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Magic Loop 2.0 – Adapting Patterns, Purling, and Avoiding Ladders

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Magic Loop 2.0 – Adapting Patterns, Purling, and Avoiding Ladders

Liat Gat - Founder

October 8, 2010

You can adapt any knitting-in-the-round pattern to use Magic Loop. Other tips in this post include: how to purl on Magic Loop.

loopy prop plane graphic

Whee! Magic Loop is fun!

What’s that you say? It’s not perfect? You still get a little stuck sometimes?

Aha! Good! This is where we move from merely knowing a technique, to MASTERING it. It’s in the little things! Here are a few tutorials to get things going smoothly.

1. Adapting Any In-the-Round Pattern to Magic Loop

Many students ask me how to start using Magic Loop on patterns that don’t specifically call for it. This is a good question, because hardly any patterns specifically call for Magic Loop.

Just like using a stand mixer is easier than mixing cookie dough with a spoon, but it’s your choice which one you use, Magic Loop is just a technique – and a technique that most knitting designers don’t expect you to know. They’ll just tell you to mix the cookie dough with a spoon and be done with it.

When you see a pattern call for a set of DPNs or a certain length of circular needle, you’ll know that the project is knitted in the round and that you can use your 47-inch needle and Magic Loop.

When the pattern says,”CO 40 sts and divide evenly on DPNs for working in the round,” you just follow the technique we learned: CO 40 stitches onto your needle, slide them to the middle, divide the stitches in half, and proceed as in the pattern.

If your pattern calls for casting on an odd number of stitches, that’s okay! Your needles will never know. Just divide the stitches as evenly as you can.

The only time that converting a pattern from DPNs to Magic Loop may present any kind of problem is when the designer instructs you to do things in relation to a certain needle.

This is common on small projects like socks and baby booties, e.g.,”K to end of 2nd needle, turn.” In this case, you’ll just have to look at how many stitches they told you to put on each needle in the first place (let’s say it was 8), and do the math yourself: knit 16 and then turn.

I doubt you’ll run into this problem very often, but if you do, you’ll know what to do!

2. Pulling the First Stitch Too Tight – Making and Avoiding Ladders in Magic Loop

This is the most common mistake among Magic Loop knitters who have switched from using DPNs. Knitters pull their first stitch tight in order to prevent a gap from appearing between the needles. Unfortunately, pulling the first stitch tight on Magic Loop actually RESULTS in ladders forming, instead of helping you avoid ladders.

When you use nice and even tension on all your stitches, you will avoid ladders. Here’s how to prevent a gap and also prevent your stitches from being too tight.

ARVE Error: Mode: lazyload not available (ARVE Pro not active?), switching to normal mode

If you are having any difficulty getting your needle back into your stitches, you are probably pulling your first stitch too tight, trying to avoid ladders.

3. Starting the Round with a Purl Stitch

A KnitFreedom member emailed me and asked,”What if I am starting the round with a purl stitch? I keep messing up!”

Does this sound familiar? If you knit American-style (with the yarn in your right hand), it is easy to get messed up.

The key is making sure the working yarn is underneath your right needle before you begin the stitch. Otherwise you will get an extra loop.

>> Updated: Watch a video of how to purl on Magic Loop here <<

Purling on Magic Loop - Step 1: Ready Position
Step 1: Ready Position
Purling on Magic Loop - Step 2: Ready to Purl
Yarn Under The Right Needle
Purling on Magic Loop - Step 3: Ready to Purl
Step 3: Ready To Wrap The Yarn

And there you have it! I’d love to hear your comments and especially gripes about Magic Loop.

Related Tutorials:

If you haven’t already bought it, I highly recommend:
Complete Video Guide to Magic Loop

What did you think about this article on how to get even better at Magic Loop? Leave a comment below.

