Choose Your Needles

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Words: choose your needles. Girl holds up DPNs to camera.

In this post, we will cover questions like:

  • What is knitting in the round?

  • What are circular needles?

  • What's the difference between straight and circular needles?

  • What are DPNs?

When I first began knitting, these were some of my burning questions. I understood best once I actually tried working with all of the different types of needles, but I wanted to try to share some of the knowledge I have gained through video and the written word. I will link to the YouTube tutorial below. As for the rest of the post, it's basically just the written transcript of the video.

Today, we are going to go over the different types of knitting needles and when they are used. Hopefully this will help you understand what exactly straight needles, a double pointed needles, and circular needles are. I, personally, was very confused when I first started knitting. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Before we start looking at the different types of needles, I first want to go over the difference between knitting something flat and knitting something in-the-round. Understanding this is crucial to being able to understand how the different types of needles do their jobs.

Knitting Flat:

To knit something flat means that you are knitting back and forth. You knit a “right side”, you turn your work, and then you knit a “wrong side”. Blankets are knit flat. A lot of scarves are knit flat. Some sweaters are made by knitting flat panels and sewing them together.

Knitting in the Round:

To knit something in the round means that you are continuously knitting in a circle. You never turn your work and just knit on the right side. Hats, socks, and sweaters can be knit in the round.

Now that we have laid out that basic foundation, let's get to our needles

Straight Needles:

First, let’s look at straight needles. These are the stereotypical knitting needles that you have probably seen somewhere on TV or in books. Straight needles are perfect for knitting small flat projects like scarves, some shawls, dishcloths, etc. Straight needles come in a lot of different lengths, but typically local big box stores in America will only carry 8 - 10 inch straight needles, which are way too short to be knitting big blankets on. But, we will get to a solution for that in a minute.

Circular Needles:

Next, let’s look at my personal favorite, circular needles. I love circular needles because they can be used to knit both in the round AND flat. Circular needles come in all different lengths, so you could definitely find a length to knit a blanket on!

Double Pointed Needles (DPNs):

Finally we have DPNs. Circular needles didn’t really come about until 1918 (thank you wikipedia lol), but knitting in the round has been around since the beginning. So, how was this accomplished? With double-pointed-needles, or DPNs. Like straight needles, DPNs come in all different lengths. So, some people still knit whole sweaters using them! Double pointed needles are also great for small circumferences like socks, sleeves, and the tops of hats when you can’t find a circular needle small enough.

That’s the very basics, but let’s move into some bonus knowledge: wooden needles vs. metal or plastic needles. Wooden needles tend to grip yarn more than metal or plastic needles. If you are a beginner, I recommend using wooden needles so that your stitches don’t slip around too much.

That's all that we have for you today! I hope you enjoyed our video game montage at the beginning of our video. It was fun to make haha.

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