Which needles should I use to knit in the round?

Continuing our series of posts exploring how to knit in the round (we've already covered why and what to knit in the round, yarn choice and cast-on methods), in this post we’ll look at how to use double-pointed needles and two short circulars.

Knitting in the round tutorial

I prefer working on three double-pointed needles (DPNs), and using a fourth to knit with. The three DPNs create a triangular shape, which is stable. However, some find it easier to work on four DPNs and knit with a fifth. This can be helpful when counting stitches.

Try both ways and see which suits you. DPNs are most often used for small diameters, but longer length DPNs are available, which may be useful for cowls, or even garments.

Step 1

To start with, cast on your stitches plus one extra stitch onto a single DPN (shown left).

Step 2

Then, rather than trying to ‘place’ your stitches onto each DPN, instead work the stitches (often you start with a ribbed welt when working in the round to give a stretchy edge) onto your DPNs, as shown at the top of this post.

Step 3

If using three needles, divide your stitches by three and each time you have that number on a DPN start working with a new DPN. If using four needles do the same, but divide your stitch count by four.

Step 4

When you have worked the last stitch, hold the first and last DPNs together and move the stitch you’ve just worked onto your first needle and then work it together with the first stitch in your round (as shown left). It is easier to purl these stitches together than knit them, so if you are working in rib, start with P2tog and then continue as written. Place a stitch marker before this new stitch and continue the pattern.

You may find you hold your needles with the right side of the work ‘inside out’. Don’t worry if you do this - it won’t make any difference at all.

How to use 2 circular needles

Using two circular needles is another way of tackling small diameters.

Step 1

Cast on your stitches plus one extra stitch onto a circular needle with a shorter cable length.

Step 2

Using a second short circular needle work half these stitches off onto the second needle.

Step 3

Now use the second needle to work the second half of the stitches and then place the last stitch just worked onto the first needle and work together as per the method for DPNs.

Step 4

Continue to work half the stitches in the round on one circular (17) and then work the second half on the second circular as set.

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