Learn to knit for pleasure, relaxation, meditation...

Knitting Tip: . . . . . . Knitting Needle Materials: Pros & Cons
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Which Type of Knitting Needle Suits You Best?

For the last two weeks we discussed ways to prevent pain while knitting by using good ergonomic design and making postural changes, and also which exercises knitters can do to alleviate pain caused by knitting. My father was fond of saying, "A good workman chooses good tools." This week we will talk about our main tools - knitting needles - and how they affect our hands while knitting as well as the appearance of our knitting.

Knitting needles are made of several different materials. There is no "best" material, but only individual preferences. Let's consider the positives and negatives of each type of needle. I will try to be as objective as possible, but as a life long knitter, I have my own strong opinions about this subject. Remember that these preferences relate to your own personal style of knitting, your own unique physiology, how much knitting you actually do each week, and how long you typically knit at one sitting, as well as your aesthetic preferences. With that in mind, here are the different types of needles arranged by the materials of their manufacture. Please click on each material for a discussion of the pros and cons of that type of knitting needle.

  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Plastic
  • Bamboo
  • Casein
  • I hope that what you have read on this list makes clear that you really need to try different needles yourself - and try them with different yarns. It's useful to have an assortment of needles so that you can match them to your particular project. Yarns come with so many different properties - thick, thin, hairy, smooth, slippery, rough, bumpy, loopy, and so forth. For this reason, you need different needles for different projects.

    Some general recommendations can be made, however. If you have any problems with your hands or wrists, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Tendonitis, you probably want to stay away from stiff, cold, metal needles. You will most likely find that flexible plastic or casein needles are best for you. You may also prefer using circular needles, which allow the weight of the knitting to rest in your lap instead of being supported by your hands. Circulars can, of course, be used to knit back and forth, not just in the round.

    Whatever your choices are, at least try knitting with different needles so that you can make up your own mind based on practical experience and preference. Have fun trying all these beautiful needles! You may become a collector as I have.

    Please check back next week for a discussion of circular knitting needles. Also, check our Knitting Tip Archives for more helpful Knitting Tips from the Guru.