Part 1: Knitting in the Round on Magic Loop
What Is Knitting in the Round?
Knitting in the round simply means knitting a tube instead of a flat piece of fabric. The stitches go around and around in a spiral and there are no “edges.”
You can also make a tube by knitting a flat piece of fabric and then sewing it up, but knitting in the round (also called “round knitting”) is the easiest and fastest way to make a seamless tube.
What is Knitting in the Round Used For?
People use round knitting to make sweaters, socks, gloves, hats, mittens, arm warmers, iPod cozies, coffee-cup sleeves, finger puppets… the list goes on. Basically anything that can be made up of tubes.
Unfortunately, people don’t knit in the round nearly as often as they should. This is because some patterns don’t call for it, or they shy away from patterns that do call for it because they don’t know how or don’t feel comfortable doing it.
I am going to solve both problems for you. First, I’ll teach you the easiest and fastest way to knit in the round, and then I’ll show you how to knit any pattern that you want in the round. It’s easier than you think.
What Are the Ways People Knit in the Round?
For years and years, people have been knitting small things like socks in the round on double-pointed needles (called DPNs), and big things like sweaters and hats on circular needles.
Knitting on DPNs
People divide their stitches over three or four double-pointed needles, and use a fourth or fifth needle to knit with.
This complicated-looking method results is what is fondly known as the “ninja star of death” when attempting to try on something you’ve made using DPNs.
Sometimes it’s uncomfortable or unwieldy to try on your knitting; sometimes it’s just impossible. In addition, the place where the DPNs meet often creates a column of stretched-out stitches, called a ladder (the phenomenon is called laddering).
Also, the dang needles can sometimes fall out of your knitting (since there is no cap on the end of the needle) and get lost between the seat and the car door, never to be found again (the er… passenger car door, that is).
So let’s not go there.
Knitting with Circular Needles
Circular needles look like two double-pointed needles connected with a cable. Don’t call them cable needles, though – that’s something else.
Circular needles come in all different lengths, to accommodate the circumference of the project that you are knitting. Unfortunately, this results in you having to buy circular needles in all different lengths: 24 inches for a sweater, 47 inches for a blanket, 16 inches for a hat…
This can get very expensive, not to mention cumbersome to organize and/or travel with. Fortunately, there’s a better way.
The Round-Knitting Revolution
Recently, ingenious knitters around the world have seized on the ability of circular needles to be used like DPNs. Meaning that the stitches are divided into sections, each on its own circular needle.
Because the cables are flexible, only two sections are needed, and the needles can accommodate any number of stitches. The added length of the needle also makes it possible to knit more than one tube at a time, if you divide your stitches up properly and cleverly.
Knitting With Two Circular Needles
But still, this is not as simple as it could be. Proponents of knitting with two circular needles (“two circs,” as it’s called) advise that you buy two needles of different lengths, so you can tell them apart (although I don’t know why you need to – you can’t tell your DPNs apart… but I digress).
The metal needle-ends hang down when not in use, clanking and banging on each other. And you are still buying more needles than you need. Which brings me to the most elegant, simple, and cost-effective solution of all… the Magic Loop.