Learn How to Cast On Knitting Circular Needles

Learn How to Cast On Knitting Circular Needles

Knitting with circular needles is a popular technique among knitters of all skill levels. These versatile needles allow you to work on projects that are too large to fit on straight needles, such as sweaters and blankets. However, getting started with circular needles can be a bit daunting if you’re used to knitting with straight needles. One of the first steps in knitting with circular needles is casting on, which is the process of creating the stitches on the needle. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to cast on with circular needles.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before you begin casting on with circular needles, make sure you have all the necessary materials. You’ll need your circular needles, yarn, and a pair of scissors. Choose a yarn that is appropriate for your project and a needle size that matches the recommended gauge. Having everything ready before you start will make the casting on process smoother.

Pro Tip: If you’re new to knitting with circular needles, consider using a pair with a longer cable. This will give you more flexibility as you work on your project.

Step 2: Make a Slip Knot

To start casting on, you’ll need to make a slip knot. Begin by taking the end of your yarn and forming a loop. Pass the end of the yarn through the loop, creating a knot. Gently tighten the knot around the needle, leaving a small loop that can easily slide along the needle.

Pro Tip: Make sure the slip knot isn’t too tight or too loose. It should be snug enough to stay on the needle but loose enough to move easily.

Step 3: Cast On

Now that you have your slip knot, it’s time to cast on the remaining stitches. Hold the needle with the slip knot in your right hand and the empty needle in your left hand. Insert the empty needle into the slip knot from back to front, making sure the needle is pointing towards the right.

Pro Tip: If you find it easier, you can rest the needle with the slip knot on a table or your leg for support while you cast on.

Step 4: Form the First Stitch

With the empty needle inserted into the slip knot, wrap the yarn around the needle in a counter-clockwise direction. Take the tip of the right needle and pull it through the loop of the slip knot, creating a new stitch. Slide the new stitch onto the right needle, letting the old stitch slide off the left needle.

Pro Tip: It may take a few practice tries to get the hang of it, so don’t be discouraged if your first few stitches feel a bit awkward.

Continue this process of wrapping the yarn around the needle, pulling it through the loop, and sliding the new stitch onto the right needle until you have cast on the desired number of stitches for your project.

Step 5: Join in the Round

If you’re knitting in the round, you’ll need to join the cast-on stitches to create a seamless circle. To do this, make sure all the stitches are facing the same direction on the needle. Insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle, knitting the first stitch. Continue knitting the rest of the stitches in the round according to your pattern.

Pro Tip: To ensure a smooth join, be careful not to twist the cast-on stitches when joining in the round.

Now that you know how to cast on with circular needles, you’re ready to start your next knitting project! Whether you’re making a hat, a scarf, or a sweater, this technique will help you get started and create beautiful, seamless knits.

Understanding the Benefits of Circular Needles

When it comes to knitting, choosing the right type of needles can make a big difference in your overall knitting experience. While traditional straight needles have their advantages, circular needles offer a variety of benefits that can enhance your knitting projects.

1. Versatility: Circular needles can be used for a wide range of projects, from small accessories like hats and socks to large garments like sweaters and blankets. Their length allows you to comfortably accommodate larger stitch counts, making them ideal for projects that require a lot of stitches.

2. Portability: Unlike straight needles, circular needles are much more compact and easier to carry around. They can easily fit into a small bag or knitting pouch, making them perfect for knitting on the go. Additionally, circular needles are less likely to slip out of your work compared to straight needles, reducing the chances of dropped stitches when you’re knitting on the move.

3. Reduced Strain: Knitting with circular needles can help alleviate strain on your wrists, hands, and shoulders. The weight of the project is evenly distributed along the cable, reducing the strain on your hands and wrists that can occur when using straight needles. This can make knitting for longer periods of time more comfortable and enjoyable.

4. Seamless Knitting: Circular needles allow you to work in the round, meaning you can create seamless projects without any seams to sew. This is particularly beneficial for items like hats and sweaters, where seamless construction provides a more polished and professional-looking finish.

