Ditch Your DPNs for Knitting Socks and Try the Magic Loop Instead

Most sock knitters have strong feelings about how they get the job done. If you’re one of them, you’re probably decisive about cuff-down vs. toe-up, and you’ve figured out a way to perfectly graft those toes. We’re not about to mess with all that! But…sometimes trying a new technique, like the magic loop method, can revolutionize the way you knit socks. Just sayin’.

If you’re curious about magic loop, it’s worth knowing that the method has a ton of pluses. For starters, you won’t need to collect double-pointed needles (DPNs) in every size. And if you happen to hate those DPNs anyway, you don’t need us to convince you to switch things up. If you’re still not sold, we thought of a bunch more reasons to try the magic loop method.

Ready to test-drive this technique on your next pair of socks? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Know Before You Knit

1. Do a Magic Loop Test Run with Scraps

It’s better if you don’t start out knitting with sock yarn right away. If you’re new to the technique, work out the kinks on scrap yarn first. You may even want to practice with a worsted weight yarn, and slowly work your way down to sock yarn.

2. Use the Right Needle

The correct needle makes all the difference when you’re knitting with the magic loop method. You’ll need a long circular needle that’s at least 29 inches long. If it’s any shorter, it won’t work well for this method, especially if you’re knitting two socks at the same time. You’ll need tons of room! Trust us.

A flexible cord is hugely helpful too. Some circular needle cords are stiff and tough to wrangle; others are thin and bend much more easily. Interchangeable needles are great for magic loop since they have a flexible cord.

Some knitters who use magic loop insist on relaxing their cords in hot water first, to make them more flexible. Others give that trick the side-eye, but you might as well give it a try if your cords aren’t cooperating.

3. Consider Knitting Two Socks at a Time

The beauty of the magic loop method is that you can knit two socks at the same time if you want, especially after you get comfortable with the technique.

If you do decide to double up, use a yarn bowl to keep your sock yarn from getting too tangled up, and to keep your tension even.

4. Choose Patterns Designed for Magic Loop

If you’re ready to get on board with the magic loop method, you’re in luck: Some sock knitters are so into the technique that they design patterns specifically tailored to it. This can make it easier for first-time magic loopers, especially when it comes to shaping heels and rearranging stitch markers.

5. Avoid the Dreaded Ladder

If you’re struggling with ladders forming where your needle bends, you may have an equipment failure. Because, really, avoiding ladders happens pretty naturally when you knit magic loop. If you are getting ladders, make sure your cord is flexible (a stiff cord may not bend well, and cause a gap in your knitting). Similarly, make sure that cord is long enough — if it’s too short, it’s going to bend right between your stitches.

6. Don’t Feel Pressured to Love Magic Loop

If you try knitting socks with magic loop and find that you actually prefer the traditional double-pointed needles, there’s no shame in that. Hey, at least you tried something new, right?

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