Knitting in the Round with Circular Needles – My Guide To This Method

By Jodie Morgan

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Knitting in the round is a great skill to have. Use circular needles to knit in the round and make cowls, hats, or socks. Circular needles make it possible to knit a garment with a circumference, like the knitted accessories mentioned above. Learn how to knit in the round on circular needles.

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Table Of Contents

I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on May 28, 2023.

What Is Knitting In The Round?

When you do this, you are creating a neat, seamless knitted tube. Rounds are like rows in flat knitting. There is no turning in circular knitting like there is in flat knitting.

Instead, when you reach the end of the round (you mark the end of the round with a stitch marker), you knit into the stitch after the marked one and keep doing that.

You continue knitting the stitches onto the right-hand needle, around and around, until you finish your project.

This also means you’re knitting on the right side of the fabric. There is no working on the wrong side in circular knitting. Stitch patterns tend to look different when you use circular needles as opposed to straight needles.

For example, to create a stockinette stitch in circular knitting, you knit every row, not purl one/knit one. There’s less sewing of seams than flat pieces sewed together. For Garter Stitch, you knit one row, purl one row.

For Reverse Stockinette, purl every row.

You can make an infinity scarf, a shawl, a sweater, a mitten/glove or two, a gauge swatch, or anything else! Use any yarn weight.

How Do You Knit In The Round?

Right-handed instructions:

Step 1 Casting on. – The first step is casting on stitches onto your needle tip. Cast on stitches like you would with straight needles. Make sure you are casting on to the right needle. Your pattern will tell you how many stitches to cast on.

Step 2 No twisting allowed! – Now, this is an essential step, so don’t skip over this! Make sure your stitches aren’t twisted. What does that mean?

It means that you need to look at your stitches and ensure the little bumps under your stitches on your needle tip are all facing in the same direction, inwards.

What happens if you do twist it? You’re in big trouble. If you’re knitting a cowl or similar, it won’t be nice and smooth, but there will be a big twist on the front! You don’t want that. If you realize it’s twisted, you’ll have to rip it out.

So remember, no twisting is allowed!

Step 3 Join in the round. – Mark the beginning and end of the round, and join. Continue with your pattern.

Davina from Sheep & Stitch has an excellent tutorial about knitting in the round for beginners. Davina has other video tutorials great for beginner knitters.

How to Knit on Circular Needles in 5 Easy Steps

Studio Knit has an enjoyable and quick video on how to Knit on Circular Needles for visual learners. With Kristen’s recommendations, you’ll create your first project in no time! She’s a fabulous knitter.

Knitters new to this method have an issue with joining the round, this info helps.

Casting Off

Casting off knitting is different depending on if you’re knitting flat or in the round. When knitting flat, you cast off by knitting two stitches, then passing the first stitch over the second. Repeat that down the row. Simple and straightforward.

Knitting in the round, though, you have live stitches on your needle that form a ring. You don’t want to close up that ring completely or you’ll have trouble getting your work off the needles! So you knit two stitches together, knit a stitch, pass the first stitch over -then repeat that around the ring.

This draws the top closed while still keeping it open enough to remove from the needles. A small but important difference to keep in mind!

For more, see my detailed tutorial linked above.

Marking The End

  • This step makes sure you don’t lose the beginning and end on your needle tips. In circular knitting, the beginning is also the end!
  • You can use anything small and circular for a marker. You could use an actual stitch marker, a scrap of yarn tied into a loop, or even the colored circle attached to your electric toothbrush.
  • All you have to do now is place a stitch marker onto your right needle (left-hand needle if you’re left-handed), and you are ready to join in the round!

Knitting In The Round Double Pointed Needles

Using dpns instead of circular needles is another way to knit in the round. The method is very similar. You cast on stitches the same. But it’s a bit more difficult as you have more needles to manipulate. A helpful, fun video tutorial for getting started with dpns by Davina from Sheep & Stitch.

Tips For Knitting in the Round

Choose The Right Length For Your Circular Needle

It will tell you which needle length and size to use if you are working from a pattern. If the pattern doesn’t say, you need needles that are slightly smaller than your finished project circumference.

You can’t use needles bigger than the finished circumference because that will end up stretching your project, and it will look all wrong in the end.

How To Create Neat Joins: How Do You Join Knitting In The Round Without A Gap?

When you are joining in the round, keep your tension tight throughout the process. Loose tension will result in untidy, loopy joins on your needle tips. You can try knitting the first stitch when joining with both yarns, the tail, and the working yarn. Just remember to knit that stitch through both loops when you come to it again.