5. Flexibility: Circular needles are incredibly flexible, allowing you to easily switch between knitting flat or in the round. By using a technique called “magic loop,” you can even knit small projects, like socks or sleeves, without needing double-pointed needles. This adds flexibility to your knitting practice and eliminates the need for multiple sets of needles.

6. Even Tension: Knitting with circular needles can help you maintain a more consistent and even tension. The continuous loop of the cable helps to distribute the weight of your project, making it easier to achieve an even tension throughout your knitting. This is especially important when working on projects with multiple colors or stitch patterns.

Overall, circular needles offer numerous benefits that can improve your knitting experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, adding circular needles to your collection can open up a world of possibilities for your knitting projects.

Choosing the Right Circular Needles for Your Project

When it comes to choosing the right circular knitting needles for your project, there are several factors to consider. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Length: Circular needles come in different lengths, ranging from 16 inches to 60 inches or more. The length you choose depends on the circumference of your project. For smaller projects like hats or sleeves, shorter circular needles are ideal. Longer circular needles are better suited for larger projects like sweaters or afghans.
  • Material: Circular needles can be made of various materials, including metal, wood, and plastic. Each material has its own advantages. Metal needles are durable and have a smooth surface, making them ideal for fast knitting. Wood needles provide a warm and comfortable grip, which many knitters prefer. Plastic needles are lightweight and less expensive, making them a good option for beginners.
  • Connectors: Circular needles have connectors that join the two needle tips together. There are different types of connectors, such as fixed and interchangeable. Fixed connectors are permanently attached to the needle tips and are suitable for projects with a specific circumference. Interchangeable connectors allow you to change the length of the circular needle by attaching different needle tips to the connectors.
  • Needle Tips: Circular needles come with different types of needle tips, including sharp and blunt. Sharp needle tips are ideal for intricate and detailed work, while blunt needle tips are better for beginners or those who prefer a more gentle knitting experience.

Consider these factors and choose the circular needles that best suit your project and knitting style. With the right tools, you’ll be ready to cast on and start your circular knitting project with confidence!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before you begin casting on with circular needles, make sure you have all the necessary materials. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A pair of circular needles in the appropriate size for your project. The length of the needles will depend on the circumference of your project, so choose needles that are long enough to comfortably hold all the stitches.
  • Yarn in the color and weight specified in your pattern.
  • A set of stitch markers to help you keep track of your progress.
  • A tapestry needle for weaving in ends.
  • Scissors for cutting the yarn.

It’s always a good idea to have a measuring tape or ruler handy, as you may need to check your gauge or measure your work as you go. Additionally, having a pattern or instructions for your project will be necessary to know the specific cast-on method and stitch pattern you should be using.

Selecting the Appropriate Yarn for Your Project

Choosing the right yarn for your knitting project is crucial. The yarn you select can greatly affect the outcome of your finished project, including its drape, texture, and overall appearance. Here are some factors to consider when selecting yarn for your project:

  • Fiber Content: The fiber content of the yarn will determine its characteristics, such as softness, warmth, and durability. Common fiber types include wool, cotton, acrylic, alpaca, and silk. Consider the properties of each fiber and how it suits your project’s requirements.
  • Weight: Yarns are classified into different weights, ranging from super fine to super bulky. The weight of the yarn will impact the overall thickness of your project. Consider the pattern’s recommended weight and the desired outcome for your project.
  • Texture: Yarns can have various textures, such as smooth, fluffy, or textured. Texture can add interest and depth to your knitting. Consider the texture that will enhance your project’s design or purpose.
  • Color: The color choice is a personal preference. Consider the pattern’s suggestions and your own preferences when selecting a color palette for your project. Some patterns may call for multiple colors or variegated yarns.
  • Availability: Consider the availability of the yarn you choose. Some specialty or hand-dyed yarns may be harder to find, or they may have limited color options. If you have a specific yarn in mind, check if it is readily available or if there are suitable alternatives.
  • Budget: Yarn prices can vary greatly. Consider your budget and the amount of yarn required for your project. Keep in mind that higher-quality or luxury yarns may come with a higher price tag.

