Choosing Your First Needles And Yarn: A Quick Tutorial

In this quick tutorial, you will discover everything you need to know when it comes to choosing your first set of needles and yarn for your crafting adventures. Whether you’re a knitting novice or looking to try your hand at crochet, we will guide you through the process of selecting the perfect tools for your creative journey. From understanding different needle materials to unraveling the mysteries of various yarn weights, you’ll learn the essential factors to consider when choosing your supplies. So grab a cup of tea, sit back, and get ready to embark on your exciting new crafting endeavor!

Factors to Consider When Choosing Needles

When it comes to choosing the right needles for your knitting project, there are several factors that you should consider. These factors include the material of the needles, the size of the needles, the type of needle, the pointiness of the needle, and the grip of the needle. Each of these factors plays a crucial role in determining the ease and comfort of your knitting experience, as well as the final outcome of your project.


The material of the needle is an important factor to consider, as it affects how the needle feels in your hands and how it interacts with the yarn. There are three main types of needle materials: bamboo, metal, and plastic.

Bamboo needles are known for their lightweight and warm feel. They have a slight grip to them, which helps prevent the yarn from slipping off the needle. Metal needles, on the other hand, are smooth and sleek, providing fast and smooth knitting. Lastly, plastic needles are durable and lightweight, making them a popular choice for beginners.


The size of the needles refers to their diameter, which determines the stitch size and tension of your knitting. Needle sizes are typically measured in millimeters or US sizes. It is important to choose the right needle size for your yarn weight and project type. If the needle is too small, your stitches may be too tight, whereas if the needle is too large, your stitches may be too loose.

Type of Needle

There are various types of needles available, each with its own unique features and purposes. Some common types of needles include straight needles, circular needles, and double-pointed needles.

Straight needles are the traditional type of knitting needles, and they are used for knitting flat pieces such as scarves or blankets. Circular needles, on the other hand, have a flexible cable between two needle tips, allowing you to knit in the round or knit large projects. Double-pointed needles are used for knitting small, circular objects like socks or hats.


The pointiness of a needle refers to the shape of its tip. Pointier tips are ideal for intricate stitches and lace knitting, as they can easily pick up and manipulate stitches. Blunter tips, on the other hand, are better suited for beginners and bulkier yarns.


The grip of a needle refers to its ability to hold onto the stitches without them sliding off. Needles with a rougher texture, such as bamboo, provide a better grip and are less likely to cause the stitches to slip. Smooth needles, like metal, are great for faster knitting but may require more control to prevent stitches from sliding.

Materials and Types of Needles

Now that we have discussed the factors to consider when choosing needles, let’s dive deeper into the different materials and types of needles available.

Bamboo Needles

Bamboo needles are a popular choice among knitters due to their lightweight nature and warm feel. They have a natural grip to them, which makes them ideal for slippery yarns or beginners who may struggle with stitches sliding off the needles. Bamboo needles also tend to be quieter than metal needles, which can be a plus if you find the clicking noise of metal needles distracting.

Metal Needles

Metal needles, such as those made from aluminum or stainless steel, are known for their sleek and smooth surface. They provide fast and effortless knitting, making them a favorite among experienced knitters. Metal needles are great for working with fine or delicate yarns, as they minimize snagging. However, some knitters may find that metal needles can be cold to the touch, especially during colder months.

Plastic Needles

Plastic needles are often the go-to choice for beginners due to their affordability and durability. They are lightweight and easy to handle, making them comfortable for extended knitting sessions. Plastic needles are available in a wide range of colors, which can add a fun and vibrant touch to your knitting experience. However, keep in mind that plastic needles may not have the same level of grip as bamboo or metal needles.

Circular Needles

Circular needles consist of two needle tips connected by a flexible cable. They are versatile tools that can be used for various knitting techniques. Circular needles are particularly useful for projects that require knitting in the round, such as hats, socks, or sweaters. They also come in handy when working on projects with a large number of stitches or when you want to distribute the weight of your project evenly.

