Okay, so you’ve been knitting for awhile and you’re into it. You want to take your knitting to the next level. But in order to up your game, you’ll need some new tools.
Just as a young ninja trades up from plushie nun-chucks to the real deal, so too will you enter the realm of interchangeable circular needle sets and needle gauges. Meet your new tool set!
1. Interchangeable Circular Needle Set
Not getting an interchangeable circular needle set is my biggest regret when it comes to tooIs. I wish I had purchased them when I was a beginner because I would have saved a lot of time and money.
These sets allow you to pop on and off different sized needle tips onto a nylon cable so that you don’t have to buy separate circular needles in different lengths and sizes. A set usually includes two or three cables (usually a 24″ and a 32″) and needle tips in various sizes. Genius! It’s an economical and practical investment that every knitter should make.
BEST DEAL:Options Interchangeable Nickel Plated Circular Knitting Needle Set
Knit Picks is the king of affordable knitting. Their needle set is celebrated as functional and affordable by pretty much everyone who uses them. Their set comes with two 24″ and 32″ cables and US size 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5 and 11 needle tips. There are also options to add different sized needle tips and cable lengths.
SPLUGE: Addi Turbo Click Interchangeable Circular Needle Set
Addi Turbos are the Ferraris of knitting needles. They just feel good in your hands. The needles are made of nickel-plated brass and the gold cable is soft and pliable with a nearly seamless join to the needle. It’s a needle that feels expensive. The only caveat is that can be slippery, so beginners beware. Includes cables with lengths of 24″ 32″ and 40.”
2. Set of Double Pointed Needles
If you get into knitting socks, hats, mittens and gloves, investing in a double-pointed needle set can be a real lifesaver. Buying a set is cheaper that buying sizes individually, and having multiple sizes in your home limits your yarn store runs when you’re starting a new project or testing for gauge.
Once again, Knit Picks has great options in plain wood, colourful dyed wood, and nickel plated needles in lengths from 4″ – 6″. I’m partial to wood for DPNs since wood is less slippery and “grippier,” which is an important quality since DPNs have no “stopper” on either ends. I like these 6″ wooden DPNs.
These 6″ bamboo DPNs from Knitter’s Pride are also pretty great. They come in US size 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
3. A Case for your Needles
Once you amass a collection of knitting needles, it’s important to keep them organised. At some point, your needles will outgrow that mason jar you keep them in, and they’ll be jostling against each other like puppies in a fruit crate. One or two will escape, never to be seen again, and if they’re part of a DPN set, you’ll let out a guttural “OY VEY” because the whole set becomes less useful with each lost needle. Your squirming needles need a home!
Thankfully, needle cases exist for just his purpose – keeping your needles safe and organised.
This clutch-looking case from knitshearbliss manages to be both functional and chic. It has 36 pockets and a sweet little zip pouch to hold all your notions.
If you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your own needle case and design it to your own specs. For real! The folks over at Design*Sponge have a great step-by-step tutorial. Doing this requires that you have and know how to operate a sewing machine.
4. Needle Gauge
Has this ever happened to you? You need to find a specific needle size. Some of your needles are unmarked, so you end up rifling through them and squinting at each one. Is this a 5mm or a 5.5mm? Can you feel out the size? (not really) Or eyeball it against another marked needle? (possibly). But why put yourself through the agony? The best way to figure out your needle’s size quickly and accurately is with a needle gauge.
This laser cut bass wood needle gauge from Tangerine8 is adorable! There are also options for owls, hedgehogs and foxes, oh my! They also comes in US and Metric sizes.
Or maybe you’re into grinning dolls and robots? These adorable needle gauges by Succaplokki are made in Finland from recycled plastic.
Fancy a needle gauge on the go? Succaplokki also makes a Knit or Die gauge ring. This one in ice blue is BALLIN.
5. Tapestry Needle
Ah, the humble tapestry needle. It’s tiny and not particularly sexy, but don’t let looks deceive you. It’s super handy for knitters. Need to weave in loose ends? Use a tapestry needle. Gotta put in a lifeline? Use a tapestry need. Need to seam pieces together? Tapestry needle. It’s unlikely you won’t need a tapestry needle when you’re knitting.
Any crafts store worth its salt will stock tapestry needles. Or check out these pretty candy-colored ones from Sevenyaks
6. Blocking Pins
Once you start knitting sweaters or anything lace-related, you’ll need to block them into shape. You’ll do this with an army of blocking pins! They’ll keep your project in place while it dries. These flower-headed pins from Clover are cute, sturdy and rust-proof. Alternatively, regular T-pins, like the ones from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, will work too.
7. Stitch Markers
Stitch markers are essentially a ring that marks the beginning and end of your round or a segment of your knitting. They can be as low-key as a rubber band or as fancy as a silver ring with a decorative crystal. These plastic split ring markers that I use fall somewhere in-between, but for you, stitch markers can be a fun expression of you and your knitting!
