Can you knit in rows? Then you can knit in the round! There’s no great mystery to it and we’ll show you how it’s done. Knitting in the round enables you to create seamless circular fabric and will open up a world of possible projects including hats and socks.
The easiest way of knitting in the round is with a circular needle, so we recommend you try this first. You’ll need to work with quite a lot of stitches, so that the stitches cover the entire circumference of the circular needle. By practising knitting in the round with a circular needle, you’ll quickly get the hang of the technique.
Knitting in the round is just like knitting in rows – you need to work every stitch from the start of the round to the end. To help you keep track of where you are in the round and when you’re at the end of a round, you can use a stitch marker or a knotted piece of spare yarn.
There are lots of different ways of knitting in the round, so in this guide we’ll introduce you to four methods you can try. We recommend starting with circular needles, then moving on to learning other techniques such as using double pointed needles and the Magic Loop method.
Here’s what you’ll find in our beginner’s guide to knitting in the round:
4 methods for knitting in the round
- How to knit in the round with circular needles
- How to knit in the round with DPNs
- How to knit in the round with two circular needles
- How to knit Magic Loop
Plus everything else you need to know:
- Top tips and troubleshooting
- Basic stitch patterns in the round
- Essential tools for knitting in the round
- 5 patterns to try
Knitting in the round: 4 methods to try
1. How to knit in the round with circular needles
The easiest way to learn how to knit in the round is with circular needles. These are needles that have two needle tips attached by a flexible cord, allowing you to join your knitting into a round. Circular needles come in a huge range of sizes, from tiny ones designed for knitting socks, to cables of 1m or more. These can also be used for large projects such as shawls and blankets that are knitted flat, working back and forth just like you would with straight needles.
See our guide to learn all about knitting with circular needles.
2. How to knit in the round with DPNs
Using a set of double pointed needles (DPNs) enables you to knit in the round with fewer stitches, to make much smaller items, such as socks and the fingers of gloves. You may also find it useful to switch from circular needles to DPNs when working small diameters on other projects, including the tops of hats, sleeve cuffs and more. DPNs come in a range of lengths and are sold in sets of either four or five.
Find out how to knit with double pointed needles in our in-depth guide.
3. How to knit in the round with two circular needles
This technique is another way of knitting projects with small diameters, including mittens and socks. You’ll use two circular needles with the same tip size and (ideally) cable length to work your stitches. Some knitters find this much easier than wrangling multiple double pointed needles, and less fiddly than Magic Loop, so it’s worth learning to see which you prefer.
Learn how it’s done in our guide to knitting in the round with two circular needles.
4. How to knit Magic Loop
Need to knit something small but only have a circular needle to hand? Try the Magic Loop method. This clever technique enables you to work even the tiniest projects using one long circular needle. It’s probably the trickiest of the four methods to master, though, so set aside a bit of quiet time to get your head around it. Once you’ve figured it out you won’t look back!
Discover all about Magic Loop knitting with our tutorial.
Knitting in the round: tips and troubleshooting
1. Which way round?
When you work in the round, the right side of the fabric is always facing you. You’ll quickly notice that all you need to do is knit the stitches and you’ll create a tube of stocking stitch fabric. This is perfectly normal and you haven’t done it wrong! It’s because when you knit in the round, you’re always working the stitches from the right side of the fabric. So if you don’t like working the purl stitch, working stocking stitch in the round is the way to go!
2. Why is my knitting twisted?
Perhaps the most important rule of knitting in the round is to make sure your stitches are not twisted before you join them into the round. Keeping the stitches straight is vital to creating a tube of fabric – if the stitches are twisted, your tube will end up with twists incorporated into it, creating a Moebius ring of fabric. If that’s not what you’re aiming at, you’ll have to start again!
3. Where’s the join?
It can be easy to lose track of the join when you’re working in endless circles, so to keep track of which round you’re working on, mark the start/end of the round. Make a slipknot (see how to make a slipknot) in a piece of spare yarn or use a stitch marker (check out our best stitch markers guide), placing it next to the last stitch you cast on. When you’re knitting, this will indicate the end of the round. On each round, just slip the marker from the left needle to the right.
4. Why doesn’t the pattern match up?
When working any stitch pattern in the round, you’ll find that at the join point of the round, where it starts/ends, there’s a slight jarring of the stitch pattern. This is normal and nothing to worry about when you’re starting out. The ‘jog’ in the fabric is more obvious in some stitch patterns, such as garter stitch or colourwork stripes, and your pattern may give you instructions on how to fix it. To get rid of the jog when working stripes see our tutorial on how to knit helical stripes.
5. What’s this baggy stitch?
You might notice looser stitches appearing at the start/end of the round, or where the needles meet if you’re working on DPNs. These can create ‘ladders’ in your work. There are a couple of ways you can prevent these ladders from forming. One is to move the beginning of round stitch marker each round (or clip it onto the stitch rather than hanging it on the needle), so that the yarn isn’t stretched all the time in the same place. Another is to knit these stitches a bit tighter than the rest, by pulling the yarn tight when you work the first stitch of the round or the first stitch on a new needle. You’ll also find that washing and blocking the finished item (see how to block knitting projects) will help the stitches to even out.