Double-pointed Needles

Double-pointed needles, or DPNs, are shorter needles with pointed ends on both sides. Typically, a set of DPNs consists of four or five needles. They are commonly used for knitting small, circular objects, such as socks or gloves. DPNs allow you to work on a small circumference without the need for circular or magic loop techniques. They are a great option for knitters who enjoy intricate or detailed projects.

Understanding Needle Sizes

Now that we have explored the different materials and types of needles, it’s important to understand how needle sizes are measured. Needle sizes vary depending on the country, but the two most common size systems are US and metric.

US Needle Sizes

In the US, needle sizes are denoted by a number, ranging from 0 to 50. The smaller the number, the smaller the needle diameter. For example, a US size 0 needle is extremely thin, while a US size 50 needle is thick and chunky. US needle sizes are often used for straight needles and double-pointed needles.

Metric Needle Sizes

Metric needle sizes are measured in millimeters (mm). Unlike US sizes, which follow a numerical order, metric sizes can be any whole number. For example, a 2.5 mm needle is finer than a 5 mm needle. Metric needle sizes are commonly used for circular needles. It’s important to note that some patterns may specify needle sizes in both US and metric measurements, so it’s helpful to be familiar with both systems.

Types of Yarn

In addition to choosing the right needles, selecting the appropriate yarn is equally important. The type of yarn you choose can greatly impact the drape, texture, and overall look of your finished project. Here are some factors to consider when selecting yarn.

Fiber Type

Yarn comes in a variety of fiber types, and each type has its own unique qualities. Some common fiber types include acrylic, wool, cotton, alpaca, and mohair.

  • Acrylic yarn is a synthetic fiber that is often inexpensive and easy to care for. It is a great choice for beginners, as it is durable and comes in a wide range of colors.
  • Wool yarn is a natural fiber that is known for its warmth and elasticity. It is available in various types, such as merino, cashmere, and lamb’s wool, each with its own characteristics.
  • Cotton yarn is breathable and lightweight, making it a popular choice for warm-weather garments and baby items.
  • Alpaca yarn is a soft and luxurious fiber that provides excellent insulation. It is known for its hypoallergenic properties and is often blended with other fibers for added strength.
  • Mohair yarn is made from the hair of Angora goats and is known for its fuzzy texture and beautiful halo. It is commonly used for adding a soft and fluffy touch to projects.


Yarn weight refers to the thickness or diameter of the yarn. There are several standard yarn weight categories, ranging from lace weight to super bulky. The weight of the yarn you choose should be compatible with your knitting needles and the desired outcome of your project.

  • Lace weight yarn is the finest and thinnest type of yarn. It is often used for delicate and lightweight projects, such as shawls or doilies.
  • Fingering weight yarn is slightly thicker than lace weight and is commonly used for socks and lightweight garments.
  • Sport weight yarn is a popular choice for baby items and lightweight accessories.
  • Worsted weight yarn is the most common weight and is suitable for a wide range of projects, from scarves to sweaters.
  • Bulky weight yarn is thicker and heavier, making it perfect for cozy winter accessories and blankets.


The texture of yarn refers to its surface characteristics, which can range from smooth and sleek to fluffy and textured. Smooth yarns are often preferred for stitch definition, while textured yarns can add visual interest and depth to your knitting. The choice of texture largely depends on the project you are working on and the effect you want to achieve.


Ply refers to the number of strands twisted together to form the yarn. Yarn can be categorized into single ply or multi-ply.

  • Single-ply yarn consists of a single strand of fiber and is known for its softness and drape. It is often used for delicate lace projects or for creating a rustic look.
  • Multi-ply yarn is made by twisting multiple strands together. It is more durable and has better stitch definition. Most commercially available yarns are multi-ply.

Aesthetics and Color Selection

When it comes to knitting, aesthetics and color selection play a significant role in the overall appeal of your finished project. Here are some factors to consider when choosing yarn colors.

