Casting a Circle

How do you like to knit in the round?  I have now tried using the double pointed needles method, Magic Loop Method, and the basic circular needle method.   So today I’m going to break down my experiences with these approaches.

Double Pointed Needle (DPN)

This image was taken from WEBS yarn store blog featuring the Knitter’s Pride brand of cubic needles.dpn
There are many reasons to be able to knit with DPN’s.  If you are making a project in the round that requires decrease rows, this is an important skill.  If you were simply doing a cowl that maintains the same measurements throughout the project you could easily use circular needles in the round from beginning to end.  However, if you are making a hat, once you begin decreasing your stitches to taper your hat to a close, you will eventually have too few stitches to continue in that method.  At that point you will need to slip your stitches onto dpn’s dividing them as evenly as possible between 3 needles (some divide between 4) and using an additional needle to work the stitches.  However, one of the issues of knitting with dpn’s is the problem of laddering:


This can actually be a very cool design element when done intentionally.  Otherwise it is an annoying disruption in an otherwise lovely pattern.

The most basic approach to dealing with this is, when working the first two stitches of each needle, to make sure you pull them snug before continuing on.

Then there is the Magic Loop Method.

This is a short, but clearly explained video on how to do Magic Loop by Very Pink.

This is the method I learned most recently while knitting my Mercury Socks as described in For the Journey.  Since I’m a novice at this particular approach I will say that I’m glad I know how to do it, but it’s not my favorite way at this moment in time.  I think the problem for me may be that I learned to do this while knitting a sock, a smaller project, using a circular needle with a very long cable.  So doing this while trying to keep the excess needle out of my way was kind of “fiddley” for me and would get on my nerves.  Having said that, as is mentioned in the video above, it would be a good method to know for a larger tube such as sleeves or cowls, especially if you didn’t have the precise size of circular needles on hand and you don’t feel like dropping the cash for some new ones.  I hate getting excited about starting a project and finding out something small is preventing me from beginning.  This would be a good way to avoid that.

This method has less tendency to ladder since there are fewer joins to think about, but as with the dpns you still need to make sure the first two stitches are snugged up to avoid it.  With the Mercury Sock project I completed, I still had a small amount of laddering, mostly due to this being my first time using this method.  Fortunately, it was all at the bottom of the socks.  Since I will be keeping this pair for myself, no harm, no foul.  They turned out beautifully otherwise and I love them.teaandyarn

When I have enough socks knit up (working on a new pair now) I will do a post doing a “Sock Strut” fashion show to showcase my growing collection of hand knit socks.

Another plus to this method is that you don’t need to switch to dpns even when decreasing.  That alone would be reason enough for some folks to learn this method.

As I said, I’m definitely glad I learned to do this and as I become more proficient at it, it may win me over completely.

Finally there is the basic circular needle method of knitting in the round. Since this is my personal favorite, I saved the best for last.


This image comes from Fiber Flux Blog  where Jennifer discusses this method of knitting in the round.

When I learned how to knit in the round using this method,  it opened a whole new world of possibilities for me.  As I discussed in my first post Knitting In the Apocalypse,  knitting was always a kind of therapy/relaxation for me.  But I had few other knitters around to help me gain true skill.  So up until that point there had been endless piles of scarves and blankets.

But I was able to join a knitting group that met at a local Starbucks of the town to where I would eventually relocate.  They were very generous and welcoming and one of them starbucks-coffee-cuptaught me how to do this.  Learning to knit in the round gave me hats, cowls, and eventually sleeves for sweaters.  Once I learned the basics of it, it was just as therapeutic, but way more impressive in terms of what I could create.

I like this method so much that recently I purchased a pair of 9 inch circular needles so I could use them for sock knitting.  It took me a bit of time to adjust to working in the round on such a small cable length, but once I got the hang of it, I was sold.  I think this will be my go-to method for sock knitting for now.

