When starting out, sometimes it’s hard to decide what size knitting needle to use. Really, your needle size really boils down to the yarn you are using and how loose you want your knit stitches to be.
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How do you know what size knitting needles to use?
Let’s take a look at the yarn weights individually and see what size knitting needles would be good for each size. I’ve omitted lace weight yarn since this would not be recommended for a beginner. My recommendation would be to go with worsted, bulky or super bulky yarn to begin with, but I have put the other weights in case you want to start there.
Fingering Weight Yarn (Weight Category #1)
A fingering weight yarn is a very lightweight yarn that has a recommended knitting needle size of US Sizes 1 (2.25mm) to 3 (3.25mm), so if you are choosing a fingering weight yarn for your first project, choose a needle size in this range.
You will not find many beginner-friendly patterns in this category as they are mostly for more experienced knitters, but I’m sure there are a few out there. I’d probably shy away from this if you have never knit before.
Sport Weight Yarn (Weight Category #2)
Sport weight yarn is another pretty lightweight yarn that isn’t used for beginners all that often. It has a recommended needle size of US 3 (3.25mm) to 5 (3.75mm), so if the yarn you want to use falls in this weight category you will want to choose a knitting needle in this range.
Again, there probably aren’t that many patterns out there with this weight yarn for beginners, so if you want to use this weight it would be best to work a scarf or other simple pattern.
DK Weight Yarn (Weight Category #3)
Now we are getting into the weights of yarn that are more common for beginner use! DK yarn is one of the most common yarn weights, and the recommended needle sizes are US sizes 5 (3.75mm) to 7 (4.50mm), so if using a yarn in this weight then you will want to choose a needle size in this range.
You will likely find many beginner projects that use this weight yarn. If you use a knitting pattern, check the recommended knitting needle size in the pattern.
Worsted Weight Yarn (Weight Category #4)
This is the most common weight of yarn and you will find an amazing array of beginner-friendly patterns in this yarn weight. The recommended knitting needle size is fromUS 7 (4.50mm) to 9 (5.50mm). Choose a needle size in this range for worsted yarn.
Again, if you are using a pattern, check the recommended needle size on the pattern, as desigers use different sizes to acheive different results. A smaller knitting needle size will result in tighter stitches, while a larger size will result in looser stitches.
Bulky Yarn (Weight Category #5)
Bulky yarn (also referred to as chunky yarn) is another wonderful choice for beginner knitting patterns because it works up so quickly and is very comfortable. The recommended needle size for this yarn weight is from US 9 (5.50mm) to 11 (8.00mm), so choose a needle in this range if using bulky yarn.
You will find a lot of great beginner patterns in this yarn weight. Again, check the recommendation on the pattern if using one.
Super Bulky Yarn (Weight Category #6)
There are also many patterns out there for beginners made with super bulky yarn because it works up amazingly quickly. The recommended knitting needle size for this yarn weight is 11 (8.00mm) to 17 (12.75mm).
Check for the pattern recommendation if using, if not just play around with the different hook needles and sample swatches to see which size works best for your yarn and stitch pattern.
Jumbo Yarn (Weight Category #7)
This yarn weight needs a VERY large knitting needle, or sometimes is used for arm knitting. While there are some patterns out there for this weight of yarn, you aren’t likely to find the same variety as with a weight #3-5.
The recommended needle size for this yarn is US size 17 (12.75mm) and up. I have some seriously large knitting needles and they all work well for this largest category of yarn, but I will admit I have not made many blankets with jumbo weight yarn.
What Should I Use if I am a Beginner?
Beginners should stick with worsted weight yarn or chunky weight yarn at first, although they could branch into the super bulky weight yarns. Use at least a size 7 (4.5mm) knitting needle as a beginner.
Working with a bit heavier weight yarn will ensure the project works up quickly and give a beginner confidence and excitement about a project. If using a smaller weight yarn and needles, a beginner might get discouraged at the lack of progress and give up.
Recommended Knitting Needles for Beginners
Clover Takumi Bamboo Needles
When it comes to choosing a straight needle, you can’t beat the Clover Takumi banboo straight needles. These are wonderful and what I fell in love with after refusing to knit on the $2 aluminum needles any longer.
A bamboo knitting needle will warm up with your hands and glides so smoothly. I love the feel of bamboo needles and have one pair in every size they make!
I still use straight knitting needles often but I will also use a circular bamboo needle or even a set of bamboo double pointed needles. They are all equally wonderful.
Knitter’s Pride Dreamz Wooden Needles
This great set has sizes 2.5, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 so you know you’ll have the size you need for your next project.
The smooth wood is wonderful to knit with and it comes with a black jacquard case to keep the needles organized. I also love how the needles are different colors for easy identification.
You don’t have to knit in the round to use circular knitting needles. A lot of times I prefer these to straight needles because I don’t have the ends sticking out hitting things! They are also perfect for larger projects.
So, feel free to use these instead of a straight knitting needle – you can work in the round as well as flat knitting with these babies.
Knitter’s Pride Mindful Serenity Needles
These are seriously some of my favorites among all the different knitting needles! They are very lightweight, glide through your knitting projects like butter, and have a wonderful feel.
This is my favorite circular needle for the magic loop method – the long cables don’t kink and they are marked every inch so you can use the cord as a ruler. It’s genius!
You can buy a set like the one shown above which includes US sizes 1-8 or individual sizes.
ChiaoGoo Red Circular Needles
I also keep these great circular needles in my collection! ChiaoGoo is renowned for their red cable circular needles, and I love these. You can never have too many needles.
These are available in individual sizes, so pick up ones as you go – no need to buy them all at once when you are just starting out.
There are many other styles and brands of knitting needles out there you might like, so be sure to experiment with lots of different ones. You can find wooden needles, plastic needles, metal needles and more. There are many different brands I like but I don’t have time to mention them all here.
You can also buy interchangeable knitting needles, but I think that a beginner shouldn’t invest in an expensive set like these until they know that knitting is something they love. Interchangeable needles are expensive!
Common Questions about Knitting Needles for Beginners
When you are just starting out, please don’t feel like you have to buy all the things. What you really need the most to start out is just your yarn and appropriate sized knitting needles. You can find recommended needle size on the yarn label.
Things that can help out with knitting are yarn needles for weaving in ends and nice scissors to cut your yarn. Get an inexpensive ruler if you will be measuring gauge. The other things can wait until you have a project or two under your belt and are committed to the craft.
This really depends on what weight of yarn you prefer to knit with. For me, I find that a US size 9, 10 or 10.5 gets the most use because I like to use worsted or bulky weight yarn.
The size of the knitting needles matters a lot! This will determine the size of your stitches and can have a huge impact on how big or small your finished item turns out, especially if it’s something that is going to be worn.
A lot of beginner knitters find using the bigger needles and larger yarn easier. It’s much easier to see your stitches and the large yarn is easy to hold on to. Don’t go too big, though! If you aren’t used to knitting, the huge needles can be unwieldy, so stick with around a US size 11 or 13 needle.
- Yarn of Choice - keep in mind that worsted weight #4 or heavier is recommended for a beginner
- Knitting Needles appropriate for yarn
- Choose the yarn you would like to use for your project.
- Check the recommended size needles on the yarn label.
- Double check the recommended size vs the size called for in the pattern (if using a pattern).
- If in doubt, go with the size recommended on the pattern. If not using a pattern, you can go with the size on the yarn label or one larger.
I hope this post has shed some light on knitting needles for you if you are a beginner. I remember what it was like to start out – I chose the wrong size for my first project and almost gave up! I’m so glad I didn’t!