4 different systems to organize your double-pointed and circular knitting needles – one for every budget.
How many knitting needles do you own? 10? 20? 100? And every time you want to start a new project, you open that drawer or box where they are all tangled up together? There must be a better way to store them, right? Well, there sure is, and in this post, I’m going to show you altogether 4 different ways to organize knitting needles so you can pick the system you feel makes the most sense for your budget and the size of your collection.
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#1 Small collection (Beginner)
Most beginners start out with one needle for their first project and slowly add more to their collection as they progress along their knitting journey. Typically, you end up with a handful of mismatched needles in different materials and sizes. At this stage, I personally don’t believe you need to overthink this. A simple system will work great for the time being.
A) A box for the circular needles
Everyone probably has an empty box at home. While you can certainly buy a plastic box, and old shoebox will just do. Then you can simply coil your circulars up, thread the needle on one end through the loop twice (this secures it) and in they go.
Add a needle gauge to mix, maybe secure bigger needles with a rubber band and that is literally everything you need. If you only have 10-20 knitting needles, this will be the most space-efficient way to store them.
B) A mug or jar for straight and double-pointed needles
All your circular knitting needles can go into a mug, a jar, or any other tubular object. Use rubber bands to keep sets together and that’s about it. You can also add the odd crochet hook you might have for fixing mistakes.
My biggest recommendation for any intermediate knitter is to buy a set of interchangeable knitting needles. Each set comes in a handy little pouch and contains everything you’ll need to finish 99% of your projects.
There are sets available for double-pointed knitting needles and I also have a big review on the best interchangeable circular needles here on my blog. While there are certainly minor and major differences between the different brands they are, one and all, products that really make sense.
Important: There is a reason why I don’t recommend buying a set as a beginner. Your knitting preferences and even your style will change dramatically in the first couple of months or year. If you don’t allow yourself to toy around with different materials and brands, you might risk setting bad habits in stone to a point where it will feel odd if you don’t stick to all these unconscious constrained postures.
#3 Needle store system for experienced knitters
Needle sets might get you far but they also have their limits. Typically, interchangeable knitting needles don’t come in all sizes and materials. As you progress along your knitting journey, you might acquire additional tips and accessories. E.g. I love the Karbonz needles but the 2.5 mm needles and below are only available as fixed circulars. So, I bought some separately.
For all these cases, investing in a proper needle storage system might be a good idea. At this stage in my career, I was a huge fan of the bodolina felted needle cases. The patented accordion design allows you to store a lot of needles in minimal space. You can easily toss them in your project bag or your cabinet, and the colors are just gorgeous.
If you look around Etsy or Amazon, you sure will find other sellers and brands offering similar systems (like this one). They are available for circulars and double-pointed knitting needles and some pouches also offer a mix of different slots.
Another option could be buying one these hangers for circular knitting needles. I asked a friend of mine to sew me mine (she takes commissions) with slots for crochet hooks and dpns below but they are also available on Etsy in similar shapes and forms.
The most frugal idea for circulars is certainly using an old binder and some sturdy clear inserts. Use a sharpie to write the size on each insert, coil your circular together, and you’ll be able to find the right size in no time!
#4 How I organize my knitting needles (expert level)
I own a lot of knitting needles. I never counted them but it’s well above 1.000 needles. I used all the systems I mentioned above at one point in my life but they wouldn’t be able to cope with the current size of my collection anymore.
I have a big cabinet in my craft room with three drawers where I store all my knitting needles and notions. Here’s how I organize them:
I bought a big photo storage box (5″x7″) on Amazon.
I store my spare dpns on the left side of the box and my spare circular on the right side of the box. A sharpie and some white tape will help you label the individual cases.
For example, one little box will hold all my 2mm double-pointed knitting needles. I bought some cheap spiral hair ties (like these), cut them into small pieces, and used them to organize the individual sets.
For the circulars, you really don’t need any special additional accessories. Just coil them up and throw them in. Each little box can hold at least 5-8 needles, and typically you don’t have more than that anyway.
I don’t separate my sets. So, my Chiaogoo interchangeable set or my addi needles will stay in their respective pouch. Why? Because you are typically looking for a specific needle. And it’s so much easier to find your 3mm ChiaoGoo tips in the respective set than trying to rummage through a box with 10 needles – especially as some of them look very similar and have no clear label on them.
That being said, I will typically put the sets into a bigger box. Why? Because I might have two sets from that brand (say stainless steel and bamboo needles) and tons of additional accessories. I’ll put the accessories in yet smaller boxes so they are easy to find and don’t jumble around.
I really like the Really Useful boxes. They are super tight, stackable, and have ideal dimensions for my purposes. Depending on the size of your cabinets and/or your collection, feel free to use different ones.
I know, it’s a lot of plastic but do remember that I also have to maintain a huge collection on a professional level. The fact that the boxes are see-through is a big bonus for me but, of course, you are free to pick more sustainable alternatives. Simple boxes are available made from cardboard, wood, and even birch bark, after all.
All these boxes and pouches go into my drawer. I find this system makes it super easy to access and find the right knitting needle.
I have a second, smaller drawer where I store my notions. Things like stitch markers, scissors, tape measures, Fair Isle rings, things like that. Again, each category of accessories goes into a separate plastic box.
Things to consider when organizing your knitting needles
Here, at the very end of this article, I want to share a couple of important concepts you definitely should keep in mind when you plan to organize your knitting needles.
1. You cannot compensate practice & patience by buying more needles
Owning more knitting needles doesn’t make you a better knitter. I mean, if you started out on sanded-down chopsticks, definitely consider buying some proper needles. But once you own a full set, you will gain very little by investing 200 USD into the latest fancy set that has been advertised on social media.
Yes, I certainly have my preferences. And I WILL use a different brand for knitting lace. There are needles I absolutely love for knitting socks but would never even dream of using them for a sweater or even a hat. But these preferences are pure luxury. It’s my hobby, I’m allowed to treat myself and invest in things that bring me joy. Still, please don’t succumb to the illusion that they will make you a better knitter.
2. Downsize your collection
Secondly, I urge you to go through your collection of knitting needles regularly and give those needles you haven’t used in ages away. If they are in good condition, you could sell them on eBay or trade them on Ravelry. You can also give them away to charity (like a local crafts school, etc) or pass them on to a beginner.
It really makes no sense to invest money into a storage solution for needles you are not going to use anyway. The only reason I hold on to so many needles is the fact that I do get lots of questions and I also might use certain needles as a prop when shooting pictures and videos. Still, trust me, I own needles I haven’t used in 3 decades.