Are you looking for an alternative way to knit in the round than using double pointed needles? Circular knitting needles offer the perfect solution! Here we’ll provide a quick guide to circular knitting needles and share tips on how to use them to circular knit.
Different types of circular knitting needles
Like straight needles, circular needles can be made from various different materials. Two of the most popular styles are metal and bamboo circular needles, as they are both fairly lightweight and easy to use. The main difference between circular needles and straight knitting needles is that circular knitting needles have a wire joining them together.
The wire joining the circular knitting needles is usually made from a flexible plastic material and can be purchased in different lengths. Depending on the size of the piece you are making, you may need a shorter or longer wire on your circular needles.
There are also ‘fixed’ and ‘interchangeable’ circular needs. The fixed as the name suggests is one pair of needles which come in the same size diameters as straight needles and have a fixed length of flexible plastic joining them. The interchangeable type are again what the name suggests, varying thicknesses of tips (the bits you use to create the stitches) which screw onto varying lengths of flexible plastic – the cords. These are available in sets which will contain a few sizes of tips and the usual lengths of cord.
Why use circular needles?
So now you know what circular needles are, you are probably wondering what you can use them for. Circular knitting needles can be used to make a wide range of items including hats, socks, sleeves and even larger pieces like the body of a jumper.
The main benefit of using circular needles to knit in the round is that you can make a complete piece. There will be no need to join your pieces together, so you can make knitted items without unsightly seams.
Knitting with circular needles
Circular needles can be used in two different ways. The first way is to knit back and forth in rows like you would with straight needles. The benefit of using circular needles instead is that they offer extra space for you to hold your stitches, which is ideal if you are knitting something large like the panels of a blanket or a jumper. Circular knitting needles can be used just like straight needles – you knit across the row, pushing the stitches to the end of the needle and using the other needle to create the stitches.
Circular knitting with circular needles
The second way you can use circular knitting needles is to knit in the round. This basically means that you will knit all the way around the needle and create a tube-like shape.
If you are going to circular knit with circular needles you will need to make sure you have enough stitches to go all the way around the needle and wire. Therefore you probably won’t want to use them for small knitting projects.
To begin, cast on the desired number of stitches for your project using an appropriately sized circular needle. Next, slide the stitches along the cable so that they are evenly distributed around the entire length of the circular needle. Make sure that your stitches don’t slip off the other end!
The next step is to lay your knitting project down on the table in front of you so you can examine it. Make sure that all of the stitches are facing in the same direction (inwards) and that there aren’t any twists in the stitches.
Once you’ve inspected your project, flip it over so that the needle tip with the wool on is on the right and the empty needle is on the left. You can then insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle to create your join. Make sure you pull the first stitch tightly. To create one seamless piece of knitting, continue to knit around and around the circle.
Keep in mind that if you want to create a stocking stitch, you just need to continue with the knit stitch. There’s no need to purl because you will always be knitting around the outside of the piece, never on the inside.
Continue knitting all of the stitches on the left needle, sliding them along the cable as you go. Once you have reached the end of the round (you’ll know this by the presence of the wool tail) place a stitch marker on your right hand needle as a reminder.
When you have reached the end of your knitting project, you will need to bind off as usual. Make sure you check that your work is not twisted before you do so. All of the casts should run smoothly along the bottom edge of your work and there should not loop over the needle at any point.
Tips for circular knitting with circular needles
Now you know how to circular knit with circular needles, have a quick read through our last minute tips and you’ll be good to go!
Select a slightly shorter circular knitting needle: choose circular needles with a length that is slightly shorter than your finished project’s circumference. This will prevent your stitches from being over-stretched. Make sure that the knitting needles are only slightly shorter though as otherwise you won’t be able to cast on the required number of stitches in the first place.
Keep them stored away separately: keep your circular needles stored separately from each other as well as the rest of your knitting needles to prevent the wires in between them from getting tangled up.
So there we have our guide on how to circular knit with circular needles! If you are looking for a more efficient way of knitting hats, bags and other items without seams, then this could be the perfect solution for you.
Interested in finding out more about the different types of circular knitting needles or fancy adding some to your collection? Then be sure to check out the range of bamboo and aluminium circular needles on our ‘accessories’ category page!