Learn How to Knit on Circular Needles

Learn How to Knit on Circular Needles

Knitting on circular needles can be a great skill to learn, whether you are a beginner or an experienced knitter. Circular needles offer many benefits, such as the ability to easily knit in the round and create seamless projects like hats, sweaters, and socks. In this article, we will take you through the step-by-step process of knitting on circular needles, from casting on to binding off.

Step 1: Choose the Right Needles and Yarn

Before you start knitting on circular needles, it is important to choose the right needles and yarn for your project. Circular needles come in different lengths, from 16 inches to 40 inches or longer. The length you choose will depend on the circumference of your project. It is also important to choose needles that match the weight of your yarn. The packaging of the yarn usually suggests a needle size range that works best with it.

Step 2: Cast On

The next step is to cast on your stitches onto the circular needles. To cast on, you can use any method you are comfortable with, such as the long-tail cast on or the knitted cast on. Make sure to cast on the number of stitches required for your pattern. Once you have cast on your stitches, distribute them evenly on the needles, making sure not to twist the stitches.

Remember to always check your pattern for any specific instructions on cast on methods and stitch counts.

What are circular needles?

Circular needles are knitting needles that have a flexible cable connecting two needle tips. They are used for knitting in the round or for projects that require a large number of stitches, such as blankets or shawls.

These needles come in various sizes and lengths, allowing knitters to tackle different projects with ease. The cable length typically ranges from 16 to 60 inches, with shorter lengths used for smaller projects and longer lengths for larger projects.

Circular needles are typically made of materials such as stainless steel, bamboo, or plastic. The needle tips can be straight or tapered, depending on personal preference and the type of project being worked on.

One of the advantages of circular needles is that they distribute the weight of the project across the cable, making it more comfortable to work on larger or heavier projects. They also eliminate the need to seam or join pieces together, as the continuous cable allows for seamless knitting in the round.

Circular needles are versatile and can be used for a wide range of knitting techniques, including lace, colorwork, and cables. They are also great for traveling or knitting on the go, as they are compact and can easily fit into a project bag.

When using circular needles, it’s important to choose the appropriate length and size for your project. You can refer to the pattern instructions or use a needle gauge to determine the correct size. The length of the circular needle should be slightly shorter than the circumference of your project, allowing for a snug fit without stretching the stitches too much.

Overall, circular needles are a valuable tool for knitters of all skill levels. Whether knitting hats, socks, or intricate garments, these needles provide flexibility, comfort, and endless possibilities for creative projects.

Why should you use circular needles for knitting?

Why should you use circular needles for knitting?

Knitting with circular needles has many advantages and can be a great option for both beginners and experienced knitters. Here are some reasons why you should consider using circular needles:

  • Versatility: Circular needles can be used for a variety of projects, such as knitting flat pieces like scarves and blankets, as well as knitting in the round for projects like hats and socks.
  • Portability: Circular needles are compact and can easily fit into your knitting bag or purse, making them ideal for knitting on the go. They also eliminate the need for long straight needles, which can be cumbersome to carry around.
  • Comfort: Circular needles distribute the weight of your project more evenly, reducing strain on your hands and wrists. They also allow you to rest the weight of the project on your lap or a table, which can be more comfortable than holding it up with straight needles.
  • Seamless knitting: When knitting in the round, circular needles eliminate the need to sew seams, resulting in a seamless finished product. This is especially beneficial for garments like sweaters and hats, where visible seams can alter the fit and appearance.
  • Ability to knit larger projects: Circular needles have longer cables, allowing you to easily accommodate a larger number of stitches. This makes them ideal for working on larger projects like afghans or shawls.
  • Flexibility in gauge: Circular needles give you the ability to adjust the tension of your stitches more easily. You can simply loosen or tighten the cable of the circular needle, allowing you to achieve the desired gauge for your project.

Overall, circular needles offer a wide range of benefits and can enhance your knitting experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, they are a valuable tool to have in your knitting toolkit.

Step 1: Choosing the right circular needles

Choosing the right circular needles is essential for a successful knitting project. Circular needles are commonly used for knitting in the round, creating seamless garments, and working on large or heavy projects. Here are some factors to consider when selecting your circular needles:

  • Material: Circular needles are available in various materials such as metal, wood, and plastic. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. Metal needles are durable and have smooth surfaces, making them ideal for quick and smooth knitting. Wood needles provide a warmer feel and have more grip, which could be beneficial for slippery yarns. Plastic needles are lightweight and cost-effective, but they may not be as durable as metal or wood.
  • Length: Circular needles come in different lengths, ranging from a few inches to several feet. The length you choose depends on the size of your project. For small circular projects like hats or sleeves, shorter needles are more appropriate. Longer needles are ideal for larger projects like blankets or shawls.
  • Cable: The cable is the flexible part of the circular needle that connects the two needle tips. Look for cables that are strong, flexible, and don’t kink easily. A smooth and flexible cable will make your knitting experience more enjoyable.
  • Needle Tips: Circular needles have different types of needle tips, including sharp and blunt. Sharp tips are great for intricate and detailed work, while blunt tips are more suitable for beginners or when working with bulkier yarns.
  • Gauge: Make sure to choose circular needles that match the gauge recommended in your knitting pattern. The gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows per inch, and using the wrong size needles can result in a differently sized finished project.

