Warning: Beware Circular Needle Lengths

I did it again.  I always forget that a 16″ circular needle does not mean the cable is 16″ but that the entire needle  from tip to cable to tip is 16″.  Am I the only one who does this?  It wouldn’t be so bad except that to get a 16″ circular needle the needle tip portion ends up so much smaller!

Look how much smaller the needle tip is with 24″ vs 16″ circular needles.  The 24+” fixed circular as well as the interchangeable needle tips are all the perfect size.  Sometimes I want just a little bit smaller of a cable and this is how I got into my current mess.  I go down to 16″ and end up with a tiny needle tip that I now have to hold differently and that messes with my tension and gauge.

I have no excuse for this.  The Knit Picks circular needle description says how the needles are measured.  It’s very clear and even tells me how long the needles tips are. I just can’t seem to get it to stick in my head. I’m hoping that next time I’m tempted to buy 16″ circular needles I will look back here and remember the reason is a was a bad idea the first time and an even worse idea the second time.  If I’m lucky there will be no third time.

I realized my mistake pretty quickly while I was knitting my new pair of socks.  The tension isn’t as consistent and it’s taking a little bit longer to get any progress on them. I’ve just finished the heel and I have new 24″ needles coming in this week.  Hopefully my socks speed up after that.


  1. Good progress!

  2. I used to have the same problem – I had lots of circular needles in all the different lengths and all the needles were slightly different as you describe. Then a year ago, my car was broken into and unfortunately, my knitting bag with all my stuff was stolen. I had to replace them all. I found knitpicks interchangeable needles at my LYS. I like the length of their needles – they are all the same length, and I can make the cords anywhere from 24″ to 47″ – actually, the 47″ cord was why I bought them in the first place. I needed that length to make a mobius scarf. I fell in love and am now acquiring all the needle sizes I want and multiple cord lengths as well.

    Unfortunately, their shortest length is 24″ (from needle tip to needle tip) and the smallest size for the interchangeable needles is size 4, so I have a pair of fixed length 16″ size 3s and a pair of size 17 bamboo ones for any extra small or extra large knitting I want to do.

    • My mom actually got me two sets of the Knit Picks interchangeable needles for Christmas then my birthday. I love them but I needed size US 2 for my socks and that is how I got the 16″ =

      I also have two sets of fixed bamboo circulars and that was the first time I realized I didn’t like the 16″. The second bamboo set was all 16″ and I can’t use most of that set. Luckily it was the cheap $25 for 12-15 needles set. I should have learned my lesson then.

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