Knitting in the round: basic stitch patterns
When you work in the round, every round is worked on the right side of the fabric. So if you knit each stitch, you’ll get stocking stitch – purling each stitch creates reverse stocking stitch. Make tubes of the four main stitch patterns (below) to see how they work.
After a bit of practice, you’ll also find that it’s possible to convert patterns from flat knitting into circular knitting, by reversing the stitches on the wrong-side rows (purl sts need to become knit sts, etc). The best thing is to experiment with your patterns and see what happens!
You Will Need
- Knitting needle
How to knit stocking stitch in the round
Stocking stitch fabric is made by knitting the stitches on every round. This means you can work shaping stitches on any round, because they’re all knit rounds, making this a popular choice for hats and socks.
How to knit garter stitch in the round
Garter stitch fabric can be worked in the round by alternating rows of knit and purl stitches. You’ll probably find that at the join point of the round, there’s a slight jog in the stitch pattern, but this is fine for now.
How to knit ribbing in the round
Rib stitch is simple to work in the round, since the stitch pattern is naturally reversible. For 1×1 rib, cast on an even number of sts. For 2×2 rib, you need sts to be divisible by 4. For 3×3 rib, make sure sts are divisible by 6.
How to knit moss stitch in the round
Moss stitch (K1, P1 alternated across the row, then knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches on subsequent rows) is just as easy as rib stitches to work in the round. Again, make sure you cast on an even number of stitches for plain moss stitch. Or follow the stitch count in the pattern you’re using.
Knitting in the round: essential tools
As you’ve seen there are a number of different ways of knitting in the round, with a few different tools to try too. We’d recommend starting with simple circular needles as you learn the basic technique, then trying out the other options to see which one suits you best. You might find you’re more drawn to circulars, or double pointed needles, or you’re happy to switch between them depending on the project. Here are five types of needle you can use for knitting in the round:
1. Circular needles
Circular needles are the perfect starting point for anyone learning to knit in the round. These ‘fixed’ pins have two needle tips joined by a cable (so they can’t be mixed and matched like the interchangeable needles below). They come in lengths up to a metre, and a similar range of diameters to straight needles. Our favourite basic circular needles are these Classic ones from Pony.
Buy Pony circular needles from The Knitting Network.
2. Circular needles for socks
We’ve put these needles in their own category, as you’ll often find them sold separately from ‘regular’ circular needles. So what’s the difference? Well, circular needles for socks are much shorter, at around 23cm (9in), and are less likely to come in larger diameters. They may also have one longer needle tip and one shorter, which some knitters find helps make them comfortable to hold. ChiaoGoo are one of the most popular makers of circular needles for socks.
Buy ChiaoGoo Red circular needles for socks from Amazon.
3. Interchangeable needles
If you’ll regularly be circular knitting, interchangeable needles are a brilliant option. Their mix and match cables and needle tips enable you to change your needles to suit whatever you’re working on, and they’re great for knitting both flat and in the round. They can be bought in sets, or you can get the pieces separately and build up your collection over time. Some knitters find they’re the only needles they need!
See our interchangeable knitting needles buyer’s guide.
4. Double pointed needles
You may find double pointed needles suit you best for knitting in the round! DPNs come in sets of four or five (we’d suggest buying sets of five to give you more choice over how many you use), and a variety of lengths to suit bigger and smaller projects. Wooden needles such as these Symfonie ones from KnitPro are ideal for beginners as they have a bit more grip, so you’re less likely to drop your stitches.
Buy KnitPro Symfonie double pointed needles from John Lewis.
5. Flexible and curved double pointed needles
If you enjoy knitting on double pointed needles, why not give one of these variations a try? Curved DPNs enable you to knit on fewer needles, only needing three rather than the usual four or five. Addi’s CraSyTrio needles use a similar idea, but instead of a fixed curve they have a short cable in the middle that allows them to bend.
Buy Addi CraSyTrio double pointed needles from Amazon.
Knitting in the round: 5 patterns to try
1. Step out in hand-knit socks
The quintessential knitting in the round project! If you haven’t tried making socks before now’s the time to give them a go. We love this Sizzling Rays pattern in West Yorkshire Spinners yarn, as it has just enough patterning to keep you on your toes.
Buy the Sizzling Rays sock pattern from Lovecrafts.
2. Knit a simple bobble hat
With step-by-step instructions for working this hat on double pointed needles, it’s a great first project to practise knitting in the round! Pick your two favourite shades in cosy, chunky-weight Merino yarn and finish with a fun pom-pom.
Learn how to knit a bobble hat with our free pattern.
3. Make a no-maintenance houseplant
These little cactuses are the perfect small-scale projects to hone your knitting in the round skills. Choose from a small round cactus or a tall cactus in twisted rib, and a bobbly cactus in moss stitch. So cute, and they don’t need watering!
Go green with this knitted cactus pattern.
4. Try colourwork in the round
Stretch your skills with this tartan cowl, which mixes circular knitting with colourwork. If you know how to read charts in knitting patterns, then learning how to work Fair Isle in the round will open up a whole world of colourful accessories.
Cast on our free cowl knitting pattern.
5. Take on a garment
One of the joys of knitting in the round is making seam-free jumpers! If you’re not a fan of seaming (and our how to finish a knitting project guide hasn’t convinced you otherwise), then treat yourself to a top-down yoked sweater with this timeless pattern from Sirdar.
Get the jumper pattern from The Knitting Network.