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38 thoughts on “Magic Loop 2.0 – Adapting Patterns, Purling, and Avoiding Ladders”

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  1. This should help a lot of doubting Thomases and Thomasinas. I’ve used Magic Loop for years and have adapted it to other people’s patterns as well as all of my own designs, and I’ve converted dozens of lace patterns by simply changing knits to purls or purls to knits on what would be the wrong side rows. Agreed, there are some lace patterns that would be nearly impossible to alter, but usually it’s easy peasy. It always seems strange to me when someone says they’d much rather use DPNs than to learn this magical alternative. I try to explain how much easier it is to use TWO points than eight or ten points, which to me would be like knitting with a porcupine.

  2. So I’d like to knit a top down sweater with the magic loop. I’ve done socks, wrist warmers but now want to do the sweater. My issue is…with most patterns using a circular needle it talks of beginning of round… with magic loop effectively the beginning of my round would be slap bang in the middle of the sleeve stitches that are going on a thread. How can I solve this problem…do I take stitches from each needle and put on the thread or…. I’m just not sure what to do…. Please help

    1. Hi Julie,
      Great question! For Magic Loop the beginning of the round is the same as on other methods of knitting in the round. It shouldn’t change just because you are using Magic Loop. It is important to keep track of the beginning of the round for sure. If you’re having trouble on a specific pattern and you’re a KnitFreedom member I can help you via email or text or in our Facebook group. You can share the pattern with us and we can coach you through any questions you may have and even make you a video specifically for you if needed. I hope this helps!

  3. Hi,

    I’m curious on if a pattern was written for dpn’s, and it says something like:

    Purl 3 rows

    row 4: (P1, Kfb in next 3 stitches, P1) around

    row 6: (P1, C3b, P1) around

    does this mean I do the opposite when using magic loop?
    Instead of purling, I’m knitting? And instead of knitting, I’m purling?

    Thank you for any advice you can offer.

  4. I’ve made a few pairs of socks from both directions (toe & top first) using the Magic Loop. I love it. I’ve never made mittens or gloves but see no reason not to use this technique.
    I’m trying to adapt using the Loop to make 2 trigger-finger mittens at at time. I’m just starting the pattern and decided it best to divide the stitches equally. I’m a bit concerned about what to do when I start the fingers and need to do mirror images for the right/left to happen.
    Any thoughts for me! Thanks.

    1. Candy (KnitFreedom Customer Happiness guru)

      Hi Sarah,

      Just cast on the number of stitches called for in the pattern, divide them in half and put them on your needles like you normally do for Magic Loop, and then begin knitting in the round! It’s really that easy.

      Happy Knitting,

      1. What about a flat pattern for sleeves? I’m struggling with the cast off part at the top. If the pattern says to cast off 3 stitches every second row on each side, then 2 stitches, then 1 etc. Can i just follow this but cast off on either side of my marker the indicated amount of stitches? Or do i have to do something completely different? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

  5. I have been having trouble starting my round with a purl stitch. I watched your video and yes, my purl stitch finally worked but now my working yarn is inside my loop!

    1. Hi Gwen,

      The trick is to make sure you get into Ready Position before you pull the back needle out. Then when you pull the back needle out, make sure the yarn is in front of both the right and left needles. That way it won’t get caught inside your loop.

      If it’s already caught, just knit like normal but with the yarn going through the loop, until you get to the end of the half-round. Then you can free the yarn and get back to Ready Position.

      I hope this helps!


      Liat Gat

  6. I am referring to you purl stitch instructions on Magic Loop. When I start my round, using your instructions, it works but then my working yarn ends up between my two needles. What am I doing wrong?

  7. Hello :)
    Hopefully you can answer this. I hate working with DPNs, so I want to give the magic loop a try. My only concern is, if I adapt a DPN pattern to the magic loop method, what do I do if I reach a point where I have to k2tog (or something similar) but that I have only 1 stitch left on the half I am knitting and the second stitch I need to complete my k2tog is on the other half?
    Thank you so much! I really want to be able to use this method! :) :)

    1. Candy Franks - KnitFreedom Customer Happiness

      Hi Annie,
      There is totally a way to do this on Magic Loop, it is no problem. The video on how to do it is actually part of the Magic Loop video course. I really recommend you get the course, because it has other important tips and tricks you should know in order to really get the most out of Magic Loop.

