How to Measure Your Circular Knitting Needles

Bee in the Bonnet

Why You Might Need to Measure Your Circular Knitting Needles

Circular knitting needles are sold using two measurements. There’s the circumference of the needle tips and the total length of the needles. If you have a large enough collection, though, it can be hard to remember those measurements for each set.

How to Measure the Length of Your Circular Knitting Needles

The first measurement we’ll need to know: length. Circular knitting needles come in lots of different lengths, and it’s important to pick the size the pattern calls for. To get an accurate length measurement, simply do the following. First, take a tape measure, and place it at one end of your circular needle. Stretch that needle out straight along the length of your tape measure. Once you reach the other end of your circular needle, take note of where that tip is on the tape measure. There’s your length.

How to Measure the Size of the Tips on Your Circular Knitting Needles

The second key measurement for circular needles is the circumference of the needle tips. The easiest way to do it is with a knitting needle gauge finder. These come in metal, wood, and plastic varieties, and they have lots of little holes. You stick your needle in until you find the last hole it can comfortably slide into. That’s the size of the needle. If you hit a hole where the needle can’t go in all the way, that’s too small. You should go up to the next size.

What Length of Circular Knitting Needles Should You Use?

Once I know the circumference of my project, my general rule is that I choose a needle length one increment down from the dimensions of my project. Here’s what I mean. If the needle lengths I have available are 16″, 24″, 32″, and 40″, and I am knitting a hat that will have a 22″ circumference, I’m going to choose the 16″ needle. The 24″ needle will be too long, and my stitches won’t stretch around the needle. Likewise, if I am knitting a sweater from the bottom up with a 44″ circumference, I’ll choose the 40″ needle.

What To Do If You Don’t Have the Right Length of Circular Knitting Needle In Your Collection

Don’t worry. As long as your needle length isn’t drastically shorter (say, 16″ when you need 24″), a couple inches usually won’t make much of a difference.