How To Join Knitting In The Round With Circular Knitting Needles

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In this blog post, we will learn everything about how to join knitting in the round with circular needles. 

If you want to move away from the straight needles for a project then you need to learn how to knit in the round.

How to join knitting in the round

What Is Flat And Circular Knitting?

Flat knitting and circular knitting are two different methods used in creating knitted fabrics.

  1. Flat Knitting: Flat knitting is a traditional method where the fabric is worked in rows back and forth. The knitting needles are used to create the fabric in a horizontal direction. When knitting flat, you knit one row, turn the work, and purl back the next row (or vice versa, depending on the stitch pattern). This creates a rectangular or square-shaped piece of fabric with distinct edges. Examples of flat-knitted items include scarves, blankets, and sweater panels.
  2. Circular Knitting: Circular knitting involves working in a continuous round or tube. Instead of turning the work at the end of each row, the stitches are joined to form a seamless loop. Circular knitting is typically done using circular knitting needles or double-pointed needles. It allows you to create a cylindrical or tubular shape, such as hats, socks, and sleeves, without the need for seams. Circular knitting is also used for creating flat pieces like circular shawls or cowls.

Circular knitting offers several advantages over flat knitting.

  • It eliminates the need for seaming, making the finished item more seamless and professional-looking.
  • It is also faster since there is no turning of the work, and you can simply keep knitting in a continuous spiral.
  • Additionally, circular knitting allows for the easy incorporation of colorwork and different stitch patterns.

Both flat knitting and circular knitting have their uses, and the choice between the two depends on the desired shape, construction, and design of the knitted item.

knitting on circular needles
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Always working on the right side

Joining knitting in the round has several benefits for new knitters and advanced ones like seamless construction, and efficiency you don’t need to turn from the wrong side to the right side of the work all the time like you do in flat knitting. 

Moreover, by working in the round with circulars, you consistently knit or purl every stitch on the right side of the fabric. 

This can result in more even tension throughout your project compared to alternating between knitting and purling rows in flat knitting with straight needles.

Plus many stitch patterns, such as cables, textured stitches, and colorwork, are easier to execute and maintain when knitting in the round with circular needles.

This is because you are always working on the right side of the fabric, allowing you to follow the pattern without needing to reverse or adjust a lot of stitches.

You can create tubes, cylinders, or round shapes, allowing for the construction of items like hats, socks, mittens, and more.

knitting in the round with circular nedles

Is Knitting In The Round Easier?

Many knitters find knitting in the round to be easier than flat knitting, while others may have a preference for one method over the other.

The perceived ease can vary depending on individual preferences and the specific project.

Here are some reasons why knitting in the round may be considered easier by many knitters:

  1. No need to purl: When knitting in the round, you typically only need to knit stitches, avoiding the need to purl. Some beginners find purling to be more challenging or slower than knitting, so eliminating it can make the process feel simpler.
  2. No turning of work: Unlike flat knitting, where you need to turn the work at the end of each row, knitting in the round allows for continuous knitting in a circular motion. This eliminates the need to handle and rearrange your knitting, making it a more fluid and straightforward process.
  3. Seamless construction: Knitting in the round creates a seamless tube or cylindrical shape, which can be advantageous for certain projects. It eliminates the need for seaming, which can be tricky and time-consuming for beginners. Seamless construction also provides a cleaner and more polished finished look.
  4. Easy colorwork: When working on projects with multiple colors or stranded colorwork (such as Fair Isle or intarsia), knitting in the round simplifies the process. With circular knitting, the right side of the work is always facing you, allowing you to see and manage the color changes more easily.

However, it’s important to note that knitting in the round also comes with its own challenges.

For example, working on small circumference projects like socks or sleeves using double-pointed needles can be fiddly for some knitters.

Additionally, certain stitch patterns or designs may be more suitable for flat knitting.

Ultimately, whether knitting in the round is easier or not depends on your personal preferences, the specific project, and your level of experience.

It’s worth experimenting with both methods to see which one feels more comfortable and suits your knitting goals.

View the tutorial on my YouTube channel

How Do You Join Knitting In The Round Without Twisting?

To join knitting in the round without twisting, follow these steps:

  1. Cast on your stitches: Start by casting on the required number of stitches onto your circular needles. Make sure that all the stitches are facing the same direction and are not twisted.
  2. Arrange the stitches: Hold the cast-on edge and make sure all the stitches are distributed evenly around the circular needles. Take care not to twist any stitches during this step.
  3. Place a marker: Slip a stitch marker onto the right-hand needle to mark the beginning of the round. This will help you keep track of where each round starts and ends.
  4. Start knitting: With the working yarn attached, begin knitting the first stitch on the left-hand needle. Make sure you are knitting into the first stitch of the cast-on edge, not accidentally twisting it.
  5. Check for twisting: As you knit the first round, keep an eye on your work and ensure that the stitches are not twisted around the needle. If you notice any twists, stop knitting and carefully untwist them before continuing.
  6. Continue knitting in the round: Once you have confirmed that the stitches are not twisted, continue knitting in a continuous spiral. Each time you come back to the marker, it indicates the start of a new round.

By paying close attention during the initial rounds and checking for any twists, you can ensure that your knitting in the round remains untwisted.

Taking the time to adjust and correct any twists early on will save you from having to undo your work later.