There you have it: your knitting ninja tool kit! Did I miss anything? What are you essential knitting tools? Let me know in the comments below!
Janine Melnitz says
You don’t need DPNs if you have a good circular needle set; socks, hats, mittens and gloves can all be knitted using the magic loop method. It’s marvellous.
Great and useful article, though. Thanks!
Ooh! Magic Loop! You are so right! I love Magic Loop, but I figure for a newish beginner, it’s a little intimidating. I think of Magic Loop as a Jedi Master level technique. But I’m definitely storing it for another post. Thanks for bringing it up. Good tip!
No Master Jedi certification required to work Magic Loop!!! 🙂
For me, the DPN’s are like knitting with a recalcitrant porcupine!! lol!
It’s all in the practice…..and finding a good video instructor…..there are plenty of videos on the internet….you just have to seek out the one you can follow and relate to best.
There are great learning videos here on sheepandstitch.com…..another really good instructor is Staci at verypink.com…..find one you can easily follow and understand.
…..and make sure you have a circular cord long enough to work with
without getting scrunched up at one end or the other, especially if you are doing Magic Loop 2@a time…..
and put in Life Lines whether you think you need them or not!
You’re right! Magic Loop is pretty awesome! I used to really dislike DPNs also, but recently I’ve come around to them. I have no idea why! Maybe the shifting of the moons or the tides.
I think of Magic Loop as being a pretty advanced technique. What do you think? Did you learn on YouTube? How far along in your knitting journey were you when you picked it up?
Thanks for your comment!
I started out with magic loop for circular knitting. I always found DPNs to be intimidating and I’m so paranoid of the stitches falling off. Magic loop is easy to learn. I’ve never had to use DPNs.
I always found using dpns easier than the magic loop method, but I also learned how to knit in the round on dpns not circulars, I just started using circulars, and I should have used them sooner
Thanks, again you have useful info for us newbies! I’m really getting into the yarn knitting now and your info helps. Making things with wire is so much more forgiving than yarn, it’s a whole new planet for me.
Hey Tracy! You’re so welcome! I’m glad this helped you out. But wait – whoa. You knit with wire??
Yes, I make jewelry and we did a wire workshop 2yrs ago – here is something I made – it’s knitted sterling silver on a fabricated sterling frame.
That’s so cool! Who knew you could knit up wire!
A plug for Denise Interchangables for those of us who hate the feel of metal needles hitting against each other (luckily I discovered that when I started out on straights (if I ever had to go back to straights (I wouldn’t) the Lion Brand flexible ones made out of whatever they’re made out of were the only ones that didn’t drive me up the wall)
Thanks for the plug, Ally. I just checked out Denise. They’ve got cute silk cases for their needles! I’m totally with you on never going back to straights. Circs for life!
That bracelet is too cool!
I was wondering about the needle sets and this post convinced me. I ordered circulars and dpns. So now I’ve saved a fortune and I can treat myself to Crave yarns 🙂
Woohoo! Good for you! Not getting a needle set has been my biggest regret! Enjoy Crave Yarns. Amor’s bases and coloryways are mmm-mmm good!
I know this post is a little old, but I had a question about the quality of various interchangeable sets. I keep coming so close to buying a set, then I read through various reviews and come away with a bad taste in my mouth, deciding to wait.
I have been looking at sets in the less-than-$100 range. Do you have a recommendation for reliable brands in that lower price range?
Hey Abby, I’ve only tried the Addi Turbo and Knit Picks interchangeables. They were both very sturdy with no hitch at the join. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the Addis (they feel so good!), but they’re also three times as expensive as the Knit Picks, so there’s the trade-off.
A commenter above suggested Denise interchangeable needles. I haven’t tried them before, but they’ve got a good rating on Amazon (a solid 4.5 stars over 187 reviews). They’re about 5 bucks more than the Knit Picks. Worth investigating. Good luck on your hunt! Let me know how it goes.
Thanks for the quick reply, I’ll look into the Denise set!
Abby…definately go with addi even though they are more than $100 a set. I would choose the short lace…sharp tip and you can knit anything. You can buy piece by piece…there really isnt much of a price break. Can even buy the case separate. The quality is great…lifetime warranty. Shop FiberWild and they will hook ya up. I bought everything from them so as if I have issues I deal only with them. Tell them kathy sent you…lol! Oh ask for Sean! Hes awesome. God bless
Hey Kathy! Thanks for your recommendation! Like you, I’m personally a big fan of Addis, but I totally get that for a knitter on a budget Addis can be a bit of a splurge. However, if you’re a dedicated knitter, the Addis are the way to go. They’ll last a lifetime!
I love Addi circular needles. I used some of the techniques I learned for Fair Isle sweaters and so with the Addis, once I’m done knitting, I’m done except for weaving in the tails. My question now is, I’ve found a glove pattern that makes something nice and warm and soft — but also slippery on the steering wheel. I’ve heard that waffle weave drawer liner material could change that. Anybody have an opinion? thanks