How to : Knit in the round, with circular needles
When I learned how to knit a long time ago, I learned to knit on straight needles, like most of you I guess. The projects were knitted flat, in several parts, which had to be sewn together. This technique still exists of course, but most of the independent knitting designers now use the technique of knitting seamless projects and it’s called : knitting in the round.
It took me a long time to get back to knitting, because I had never really appreciated it to be honest. Bu when I was pregnant, I really wanted to learn properly (I know it is very cliché!). I was lucky enough to have friends to show me their projects, the famous circular needles and demystify knitting in the round.
- What do I mean by circular needles?
They are about 15 cm long, and are connected by a cable.
There are needles of all sizes, in several materials: bamboo, metal, carbon fiber … Personally, I have tried several and the one I prefer are in metal, and sharp. I find that the stitches slip well on the needles and they do not make too much noise. But all of this is really a matter of taste. I advise you to try several if you have the opportunity, and see what you prefer.
There are several cable sizes depending on what you want to knit: 40cm, 60cm, 80cm, 100cm, 150cm … It all depends on the project you realize and the size recommended in the pattern. For baby projects, sizes 40 and 60cm will be enough, while for an adult project, or a shawl, sizes 80 and 100cm will be usually recommended.
The circular needles are either fixed or interchangeable. If you buy the fixed ones, you need to know that you will only have one cable size that you will be able to use with these needles.
Interchangeable needles are usually sold in kits like this one :
When I properly started knitting again, I bought several needles with fixed cables because I found that the the kits were quite expensive and I wasn’t sure I would really knit that much anyway … But as I was knitting all the time and loving it, I decided to buy a kit and I absolutely don’t regret! It’s so much easier! You can use all the cable sizes you want with a single needle size, you can knit several projects at the same time with the same needles using different cables thanks to the small pandas that close your cables … (see photo); And above all, you do not have to carry dozens of needles, everything is in the kit (or almost).
My favorite needles are the HiyaHiya 5-inch Sharp but here are other brands too:
- HiyaHiya Bamboo
- Chiaogoo (2.75mm-10mm) in metal, or in Bamboo
- KnitPro in Wood, in Karbonz
- Knit Picks in Wood …
Know that the kits are sometimes divided into two categories of needles: small from 2.75mm to 5mm and the biggest 5.5mm to 10mm for the Hiya Hiya for example. The Knits Pro kits range from 3.5 to 8mm. And for the Chiaogoo, you have the choice between the complete set, or only half of it. Pay attention to this detail. The only disadvantage in my opinion with the interchangeable needles, is that sometimes they tend to unscrew, which means you must screw them with the tool provided in the kit.
Can you knit round and round on circular needles?
Of course!! All you need to do is knit like on straight needles, except that your stitches will be on a soft cable. This is the case, for example, if you knit a vest: you will only knit the sleeves in circles, but you will knit everything with your circular needles.
In my opinion, the biggest advantages of circular needles (except for round knitting), are that they are short, easy to store and carry, and especially they are not embarrassing when knitting in The subway, in the couch or … in bed! And they are also less dangerous for our companions!
How to Cast-on stitches?
There are several techniques to Cast-on, and depending on the project you realize, one technique might be more recommended than another. Since I learned to cast-on with the Long-Tail Cast On’ method, I do only this one (unless the pattern recommends a specific method). I find that it gives a very nice finish on all your projects. Here is a video of how to do it (Sorry, I’m speaking in french).
How to join in the round ?
If none around you knits in the round, this may seem very abstract to you. For example, people around me often asks me how to join my stitches in the round? Or how can I know the beginning of my row if I knit in the round without stopping …?
I show you everything in this video (speaking in french again but easy to follow anyway).
- Be careful :
What I mention in this video is that the most important thing before joining in the round is to check that your stitches are all in the same direction. If there is a turn in your stitches and you knit without realizing it … here is the result you will get! You will have to unknit everything and start all over again… So be vigilant.
- In addition, know that when knitting in the round:
– The stockinette stitch is made with only ‘knit’ stitches
– The garter stitch is made by alternating a knit row and a purl row
-> Which is the opposite to what you have to do with straight needles!
I hope this article will help you to start the technique of knitting in the round, and that you will really enjoy it! Have a great day!