Step-by-Step Guide: How to Join in Circular Knitting

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Join in Circular Knitting

Knitting in the round is a popular method of creating seamless, continuous project such as hats, socks, and sweaters. However, when starting a new round, it can be tricky to join the ends of your knitting to form a closed circle. Joining in circular knitting is an essential technique to master, as it ensures that your stitches are aligned and your project is symmetrical.

To join in circular knitting, you can use various methods depending on your preference or the stitch pattern you are using. One common method is the “magic loop” technique, which involves using a long circular needle and dividing your stitches into two sections. Another method is using double-pointed needles, where you transfer your stitches onto several needles and work from there. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to ensure that you have an even number of stitches to join.

Before joining, it’s helpful to place a marker to indicate the beginning of the round. This marker will help you keep track of your progress and aligning any pattern repeats. Once you have your stitches divided and your marker in place, you can join by simply starting to knit or purl as instructed in your pattern. Take care to ensure that your stitches are not twisted around the needle, as this can cause your work to be lopsided.

To ensure a seamless join, you can use a simple technique called the “slip stitch join.” When you reach the marker, slip the first stitch from the left needle to the right needle without knitting it. Then, slip the first stitch from the right needle back to the left needle and tighten the yarn. This creates a neat and invisible join, ensuring that there are no gaps or holes in your work.

Mastering the Basics of Circular Knitting

Circular knitting is a technique that allows you to knit in the round, creating seamless tubes of fabric. It is commonly used for knitting hats, socks, and sweaters. While it may seem intimidating at first, mastering the basics of circular knitting is easier than it looks. Below are some essential steps to get you started.

1. Choosing the Right Needles and Yarn

When it comes to circular knitting, it’s important to choose the right needles and yarn. Circular needles consist of two separate needle tips connected by a flexible cable. The length of the cable should be determined by the size of your project. In general, 16-inch to 32-inch circular needles are suitable for most projects.

As for yarn, select a type and weight that matches your pattern. Make sure your yarn is compatible with the needle size recommended in the pattern.

2. Casting On

Start by casting on the required number of stitches onto one of the needle tips. Many circular knitters prefer to use the long-tail cast-on method, but you can choose any cast-on method you’re comfortable with.

Once you have cast on, make sure your stitches are evenly distributed along the needle. You may want to use stitch markers to mark the beginning of the round.

3. Joining in the Round

To join in the round, carefully slide the stitches from the first needle tip onto the cable, making sure not to twist them. Hold the needle with the first cast-on stitch in your right hand and the needle with the last cast-on stitch in your left hand.

Using your free needle, knit the first stitch from the left-hand needle. This will join the round and create a continuous loop of stitches. Be careful not to accidentally add an extra twist when joining.

4. Knitting in the Round

Once you have joined in the round, continue knitting in a spiral, moving your stitches from the left-hand needle to the right-hand needle. It’s important to remember that you are working in a continuous circle, so there is no need to turn your work.

You can use stitch markers to mark different sections or pattern repeats in your project. This will make it easier to keep track of your progress.

5. Working Decreases or Increases

When it’s time to decrease or increase stitches in your project, follow the instructions given in your pattern. Most circular knitting patterns will provide specific instructions for increasing or decreasing while working in the round.

Remember to adjust your stitch markers accordingly to keep track of any changes in your stitch count.

6. Binding Off

When you have completed your project, it’s time to bind off. Knitting circular projects usually requires a special bind-off technique called the “in-the-round bind-off” or “tubular bind-off.” This technique creates a seamless edge that matches the cast-on edge.

Follow the instructions in your pattern or refer to a tutorial to learn how to bind off in the round.

With these basic steps, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of circular knitting. Remember to practice and be patient, as it may take a few projects to become comfortable with this technique. Happy knitting!

Choosing the Right Circular Needles

When it comes to circular knitting, one of the most important tools you will need is a set of circular needles. These needles are essential for joining your knitting in the round and creating seamless projects. However, choosing the right circular needles can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, especially for beginners. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:


Circular needles can be made from various materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some common materials include:

  • Plastic: Plastic circular needles are lightweight and affordable, making them a good choice for beginners. However, they may not be as durable as other materials.
  • Bamboo: Bamboo circular needles are known for their smooth finish and gentle grip, making them perfect for slippery yarns. They are also lightweight and environmentally friendly.
  • Metal: Metal circular needles are durable and ideal for working with heavier yarns. They have a smooth surface that allows stitches to glide easily, making them a popular choice among experienced knitters.


Circular needles come in various lengths, ranging from 9 inches to 60 inches or more. The length you choose will depend on the size of your project and your knitting style. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Shorter needles: Shorter needles are great for knitting small projects like socks or baby hats. They are also more portable and easier to handle.
  • Longer needles: Longer needles are ideal for larger projects like sweaters and blankets. They can hold more stitches and allow you to try on your project as you go.


