By Claudia Ostrop
There are a lot of garments that are naturally round and are knitted in the round. With socks, hats or gloves, hardly anyone would think of knitting them in rows and then sewing them together.
For many other pieces, knitting in the round is simply much more practical because there are no annoying seams and you can do without the often unpopular purl stitches in the back rows. While you can easily knit large pieces with a circular needle, small projects with few stitches can often only be knitted with double pointed needles. Is that really so?
Knitting with Double Pointed Needles
Regular circular needles are available from a length of 16” (40 cm). This is, of course, too long to use for knitting socks or the top of a hat. You can knit even the smallest sizes with double pointed needles, but we know that many of you are not fans of juggling five individual needles. It's pretty fiddly, and the strands of yarn tend to get tangled in the different needle points. Sometimes quite unexpectedly you can accidentally pull out a needle or it slips out of the mesh without being noticed. It can also happen that unsightly "ladders" of baggy stitches form when switching between the needles. They usually happen when the last stitch of a needle and the first stitch of the next needle are not knitted tightly enough. Of course, that's not to say that knitting with DPN´s is impossible - you just have to like it. And if you are one of those who are at war with the "needle-Mikado", here is a solution:
The Magic Loop Technique – Knitting in the Round without DPN´s
Today we want to show you how to knit in the round using the Magic Loop method.
With the magic loop technique you can work in the round with a circular needle avoiding the use of double pointed needles. You can knit socks, sleeves, hats, and gloves, all without DPN´s. We'll explain step by step how it works. And because it is often easier to understand it by watching someone do it, here is our video tutorial for circular knitting with the Magic Loop.
- Cast on the required number of stitches on a long circular knitting needle. At the beginning it is best to use 23” (80 cm) long needle with a flexible cord. This technique can be a little bit tricky if the cord is too short.
- Slide all the cast-on stitches onto the cord of the circular knitting needle.
- Separate the stitches in half and pull out the cord to form a loop. Because you are handling the stitches out of place, they will pull apart. This is not a problem. When knitting they will fall back into place and they will even out.
- Slide half of the stitches without the working yarn onto the nearest needle point, from now on this is the left needle.
- Leave the other half of the stitches, the one with the starting and working strand of yarn, on the cord and knit the stitches on the left needle with the empty - right - needle point. When connecting in the round, make sure that the stitches do not twist! You now have two needle cord loops: one on the right and one on the left.
- When the stitches on the left needle have been knitted, slide the stitches on the cord onto the left needle tip and pull out the right needle tip. Be careful not to go in the wrong direction: The previously knitted stitches should now be on the cord!
- Work like this round for round: half of the stitches are knitted while the other half rest on the cord. The whole thing can be a bit fidgety on the first few rounds, but once you've knitted a piece it should become easier.
If after taking a break from knitting you are not sure which needle tip has to be pulled out, always remember to pull out the tip point where the working strand of yarn is!
This might sound complicated now, but it isn't at all. Just try it out, and you will see that the Magic Loop is no rocket science, but a very magical tool! All you need is practice! So, get started right away, with this beautiful pattern of the Manto hat we are including here!
How Do You Knit a Hat with Circular Needles? - Free Hat Pattern!
Manto is a classic hat with a wide ribbed brim that can be turned up.
The pattern is actually written for short circular needles and double pointed needles - but we can easily ignore that here!
There are two possibilities:
On the one hand, you can knit the entire hat with a long circular needle and use the magic loop method from the cast on.
On the other hand, you can also start with a short needle and use it to knit the hat “normally” in the round until you get to the decreases. And instead of switching to double pointed needles, switch to a long circular needle: Divide the stitches in the middle through the loop of the needle cord, knit with Magic Loop and make the decreases in the process.
You only need two stitch markers to be able to do the decreases evenly: With double pointed needles you would have to have 24 stitches on each DPN needle. Instead, with Magic Loop, divide the work into 2 x 48 stitches. Simply put a stitch marker in the middle of each of the 48 stitches and you will mark the transition that you would have between two DPN´s. Like this, you can do the decreases quite easily without having to do too much counting.