You can get a lot done with circular knitting needles. You can make tote bags, sweaters without seams, hats, socks, and even infinity scarves. When you pick up an exciting new knitting pattern and it calls for circular needles, you might have a few questions about how to actually use them.
You have so many patterns and projects to choose from browsing online at Yarnspirations, so you’ll not run out of things to do. But for those who are looking to take their knitting to the next level with circular needles and don’t know how to start, here’s some of the things you need to know and some of the amazing things you can do once you’ve got a handle on this unique knitting tool.
What Are Circular Needles?
Before you can dig into exactly how to knit with circular needles, it’s helpful to understand, literally, what you’re working with. Circular knitting needles come in the same materials that you find in straight knitting needles: plastic, metal, bamboo, or resin. Two hard tips, shorter than your average straight needle, are connected by a flexible cord which is where your stitches are held as you knit.
Circular needles might be permanently fixed to the cord or they can be removed as part of an interchangeable system. In an interchangeable circular needle system, the tips can be removed from the cord and replaced with larger or smaller needles depending on what the pattern calls for. These needles commonly come in all the US sizes up to 15 with interchangeable circular needle kits usually running from size three to 15.
When Do I Use Them?
This specific type of knitting needle is good for large or heavy projects that will be knitted flat like a shawl or Afghan. You might also turn to circular needles when knitting in a pattern where each row has too many stitches to hold on a straight needle even if it’s long. For any projects that require knitting in a tube like a hat or turban headband, you’ll want to use these needles. For hats specifically, you’re likely looking at using a 16” circular needle since it’s often used for knitting in the round.
Knitting in the round, as it’s called when using this type of knitting needles, means that you are always knitting on either the right side (or the front) of your fabric at all times. As a result, basic pattern stitches will have to be altered in order to avoid mistakes. The Stockinette Stitch is popular for circular knitting and it’s a good option because it only requires you to knit every row. To make Reverse Stockinette, you purl every row and for making the Garter Stitch you don’t knit every row, you knit one row and purl one row.
If you’re following a pattern, you’ll have clear directions on how to knit and what stitches to use when working on your circular needles, so don’t worry about knowing all the modifications before picking up your circular needles. They’re not really that intimidating and they can help you to complete projects you didn’t think you were capable of making.