The cable is an important part of the circular needle. It’s important to choose a cable that is flexible and easy to work with. Look for cables that have a smooth connection to the needle tip and don’t kink or tangle easily. Some brands even offer interchangeable cables, allowing you to customize the length of your circular needle by swapping out the cables.

Gauge and Needle Size

Lastly, don’t forget to consider the gauge and needle size when choosing your circular needles. Make sure the needle size matches the recommended gauge for your project, as this will ensure that your stitches turn out the way you want them to.

By considering these factors, you can choose the right circular needles for your knitting projects and enjoy the art of circular knitting like a pro!

Understanding Circular Knitting Patterns

When working on a circular knitting project, it’s important to understand the patterns that are commonly used. Circular knitting patterns are written differently than flat knitting patterns, but once you understand the basics, they can be quite easy to follow.

Reading circular knitting patterns:

  • Start by familiarizing yourself with the key abbreviations and stitches used in circular knitting patterns. This will make it easier to understand the instructions.
  • Pay close attention to any special notations or instructions specific to circular knitting. These may include information on joining, stitch markers, and stitch counts.
  • Understand the concept of working in the round. Unlike flat knitting where you knit back and forth, circular knitting is worked continuously in a spiral. You will need to join your work in a circle using a special technique like a magic loop or knitting in the round on double-pointed needles.

Working stitches in circular knitting:

  • When working in the round, you will typically use knit stitches for the right side and purl stitches for the wrong side. This means that stockinette stitch, which is typically knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side in flat knitting, will be worked entirely in knit stitches.
  • Increase and decrease stitches as needed to shape your knitting. Circular knitting patterns often include instructions for shaping the piece by adding or removing stitches. Pay attention to these instructions and make sure to add or remove stitches evenly around the piece to maintain the circular shape.
  • If a pattern includes colorwork or texture, make sure to follow the chart or written instructions carefully. Keep track of your rounds using stitch markers if needed.

Adapting flat knitting patterns to circular knitting:

  • If you have a flat knitting pattern that you want to adapt to circular knitting, you will need to make a few adjustments. Instead of working back and forth, you’ll be working in the round, so you’ll need to eliminate the purl rows if you want a similar look.
  • To convert a flat knitting pattern to circular knitting, simply take the number of stitches indicated in the pattern and divide it by two. This will give you the number of stitches to cast on for circular knitting.
  • Keep in mind that stitch patterns may need to be modified for circular knitting. For example, if a pattern has a right and wrong side, you will need to adjust it so it looks the same on both sides when worked in the round.

By understanding the basics of circular knitting patterns and how they differ from flat knitting patterns, you’ll be able to tackle any circular knitting project with confidence. Practice working in the round and familiarize yourself with different techniques to expand your circular knitting skills.

Tips and Tricks for Joining in Circular Knitting

Joining in circular knitting can be a bit tricky, especially for beginners. However, with a few tips and tricks, you can easily master this technique and achieve a seamless and professional finish to your projects. Here are some helpful pointers to keep in mind:

  • Use a stitch marker: Placing a stitch marker at the beginning of your round can help you keep track of where the round starts and ends. This will ensure that your work doesn’t twist and will make it easier to join the rounds seamlessly.
  • Knit the first stitch tightly: When joining in the round, it’s important to knit the first stitch tightly to close the gap between the first and last stitches. This will prevent any gaps or holes from forming.
  • Avoid twisted stitches: Before joining in the round, make sure that your cast-on stitches are not twisted. Take a moment to double-check and adjust the orientation of your stitches if needed.
  • Keep a consistent tension: Maintaining a consistent tension throughout your circular knitting is crucial for achieving an even and professional finish. Pay attention to your knitting technique and make sure you’re not pulling your yarn too tightly or too loosely.
  • Use circular or double-pointed needles: Circular or double-pointed needles are specifically designed for knitting in the round. They eliminate the need for seams and allow you to complete your project in one continuous round.
  • Try the magic loop technique: If you’re working with a small circumference such as for a hat or a sleeve, the magic loop technique can be a great alternative. This technique allows you to use a long circular needle to create a loop, making it easier to work on small projects.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to join in circular knitting like a pro. Practice and patience are key, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a few tries to master this technique. With time, you’ll be creating professional-looking seamless projects in no time!

