Knitting With Circular Needles

There are two useful techniques when working with small diameters in the round, such as making socks, mittens and sleeves. The first, shown here, uses two circular needles. At the bottom of the Masterclass you can also find out about the second method, Magic Loop.  

26th September 2010

Knitting with circular needlesUsing circular needles can make knitting small pieces in the round a doddle - such as socks, mittens and sleeves. If you have a small number of stitches on a circular needle then, regardless of how long the cable is or how short the actual needle part is, it is the case that you’ll be working at a tighter angle when inserting into the stitches. At first, it is a good idea to use two differing sets of circular needles. They need to be the same diameter and it is logical (although not essential) to use needles with the same length wire, but it's helpful to use needles either with different coloured points or points made from different materials, such as a metal pair and a wooden pair for example.


Cast on the required number of stitches onto one of the circular needles (here shown in metal) using your preferred method. Using two circular needles: Second pair of needles is in wood

1. Using the second set of circulars (shown here in wood), knit across half the number of stitchesUsing two circular needles: Both sets of needles should be in your left hand

2. Hold both sets of needles in your left hand with the stitches you have already knitted on the back needle and both needles with the tips facing to the right.Using two circular needles: The stitches sit on the wire of the back needle

3. * Pull the back needle through the stitches so that the stitches sit on the wire. Pick up the other end of the circular needle that you are holding to the front (shown here in metal) and knit across the stitches on this needle.This time the wooden needles are at the front

4. Transfer both needles to your left hand once again, this time with the wooden needles at the front. Slip the stitches just worked onto the cable and slide the stitches on the wooden needle onto the tip pointing right. Use the other end of the wooden needles to knit across these stitches.Using two circular needles: Ensure you always work the stitches onto the tip of the same needle

5. Continue to repeat, turning the work after each set of stitches and ensuring that you always work stitches onto the tip of the same needle. So if the stitches start on the wooden needles, you need to knit them onto the other end of the wooden needles

You can achieve similar results by using the Magic Loop method.

Jane CrowfootAbout our expert

Jane Crowfoot is one of the UK’s leading knitting experts and author of the book Finishing Techniques for Hand Knitters (Search Press, £9.99) Find out more about Jane at and

Have you tried this technique? Let us know by posting a comment below or emailing us at

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