Knitting Blog

This Knitting-in-the-Round Method Doesn’t Use DPNs or Magic Loop

If you hate fiddling with DPNs and can’t get the hang of magic loop, you’re not out of luck! There’s one other way to knit in the round: using two circular needles.

Knitting on two circular needles

This technique is a cousin to magic loop. It’s pretty similar to magic loop except that you use two circular needles instead of just one long one.

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When to use two circular needles to knit in the round

This technique can be used on any in-the-round project. It’s especially great as a substitute for magic loop when you’re working with a large amount of stitches that you can’t quite fit on half of a long circular needle.

Some knitters don’t like magic loop or double-pointed needles because those techniques cause ladders. Ladders are less likely in this technique since you’re working with two separate needles. You aren’t fighting with a long cable โ€” that’s the cord that connects the needle tips โ€” to stop it from separating stitches, and you don’t have one cable that keeps kinking and pulling the stitches apart.

What you need

The only inconvenience for this method is that you need two long circular needles that are the same size.

If you have the same size in two different long lengths, that will work just fine! I just don’t recommend using a smaller circular needle (16″ or less) unless you’re working with a very small amount of cast-on stitches. You’ll see why in the tutorial below!

How to knit in the round with two circular needles

This technique works a lot like magic loop except that you get more cable length to work with. Instead of one long cable being folded in half, you have the entire cable to use on one side.

While I wouldn’t normally use a bamboo needle and an aluminum needle at the same time (they might result in different gauges, making my circular knitting unbalanced), I’m using them for this demo so it’s clear which needle I’m referring to.

Step 1: Cast on

Knitting with two circular needles

Cast the number of stitches you need onto the first needle, which is my bamboo needle. Here, I cast on 10 stitches.

Step 2: Transfer half the stitches

Knitting with two circular needles

Grab the second needle, which is my blue aluminum needle. Slide half of the stitches onto that needle. In my case, that would be five stitches.

Note that this is the only time in the circular needle that the bamboo needle and blue needle will ever work together. You’ll see why later!

Step 3: Slide the stitches

Knitting with two circular needles

Slide the stitches onto the cables of their respective needles. Then arrange the two needle cables so they’re parallel to each other and the stitches are facing each other.

Arrange your needles so that the needle with the working yarn (your second needle, the aluminum for me) is in the back. So above, my bamboo needle is closest to me, and the blue needle is in the back where the working yarn is.

Step 4: Prepare your stitches

Knitting with two circular needles

You’ll start by working your first cast-on stitch โ€” for me, that was on the bamboo needle. Grab the end of the needle and slide it over to the first cast-on stitch (and all the other stitches on the cable).

Step 6: Knit!

Knitting with two circular needles

Using the other end of the bamboo needle, knit across all the way across (or follow your pattern) to the last stitch on that needle.

When you knit that first stitch, make sure the last stitch on the blue needle and the first stitch on the bamboo needle are close together. That will prevent a ladder from forming.

This step is also where things can get tricky if your circular needle isn’t very long. Your cable needs to be long enough so that you can pull that needle around to knit the stitches without much effort.

Step 7: Slide the worked stitches

Knitting with two circular needles

To make sure the stitches you just worked stay in place, slide the bamboo needle so that the stitches rest on the center of the cable. That will keep everything in place while you work the other needle.

Step 8: Flip and prepare the other side

Flip your work around so that blue needle is in front now.

Knitting with two circular needles

Slide the blue needle so it’s ready to work the next stitch. Notice your working yarn is still in the back, which is where it should always be when you start a new needle.

Step 9: Knit across

Knitting with two circular needles

Using the other end of the blue needle, knit across to the last stitch (or follow your pattern).

Step 10: Switch again and work the other side

Knitting with two circular needles

Slide the blue needle’s stitches to the center of the cable to secure the stitches.

Start all over again with Step 4, alternating the bamboo needle and the blue needle until your work reaches the desired length.

Notice that as you knit, you’re always knitting the stitches of that needle with the ends of the needle they’re hanging out on. Do not use the bamboo needle, for example, to knit stitches from the blue needle. If you do that, you will have to go back and unknit those stitches, and that’s no fun!

What’s your favorite method for knitting in the round?

Do you like methods like this, or do you prefer double-pointed needles instead?

FREE Guide: Knitting in the Round Made Easy

FREE Guide: Knitting in the Round Made Easy

Worried that knitting in the round will throw you for a loop? Knit with confidence using this FREE downloadable guide.Get the FREE Guide

6 Comments

Marjorie Busby

Great blog post, I think most people don’t know or think about this method. It’s great for turning the heel on a sock or any small project and to me, it means I can spend more time knitting and less time moving my stitches back and forth on a magic loop.

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Denise Reynolds

I may run out of a yarn you are currently out of. Will you be getting more in? It is Cloudborn drip dyed worsted twist in color 43-004, lot 23-e

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Jane Meuler

Could you not also use a straight needle and a circular needle when reducing stitches as in making knitted hats? I am teaching ladies to knit and working with dpn’s is confusing them. Your hint here seems like the perfect solution. Half of the stitches on dpn and half on a circular needle, using only one end of the circular need to knit the stitches. Am I making sense?

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Cath

I love the double circular method and use it all the time. I rarely use a straight needle anymore, even for flat knitting. I don’t even own any DPNs, except for 0000 size for jewelry. When I was first learning to knit in the round someone tried to show me the DPN method and to me, it’s fraught with peril(ladders, dropped stitches and needles, etc., especially for a newbie. Yes, you could use one DPN and one circular, but, IMHO, then you start to lose the positive effects of using two circulars. About your comment “using only one end of the circular needle to knit the stitches”. You only ever use one end of a circular needle while knitting in this method. The other needle being used to knit the stitches is on the second circular needle. Just think of it as an extra long, floppy DPN. You only ever knit with one end of a DPN at a time, don’t you? For inexperienced knitters it’s really a lot safer to use than DPNs. Happy stitching.

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Yvonne

Would really appreciate this a lot more if you did a video…..

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Cath

I even use a circular needle for flat knitting. That way I don’t have long needles with a bunch of yarn sticking out to one side or the other. All my stitches are on the circular right in the middle of my hands. Both my needles are always together because they are fastened together.
One note for those people used to DPN patterns that say what to stitch on “Needle 3”, it may get a bit confusing because now I only have 2 needles. So I check my pattern first so that I know what part of the pattern is one on needle one and on needle two.

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