Female wearing a cowl covering head. Cowl knitted in turquoise with purple stripes.

Knitting on circular needles: A beginner’s guide

Do you want to start knitting on circular needles, but don’t know where to begin? Then I can help you to learn a new skill and embrace the versatility of circular needles.

Whether you’re a seasoned knitter or just starting on your yarn journey, knitting on circular needles opens up a world of possibilities, from knitting socks on small circular needles, to knitting garments and accessories. The possibilities are endless.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the basics, to unravel the mysteries of knitting in the round on circular needles, to set you on your path to creating beautiful, seamless projects.

Grab your circular needles and let’s start knitting in the round!

Female model wearing a great dress with a chunky knitted cowl that covers the shoulders, knitted in turquoise and purple yarn.

What is knitting in the round?

Knitting in the round on circular needles creates a tube of knitting without a seam, by working in a continuous spiral.

Instead of using straight needles, circular needles or double-pointed needles are used to knit a seamless tube of fabric. This method is commonly used for projects like hats, socks, and sleeves, because knitting in the round eliminates the need for sewing seams later on.

Knitting in the round allows for a smooth and consistent texture, creating garments and accessories that not only look really professional, but also offer a comfortable fit.

It’s a skill that adds versatility to your knitting repertoire, opening the door to a wide array of projects that showcase the beauty of seamless stitches.

This tutorial shows my process of knitting in the round (there other methods you can use). This is my preferred technique as it’s virtually invisible and creates a nice neat join on the cast-on edge.

Knitting on circular needles

Your pattern should specify the length of circular needle that you require. Cast on the number of stitches as stated in your pattern.

Spread the stitches out around the circular needle making sure they are not twisted, then bring the needles together, as shown below, with the right side of knitting facing you.

Two hands holding a circular knitting needle showing stitches on needle ready to join to start knitting in the round

Next, join the round as follows: Insert the tip of the right needle knitwise (as if to knit it) into the top stitch on the left needle and slip the stitch from the left needle to the right needle:

Close up of circular knitting needle tips, showing how to join to start knitting in the round.

Insert the left needle into the front of the second stitch on the right needle, as shown below.

Close up of circular knitting needle tips, showing how to swap stitches to start knitting in the round.

Lift this stitch up and over the first stitch on the right needle – similar to casting off but leave the stitch on the left needle (the top stitches on each needle are now crossed). Place a stitch marker over the tip of the right needle (it will sit between the two crossed stitches – see image below).

The stitch marker will identify where one round ends and the next round begins. Slip the stitch marker at the end of every round.

Close up of circular knitting needle tips, showing stitches crossed and stitch marker in place to start knitting in the round.

Start knitting according to your pattern instructions.

Note, because the top 2 stitches are twisted, they are a little tight when knitting.

Happy Knitting, Lynne

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