needle sizes

What size needles do I need?

The sheer variety of knitting needle sizes and forms can be overwhelming for a novice. Should you use straight, circular or double-pointed needles? Can you use size seven knitting needles rather than size eight if that is all you have available? What is the difference between bamboo and plastic needles?

It is enough to drive you mad.

Before you go crazy and purchase every knitting needle size and kind available, have a peek at this manual. We have divided up yarn weights as they look at the Craft Yarn Council’s Standard Yarn Weight System.

This isn’t a hard-and-fast manual to the knitting needle sizes you need to use with every yarn. By way of instance, even though the recommended needle size to get a lace-weight yarn is 000-1, occasionally a pattern will call for a size five needle, which makes a loose lace stitched with a great deal of drape. (Always check your pattern first). However, the guide can assist you in making a choice involving, say, a bamboo double-pointed needle or a circular plastic needle.

LACE WEIGHT

Knitting needle sizes: 000-1

clover knitting needles

Some lace-weight jobs are large shawls that need tiny needles. But knitting on straight needles can take a toll on your wrists, particularly if the project gets heavy. That is when needles such as the Clover Takumi Bamboo 48in Circular Knitting Needles pictured above come in handy.

Circular knitting needles like these aren’t just reserved for projects which are worked in the round. You may even use them for horizontal, back-and-forth row jobs that are thick, like lace shawls as well as heavier afghans. The cord takes all of the weight off your wrist so that the project weight may rest on your lap.

SOCK WEIGHT

Knitting needle sizes: 1-3

If you are not yet addicted to knitting socks, then you soon will be! The sock pops up on all us knitters sooner or later. Most socks are knit with a size 1 or 2 needles, but you could also find sock designs that were designed for thicker non-sock yarns. Along with socks, you can liven up amazing shawls with sock-weight yarn and these tiny needles.

I adore these Clover Takumi Bamboo 5in Double Point Knitting Needles for knitting socks since the brief length of the needles means you spend less time pushing your job around on the needles and more time knitting. Plus, the bamboo aids the yarn grip the needle so that the yarn doesn’t slide off unexpectedly.

SPORT WEIGHT

Knitting needle sizes: 3-5

While not as thin as sock yarn, the sport-weight yarn may still use those tinier knitting needles which may cause your hands to cramp up. Straight needles work well with this size if you are working with a light-weight apartment job but opt for those longer circular needle sets if your project is heavy. I recently knit a sport-weight sweater on size three needles, and you can bet I had been using those long circulars to support the weight of the garment.

DK WEIGHT

Knitting needle sizes: 5-7

DK weight is just slightly lighter than worsted weight, which makes it super common for everything from sweaters to gloves and scarves.

As soon as you start working with plenty of different yarn weights and then decide that you are going to become a knitter for the long haul, then consider investing in a pair of needles such as the Addi Interchangeable set (see our circular needle review here) pictured above. This specific set ranges from knitting needle size 3-15.5 and includes five unique cords. It is like having 60 different knitting needles all rolled into a compact set.

WORSTED WEIGHT

Knitting needle sizes: 7-9

Worsted weight yarn is possibly the yarn you will use most often. It’s paired with knitting needles in the medium size range — possibly even the same knitting needle sizes which you just learned to knit with.

If you’re in doubt about the weight of the yarn, you’re using or the knitting needles sizes, consult with the yarn label for support. Yarn labels always include a gauge, in addition to a recommended knitting needle size which you could use as a starting point. You might discover that you knit tighter or looser than the judge given; in that case, you will have to change your needle size.

Want to find out more about worsted weight yarn? Have a look at our review on worsted weight yarn which includes loads of patterns.

BULKY/CHUNKY WEIGHT

Knitting needle sizes: 9-11

The knitting needle sizes are growing bigger, and since they do, you’ll discover that the knits work up faster and faster. Bulky or chunky weight yarn is famed for being a fast knit. You can use practically any knitting needle type for this yarn, but remember that if you are working with something big, these long circular needles will be a lifesaver for holding all of the weight of the undertaking.

SUPER BULKY WEIGHT

Knitting needle sizes: 11-17

Super bulky weight is enjoyable to work with, and it is not just because it knits up fast. You can experiment with textures such as wires which will honestly stand out when they are knit up in a super bulky fiber. Imagine a super bulky weight blanket that includes a gorgeous cable wrapping down the middle or just a hat knit up in a fundamental seed stitch. The super bulky weight yarn, together with large knitting needles, will make any stitch stick out. The Lion Brand Circular Knitting Needles serve as a great choice here.

JUMBO

Knitting needle sizes: 17 and bigger

Make way for thick knits! Jumbo is the latest yarn weight category and utilizes the largest knitting needles of all. If you are working with a small project that is not overly heavy or wide, we recommend the Lion Brand Yarn Knitting Needles, size 35 or 19 mm.  These needles are made from plastic, keeping them lightweight and comfortable to wield. The needles come in sizes 11-35, so they’re fantastic for both super bulky weight jobs and jumbo jobs.

Beginners, what kinds of knitting needles have you tried so far? Experienced knitters, what are your favorite go-to knitting needles?

About the Author Caleb Gonzales

Caleb Gonzales is a retired carpenter who grew a passion for knitting after learning the art from his wife. After she passed away he has since taken on the responsibility of knitting socks, hats, scarfs and the sorts for his grandchildren.

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