Take into consideration these factors when choosing your circular needles and remember that personal preference and comfort play a significant role in your decision. It’s always a good idea to try out different types of circular needles to find the ones that work best for you.

Understanding needle size and material

Understanding needle size and material

When knitting on circular needles, it’s important to understand the size and material of the needles you’re using. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Needle Size: Circular needles come in various sizes measured in both US and metric sizes. The size of the needle determines the gauge of your knitting, which in turn affects the size and fit of your finished project. Be sure to check your pattern for the recommended needle size and choose the appropriate one for your project.
  • Material: Circular needles can be made of different materials, such as metal, wood, or plastic. Each material has its own unique qualities and advantages.

Below are some common materials used for circular needles:

  1. Metal: Metal needles are durable and have a smooth surface, which allows stitches to slide easily. They are great for slippery yarns and fast knitters who prefer speed.
  2. Wood: Wooden needles have a warm feel and provide more grip, making them ideal for working with slippery yarns. They are also quieter than metal needles, which can be beneficial if you prefer a quieter knitting experience.
  3. Plastic: Plastic needles are lightweight and budget-friendly. They are a good option for beginners or for those with sensitive hands who find other materials uncomfortable.

It’s important to consider your own personal preferences, budget, and the yarn you’re using when choosing the needle material. Some knitters find that certain materials work better for specific types of yarn or projects.

Ultimately, the right needle size and material will depend on your own knitting style and the project at hand. Experimenting with different options can help you find the needles that are most comfortable and enjoyable for you.

Selecting the appropriate length

When choosing circular needles for your knitting project, it is important to select the appropriate length. Circular needles come in various lengths, and the length you choose will depend on the size of your project and your personal knitting preferences.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting the appropriate length:

  • Project size: If you are working on a small project like a hat or a pair of socks, you will probably want to use a shorter circular needle, such as 16 inches (40 cm) or 24 inches (60 cm). For larger projects like a sweater or a blanket, longer circular needles, like 32 inches (80 cm) or 40 inches (100 cm), may be more suitable.
  • Number of stitches: The length of the circular needle should be long enough to comfortably hold all the stitches of your project. If the stitches are too crowded on the needle, it can be difficult to work with. On the other hand, if the needle is too long, it may be cumbersome to handle. Consider the number of stitches you will be working with and choose a length that allows for easy maneuvering.
  • Knitting technique: Your choice of circular needle length may also depend on the knitting technique you plan to use. For example, if you prefer magic loop knitting, which involves using a long circular needle to work on small circumferences, a longer needle may be more suitable. If you plan to use a traditional method of knitting in the round, where the stitches are evenly distributed around the needle, then a shorter needle may be sufficient.
  • Personal preference: Ultimately, the length of the circular needle you choose will depend on your personal preference and knitting style. Some knitters may prefer shorter needles for easier portability and maneuverability, while others may prefer longer needles for larger projects.

It is recommended to have a variety of circular needle lengths in your knitting toolkit to accommodate different projects and knitting techniques. This way, you can always select the appropriate length for each project and ensure a comfortable and enjoyable knitting experience.

Choosing the right type of tip

When it comes to circular knitting needles, one of the most important things to consider is the type of tip. The tip of the needle is the part that you will be using to work the stitches, so it is essential to choose the right type for your project.

There are two main types of tips: sharp tips and rounded tips. Each type has its advantages and is suited for different types of projects.

Sharp tips:

  • Sharp tips are ideal for intricate stitch patterns and lace knitting. The pointed tip allows you to easily maneuver through tight stitches and create more delicate details.
  • They are also great for working with yarns that tend to split easily, as the sharp tip helps to catch and control the yarn.

Rounded tips:

  • Rounded tips are perfect for beginners or those who are new to circular knitting. The rounded tip is less likely to split the yarn and is easier to work with.
  • They are also great for projects that require a lot of knitting in the round, such as hats or sweaters.

Aside from the shape of the tip, you should also consider the length of the tip. Some circular knitting needles have shorter tips, while others have longer tips. The length of the tip may depend on your personal preference and the type of project you are working on.

Ultimately, choosing the right type of tip for your circular knitting needles is a matter of personal preference and the type of project you are working on. It may take some trial and error to find the perfect tip for you, but experimenting with different options can be part of the fun of knitting!

