How to organize knitting needles

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.

Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.

#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

a box with different knitting needles and a needle gauge for easy identification

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

a simple mug to store double pointed knitting needles and crochet hooks

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.

#2 Intermediate

various interchangeable knitting needle sets on a table

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

knitting needle organizer made of felt by bodolina for circulars and dpns

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.

a hanger with 10 different slots to organize circular needles in your wardrobe

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)

the drawer with all my knitting needles and sets

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.

a big organize box with 20 smaller boxes, each labeled, with all my knitting needles

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.

a smaller box with my 2 mm dpns inside secured by rubber coils

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.

a smaller box with my 2.5 mm circulars inside

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.

the box with all my addi needles and a smaller box for the accessories

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.

a drawer full of knitting accessories and notions inside different smaller boxes

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.

Anyway, that’s how I organize my knitting needles. Comment below if you have any questions or suggestions.

knitting needle organization - my collection

22 thoughts on “How to organize knitting needles”

  1. I recently found a spare wash bag to put my circular needles in. The rest of my needles are in a knitting needle case. Some of the needles belonged to my grandmother. As I am a grandmother myself now, you can imagine how old some of them are! I do need to find away of storing my dpn’s better. I have a pencil case that I keep my row counters, row markers, pins and general odds and sods in. My tape measures are in my knitting bag. (I’m always hunting for them)!!

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    • I store my circular needles in a notebook. I found some clear vinyl sheets that are labelled with sizes and lengths on each pouch that you check off with the circular needle size and length. I think they are Annie’s choice. I found them in one of my crafting magazines. Very convenient. I can quickly leaf through to the size circular needle I need and grab it.

      Reply
    • Inexpensive coupon organizers or plastic office accordion files are great options if the fancier felted types are out of the budget. I contain my circular needles in a Ziploc bag and sort each size into a pocket of my accordion folder.

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  2. I have a lot of straight needles, as well as some circulars. I store them by material (wood, metal and so no) in fancy jugs and vases. I enjoy looking at them, and can find them (reasonably) easily when I want them 🙂

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  3. Thanks for sharing your practical solutions for storing needles, etc. It truly is a problem for knitters compared to crocheters.
    I really like the pouch idea. It seems like it would contain most in an organized fashion. I like simple and easy with stuff in one place especially as I get older.

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  4. Hey Norman! Thank you!
    I use an over-the-door shoe holder on the inside of my craft closet door. The shoe pouches are labeled by size. That way I’m not having to use a needle gauge every time I want to find my size 3 DPNs, rather than my size 4. Fixed circular needles and DPNs are in the pouches, with a few straight needles. I use the same holders you do for my interchangeable needles.

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  5. Thanks for your great ideas. My biggest problem is returning the needles to their home when finished with them. I periodically to spend some time re-organizing, but not enough!

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  6. Thank you for the storage ideas! I made a sewn circular needle holder [#3] and like it fairly well. But the ends of needles tend to get tangled so I put some velcro intended for wires around each end of each grouping. I also use velcro labels to designate size and length, but they must be tightened well so they won’t be so likely to slip off over the needle. This solution works OK because I don’t like coiling them too small.

    The photo boxes idea intrigues me, because of the space-saving capability. Plus being able to label each container with what is inside will make it easier to find the ones I am looking for. Surprisingly, the coil hair bands is my favorite idea of all! I can use those on both straight and circular needles to keep them together, along with the identifying labels.

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  7. I have to admit that the idea of owning 1000 knitting needles gives me a headache :)). However, as a professional knitter I can understand how you got there. Doing anything at an elite level you are always looking to upgrade your tools. Small differences in quality can really affect your speed and enjoyment of the process. I think the interchangeable needles are an absolutely brilliant innovation and I love them.

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  8. Absolutely superb suggestions. I certainly don’t have the number of needles, but appreciated the “see through” value in your “expert” set up. I’ve moved past the zip lock bag method and think I’ll move onto smaller boxes to organize. And the spiral hair ties? Genius! Thanks Norman for all your fabulous, useful ideas!

