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Are You Straight or Circular?

January 29th, 2009

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Most people have a preferred type of knitting needle.  We’re wondering, what’s your preference and why?  Do you tend to use one over the other?  What are the pros and cons of each?

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  • Mel

    Simiple, 5in double points for socks. Circular for everything else. I love Knit Picks Harmony needles, worth every penny. I could not live without my interchangeables.

  • Anne Dutton

    Though most knitters seem to prefer the circular needles I still have the dpns. With circular needles I never seem to have the right length.
    We used to make 4 needle mittens. Does anyone use them anymore?
    Yarn sizes have changed over the years and I think that I will be sort of forced into circular.

  • Connie

    I sorted out all my straight needles and put them on top of the bookcase that holds my knitting books close to twenty years ago. For a while I used double points to knit socks but now it is strictly one or two circulars to work 2 socks at a time. The Best 4 letter word is DONE.

  • Susan Olson

    I prefer circular needles. You can do anything on circular needles. You may also need some double pointed needles for socks or hats. I will never go back to straight needles. I consider them obsolete in my life.

  • karyn

    I have only been knitting for a year now and am very slow. I did start on straights but found them really awkward and then I came across a pair of circs and absolutely love ’em. Still can’t manage knitting in the round though. but for my scarves and afghans I would be lost without them.P>S> do most of my work on the road so having the circs means not having to say I’m sorry to my hubby for poking him

  • C. Weber

    I hate to sew seams on garments, so I adapt most patterns to circular, and things seem to go more quickly. I do use straight needles for some items. I also use double pointed needles for socks, mittens, and new born caps for local hospital.

  • C. Weber

    Earlier someone asked for a cure for twisted or curled circulars. For any but wooden, simply place in hot water for a few minutes and straighten as you dry them. Works for me.

  • Joanne

    I definitely prefer circs for socks (2 circs, in fact) and for some things like afghans when they get too big for straight needles, but otherwise I like my straights!! Never have liked DPNs for much. Too easy to drop stitches!

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  • Pat Livesley

    I like circular needles because there is less sewing I hate sewing up! Straights are better when there is purlng tho, I haven’t managed to get up much speed purling on circs, although, you can turn the work inside out and cheat by going “backwards”. I found a great tip – use a smaller size needle tip on the left side and the work slides along without so much effort.

  • Brenda

    I am mostly a circular needle person. I love that the weight of my work is not concentrated in my arms, but can rest on my lap.

  • Gail

    I prefer the circular needles. I tend to get tendonitis in both of my wrists. My sister-in-law, who is a physician and a knitter, suggested that I try bamboo circular needles. The bamboo circulars are very light weight and the weight of the project that you are knitting is in your lap not your hands and wrists. I haven’t had tendonitis since I switched to bamboo circulars!

  • Donna Wills

    I like both depending on the project but I use circular most of the time. I travel alot with my job and the circulars are best for knitting on planes. They also fit much better into a tote bag. I love interchangable needles (like the Denise) because you alsways have the needle size you need.
    I am still working on the luxe cable tunic and am using circulars because it is heavy. The circs allow the weight of the garment to distribute more so my hands don’t tire as quickly.

  • Jan

    I am a newbie knitter and tried circulars for the first time. I thought I was heeding the warning to make sure not to twist the stitches but the cowl that I was attempting definitely was twisted all the way around. I used inexpensive needles and couldn’t seem to get the filament between them to behave. Any recommendations for me?

  • Adrienne

    I only use straight needles. I would like to use circular needles but frankly, I’m terrified of them. None of my friends knit so I don’t have anyone to show me how to master these things!!

  • http://lionbrand Josette

    I learned on the straight metal needles when I was a child, and I love them -something “classic” about them, and I have no problems whatsoever with them. I’m not too crazy about the double point needles, tho I am very adept with them. I wish there were very small circulars for socks – the 2 circular method on socks looks worse than dpns! Seems like I never have the right size circular for a project.

  • Kathy Bates

    I prefer straight bamboo needles for most projects. If knitting a large project, I do use circular bamboo needles. I find the bamboo is easier on my hands, they don’t tire as with other needles. My knitting speed is much slower with circular needles

  • Christina Ince

    Wow – I’m in the minority, apparently. I only knit with straight needles. I learned to knit when I was seven – which was in 1960! Being left-handed, I found that no-one wanted to teach me to knit, but I actually knit the same way as right-handed people. However, I anchor the right needle under my arm, do not remove my right hand from the needle as my right index finger moves the wool – this is probably why I am a speedy knitter.
    I tried circular needles, but without having the needle anchored I realized it would take some practice to master it. Now when I come across a pattern which calls for circular needles, I try to find a way to adapt it for straight.
    Happy knitting!

