Knitting needles are available in wooden, metal and plastic materials.

Are certain needles more forgiving of mistakes? Does the material itself have any effect on the process or product, besides just how it feels in your hand?

If one has an impact on technique, please help me understand how it impacts it.

  • What kinds of projects do you think you might be trying first?
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 19:56
  • I plan to learn basic knitting first and try knitting shawls.
    – Ram
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 20:01
  • 7
    Unfortunately, "better" questions are generally pretty subjective. Everyone can have a different opinion on the preferred type of needle. Sometimes you can "fix" these issues by asking something more concrete like "What features should I look for as a beginner in a first set of knitting needles?" There may be some specialized tools that are designed for a beginner and help learn technique, sort of like beginner chopsticks. I recommend you rewrite your question slightly to phrase it in a way that's less subjective.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 20:23
  • You can knit almost anything. I still think this depends on what types of things you are knitting. What characteristics of needles are your considering? Size.. material?
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 15:36
  • 1
    +1: I was about to ask exactly this question. Commented May 22, 2016 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


This question cannot really be answered. And the answer to why is both easy and complex.

TL;DR: Start with one kind of needles, it doesn't really matter which kind, preferably one you can borrow, or some cheap ones, and decide after that if it feels right or not.

Like someone already said, knitting needles are made of many different materials, the most common are wood/bamboo, metal and plastic. But you will find other kinds if you look, like carbon, ivory, bone...


  • Wood/bamboo needles are usually less smooth and slick, it means that the yarn is less likely to fall of them by accident (their smoothness are relative to how fine their varnish is and has been polished);
  • Metal needles are very smooth and slick, which means the yarn slides more easily on them, and can be more sharp at the end (because metal can be shaped more easily and is much harder);
  • Plastic are about between wood and metal in smoothness;
  • Carbon needles are quite smooth, they usually have metal tips.

You can find whole sets of wooden knitting needles for less than $5. They are fine for beginners, mostly because they are cheap, and will give you an idea of what you like and dislike in needles.

For example, I love knitting with metal needles, because they can be more sharp, which helps a lot for fine lace work, and the yarn slides more smoothly on them and you can knit faster. A good friend of mine hates metal needles because they are cold and it hurts her fingers.

But all of this does not really matter. A beginner needs to begin, so, a beginner will get a ball of yarn, and read the label to know what size of needles they need for this. They will then get a pair of needles of that size and learn how to do a slip knot, a knit stitch, a purl stitch, and they will be on their way.

Now, as per why this does not really matter, well, everyone knits differently. I see it in every class I teach. I always have all my students do the same thing: cast on 15 stitches, do a few rows of knit stitch (which is called garter stitch), and then alternate knit rows and purl rows (giving you stockinette), and while they are all doing the same number of stitches, and rows, their little knitted pieces are all of different sizes. This is because we all hold our needles and yarn differently, we all have a different tension on the yarn, and in the end, our stitches are not all of the same size.

A loose knitter will not be able to knit using metal needles because the stitches will keep falling off, since their knitting is very loose. They will often prefer wooden needles, because they are less smooth, and the stitches are less likely to fall off.

A tight knitter, on the other hand, will have a hard time using wooden needles because the stitches will not want to move easily on the needles, and they will be forced to slide their stitches so that they can continue knitting. They will most likely prefer metal or carbon needles.

  • is it true that they could also be made of glass? Commented May 20, 2016 at 12:45
  • 3
    @neongreenfruit sure, they could even be made of rubber, or ice, it is even possible to knit with your finger/arms :-)
    – mat
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 13:23

I started knitting last winter, and have since made about a million hats. In my experience, wooden/bamboo knitting needles are great for beginners because they are not quite as a smooth and slick as metal knitting needles. Metal knitting needles allow you to knit faster, but also make it easier to drop stitches. Additionally, both wooden/bamboo and plastic knitting needles are less expensive than metal knitting needles, allowing you to try out a variety of sizes and types (DPNs, circular, traditional) without breaking the bank.

  • I started out with REALLY cheap bamboo ones, and they worked decently, hardly ever dropped anything. It was slow going, though. Then, I got some decent wooden ones, and they are a charm! So, full support for this suggestion.
    – Layna
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 21:07

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