When selecting yarn, it can be helpful to consult the pattern you are working on for recommendations on yarn weight, fiber content, and gauge. Always consider your own preferences, as well as any special requirements for your project, such as washability or allergy considerations.

Choosing the Correct Size Circular Needles

When choosing circular needles for your knitting project, it is essential to consider the correct size. The size of circular needles refers to the diameter or thickness of the needle shaft. The needle size you choose will depend on the yarn weight and the desired gauge for your project.

Here are some tips to help you choose the correct size circular needles:

  • Check the yarn label: Yarn labels often recommend a needle size range. This can give you a good starting point for choosing the correct circular needle size.
  • Consider the pattern: If you are following a knitting pattern, it may specify a recommended needle size. Be sure to check the pattern to determine the correct size circular needles to use.
  • Swatch and measure: If you are not following a pattern or the yarn label does not provide a recommended size, you can make a swatch to determine the correct needle size. Cast on a few stitches and knit a small square using different needle sizes. Measure the gauge of each swatch to determine which needle size gives you the desired gauge.
  • Choose the appropriate cord length: Circular needles come in different cord lengths. The cord should be long enough to hold all the stitches comfortably without stretching them. For small projects, a shorter cord may be sufficient, while larger projects may require a longer cord.
  • Consider your knitting style: Your personal knitting style may also influence the needle size you choose. If you knit tightly, you may need to use a larger needle size to achieve the desired gauge. If you knit loosely, you may need to use a smaller needle size.

Remember, it may take some trial and error to find the right circular needle size for your project. Don’t be afraid to experiment and swatch to achieve the perfect gauge and stitch definition.

Step 2: Making a Slip Knot

To begin casting on your circular needles, you will first need to make a slip knot.

  1. Start with the yarn end in your right hand and the working yarn in your left hand.
  2. Make a loop with the working yarn over your fingers, leaving a short tail.
  3. Pass the end of the yarn through the loop, creating a loose knot.
  4. Hold the knot with your left hand and pull the tail end of the yarn to tighten the loop.
  5. Slide the slip knot onto one of the circular needles, positioning it about 1 inch from the pointed tip.

Now that you have a slip knot on your circular needle, you are ready to proceed to the next step of casting on.

Creating a Secure Slip Knot

Creating a Secure Slip Knot

A slip knot is used to begin your cast on when knitting with circular needles. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a secure slip knot:

  1. Start by making a loop with the yarn, leaving a long tail end.
  2. Take the tail end of the yarn and pass it over the loop.
  3. Insert your needle through the loop.
  4. Tighten the knot gently by pulling on the tail end and the working end of the yarn.
  5. Make sure the knot is secure but not too tight, as you will need to knit through it later on.

Creating a secure slip knot is important to ensure that your cast on does not come unraveled while knitting. Take your time to make the knot tight enough to hold the stitches, but not so tight that it becomes difficult to work with. Practice this technique until you feel comfortable with it before starting your project.

Step 3: Casting On Stitches

In this step, you will learn how to cast on stitches onto your circular needles. The cast-on method you choose will depend on the type of project you are working on and your personal preference.

Here are three common cast-on methods you can use:

  1. Long-Tail Cast-On: This is a versatile and popular method that creates a neat, stretchy edge.
  2. Knitted Cast-On: This method is simple and easy to do, making it a great choice for beginners.
  3. Cable Cast-On: This method is similar to the knitted cast-on but creates a firmer edge, making it suitable for projects that require more stability.

Select the cast-on method that best suits your project. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform the long-tail cast-on:

  1. Make a slipknot by creating a loop with the yarn, leaving a long tail.
  2. Insert the needle through the loop and tighten the slipknot around the needle.
  3. Hold the needle with the slipknot in your right hand and the other needle in your left hand.
  4. With your left hand, grab the yarn connected to the ball and hold it over your left thumb.
  5. With your right hand, bring the needle under the left thumb and then over the yarn.
  6. Bring the needle back under your left thumb and pull the loop of yarn through the thumb loop, creating a new stitch on the right-hand needle.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches.

