How to Knit in the Round with Straight Needles

Knitting in the round is an easy way to make items that aren't as well suited for regular, one-point straight needles--hats, shopping bags and socks, for instance. On the other hand, there are projects that are just too small to fit all the way along the length of circular needles, like hats and socks. These projects do better on straight, double-pointed needles. All those points and extra needles can be a little daunting at first, but it's really quite simple.

Things You'll Need

  • Yarn
  • 1 set double-pointed needles (set of at least 4)
  • Scissors
  • yarn needle

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How to Knit in the Round with Straight Needles

Cast on to 1 needle as usual. This is the best (and recommended only) time to use a rubber temporary needle end cover so that your stitches don't slip off the back point while you're casting on at the front point.

Distribute your stitches more or less evenly among 3 needles. Make absolutely certain that the stitches are not twisted or you will have to start over. Twisted stitches in the round never resolve themselves as they do on basic needles. Your work will be created with a twist in it that cannot be fixed.

Knit as usual. Pick up your 4th needle and knit to the end of the row plus a stitch or two. Take that now-empty needle and the next needle with stitches on it and repeat.

Be aware of stitch changes. In the round, garter stitch (knitting all the time) turns into stockinette stitch. Stockinette stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row) turns into garter stitch.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because you will be working with at least 4 needles (compared to 2 regular needles or 1 circular needle), start by sitting at a table. You can rest the needles you're not using on the table's surface until you get used to handling so many needles at once.
  • Always knit 1 or 2 stitches from the next needle when you finish the needle you're working on. This keeps your knitting from developing visible "seams" where the tension was altered as you switched from 1 needle to the next.
  • Because of the "stopper" ends of regular 1-point straight needles, there is really no way to use them to knit in the round.
  • Try to avoid using the rubber temporary needle ends as much as possible. Their weight can make your knitting uneven.
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