this thing's incredible

I’ve Knitted for 25 Years (and Wrote a Book About it). These Are the Only Needles You Need.

Photo-Illustration: retailer

I own a quantity of knitting needles that — when you realize it is just a collection of very sharp sticks — is best described as “alarming.” I try to keep them confined to one storage bin in a corner of my studio apartment, but they still manage to turn up everywhere. They lurk between the cushions of my couch and hide inside the pockets of long-forgotten luggage.

The problem, as anyone who’s into knitting will tell you, is that you really do need many types and sizes of needles in order to make much of anything. When you’re first starting out, chances are you’ll use a pair of needles you recognize from cartoons and pop culture: straight, wooden needles with a little ball on one end. Those are great (I have literally dozens), but there are lots of other worthy needles out there, too. There are circular needles connected by plastic cords, meant to be used for everything from hats to sweaters to blankets. There are sets of five or six double-pointed needles, meant for items with small circumferences — like socks. There are newfangled bendable needles that even I — I’ve been knitting for almost 25 years and wrote two books on the topic — have yet to master.

This can all be wickedly overwhelming for beginners (or even seasoned crafters), but part of the beauty of any new hobby is figuring out what works best for you. Do you like the feeling of warm wood or sleek metal? Are you looking for versatility or a tool that does one thing really well? Are you someone who is forever losing small, important things, for whom it would be preferable to have a zip-able binder full of all the components you could need to make virtually any project?

I am that last type of person, and that’s why I would trade all of the needles currently scattered around my home office/quarantine pod for a single set of ChiaoGoo Twist Tip interchangeable needles.

At over $100, it’s definitely an investment, but you get a range of needle tips you can simply swap in and out depending on whatever you’re working on. They come in a cloth binder that is, frankly, not the most stylish object in the world, but it does an excellent job of nestling all the little bits and bobs so you have them when you need them. Many knitters I know swear by this set; it currently has over 700 five-star reviews on Amazon, despite the fact that there are plenty of other (and cheaper) interchangeable sets out there.

If you’re looking for something that’s not quite so pricey, I also like this KnitPicks set, which, at around $40, is extremely serviceable. (I’ve had some issues with warping after a few years of use, but I also clutch my needles like I am heading into battle so your mileage may vary.) The ChiaoGoo set, though, remains my personal favorite — largely because of how satisfying it is to use. The needle tips twist on and off the provided connecting cables without ever slipping or snagging on your stitches, and the little hiss they make when they slice through yarn is just this side of ASMR. Knitting is so tactile that you may as well make every part of the process as enjoyable as possible, and if you’re looking to upgrade your hobby or control your craft supplies, these are absolutely the move.

Alanna Okun is deputy editor of The Goods by Vox and author of Knit a Hat: A Beginner’s Guide to Knitting.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

I Wrote the Book on Knitting, and These Needles Are the Best