As a new knitter, it is important to have a good understanding of knitting needles, as well as the different sizes of knitting needles that are available.
Use this post to learn about knitting needles, how to choose the best knitting needle size for a pattern, plus take a look at some FAQs below that might help answer some questions you have about knitting needles.
Types of Knitting Needles
Knitting needles are available in a wide variety of sizes (length & width), shapes, and materials; from wood, plastic, and metal. Learn more about the types of needles as well as the different lengths, shapes, and materials of knitting needles below.
- Single Pointed Needles: Single pointed needles have one pointed end and knob (stopper) at the other end. They are usually sold in pairs. This type of needle is best used to knit flat projects like blankets, scarves, or potholders. Single pointed knitting needles are most commonly 12 inches to 14 inches in length, which are great for most knitted projects.
- Double Pointed Needles: Double pointed needles have points at both ends and are sometimes referred to as DPNs. You can purchase these in sets of 4 or 5 needles. They are typically used for knitting tubular items like socks, cowls, and sleeves of sweaters. DPNs are commonly found in sizes ranging from 5 inches up to 40 inches in length.
- Circular Needles: Circular needles are similar to single pointed needles, but have a long tube or flexible cord connecting the pair of needles together. Some cords are permanently attached, while others have interchangeable needle tips and cord lengths that can be changed to suit the knit project you are working on. Circular needles are popular with knitters because they are versatile, they can be used to knit flat fabrics as well as working in the round. As a knitter, these types of needles are my personal preference since they have many uses.
- Plastic: Plastic needles are affordable as well as available in a wide variety of sizes. Beginners to knitting tend to buy this type of needle because of the price and how easy they are to find.
- Wood: Wooden knitting needles are a great choice for knitters because of how light-weight they are, which makes for easy knitting. Plus, you can find them in a variety of styles, sizes, and even some beautiful handmade artisan ones as well.
- Metal: Metal knitting needles are a good choice for knitters because they can last a very long time. They have a smooth surface, which makes it easy for the yarn to glide over for fast knitting.
- Bamboo: Bamboo needles are lightweight, which makes them a great for knitters with arthritis. They can split or break, but can be sanded down to a smooth finish.
- Other Materials: Glass and resin both are other materials that knitting needles are available in. Glass needles are made of Pyrex and will last a long time, but do cost a bit more than other varieties. Resin is another option for needles that can be found in a variety of sizes and shapes.
Knitting Needle Size Charts
Here you’ll find the knitting needle size charts for US to UK conversions. The most common one of these that you’ll find when knitting is the metric size, which is listed in millimeters.
Anywhere you see a dash “–” in the table, that means that there simply is not a conversion for that particular size. This happens most frequently with UK sizes.
Knitting Needle Sizes Chart US to UK
|Metric Size (mm)||US Size||UK Size|
Knitting Needle Size Chart Metric to Japanese
If by chance you need to convert a metric knitting needle to it’s corresponding Japanese size, then this chart is for you. This isn’t a common conversion that is made, but we have it here just for completeness.
|Metric Size (mm)||Japanese Size|
How to Determine What Size Knitting Needle to Use
Knitting needles come in many sizes and types, so figuring out what size knitting needle to use can be confusing. They are always referenced in either the US, Japanese, UK or Metric sizes, which you can learn more about above with our conversion chart.
Learning about knitting needles will help you as a knitter determine what size knitting needle is best for a pattern, as well as what type of needle is best to use. Use the three methods below to help decide which needle size is best for the project you are working on.
- Yarn Label: Most yarn labels will have the needle size listed that is best to use with that particular yarn. This is usually shown in metric and US sizes. For example, Lion Brand Pound of Love a four weight yarn suggests a needle size of 8 (5 mm).
- Gauge Swatch: A gauge swatch is a great way to determine the hook size that is best for a project. Getting the gauge right is super important to a perfect project. The yarn labels mentioned above typically have a gauge swatch pattern listed. Work up a swatch with that pattern, yarn and hook size to see if it works for you. If your swatch is too big use a smaller hook and if it is too small use a bigger hook.
Be careful with your personal tension. Whether you tend to be either a loose or tight knitter, it will impact your gauge immensely.
- A Pattern: Most knitting patterns will have the needle size they recommend in the instructions. For example, in our knitting patterns, you can find the recommended needle size under the materials’ section of our patterns.
There are also suggested ranges of yarn weights that work best for each knitting needle size.
|Yarn Weight||Common Names||Needle Size|
|#0 – Lace||Lace, Cobweb, Thread||000-1|
|#1 – Superfine||Baby, Sock, Fingering||1-3|
|#2 – Fine||Baby, Sport||3-5|
|#3 – Light||DK, Light||5-7|
|#4 – Medium||Worsted, Aran, Afghan||7-9|
|#5 – Bulky||Chunky, Craft, Rug||9-11|
|#6 – Super Bulky||Roving||11-17|
|#7 – Jumbo||17+|
What Knitting Needles are Best for Beginners?
When you start knitting, it is important to choose the right needles. There are a few things to consider when choosing needles such as the yarn weight, size, and type of knitting. For example, thicker yarns require larger needles.
As a beginner, I recommend using the US needle size 8 or 9 (5 – 5.5 mm) and worsted (#4) weight yarn as a starting point. Smaller needles will make it difficult to see the smaller stitches they create. Larger needles can be mighty difficult to maneuver around for a newbie.
Medium weight yarn and an 8 or 9 sized needle can be looked at as the Goldilocks for beginners. They are “just right”.
My choice for beginners are knitting needles made of bamboo or wood because it is harder for knitting projects to slide off them.
There are many types of knitting needles available on the market; it is essential to find one that works best for you. Take a look at a few sets of knitting needles that I recommend below that are great for beginner knitters to start with.
- Bamboo Knitting Needle Set: A bamboo needle set is inexpensive and a good single point needle set to start with as a beginner.
- Steel Circular Needle: A 5 mm circular needle is a good needle to start with if a wood or bamboo needle isn’t for you, and it doesn’t break the bank. It is a great needle size for making scarves, potholders, and blankets with.
Common Questions about Knitting Needles
Where is the best place to store knitting needles?
The best place to keep knitting needles safe and secure are in a knitting needle case, needle roll, flat storage drawer or a storage cup like a mason jar. You can experiment with what is best for you, or use a combination of the above storage options for your knitting needles.
My knitting needle doesn’t have a size listed. What is my knitting needle size?
You can use a knitting and crochet tool called a swatch ruler and needle gauge. It uses notches to determine the size of knitting needle as well as helps with determine the gauge of your project. The gauge tool has needle sizes listed in metric, US, and standard Japanese sizes.