      Know that you can always get a refund if you try the Magic Loop video course and decide it just doesn’t work for you.

      Happy Knitting!

  8. Hi Liat!
    I love your classes and have purchased the superstar and am loving that too.
    Here’s my question on magic loop.
    I am making fingerless gloves with a pattern calling for dpns which normally I wouldn’t have a problem converting but…
    the pattern calls for casting on 60 stitches which I was going to divide in half for my magic loop however one of the rows is as follows:
    *s1pw, k2, psso2, p1 * repeat to end of row
    If I divide into 30 stitches, I will end one needle in the middle of the psso2 I think.
    Can I divide my stitches in to 20 and 40 instead? Will that work?
    Thanks a million!!

    1. Hi Judy-

      I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying the superstar class! I love that you are adapting this fingerless gloves pattern.

      You can absolutely divide your stitches 20 and 40 – and, actually, you can divide them however you want! 21 and 39, 25 and 35 – the knitting will never know. :)

      I hope this helps!

      For a video on solving this kind of issue, check out the “One Stitch Left” challenge at the end of the magic loop chapter.

  9. Hello there,
    I am working on a hooded sweater that specifically calls for use of magic loop in the pattern. The pattern also distinguishes each row as RS and WS. Using the loop I don’t understand how I will ever be working the WS. It seems to me that with each new row and new rotation of the needles, I always have the RS facing. Am I missing something?
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Kate,

      Without having seen the pattern I would agree that you wouldn’t ever see the WS of the work. But maybe the instructions include a wrap-and-turn somewhere? In that case you would see the WS. I hope this helps!

  10. I’m new to magic loop and have a sock pattern that requires dpns. I’ve never made a pair of socks before so was wondering if the turning the heel instructions for the dpns would work the same in magic loop?


  11. Liat, I just read through the pattern, and I think it is actually quite simple, with the exception of the instructions for making the thumb gusset:

    Row 1: K28, PM, M1, PM, K28
    Row 2: Knit

    So, if I divide the stitches evenly, it’s 28 stitches on each needle, making it very difficult to do that M1 after the 28th stitch. Any thoughts? Thanks!


  12. Hi. I’ve just learned to use Magic Loop, and there is a pattern for fingerless gloves that I would love to knit this way, rather than 3 DPNs. It calls for casting on 56 stitches evenly across 3 needles…so how would one conver that to Magic Loop with only 2 needles? If you’d like, I can scan the send you the pattern so that you can perhaps tell if it would be easy enough to convert. Thank you!


  13. Hi Liat,

    Thanks to your videos I was able to make my first set of socks using magic loop! I always look forward to reading your blog and learning new techniques to knit with. You are awesome! Thank You :)

  14. Felicite Dawson

    Hi Liat, I have a pattern for a tea cosy and went to buy the wool and needles. The woman in the shop told me I should not use 2 circular needles but magic loop. Came home with needles etc. and found your wonderful videos – made the whole thing really easy until row 8 when the pattern says divide for sides… I can see how you can work one side on each set of needles if you have 2 sets but with only 1 set how will it work? This is to allow gaps for the teapot handle and spout, it joins back together later. Can I continue with magic loop or do I need 2 sets of needles?

    1. Hi Felicita!

      This is a great question. You can definitely work the two halves of the tea cozy using Magic Loop: Just stop and go the other way when you get to the end of the round. From ready position, *pull the front needle out and hold it in your right hand, and insert it into the stitches on the left-hand needle (the back needle). The purl side of the work will be facing you on the back needle. Just ignore the cable and knitting that is on the front. When you finish that half of the round and get back to ready position, repeat from my star (*) for the second half of the purl round. Then, when you get to the beginning of the round, get back to ready position and start magic looping like normal. Alternate between those two for as long as you are knitting flat. This is a great exercise for you and will help you make sweaters and other more complex projects with Magic Loop. Way to go!