Once you have completed the cast-on stitches, you are ready to start knitting in the round on your circular needles!

Using the Long-Tail Cast On Method

The long-tail cast on method is a versatile and popular way to start a project on circular needles. It creates a neat and stretchy edge that is great for most knitting projects.

Here are the steps to cast on using the long-tail cast on method:

  1. Measure a long length of yarn, approximately 3 times the width of your knitting project, and cut it from the skein.
  2. Hold the circular needle in your right hand, with the cable hanging down. Leave a tail of yarn that is about 6 inches long at the end of the needle.
  3. Make a slipknot with the yarn, leaving a loop at the end of the tail.
  4. Place the slipknot onto the needle and tighten it, keeping it loose enough to easily slide along the needle.
  5. Hold the needle in your right hand and the tail end of the yarn in your left hand.
  6. Using your thumb and index finger, hold the yarn tail and the working yarn (the yarn connected to the skein) together.
  7. Insert the needle between the yarn tail and the working yarn, from left to right. Bring the needle over the working yarn and then under the yarn tail.
  8. Bring the needle back under the working yarn and then over the yarn tail.
  9. Slide the new stitch onto the needle, tightening it slightly so it is snug but still able to move along the needle smoothly.
  10. Repeat steps 6-9 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches. Make sure to keep the stitches loose enough to easily slide along the needle.

Once you have completed the long-tail cast on, you can continue with your knitting pattern using circular needles. This method creates a clean and even edge for your project and is suitable for a wide range of knitting projects.

Remember to practice this casting on method to become comfortable and confident in using it. Happy knitting!

Step 4: Joining in the Round

Once you have cast on all of the required stitches onto your circular needles, it is time to join in the round to start knitting. Here is how you can do it:

  1. Before joining in the round, make sure that your cast on stitches are not twisted on the needles. You want them to form a circle with all the stitches facing the same direction.
  2. Hold the two needle tips together, with the right sides of the work facing each other.
  3. Take the working yarn and place it between the two needle tips, towards the back of the work.
  4. Using your right hand, knit the first stitch on the left-hand needle as you would in a regular knit stitch. This will create a connection between the first and last stitch, joining them in the round.
  5. Make sure to pull the yarn tight after knitting the first stitch to close any gap that might be present.

Now that you have joined in the round, you can continue knitting using the desired stitch pattern for your project. Make sure to keep track of your rounds either by using a stitch marker or by counting the rows. Happy knitting!


What are circular knitting needles used for?

Circular knitting needles are used for knitting in the round, which is ideal for making seamless tubes such as hats, socks, and sweaters.

Can you cast on using circular knitting needles?

Yes, you can cast on using circular knitting needles. In fact, it is the most common method for starting a project when using circular needles.

What is the purpose of a long tail cast on?

A long tail cast on is a versatile and popular method for starting a knitting project. It creates a neat and flexible edge, making it suitable for a wide range of projects.

How do you cast on stitches using circular knitting needles?

To cast on stitches using circular knitting needles, you can either use the long tail cast on method or any other cast on method of your choice. Simply follow the steps of your preferred cast on method, making sure to distribute the stitches evenly around the needles.

Are circular knitting needles difficult to use for beginners?

Circular knitting needles can be a bit challenging for beginners at first, but with a little practice, they become easier to handle. Starting with small projects like hats and practicing the basic techniques will help you get the hang of using circular needles.

What is the advantage of using circular knitting needles over straight needles?

The advantage of using circular knitting needles over straight needles is that they can hold a large number of stitches, making them ideal for projects with a large circumference like blankets and shawls. They also distribute the weight of the project more evenly, reducing strain on your hands and wrists.

Do circular knitting needles come in different sizes?

Yes, circular knitting needles come in different sizes to accommodate different yarn weights and project sizes. You can find circular needles with various lengths and thicknesses to suit your needs.


How to Cast On for Circular Knitting | Circular Knitting

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