Should a beginning knitter start with?

Circular Needles
24% (26 votes)
Double-Pointed Needles
1% (1 vote)
Straight Needles
75% (80 votes)
Total votes: 107


Thanks to everyone who voted

Thanks to everyone who voted and voiced their opinion.

I think that straight needles

I think that straight needles are the way to go. It is kind of like learning to drive. If you learn to drive a stick shift, you can drive anything if you have to get home in an emergency. Same thing with knitting, you may not be able to find circs or Addis for what ever reason. The chances are good that you would be able to find some straight needles somewhere.

Tallguy's picture

Well, I gotta say I'm rather

Well, I gotta say I'm rather surprised at how many still think you have to start out on straight needles! What gives here??

The ones you are most comfortable using are usually the first needles you have used. It is wrong to start someone with straights because then they get stuck in a rut. Look around at many here that are "afraid" to start working with dpns or circs. What's up with that?? I honestly do not understand, and I never was afraid of them. But then, I started using differnt needles fairly early in my knitting life, and not knowing anything different, I just went ahead and used them. No one told me I was supposed to be afraid of them.

When I start out my beginners, I always start them on a hat, knit in the round. NO SCARVES FOR BEGINNERS!!! Not if you want them to continue knitting. A hat is very simple, interesting to do, it goes quick, and because a beginner knows nothing else, they can't be afraid of anything. They will learn the knit stitch. I don't do ribbing at first, so no purl. They do the K2tog as the decrease. It's all simple! They will work with circs or dpns -- it doesn't matter much which -- and learn to KNIT!

Knitting is, after all, just making a loop through another loop using a pointed stick. All you need is a pointed end... it matters not whether there is a point on the other end, a knob or a cable. All you need is that pointed end. Heck, even a sharpened pencil will work! Those ends are where the all the work happens, and that is where we should be concentrating our efforts. Once you learn on circs, you can handle anything after that. Start on straights and you are really stuck. You limit yourself. And that is not what we want for beginners.

Alright, come out with your guns blazing!! LOL

michaelpthompson's picture

Well, I gotta admit, I taught

Well, I gotta admit, I taught a couple of my nephews to knit, and they both started on circs, I do know it's possible. The only reason I suggested straights is to avoid distractions like worrying about reversing, etc. But I can see where circular stockinette would be pretty simple to learn.

I started on straights, and now I use circs, dpns, looms, and even once in a while a crochet hook. I never found the straights to be a limitation or that I was "stuck."

It's nonsense to say that

It's nonsense to say that they limit you. I learned to knit on straights before I was five years old, and eventually progressed naturally to DPN's and circulars. Now I use whatever I feel is appropriate to the project in either bamboo, birch, metal or those giant plastic ones. I think we each come to new techniques at our own speed rather than be 'scared'.

michaelpthompson's picture

Mostly easier to get the

Mostly easier to get the basic concepts on straight needles. You need to get comfortable with knit and purl before you try the fancy stuff. Though at that, the fancy stuff is still just knit and purl.

I just made a pair of socks on bamboo dpns, and I loved the texture of the wool and the bamboo. I've got a couple of sets of Addis and they are great for knitting in the round. You can really get going with them. But all in all, it's a matter of preference. I know people who won't use anything but circs, even knitting flat.

For a complete noob, I'd start with straights, but once you get the hang of knit and purl, the sky's the limit!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Very valid points, Michael.

Very valid points, Michael. I'm still helping friends get sorted out when they confuse which side is which on dpns and circulars. One of those things that happens to newbies.

Tallguy's picture

No, sorry to say, there is no

No, sorry to say, there is no confusion of which is the right side whlen knitting circular -- IF you follow the very simple rules. I've seen people start knitting THE WRONG DIRECTION and that was completely due to their inattention. There are signs all over the place telling you which way to go, how to pick up your knitting, and you can spot a mistake immediately, but again IF you know what you are doing. Very sadly, I've seen quite a few knitters who hadn't a clue what they were doing -- they simply did things by rote, not knowing what effect it had. It might be easier to teach a chimpanzee to knit!

A properly taught observant "thinking knitter" would never get confused when circular knitting as to which side is up or the front. Never.

