Knitting in the round is something more than the basics but not a difficult task. Once you learn it with the circular needles, there is hardly any possibility that you may go back to regular flat needles.
Things that sit flat like for scarves, blankets or coasters are perfect for knitting on two needles. To knit a pair of socks or a hat or mittens you have to knit in the round and seamless as they are circular shaped. In order to knit any of these things, you should use circular needles. Obviously, you can also knit flat with the circular needles without joining the round.
A circular needle is attached to a flexible cable, and another needle is attached to that cable. They come in different lengths. If the cable is too long your item, you will not be able to work properly on the project.
If you want to make a hat, you should take a 16 inch needle. From one tip all the way to another tip, it is 16 inches long. This needle is perfect for knitting hats. A hat generally measures from 17-21 inches. You have to use needles that are smaller in circumference than the finished project.
Needle size is generally recommended in a pattern but if you are not following a pattern, you can check your yarn label where you can get recommendation about it.
If you are using a pattern that calls for a pair of US size straight knitting needles, you could use US size circular needles instead as needle sizes are the same for straight and circular needles.
How to knit
Get a slip knot
At first, you need to determine how much yarn you will need to make your project. Figure out the point where you want your cast on, make a slip knot. First, make a loop with your yarn. Take yarn in your two hands, bring your hands together and make a loop with your middle and index finger. Then take your strand of yarn and bring it behind the loop so it divides your first loop in half. Then with your finger pick out that strands from your loop and pull it out to tighten the knot.
Take your needle and put it into the slip knot.
Now the slip knot is sitting on your needle. Now grab the two strands of yarn and pull them so that the slip knot tightens around your needle.
The slip knot will count as your first cast on stitch.
Cast on some stitches
At first, you have to cast on some stitches into your circular needle as you do with your regular straight needles. If you knit a hat, you have to cast on about 90 stitches or so. If you follow a pattern, that will tell you how many stitches you have to cast on.
Hold the two needles with your two hands. The slip knot should be on your right hand needle. Take your finger and put it down on the slip knot. The slip knot should not roll much when you cast on. Loop the yarn around the left hand needle. Pass the right hand needle into it, yarn over for the second time, and with the right hand, needle pulls the new yarn through the loop on the left hand needle.
When you are done with casting on your stitches, your stitches will spread over your circular needle and you are ready to join in the round.
Make sure that your stitches are not twisted
Before you do that, it is important to make sure that your stitches are not twisted. If you look closely at your stitches, you can see that there is a kind of a raised braided section on your stitches. The rest of the stitches wrap around the needle.
You have to make sure that the raised area is all facing the same direction across all of the stitches ( that the edge of the knitting is in the middle of the circle).
Once you are sure that all stitches are facing in one direction i.e facing inward, you can join in the round.
But, if your stitches are twisted, the braided raised section is facing outward somewhere, you beed to untwist that. Untwist that area so that all the stitches are facing the same direction.
Make sure that the needle that is attached to your ball of yarn is in your right hand. So you may have to switch hands here and move that needle to your right hand.
Push your stitches close to the tip of the needle. Your stitches can get bunched up when they are cast on. Push them up so that they are close to your needle tips.
Mark the beginning of the round
Before you join, mark the beginning of your round with a stitch marker. A stitch marker cam is a round, ring-like shape. You can take here a split-ring stitch marker which you can open and close it.
You can use anything that is ring-like. You can use a rubber band or a yarn of different colour also for this purpose.
Put that ring-like thing or yarn right onto your right needle. The stitch marker marks the beginning and end of your round. This will tell you where the round starts. Now you are ready to join in the round.
Join the round
Push your stitches up close to the tip of your needle. Then take you right-hand needle and go into your first stitch. Knit the first stitch, push your needle right in there and then take the yarn and knit into it. Then pull it off.
Now pull tightly on the first stitch to avoid any gap formed at the join thus make it nice and tight.
Now the knitting is joined in the round. Knit three stitches with both the yarn tail and your yarn together. You have not to weave in the yarn tail later while finishing knitting. Cut off the tail.
Now you can start knitting. This will be considered the first round in your pattern. Now work across your whole needle, all the way around. When you get to stitch marker, slip it over your needle and continue knitting.
Knitting on Circular Needles without Joining
Circular needles are great for more than just knitting in the round. They can be used to knit flat as well. The long cable can have a large number of stitches on it as they can move freely along the cable. Thus, it works well for projects like blankets, sweaters, button bands and scarves.
Knitting with straight needles on big projects puts more strain on your arms and wrists because you’re supporting more of the weight of the project as you knit than you would be with a circular needle. The cable holds more of the weight of the project and allows you to keep it in your lap which reduces the weight pressure on your arms or wrists greatly.
Knitting flat on a circular needle is truly the same as working with straight needles. Once you’re done with one side of the needle, you have to turn your work and start again with the empty needle in your right hand.
To begin working flat in your circular needle start exactly the same way as you do with the straight needles. So make your slip knot and spot it over the end of the needle on your left. Cast on a few stitches and a couple of rows knitting back and forth.
Now work back across these stitches just going knit back across them again. You can imagine that these needles are not actually joined rather they are straight needles. Now knit your row transferring all of the stitches from the left hand needle to the right hand needle.
When you are done with one row, switch over your needles so that the needle with the yarn attached and all the stitches on is held in your left hand. Now you are going to work back across these stitches again and this is exactly the same as doing with straight needles.
The stitches can rest on the cable so you are not carrying as much weight on the end of your needle because the cable can just rest on a table or on your lap. Now complete your second row. And do exactly the same thing again- swap the needles so that the needle with all the stitches in is back in my left hand.
Keep on repeating these steps, working across your row switching over your needles to continue working flat on a circular needle.