How to Use Circular Knitting Needles

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If you’re new to knitting, you may not have used circular knitting needles yet, and they might even intimidate you. No worries! Knitting with circular needles is really very easy, and you might find you enjoy knitting with them more than with straight needles.

Circular knitting needles are made up of two needle points, joined by a flexible cable. You can knit back and forth on them, just like straight needles, if you want to. The benefit is that you can make a much larger project on circular needles, because the cables joining them come in wide variety of lengths. So, if you’re knitting a big project like an afghan or blanket, circular needles are your best choice.

You can also use short circular needles to make projects in the round, without the hassle of using double pointed needles. If you’re knitting a hat, or even some sock patterns, you simply cast on your stitches, and join them in the round, knitting continuously instead of back and forth. Many people find using circular needles is much easier than using a set of double pointed needles.

To join your stitches in the round, cast on your required amount of stitches. When you reach the right number, bring the other end of the needle around (where you started casting on), and knit (or purl, according to your pattern), into that first cast on stitch, joining your work in a circle. To make sure your stitch is tight and doesn’t leave a gap where you join, pick up the tail from your first cast on, and hold it together with your strand of working yarn. Knit the first two or three stitches with this double strand to keep the work tight without leaving a hole. Then drop the tail end and continue knitting as usual with your working strand of yarn.

To choose the right circular needles, look for needles that are smooth and secure in the base that attaches them to the cable. Needles with gaps or roughness will catch on your yarn and snag it when you’re trying to knit. Look for smooth flexible cables that join your needles without gaps or roughness, too. Many cables are made out of stiff plastic that kinks and does not straighten out, and this can lead to a hassle when you’re knitting. Look for pliable plastic that doesn’t hold a kink for the best results.

Circular knitting needles come in a wide variety of sizes and types. You can find them in wood, bamboo, metal, and plastic. It depends on your personal preference which one is right for you, so try several styles before you decide on the right circular knitting needles for you.

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