Bill's picture

"A properly taught observant

"A properly taught observant "thinking knitter" would never get confused when circular knitting as to which side is up or the front. Never."

Unfortunately, that has happened to me several times...sometimes life gets in the way, you pick up your knitting and continue where you left off...then after a while discover a hole a few rows back. You figure it out and realize you must have changed directions. Most of us are simply human, not perfect!

Well said, Bill.

Well said, Bill.

BrentGC's picture

Okay...being a newbie

Okay...being a newbie knitter, I have to ask. What is the attraction to Addis? What I read on here, and on Ravelry is that once you use Addis you've reached knitting Nirvana.

I'm not trying to be stupid...just wondering.

So far, I've done round loom knitting, have practiced needle knitting on #9 bamboo needles, and have a project on #3 bamboo circular needles, and a project on #10 bamboo circular needles.

Y'all give me some book learnin' we say in the South! :-)


P.S. By the way...some of y'all intimidate the hell out of me!!! In a good way...inspires me to learn more and more!

michaelpthompson's picture

On Wed, 2011-10-12 06:30 —

On Wed, 2011-10-12 06:30 — BrentGC wrote:

Okay...being a newbie knitter, I have to ask. What is the attraction to Addis? What I read on here, and on Ravelry is that once you use Addis you've reached knitting Nirvana.

I'm not sure about Nirvana, but Addis are certainly useful for the appropriate project. I just finished a pair of socks on bamboo dpns, and I'm working on a hat with steel dpns and a knitting sheath. Then I started a sweater for my sister-in-law for Christmas. The pattern called for knitting flat and seaming it together, but I decided to do it on Addi turbo circs instead. They move pretty quickly, and the yarn doesn't bind where the cable joins the needle. I have had that problem with bamboo circs.

Only problem I had was decided on length. The pattern quotes a 48 inch circumference for the sweater, so I'm using a 40 inch Addi turbo circular needle. Works pretty well, but the knitting tends to bunch up a bit at the bottom of the circle. A bit shorter might actually have worked easier. But then, every project is a learning experience.

BrentGC's picture

Thanks guys for all of your

Thanks guys for all of your perspectives. I'm sticking with bamboo right now, as I love the texture of the needles.

I think one thing that threw me off knitting for years was that my mother decided she was going to learn how to knit when I was little. She got these huge copper-colored metal needles, and some green yarn (can't believe I still remember the colors!) and attempted to learn, but to no avail. So...I took over, in later years, and attempted to learn, but the damn yarn kept slipping off! Now I know why.

Thanks again, guys!


AKQGuy's picture

The needle material is the

The needle material is the same as the type of needle (dpn's, circs, and straights). Personal preference. I find my needle material often changes with the yarn type. These days you normally find me on metal or bamboo, but if I had too, i could use birch or plastic to happily knit away. Use what feels good in your hands and keeps you creating.

And I own Addis and enjoy them but I wouldn't regard them as Nirvana but definetly a good quality tool.

Tallguy's picture

That's hard to say. You have

That's hard to say. You have to try them, and then you will know if they are right for you. As most others here that have knitted for some time, and we now have a collection of needles, you will find that certain needles are right for certain projects. Other things require other needles, and that is why we all have this huge collection of all kinds of needles. That is my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Tom Hart's picture

Hi Brent, I started out on

Hi Brent,

I started out on bamboo needles and wooden needles. When I was a beginner Addis were way too slippery. I stayed with the wood and bamboo till I felt like they might be holding me back. The change to Addis was MAJOR. The smoothness and the ease and the effortless gliding action [OK this is starting to sound a little pornographic to me].

...Anyway all I can say is that if you keep knitting, a time will probably come where you’re going to wonder what it would be like to knit with metal needles. And of the very few metal needles I’ve tried, Addis are far and away the best.

I urge you not to push the river though (as we say here in California). If you’re enjoying the bamboo, stick with them. Slippery metal needles at the beginning can be a nightmare.

