Craft · Knitting · Needles · Tools · Yarn

How to Knit in the Round

When I started knitting I didn’t really get it. Same with crochet. With both of these crafts it finally clicked when I started in the round. It seems to flow much easier and I seem to find it less awkward to keep track of where I am in a pattern. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would much rather knit straight but given the choice, I’ll usually pick something knitted in the round.

There are a few methods of doing this, which I’ll lay out here. I am not comfortable enough with some of the methods to be able to instruct from scratch, so I’ll provide you with the links and resources to learn as quickly as I did.

Double Pointed Needles

These are needles that do not have the stopper at one end. They’re pointed on both sides – hence the name – and they’re usually quite a bit shorter than regular straight needles. They’re used a lot in knitting socks.

This is my preferred method for knitting socks and mittens/gloves. It looks a bit fiddly but once you realise you’re only ever knitting on two of the needles, it becomes much easier. The only problem is trying to avoid the obvious line through the bits where the needles switch, something I haven’t quite got the hang of yet. I learned through YouTube videos such as this one, though if you search for ‘knitting on double pointed needles’ a lot of tips and tutorials come up.

The most important thing with knitting on DPNs is that you don’t get the first stitches twisted. If you do, your sock is going to look more than a little strange and will be rather unwearable!

Circular Needles

These are needles specifically designed for knitting in the round; they’re generally used for larger projects than socks etc. They’re two straight needles attached to a flexible cord which comes in a variety of lengths.

I recently used a 16″ circular to knit my mum a hat, shown in the previous post. I also used the same needle to knit myself a headband using an offcentre rib stitch which I’m sure has a name but I have no idea what that would be! It was entirely improvised. Knitting on circulars is quite useful because you can slip the project down onto the cord when transporting. I’ve never had anything fall of circular needles, unlike DPNs; I have also used circular needles to knit straight just for the portability factor.

Have a look at this tutorial or this video. It’s quite a simple process, possibly the simplest of methods knitting in the round. All you need to bear in mind is picking the right size!

Magic Loop Knitting

This is the newest method for me. It’s where you use one long-cabled circular needle and knit small projects in the round – for example, I’m using this to knit mittens. You split the stitches down the middle with the cable. It’s very clever. I understand a lot of people prefer this to knitting with DPNs.

I only tried it a couple of days ago and for some reason I’d expected it to be a lot more difficult. It wasn’t – it was easy peasy! Me and a friend were watching TV so I didn’t want to watch a video on youtube which is my usual method of learning a tricky new skill in knitting. Turns out I didn’t need to: this tutorial from KnitPicks was more than enough.

It may look complicated and confusing but I promise it’s not. I’m not sure I’m completely sold on it; I still prefer knitting on DPNs but that’s a personal preference. The best thing about knitting is that there are so many ways to achieve the same or similar effects and it’s fun to try each of them out when you’re learning to know your own preferences.

So how do you do it?


8 thoughts on “How to Knit in the Round

  1. Great post!

    I learned to knit using circulars and made everything on them, so I learned Magic Loop for the tiny things, and it was fine (once I accepted the first few rounds always look a bit messy!) but in August I got some DPNs to make the Beekeeper’s Quilt and I LOVE THEM! I much prefer making little things on them – I find it much less hassle than pulling the cord through all the time for Magic Loop (yep, I’m a lazy knitter) and also the resulting fabric looks a lot neater as there is no stretching between the stitches which I get where the cord loop is pulled through for ML. I also find that I don’t need to use (many) stitch markers with DPNs as I have a much better sense of the geography of the work which I don’t get so much on circs.

    Yet to cry knitting on 2 circs. Must do that soon!


    1. Thank you for the lovely reply!

      I haven’t fallen prey to the Beekeeper’s Quilt mania yet but I agree, DPNs are excellent to use. It’s much neater for me as well though occasionally it fails me and I have a bit of a line up the side. I mostly manage to avoid that.

      Knitting on two circs! I always forget about that. I should try it one day.


  2. I totally agree – in the round rocks! I prefer circular needles, even for straight knitting – like you, I find that it is much easier to transport!

    I have a tip for the “ridges” that come at the transition between the needles when you knit in the round with dpn (thank you Elizabeth Zimmerman): knit one extra stitch per needle. When you get to the end of a needle, you knit the first stitch from the next needle as well. Since you’re not doing that odd transition in the same place every round, you won’t get the lines!

    This does mean that the position of the end of the row keeps changing relative to where on the needle it is, but I find that the tail left from the cast on is a good guide.


    1. Oh wow – that tip is a brilliant idea, thank you! I never thought of doing that. Oh Elizabeth Zimmerman, will your wonders ever cease?

      Thank you for the comment and the tip. 🙂 Very much appreciated!


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