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Circular Knitting

  • Twisted stitches: One of the most common mistakes in circular knitting is accidentally twisting your stitches, especially when joining in the round. Make sure that your stitches are all facing the same direction before joining to avoid a twisted join.
  • Gaps: Another common mistake is creating gaps or holes at the join when transitioning from circular knitting to a new round. To avoid this, make sure to pull the working yarn tightly after joining and knitting the first stitch of the new round.
  • Uneven tension: Maintaining consistent tension can be a challenge in circular knitting, especially when transitioning from knitting flat. Be mindful of your tension and make adjustments as needed to ensure even and smooth stitches.
  • Misplaced stitch markers: Placing stitch markers incorrectly can lead to mistakes in your circular knitting. Double-check that your stitch markers are in the right place to ensure accuracy when following your knitting pattern.
  • Ladders: Ladders are vertical gaps or loose stitches that can occur between needles in circular knitting. To prevent ladders, make sure to snugly pull the first stitch of each needle after switching to a new needle, and try to distribute tension evenly across your stitches.
  • Forgetting to switch needle positions: In circular knitting, it’s important to periodically switch the position of your needles to prevent a jog or visible line where the rounds transition. Be sure to switch the positions of your needles every few rounds to maintain an even appearance.
  • Miscounting stitches: Another mistake to avoid is miscounting your stitches, which can lead to errors in the pattern. Take the time to count your stitches regularly to ensure accuracy and identify any mistakes early on.
  • Using the wrong needle size: Using the wrong needle size can result in gauge and tension issues in circular knitting. Always check your pattern’s recommended needle size and swatch before starting to ensure that you are using the correct needle size for your project.

Advanced Techniques for Circular Knitting

Once you’ve mastered the basics of joining in circular knitting, you can move on to some advanced techniques that will take your knitting to the next level. These techniques will allow you to create more intricate patterns and achieve unique effects in your circular knitting projects.

1. Stranded Knitting: Stranded knitting, also known as Fair Isle knitting, is a technique where you knit with two or more colors in a row. The unused color is carried along the back of the work while you work with the other color. This technique allows you to create beautiful designs and patterns.

2. Lace Knitting: Lace knitting involves creating deliberate holes in your knitting to create intricate lace patterns. Circular lace knitting requires you to work increases and decreases within the round, which can be a bit more challenging than flat lace knitting. However, the result is a stunning piece of work.

3. Cables: Knitting cables in the round can add texture and dimension to your knitting. The process involves crossing stitches over each other to create a cable pattern. You’ll need a cable needle to hold the stitches while you work the remaining stitches in the row. Once you get the hang of it, knitting cables in the round can be a fun and rewarding technique.

4. Jogless Stripes: When knitting stripes in the round, you’ll often notice a visible jog where the colors meet. To minimize this jog, you can use various techniques such as the traveling jogless stripe or the slip stitch jogless stripe method. These methods help to create a smoother transition between colors and eliminate the noticeable jog.

5. Magic Loop: The magic loop technique allows you to work on small-circumference projects, such as hats or sleeves, using a long circular needle. This technique involves using a loop of cable to hold the stitches while you work, eliminating the need for double-pointed needles. It can be a bit tricky at first, but with practice, you’ll find it to be a convenient method for knitting small items.

6. Steeking: Steeking is a technique used in circular knitting to create openings, such as armholes or cardigan fronts. It involves cutting the knitted fabric and securing the edges to prevent unraveling. Steeking can be intimidating, but with careful planning and reinforcement techniques, it can be a useful way to achieve a seamless finish in your projects.

7. Double Knitting: Double knitting is a technique where you create a reversible fabric with two layers. It’s created by knitting with two colors simultaneously, with each row forming one side of the fabric. Circular double knitting allows you to create intricate colorwork patterns on both sides of the fabric.

These advanced techniques can take your circular knitting to new heights and open up a world of possibilities for your projects. Practice and experimentation are key to mastering these techniques, so don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and try something new!

Creating Beautiful Designs in Circular Knitting

Circular knitting opens up a whole world of possibilities for creating beautiful designs in your knitting projects. Unlike flat knitting, where you have to seam pieces together, circular knitting allows you to create seamless garments and accessories. Here are some tips to help you create stunning designs in circular knitting:

  1. Choose the right yarn: Consider the fiber, weight, and texture of the yarn you use. Different yarns create different effects, so experiment with various options to find the perfect yarn for your design.
  2. Use stitch patterns: Incorporating stitch patterns in your circular knitting can add interest and texture to your designs. Experiment with different stitch patterns, such as cables or lace, to create unique and beautiful effects.
  3. Try colorwork: Colorwork techniques, such as fair isle or stranded knitting, can create stunning designs in circular knitting. Play with different color combinations and patterns to add visual interest to your projects.
  4. Combine different techniques: Don’t be afraid to mix and match knitting techniques in your circular knitting projects. You can combine different stitch patterns, colorwork, and even different yarn weights to create unique and eye-catching designs.

Take advantage of circular knitting tools: Circular knitting needles and tools, such as stitch markers and cable needles, can help you create more complex and intricate designs. Use these tools to your advantage and explore the possibilities they offer.

