Knit Tips: Buying Your First Set of Needles

When walking down the isles of a large craft store such as Michael’s or Joann’s, it can be a bit overwhelming deciding between all of the available products.  If you’re new to knitting, or any craft for that matter, it can be a daunting task to choose your first set of knitting needles.  What size do you buy?  What kind of material should they be made from?  Should you buy the “learn to knit” kit with all the accessories that you don’t yet know what to do with?

I know when I first started knitting, I was quite often overwhelmed by the vast number of knitting needles to choose from.  After consistently knitting for about 4 years now, I have built up quite a collection of needles.  If you’re considering picking up knitting as a hobby, then I hope these tips will help you feel a bit more comfortable walking into the knitting section!

First, decide on the type of yarn you’ll be using for your first project.  Once you’ve got your yarn in hand, turn it over and look at the label.  It should tell you the size of needle that best corresponds to that particular yarn, and should look something like the image below.  On this label, the second box on the left tells me that a US Size 8 needle would be best for this yarn. It also lists the size in millimeters for those knitters not in the States.  Size 8 is one size that you’ll see often and can use on almost any weight of yarn, with the exception of “fine” or “bulky” yarns.

Next, choose what type of knitting needles you want to purchase.  There are many options on the market right now, all at various price points.  The most common needles I’ve seen are made from either bamboo, plastic, or metal.  As a beginner, bamboo needles will help your knitting from sliding off the needles.  But these can be rather expensive.  I prefer metal needles over plastic ones, since plastic can have a tendency to snag your yarn, which can be frustrating when just starting out!

And finally, choose your desired length of needles.  Most single pointed knitting needles are available in two sizes, 10” or 14”.  I’d suggest purchasing a 10” set of needles just to start out with since they’ll be a little easier to handle.  As you progress, you’ll gradually start to build up your own collection of needles, so there’s no need to feel that you must buy an entire set all at once!

Other tips:

  • Ask friends and family if they have any knitting needles they’re not using!  You’d be surprised how many people try knitting and find that it’s not for them.
  • Search your local thrift shops and yard sales for used needles!  This is actually where I go before buying a new pair.  You can find lots of different sizes for a good price.  And they’re usually significantly less than what you’d pay at Michael’s or Joann’s.
  • Buy your needles when you’ve got a coupon!  I know Michael’s sometimes offers 40% off coupons that you can use on a regularly priced item.  Buying something like knitting needles is the perfect item for this type of coupon!

I hope these tips help you pick out your first pair of knitting needles!  Knitting is such a great hobby to learn.  It’s the perfect thing to take along with you whenever you’ll be sitting and waiting for a while.  And there’s nothing like seeing the reaction of a loved one receiving one of your hand-knit gifts!

do you knit? are there any projects you’d like to learn?

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  1. What great tips! I think the fact that there’s metal and plastic and then wooden knitting needles can be very daunting. I never know which ones are the best to use. I’ve been trying to get into knitting on and off for the last couple of years. Sometimes I can get really into it and make a couple of things and then not pick up anything for a year or so. I’m much more of a crocheter – I find that a lot easier personally!

  2. Great post, Ashley! This is very helpful for first time knitters.
    I knit and crochet and I usually prefer the metal hooks/needles.

  3. I’ve only been knitting for about 6 months now. I wanted to learn crochet and knit (the crochet is taking time – keeping the stitches uniform is so hard for me!) and so I headed off to Joann Fabrics and purchased ALL of supplies at once. Because I was new, I decided to try a set that was lightweight and inexpensive so I went with the Susan Bates Silvalume sets. I’ve also picked up more needles along the way (circular and longer straight needles). For me, these were very easy to learn with.

    For yarn, I bought a bunch of cotton from Joann’s (6 huge skeins of cotton worsted-weight). Also, I got extremely lucky and found a woman locally that had decided to stop knitting/crocheting (she was older) and I was able to buy over 50 skeins of new yarns in various materials (acrylic, cotton, wool, etc.) for only $20! Needless to say, that set me up for a while. :)

    Since that point 6 months ago, I’ve only made one yarn purchase for a project I was working on. I knitted my daughter a blanket and bought some super soft baby yarn.

    I really think as a beginner, the aluminum needles were great for me and I still love them now that I’ve really gotten into this full-swing. With yarn, that’s really going to depend on your budget and the project you’re wanting to make. Before I began, I really researched (for months, LOL) yarns, needles, tips/tricks, etc. and made sure that I felt 100% comfortable that I knew my facts before heading off to Joann’s to buy all of my supplies. :)

    This is a great post – thanks for sharing!!

  4. Meredith says:

    hobby lobby always has a coupon online at their website you can print out and bring in – i love those! your photo of the knitting needles is so cool! …btw

  5. Great Post :D I just started knitting less than a month ago, and I found 10mm needles the best! I know they’re very wide, but I was only 10 at the time, and I found them the easiest. I’ve alredy knitted a scarf, which I’m quite proud of considering my age!

  6. I haven’t started knitting YET. I still must practice more with crochet first, than I’ll work on knitting – I can’t wait! Do you crochet? If so, which do you prefer? Is one “easier” than the other?

  7. I love knitting and these are definitly some great tips. Another I would add is to not feel like you HAVE to buy the recommend needle size. Each pattern will give you further details regarding what size needle & yarn should work best for that pattern, and of course knitting tightly or loosely will change the gauge, which will mean you’ll need to adjust your needle size to account for that.

    But alas… this is probably a discussion for an advanced knitting blog post. ;P

  8. I crochet very well even though i have not been doing so lately. I want to start knitting and I am excited about it . As a beginner I like the information that I have been received. Please tell me the web site for crocheting scarves I need some to do especially since winter is fast approaching

  9. Thanks for the post! I’m looking to buy my first set of needles and this has certainly helped a lot.

  10. I’ve started to collect a few sizes of knitting needles and recently saw a set
    that has a range of sizes from 0 up to 15. It’s a great price, but I’m wondering,
    will I ever have a need for sizes 0-3 or for that matter sizes 11-15? who can tell
    me if it’s worth it to buy this set based on that question – do you ever use those
    sizes? thanks!!