What size of knitting needle is standard for knitting a hat or sweater?

I see a wide range of sizes of needle and don't want to get the wrong size.  Thanks

0jack6 years ago
There is no standard, it depends on what you'd like to use as a yarn to create your project. The ball band on the yarn will tell you the average size of needle to use. For ribbing at a hat band, wrist, or waist, you would use a needle one or two sizes smaller--the pattern will tell you what to choose.

I recommend that beginners use a "chunky" yarn with a bit of wool in it, to give it a bit of cling--this way, if your needle falls out, the stitches hold their shape long enough to get the needle in again instead of falling apart. The chunkiness allows you to clearly see your stitches and you can knit up a fair bit of fabric very quickly. A medium-weight cotton with no sheen is also a good starting yarn.

Ideally, a beginning knitter will work on scarves--often in garter stitch--or washcloths. Simple washclothes/hot pads teach basic shaping and yarn-overs that can be used in combinations to create lacy patterns. Feather-and-fan patterns also make attractive scarves or blankets, again using simple increase and decrease techniques.

You can buy some inexpensive needles for beginners (I believe they are 4.5mm, 5mm, and 6mm in many sets) which will take you from worsted (medium weight) to chunky yarns. It is a good idea to knit gauge swatches using a couple different needle and yarn sizes. This will teach you how close your gauge is to average. If your gauge is very tight, remember to breathe slowly while you work, let your shoulders drop, and relax your wrists and elbows. Let yourself knit "sloppily" until you loosen up, then try to knit normally again.

Another option for beginners is to select a pattern that will be felted or fulled. For this, you will use pure wool to knit a piece that is far larger than the final object. When you felt or full the finished object, it shrinks and hides many flaws. Because you are making something big and floppy, you are not going to run into intensive shaping.

Knitting for felting is excellent practice. You can even knit a very large swatch of fabric and then felt it and cut pieces out for a project. This means that your work knitting large, flat expanses of fabric hasn't gone to waste.

You may want to consider circular needles. Some people find circular needles to be easier on their hands and use them for all their knitting, simply using a single circular as though it were two straight needles. Circular needles (circs) store easily and one never ends up with a singleton. Also, you can slide your work to the center of the cable and tuck the needles into the ball or finished work, reducing the chance of dropping stitches when carrying the project. You can purchase or make a wristlet-bag to carry a scarf project to work on while out and about, and circs fit nicely in these little bags.


jeff-o7 years ago
It will depend on the pattern and the yarn you're using.  The pattern will usually specify what weight yarn you should use to get the size and tension correct, and will usually say which needles to use as well.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this!

It depends on the weight of the yarn, and how tight a fabric you're going for. Most yarn says on the band what the recommended needle size is, but some patterns call for vastly different needles than are recommended for the yarn.

Best to pick your yarn and pattern first, start with what's recommended by the pattern (assuming you're using the same weight yarn as the pattern calls for), TEST YOUR GAUGE (esp for a sweater), and then size up or down to match the gauge called for by the pattern.

I agree with "Kitewife" that if you're using worsted weight yarn, size 6 would be reasonable...but so would 7...or 5...or something else entirely!
Kiteman7 years ago
It depends what wool you are using.

In "double knit" (worsted): 3.25mm (USA size 3) for ribs, 4mm (USA size 6) for the rest of the jumper.

(According to Kitewife)