So what is your favorite way of making yarny magick?  Please leave comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

I have two wands and string and muttering I make beautiful things,





12 thoughts on “Casting a Circle

  1. I knit my socks using DPNs. Now that I’m used to using them, I quite like them. Plus, I think it looks impressive having so many needles. Haha! I spread my stitches over 4 needles because I find that helps prevent the laddering issue.

    I’m also not a big fan of the magic loop method. I had to use it a few years back. I was in Barbados and was doing a test knit of a sweater. When I got to the sleeves, I discovered I had forgotten to bring my DPNs. So I HAD to learn the magic loop method. Like you said, I’m glad I know it, but it’s not my go-to method for knitting in the round.

    Have you ever tried knitting in the round with TWO circular needles? I’ve only done it once. I was test knitting a hat that was constructed in 3 pieces: brim, body, top. The pattern for the top of the hat called for using the 2 circular needle method. It was interesting and a great way to make a flat, round disc that I then seamed onto the body of the hat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I haven’t tried that method yet. I will add that to my “to learn” list of knitting techniques. I happen to have 2 pair of 9 inch circular needles in size one. I wonder if that would be a reasonable length for some sort of experiment. Thanks for the idea!. What are you knitting these days?


      1. Lol, I understand languishing projects. I’ve never been much of a shawl wearer but lately there have such interesting patterns of these out I’ve been hooked. I’m about halfway done wit a third shawl and am deciding on a pattern for a fourth. I’m between I’m trying to become a skilled sock knitter. Once I find my comfort zone with heels I think I’ll be there😉


      2. I think for me the trick with shawls was finding a shape that I liked. I don’t like triangular shawls. But I do LOVE asymmetrical triangles (check out or oddly shaped crescents (I LOVE my Color Affection

        I started really knitting shawls because I am a yarn snob and I love expensive, beautiful yarns. But I can’t afford to buy sweater quantities of them, and I don’t want to hide such gorgeous yarn in my shoes. So I started knitting shawls.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree on the asymmetrical style. I think that is what appeals to me the most, it lends itself to different and interesting ways to wear it. And I really agree with your line of thinking in choosing projects. I’m quickly turning into a yarn snob myself. Once I started treating myself with with the nicer quality yarns it was hard to get anything else, but my budget forbids the amount of yarn I’d LIKE to get. And hiding beautiful yarn in shoes does seem a shame. I heard about a shawl in the Yarns at Yin Hoo Podcast today based on the Fibonacci sequence that I’m curious about, but I’m still trying to track down the pattern. Of the two patterns you linked me to, I really like the Nurmilintu. I’m also considering the Tailwind shawl that has been so popular.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve used magic loop for two socks at a time and DPNs for one sock at a time. With DPNs, I avoid ladders entirely by knitting one stitch from the next needle. For example, divide 60 stitches on four needles (15 each); knit the 15 on needle 1, knit 1 from needle 2 onto needle 1; needle 1 now has 16 stitches and needle 2 has 14. Knit all stitches on needle 2 and knit 1 stitch from needle 3 onto needle 2; and so on all the way around. As long as I mark my beginning point, I never lose track of my stitch count or my pattern even though the stitches rotate around the needles one stitch at a time. When I reach the toe shaping/Kitchener stitch bit, I rearrange the stitches on the needles as necessary to make the shaping and seaming come out right. Good for toe-up socks too, once you get a few rows past those tricky cast-ons. This works best with charted patterns — a written pattern that is dependent on certain stitches being on certain needles will be too confusing to keep track of as the stitches shift.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this. I’ve always used 3 needles when using DPNs but someone else mentioned that using 4 decreases laddering. I’ll have to try that. I like exploring a variety of techniques to see what works best. There is a lot of sock knitting in my future. So I will try this soon. What are you working on these days?


      1. Plugging away at a pair of socks for my mother. They’ll be finished soon, perhaps even tonight. And then I can make something other than socks (5 pair in a row is quite enough for now, TYVM). Probably one of those two-color garter-stitch shawls that are so popular right now.

        Liked by 1 person

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