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Tips for Knitting with Circular Needles

Sam Russo

5 min read

6 days ago



Knitting is a craft that's both timeless and trendy. It's a skill that can be both therapeutic and productive. But, like any craft, the tools you use can make a big difference.

Enter circular knitting needles. These versatile tools can take your knitting to the next level.

Whether you're knitting a cozy hat, a chunky sweater, or a delicate lace shawl, circular needles can be your best friend. In this article, we'll share tips and tricks for knitting with circular needles. From choosing the right needles to mastering advanced techniques, we've got you covered.

woman pulling off white  knit turtle neck sweater
"by Mukuko Studio ("

Understanding Circular Knitting Needles

Before we dive into the tips and tricks, let's first understand what circular knitting needles are. They're not as complex as they might seem.

In fact, they're quite simple. A pair of knitting needles is connected by a flexible cable. This design allows you to hold more stitches than straight needles.

It also opens up a world of possibilities for your knitting projects.

knitting, coffee, and books
"by Debby Hudson ("

What Are Circular Knitting Needles?

Circular knitting needles are a pair of pointed needles connected by a flexible cable.

They come in various lengths and sizes.

The length of the cable and the size of the needles can be chosen based on your project needs.

The Benefits of Using Circular Needles

Circular needles offer several benefits over traditional straight needles.

Firstly, they allow you to knit 'in the round'. This means you can create seamless tubes of knitting, perfect for hats, socks, and sleeves.

Secondly, they can hold more stitches. This makes them ideal for large projects like blankets and sweaters.

  • They're more portable and easier to handle than long straight needles.

  • They distribute the weight of the knitting evenly, reducing strain on your hands and wrists.

  • They're versatile. You can use them for flat knitting as well as knitting in the round.

In short, circular needles can make your knitting experience more enjoyable and efficient.

Choosing Your Circular Needles

Choosing the right circular needles can make a big difference in your knitting.

The size and length of the needles, as well as the material they're made from, can affect your knitting speed, the look of your stitches, and your overall knitting experience.

silky balls of yarn with knitting project still on needles
"by Anastasia Zhenina ("

Size and Length: Finding the Perfect Match for Your Project

The size of your needles (the diameter of the needle tips) should be chosen based on the yarn you're using.

Thicker yarns require larger needles, while thinner yarns work best with smaller needles.

The length of the cable should be slightly less than the circumference of the project you're knitting.

Material Matters: Metal vs. Wood vs. Plastic

The material of your needles can also impact your knitting.

Metal needles, for example, are smooth and fast, making them a great choice for experienced knitters.

Wood and bamboo needles, on the other hand, offer more grip, which can be helpful for beginners or for knitting with slippery yarns.

  • Metal needles are durable and offer a smooth surface for quick knitting.

  • Wood and bamboo needles provide more friction, slowing down your knitting and making it easier to control your stitches.

  • Plastic needles are lightweight and affordable, but they may not be as durable as metal or wood needles.

In the end, the best material for you depends on your personal preference and the specific needs of your project.

Getting Started with Circular Needles

Once you've chosen your circular needles, it's time to get started with your knitting project.

The first step is casting on your stitches.

This process is similar to casting on straight needles, but there are a few key differences to keep in mind.

sweaters hanging in a row
"by Tanya Trukyr"

Casting On: The First Step to Circular Knitting

When casting on with circular needles, you'll need to make sure that your stitches are not twisted around the cable.

This can be a bit tricky, especially for beginners, but with a little practice, you'll get the hang of it.

Remember, the goal is to have all your stitches facing the same direction on the cable.

Joining in the Round Without Twists

Once you've cast on your stitches, the next step is to join them in the round.

This is where you need to be extra careful not to twist your stitches.

A good tip is to lay your work flat on a table before joining, to ensure that all the stitches are aligned correctly.

Advanced Techniques for Circular Needles

As you become more comfortable with circular needles, you can start exploring advanced techniques.

These can help you tackle more complex projects and patterns.

light pink cotton knitting project on circular needles
"by rocknwool ("

One such technique is the magic loop method, which is great for knitting small circumferences.

Another important aspect to master is managing cable memory and tension.

Let's delve into these techniques a bit more.

Magic Loop and Small Circumference Knitting

The magic loop method allows you to knit smaller circumferences using a long circular needle. This is particularly useful for projects like socks or sleeves.

With practice, the magic loop can become a go-to method for all your small-circumference knitting needs.

Managing Cable Memory and Tension

Cable memory refers to the tendency of the cable on circular needles to retain its shape.

This can sometimes lead to kinks in your knitting, but it can be managed with a few simple tricks.

Maintaining even tension is also crucial when knitting with circular needles, as it affects the final look and size of your project.

Caring for Your Circular Needles

Just like any other knitting supplies, circular needles need proper care.

This not only extends their lifespan but also ensures they perform optimally.

Different materials may require different care methods, so it's important to know what works best for your needles.

Maintenance and Storage Tips

Storing your circular needles properly can prevent damage to the cables and tips.

For instance, hanging them or storing them flat can help avoid kinks in the cable.

Regular cleaning, especially for metal knitting needles, can also keep them smooth and pleasant to use.

Circular Needle Projects to Inspire You

Circular needles are not just for knitting in the round.

They can be used for a wide range of projects, from small accessories to large garments.

yellow knit fabric
by engin akyurt (

From Hats to Sweaters: The Versatility of Circular Needles

Hats, socks, and mittens are perfect for circular needles.

They allow you to knit these items in one piece, without seams.

But don't stop there. Sweaters, blankets, and even shawls can also be knitted on circular needles.

Converting Flat Patterns to Circular

With a bit of know-how, you can convert flat knitting patterns to be worked in the round.

This can open up a whole new world of patterns for you to explore.

Just remember to adjust for the lack of seams and the difference in right side/wrong side rows.


Knitting with circular needles can be a game-changer.

They offer versatility, convenience, and the ability to tackle a wide range of projects.

For more tips and tricks, check out our knitting forums and resources. Happy knitting!

Sam Russo

5 min read

6 days ago



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