Step 2: Casting on using circular needles

Once you have your materials ready, you can start casting on using your circular needles. Follow these steps:

  1. Hold your circular needles together, with the points facing to the right. Make sure the length of the cable is long enough to comfortably hold all your stitches.
  2. Take the yarn end and make a slip knot, leaving a long tail for later use.
  3. Slide the slip knot onto one of the needles, but do not tighten it too much.
  4. Hold the needle with the slip knot in your right hand, and the other needle in your left hand.
  5. With your left hand, insert the left needle into the slip knot from front to back, crossing over the right needle.
  6. With your right hand, bring the yarn between the needles and hold it with your thumb and index finger. This is called the yarn tail.
  7. With your left hand, slide the left needle down, catching the yarn tail and creating a loop around the needle. This is your first stitch.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 until you have casted on the desired number of stitches. Make sure to keep the tension of the yarn consistent.
  9. Count your stitches to make sure you have casted on the correct number. You can use stitch markers if needed to keep track.
  10. Your cast on stitches are now ready for knitting!

By following these steps, you will be able to cast on using circular needles and begin your knitting project. Remember to practice and take your time to get comfortable with the technique.

Starting with a slip knot

Before you can begin knitting on circular needles, you need to start with a slip knot. This knot will create a loop through which you will insert your needles and begin your stitches.

  1. To create a slip knot, start by making a loop with your yarn, leaving a tail about 6 inches long.
  2. Take the end of the yarn that is connected to the skein and insert it through the loop, creating a second loop.
  3. Pull the second loop tight to create a knot, but leave a small opening so that you can insert your needle.

Now that you have your slip knot, you are ready to begin knitting on circular needles. Insert one of the needles through the opening of the slip knot and gently tighten the knot around the needle. Make sure the tail end of the yarn is on your right side.

With the slip knot in place, you can now start casting on stitches onto your circular needles. This will allow you to create the foundation for your knitting project.

Keep in mind that knitting on circular needles may take some practice, especially if you are new to knitting. Take your time and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t come easily at first. With practice, you’ll soon be knitting away on circular needles like a pro!

Creating the first row

Now that you have your circular needles and yarn ready, it’s time to start knitting! Follow these simple steps to create the first row:

  1. Hold the circular needles in your right hand, with the pointy ends facing to the right. Make sure the smooth side of the knitting is facing you.
  2. Take the working end of the yarn and place it between the needles, leaving a tail of about 6 inches.
  3. With your left hand, hold both needles together and slide the stitches towards the tip of the needles.
  4. Insert the right-hand needle into the first stitch on the left-hand needle, going from left to right.
  5. With your right hand, wrap the working yarn counterclockwise around the right-hand needle. The yarn should be behind the needles.
  6. Use the right-hand needle to pull the yarn through the first stitch, creating a new stitch on the right-hand needle.
  7. Slide the old stitch off the left-hand needle, leaving the new stitch on the right-hand needle.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 for each stitch on the left-hand needle until all the stitches have been transferred to the right-hand needle.

Congratulations! You have just created your first row of knitting on circular needles. Continue working on your project by repeating these steps for each subsequent row.

Joining the Round

Joining the round is the first step in knitting on circular needles. This process will create a seamless loop, allowing you to knit in the round.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to join the round:

  1. First, make sure your cast-on stitches are evenly distributed on your circular needles. Arrange them so that they are not twisted.
  2. Hold the needles parallel to each other, with the working yarn hanging at the back. Make sure the working yarn is attached to the first cast-on stitch.
  3. Insert the right needle tip into the first cast-on stitch from front to back, as if to knit.
  4. Bring the yarn over the right needle from back to front, creating a loop.
  5. Use the right needle to pull the loop through the first stitch, creating a new stitch.
  6. Slide the new stitch onto the left needle, transferring it from the right needle.
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 for all the cast-on stitches.
  8. Once all the stitches have been joined, give the working yarn a gentle tug to tighten the join.

After joining the round, you can begin knitting in the round using the desired stitch pattern. Make sure to keep track of your rounds by using a stitch marker or another method.

Joining the round may take a bit of practice, but with time, it will become second nature. Happy knitting!


What are circular needles used for?

Circular needles are used for knitting in the round, which is great for projects like hats, socks, and seamless sweaters.

Why would I knit on circular needles instead of straight needles?

Knitting on circular needles allows you to easily move stitches around and eliminates the need to seam pieces together.

Is knitting on circular needles difficult?

Knitting on circular needles can be a bit tricky at first, but with practice, it becomes easier. There are many tutorials available online to help you learn.

What kind of yarn is best for knitting on circular needles?

The best type of yarn for knitting on circular needles depends on your project. Generally, lighter weight yarns like fingering or sport weight work well, but it ultimately depends on your personal preference.


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