Knitting in the Round with Two Circular Needles

  • 01 of 05

    Beginning to Knit with Two Circular Needles

    Casting on stitches to work in the round on two circular needles.
    I cast on 18 stitches onto one circular needle to prepare for working in the round on two circulars. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Knitting in the round with circular needles or double-pointed needles is the only way to make a seamless knitted tube, ideal for knitting socks, hats, even the bodies and sleeves of sweaters.

    When knitting small circular projects like socks and the tops of hats, most knitters learn to knit using multiple double-pointed needles. But another method of knitting in the round on a small scale that is popular with a lot of knitters is knitting with two circular needles.

    This is a great method to use...MORE when you don't have double-pointed needles of the size you need, or if you just don't like working with double points. It can also be better if you have problems with laddering, but circulars tend to be heavier than double-points, so this method may put more strain on your body.

    Also, it's really helpful to have two pairs of circular needles that do not match when working this method, because it's easier to keep track of what you're doing that way.

    The first step, as with any other kind of knitting, is to cast on the required number of stitches. In the photo, I cast on 18 stitches onto one size 8 US/5 mm circular needle.

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  • 02 of 05

    Arranging the Stitches

    Stitches divided for knitting in the round with two circulars.
    Now 9 stitches are on each needle, pushed down onto the cables. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Just like you would with circular knitting on double-pointed needles, you need to distribute the stitches onto the two circular needles so you can knit in the round.

    This is done by sliding the stitches to the opposite end of the first needle and backing half the stitches off onto the second circular needle, starting with the first cast-on stitch. In my case, that's 9 stitches.

    As with circular knitting on double-pointed needles, you also want the number of stitches on each needle to be as...MORE close to the same as possible.

    Once this has been accomplished, slide the stitches back to the other end of the needles so that the working yarn is again at the top of the needle. Use your favorite method to join in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches and making sure that your working yarn is not inside the circle of stitches.

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  • 03 of 05

    Knitting with Two Circulars

    Knitting in the round with two circular needles.
    Knitting on the first needle while working in the round on two circulars. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    To begin knitting with two circulars, start with the stitches that were cast on last, just as you would with any other kind of knitting.

    The only trick to knitting with two circular needles is that you work the needles on one end of the circular needle with the needle that is on the other end of that same circular needle, as pictured. That's why it's better if you have two needles that don't look the same because you're always knitting with the pair that matches.

    Continue knitting...MORE until you have worked all the stitches on the first needle. These stitches will now be on the opposite end of that same needle. To make it easier to work the second set, slide the worked stitches down onto the needle's cable.

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  • 04 of 05

    Working the Second Needle

    Working on the second needle when knitting in the round on two circulars.
    Starting to work with the second set of needles. Note the stitches just worked hanging on the cable. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Once you've finished the first needle you can continue knitting on the second needle in the same manner. This time you'll start from what seems like the bottom of the stitches on the second needle. To get them to the proper position so you can work them, slide them to the end of the needle so that the "bottom" stitch is at the working end of the needle.

    Remember to pull a little tighter than normal on your working yarn when you knit the first stitch or two on the second needle...MORE (and on the first needle on all subsequent rows). Leaving the stitches at the beginning of each needle loose can result in little gaps (known as ladders) between the stitches, which are neither attractive nor warm.

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  • 05 of 05

    Circular Knitting Tips

    A swatch worked in the round with two circular knitting needles.
    A few rounds of knitting worked on two circular knitting needles. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    As you continue to work in the round, you will do a lot of sliding back and forth of the stitches so that you can work them. You might also want to slide the stitches off the needle part and onto the cable part of the needle after you have worked them so you don't have to worry about them slipping off the needle or getting in your way as you work with the other needle.

    When you start knitting, you can place a stitch marker before the last stitch on the second needle (where it won't fall...MORE off) to mark the end of the row. Or just remember which needle you started with; it will always be the beginning of the round.

    Knitting in the round with two circular needles feels a little strange at first, but after a few rows, you should begin to see your project taking shape (with no twists!) and will quickly gain confidence.

    Looking for a way to practice your new skills? Check out this fingerless glove free knitting pattern. And once you've had some practice you'll be ready to knit a sock -- or even two at a time -- using two circulars at once.