Circular knitting needle organisation: my hot tips

Circular knitting needle organisation featured

This year, I’m going to try and weave my podcasts and blog posts together so that it all hangs together better. Yes, one of those New Year resolutions, so we’ll see how long it lasts!

Another resolution involves circular knitting needle organisation. As I explain in the Crafternoon Treats podcast, episode 47 (to be published Friday January 12th), having circular knitting needles all over the place is bad. Bad because it wastes time and bad because you could end up spending money you don’t have to.

When I wanted to start making the Lilletind hat by Emilie of Arctic Knitting, I wanted to start NOW! I didn’t want to spend 2 hours looking through all my needle packets, spread between a box in the lounge and a drawer in my office. I didn’t want to then discover that I had to order the needles I needed but did not have. I didn’t want to try to get them from Amazon on the only day of the year (the day before New Year’s Eve) when next day delivery with Prime was not guaranteed. The air was blue and I was not impressed with myself.

Not only does looking for needles take time, its really easy to overlook what you have and order exactly the same needle again, ending up with a duplicate that may turn out to be not much use. I don’t want to encourage anyone towards being overly fanatical, but I gave myself a good talking too last weekend and made myself sit down for a couple of hours to sort out those ****ing needles (instead of doing something interesting with yarn…). I’m sharing here and on the podcast as it may help you to devise your own storage and indexing system more quickly and with less blue air involved.

Hot tip 1: Keep your circular knitting needle organisation system cheap and cheerful

I bought a plastic A5 black clip file from Wilkinsons here in the UK. Any stationer would have them, wherever you live, and you can get them online too. The one I bought was £1.50 and included 20 free plastic wallets. Perfect! If you prefer (or already have) an A4 file, you can get similar inserts for them and an A4 system would work equally well.

I haven’t decorated mine in a very inspirational way – that would  have taken far too long for what I wanted to achieve but you could decorate the file to make it beautiful. And if anyone comes across any pretty printed A5 files, let me know. I trawled the Tinernets and found none.

Podcast 47 Circular knitting needle organisation file

If you have a vast collection of circular knitting needles, you may need more than one file but I decided that, for now at least, ALL of mine will fit in here.

Hot tip 2: Firm up the file wallet innards and add labels

I wanted to give the needles a bit of protection as the file wallets are very flimsy. I did this in the most simple way possible, inserting a folded piece of A4 paper and a little 6 inch scrapbook paper into each one. I added some hand written information onto the A4 paper and put it all together. This made it easy to see what the needle was – brand and make and size – and I categorised each one as for sock knitting, hat knitting and general knitting.

Podcast 47 Circular knitting needle organisation single wallet detail

Podcast 47 Circular knitting needle organisation single wallet

I put the needle at the front of the labelled the A4 paper and inserted the original packaging (if I still had it) into the back of the wallet. Some needles were still in their original packaging, so I just added them into the wallet. I think this works very well as the needles can’t escape – but the packaging for some of my needles was battered and torn, so had to be binned. I may get some tall and thin plastic resealable bags to replace them in the future.

Podcast 47 Circular knitting needle organisation file wallets

My Chiaogoo packages were in pretty good condition, they they went in and I modified the labelling to be on the right hand side, so that everything was still ‘at-a-glance’.

Podcast 47 Circular knitting needle organisation other needle

The same system works well for DPNs, as long as they aren’t longer than the height of the wallets.

Podcast 47 Circular knitting needle organisation DPNs


Hot tip 3: Size matters with circular knitting needle organisation

I put my smallest sock knitting needles in their wallets in the file first, then the hat knitting needles I’ve just bought, then the larger needles for more general knitting, with the DPNS at the back.

Podcast 47 Circular knitting needle organisation hat needle

Hot tip 4: Add an index

Podcast 47 Circular knitting needle organisation index

At the front of the file I used the same A4 paper folded and punched to add a handwritten index. I think I’ll transfer this to the computer soon, and then amend with coloured pens as I add needles. It will be easy to print out an updated version of the index every so often, rather than keep writing it all out. I just need to do an A5 template…

Hot tip 5: Include an index for any interchangeable sets

As you can see in the photograph above, the index on the left is for my Knit Pro Karbonz set. I also indexed my set of Chiaogoo interchangeables so I know exactly what sizes of needles I have and what sizes of cables. When it came to hat knitting I could not believe that neither of these sets had a needle OR a cable that would have worked.

Podcast 47 Circular knitting needle organisation file 2

Hot tip 6: Label the cables in your interchangeable sets

The interchangeable sets have their own cases but I improved the ease of finding things in them using another index for the Knit Pro Karbonz set, and by attaching each cable to its own labelled tag.

Podcast 47 Circular Knitting needle organisation sets 2

Podcast 47 Circular Knitting needle organisation sets

Podcast 47 Circular Knitting needle organisation sets cable tags

This will save a lot of time and eyestrain and screams of frustration. The labels on the cables are TINY. And who ever has a ruler handy when looking at cables to work out what size they are?

Hot tip 7: Make it obvious which needles are in use

Its all very well having a wonderful circular knitting needle organisation system, but what if you have a needle that is already in another project. One that is a long-forgotten WIP at the bottom of a box…

The New Year is a very good time to reassess what WIPS you have and to list any needles that are hiding out slumbering in a comfy bed of yarn. For each set of needles that are on something, just made out a tag and put it in the front of the folder with the index – so you can see immediately where things are. And don’t forget to include a folder wallet so that you have somewhere to put it away when that WIP becomes another beautiful wearable creation.

If you find you have a needle on something else but you want to use it for a new WIP, just put the old WIP on a needle holder. But be warned, that does push the older WIP closer to the dreaded WIP graveyard.

Podcast 47 Circular knitting needle organisation index sets

To finish this spectacular (for me) spate of organisation, I then cleared out one of the littler drawers in the bureau in my lounge. The two interchangeable sets and the new file for circular knitting needle organsation fit in their perfectly.

Now I just need to remember that I’ve put them all in there don’t I?

xxx Kathryn







10 thoughts on “Circular knitting needle organisation: my hot tips

  1. erika rackliffe says:

    This is such a fabulous idea!!!! Thanks for sharing, I’ll be organizing my mess of circulars and be very happy!

  2. Dianne Richards says:

    Hi Kathryn,

    This is a fantastic idea for an article. Keeping an index and labeling cables are two tricks that I’ll definitely be using.


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  4. sharon says:

    goodness its not just you, I have tons of needles and can never find the one I need when I want to start a project. I love the labels you made, I use a fishing lure bag for my needles (some of them anyway) which is a softside bag that zips will see if I can find a picture of it for you

  5. Sam says:

    This is great Kathryn, I had been wondering how to organise them all, I have a similar A4 folder that will serve the purpose and I am going through an organisation spate, thanks for the ideas.

  6. Janet Carter says:

    I was very lucky in that my fairy knit mother purchased a Pendleton case for me from Interweave. The pages have closures at the top that keep the needles and any info from falling out. I like your idea of adding the cords in too! If you’d like I could send you pictures?

    • Crafternoon Treats says:

      Yes please Janet – I was thinking of looking for some wallets with ziplock tops. Or button over ones – but if I get into that 2 hours of time will evaporate! Trying to stay focused on getting the next podcast out x

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  8. Lynn says:

    This is so simple. I MUST make myself do it as my circular needles are all over the place. Thank you Kathryn

    • Crafternoon Treats says:

      Glad its not just me! These things are simple, but getting round to doing them with everything else in life can be tricky! My knitting needles are now organised but my yarn, crochet hooks, books, magazines… well the list goes on! xx

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