3 Steps to Knit With Circular Needles
Step 1: Knitting large widths
Step 2: Knitting in circular
Step 3: Frequently asked questions about circular knitting
Circular needles are very easy to use, take up less space than straight needles, and have many uses. They can be used like flat knitting needles with the “back and forth” technique to make large widths of knitting. You can also use them to make seamless knitted tubes for sleeves, garment bodies, or snoods.
Circular needles consist of two knitting needle tips, usually about ten centimeters long, linked by a flexible metal or plastic cable. The cable can be fixed or removable, depending on the brand. There are also kits with several needle sizes and removable cables of different lengths, which are easily transportable.
Here are some simple techniques for knitting with circular needles.
1. Knitting large widths
Circular needles have variable cable lengths, which can be up to 1 meter, which allows you to knit large widths of knitting, such as plaids, for example, with the technique known as back and forth.
After setting up the stitches, take your needle with the set stitches in your left hand and the other in your right hand. The cable that connects the two needles will be in front of you. Place the ball of yarn on your right hand as if you were knitting in a purl.
Knit your row normally, and the stitches will slide on the cable as you go.
At the end of your row, switch needles. The needle where the stitches are now in your left hand and the other in your right hand.
Continue knitting as normal, exchanging needles at the end of each row.
2. Circular knitting
Circular needles allow you to knit seamless tubes. To do this:
Match the size of your cable to the width of what you want to knit.
Set up the number of stitches on your left needle.
Once you have the number of stitches you want, take the needle that holds the yarn that goes to the ball in your right hand.
Slip a row counter on this needle or a strand of wool of a different color; this will allow you to find your rows more quickly.
Be careful to have all your stitches in the same position, that is to say, the base of the stitches down and the loop of your stitches up. This will ensure that the circle is well defined; otherwise, you will have a twisted tube.
Distribute your stitches evenly and insert your right needle into the first stitch of your left needle and make a straight stitch. Please refer to the knitting in a Straight Stitch sheet for help.
When you reach your row marker, you have completed a full row. Drag your row marker and continue knitting in the same direction.
Tip: Knit as many rows as you like and close your stitches as you would on straight needles.
3. Frequently asked questions about circular knitting
Why should I knit in a purl stitch to get a circular stockinette (a knitting stitch consisting of alternate rows of knit (plain) and purl stitch; stocking stitch)?
On a circular knit, you get a stockinette when you knit in the right side stitch all along with your work. This is because you are always knitting the same side of your work.
You have the right side of the knitting on the outside of your tube and the wrong side on the inside.
When you knit with straight needles, you alternate the right side and the wrong side, forcing you to alternate the rows of right and wrong side stitches to obtain stockinette.
3.1 How do I make a circular moss stitch?
If you want to make a circular moss stitch, you will have to alternate a row of a right side stitch and a row of purl stitch. Use your row counter or a strand of wool in a contrasting color to find your way through the rows.
However, unlike stockinette, which gives the impression of a single tube, the circular knitted moss stitch will mark a boundary when changing rows.
3.2 Where should the ball yarn be when I knit in a circular pattern?
After taking a break in your knitting, make sure you have the yarn on your right-hand needle to the ball. Otherwise, you may knit in a circular pattern on your work.
If this is the case, take the stitches out of your needles and gently pull the yarn to unravel the half-turn you just made. Then slip your stitches back onto your needles, careful to have your ball yarn on the right needle.
3.3 How do I knit if my needle cable is longer than my work?
If the cable of your circular needles is longer than your work, slip the extra length between two stitches located in the middle of the work. This will allow you to work without pulling on your stitches and to split your work in two to knit it in two steps.
If the cable is smaller than the width of your work, the stitches will spread evenly along the length of your circular needles without disturbing your knitting.