"The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action. "
- John Dewey
If you’ve taken a liking to the relaxing, creative hobby of knitting and you’re looking to expand your skills beyond the basics of knitting then you need to know about circular needles.
What are these needles? What is the difference between a circular needle and regular knitting needle? And how to knit using a circular needle? If you’re curious about any of the following questions then you’re in the right place.
To answer the first question ; circular knitting needles resemble two needles joined together by a flexible cord. This means that instead of one pointed end and one stopper, circular needles have two pointy ends. They can either be permanently fixed to the connecting cord or purchased as part of an interchangeable system that includes many different sized needles that can be attached as per the knitters’ creative vision and convenience.
Secondly, how does a circular needle differ from a regular knitting needle?
When you’re knitting flat – a method of knitting where the work is turned periodically so that alternating sides of the project is facing the knitter– you tend to use regular “flat” needles which are pointed on one end and with a stopper on the other. This is the kind of needle a new knitter usually starts with.
These flat needles are great for knitting two-dimensional projects like scarves, however, knitting in three-dimension is harder with these regular needles. This is where circular needles come in handy.
Not only do these needles work well for knitting flat but it allows the knitter to quickly and easily master the knitting in the round technique by letting them knit seamless tube-like structures like hats, sweaters, socks etc without any extra sewing.
Now for the final question that delves into the actual technique that will elevate the skill and speed of your knitting. Here’s how to knit using a circle needle :
There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to knitting with circular needles
The length of the needle: Choose a needle length that is shorter than the circumference of your project. Why?
1) If the needle is larger the project your stitches will be stretched and they may even tear rendering your work useless.
2) However it shouldn’t so short in length that it doesn’t fit the number of stitches needed for your project causing them to bunch up or overlap
Depending on the circumference of your project, you can buy different lengths of needles and cords. The most commonly available and used lengths are 11, 16, 24, 29, 34, 36, and 40 inches.
– The material of the needle/cord: Like regular needles, circular needles come in a variety of materials including bamboo, wood, steel and plastic. You can choose based on your level of experience in knitting, and your preference.
1) A beginner would benefit from the affordable, light-weight qualities of bamboo or wooden needles, which not only comes in a range of lengths and sizes but makes the yarn less slippery on the needle.
2) If you’re a bit more advanced and looking for smooth needles that allow for swift knitting then aluminium , steel , brass needles may be the best choice for you.
3) The connecting cords also have a range of options for the knitter to choose from ; there are the smooth, light, nylon-coated cords or the “memory-less/low memory” cords that last longer as they don’t hold any bends or curls of the project
How to use your circular needles to knit?
Remember that circular needles allows you to knit in the round and knit flat :
To begin with, cast on stitches onto the circular needle. Let the stitches slide onto the cord. Now knit according to your preferred method as explained below.
For knitting in the round ;
When working with this technique you are always knitting on the front or the right side of the fabric so you will need to alter your basic pattern stitches accordingly. The most common stitches using circular needles are Stockinette Stitch, where you only have to knit every row. The Garter Stitch, where you’ll need to knit one row, purl one row, and Reverse Stockinette, where you purl every row.
The process :
Once you cast the stitches, turn the braided edge of the cast on yarn so that it all faces the same direction and won’t twist around as you work.
With the working yarn on the right needle, push all the stitches close to the tips of the needles.
Use the right needle and knit into the first stitch of the left needle. Once the first stitch on the left is complete, pull it tight and join the round.
From the left needle, start the second stitch and knit across the whole round. At the end of this round, move to the right needle and continue knitting.
Knit as many rounds as it takes until your work is complete.
When done, weave in the tail from your cast on to the close any gaps at the edge of the cast on. Weave the tail on the wrong side, purl the stitches and when secure cut this tail loose.
For knitting flat ;
Using circular needles to knit flat is especially useful for big projects like blankets, throws, afghans etc, because these needles hold stitches better and also hold the weight of the project better than regular needles.
The process ;
In this case, cast on the stitches and knit. Don’t join the round.
Holding the left needle end that has your stitches, slowly work across all the stitches until the right.
When you get to the end of the row, switch hands so the working yarn is attached to the left needle and knit back.
Work on the next row of stitches and continue the process as the pattern requires.
So there we have it. Now you know the difference between the various knitting needles and techniques as well as the basics of how to knit with circular needles. Hopefully all the blooming knitters are confident enough to pick up some circular needles and give them a try now!