How To Use Circular Knitting Needles (Step by Step Guide)

Circular knitting needles are unique in structure and function. One thing is sure about this type of needle – they are typically fun to work with. Usually, you’ll be able to use this type of needle to knit sweaters and bags without seams. These needles are also great for other fun knitting projects like socks and hats.

Despite the simplicity and fun involved in the use of this kind of needle, it can still be overwhelming for newbies that do not know how to use circular knitting needles.

Most times, these newbies are inquisitive to learn how to knit with circular needles. Learning how to knit in the round with circular needles demands that you know what circular needles are in the first place, hence the next section.

What are Circular Needles?

Circular knitting needles are specialized knitting needles that are designed for knitting in the round. These needles are also made with most of the materials that straight needles feature.

You’ll find circular needles made of materials like bamboo needles, plastic, resin, and metal. The design of circular needles features two hard tips being joined together by a flexible cord. It is this joining cord that holds most of the stitches.

Depending on personal preference, circular needles are either fixed permanently to the cord or purchased as part of an interchangeable system, where you can take off the tips from the cord and exchange them for smaller or larger needles. Circular needles are typically available in all the US sizes, ranging from size three up to size 15.

Your choice of cord length would often depend on the circumference of your project. The most common lengths in the market include 16, 24, 29, 36, and 40 inches. The most important determinant of your choice length and size of Knitting needles is the pattern that you plan to knit.

What You Must Know Before Knitting

Now that you are ready to begin your journey into the world of Knitting, here are a few things that you need to know before starting.

1. Start With Test Running With Scraps

Just like in any other thing, perfection requires constant practice. Therefore, most times, it’s better not to start with knitting the material that you desire to knit right away.

As a newbie, you should start by working out the kinks on a scrap yarn first. You may even want to use a worsted weight yarn for your practice first, then slowly working your way down to the real deal.

2. Use the Right Needle

Of course, using the correct needle makes all the difference, irrespective of the method that you are using. Usually, you will need to pick the needle based on what you are knitting. Also, check to see that every other material you will use is in place before starting.

Most knitters find flexible cords very helpful, so you might want to consider that too. Bear in mind that some circular needle cords are very stiff; hence, tough to wrangle. You will also find that some others are thin and susceptible to bending easily. We’ve also seen cases where knitters opt to relax their cords in hot water first to ensure flexibility before beginning.

That clear, let’s move to learn how to really knit in the round.

How to Use Circular Knitting Needles

Circular knitting needles are used for knitting on the round. Knitting in the round often means that you are knitting on the right side or front of the fabric. Doing this requires that you alter the basic pattern stitches you’ve been using to come outright.

Most circular knitting is done in Stockinette stitch, which always comes great because it only requires knitting every row. If you desire to make Garter Stitch, however, then you’ll need to knit one row and pur the next repeatedly.

Yes, it’s possible to work other stitches when knitting in the round too, but the two mentioned above are often the most common. You will usually see that the patterns designed for knitting in the round are written, to help you work without thinking about the fact that you always need to be at the right side.

There’s also a possibility of knitting something flat with circular needles. This comes especially beneficial for working on bigger projects. With a circular needle, you can expect to hold the stitches a little better than you would have ordinarily done.

Starting a Project

Usually, you’ll need to begin by looping your working yarn twice around your index and middle finger. Next, you should attempt slipping the first loop over the second loop. Tighten the knot around the base of the loop at this point by pulling the tail of the yarn. At this point, try to slip the loop onto the needle on the right.

Once done creating the slip knot, then you are good to go from there. In fact, this slip knit counts as the first cast on your stitch. Therefore, if your work requires that you cast on 40 stitches, then you’ll be left with 39 more casts.

Continue by casting on as usual. With each of your hands, hold one needle, allowing the central cable to hang down in front of you. Use the slipknot on the needle in the right to loop the yarn around the other needle, then insert the needle on the right into that on the left.

Yarn over again, this time using the needle on the right side to pull the new yarn through the loop on the other needle. Keep repeating these steps until you get up to the number of casts that you desire. It’s always right that you take a look at your pattern to determine the number of stitches needed to make your cast.

Usually, the yarn that’s doing the knitting would be on the right-hand side. However, after casting on, you might discover that the position of the yarn has changed. If it has changed, then you would need to turn your work so that the working yarn gets positioned on the right-hand side again.

You’ll typically have to do this only once when working in the round, considering that the yarn will always slide around the needles and come back to the right-hand side to fit the rest of your work. If you are doing your work in rows, however, then there’ll be a need for you to regularly turn your work after every row to get the working yarn back to the right-hand side.

Before joining the stitches during any work, it is recommended that you place a stitch marker to serve as an indication of the position of your first and last stitches. This makes keeping track of where you started and your progress easier.