Solid vs. Variegated

Yarn comes in two main color categories – solid and variegated. Solid colors are a single color throughout the skein, while variegated colors feature multiple colors evenly distributed or blended together. Solid colors tend to showcase intricate stitch patterns better, while variegated colors can add visual interest and dimension to simpler projects.

Choosing Colors that Complement

When selecting yarn colors, it’s essential to consider how the colors will look together. Complementary colors, or colors opposite each other on the color wheel, can create a visually pleasing contrast. Analogous colors, or colors next to each other on the color wheel, provide a more harmonious and subtle effect. Experimenting with color combinations can add a personal touch to your knitting projects.

Considering the Overall Project

The color of your yarn should also be in line with the intended purpose and style of your project. For example, if you are knitting a baby blanket, soft and pastel colors might be the best choice. On the other hand, if you are knitting a statement accessory, bold and vibrant colors can make a striking impact. Take into account the recipient’s preferences, the occasion, and the intended use of the project when selecting yarn colors.

Matching Needles and Yarn

Once you have chosen the perfect yarn for your project, it’s important to match it with the right needles. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when pairing needles and yarn.

Needle Size and Yarn Weight

The needle size you choose should correspond to the recommended gauge of your yarn. The gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows per inch. If you are working on a pattern, be sure to check the gauge requirements specified by the designer. Using the wrong needle size can result in a project that is too tight or too loose.

Suitability of Needle Material

Consider the characteristics of your chosen yarn and how it interacts with different needle materials. If you are working with a slippery yarn, you may want to choose needles with a bit of grip, such as bamboo or plastic. On the other hand, if you are knitting with a sticky or textured yarn, smooth metal needles may provide a better knitting experience.

Considering the Project Type

The type of project you are working on can also influence the choice of needles. For example, if you are knitting a large blanket or a sweater in the round, circular needles with a long cable may be more practical and comfortable. If you are knitting small accessories or socks, double-pointed needles can provide better control.

Shopping Tips for New Knitters

If you’re a new knitter, shopping for needles and yarn can be an exciting endeavor. Here are some tips to help you navigate the world of knitting supplies.

Visiting a Local Yarn Shop

Visiting a local yarn shop (LYS) is a fantastic way to explore different yarns and needles in person. LYS staff can provide personalized recommendations based on your project and skill level. They might also offer knitting classes or workshops to help you improve your skills. Supporting local businesses not only allows you to interact with knowledgeable staff but also fosters a sense of community.

Online Yarn Shopping

Online shopping provides a convenient way to access a wide variety of yarns and knitting supplies. When shopping online, be sure to read the product descriptions and reviews carefully. Look for websites that provide detailed information about the yarn’s fiber content, weight, and color options. It can be helpful to order yarn samples or small quantities first to ensure you are happy with the colors and texture before committing to a larger purchase.

Reading Reviews and Ratings

Before purchasing needles or yarn online, it’s a good idea to check for reviews and ratings from other knitters who have used the products. Reading reviews can give you insights into the quality, durability, and user experience of a particular brand or type of yarn. Keep in mind that everyone’s preferences and expectations may vary, so take a balanced approach when considering reviews.

Seeking Advice from Experienced Knitters

If you have friends or family members who are experienced knitters, don’t hesitate to seek their advice and recommendations. They can provide useful insights based on their own experiences and offer guidance on needle and yarn choices. Knitting communities, both online and offline, are also excellent resources for getting advice and support from fellow knitters.

In conclusion, choosing the right needles and yarn for your knitting projects requires careful consideration of various factors. By taking into account the material, size, type, pointiness, and grip of the needles, as well as the fiber type, weight, texture, ply, and color of the yarn, you can enhance your knitting experience and achieve beautiful results. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, exploring different materials, types, and colors of needles and yarns adds a unique touch to your projects and allows you to express your creativity. Happy knitting!