Questions about the many lengths of needles

Hello from Asia!

I am a crocheter who is relatively new to knitting.
I already have knitting books and magazines with beautiful patterns -these inspired me to finally decide to learn how to knit.

I own only a few pairs of needles at the moment. I have already practiced purl & knit & some pattern stitches :slight_smile:

Now I wish to try the other patterns in my magazines, but I discovered that there are so many needle lengths used in different patterns!

So now I do not know which lengths to buy that I can use for the most patterns.

For example: 1 pattern calls for a circular size 7 that is 80cm. Then another pattern calls for another circular size 7 that is 60cm. Do I need to buy them both? Or is it ok to buy just one - the longer (the 80cm) and then use it for the other project that require 60cm?

Also, what needle lengths are most useful to you for socks, for hats, and for something bigger, like sweaters & poncho? Or do you buy the length that is indicated in the pattern?

I wish to understand about needle lengths, please enlighten me.
I searched for the answer in my knitting book, but there is no topic about it there, so I am counting on your help so I can be guided on what to buy. As of the moment, I cannot afford to buy complete sets of varied lengths. So I wish to understand. I am sorry for the long post! Thank you very much for you help.

Your best bet would be to buy a set of interchangeable circular needles. They come with a nice assortment of needle sizes and cable lengths.

When knitting flat the cable length isn’t really all that important as long as the stitches will fit on it. When knitting in the round the cable length is important. It has to be long enough to hold the stitches but not so long that the work is stretched out.

The cost of a set of interchangeables works out to be far cheaper than buying a lot of needles one at a time.

Yarnnme, welcome to the world of knitting.

First of all, circulars are very versatile. You can use them to knit flat things or to knit tubes that can be used for hats, sweaters, etc. A lot of people like the interchangeable needles. I don’t have any of them, but I have gotten my rather large needle stash over a long period of time and some of them very cheaply (old needles, second hand store finds, and going out of business deals :thumbsup: ).

The needle length may or may not be important. If you are actually knitting something in the round you need to be able to stretch the number of stitches you are using around the needle so that you can form your circle. But a needle will hold a large range of stitches. For instance I use a 16 inch needle to begin a hat. I have used the same size for pretty small baby hats and adult hats, and I can also use one to knit a baby or maybe even a small child’s sweater. They often give a fairly large size to knit a man’s sweater on that is in the round, but you could get by with a smaller one. What you can’t do is to make an item smaller than the needle. For instance you couldn’t make something 50cm long on a 60cm needle because the stitches would not want to stretch readily around the needle. But you could easily make a 60cm item on a 50cm needle. Any number of stitches that you can work with easily around a needle will work on it, and a needle even 16 inches (nearly 41cm) can hold a lot of stitches.

When you decrease to make the top of a hat you get to a point where a 16 inch will not work anymore and you have to go to another technique. You can use double pointed needles for very small things, or two circulars (of any length), and there is a technique called Magic Loop that enables you to knit small things on one quite long circular.

A circular of any length that will hold the number of stitches you are using can be used for flat work. For instance you can use a 29 inch circular to make a 4 inch scarf if you’d like.

You can use double points, two circulars or the Magic Loop to make socks. I have used double points only for socks, and 16" circulars, and dpns or 2 circulars for hats. I’ve never tried the Magic Loop but many like it very well. Do I buy the length indicated in the pattern? I have quite a few lengths, but when I am making something I usually just eyeball the lengths and grab one I think will work. :lol:

I’d have saved A LOT OF MONEY if KnitPicks OPTIONS had been around many years ago!

OPTIONS (nickel or wood are equally nice) are the way to go!

I also agree with Knitting Guy and Merigold!

Thank you all for your replies!
I do not have knitter friends here to ask so thank you for answering my questions :slight_smile:

MerigoldinWA, thank you very much for your explanation! I have a book of patterns for knitting in the round, and now I think I can decide on what needles to buy. I’ve been wanting to learn how to knit but I am a bit hesitant because I know I will be spending on a different collection of craft supplies (apart from my crochet supplies), so thank you for your message, now I have a good idea of how to go about buying my supplies :slight_smile:

Thank you all!