  • Helen

    Circular needles are so much easier to work with in a confined space – I don’t have to deal with those long needles extending past my elbows. But they are difficult because the connecting wire is too rigid to lie flat when working back and forth, e.g. on an afghan.

  • Bea

    Circular- almost exclusively. I have one of those sets with the exchangeable tips and can add extensions to accommodate very large projects. Also circular needles travel easier; I take a project to work with me every day to work on during lulls.

  • mackenzie

    I prefer straight needles. I really dint like circulars!!!I find them frustrating and the cord that joins the needles- they always seem to be tangled. Whenever I am knitting hats, I adapt the pattern to straight needles!

  • Carola

    Definitely circular! Stitches don’t drop off the ends….. it’s easier to knit in the car on trips…. (not while driving of course!) and as already mentioned by others, no time wasted looking for the second needle….. I wish I could find some that are pointier than mine, though and have a more flexible cord.
    Unfortunately my cat loves the circular ones, too. (He drags them around by the cord and leaves teeth marks, making it hard to slide the knitting next time I use them. He has dragged away knitting projects in progress as well, so I have to put everything away in my knitting bag before I leave the room!) >^..^<

  • Barbara

    I love circulars for all their wonderful attributes, but particularly because I’m sometimes crammed into a tight space–on the subway, for example–and long straight needles are just impossible! But I like knitting small things on short straights–they’re something very tidy about it.

  • Tanya

    Circulars do it for me!!! Can’t stand straights, or double-pointed needles for that matter – especially when I’m knitting a sweater, I prefer the stitches to be evenly spread around the middle and rests nicely on my lap, so my arm doesn’t ach under the growing weight of knitted fabric.

  • Nona Nan Chapman

    I owned a yarn shop about 30 yrs. ago and embarked on knitting a gored skirt to match a sweater. The only way to do it was on circulars. I’ve been knitting on them ever since. My “knitters elbo” (i.e. tendonitis) got better after changing to circulars – you hold your elbows closer to your sides, no longer putting a strain on them. I’ll never go back to straight needle knitting.

  • Mattie Blanchard

    CIRCULAR, always. Easier to hold when sitting in a wingback chair, and they hold lots of stitches (afhans, etc.) I knit American style – and wonder if switching to Continental style would be any easier with straights- since I heard you have to hold one needle still.

  • Alexandra

    Unless you’re a prop knitter, circs have SO many advantages. Apart from the lovely way they distribute the weight of your work onto your lap, I really love the ability I have to knit in awkward places. I can knit snuggled up to my Sweetie while watching a movie without stabbing him. I can knit on the bus without scratching the bus wall or puncturing the ribcage of the large person beside me. I can whip a project out of my bookbag and knit discreetly through a really boring lecture. I can quickly crush my knitting into a bag with my laptop, my lunch and a couple textbooks without snapping a needle.

    Oh, I could go on and on…. In sum, however, I don’t really think I ever would have become a knitting fool without circs!

  • Catherine

    I have both round and straight, but my straight seem to go missing and become drum sticks or whatever the boys need them for. My round needles are more useful to me than them, thankfully. Also I don’t lose stitches with my round and find them great for small projects like dishcloths or larger projects. Need a break, slide everything to the center of the needle and when I come back everything is still there.

  • Mae Dault

    I have tried to use circular needles but find that I don’t have very good control of the rope. It acts like a snake,twisting and turning. The rope is either too long or too short. I do keep trying and would like to learn how to use them. I keep going back to my straight needles. I really would like some advice on the use of circular needles. Thank you.

  • Kim

    I love circular needles over straight needles. It is less strain on my arms and shoulders. You can use the circular needles for anything.

  • Jennie

    I LOVE circular needles. I am just beginning to knit and I have found that the circular needles are so much easier for me to use. I have tried knitting with the straight needles and my arms got so tired. I also don’t loose stitches now either.

  • Paula

    Circulars, definitely.
    1. If you have to stop mid-row, you can slide the unfinished rows down and they won’t slip off.
    2. Great on planes and other crowded places.
    3. If you have screw-on tips and a variety of cables, you are set for almost any knitting project.
    4. Easier on the arms when knitting large projects.
    5. You can coil them up and store them in plastic bags.

  • Rhonda

    I prefer circular needles as they don’t get in the way when I’m knitting in the car or an arm chair. I only use straight needles when I absolutely need to use them. I agree with Paula’s comments of Jan. 31.

  • Barbara

    I am in the minority on the popularity of the circular needles as I prefer straight. The cords on circular needles can be difficult and frustrating to negotiate. Many times you need different length of circular needles for a project. The straight are more comfortable for me and I knit faster and more even with straight needles. If a project calls for lots of stitches, a circular needle is the only way to go.

