Lion Brand Notebook

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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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  • JoAnna

    I like straight best, especially my old bamboo needles. I think it is just what I am most use to using. But I am doing a sweater on my circular needles right now. It feels strange still, but I am getting use to them as I go. So maybe in the future I will use them more often.

  • Myrtle

    I use circulars for everything, when making something in the round I will cast on with the double pointed needles and then switch to circulars. Someone said before they make me knit faster and they do fit into a purse to take along anywhere.
    I am very particular with the ones I use, so most of mine a Auddis, they have smooth connections. I will use 2 circulars for socks and fingerlees gloves.

  • Lynn Snyder

    I haven’t had much experience in usuing the circular needles. I have one circular needle. I have to admit that the weight of what ever you may work on as many others have stated is not placed on your wrists but can sit in you lap. I do use both types of needles however. Currently I’m using a set of straights to do a quick and easy baby blanket. I do have another pattern though that I will be making another blanket, but it will be on the circular needle. I believe both have advantages and disadvantages. I enjoy using both but am sure that I will be using the circulars more as I get older and due to the arthritis that seems to be settling in my hands.

  • Heather

    To Sue Sauer, Arlene Johnson, Ann Northrup, and anyone else who asked – hot water is OK, but friction works the best! I use my thick jeans and rub the needles back and forth over my thigh until they feel hot – then I hang them on a cup hook on the wall (here I store them) until they cool. It works for me every time. Oh, and I’m a circular gal, too. I love the way they can be hung around my neck!

  • Marilyn

    I only use circular and gave away all my straight needles!

  • christy fedirchuk

    hello all, as with most things in life that we build, a tool is a tool is, or, the tool needs to fit the job. Hence, my DPNs are great when working in the round with few stitches or working in many decreases to having few stiches to bind off (hats come to mind). My straight pairs of single pointed needles are my go-tos for scarfs, and other things that i put many colours, lots of colour/yarn additions and ends for tie-ing when finishings, and my circulars are for the times I can be speedy (lots of length, not many yarn changes, enough stitches to cast on so as to not lose control of them, such as sweater/tops, hats (for brims, etc prior to decreases), household items. Yet, I must say that the biggest time saver for me is to make sure the tool is appropriate for the job. Circular needles with short lengths (like my 12″ 4.5mm) are great for building brims for even small hats, like kids, then move to DPNs for the decreases, faster than using DPNs alone; or super long length circulars for blankets that are one colour, whew, no more worries about dropping stiches since the single point needles would have been crammed with all of the stiches. I hope my little tool adage makes sense and is helpful.
    Here’s to knitting up warm fuzzies for all of our kith and kin for this cold winter of 2009 (i am in Toronto, Canada. We have had many cold fronts moving on through, brrrrrr. Happy knitting one and all! Christy

  • Dot

    I love circular needles because I don’t like sewing things together. If I knit a sweater on circular needles, when I’m done, I’m done! All I have to do is weave in the loose ends.

  • Kathy Taylor

    Always circulars! I can’t lose one and they don’t hit the sides of my chair. I love my circs!

  • Crystal Miles

    I love both of them. Whenever pattern ask for, I use straight or circulars. However it eases the pain in my hands when I use circular, and of course, I find it better with large number of sts, and I usually use dpn for mittens, other things which I find using smaller circular very difficult. To get good quailty for circular needles here is very difficult.. I find bamboo needles very nice, however if nicked in needle, it becomes troublesome which I prefer nickle over bamboo.. Like I said, it depends on what yarn i am knitting, and what kind of pattern, i need to use to knit. I like both.

  • cindy c

    I prefer circular needles. I wish shorter ones were available– say around six inches for small craft projects like knitting Christmas tree bulbs.

  • linda price

    Definitely circular. I learned this many years ago after leaving a project on straight needles for a period of time, when I started knitting on the project again, the row or yarn on the needles had become stretched and I had to rip out stitches (yuk). With circular, this isn’t a problem if the project requires a lengthy delay in knitting.

    Linda Blackhawk , IN

  • Idelle

    Circular needles except for narrow items such as scarves. Also like to use 2 circular needles for items such as socks or other in-round items.

  • Marg

    It depends on the project. I have used circular when working in the round, but recently (since it it is the correct size needle), I have been using circular for hats (not connecting the sides while working). I prefer straight (suits the projects I work on); the circular needles (if not used in the round) become twisted, but easily unwind for small projects.

  • Judy

    I prefer circular because the needles are short and fit nicely into my hands. They don’t bump into people, chair arms, etc. The weight of the project is centered over my lap instead of hanging to one side or the other as it does with regular-length straight needles. I only use straight needles for small projects that can fit on short length (9″) needles.

  • Wendy

    Reading the following posts I see that most people prefer circular needles. I use both, but I mostly use straight needles. It just what I learned on, own more of, and feel most comfortable with.

  • Linda

    I too prefer circular. I learned on straights, but for all the reasons already stated, I prefer circular. I was VERY AFRAID of circulars until I got used to them. Now even after I teach someone to knit, I then switch them to circular as soon as they are comfortable. I have bought many Addi Turbo’s. They are a little more expensive, but they work like a dream! Also I have many straight needles that I am holding on to (I don’t know why) I guess I am just a pack rat!

