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How to Knit Using Interchangeable Circular Needles

It’s no secret that I love interchangeable circular knitting needles. I blab on and on about them any time someone asks me for needle recommendations, and I use them for nearly every knitting project I make.

If you don’t own interchangeable knitting needles, you’ve likely seen them in your local yarn store or online. Interchangeable circular needles often come in a set with a few cords of different lengths that can be swapped out, giving you hundreds of knitting needle sizes in one handy place.

Metal Interchangeable Knitting Needles

If you’re thinking about buying a set or own a set and don’t know what to do with them, here are a few tips on how to knit using interchangeable knitting needles.

Advantages of interchangeable needles

There are a lot of reasons to invest in interchangeable knitting needles — and they are an investment. Depending on the brand, a new set might cost around $150. It’s understandable that a beginner knitter wouldn’t want to invest in something so expensive, but for all you other knitters, do the math. Because most sets come with three cords, you’re getting three circular knitting needles in each size. If you have been buying high-quality circular needles individually, you will save a lot of money — and trips to the yarn store — with interchangeable needle sets.

I also like these needle sets because I can easily keep them organized. The cords aren’t getting all tangled up, and I know exactly where all the needles are because they’re packaged in one little needle holder.

The other advantage to interchangeable needles is that you can start on projects without running to the yarn store to buy a new needle. You have every size needle and cord you’ll need with your set, so you can start on those knitting projects at midnight. (Don’t kid yourself. You know you’ve tried it!)

Interchangeable Knitting Needle Ends

How to knit using interchangeable needles

Before you being your project, you’ll need to check out which cord size the pattern recommends. If you’re not using a pattern and you’re winging it, check out our guide to circular needles to know which cord length is best for your project.

Next, you’ll check out the needle size the pattern recommends. Find those two needles in your set and snap them onto the cord. You can see my Addiclick interchangeable needles in the photo above. All I have to do is insert the needle tip onto the end of the cord, twist it, and voila — a circular knitting needle! You may also come across needle sets that require you to screw the needle tip into the cord. No matter what, it’s always a simple switch.

You’ll work your gauge swatch on these needles, switching the tips if you need to change your needle size to meet the gauge requirements. Easy!

Woman in Lacy Cabled CowlPhoto via Bluprint instructor Stefanie Japel

If you want even more experience working in the round, be sure to check out Stefanie Japel’s Knit Lab: In the Round class. You’ll use those circular needles to knit up the Lacy Cabled Cowl (seen above), and you’ll get plenty of practice with double-pointed needles, too!

Come back to the Bluprint blog tomorrow for a roundup of simple lace knitting patterns that are perfect for beginners!

Do you own interchangeable knitting needles? What do you like about them? If you don’t own interchangeable needles, what’s stopping you from purchasing them?



I love my interchangeable needles because when your pattern calls for you to change needle size, you just switch tips and keep going.


One thing I love about my KnitPicks set… they came with caps for the end wires, and I suspect other brands do as well. This is a big help if I need to take a break from one project and need that needle size for a new project. I just take the needle tipss off and screw the cap to the cable with one project, and hook the needles onto a new cable for the new project. Of course this means that I need to have multiple cables, but that’s just a small investment… and much more economical than buying a new needle.

Pamela North

I own a set of KnitPicks too. I like the fact that you can buy extra cords so that if you’re knitting something like a large shawl you can connect cords to get extra length.


I think that the upfront cost is what has stopped me from buying an interchangeable set. I’ve scoured the internet for all the different brands and have watched tons of videos and read many reviews and still haven’t made my mind up about metal or bamboo. So many options in this regard. However, I’m ready to make the investment because I love in a small town and knitting needles aren’t as accessible here so I do get frustrated when I want to work a project but have to wait on shipping for the correct needle size…then I’m even more frustrated when I need another size due to gauge swatch. Over all, it’s about that time to invest, don’t ya think? 😉


I’ve just starting using a set from knitpicks. I’m having trouble with the ends coming off the wire. any suggestions. Maybe I attached them wrong.


I’ve never used the KnitPicks kind before, but I notice that with some you need to twist them until you hear a little click. That’s how you know they’re secure. Is it possible that you are twisting them off as you’re knitting?


thanks, I’ll try it.


I’ve been looking at getting a set (or 2, many are small sizes and large sizes). But I can’t figure out what brand to buy. The range is huge ($60-$150). Suggestions? I’ve been looking at the Hiya Hiya Steel ones and some other brands. Anything I should look out for? I’ve settled on metal because I find bamboo too sticky. Before I make a huge investment, help! Thanks in advance!


I seem to be having trouble with ends coming loose or sometimes off on the. Interchangeable needles my son bought for me. I seem to think I might be missing something. Is there a gadget that locks them in place. I ‘m working on a baby afghan for our 3rd great-grand. I ‘d like to complete it before she graduates. LOL , Any suggestions ?


I’m having the same problem with my interchangeable circular needles and cannot tighten them any more than I already do, but they come apart about every four rows or so. I also have the same problem as Hayden with the wool snagging where the needle and cord screw together and my knitting is not tight and so far I’ve only used about 4 different kinds of Knitpicks wool. I would love to have the wonderful experiences the many glowing reviews give, but I’m slowed down by having to constantly watch to make sure the needle is not coming unscrewed and carefully moving the wool over the join.
I would love any suggestions because the rosewood set I purchased is so beautiful and I want to enjoy using them. Thanks!


I have trouble with my yarn snagging at the point where the needle and cord screw together. I’ve got the needle as tight as it will go, but it still snags and will not slide up onto the needle without fighting it. Am I knitting too tight or is it the yarn I am using? Any help would be appreciated, I got the set for a gift and feel bad because I absolutely HATE them.


I’ve watched a few videos and read alot of material, and have decided to teach myself Knitting. I bought the boye interchangeable set upfront so I would have everything no matter what. Once I use the keys the cord stays attached. However, my issue seems to be with the metal needle itself. Once I finish a row and switch hands, it seems like the yarn doesn’t want to come off the cord to the tip to start the next stitches. Is it possible the stitches tighten themselves once they fall from the needle to the cord? My needles have tapered ends if that makes a difference.


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