  • Kerrie

    STRAIGHT!! My stitches are more uniform when I’m not fighting the circular needle. They always get hung up on the transition from the needle to the cord, and I can’t knit as fast. Also, I tend to rest my left needle on my stomach as I knit, so when I am ‘forced’ to use circular needles, my arms get tired from holding them up.

    I bought a set of circular needles that have the screw on tips, but as I was knitting around the edge of an afghan, the darned things came unscrewed. I was able to catch the stitches, but I wasn’t happy.

    I like the idea of circular needles, they just don’t work well for me.

  • Lois

    CIRCULARS ONLY!!! (except for DPN’s for small areas and/or socks) They are easier to hold, to work with, you don’t lose the other end – ALL the reasons others listed before. Although it did take me while after years of using straights to switch to circulars. To those not sure if it’s worth the hassle of learning “new tricks”, I say DEFINITELY YES!! My hubby likes the circulars, too, ’cause now he can cuddle me on the couch & I can still knit!

  • Linda

    Love to use circulars.

  • Momsknitting

    Circular, I knit with kids around and it’s easier to pull them through the stitches and I’m less likely to drop stitches that way! I use two for socks, hats and other small things.

  • Angie

    I love circular needles. They are so much easier on the wrist, too! I will only use circular from now on. If you get a quality circular needle, they aren’t awkward at all!

  • carrie

    I learned to knit on straight needles and I was
    taught if the pattern doesn’t say circulars then
    don’t use them, but then I joined a knitting group
    and as they say the rest is history.
    I love circulars because I ride public transportation
    It’s great to grab a corner seat and knit away.

  • Diana

    Only use circulars. So much more compact and easy to keep in one small bundle. Straights can be dangerous no matter how careful you are with them.

  • Regina Dabbs

    I so prefer circular needles! No needles poking out in the way, no extra weight pulling on your wrists…so comfy to use. I do use my trusty DPNs for socks though.

  • Jim in Marietta

    I happened to have learned on circular needles – Denise’s in fact. I have tried to knit on straight needles and find myself getting tangled in the yarn, dropping needles and poking myself. So, it is circular for me. Kudos to those who can knit with straight or both!

  • Kelleen

    I prefer circular needles. When I use straight needles, I tend to catch the ridge on the back end on things and pull the needle out of my stitches. I love my circular needle kit. The cable doesn’t curl like it does with a lot of the regular circular needles.

  • Omarsha Ambakisye

    Yes Ladies and Gentlemen of the needlework world,
    I use circulars. Main reason, they are more convenient for me to carry when I have a project. You see they are smaller and less able to break or cause a break to something like my bag I carry it in. I want two sets of circulars. I wish I could get an addi turbo set but alas way to expensive for me at this time. I very hardly go anywhere without a crochet or knitting project. And if I do leave the house without a project and end up finding out I could have been using a waiting or sitting time to crochet or knit I am simply annoyed. I’m that used to carrying a project practically everywhere I go. I’m teaching my two boys 10 and 7 to have some needlework skills. After I’ve gotten my two sets of circulars, I’ll simply display all my straights like nice candy in a pretty dish to use at home at my desire. But circulars will be my sacred workers. So there, needlework siblings is my take on preference of needles. May God bless and of course HAPPY NEEDLEWORKING 2009


  • Peggy

    i know my best-knitter friends love the circulars, but i guess i’m just too straight-laced :) using the circulars, my work tends to get all wound up (as do my hands) and i can’t see what i’ve done to remember where i’m going when i pick it up again! and i’m sorry but this needs to be said…what is all this about losing needles?? hasn’t anyone ever heard of rolling the new end of yarn around it and sticking it in the ball or your work? i mean…for heavens sake!

  • Karen

    I am a new knitter, but have already found that I prefer circular needles. I’m always afraid either I or the children will drop my stitches on straights, especially if the needle is full.

    The disadvantage: Where I live, circular needles are harder to find in a variety of sizes and lengths.

  • Kristin

    If I am working on something small, like a baby item, I like straights. But if my project is something larger or heavy, I like to use circulars. I do a lot of newborn sweaters and clothing, so most of my “good” needles are straights. Right now I’m knitting a blanket, so I’m using a circular

  • Josette

    I was suprised that so many people are having trouble with straight needles putting strain on their elbows, shoulders, etc. I keep my arms against my sides, my elbows next to my hips and my forearms on my thighs. My work AND my needles both rest in my lap – my fingers lightly support (not grip) the needles. Only my right wrist moves as I knit.

  • Julie

    My husband gets very upset when I use straight needles in the car. He is afraid I am going to poke his eye out….really. So, amazingly, I prefer circular.