I use circular needles pretty much exclusively, and all my knitting friends do, too. There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is that circular needles are more readily available these days than straight needles. They're also easier to knit with than straight needles because they don't hit the table or your lap while you're knitting (does this happen to anyone else?) and you won't lose one of them!
There are many things to consider when choosing circular needles, and I'm going to compare materials and brands, as well as talk a little about the interchangeable sets we offer.
Whether you prefer metal, wood, or bamboo, we've got circular needles for you.
Metal needles tend to knit "faster" than bamboo needles, because of their smooth, slick surface. The yarn slides easily and quickly from one needle to another. I find metal needles can be a little too slippery on some types of yarn, such as silk or bamboo, but for most knitters metal needles are all-purpose and the most popular.
Addi Turbo Rockets and ChaioGoo needles (shown below) have a more pointed tip than addi Turbos, so if you prefer "sharper" needles, choose one of these brands. I like a point, but not a really sharp one—I've used needles so sharp that I actually poked my finger and drew blood. Not cool.
If you're working on a lace project or a pattern with a lot of increases or decreases, I would recommend a sharper needle, like the addi Turbo Rockets or the ChiaoGoo needles.
These are my personal favorites, and I particularly like the bamboo ChiaoGoo needles (shown below). They're just grippy enough for me, and the cable is fab. It has no memory, so it straightens out on its own, with no need for steam or boiling water. Love this!
I also love the Knitter's Pride Dreamz, though—highly recommended!
Karbonz combine the best of metal and wooden needles. The shafts of the needles are made from carbon fiber an the tips are an electroplated brass. The lightweight and flexible needles warm to the touch like wooden needles.
They're really smooth and your stitches will move along nicely as you knit. Sharpish tips work on all kinds of projects.
These are really high-tech, and therefore a little more expensive. Shop-owner Kelley highly endorses Karbonz. I've only knit with them once, but I enjoyed them.
Interchangeable sets are wonderful because you have all of the needle sizes you need, along with cords to make them various lengths. I'm lucky to have several sets, including the 5-inch ChiaoGoo Spin interchangeable set and a Knitter's Pride set.
We carry both of these sets, as well as a few Knitter's Pride Karbonz sets. These circular knitting needle sets are an investment, but well worth it for avid knitters. They also make a great wish-list item!
I have knit with and can recommend all three of these needles, but my A+ grade goes to ChaioGoo, because of the nylon-covered, steel-cable cord. There's none better in the industry (that I know of). It doesn't have memory, so there's no kinking or curling. You don't have to straighten it with a steamer or boiling water before beginning a project—just twist it on and go!
Please note that the Chaiogoo Spin large set doesn't include the wonderful steel-cable cord. It comes with thinner nylon cables that I don't love, honestly. They don't straighten out on their own and I actually found these cables to be particularly hard to work with. I've replaced them all with the Red Flexible Nylon Cables. Bamboo needles + red cables = LOVE.
An important thing to know about ChaioGoo needles is that they come with two sizes of cable joins. Sizes 2 through 8 are considered small, and have a smaller screw, and sizes 9 through 15 are considered large, and have a larger screw. Be aware of this when you're buying individual cables, because you can't interchange the large and small cables.
We carry the gorgeous Knit & Purr Interchangeable Set, which is packaged in a wooden box with an included fabric bag.
These needles are smooth and beautiful! I love Knitter's Pride wooden needles for their easy glide and just-pointy-enough tips. The cables are plastic, and they have some memory, but you can use them straight out of the package without too much loopiness.
Each size is a different color of wood, and they're all so pretty. You'll love the smooth finish on these needles. They're almost as fast as knitting with metal, with all of the great attributes of wood.
The Knitter's Pride joins are very smooth, and the cords work with all sizes of Knitter's Pride interchangeable needles, including the Karbonz tips. This set comes with nine pairs of needle tips, sizes 4 through 11.
There are several Karbonz sets available, and we offer three: the Deluxe Set (includes size US 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10 tips), the Starter Set (includes US sizes 2.5, 3, 4, 5, & 6 tips), and the Midi Set (includes US sizes 7, 8, 9, & 10 tips).
Choose your Karbonz set according to which needle sizes you use most.
With fixed circular needles, simply measure from tip to tip.
With interchangeable needles, you need to measure the needle tips and the cord to get your final measurement. Don't include the screw when you're measuring cords (ChiaoGoo) or needle tips (Knitter's Pride).
So, if you have a 22" cable and 5" tips, you'd end up with a 32" needle. Easy-peasy!
Here's a video where Kelley compares our top selling circular needles
There are many circular needles and interchangeable sets available to choose from, but these are our tried-and-true top choices at Alpaca Direct. I hope this blog helps you decide which circular knitting needles will work best for you.
Note: Please use the following sizing chart for general reference only. Sizes between different vendors and manufacturers may vary. Please match your measurements to those in the size chart below.