All the best with it, Tom

Bill's picture

Brent, not all of us are

Brent, not all of us are Addi-addicts! I don't own any.
Addi needles are beautifully made nickle plated brass.
My favorite needles are stainless steel by Hiya Hiya and ChiaoGoo.

teejtc's picture

Bill's right. I, personally,

Bill's right. I, personally, don't like Addis - I had a couple a few years ago and gave them away. I like Knitpick's Wooden Harmonies - they're a bit slipperier than bamboo and the points are just a bit sharper.

Grace and peace,

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

My needles range from steel

My needles range from steel through plastic/nylon. I have a couple of Addis and like them but have always felt that the best needles are whichever ones suit the knitting project and yarn I've paired them up with. Besides, exploring the options is part of the fun.

scottly's picture

Exactly Joe! I love my Addis

Exactly Joe! I love my Addis but they are just too slippery for some fibers and I'm much better using wood or bamboo needles with slickery yarns. Your needles are just your tools. I have a pair of nylon circs, they're actually flexible, I have no idea where the came from or how they ended up in my collection. I detest knitting with them and thought I would never use them untill my impending trip to San Miquel. A shoe string or ball point pen is far more dangerous then these things. I can't' imagine they will be taken away from me getting on the plane - totally harmless. In short, I'm glad I held on to them - they've come in handy. I won't be knitting fast but I will be knitting. The right tool for the right situation. Just like Joe said.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Just don't mention "garrote"

Just don't mention "garrote" or strangling people while checking in at TSA. Don't want to put ideas into their heads. And I'm being serious, here. I had one friend worrying over the fact that I travel with my fountain pens. I just stick them through the scanner with my shoes, etc. Still, I can do more damage with a ballpoint pen or pencil, rather than risk my precious needles. Or fountain pens.

scottly's picture

Classic first project for a

Classic first project for a beginner is a scarf in 100% wool worsted wt yarn on 10" size 7 or 8s. Bamboo is best because it keeps the action slow and controlable. One graduates to circs, dpns and Addi Turbos.

Get the hang of it all with

Get the hang of it all with straight needles and then introduce circulars, and then some DPNs. Circular needles will work for most projects, so that is money well spent. Comes down to it, we all picks our favorite needles for certain projects. Try'em before you buy'em, if possible.

Tom Hart's picture

26 short months ago I began

26 short months ago I began to learn to knit. At that time my preference was for very large (size 15 or so) wooden needles and Lion Brand "Thick and Quick" (cheap, thick, ropey yarn) in a very light gray. For me it was all about "being able to see what I was doing". At that stage I was learning the knit stitch, the purl stitch and tinking. The big needles and big yarn and the light color all helped me to see what was going on and what exactly I was doing.

akkamaddi's picture

Not, DPN's, no... Having

Not, DPN's, no...

Having started knitting this year, I would say, "It depends." I have a circular which I have never used to make something. The magic loop is not something you throw at a beginner. A good set of circulars could have more use in the long run. Most of the women at the LYS's here use circulars for everything, and most of the owners seem to prefer them. However, here's my caveat for the beginner:

Have the person do a little work on a pair of your straight needles. If the work is loose, circulars will work. If the work is tight, stick with straights.

My previous work in "fiber arts" was macrame, so I'm used to very tight knots. I ended up being a very tight knitter. (My friend Alison, who gave me my first needles, once burst out laughing when I showed her a row on my bamboo stitch scarf, and the yarn was creaking along the needles. I didn't see anything wrong with that.) Part of my problem with straight needles was the yarn being too tight, and getting the yarn from the cord back on to the needles was a bit of a challenge.

AKQGuy's picture

For beginners I myself would

For beginners I myself would place them on straights. Especially large handed men. But, I would show them how to utilize circulars for flat and in the round knittimg and explaim the cost savings. I feel as though it may help get a price stunned newbie to keep at it.

JDM511's picture

I personally use circular

I personally use circular needles for everything. They are compact and on larger projects you don't have to carry the weight of the project on the needles. I feel a project is easier to store on circular needles also.

JRob's picture

I agree - depends on the

I agree - depends on the project. I suggest simple project straight needles.

ronhuber's picture

For what??? Socks, a scarf,

For what??? Socks, a scarf, a sweater, a lace shawl, tablecloth, curtains?