  15. Hi Liat,
    I just got stuck on a pattern because I did it in magic loop instead of DPN. The pattern does not indicate how many stitches to put on each of the dpns. These are toe up casting on 28 stitches and increasing until you have 52. I did this having 26 stitches on each needle. The pattern then says knit 29, ssk. Well, this is impossible because I only have 26 stitches on the needle. I wrote to ask the question to the pattern writter and she just said I’d have to rearrange my stitches or switch to dpns…..not helpful. I don’t know how to “rearrange the stitches”. What would you do in this case?


    1. Deb – this is a great opportunity to learn to refine your Magic Loop skills! I’m so glad you ran into this question and posted it here. In general, to rearrange your stitches, pull the tips of your needles out until the extra “loop” of Magic Loop disappears. Now all your stitches are next to each other, with no loops of cable between them. Now, count out as many stitches as you need on one needle (say, 32), and pull the loop of cable out from between the 32nd and 33rd stitches. Voila! 32 stitches on the first needle.

      HOWEVER – there is something easier you can do in your case. You have 26 stitches on each needle. She says knit 29, SSK. All you have to do is knit all the way across the first needle (26 sts), then go to the next needle, knit 3 (bringing the total to 29), and then do your SSK. Easy, huh? You’ve done exactly what the pattern asks for. The only time this trick doesn’t work is if the pattern were to say “knit 25, ssk,” which would mean you would have to ssk across the divide between the needles. This is where the “rearranging” technique is necessary.

      By the way, I have videos for showing how to do all of this in my video ebook on Magic Loop.

  16. Hi, just learning to ML (only 3ish weeks into knitting, lol), and found this entry on a google search for a solution to the huge gap I’m getting at the join of rounds. I’m on an iPad, so maybe I’m missing it but I didn’t actually see a link, solution, or applicable advice after the text “Here’s how to prevent a gap and also prevent your stitches from being too tight.” it’s early and I don’t think that my coffee has kicked in yet, so forgive me if it’s right in front of my nose!

    1. Hi Ashley,

      I’m so glad that Google led you to KNITFreedom! And it’s great to hear that you’re working on Magic Loop. :) I know that you’re not working on two-at-a-time, but I think that the blog post on KNITFreedom can definitely help you; . There’s a YouTube video on the page that you can check out. It should work for you, but if you are having any issues viewing on your iPad, please feel free to use the direct link: .

      Some other resources for you would be the Magic Loop e-book available here on KNITFreedom, free Magic Loop videos (which can be found by going to Free Videos and Techniquest —> Magic Loop, and the KNITFreedom foum on Ravelry, which can be found at .

      I hope this helps and I am really looking forward to seeing some of your successful projects!

  17. Hi, Liat, i want to know if you can knit a hat using cables and yarn overs?i haven’t tyed yet. still learning ML. got my needles and practiceing . thank you. you are wonderful.

    1. Hi Gloria,

      Of course you can! There are many beautiful hat patterns that incorporate lace and cables. Can you post your question in the forum ( and we will all answer you with patterns and suggestions? I´m so glad you are loving learning Magic Loop!

  18. new at magic loop…love it….cannot find pattern/instructions on how to do heel for socks with magic loop. working on 2 at a time baby socks and am stuck….help

      1. This was a great article…I’m a rather new knitter and the first thing I did was in the round and next your two at a time toe up socks. So, really I only know how to knit in the round, therefore, I have to find patterns in the round! Like Baby booties!

    1. This article was extremely helpful. I just bought a pattern for mittens with little foxes on them. I was supposed to use three DPNs and was afraid I could not use the pattern. Your article explained what I was struggling with well enough that I think I can use magic loop which is what I prefer .

      Thank you !

      1. Candy Franks – KnitFreedom Customer Happiness

        That’s great to hear Kathy. I am so glad that you are able to make the switch. Please post a picture of those mittens on our facebook page. ~Candy~

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