Knitting Blog

Next Steps in Knitting: Demystifying the Magic Loop

Many knitters find knitting in the round, especially for large garments like sweaters, to be much faster. But what about when you work on things that have a smaller circumference like socks, sleeves, and mittens?

When it comes to how to knit in the round, there are double pointed needles, knitting in the round on two circulars, and (my favorite) the amazing magic loop! Read on for a step-by-step tutorial on how to complete the magic loop in the round.

Demystifying the Magic Loop on the Craftsy Blog!

What is magic loop knitting?

The magic loop method is another method of knitting small circumference pieces in the round on one long circular needle. Magic loop knitting can be done on any needle size with a cable length of at least 32" or more. I personally prefer a 40" cable for magic loop, but I know some who prefer a 24" cable. It's just a matter of trying out a few lengths to find the one that will work the best for you and your knitting. For this photo tutorial, I am using a 40" cable with worsted weight yarn.

How to knit the magic loop method

[Want to save or print this tutorial? Click here to get the PDF version, PLUS enjoy four bonus tutorials for knitting in the round — absolutely FREE!]

Step 1:

Begin by casting on the required number of stitches.

Casting on the required number of stitches

Step 2:

Move the stitches to the center of the cable and find the middle point in the stitches. Gently bend your cable to bring a bit up between the center stitches.

Find the middle point in the stitches

Step 3:

Pull the cable gently to the point where the cast on stitches are now resting on the needles and not the cable.

knitting the magic loop

Step 4:

Turn the needles so they are horizontal to the ground and the first stitch cast on is on the needle closest to you. Hang the tail of the yarn down, and lay the working yarn over the back needle. (This is done because we will be knitting our first stitch. If you are purling, you will let your working yarn hang down between the needles).

Turn the needles for the magic loop method

Step 5:

Pull the back needle out so the back stitches are on the cable now. Be careful to keep the working yarn toward the back. Bring the needle into the first stitch to knit.

Working needles for the magic loop method

Step 6:

Knit your first set of stitches!

Knit your first set of stitches knitting in the round on circular needles

Step 7:

To turn your work: Once you have knit the first set, turn your needles so the unworked stitches are now closest to you, pull the back needle out so the just worked stitches are resting on the cable. Keep the working yarn toward the back. Bring the back needle around and prepare to knit the first stitch.

turn your needles so the unworked stitches are now closest to you

Step 8:

When you complete this set of stitches you have just worked one round.

Continue this way for as many rounds as you need!

Finishing up knitting in the round using the magic loop method

Now you're magic looping!

Quick tip

When magic looping, I don't use a stitch marker to mark my beginning of round. Instead, I use the tail end of the cast on. While this (to me) is less fussy, if you aren't paying attention to where you're at, you could lose track easily. In this case, I'd suggest clipping a locking stitch marker to a stitch at the beginning of the round.

I love magic looping sleeves and socks especially. Once I learned this method, I never wanted to go back to dpns!

Beyond the Magic Loop

knitting in the round

Now that you know how to knit the magic loop, use this FREE downloadable guide to knit in the round with confidence!Get my FREE guide »

28 Comments

Marjorie Gibson

Thank you so much for sending “knitting in the round” instructions. I printed the instructions and will try it. Looks so simple and to not have to knit with 4 needles, is a blessing!

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Marjorie Gibson

Thank you so much for sending “knitting in the round” instructions. I printed the instructions and will try it. Looks so simple and to not have to knit with 4 needles, is a blessing!

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Lynn

I love using the magic loop and can’t imagine ever going back to double points. My only caution before you might try it is to make sure that your cable is flexible enough. Must say I have been investing in higher quality circular needles to get the flexibility that keeps it from getting very frustrating

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Maria

I’m familiar with magic loop from a YouTube video and she switched the needles, IE you pulled out the front needle to knit the stitches on the back needle. Does it matter which way you do it or do they produce different results? Also, does it matter what type of cast on you use? I see you’re using the long tail cast on, will it work the same way if using a knitted or cable cast on? Please let me know!

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Clara

I ALWAYS use the magic loop method when kitting in the round. If I had to use DP’S. I would have stopped knitting a long time ago.

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Jeanette Heroux

before I use a new circular needle or one that has not been used In a while, I soak it in hot water. Then I stretch it by pulling the cable from one needle to the next. This relaxes the cable

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Erin

ive been trying for awhile to figure out how the magic loop method is any different than making something in circulars that are way to big for your project. I.e you have to keep pulling the excess cable through and shuffling stitches around the cable.
Or have I missed something essential to “magic Loop’?

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glc

They are the same thing 🙂

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Carmen hoehn

I like your explanation!

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Karen

My friend who just joined last week at U3A Caboolture, Sue Robson. asks if the knitting club could do little pacman faces etc or small teddys for the QML for children have blood tests etc. She works for QML young rd Doctors Narangba

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Shelly

I have attempted magic loop numerous times using every tip I can find, but it never results in anything but great big old ladders in the finished product. Never again. I felt like I’d been set free when I discovered the two circular needles method. No more ladders! 😀

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Donna Aguilar

I’m with you Shelly! I much prefer using 2 circular needles!

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Patresa Phelps

just learning how and I can’t purl. I have figured out Knit but not the Purl, Help?