Choosing The Right Double Pointed Needles

Your pattern will tell you how many dpns you need and what size you need.

How To Avoid Laddering

Ladders are the spaces between knit stitches. They are stretched horizontal lines that go from one stitch to the next.

Tip #1. Try blocking. After you finish your project, try blocking it. Move the stitches around the ladder and try to make the ladder go back to normal. Let it dry.

Tip #2. Pull tight! Pull the working yarn tight after the first and second stitch at the start of the round.

When To Change From A Circular Needle To Double Pointed Needles

Let’s say you are knitting a hat. You start knitting with circular needles, but as you start decreasing towards the top of the hat, the stitches don’t fit too well on the needles anymore.

That’s when you change to double-pointed knitting needles. The hat’s circumference gets too small for the circular needles, but it will fit just fine on DPNs. The pattern you’re using will tell you when to switch to double points.

FAQS About Knitting In The Round

Can You Knit In The Round With Straight Needles?

Yes. You can use multiple straight double-pointed needles to knit in the round.

How Do You Knit In The Round With Long Circular Needles?

Knitting with long circular needles is the same as knitting with any circular needles. The only difference is that there will be more stitches so the project can fit onto the needles.

Can You Knit A Circle?

Yes! That’s the whole point of circular needles. Circular needles allow you to knit in a circle and create a tube.

How To Use Fixed Circular Needles For A Blanket

Blankets are a massive labor of love. A large fixed circular needle makes it easier! Holding a large number of stitches for a blanket is easier with these needles.

If you want to knit a chunky blanket with US50 (25mm) circular needles, you’ll notice how quick it knits up. Ryan from RJ Knits has a great video to learn from.

How Do You Knit A Flat Round Circle?

Believe it or not, you can knit a circle. You use double-pointed knitting needles. Here is a video and photo tutorial showing you how to knit a flat circle. 

How To Knit Flat

Knitting flat is excellent when you’re working on massive projects. For example, blankets, throws, and afghans. The cables hold the project bulk. No aching limbs after a long day of knitting! This method is the same as when you knit on straights.

No need to join the round, cast on, and knit. Work from the left to right needle as usual, and switch hands when you reach the end of the row. Continue and repeat as needed.

Knitting In The Round With 2 Double Pointed Needles

You can use two double-pointed needles to create a tube. You can also do this on a circular needle using the magic loop (developed by Sarah Hauschka).

You actually use three needles, but once a round is completed, the stitches sit on two dpns. The thirds needle is a replacement needle. You always end up with one empty needle.

This is essential for all knitters, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced knitter, because you can make so many cute things like baby hats and socks.

How To Undo Stitches In The Round

Here is a helpful video tutorial.

How To Transfer From Straight To Circular Needles

Here’s a tutorial by Judy’s Knitting Tips on Youtube.

How To Keep Knitting From Rolling

Blocking it after you’ve finished straightens it out.

How To Fix Knitting Mistakes In Circular Knitting

Here’s a helpful video tutorial on how to fix mistakes on circulars.

Conclusion

I hope this guide on knitting in the round for beginners helped.

Read Next: Treat yourself (or your good knitter friend) to some fancy needles with my advice here.

Pin For Later

Knitting In The Round Pin

About The Author

Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

Jodie Morgan (Author & Founder)

jodie@knitlikegranny.com | Lives In: Regional Australia

Author: Jodie Morgan is a passionate knitter and blogger with 40+ years of experience currently living in regional Australia. Taught by her mother and wonderful grandmother “Mama”, she fell in love with crafting from a young age. When she’s not knitting, you’ll find her enjoying a cup of coffee with cream, or sharing helpful resources and tips with the online knitting community. Get to know Jodie and the team on our meet the team page.

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Comments

  1. Hello Jodie,
    I have never followed a knitting pattern in the round before.
    When casting on number of stitches required, I know how to connect the first and last two stitches by casting on an extra stitch but am not sure how to continue when reaching wrong side row, staying on right side!
    I learn much better by visual instructions than written but unfortunately, I haven’t found a video that explains my problem.
    Please could you advise?

    Reply
    • Hi Chrissie. Can you tell me the pattern you are following? Once you get going you will be creating a cylinder or tube if you like. With Circular knitting you are knitting around and around without turning your work. So the right side of the fabric is on the outside of the cylinder/tube and the wrong side is on the inside. You are always knitting on the right side of the fabric. There is no working on the wrong side in circular knitting. I’ve written a post about this here
      Cheers Jodie

      Reply

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