Interchangeable Knitting Needles 101

Our June BigStitch subscription featured a set of interchangeable needles from ChiaoGoo. We’re always trying to introduce knitters to new tools whenever possible, and for some subscribers these needles were just that. Plus, we hope to include these more often so that we can help subscribers build a substantial set of interchangeable needles.

Interchangeable needles are a fantastic solution for adventurous knitters who like to knit different projects with different weights. No matter when or where you cast on your next project, you will more than likely have the right pair of needles on hand. Just pick the size needle tip, find the length of the cable you need and voila! You’re ready to cast on!

As simple and convenient as interchangeable needles seem, there are several things to consider when choosing them for your next project.


When picking out the pieces of your interchangeables, it’s important to take into consideration the lengths of all the pieces. For some projects knit in the round – like a cowl or hat – size matters. And simply reaching for the size cable the pattern calls for isn’t enough. You have to take into consideration the cable length and the length of the needle tips. So if you need a size 24″ needle, you would choose the 14″ cable and two 5″ tips.

Another consideration is ChiaoGoo’s cable size. In addition to the length of the cable, they come in Mini, Small, and Large sizes. The Mini sized cables fit US #0-1 needle tips, the Small cables fit US 2-8 needle tips, and Large cables fit US 9-15 needle tips.


Once you have your pieces, putting your needles together just takes a couple of twists. Just twist your needles into each of the cable and you’re ready to knit. Well, almost. Interchangeable needles have a tendency to come loose from the repetitive motion of knitting – meaning the tips start to slowly unscrew from the cable. So, the tighter you can twist the needles to the cable the better. Enter: the key.

The T-pin included with the set of interchangeables is called a key and it helps to tighten the connection between needle and the cable. With the tips and the cable connected, slip the key into the pin sized hole in the metal end of the cable. Keeping the pin in place, twist the needle clockwise to until it feels secure. Remove the needle and you’re ready to knit.

How To Use The Key To Tighten Your Interchangeable Needles

But keep the key handy – even with the extra secured connection, your needle tips can still come loose.

There are many reasons to add interchangeable needles to your stash, but our main reason for loving them is that they keep us casting on. We always have a needle option available should we be inspired to cast on a new project at 11pm! And when we have a new project and the needle tips are in use? We just unscrew them from the cable and replace the needle tip with one of  ChiaoGoo’s End Stoppers. Now you have free needles and your WIP stays safe and secure until you’re ready to pick it up again.

Add an End Stopper to Your Interchangeable cable to free up your needles

We look forward to adding more interchangeable needles to our kits! Keep an eye out!

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