If, however, you can’t find a marker, then a good alternative is to tie a piece of yarn with a different color from the one you are using around the position where you would have used the market.

This is the point where you’ll start to join the stitches in the round. It’s usually not as complicated as a lot of beginners think. Once you’ve gotten to this stage, all that will be required of you is to purl into the first stitch, and you’ll be able to find your way going on from there.

Before starting, you’ll need to consult your knitting pattern to find out if there’s any special instructions that you’ll need to follow. If there is none, then you can go on with the knitting on the round based on how you desire it to look at the end.

At this point, it is vital to avoid having visible gaps in your round; therefore, the need to cast on one additional stitch before you turn your work.

The Finishing Stages

Stick strictly to the instruction on the knitting pattern on how to work on each row. To use your circular needles to work in the round, you would need to keep knitting around the circle in one direction. There’s no need for you to turn in your work in this case.

You’ll also need to knit back and forth across the rows, turning your work with each row if you are working in rows. Ensure, however, that your stitch marker is kept in place to allow you to trace the beginning easily.

Note that it can be a little tricky to work in the round, especially in the early stages, since you’ll probably face a risk in twisting the stitches. To get over this stage successfully, you’ll need to always check the direction of your stitches during the first few rounds. This is to ensure that you know when they start to twist and correct them.

While working on decreasing the round, it’s recommended that you follow the instructions on the pattern. However, if you’ve gained some level of mastery, then you can do it as desired. Once you are ready to transfer the stitches, you’ll need to begin your next round using a circular needle on the left-hand side and a double-pointed needle on the other side.

You have to knit a quarter of your desired total number of stitches on the double-pointed needle before transferring them to the circular needle. Then with a new double-pointed needle, work another quarter onto the round. Continue this way until you’ve been able to transfer them all.

Once done with your rounds of knitting in the rows, you’ll need to round off the last row. Doing this would usually require that you knit the two stitches in the round.

With the needle in the left, lift your first stitch onto the needle on the right-hand side and over the second stitch. Continue repeating this process until all the stitches in the row and round have been cast off.

How to Knit Socks on Circular Needles

By now, you already know that using circular needles to knit socks makes the process easier and better. Yes, it is possible to use Double Pointed needles for knitting socks, but the use of circular knitting needles seems to make most knitters more in control of the knitting process.

To start, you would need to ensure that your needles are of the same size. If they are not, then you should get the ones that are very close. Cast the needed number of stitches onto one of the circular needles. Next, you should divide your stitches onto the two needles that you’ll be using, just like you’ll ordinarily be doing if you were knitting with DPNs.

Put half of the stitches onto the second needle. If there’s a particular method you prefer to use in joining stitches in the round, then this is the point to use it. Otherwise, you can begin knitting. If you are using a stitch marker, then you should place it in the last stitch to mark where the round ends.

At this point, you should already have stitches on both needles; hence, you can start knitting. The key point that you should remember when using a circular knitting needle to knit is that the stitches are always working with the same needle.

Once you are done with the basics in this kind of knitting, continue knitting in the same manner until you hit the length you want for your sock.

When you get to the heel flap, you’ll simply have to let half of the stitches hang out on the cable of the circular needle. While at this, continue to work the heel turn and heel flat on the other needle, taking the back and forth motion.

At the end of your heel turning, we usually recommend that you work across the stitches a second time, using the same knit stitches, pick up, and needle along the heel flap in the number that your pattern suggests.

At this point, go on with knitting according to the pattern. Always remember that you are working each section of the stitch with both ends of the same needles.

Frequently Asked Question’s

Question: How Do I Store My Knitting Needles?

Ans: Don’t be scared about this. Storing your knitting needles would usually help for longer performance. To store, keep the needles in a plastic insert sheet holder. Put the needles into zip-top bags. Use a permanent marker to write out the size of the needles on the bag, for ease of identification.

Question: How to Hold Circular Knitting Needles?

Ans: Just like other kinds of needles, holding a knitting needle is easy. First, you’ll need to pick up the needle in a relaxed fashion. Next, place the needles on your four fingers, using your thumb to hold the top.

Question: Can I Use Other Types of Needles to Knit on The Round?

Ans: Yes, it is possible to use a double-pointed needle. However, these types of needles are not designed for this purpose, so it will be more difficult and stressful than it will be if you use circular knitting needles.

Wrap Up

There you have it, everything you need to know to begin your first journey into the world of knitting in the round. Knitting is a gratifying hobby, but you need to master the skills to avoid getting frustrated by mistakes.

We hope that the information provided in this article would help you work towards getting the perfect stitches for your knitting work. Don’t forget that the process is the same, whether you are learning how to knit a blanket with circular needles or simply in a quest to learn how to knit a beanie with circular needles.