With practice, you’ll become more familiar with identifying and preventing twists, making it easier to join your knitting in the round smoothly.

woman knitting in the round

How To Seamless Join Knitting In The Round

To join knitting in the round using circular knitting needles, follow these steps:

  1. Cast on stitches: Begin by casting on the required number of stitches for your project onto the circular needle. Make sure the stitches are evenly distributed along the needle’s cable, with the first cast-on stitch being at the needle’s right side.
  2. Check for twists: Before joining, ensure that your cast-on stitches are not twisted around the needle. The working yarn should be on the right side of the first stitch.
  3. Joining: Hold the circular needle with the working yarn in your right hand and the free needle tip in your left hand. Insert the free needle tip into the first stitch on the right-hand needle, knitting or purling it as indicated by your pattern.
  4. Create the first stitch: Knit or purl the first stitch of the round, depending on your stitch pattern and the instructions of your pattern. This connects the ends of your cast-on row and joins the knitting in the round.
  5. Continue knitting in the round: Once the first stitch is completed, you can continue working in the round. Follow your pattern instructions, knitting or purling each stitch as required, and work your way around the circular needle.
  6. Place markers (optional): If desired, place a stitch marker to indicate the beginning of the round. The marker is the easiest way to keep track of your progress and identify the start of each new round.
  7. Cable transition: As you work, you will gradually shift your stitches along the circular needle’s flexible cord. When the working stitches become tight on the needle, carefully push the stitches onto the needle tip, allowing the flexible cable to carry the weight of the work. Slide the stitches along the cable as needed to continue working in the round.
  8. Repeat: Continue knitting in the round, following your pattern instructions, until your project is complete.

Remember to maintain a consistent tension and avoid twisting the stitches as you work in the round. 

Pay attention to the working yarn, ensuring it is at the back of the work, and follow your pattern instructions for stitch patterns, shaping, and any other design elements.

By using this technique of slipping the first stitch and tightening the working yarn, you can eliminate the small gaps that often form when joining knitting in the round. 

This results in an invisible join between the beginning and end of the round.

By joining knitting in the round with circular knitting needles, you can create seamless tubes, such as hats, cowls, or sleeves, without the need for seaming.

circular knitting needles

Using A Stitch Marker

One thing that really helps you to see where your round begins and ends is using a stitch marker.

In most patterns, it will say to ‘pm and join in the round’.

PM stands for place marker and this is quite important to do when you are working in the round.

Place a stitch marker on the right-hand needle before you start to knit, but after you have made the join if you are crossing stitches.

This marks the end of the row, which will help you to know where you are at in your pattern.

It is better to have closed stitch markers, as the open ones can fall off easily.

You can move the stitch marker up every few inches so that you can see where your rows begin and end.

adding a stitch marker to your knitting

How To Join Knitting In The Round With Double-Pointed Needles?

To join knitting in the round using double-pointed needles (DPNs), follow these steps:

  1. Cast on stitches: Begin by casting on the required number of stitches for your project onto one of the DPNs. Divide the stitches evenly among three or four DPNs, depending on the number of stitches and your personal preference.
  2. Distribute stitches: Slide the stitches from the first DPN onto the other needles, ensuring an equal number of stitches on each needle. Hold the needles in a triangle shape, with the empty needle in your right hand.
  3. Check for twists: Before joining, make sure your cast-on stitches are not twisted around the needles. The working yarn should be on the right side of the first stitch.
  4. Joining: Hold the DPNs with the working yarn in your right hand and the free needle tip in your left hand. Insert the free needle tip into the first stitch on the right-hand needle, knitting or purling it as indicated by your pattern.
  5. Create the first stitch: Knit or purl the first stitch of the round, depending on your stitch pattern and the instructions of your pattern. This connects the ends of your cast-on row and joins the knitting in the round.
  6. Continue knitting in the round: Once the first stitch is completed, you can continue working in the round. Follow your knitting pattern instructions, knitting or purling each stitch on each DPN as required.
  7. Needle transition: As you work, the DPN with the completed stitches will become the right-hand needle, and the empty needle will become the left-hand needle. Continue knitting across each needle, always using the right needle to work the stitches.
  8. Place markers (optional): If desired, place a stitch marker to indicate the beginning of the round. This marker will help you keep track of your progress and identify the end of the row and the start of each new one.

Remember to maintain consistent tension and avoid twisting the stitches as you work with DPNs.

Pay attention to the working yarn, ensuring it is at the back of the work, and keep track of your pattern instructions for stitch patterns, shaping, and any other design elements.

By joining knitting in the round with double-pointed needles, you can create projects such as socks, gloves, or small circular items with ease.

What Is The Magic Loop Method?

The magic loop technique is a useful method for knitting small projects in the round using a long circular needle, providing flexibility and convenience.

If you have already been knitting in the round on large projects like scarves or sweaters or a blanket, you know how easy the magic loop method can be.

But when you want to make something smaller, with a small diameter like sweater sleeves, or mittens, or closing the top of a chunky hat, or socks, you may have to use this method.

Check out this post to learn everything about the magic loop technique including a video tutorial and a photo tutorial. – Magic loop knitting | step by step

Magic Loop Step 2

Knitting In The Round (How To Join In The Round)

Tips and a recap;

Knitting with circular needles is not exactly the same as using straight needles, some people get confused about how to join the knitting in the round.

  • You need to join the working yarn in the work so it is one continuous circle.
  • Hold the needle where the cast on began in your left hand and hold the other needle in your right hand.
  • Begin knitting with the working yarn, making sure you are connecting the yarn to the beginning and creating a circle.
  • You can use double-pointed needles or circulars (with a flexible cable).
  • You can buy a set of double-pointed needles or a set of interchangeable needles.
  • For knitting small projects with a small circumference like mittens or socks, you can use the magic loop method. (View tutorial – Magic loop knitting | step by step)
  • For items knit in the round, a stretchy cast-on method can be used.

If you are a new knitter and interested in learning more about the knitting basics, please visit this post – Knitting Lessons

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