Keep an eye on your tension: Tension is crucial in circular knitting, as it can affect the overall appearance and fit of your design. Make sure to check your tension regularly and adjust accordingly to ensure consistent and beautiful results.

Experiment and have fun: Circular knitting offers endless possibilities for creativity and experimentation. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques, play with different stitch patterns, and let your imagination run wild. After all, the best designs come from enjoying the process and exploring your own unique style.

Examples of Circular Knitting Designs
  • A cozy hat with a cable pattern
  • A colorwork sweater with fair isle motifs
  • A lace shawl with intricate stitch patterns
  • A textured cowl with a combination of knit and purl stitches
  • A striped blanket with alternating colors
  • A pair of socks with a unique stitch pattern
  • A baby dress with a lace skirt
  • A set of mittens with a colorwork pattern

With these tips, you’ll be able to create beautiful designs in circular knitting and take your knitting projects to the next level. So grab your circular needles, choose your favorite yarn, and let your creativity soar!

Troubleshooting Common Issues in Circular Knitting

While circular knitting is a popular technique for creating seamless garments and accessories, it can sometimes present challenges for knitters. Here are some common issues that you may encounter while working in the round, along with possible solutions:

1. Twisted Stitches: One of the most frustrating problems in circular knitting is accidentally twisting your stitches when joining in the round. This can result in a twisted or mobius-like fabric. To avoid this, double-check that your cast-on row is not twisted before joining in the round. You can also use stitch markers to mark the beginning of the round and ensure that you’re working in the correct direction.

2. Ladders: Ladders are vertical gaps that can appear between stitches in circular knitting, caused by loose tension between needles. To prevent ladders, make sure to pull the first stitch on each needle tightly to minimize any gaps. You can also try knitting the first stitch on a new needle tighter than the others to help close any potential gaps.

3. Too Tight or Too Loose of a Join: Creating a seamless join in circular knitting can be challenging, especially for beginners. If your join is too tight, it can create a visible line or distortion in your fabric. To avoid this, try using smaller needles for the first few rounds to ensure a looser join. If your join is too loose, you can use a crochet hook to tighten the stitches after completing a few rounds.

4. Tangled or Twisted Cables: When working with cables in circular knitting, it’s essential to keep track of the cables’ twists and turns. If you find yourself with tangled or twisted cables, try using cable needles or stitch holders to hold the stitches in place securely. This will prevent them from twisting and ensure that your cables are clear and defined.

5. Uneven Tension: Achieving even tension in circular knitting can be challenging, especially when transitioning from rows of flat knitting. Uneven tension can result in a noticeable difference in fabric density. To improve tension, make sure you’re using the same knitting technique for both flat and circular knitting. Additionally, taking breaks and periodically stretching your hands can help relax your muscles and promote more even tension.

6. Difficulty with Magic Loop or Double-Pointed Needles: If you’re new to circular knitting, using techniques like the magic loop or double-pointed needles can be intimidating. It may take some time to get comfortable with these methods, but with practice, they become easier. Watching tutorial videos or attending knitting classes can provide valuable guidance and tips for working with these techniques.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to circular knitting. Don’t be discouraged if you encounter these common issues. With time and patience, you’ll become a pro at troubleshooting and enjoy the seamless results of circular knitting.


What is circular knitting? How is it different from regular knitting?

Circular knitting is a technique that allows you to knit in the round, creating a seamless tube of fabric. It is different from regular knitting, where you knit back and forth in rows, because with circular knitting, you use circular knitting needles or double-pointed needles to create a continuous loop.

Do I need special needles for circular knitting?

Yes, you will need circular knitting needles or double-pointed needles. Circular knitting needles have two short needle tips connected by a flexible cable, while double-pointed needles come in sets of four or five and are used to knit small tubes or to shape the crown of a hat.

What is the benefit of joining in circular knitting?

Joining in circular knitting allows you to create a seamless tube of fabric, which is great for projects like hats, socks, and sweaters. It eliminates the need to sew seams, resulting in a more professional-looking finished product.

How do I join in circular knitting?

To join in circular knitting, cast on the required number of stitches onto your circular knitting needles or double-pointed needles. Make sure the stitches are not twisted, and then join the last stitch to the first stitch, being careful not to twist the stitches. You can place a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round if desired.

What are some tips for joining in circular knitting without twisting the stitches?

To join in circular knitting without twisting the stitches, you can lay your work flat on a table or other flat surface after casting on. Make sure all the cast-on stitches are facing the same direction. Then, pick up your needles and join the stitches, making sure they are all oriented correctly. You can also use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round and help prevent twisting.


Knitting Help – 3 Ways to Join In-the-Round

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