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Knitting with circular needles

If you're ready to learn how to knit in the round, this is the best place to start! Discover how to use circular needles with our beginner's guide.

How to knit in the round with circular needles step 3

The easiest way to learn to knit in the round is using a circular needle. Practise knitting with circular needles by following our steps below, using DK yarn and a 4mm circular needle. Choose a needle with a cord that’s not too short to start with, to make it easier to bring the needle tips together. Try using a 40cm (16in) length and cast on 120 stitches. This will ensure you have enough stitches to comfortably go all the way around your circular needle.

There are various ways to join your knitting into the round. You can just start knitting, as we’ll show you below. When you use this method, when you finish your project, you will need to pull the end of the yarn you started with to tighten it, and then weave it in to the knitted fabric to prevent a ladder forming.

Alternatively, some knitters join the round by swapping over the first and last stitch of the round, lifting one over the other. Other knitters like to cast on an extra stitch, and then once they’ve knit to the end of the first round, they knit the extra stitch together with the first stitch of the round, to join. There is no right or wrong way to do it – see which method of knitting with circular needles suits you and keep practising until you’re happy with the technique.

Note that you can also do flat knitting with circular needles. Instead of joining into a round you simply turn your work at the end of each row and work back across the needle. This is useful for big projects such as blankets, where you can carry the weight of your knitting on the cable in your lap, rather than on the needle.

For more on circular knitting see our complete beginner’s guide to knitting in the round.

In our guide on knitting with circular needles you’ll find:

  1. Knitting with circular needles step by step
  2. Buyer’s guide: 3 circular needles to try

Knitting with circular needles

Follow our step-by-step instructions to try knitting with circular needles.


You Will Need

  • Yarn
  • Knitting needles

Total time:

Step 1

Choose which side of the circular needle you want to use as the left-hand needle, and which one you want to use as the right. Cast on your stitches (see how to cast on knitting for techniques), then ensure your working yarn is at the right-hand tip.

Knitting with circular needles step 1

Step 2

Now mark the end of each round with a stitch marker or knotted piece of spare yarn on the right-hand needle, sliding it up to sit next to the last stitch you cast on. Check that your stitches aren’t twisted.

Knitting with circular needles step 2

Step 3

Next, bring the two needle tips together, with the first and last stitches as close as possible. With the working yarn in your right hand, knit the first stitch from the left-hand needle, pulling the yarn tight for a neat join.

Knitting with circular needles step 3

Step 4

Continue knitting, pushing the stitches around the needle as you go. Once you reach the marker, you will have knitted one round. Slip the marker and knit more rounds in the same way, without turning.

Knitting with circular needles step 4

More ways to knit in the round

Now you’ve mastered knitting with circular needles, why not try other methods of working in the round? We can show you how to knit with double pointed needles, knitting in the round with two circular needles and the clever art of Magic Loop knitting

Casting on double pointed needles step 4

Knitting with circular needles: 3 to try

Circular needles come in various lengths, the most popular being from 20cm (8in) to 100cm (40in). One of the most flexible and cost-effective ways to create circular needles is to invest in a set of interchangeable knitting needles – you can combine different lengths of cable and different sizes of needle tips to create all sorts of circular needles. Alternatively, you can buy ‘fixed’ circular needles, which don’t have mix and match tips. We recommend three of our favourites below.

1. KnitPro Karbonz circular needles

Knitting with circular needles KnitPro Karbonz

If you’ve caught the circular knitting bug, these beautiful needles are well worth the investment. Made from carbon fibre, they’re lightweight and warm to the touch, and the smooth tips and joins allow your stitches to glide effortlessly around the cable.

Buy KnitPro Karbonz circular needles from Lovecrafts.

2. HiyaHiya circular needles

Best knitting needles, HiyaHiya steel circular

These stainless steel circular needles have tapered tips, seamless joins and a flexible cable, making them an excellent choice for knitters of all abilities. Look out for the Sharp range too, with their extra-pointy tips to make working intricate stitch patterns a doddle.

Buy HiyaHiya circular needles from Etsy.

3. Pony Classic circular needles

Knitting with circular needles Pony Classic

For beginner circular needles in a good range of cable lengths and tip diameters, look no further than Pony Classics. These practical aluminium pins have everything you need in a circular needle – and for a great price too!

Buy Pony Classic circular needles from The Knitting Network.

Now you’ve learned all about knitting with circular needles, find more techniques to try in our how to knit section, and patterns to use them for in our knitting patterns collection.