I tend toward fingerling or worsted yarn…so I use smaller to medium size needles a lot.
That’s a large span of weights so you’ll need a variety of needles. Fingering usually uses anywhere from 0-2 unless you’re making a loose lacy shawl or scarf design in which case you could be using up to 5 or 6. Worsted weight usually uses 7-8, but can also go either way. So a set is probably your best bet.
I love metal needles. I particularly love the Addi needles I have. I’d like to buy them from the shop here but which ones?
I prefer metal, but do use wood for some things. Addi makes good needles, but I do use wood and like them, too. If you aren’t sure you could get one of the Knitter’s Pride Comby sets. They have a a variety of needle materials you can experiment with and then add to your collection when you choose what you want in a set. Unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of choices in sets right now in KH and I don’t know if they are going to keep selling them. They are sold in other places on the internet though.
I don’t know how to do magic loop but I suppose I could learn,…most of the cables seem kinda long with the sets.
You will also need a variety of cable sizes. For knitting a scarf 24-32 inch are usually fine and sets always come with those. Most sets cannot make 16" size for hats. I recommend learning magic loop anyway. With 16" you need to switch to a different method for the decrease part and that’s a pain. With magic loop you can start and finish on the same needles. That’s all I use anymore.
I use my original Knit Picks Options metal needle set and Knitter’s Pride Dreamz in wood. I also have several singles of other needles, but 99.9% of the time it’s the needles in the sets. I do know some people who use Addi’s who love them and a few who don’t. My experience with them was the cords bent when doing magic loop and I found that annoying.
Hope this helps!