Most of us picture a pair of knitting needles, long and skinny with a knob at the end. I’d imagine them being aluminum and purple. Those were my first pair of knitting needles bought at the local store, Raindew. I loved the click click sound they made as I create each stitch. It was not until years later that I learned about the variety of needles out there.
Straight Needles: These are the long skinny needles with a knob at the end. They are good for scarves, small blankets and smaller simpler projects. The knob at the end prevents the stitches from falling off and the stitches are passed from needle to needle with each row.
Double Pointed Needles: These are shorter, skinny needles, usually coming in packs of four or five. Both ends are pointed with nothing to prevent stitches from falling off. These are used for socks, i-cords, stuffed animals and small shaped projects. The stitches are knitted in the round, going from needle to needle with two-four needles holding yarn and one ‘working’ needle.
Circular Needles: These are two straight needles connected by a cord. The yarn is knit from one needle onto the other, with the stitches sliding on or off via the cord. These are used for round projects such as hats and sweaters, can be used using two needles to make objects that would normally require double pointed needles (knitting with two circulars), or can be used for knitting flat objects such as scarves by turning the work at the end of each row as if one was working with two straight needles.
Cable Needles: These are used for cables. They are a smaller needle, usually in the shape of a hook or similar to a ‘V’. These are used for holding stitches behind or in front of the work, while other stitches are knitted and then knitting the cable needle stitches to create a bump, design or cable.