There are many types of knitting tools to choose from these days. The art has picked back up and is thriving in a resurgence of interested young women. Though we all have our particulars, why we love one type of tool or one particular tool over another, I thought I'd share what I've found useful and why for anyone struggling out there with their choices.
There are a variety of needle types on the market, circular, straight, double pointed, metal, bamboo, and among them each comes in a variety of sizes from super thin to extremely fat. Which size needles you choose depends on your project and the yarn you will be using. Which material you choose will depend on feel.
I don't use straight needles much instead I use circular needles for just about every type of knitting. Circular needles can be used to knit in the round or back and forth. I find the cable is much more manageable and controls my stitches to my liking than straight needles regardless of the type of knitting I am doing. At all costs I avoid double pointed needles. They are the worst. I've lost a great many garments to those stupid double points.
Needles come in a variety of materials, woods, bamboo, metal and probably even bone. I am not a fan of wood or bamboo because I find them slow and sticky though there might be a type or brand of needle that's coated with something that makes them less sticky. Generally the bamboo needles are quite cheap and uncoated. My favorite needles are Addi Needles, a german brand that is a bit more expensive but has perfected the easeful, slippery, lightweight feel that makes knitting a joy and not a labor. When I first began collecting Addi needles I simply bought a pair when I needed them and I realized after the fact that to collect a pair in each size in each cable length was costing an extreme amount of money. Had I had the advice I would have bought the changeable needle set for around $200 on Amazon which comes with sizes four through ten and three sizes of cable, 24 inch, 36 inch and 40 inch. It's a much better investment to make if you think you will be knitting using a variety of needle sizes or make a long term commitment to knitting.
There are so many types of yarns on the market these days I wouldn't be able to speak to the qualities and characteristics of all of them. There are natural fibers of cottons, linens, bamboo, animal fibers of wool, alpaca, angora rabbit and goat. I recommend highly that if you are buying an animal fiber you make an effort to determine from where it came from. There is a great deal of animal suffering in the industry of cultivating their fibers, particularly sheep. There are common practices of forcing sheep to produce more wool and it's painful and cruel. Fortunately and unfortunately it is easy to identify these wool producers. I say fortunately because you can assume generally that Merino wool is likely produced with the above mentioned, and worse, practices and it's easy to spot and avoid these yarns. These sheep often come from Australia and the Middle East. I say unfortunately because it's too huge an industry if it can be so easily identified, to change any time soon. There are also many types of synthetic fiber yarns like, rayon for example and blends of 2 and more of each of these types to take advantage of the unique characteristics of each. Yarns come in various thicknesses and ply from lace weight to super bulky. Before you decide on the yarn (unless you are an expert in which case why are you reading this? :) it's best to choose a pattern and then find a yarn to suit it. Many knitters recommend knitting a swatch to get an idea of how the yarn will look knit in the design you are choosing.
Get yourself a needle gauge and use it to identify your needles so you don't buy duplicates. Make a chart to keep your needle collection straight and keep it in your purse so when you go to the yarn store you never buy a set of needles you don't need (my store won't take needle returns, but they will take yarn back, go figure...). Learn how to identify yarn by folding it and holding it over the needle holes. Whichever hole it covers perfectly, not overlapping the hole edges and not partially covering the hole, is the right needle size for the yarn. This is a useful technique for leftover yarns that have lost their tags.
I highly recommend getting a little pouch with compartments so you can keep your small supplies, stitch markers, small scissors, cable needles, stitch holders, needle gauge, tape measurer and anything else you might use when you knit, together, organized and easily accessible. At first I just left these little items loose at the bottom of my knitting bag. Then I put them all into a small zippered bag. Then I found the small organizer with a variety of compartments! Now I don't fish around in my bag every time I need one of those tiny items.