Learning to knit with straight or circular needles?

Hello everyone! I’m so new to knitting that I haven’t bought any knitting stuff yet. I have ordered a how-to dvd that I should receive next week. I’m going with a dvd because we have slow dial-up and it’s so frustrating to try to watch online video clips.

Does a person need to use straight needles while learning to knit? Or is it possible to learn on circular needles? Is the technique different for each? It seems many of you love using circular needles. After doing much looking around, I think I want to get Harmony needles. They’re just so beautiful!

I’m so glad I found this website, especially the forum. Thanks!

You can learn on circulars, and you can use them the same way you do straight ones. When you get to the end of the row, just swap the needle ends to the other hands just like straights and knit the next row.

No, you don’t need to learn on straights. I honestly don’t see a reason to even bother with them. A set of circulars gives you the flexibility to do any type of knitting, so you end up saving money in the end.

For straight knitting, you can use circulars or straights. For knitting in the round, you can only use circulars. Also, with circulars, the weight of the fabric you create as you knit is distributed more evenly over the cable, so it is much easier on your hands and wrists. Finally, with circulars, there are varying cable lengths so the number of stitches that you can have on the needle will vary widely. You can only fit so many stitches on the needles.

You can use your learn to knit DVD with circular needles because the technique is the same as with straight needles.

Having said all that, your DVD will probably have you starting off with small pieces of knitting, so I’d recommend getting a short circular (16") to start out with, because you might find one with a longer cable “fiddly” to work with for a smaller piece. But I think you should start off with the circs!

When knitting something flat, I think a 16" is too short. It works well for hats and things in the round, but for flat knitting the cord really isn’t long enough. A 24" is great for flat scarves.

I learned to knit when I was 8 or 9 on circular needles. Currently, I’m teaching my little sister-in-law how to knit, at first we started on circular needles but that seemed to confuse her because of the extra attachment. I think it just depends on your comfortableness with circular needles. I love working on circulars because it was easy for me and more flexible. Good luck!

Wow! Thanks for the responses. I’m glad to know I can learn with circular needles. The part about them being easier on your hands and wrists is a big plus for me.

I plan to make a scarf as my first project. How do you know what length cable to use for flat projects? It seems part of it is preference, but what else do you go by? For example, if I plan to make a scarf that is 8" wide, how much extra cable space is needed?

Thanks again!

Theoretically, it doesn’t matter. You could probably do that on a 16", but the needles take up at least half that length so it may be difficult to work with them curved. I’d get 24 or 29" those are pretty versatile lengths and the cord’s not too long as to get in the way.

I agree on the 24 inch cable. 16 inch is hard to use when knitting flat, but they are great for hats in the round.

Maybe someone can direct me to another thread for this…?

I stumbled across a comment a few days ago about what length circular needles you need for certain projects, but of course can’t find it. What I’m wondering is : does the length of the cable have to be exactly the same as the circumference of what you’re knitting?

Actually, for knitting in the round, the total length of the needle should be shorter than the total circumference of the knitting. You don’t want the stitches spread out tightly. You can bunch quite a few stitches on a shorter circ and the knitting is better for it.

Thanks Ingrid! That’s what I thought, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it on my own… :slight_smile:

Just a quick note - you actually can knit tin the round using straight needles - I’m doing it at the moment. You just need at least 4 needles and you divide your stitches up between all but one of them and knit with the remaining one. It’s not as awkward as it sounds (except when you’re casting on, which is a bit of a pain). Round needles (which I’ve never avtually used) are presumably fine when you’re knitting a tube (e.g. socks or a seamless top) but I understand they’re a bit of a nightmare if you’re knitting a flat circle (e.g. a table cloth) because as your knitting grows you have to constantly swap to a slightly larger (longer) set of needles.

Good luck!