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  9. Your organizing ideas sound like they start with “spend money”. While plastic boxes may be easier to stack or find, it puts a delay on great organization if you don’t have them. I’ve used zipper food bags for circulars and a chip can for shorter straight needles. I can find any that are not in projects and are put away. Dpns go in a cloth roll securely- one size per pocket.

    Reply
    • Yes, Shirely. However, this article was mainly targeted at people looking for soltion beyond shoe boxes and zip lock bags. I used both before but they turned out to be impracticale in the long term and on the level I am operating on.
      There’s nothing wrong with being frugal and I specifically said in the last paragraph on this page (and also in the video on yt) that overconsumption typically doesn’t solve problems.

      Reply
  10. “Owning more knitting needles doesn’t make you a better knitter” This sentence made me chuckle this early morning in BC, Canada! Neither does stashing more beautiful yarn!!
    I have a different storage hanger for my circ needles. I knitted one. I’ll try to find the pattern, I think it’s an Interweave mag pattern. A really neat thing about the slightly complicated pattern is how much I learned making it. I was able to finally master I-cord edging knitting. Actually with hindsight it’s not that complicated, and I learned so much making it! I can’t find the picture I took of it but a search of patterns on the Interweave site would probably bring it up. It is the same sort of idea as the sewn one on a hanger that your friend made.

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  11. Hello,
    My Mother attended a class years ago that recommended using a fishing lure case for needles so we both have done that. It is a zippered case with 2 sides that each open up to a compartment with 6″x 6″ zip top bags on a 2 ring binder. There are enough bags for all size needles and one side for circular the other for DPN, with pockets on the center section and each side for ruler, gauge and notions. It is portable and really great for compact storage and organization.

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  12. Thanks for tips. I use small pouched folders for smaller circulars. Cloth with pockets to roll up straight needles. Some in basket by my knitting chair. Also plastic tubes for double points. I have a roller cart plastic with 4 drawers for stitch markers, scissors, rulers, etc. I put most in the plastic they came in and wrap with elastic bands in batches by size. If not labeled use sticky note with size folded over cord on circulars. Any storage just needs to available and comfortable for each person. I crochet also and store that in cart too.

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  13. I repurposed my mother’s doll clothes dresser to store my knitting needles. I think the dresser predates her, born in 1918. Top drawer has notions, second drawer double points, bottom drawer has circular needles in a pouch I made. My two sets of interchangeable needles go under the dresser. I make pouches out of grosgrain ribbon and write the size of the double points on the ribbon. It is a handy way to carry them with projects.

    I loved your suggestions and am likely to us some of them.

    Reply
  14. I have left my double points and circulars in their packaging and “file” them each in a drawer, having the smallest size in front, working toward the back. I never have to measure, just flip through them until I find the size I need. My straight needles I keep in a vase.

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  15. Here’s how I store my needles:
    Straight needles are in a vase. I tend to not use them much, as I prefer circulars or dpns. Interchangeable sets stay in their designated pouches. Circulars and dpns are stored by size, in pencil pouches that have a clear window (“Zipper Binder Pouch w/ Clear Front Window” if you want to do an online search) after upgrading from plastic zipper bags (freezer bags, but still…).

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  16. I have many sets of double-pointed needles and discovered browsing Amazon that you can get inexpensive toothbrush holders by the dozen. Label them with the needle size or just write it on the tube. (An elementary school teacher who reviewed the product said she uses them to hand out 5 sharpened pencils to every kid in her classroom every morning, to cut down on interruptions.)

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  17. I braid my circulars, quite loosely, all together. I then put the braid in the front of a wide desk drawer (that has all the other knitting tools) and keep it as straight as possible. When I need a needle, I have to use the gauge to find the right one, and then I gently pull it out of the braid, untangled, uncurled, nice and straight.

    Reply

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