We live in a fortunate time as knitters. It takes little effort to obtain knitting needles of various forms and made from a plethora of materials. This blessing can also be a curse, causing quandaries on which needles to add to your growing collection. The types of projects you like to knit and your preferred yarn types can be used as a guide in your decision making.
The logical first step in choosing needles is to decide what needle type you need — single pointed, double pointed or circular? If you are a casual or beginning knitter that question might not be easy to answer. Today we’ll talk a bit about single and double pointed needles and when they are typically used.
Single Point Needles
The odds are good that when you first learned to knit you were taught on a pair of single pointed knitting needles. They are called single pointed because they are made of two separate rigid lengths that have a tapered point on one end and stop on the other end. You can only knit to and from the tapered pointed ends. Because stitches can only be worked from one end of the needle they can only be used for items that are knit flat such as scarves, small baby blankets or items that are seamed.
Commercially made single pointed needles come in lengths from 8 to 14 inches. Single pointed needles can comfortably hold fabric about 60% wider than the length of the needle, or more if using sport weight or lighter yarn. The entire width of the project needs to fit on one needle without loosing stitches when setting the project aside as stopping mid row can deform stitches and make it easy to mess up stitch patterns. For this reason, single point needles are not a good choice for large items like afghans.
Like anything, single point needles have pros and cons. Single pointed needles are the easiest knitting needle type to locate, even in remote areas. They are simple enough that one can make them at home relatively easily by starting with dowels from the hardware store if desired or necessary. For knitters who like to rest a needle against their body while knitting single pointed needles are the only option. When knitting with single pointed needles the knit fabric hangs from the needles without support which can strain the hand and wrist. The longer the needle the more strain it can cause, thus it is best to choose the shortest length that will comfortably accommodate the greatest width of your project.