Knitting needles made of bamboo share many properties with the wooden needles. Bamboo needles are lighter than the same size wooden needles and have a bit more flexibility making them less likely to break. They can develop permanent curvatures, but that often does not affect their usability.
Like wood, bamboo has some friction, though some companies offer ultra-polished versions that are a bit slicker than wooden needles. Some bamboo needle manufacturers also claim they get smoother and slicker with use. In that case they may be the optimum needle to grow with your knitting skills – as you become a faster and more proficient knitter the needles get faster.
Due to the growth rate and methods of harvesting, bamboo is considered a renewable resource making bamboo needles the most environmental choice. The renewability also makes it readily available and affordable for needle companies meaning you have the biggest selection of brands to choose from which keeps costs down.
Clover Takumi is likely the most recognizable supplier of bamboo needles. They have two lines, the plain, less expensive line and the Takumi Velvet which runs about 40% more but boasts a higher polish finish and no use of petrochemicals in production. In both lines you can get 9 and 14 inch single point needles, 5 or 7 inch dpns and 16, 24, and 29″ circulars. In the plain Takumi line you can also get 9, 36 and 48 inch circulars as well as crochet hooks.
Other bamboo needle brands include HiyaHiya, Crystal Palace and KA. HiyaHiya offers only circs and dpns. Their dpns come in 5, 6 and 8 inch lengths and their circulars are available in 9-60 inch lengths. Both types come in sizes US0-15. Crystal Palace offers two lengths of dpns and of single point needles as well as 16, 26 and 35 inch length circular needles with a few sizes also available in 55 inch. They offer sizes US0-19 in single point and circs and a subset of those sizes depending upon the length of the dpn. KA also offers two lengths of single point needles. Their double point needles come in 4, 6 and 8 inch lengths and their circulars are available in 9-36 inches and have a special rotary join from the tip to the cord which prevents twisting. Depending upon the needle type and length they have sizes from US0-19. All three of these companies also offer interchangable circular needle sets where the tips can be attached to varying length cords.
If you are you looking for an economical choice or environmentally friendlier needle option than bamboo is likely your needle material of choice. All bamboo needles have slightly different attributes depending upon the brand – smoother finish, pointier tips or more blunt tips, and different types of joins on the circular needles. The best way to choose bamboo needles is to give them a try and find which combination of features most suits you and best fits your budget.