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Kay B

I have tried several times to do the magic loop method with circular needles but cannot seem to get it right. It’s not so simple. At step #2 when you bend the circular needles to allow equal halves of cast ons between the two needles, the middle of that cast on always gets stretched out and the cast on stitches on the two needles tightens, and it feels like I have two left thumbs. I’d rather use double pointed needles.

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Kate

Wow! My mind is blown. I have knit and crocheted for years and just now stumbled on your description of this technique. I am SO glad I did! Thanks for sharing this and doing so in a simple way. I look forward to casting on in this manner! Thanks!

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Nelly

Dealing with the loop and having to pull stitches up over the cable as well as yarn overs is far more difficult than doing knitting with dpns. The thing about dpns is that although there are 3 or 4 needles with stitches on, they just sit there until you pick the needles up to knit with them – only 2 at a time, perfectly manageable and just the way you usually knit. Circular knitting with dpns is much the easier method. Yet in avoiding it, people accept limitations and annoyances of another method.

This explanation misses out the fact that when turning the work and putting the stitches onto the cable you have to move the stitches that were on the cable up onto the other needle and ready to knit. It is easiest to turn work first, bring the stitches off the cable onto the new needle ready to knit and then push the just knitted stitches back onto the cable and out of the way.

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Sue

Some methods are more awkward than others to different people. I first taught myself to use dpns and did fine, but then I tried 2 circulars and I like it better. I am working on learning magic loop and it is a little awkward, but I have only done about 20 rows. I like the circular needles because you can just let go and jump up and leave if necessary. With dpns, it is a little more difficult. Same with taking your work with you.
So to each his own.

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Mary

I can’t get the pdf to download. It keeps telling me its not a valid file.is there anywhere else i could get them from?

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Maureen ferguson

Yesterday I saw a lady knitting stock she was using two sets of circular meddles any know how this is done

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tmana

OK. This is what I thought it was. The problem, I find, is that on fine yarns (fingering, lace weight), the inflexibility and size of the cable stress the stitches too much. On small-diameter projects, I find it easier (though more cumbersome) to add more dpn (six to eight size 1 dpn are about right for the sleeve of a teddy bear’s sweater; would probably want the same if I were to try to knit gloves).

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Jenna

Thanks for this great tutorial! May I use a link to this tutorial in a pattern I am writing?

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Debbie Walsh

Thank you! Just tried making two accent ears on a hat and it worked perfectly. The DPNs tend to leave spaces around and slip stitches off when I use so few stitches (16). I wish I knew about this when I finished my son’s sweater. I used cotton yarn and the needles kept falling out and drove me nuts!

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Gail

i get everything right..but no matter how i try to pull the tail and working yarn tight i have a bar between the 2 needles and knit on stitches on both needles….i knit a touque..and never had a problem changing to do the magic loop when i was getting to the end..but starting off from cast on is my problem..hope you can help.thx

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Lea

I haven’t tried this yet, but I did just make a pair of socks with bamboo dpn. The bamboo has a bit of “grip” whick keeps the needles from sliding off easily. Might give this a try, though. Thanks!

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Amy Sharp

I’ve used this technique before, but forgot the finer points; thanks for leaving this up as a reminder. I suffer from advanced arthritis in my hands; my fingers don’t curl in far enough to grip thin needles. The tiny DPNs slip out of my loosely curled hands and the stitches just dangle. By the time I realize I dropped one, I have laddered stitches to pull up. I find the magic loop a tad time-consuming but more reliable than DPNs for a knitter like me.

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Jo

The instructions seem to leave out the very important step of joining to form the round. A more advanced knitter may not need to be told, but it would be very helpful for those of us less experienced.

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Linda

This is the best “knitting in the round” tutorial I’ve seen. I congratulate you on the concise text and the clear pictures. You’ve done a great job! Thank you so much.

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Sehryn Belle

I love 9″ fixed circulars for knitting socks and mittens. They are really great once you get used to them. No risk of ‘laddering’ anywhere. Super easy to transport, and put down and pick up.
I have almost every size needed for a full sock and mitten set and prefer them over DPNs any day!
I am comfortable with DPNs, but they are not as easy to transport or quickly put down and pick up, and there’s always the issue of tension and potential for laddering when changing from one needle to the next
Fixed 9″ circulars take a little time to get used to because the needles are so short, but it doesn’t take long before it’s easy to go whizzing through the rounds
My favourite 9″ fixed circulars right now are the Chiaogoo metal with the wonderful red cord. I’ve found no snagging of stitches as they move from cord to needle. Very smooth transition. I also like Addi turbo, but they have been harder to acquire. Hiya Hiya bamboo are nice to use as well, but not quite as smooth for stitches to move from cord to needle, and the cord isn’t quite as flexible as Chiaogoo or Addi Turbo.
I am very disappointed with Kinki Amibari 9″ bamboo fixed circulars – the cord gets horrid kinks that stay put! I will never buy or use their circulars again, but like their bamboo DPNs and SP needles.
I did use Magic Loop to knit one pair of socks on a 32″ fixed circular and did not enjoy the process. I was relieved when my project was finally finished! I am pretty sure my lack of enjoyment is due to the Kinki Amibari needles I used. Kinki Amibari bamboo are horrible imo- stitches consistently snag on the transition from cord to needle and the cord itself is terrible. It gets kinks and retains them.

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