How to Measure Length of Circular Knitting Needles
Are you confused by lengths of circular knitting needles? In this post, I’ve included a video on how to measure length of circular knitting needles. I’ll also explain why lengths are confusing and what length needle you’ll need for an in-the-round knitting project.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for more information.
Today I'm going to talk to you about how to measure the length of your circular knitting needles.
So I'm embarrassed to show you this but this really is how I store a lot of my circular needles (in a plastic bag).
These are all the fixed needles, not the interchangeables. I don't know how I got into this habit. I need to fix it and use better storage.
I pull out and wonder, “okay how long is this?”
All you have to do to know how long it is is grab a tape measure and measure it.
So this one is from tip to tip sixteen inches. Then I also keep a needle gauge and I just know my needle size is right here. This one here is a size eleven needle in diameter. So it's a 16 inch size 11 needle.
You are always going to measure from tip to tip. It sounds easy enough, but the problem comes in with a lot of the interchangeable needles because there's varying tip lengths and cable sizes.
Sometimes manufacturers will just tell you the length of the cable, others will tell you the length of the cable with the needles.
It leads to a lot of confusion.
What you need to do is always measure the finished length including the needles.
If you are knitting in the round and your project, let's say you're knitting a hat for example. The hat is a 20 inch circumference. You're going to need a needle length a little smaller than that. You need a 16 to a 20 inch circular needle for the hat.
If you decide, well, I only have a 24 inch needle, I’ll just use that length, you'll be struggling to knit around and around.
That’s because the circumference of the project is actually smaller than the needle length.
It will constantly be a struggle.
As a general rule, always pick a needle size that is a little bit smaller in length than the actual circumference of the finished project.
Now I'm going to take a moment to show you the differences in the circular interchangeable needles and where that confusion comes in.
I have a really nice set of Hiya Hiya needles. They came with all of the circular needle cables come beautifully packaged in the back in little bags.
It says the name of the rather the length is printed right on there. This says 40 to 42 inches well how do you know what that is? Hiya Hiya needles come in various length tips so depending on which tips you are using, will determine the finished needle length.
If you're anything like me, you'll lose the little plastic bag.
Hiya Hiya anticipates that by actually printing the length right here on the cable.
But these tend to wear off after time. I've had many needles rub right off.
These are about 3 inch tips.
So three inches at one end, three inches at the other end so that's 6 inches plus the length of your cable.
To just make life easier for yourself, just put it together and measure the whole thing.
In this case, I did that and i'm going to end up with a sixteen inch cable.
Again, this will work if you are knitting something like a hat that's 20 inch circumference or a baby sweater. It will be small enough that you'll be able knit around and your stitches will be comfortably gliding along the needle.
The other interchangeable set I'm going to show you is this.
These are the Addi Clicks which I love also. I grabbed a cable from the back and it's printed right on the cable but it's so small. Let's see, it says 24 inches on the cable right here.
So again, is that the finished length of the cable with the needles or without the needles. It can be very confusing. I'm going to just click my needles in place then I'm going to measure it and make sure that I have the needle size that I want.
Okay so those are clicked into place. My tape measure is right here. So you're going to start at one end. Maybe you want to lay this on a flat surface, but you'll be able to get a pretty good read.
So, the finished length of this cable with the needles is 24 inches.
This is going to be too large to knit a hat unless it's a large men's hat or unless you are knitting flat and then seaming it.
But, you would not want to use this for a hat. You'd want to use one that's a little bit smaller.
That is how to measure circular knitting needles so that you can quickly get right to knitting and know that you have the right size length every time.
Visit me in the NobleKnits Community for more conversation!