Don't buy the bargain-basement yarn for your first project, but it is OK to go a little on the cheap side for your first set of needles.
There are many, many different kinds of needles available, in a dizzying array of materials, from aluminum to rosewood, casein to bamboo. The more exotic materials, of course, cost more.
They are beautiful needles and wonderful to have when you know you're going to stick with knitting, but before then, it's fine to buy either aluminum or plastic needles, whatever the store has in the size you need. (Check the pattern instructions for suggested needle size.)
When you're just starting out in the knitting world, you'll probably find yourself buying new needles for just about every project, because you'll need needles in different sizes.
A fun thing to do is try different types of needles for each project and see how you like them.
A Knitting Journal
Most knitters will tell you that record-keeping is essential, and also that they don't do it. Do as we say, not as we do, and start a knitting journal with your first project.
It doesn't have to be fancy; just a spiral notebook will do. Write down the basic information about each project you do, such as:
- What the project was
- Where you got the pattern
- What needles you used (size, material, brand, where you bought them)
- What yarn you used (brand, type, color, material, where you bought it)
- Any problems you had with the pattern
- Anything you learned from the project
- A picture of the finished project and a sample of the yarn, if available
- Notes on how you liked the yarn, needles and pattern
Keeping these records will help you remember the yarns you loved and which yarns and needles you want to stay away from in the future. It can also help you when you need to knit a gift -- you can see at a glance which projects were easy and which took lots of time.