Are tiny sock needles bad for your health?

I decided quite some time ago that those tiny (23cm) sock knitting needles were not for me. Everyone I knew who tried them, reported that they were too small for their hands and their hands/wrists hurt when they used them. Having HUGE hands, I concluded that however cute they looked, tiny sock needles wouldn’t work for me. Anyway, I was very happy magic looping, so if it ain’t broke why fix it?


However, a couple of weeks ago I fell upon a conversation about sock needles on the Ravelry NoNylonSockKAL group – I blame you, my lovely readers, for encouraging me to talk to people. Although larger hands were cited as being a negative, it was also mentioned that they’re worse for continental knitters. This planted a seed that, as I’m not a continental knitter, I might get on with them.

From then on, every time I picked up my sock knitting, I began noticing the small amount of time it took to slip the stitches around the needles. Finally I gave in and ordered these – despite them being expensive, they seemed to a strong favourite in reviews.


The minute I slipped my sock knitting onto them, I knew I’d done wrong. It felt like I was  constantly gripping two toothpicks between the thumb and forefinger of both hands. Sorry no picture – alone in house when I realised I need one, and only have two hands.

I messed about with them for about twenty minutes, thinking I might get used to them – but there was no pleasure ‘knitting’ with these and my wrists were beginning to hurt. I couldn’t believe anyone could prefer to knit socks with them.

I pulled out a sock I was knitting on a longer needle and examined how I held a longer circular needle.


No wonder it’s more comfortable, I barely apply any pressure to either needle. It’s more a case of the balancing them in my hands while I move the wool around them. I’d have to have the hands of a two year old to hold the sock needles like this.

I’m sure long-term the tiny needles can’t be good for even the smallest of hands – unless you’re a two year old who knits – because of the need to constantly grip them between forefinger and thumb. So, unless someone can explain a better way to hold them – a different style of knitting maybe? – they will remain, in my opinion, a ridiculous and very unhealthy invention. I have to say, I actually felt rather conned – not by that specific maker, but by whoever invented the idea in the first place.

So, apart from being cross with myself for wasting the money – especially since I’ve seen many people come to this conclusion before me – I’m very happily going back to magic loop.

Have you tried tiny sock needles? How did you find them? Do you think, like me they’re more likely to cause RSI than knitting with longer needles?

Bekki Hill


36 thoughts on “Are tiny sock needles bad for your health?

  1. I am finding this discussion very interesting. I have not tried circular needles for knitting socks. I keep wanting to but, I guess I haven’t completely wrapped my head around how it will work out. I am a double point needle gal. But, I also have a bit of trouble with pain in my hands and wrist if I get over zealous with my knitting episodes. I am a slow knitter and I rarely like to touch wool in the hot, humid days of summer. (I rarely knit with acrylic yarns) I decided that this summer, I can work on socks. So, I am interested in this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t knitted with DPNs for years. To me circular is less fiddly and I’m far less likely to loose all my stitches of the end of the needles in transport. Magic loop might be worth a go for you to see if it makes a difference to the pain in your hands? Good luck however you decide work on socks, but my advice is keep away from the 9″ circular.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have learned that ANY needle I knit with needs to be as long as my palm. It doesn’t matter what size it is- because of the way I grip the needles- if it is shorter than my palm- it’s going to cause me hand and wrist pain. This is why I have three pairs of perfectly good circular needles that I cannot use- because they are short tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never tried the 9″ circs…and I never will. I have big hands, too. I’ve found I can’t use dnps any shorter than 6″, and I prefer 7″. Any shorter and my hands fall of the ends.

    For me, it probably is also related to how I hold the needles. I mostly hold them with my pinkies (weird, I think) and stabilize them with thumbs and index fingers. With 9″ circs, my pinkies would be left out in the cold!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pinkie holding does sound unusual. You’re right, they definitely wouldn’t stand a chance with 9″ circulars. Isn’t it amazing how many different ways there are of holding your knitting!


  4. Oh I am that naughty person from the Ravelry group, sorry! I posted a picture there and my hold is not very different. My left hand grasps the left needle and the cable and knitting, not just he tip. A pretty definite whole hand grasp. My right hand meanders about with the yarn in a fairly laid back English throwing, letting go of the needle sort of way. I admit to taking breaks and using normal needles in between, and sometimes getting a bit of ache in the right wrist. That is usually worse with heavier knitting though. My favourite dpns are as short as the number of stitches allow, preferably 10cm which fit nicely in the palm of my hand 🙂 My palm from wrist to fingers is 10cm, about right 😉


    1. Hi Claire! thanks for visiting. Just commented on your Ravelry reply and seen the pic. Love the idea of laid back English throwing. Think mine is more intense English throwing. I don’t like DPNs much and reading various comments it seems to be DPN users who find they like these shorter circulars more – so maybe there’s something in that. Just measured my palm and it’s 11cm, so not much different. As for naughty people – they’re my favourite type 🙂


