If you’re new to the world of knitting, then the equipment you need might seem a bit daunting – what do you actually need? What brand should you choose? Even if you’re a well seasoned knitter it can be confusing!
Before I learnt how to knit, I wanted to check that I could actually perform this mystical looking art before spending out on equipment. So I grabbed some chopsticks, a scrap bit of yarn and sat down with a youtube video (you can see the result here). So you really can knit with the bare essentials! The equipment you need really depends on the type of knitting you’ll do. So if you had to narrow it down, what do you really need to learn to knit? If you’re a more experienced knitter, look out for future posts building on the equipment list.
Can’t go far without these. But which ones? If you’re a complete beginner, then I would recommend 4mm straight needles. 4mm is the most common needle size used in patterns, particularly for DK yarn (double knitting – the most common yarn size) so it’s great for beginners. Then there’s the question of what type – metal, wooden or plastic? That depends on what you feel most comfortable with. I started with metal pony needles like these, as they are the easiest to find in shops. However I now find them quite hard to knit with. Different types of needles have different qualities, the slippery nature of metal needles makes it easier to slide yarn over the needle, which is good if you have a yarn that catches easily. They are also useful for knitting at small sizes, as the stronger material is unlikely to bend or break. On the downside, metal needles tend to be slightly heavier, and might be a bit hard on your hands if you have arthritis.
I use bamboo needles, so I can tell you more about those than the others. This also applies to other wooden needles – Wool and the Gang do a lovely set of rosewood needles. Bamboo needles are very light, which is great if your knitting is getting heavy! They’re smooth under the hand and not cold, which is one of the things I dislike about picking up metal needles. If you’re using a slippery yarn like cotton, it makes it much easier to control the yarn as the wood grips it better. They’re not so great at small sizes because they can get quite bendy, and break quite easily. Saying this, I’ve only broken one needle so far! (Touch wood).
I’ve never used plastic needles, and I haven’t seen many in the shops so I can’t tell you much about these!
2. Tape Measure
This is an item that you may well have already, but if not then you will definitely need one. They are not expensive and are often given away free with knitting magazines. You’ll want one that has both centimetres and inches on it, as different patterns will use different units.
Tape measures are needed to make sure you are knitting to the right size. Tension is measured in a 10x10cm or 4×4″ square. I’ve seen a square rule with the measurements around the edge which would be useful! But a simple tape measure is all you really need.