  • Ramona

    I like to use circulars because it is much easier on my hands and wrists. All the weight is on the needle rather than me having to hold it up. I like to use one size larger straight needles to bind off.

  • Amy

    I love circulars! I usually use DB to create my doggy sweaters, but as for everything else I use circulars. I do not worry about loosing a stitch or finding a “plug” for the end of my straights.

  • Una

    Straight. I learned to knit the Scottish way holding the R needle under my armpit. This technique allows the knitter to knit at astronomical speeds. Therefore, I find circular needles to be cumbersome and slow.

  • Ruby Allen

    I prefer nice smooth metal circular needles with fairly blunt points. Straight needles are good for beginning knitters who are just learning to knit and I loathe bamboo. A good set of metal circs lets the yarn slide easily and is good for knitting just about anything.

  • Gail

    I will use circular if possibe as they are easier to use – especially if you are working on a large or heavy item.
    Large straight needles make my arms ache, especially as the work get heavier, and I avoid them as much as I can.
    I use 10″ needles for small items, but I really do prefer circular over straight.

  • Dee

    I prefer circular needles if possible. With the many projects I tend to have going at the same time it helps me to not drop stitches off the ends like straight needles tend to do (even if I use the rubber ends). I also prefer them when working on large or heavy projects. I agree that straight needles for heavy projects makes my arms ache, but also my hands. I have arthritis and circular wooden needles are the best. The wood absorbs and holds the heat from your hands, so you don’t end up putting a project down because the needles are cold and make your hands ache.

  • Sachiko

    I love my circular needles. I do not like to piece things together, so I adapt patterns whenever possible to knit bodies of sweaters with circulars and sleeves with dpns. I have several patterns that only require shoulder seams and under arm seams for pullovers. With circulars, my arms do not get as tired when knitting large items. I use circulars for afghans, too — easier to take on trips and less weight for my short arms.

  • Judy Olson

    I use straight needles. I can’t get the hang of cicular for blankets. I seem to add stitches as i go along. Have no idea how i do that, i’m careful, but still happens. I do use circular for hats, i’m fine with that, add no stitches because i think theres no ends to a hat. When i make a blanket, i make large strips and put together with a crochet hook, looks good. My mom made blankets like that along time ago. Judy


    I love my circulars. I was taught to knit with them 34 years ago and invested in a set of interchangables (Boye). I only use DP for socks and tops of hats. I recently tried straight needles in a large size and I really didn’t like working with them. Where can you get the big sizes in circulars? I can’t live without my circulars!

  • J. Westlund

    Definitely circular! Can’t imagine why everyone doesn’t use circular. They hold more, scrunch up with work between knitting sessions, take up less space when working in close quarters, more versatile…can go from knitting around to knitting round. Love them. Best invention for knitters EVER.

  • Amelia

    I prefer circular needles because: 1. They are much easier to work with in a confined space, i.e. an airplane. 2. I get better balance with the project. 3. They store easily in a small space. I use a small notebook about 8×10 inches with zippered bags for each size.

    The only con I have: It’s best not to put the work aside in the middle of the row; Depending upon the pattern, I may forget which way I was working when I pick up the project again?

  • Terry

    I only use circulars now because of my arthritis. Two circular needles are great for doing socks. I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I even learned a different way of casting on so I could use them for that.

  • Cynthia

    Circulars are great! Just got a new set of wooden interchangeables with sharp points. They are so much easier because the weight of the yarn in my lap! No more catching on things with the ends or having the grandkids slip a needle out of my hand while I’m knitting. YES! CIRCS ARE GREAT!!

  • Mary Jo

    I love all you expereanced knitters. K, so if I use circular needles how do I get the cabel from kinking up? I haven’t found a paticular preferance, I’m a beginner. So I went to crocheting instead. But would love to master knitting as well. I too, have problems dropping straight needles loosing, stitches and so forth. Thanks for your help. Love this web-site!

  • Angel

    Circs all the way for me! I have arthritis and straights hurt my wrists after only a short time. With circs I can knit for hours on end. :-)

    To straighten out the kinks, run the cable only under hot water or through the steam coming from a kettle. Gently pull on both ends to straighten it out a bit. Hope this helps. :-)

  • LIfesastitch

    It depends on the project, but mostly I use circular or short straights. I hardly ever use the longer straight needles. Sometimes one is more appropriate for the yarn thickness, pattern, etc…

  • irishlady

    Give me the old-fashioned straight needles every time! I hate circs. Tried them a couple of times and always go back to straights. Circs are slow for me, plus I hate moving the yarn over the join between needle and plastic cord. I even knit socks on straights in the old-fashioned way before the advent of dpns or circulars. Feels like I’m sharing history from “way back when” using straights I have a book that shows three different ways to knit socks on straights using a flat seam. My hubby loves them, so what more can I say.

  • Elaine

    Lately I’ve been using circular needles. They do not get lost, and they’re great especially on airplanes where one can drop a needle on the floor and have a tough time trying to pick it up.