  5. One thought that occurs to me is that there are many ethnicities in the world who are smaller and daintier in build than strapping Europeans – it might work well for those folk. I’ve not tried these needles, nor am likely to as I like a lot of space on any needle I am knitting on and am not among the small and dainty folk of the world 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I take your point – and I’ll admit most Europeans are smaller and daintier than me – but I’d be amazed at if anyone of any ethnicity would have small enough hands to knit the way I do with 9″ circulars – the needle bit is seriously small


  6. To be quite frank, I. Hate. Those. Tiny. Needles!! 🙂 1 – They make me feel like a clumsy giant (and I find it hard enough to feel graceful at the best of times) 2 – They really hurt my hands. 3 – They make it virtually impossible to do a fish lips kiss heel. I love my dpns for socks (just started my third pair in 8 days, having a sock fest at the moment), any length, as long as they’re not metal I’m happy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi,
    I’ve been reading the chat thread on theRavelry nonylonsock kal and was really interested in what a couple of the ladies were saying about the 9 inch needles. I’ve only been knitting socks for a couple of months so don’t have masses of needle experience, I started off on dpns which were the size of fat cocktail sticks, I’ve got really long fingers and did wonder rather how I’d got on but actually I found them very comfy. I’ve just bought some hiyahya 9 inchers with wee little needles and goodness, they are small but like the tiny dpns I’ve found them fine, and pretty comfy too so maybe it’s just different ways of holding needles. I’m of the “strapping country lass build” so I don’t think it’sl about needing to have small hands.
    As I say, I don’t have a lot of experience with different knitting needles and up til last Autumn had only used wooden straight needles so I’m slowly buying and trying out needles that feel different to what I’m used to but I’m finding it really interesting in how my fingers change postition on different styles and sizes…it’s like my dad always used to say “one man’s truck is one man’s treasure”


    1. Hello Erica. Thanks for visiting. From the comments I had, I’m concluding that you’re right, it is about the way you hold/knit and not hand size that makes the difference. I did start formulating the theory people who like knitting on DPNs like them more, but then Wolfberryknits blew that theory out the water. Enjoy your experimenting with all your new needles 🙂


  8. I am new to sock knitting and so far have made most of my socks on DPN’s however, I do have a pair on magic loop as an ongoing project. I bought some tiny needles about a month ago as I was going to try them on my next sock project – it’s been really interesting to read the views on them!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I bought a pair of tinies before I actually started knitting socks because I was afraid of DPNs (still am) – however, before they came out of the packet I discovered the Magic Loop and will probably use that every time. So. the expensive tinies are still unused and untried.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Long circulars are my weapons of choice, too, and I don’t have particularly big hands. Not that I’ve ever tried DPNs as they always appeared to be the more complicated option to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have large hands and adore 9″ circular sock needles. I knit all but the toe on them (use dpns for that). I am a continental knitter. People kept telling me they didn’t like them and to try other methods…I get ladders with magic loop, and find knitting two at a time to drain the joy out of sock knitting. After a 9″ circular (and I like the Addi 8″ circular too!), I like DPNs, then knitting on two circulars. I basically grasp the entire needle in both hands and knit pretty similarly to how I do on any other needles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think they are easier if you continental knit, but I knit both ways – although my preferred is British – and I still don’t like them when I do continental. Interesting how may different ways we knit and how slight differences in it make such a difference to what we like. Bottom line for me is we should all do what works best for us. I do wish I could use those small sock needles though, they look so efficient. I don’t get ladders with magic loop – although sometimes the ‘gap’ part isn’t quite equal on the tension, it comes out on blocking/washing. I’m with you on two at a time sucking out the joy – mind, I also sometimes knit plain socks on the dark and I’d probably end up knitting two at the time together 🙂


      1. Oh, I agree that everyone should do what works for them! Have you tried the 10″ Addi Easy knit (one needle is longer than the other) or 12-inch circulars to do socks? There are several tutorials on how to knit a pair of socks on a 12-inch circular (the main thing being a VERY elastic cast on). Lol on knitting two socks together…my husband was just commenting during a recent car trip that I could knit in the dark; I would most definitely knit both socks together if I were doing two at a time then!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for those thoughts. I haven’t tried the easy knit or a twelve inch, because the only ones I can find are metal and metal needles tend to hurt my hands. However, if you know of any bamboo ones – sold in the UK – I’d give them a go.


    1. Thank you. Love someone who rises to a challenge. I did look, but couldn’t see any on Amazon – it kept give me 12mm diam ones, but I got the bit between my teeth too and found some on a site called ‘stuff4crafts’. I haven’t bought them though, because there’s so much stuff on there, I thought really ought to have a peek see if there’s anything else I ‘need’ – you are such a bad influence 🙂 Thank you again.


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