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Knitting Needle Guide: Straight, Circular, and Double Pointed Needles

In this post, I will be discussing the three main types of knitting needles; straight, circular, and double pointed needles.

Straight Needles

These needles are the most traditional needles and the first type of needle that comes to mind when imagining a 'knitter'. They are usually between 20cm and 35cm in length and have a stopper at one end and a tapered point at the other. Straight needles can be made from wood, plastic, resin or metal, and come in a variety of lengths and sizes.

Many knitters will start knitting on straight needles. They can be used to knit flat patterns, for example, scarves and blankets. These needles are great for learning the basics of knitting, but when it comes to larger projects, they can become cumbersome and heavy quite quickly. This is because the majority of the weight will be held on the needles themselves which place strain on your hands and wrists. Many will find that they suffer from hand fatigue when knitting on straight needles. If you find that this sounds like you, try circular needles instead.

Circular Needles

These are short needles that are attached by a cord or cable. Usually, the needle tips are between three inches and five inches in length, connected by a cable of varying length. As with straight needles, circular can be made from wood, plastic, resin or metal.

Knitters will usually move into using circular needles after a few projects on straight needles. Circulars can be used to knit both flat patterns and patterns in the round, where a seamless tube is needed, for example, jumpers. These needles are perfect for larger projects as the weight is distributed along the cable which sits on your lap. This helps to reduce the strain on your hands and wrists, making your knitting experience more comfortable.

Circular needles are also available as interchangeable needles. As the name suggests, these needles and cables can be used interchangeably. The ability to mix and match tips and cables allows you to create the perfect circular needle for your project. They are also more cost-effective in the long run, as there is no need to buy the same needle size in different lengths – a big plus in my books!

Double Pointed Needles

Also known as DPNs, these needles feature tapered points on both ends of the needle. They are often used to knit small projects in the round, such as hats and socks. These usually come in packs of four or five, and you use a minimum of three needles to create a triangle, using the remaining needle to knit. DPNs are usually available in wood, plastic, resin or metal, in a variety of lengths.

In recent years, flexible DPNs have been introduced to the knitting community. These are DPNs combined with circular needles and feature short needles connected with a short cable. The total length of these needles is usually between five inches and nine inches. The added flexibility from the cable means that the stitches are held on two needles rather than three as with traditional DPNs. The third needle is then used to knit. The reduced number of needles used means there are fewer needle transitions and a reduced chance of ladder stitches in your work. Essentially, your tension will be more consistent and your seam from transitions will be less visible.

Top Tip

From personal experience, flexible DPNs are quite fiddly to work with initially and can take a fair few rows to get used to. But once you have the hang of them, they are great to work with, removing the awkwardness that comes with working on straight DPNs.

I hope you have found this blog helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a message below or email us directly.

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Happy knitting,


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