I posted before that I am extremely new to knitting and i’m completely lost! I am very confused about the needles. I was going to order some and I just dont know what I’m doing! I found a package of 16 needles it says it goes from US 0 - US 16 and that they are 12 inches. What does that mean? Is 12 inches the length of the needle? If so is it crucial? Like do you need to use different lengthed needles for different projects? I want to start with a scarf and I looked at some patterns on the website and the ones that tell you materials needed are saying US 8 but nothing about the inches/length?! Also I noticed that some of the patterns on this web site don’t even tell you what needles you would need? I’m also very lost about the yarn lingo is there somewhere I can go to learn about the differences in yarns? I saw this website has the abbreviations but nothing about the yarn? PLEASE HELP!!! I really want to make this a hobby but I am so very confused lol
For straight needles, length isn’t super important unless you’re making an afghan or some other really wide project. My first straight needles were 10 inches or so. That length is perfectly fine for scarves, dish cloths, hats worked flat, etc. Length of needles is more important when you’re knitting in the round on circulars; and then it’s the length of the cable holding them together that makes up the majority of the length.
For yarn info, I just Googled types of yarn and found several good articles explaining the different weights, textures, and fibers used. For a first project, like a scarf, find a light colored yarn that is smooth (not fuzzy) and worsted weight (4 on the label). A light color will allow you to see the differences in the stitches better and a worsted weight is a nice, medium thickness. It’s thick enough for most things like hats, scarves, and sweaters, but not so thick that it’s hard to work with.
Check out patterns, the videos here, and ask questions. Have fun with it and enjoy! Pretty soon everything will make sense and you’ll love it!
I assume you are talking about straight needles? Sands gave you some good answers already. 12 inches is fine for many flat projects, but for things that are large like afghans and seamless sweaters you’ll want circulars probably.
Most patterns give you needle size, gauge and suggested yarn or yarn weight. If for some reason there is no needle size it may depend on the yarn you choose. They don’t usually tell you what type of needle since that is personal preference. For instance I use only circulars regardless of what the project is or what it tells me. I don’t even own any straight needles anymore.
I’m not sure I’ve seen 12" length straight needles, mostly 10" and 14". I really dislike the 14" ones and never use them although I have a bunch of them. I like 10" okay. The 12" will be better than the 14" though. I find the 14" ones unwieldy and no fun to use. But… some people love them. I prefer to use circulars for most things, but like 10" fine for anything that the 10" will comfortably hold.
Keep in mind that for things where gauge really matters, the suggested needle size (how big around it is) is only a suggestion and may not be the needle you need to knit the given gauge even if you use the yarn suggested in the pattern. Everyone knits differently.
Rather than buy a full set of one type needle right now, why not buy just the needles you think you’ll need for the current project? That way you can try a different length or type of needle for the next project, maybe a circular or ones made of metal, plastic, bamboo or wood? There are lots of options and experience will help you decide which you prefer.
Here are a couple of sites that describe yarn weights:
Ravelry is free to join and Knit Picks is a good, inexpensive source for a variety of needles. The beginning is always a great time in any project. Welcome to Knitting Help and enjoy!
I agree that you should just buy needles as you need them. You may find that for most things you knit you won’t want either the very small or very large ones. I also can’t think of anything you’d knit on very small straight needles. Sizes 0 to 3 are used for socks mostly and you can’t do that on straights. Save your money for now, buy some needles locally in some different sizes now and get used to them. You may find you prefer metal ones or bamboo or acrylic or you may want different materials to use with different yarns.
I’d like to offer another way to go about this (especially since you already know what you want to do for a first project). Go to a store and check out their yarn department. Find some yarn that is light colored, smooth, and worsted weight (as others have pointed out, it is rated 4 on the package–a code meaning “worsted weight” yarn). Then look on the yarn package and find the needle size recommended for that yarn (most likely a size 8). You can either stick with the recommended size needles or go up a size or two–for a scarf, it’s not usually a big deal how loose your stitches are.
Buy the needles and your yarn and get started. I would recommend doing several projects using just one or two sizes of needles. As others here have recommended, buying lots of inexpensive needles up front can be a waste of money 'cause if you really enjoy knitting, you’ll eventually want to invest in some high-dollar/quality tools to make your hobby even more enjoyable. And with knitting, it takes a while to figure out exactly which needles are perfect for you!
Another idea for needles is to check out thrift stores. Most of them seem to have at least some sort of selection. You may even find something really good. But buying some of different materials would give you an idea of if you liked them after you get a chance to try them out. Yarn sales also can have needles.