Knitting Flat With Circular Needles (+ Video Tutorial)


Knitting flat with circular needles – In this post, you will learn why this is so great plus a photo and video tutorial.

Sometimes projects may need you to work flat – knitting back and forth like you would with straight needles, but using circular knitting needles instead.

There are so many great ways to use your circular knitting needles, from working on projects that have a huge number of stitches, to when you don’t have a particular size knitting needle that is straight.

Knitting flat with circular needles

Make It Easier On Yourself

If you have large projects like a huge chunky cable knit blanket pattern or a shawl, you will probably find it easier to work on circular needles.

When your project grows width-wise, it’s so much easier to accommodate all of those stitches on circulars, rather than struggling to keep them all on straight needles.

Big projects can also become very heavy and working with the interchangeable needles can help to take some of that weight.

The cable will hold the weight, which makes it easier for it to lay on you while you work.

Related Post: The Sea Glass Shawl Knitting Pattern

Knitting flat with circular needles
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More Great Reasons To Use Circulars To Knit Flat

I use circulars to knit flat (back and forth) all of the time, here are some reasons why:

  • I like how it takes the weight of the project that uses bulky or super bulky yarn (if the total number of stitches is a lot). There is no need to hold the weight of the entire blanket on your needles. 
  • I find it easier on my arms, wrists, and hands for the movement and I have less strain. It will make a massive difference, especially on larger projects like baby blankets. The weight of the work will lay on the flexible cable and not on your arms. 
  • It’s great for knitting shawls or sweater pieces so you can easily try them out on yourself or your tailor’s dummy – to see if it fits, etc.
  • Sometimes I don’t have straight knitting needles in various sizes but have that size in my circulars so use those instead.
  • You can easily store a project on a set of circular needles and the cable length, is perfect for traveling with projects. And if you want to use your needles you can buy a pair of cable stoppers, to keep your stitches safe. 

As you can see in the photo below of the dog sweater knit on straight needles, I needed the circulars to hold stitches while I worked on other sections of the sweater.

Related Post: Dog Sweater Knitting Pattern {Straight Needles}

dog sweater on the needles

Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles

I use my set of interchangeable circular needles for my projects; they are really easy to work with and allow you to swap needle sizes easily.

I have two sets, (a different size needle tip and the flexible cord is included in a range of sizes), one is made from wood – Knit pro Symfonie and the other are Knit Pro Zing (also known as Knitters Pride in the US).

Circular needles come in different sizes and a variety of materials, plastic, bamboo, wood, and stainless steel. 

Both are easy to work with, but for some projects, I much prefer the Zings with different cord lengths and a variety of sizes, as they allow me to have a smoother workflow.

Some people also like to use DPNs (double-pointed needles) they are a type of needle for working in the round, but these are not good for flat projects.

Knit pro zing set
Knit Pro Zing Interchangeable Circular Needle Set

Great For Knitting On The Go

Using circulars are also great for knitting flat when you don’t have a lot of space, for example, when you travel.

The circulars can make your project easier to carry and pack, plus if you work in the car or on a train you will be less likely to bump into anyone sitting next to you!

It will also be less likely that a needle will fall from your hands or that you will have trouble with stitches falling off the ends of the needles.

This is because when you are done, you can slide the stitches further onto the cable, so they will not fall off.

sea glass shawl pattern

So How Do You Do It?

Working with circular knitting needles while knitting flat is the same as working with straight needles.

You knit back and forth – knitting along one side, then when you are done, turn the work to continue knitting the other side.

You will not join in the round and in the pattern if it suggests using circulars to knit flat, it will normally say – you do not join in the round.

When you start using circulars to knit flat, you will see how easy and comfortable it is and probably (like me) end up using them for all of your projects!

hat on the knitting needles


Take a look at the photo tutorial below or watch the video tutorial over on my YouTube channel here.

For more tutorials please see this related post: Knitting Lessons.

Time needed: 1 day, 1 hour and 10 minutes

Knitting Flat With Circular Needles

  1. Cast on your stitches and insert the needle

    When you have cast on your stitches, insert your needle into the first stitch and knit one row.Knitting flat with circular needles

  2. Knit the row

    You will knit the row just the same as you would knit the row if you were using straight needles. Knitting flat with circular needles

  3. When you finish that row, turn the work

    Then, when you finish that row, turn the work to continue knitting the next row.Knitting flat with circular needles

Circular Needles FAQs

What are circular knitting needles for?

Circular knitting needles are used for projects that require you to knit in the round, joining your stitches to knit and create a seamless item. For example, many hats, mittens, and socks are knit with circular needles.

How do you start a new row with circular needles?    

When using circular needles to knit in the round, you don’t need to start a new row in the traditional sense as you would with straight needles when knitting flat. Circular knitting creates a continuous round, so there is no turning from the right side of the work (rs) to the wrong side (ws).
Instead, you keep working in the same direction, and the “beginning” of your round will move up as you progress.

Are circular needles better for beginners?

I would say no. Circular needles are for the advanced beginner. Most people who are learning how to knit using straight needles, as they have more control when first learning.

How do I choose the right size circular knitting needles?

This will depend on the pattern you want to make. The pattern information will tell you what needle size you need and the yarn/yarn weight needed for the project. I would suggest getting yourself a good set of interchangeable circular knitting needles so that you have a variety of sizes for any project when you need them.

Can you knit straight on circular needles?

Yes! Circular knitting needles are great for knitting flat (back and forth) as well. The long cable is great for holding a large number of stitches on the needle as it can move freely along the cable and take the weight of your project.

Can I knit a blanket with circular needles?

Yes! Circular knitting needles are great for knitting blankets, as they can hold a large number of stitches and also take the weight of your project. You will work back and forth – as though you are knitting with straight needles but it will definitely make it easier for you.

What size circular knitting needles do I need for a blanket?

I would suggest using 40″ (100 cm) for worsted/Aran or bulky/super bulky yarn. This size cable is commonly used for flat-knitting, it’s used for adult cardigans and sweaters as well as shawls or blankets.

Knitting Lessons

Check out the knitting lessons to find more knitting tutorials – Knitting Lessons (With Video Tutorials) 

For example, how to cast-on stitches, how to knit the basic stitches like the garter stitch, the purl stitch, the stockinette stitch, how to knit ribbing, how to make knitting increases and decreases, how to fix knitting mistakes and many many more. 

The majority of the blog posts include a video tutorial to help you along.

Perfect for beginner knitters who want to learn a new technique or experienced knitters who need a refresher. 

More Resources

Have you ever worked flat on circular needles? 

Are you planning to in your next knitting project? 

Let me know in the comments! 

Happy Knitting!

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  1. Hi! I’m a crocheter who wants to knit. I found some of those round needles with the wire connecting them at a second hand store but they have no marking of a size like crochet hooks. How can I tell what size they are?!? Thank you for help!

    1. Hello Tara,
      You may need to get a needle gauge tool – you can buy these from most yarn stores and they have little holes in so you can try your needles to see what size they are.
      I hope that helps!