For someone just getting into a hobby, affordability is key. Who wants to invest hundreds of dollars in an activity they may not enjoy? But anyone who’s ever colored with “dollar store” crayons or used “student-quality” art supplies knows that using subpar tools can ruin the experience of even the most eager student.
What size, style, material, length, and shape of knitting needle should a beginning knitter start with? Are there special needles for children learning to knit?
What makes a good beginner's knitting needle?
People new to knitting will not have the dexterity or muscle memory that experienced knitters have built up. Many needles that are favorites amongst veteran knitters for their texture and shape are in fact poor choices for new knitters. The slick texture of many speed knitting needles may actually put off a new knitter who finds it frustrating that their hard-won stitches keep sliding off the polished tips.
While far more versatile than standard knitting needles, circular needles may not be the best choice for new knitters, who frequently have trouble remembering which hand does what, or how to turn the work and begin on the 'purl' side.
By comparison, two separate straight needles without a stiff cable in the middle simplifies the experience and isolates the project into just two dimensions, rather than bending around and underneath, as on a circular needle.
As for needle size, a project using size US8 knitting needles is generally regarded as the most comfortable size to learn on.
And if you're not sure how to get started, this Craftsy class is a great beginner knitting tutorial for kids or adults.
Color-coded needles for smaller hands
Designed especially for beginning knitters and children, famous knitting needle manufacturer Addi has developed a circular called the Addi Linos Circular.
These needles preserve the durability of a metal needle without sacrificing grip. This unusal needle uses two colors of coating (brass and nickel), one on each needle, to help a new knitter keep isolate the left and right needles while learning. These tips are also shorter, sized for children's hands.
Addi also offers the Linos series in a set of of 8” straight plastic needles with a special anti-slip coating and two colored end caps (one red, one blue). Both circular and straight Addi Linos are available in sizes US6, US7, and US8, great choices for people learning to knit at any age.
Vibrant acrylic needles
KnitPro/Knitter’s Pride has a affordable line of needles made from brightly-colored acrylic resin — a more grippy texture than aluminum or metal, and more flexible for beginning knitters contorting their hands in new ways.
The KnitPro Trendz are solid, semi-translucent and brightly colored; while the Knitter’s Pride Marblz are hand-mixed with a unique multicolor pattern to every needle. The acrylic material provides a certain amount of grab, making them useful for slippery yarns like silk.
For a new knitter, we suggest a pair of affordable Knitter's Pride Trendz straight knitting needles.
The classic bamboo beginner's needle
A lot of people learn to knit using bamboo needles because they are so widely available and relatively affordable.
Clover's Takumi needles are the leading bamboo knitting needle, made from carefully selected bamboo heartwood and polished smooth with a rounded tip. The texture of the Clover Takumi Straight Needle provides a dependable grip, keeping stitches from sliding off.
While the Clover Takumi Interchangeable set offers more variety in the long run, if you are purchasing beginner needles in bulk, the straight needles are probably a better choice.
Like all bamboo needles, Clover Takumis are lighter and more flexible than other needle materials. A sturdy size US8 should withstand normal use, but don't begin with anything smaller than a US5, as the too much force can cause the needle to bend or even crack.