Knitting Needle Terminology

We use these terms so often, sometimes we don't realize that others aren't familiar with them.

Single Points

A pair of needles pointed on only one end, for back and forth knitting. Sometimes these are called straight needles.  They have a knob, of some shape or another, on the other end to keep the stitches from falling off.  Shorter ones are often easier to manipulate for small projects such as baby sweaters.  Knitters who tuck the end of a needle under an arm prefer long single points.

Double Points

Needles with points on both ends, designed for circular knitting. They may come in sets of 4 or sets of 5. Some knitters put stitches on 3 needles (forming a triangle) and knit with the fourth. Others put stitches on 4 needles (forming a square) and knit with the fifth.  The shortest double points are sometimes called glove needles.


Needles for circular knitting, although they can be used for back and forth knitting as well.  They have points in the desired size long enough to accommodate your hand.  The points are joined by a thin nylon cord.


Like a circular needle, these have a point joined to a nylon cord except that the cord is not attached to another point.  It ends with a bead.  Used for back and forth knitting when you have lots of stitches, and don't want single points that may poke someone near you.  Also called jumper needles.

Lace Needles

These are very small, below a size 0, and are used for knitting lace with crochet threads or very fine wool.


There is no standard sizing in the knitting needle industry.  We use what is called US sizing (1 is small, 10 is big).  There is also English sizing, called UK (10 is small, 3 is big).  European patterns usually call for metric sizes.  We've included charts to guide you in ordering.  It is important to note that one manufacturer's US size 3 may be a 3mm, while another's size 3 may be a 3.25mm.  Also, some brands are not made in every US size.  Others add odd sizes such as 5.5 and 10.75.  Your best insurance, for a properly sized project, is to knit a gauge swatch.