Knitting needles come in all shapes and sizes, but they're also available in a variety of materials. These materials can make all the difference to your knitting - the most popular being bamboo, plastic, and metal. You’ll need to think about both the yarn you’re using and your own skill level when selecting your knitting needles. If you’re a beginner then you’ll want to avoid slippery needles (like metal and plastic) as your stitches are more likely to slip off. More experienced knitters might actually prefer more slippery needles as their stitches will move easier and quicker.
Bamboo needles are lightweight and comfortable to hold. They also have a slightly textured surface, keeping stitches in place (which is great for beginners). Bamboo needles tend to work well with all yarns, but are best used with smooth and lightweight yarns. They’re quite flexible and while this can be a bonus, the smaller sizes tend to bend and break easier than other types of needles.
Contrary to bamboo needles, metal needles are very strong and therefore do not bend easily (or break). However, they are quite heavy and can be cold to the touch. Their slippery surface allows for faster knitting as stitches can glide without friction, and this makes them a preferred choice of more experienced knitters. Metal needles suit all types of yarn, but work best with wool (including wool blends) and acrylic.
Plastic needles are just as smooth as metal ones, but are a lot lighter and very flexible (even more than bamboo). They work with any type of yarn, but are great for chunky yarns that need a larger needle size as they won’t be as heavy as other types of needles.
Wooden needles aren’t slippery (just like bamboo ones), but they still have a smooth feel. They’re great for both experienced knitters and beginners, and work well with slippery yarns. You can find a variety of wooden needles, but the hardwoods are best as they’ll be sturdier. Still, like bamboo, wooden needles have a tendency to break (especially in the smaller sizes).
When starting a project, try to think about what yarn you’ll be using and how well it will work with the needles you want to use. However, most people simply prefer a certain type of needle and use them with every project. Find your favourite material and stick to it if that’s what you knit best with!