If you have been following my blog, you know that I have only been knitting for a little over a year. I have come a long way in a short time, but have avoided things like circular needles, cable knitting, double pointed needles, and the magic loop (whatever that is!) Straight needles and seams have been my best friends in this journey so far! A lot of people think seams look messy, but I personally have no problem with them. Seams are in everything we wear, so I feel like it’s not a big deal to have them in my knitted items as well. Besides, they are hardly noticeable from the outside.
Well a few nights ago, I was feeling ambitious and decided to try circular needles. I bought a pair of them several months ago in hopes that I would be brave enough to try them one day. Knitting with circulars was a very enlightening experience. I watched several YouTube videos, but only one proved to be helpful. With that being said, I’m going to share with you what I learned my first time around. (get it? ;)) Or in other words, the things that I wish the videos had told me! So if you are still a beginner like I am, and have been putting off knitting in the round with circular needles, here are some things you may want to know when you decide to start.
Let’s start with the good news: Casting on and casting off are the same as with straight needles. Hurray! I was worried it would somehow be more complicated, but it was exactly the same as using straight needles. It doesn’t start to get “weird” until after you cast on. I only saw one video where they told me that the needle you would normally hold in your left hand with straight needles, you hold in your right hand with circular needles. In the picture below is what it looks like working with straight needles. Although your right needle is your working needle, mostly everything is connected to your left needle.
When knitting with circular needles you will actually switch your needle (that you used to cast on) to your right hand instead of leaving it in your left hand, and begin working from there. Like I said, only one video told me this, so it makes me wonder if it is absolutely necessary or just a preference. It seems like it would have to be that way for it to work, so that’s what I did and it worked great. You can see in the picture below how everything is connected to the right side.
One thing I found to be important are stitch markers. I never really understood the purpose of these before, and I actually didn’t use them for my first circular needle project. I didn’t use them mainly because I do not have any! But, for the project I’m working on now, I am just using a bobby pin. When using these needles, you are working in rounds instead of rows, so it is really easy to lose your place in terms of where the next round begins. This can be a really big issue when you’re trying to follow a pattern, and also knowing where to start binding off. You put the stitch marker on the beginning stitch of each round. When you’re done knitting the round, your marker will be on your left needle. So you just take it off, switch it to the right, and begin again. I got lucky with my first project, and just happened to count it perfectly. It was really confusing though without a stitch marker.
Now, here is something funny about these needles: Knitting = purling. What? I know right? I sat down and just started knitting with my circular needles only to find out that one side of my work ended up looking purled. Apparently, if you want a garter stitch, you have to alternate between knit and purl for every round. If you want a purl stitch, you knit every round. So basically, it is the exact opposite of straight needles! That was a surprise for sure.
So although that seems really backwards, some more good news is that ribbing is the same as straight needles. For the project I’m doing now, I wanted ribbing on the bottom. Luckily, you just alternate stitches, knit and purl, continuously — just like straight needles!
Lastly, make sure you really pay attention to what size needles you’re buying, because it is a lot more important than straight needles. With straight needles, you can cast on as little or as many stitches as you want, but with circular needles you have to cast on enough stitches to fit all the way around or it isn’t workable. Straight needles come in a large variety of lengths and widths, so just pay attention to what your pattern calls for.
To sum it up, what I have noticed so far is that straight and circular needles are more similar than I realized. There are only a few slight differences, but nothing too crazy. I’m sure I’ll discover more, the more I use them, and the more complicated my projects get. I’ll be sure to keep you updated with everything I learn along the way!
Aren’t they just adorable? They are quick and easy to knit up, they’re functional, and have lots of personality. I can’t wait to gift them out this coming holiday season.