As knitters know, there are a myriad of reasons to use circular knitting needles. They let you knit in the round, they are more compact, and they don't give you the opportunity to lose one of a pair of needles! However, there are still many choices you need to make when buying circular knitting needles. These are some of the things you will need to take into account when buying circular knitting needles.
- Determine which kind of needle size you are looking at. Needle sizes are determined by the diameter of the knitting needles, but this can get confusing. Metric measurements are the most straightforward as they are just labeled with the diameter in millimeters. The US sizing system begins with the smallest diameter needles as 00 (1.75 mm diameter) and continues on up so that size 15 needles have a diameter of 10 mm, or 1 cm. British sizes are just the opposite; needles with a 1.75 mm diameter are size 15 in the British system, while needles with a diameter of 10 mm are size 000 in the UK.
- Now, choose which size of needle you need. Generally, you will use thinner needles for more delicate or thinner yarn, and thicker knitting needles for chunky or bulky yarn. Most yarn and patterns come with a recommended needle size, however, you may have to adjust slightly depending on how tightly or loosely you knit.
- The length of the circular needles. Circular needles are connected by a cord, and the length of the cord varies. The length of a circular needle is measured from tip to tip, including the cord. If you are knitting in the round, you will need the length of the cord and needles to be shorter than the diameter of your knitting project. If you are doing flat knitting, you just want to make sure that all your stitches fit on the needles.
- Plastic, metal, or wood? Each of these has its pros and cons. Wooden needles are made of a variety of woods and tend to be quieter than the other kinds - useful if you're knitting in a library or at a performance. Metal needles range from the very cheap to the very expensive - and with metal circular needles, you definitely get what you pay for! The more expensive metal needles are very smooth and help you to knit much more quickly. Plastic needles fall somewhere in the middle in terms of noisiness and smoothness.
- Check the join of the cord to the needles. It is most helpful to actually use the needles so that you can see if your yarn gets stuck at all where the cord is joined to the needles. Once you have found a brand of circular knitting needles that you like, you may want to stick with them, as they can vary so widely.
Although circular knitting needles are often more expensive than straight needles, many knitters have found them to be more knitter-friendly, less likely to be lost, and more versatile. You may have to experiment a little before you find the perfect circular knitting needles for you, but, when in doubt, asking for advice in a knitting store will put you on the right path.