Knitting Needles: A Guide to Material Choices

 
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Hey, happy crafters!

So, I'm nicely fuelled with caffeine today and ready to talk about knitting needles, again!

I know, I know, we only discussed them last week, but... there's more to learn!

Did you think the size and type of knitting needles are the only things that are important?

Well, I am here to tell you you’re wrong, my friend!

Today we’re going to be looking at all the different materials that knitting needles can be made out of, and how that can have an impact on your knitting project! Exciting, yes?!

Knitting needles are available in lots of different material choices, with different finishes, and the different finishes have different properties to support or hinder your knitting.

We're only going to address the most easily accessible materials today, and we're looking at them in order of my preference, so here goes!

1. Metal

Pros

  • slick for faster knitting

  • strong

  • noisy

  • generally inexpensive*

Cons

  • cold

  • noisy

  • inflexible

  • can be heavy

Standard metal needles tend to have quite a matte finish to them, and grip your stitches nicely, but still allow them to move freely provided you're not a super tight knitter.

Metal needles are my favourite because I'm a speed knitter. To be precise, I love nickel coated metal needles, not the standard finish ones.

Nickel coated needles have a slick coating and sharp tips, that allow you to get in between the stitches easily. The high shine finish allows the stitches to slip and slide across the surface of the needle easily; precision and confidence in fixing dropped stitches is something you'll want with these needles.

The KnitPro Nova interchangeable circular needles are hands down my favourite needles for most projects. It's safe to say I've tried lots of needle types, but these are just perfect for my needs!

Also, it's worth noting that I'm allergic to nickel, but not these needles.

*when I say that metal needles are generally expensive, I'm not including nickel plated needles in that - mine were very expensive, but I also see it as an investment. They have lasted me years, they're still going strong, and I still adore them!

I also like metal because if like me, you're a complete clutz, you're less likely to snap one with your arse...

2. Bamboo

Pros

  • lightweight

  • slicker than wood

  • warm*

  • quiet

  • can be bought with sharp or blunt tips

Cons

  • weak

  • quiet

  • "grippy"

Bamboo is a great material for knitting needles, and these KnitPro Bamboo Double Pointed Needles are what I use exclusively when it comes to DPN's.

They have a good grip on the yarn, which can be a negative thing depending on what you're doing, but when you're knitting socks, for example, they're fab. Trust me, the last thing you want is to be concentrating on your lovely knitted sock, just to realise you've lost half of your stitches off the other end of your needle!

3. Wood

Pros

  • lightweight

  • warm*

  • quiet

  • aesthetically pleasing

  • cheaper than bamboo

Cons

  • weak

  • quiet

  • "grippy"

  • blunter tips

I find the properties of Bamboo and Wood to be very similar.

All I would say is different is that wood needles can be a touch heavier than bamboo and that wood isn't quite as strong. I don’t use wooden needles myself, but these KnitPro Symfonie Single Pointed Needles are BEAUTIFUL!

Some of the wooden needles available on the market are awesome, but I have snapped many a wood needle in my time and have given up somewhat!

*It's also worth noting, that although warm may seem like an odd factor to include, many people who suffer from arthritis find wood and bamboo needles to be much kinder to their hands. There are also cuboid shaped wooden needles, which many arthritis sufferers swear by!

4. Acrylic

Pros

  • inexpensive

  • lightweight

Cons

  • pretty much everything else...

Yeah, okay, I'm being unnecessarily harsh. But acrylic needles suck.

If you can afford not to, don't buy acrylic needles.

I say this as someone who desperately wants you to see how awesome and fun knitting is, and I guarantee that plastic needles will make it harder for you to feel that way!

Seriously, though, the cons...

  • unpleasant to hold

  • have a tendency to bend

  • designed by Satan himself

  • create ridiculous amounts of friction which makes sliding stitches off of them nigh on impossible

  • this is even worse if you're using an acrylic based yarn

  • they're ugly*

*Unless, they're made into jewellery. In which case, they're fairly awesome.

So, that wraps up our series on knitting needles, I really hope you found it useful and it's helped you to choose the right needles for your next project!

Related Post: Knitting Needles: A Beginner's Guide

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