Circular knitting or knitting in the round, is
a form of
knitting that creates a
seamless tube. Originally, circular knitting was done using
a set of four or five double pointed needles. Later a circular
needle was invented; the circular needle looks like two
standard knitting needles connected by a cable between them.
Machines also do circular knitting; these use individual
latch-hook needles to make each stitch in a round frame.
Many types of sweaters are traditionally knit in the round;
Norwegian ski sweaters are knit this way. Even cardigans--the
knitter makes a Nowegian-style pullover and then the knitting
is stitched with a machine to prevent unravelling. The sweater
is then cut down the front to open the cardigan up. A band
for buttons is added by knitting or sewing on a tightly
knitted band, often embellished with woven braid. Icelandic
sweaters are also done in the round, typically. Socks are
the garments most often knit in the round; double-pointed
needles, with their ability to hold a smaller circumference
of stitches, are still typically used.
When knitting on circular needles or double points, the
knitting is cast on and the circle of stitches is joined.
Knitting is worked in rounds in a spiral.
How to knit on four or five double pointed needles:
1. Cast on stitches on THREE or FOUR needles. Three supports
your knitting on a triangle, four makes a square "tube"
as you work. The knitting will be round, however, when you
2. Divide the stitches equally over the needles and knit
a round. To close the circle, knit the first stitch with
the working yarn from the last stitch--and a nice trick
is to use the tail of the cast on, and knit it with the
first stitch. This pulls the knittng in tighter to avoid
causing a gap. Keep the last and first needle as close together
as possible. Make sure the knitted stitch is tight, by keeping
it close to the last needle. This also avoids a gap, though
any gap can be closed by a discreet stitch after you finish
the article. Again, the tail of the cast on is helpful;
stitch one or two small stitches with it through the gap
3. Continue to work rounds, using the one empty needles
to knit off and keeping the stitches evenly divided. Hold
the two working needles as usual, and drop the other needles
to the back of the work when not in use. Believe it or not,
the stitches won't fall off the needles.
How to knit with a circular needle:
1. Choose a circular length that is appropriate for the
project you are knitting. If the needles is too short, the
knitting will bunch up. If too long, the ends of the knitting
will not meet. Generall, a hat or turtleneck is worked on
a 16" circular. A sweater body is normally worked on
a 29" long circular, until decreasing for the yoke
or neck, when a shorter (22" or 16") needle is
required. For some small work, such as cuffs, there are
11" needles but most knitters resort to a set of double
points (4 or 5 needles.)
2. Cast on the required number of stitches. Place a marker
on the right needle, next to the last cast-on stitch. This
is important to mark the beginning of a round. Use a stitch
marker, a circle of yarn, a coil-less safety pin or a rubber
o-ring for a marker. It should slide easily over the needle.
3. Make sure all the bottoms of the cast-on stitches
are facing downwards. If you have a twist, you end up with
a real problem. This is the trickiest part of circular knitting,
for the cast-on stitches want to rotate around the needle
cable. Before you join, run your hand around and orient
the stitches so that the loops are up and the knot-like
cast-on is downwards. Then carefully knit your first stitch
and check again. This cannot be corrected without ripping
all the way down later on, so check and check again.
4. Stick the right needle into the first cast-on stitch
on the left needle. Knit a stitch. Pull yarn after the first
stitch (or two) to tighten the inevitable gap in the join.
5. Continue to knit around (right needle goes into stitch
on left needle) until you reach the marker. Now, one round
is completed. Slip the marker back to the right needle and
continue on to the second round, just as you worked the
first. Each round is equivalent to one row in flat knitting.