Sorry for the very long delay. I know that I promised to post earlier, but you wouldn't believe the trip I went through. It has been a long recovery! But, that's for a later post...
One of the questions that I get from a lot of new knitters is, "Why are there so many different types of needles and which ones are the best?" Like most things, the answer is more complex than the question:
* Wood: Rosewood, bamboo, etc. needles come in all types of different wood. I find that most knitters like to use wood when they are looking for something to grab the yarn. For example, I have a lot of new knitters that use bamboo. This helps them not to drop stitches as much. Another good use for wood needles is when your yarn is slippery--for the same non-slip reason. The final reason that people like to use wood or bamboo is that they are "warmer" in the knitters hands and this helps some people who have arthritis or other pains in their hands and joints. Personally, I like to use my wood Harmony needles because they are wood (and warm), but they are treated to be nice and slick. I also really like my rosewood straight needles.
* Plastic: I'm not really a fan of the plastic needles, but they do have their purpose. I dislike them for the same reason that beginners tend to like them--they bend a bit. Some beginners like this because it helps them to grab the yarn when pulling a stitch through. I do like my Denise needles that are plastic. They seem much more rigid and have a nice point on them. If you are looking for a good economical purchase in today's economy, these are the way to go. You get sizes 5-15 and different lengths of cables for $50-$60 dollars. Lovely gifts from Santa! (They also sell a breast cancer awareness version that donates $5 from every sale.)
* Metal: My favorite and, of course, the most expensive. I love my Addi turbo metal needles. When I first started knitting and discovered these I showed them to my mother-in-law. She had a full set of knitting needles and was visibly trying not to be tempted. It was too late. She loved them and added several to her collection. We agreed on that trip to St. Louis that they are like knitting with butter. Although they have a higher price point, they are really worth the enjoyment that you get from knitting with them. There are other types of metal needles (many from department craft stores) that are not as polished and smooth as these.
Of course, there are many other types of needles (such as Signature), but these are the ones I've tried out and this gives a good basic. I say, just like towels, you can never have too many needles! Buy and enjoy...then buy bags to store them in.