  • Vicky

    If the pattern doesn’t specify circular needles I prefer to use straight needles. I get frustrated with the way most circular needles twist because of the way they are stored. The only ones that I have found that don’t twist are the 16″ ones, which are still awkward because it’s hard to get the ends to line up at a comfortable angle.

  • Oma Stewart

    Circular needles are all I use now. You never have to worry about dropping one. They are much easier to carry around and to use. You only have a small needle to hold. I like the comment about running them under hot water to straighten them out, thanks.

  • Oma Stewart

    One thing really great about circular needles is that I use them to hold the pieces of my project together so I can sew it up.

  • susie gibbs

    I love using circular needles over straights for many reasons a few of which are: it’s easier to stop in the middle of a row without dropping stitches as you pull the needles up and the remainning stiches hang out on the needle cable until you’re ready to knit again; I find the weight distribution & knitting dynamics much easier on my hands & arms with circulars rather than straights; I don’t have to own multiple pairs of needles in the same size but differing lengths as just one pair of circular needles per size is required for the majority of patterns I knit… And there are probably more reasons… but I know for the most part it’s just a matter of preference. I have many knitting friends who don’t like circular needles at all!

  • susie gibbs

    I read the rules of engagement & I think my comments fall within the guidelines (although I should have hit spellcheck or proof read them before submitting apparently…oh well to err is human..)

  • Joan Lovegren

    I didn’t realize how fussy I am until giving it some deep thought on why I use straight needles more than circular ones. I’m even more fussy on what kind of point they have, that is very important to me and perhaps to others depending on the yarns one uses I imagine. I’m new at knitting and not very venturesome yet but working on it. Weight of the needles is important to me too and the ‘feel’ of them, if I don’t like the ‘feel’ they aren’t staying in my box, out they go! Hope this gives you an idea about who I am when I knit! LOL

  • Barb

    Love circular needles; they’re much more compact, any size garment will fit on them and you can stop knitting in the middle of a row for easy storage. I’ve known about the hot water tip to straighten the needles for years; soaking the needles in a sink filled with hot water for a minute and then holding it taut also does the trick. Happy knitting!

  • Leiah

    Circulars! My circulars have been a life saver during chemotherapy. I can haul my project around, lay it down, pick it up when I am feeling better. And being bedridden through most of my chemo, I could take it to bed with me, and if I got tired, I could loosely wrap the ends of the needles together, squish my knitting down, and even sleep with it without loosing stitches!


  • Tommie

    I prefer circular for several reasons. They are easier to carry along. One can fold them into the project and into your bag or pocket without loosing a stitch. They are more compact than longer straight needles. They are easier on my hands and wrists when I’m making large projects. I don’t end up with a lot of weight cantilevered out on the end of a straight needle.

  • Ellehuny

    I prefer circular needles because straight needles kill my wrists! The weight is just too much for me. Also, since I now knit in continental style it is way faster with circulars. I recently picked up a pair of straight needles and I had to put my project on DPN’s because my wrists and hands started hurting. I recently made a sweater and I finished it in less than a week… on straights and throwing style it would have taken me over a month.

    DPN’s all the way baby!!!

  • Vicki Bauer

    Circular needles take the place of straight and double-point needles. I knit scarves, seamless hats and sweaters, afghans, you name it, on circular needles and never have to worry about losing a needle or finishing a row before I put down my project. Stitches don’t slip off the needles either … just push your knitting onto the nylon filament connecting the two ends. And my other favorite thing about circular needles … they never feel heavy because the bulk of your work is always balanced between both hands. Hooray for circular needles!!!

  • Joyce

    Circular 90% dp 5% straight 5%
    A friend once told me that whoever had the most knitting needles when they die – win. I’m working on it. I have wood,bone,metal, plastic, bamboo, WWII plastic, etc. Love knitting, love to share my love of knitting.

  • Carla Ward

    Circular vs. Straight

    I prefer circular for all the reasons already listed, plus more: I did the Dover Rose of Sharon circular tablecloth with lace weight mohair. I have no idea how many stitches the final rounds had, but I think it was over 1000. This would have been impossible with DP’s. Also, afghans are easier because the weight of a heavy afghan is in your lap and never lifted until you set it down. Can’t do that with straights!

  • Joy Sharp

    I used to knit on my daily commute by bus in Scotland. Having to crawl around on the usually wet, muddy floor to retrieve a dropped needle on more than one occasion is what got me using circular needles. Then I just got hooked – they are so much easier to carry around, you don’t have the full weight of the project tugging at one side or the other, and you never have to worry about dropping one needle. I do, however, still prefer double pointed for small circular work.

  • Frances Reust

    I much prefer circular. My biggest gripe with straight is that if I knit in armed chair they hang up a lot also hang up in garment if a large one on the needles. I was glad to see so many others felt the same way in prefering the circular needles. Thank you for the opportunity to voice my opinion. This is my first time here. Am by no means a professional knitter but am working hard at learning the craft. Thanks again.

  • Beth

    I love my straights ,most of the time! I do use circs too but much prefer my straights.