straight needles.


The circular knitting needles are fixed in length, with the flexible cord attached permanently on both the knitting needles. The interchangeable ones have an advantage over that since the pieces are separate. The knitting needles are about 4″ to 5″ long while the cord is separate and can be 8″ to 40″ long. 

The set usually comes with multiple lengths of cords and end knobs or caps to attach on the ends, so you have the flexibility to make them as straight needles or as a circular needle of varying lengths according to the project you are working on.

Sizes: Flexible.

Materials: These are typically made of metal. 

Uses: Uses are almost the same as circular needles.


These are either come in an odd shape with double-pointed ends or as rounded, hook-like shape.

types of knitting needles
Cable Knitting Needles

Sizes: They come in few diameter sizes as they can hold only few stitches at a time. Length-wise, they are only few inches long.

Uses: They are primarily meant for forming knitted cables. You can also use straight needles for cable knit, but its a tool that is designed specifically for cables.

Materials: They are also available in all the materials mentioned above. However, plastic and metal are more common. 

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