I don’t generally write about knitting because I consider myself such an amateur. I prefer to post pictures of the finished projects to share with people. Today, though, I decided to share what I’ve learned about knitting in the round and give some opinions based on my experience.
I learned to knit by making scarves on straight needles, pretty much like everyone else. When my husband’s sister came to visit one spring, she taught me how to make a hat by knitting in the round on 4 needles. A whole new knitting world opened up to me! Several months later, I decided to try my hand at socks. My sister-in-law gave me some great advice about those: “Just follow the directions, even if you don’t understand how it’s going to work. It all comes out in the end.” And she was right. I understand the theory behind making socks now, but I did the first few pairs on faith!
Knitting on 4 (or 5) DPNs (double-point needles) was lots of fun. And, I could stick a small project, like a hat or a sock, into my purse and take it with me. I was now a committed sock-knitter. It was so fun to see a ball of yarn transformed into a wearable pair of socks!
Several times on knitting websites, I had seen reference to the “Magic Loop” technique of knitting in the round. I had no idea what it was, but it sounded interesting. After I watched a couple of videos and read some articles, I decided to give it a try with some socks. I bought a Turbo Addi size 1 40” circular and got started. I was initially concerned that all the maneuvering of the stitches in the middle and end of each row would take a long time, but I was pleasantly surprised that the knitting went very quickly.
I had come across other articles about knitting in the round using two circular needles. When I ordered the yarn for my Christmas Stocking project, I also ordered two size 3 needles on long cables so that I could use the two circular needle technique as the pattern recommended. The technique itself isn’t very difficult. However, I didn’t end up doing the project on two circulars and went back to using Magic Loop. The pattern has several sections of Fair Isle knitting – stranding two or more colors behind the work – and the two needles plus the two or three colors of yarn kept getting tangled up in the back of the work. However, I have found that using the two circular needle technique is great for the headband I’m making for Rosie Girl.
So, here’s the advantages and disadvantages of each technique as I see it:
1. Double point needles
Advantages – easy to learn, the needles can be quite affordable, easy to maneuver stitches as needed over 3 or 4 needles and knit with the 4th or 5th needle
Disadvantages – it’s easy to leave “ladders” between needles (when the stitches aren’t at the same tension as the rest), can be difficult to knit a large project since most DPNs are less than 8 inches long.
2. Magic Loop
Advantages – only one needle to purchase (although the good ones can be a little pricey), easy to do once you get the hang of it.
Disadvantages - “ladders” between the needles are still possible, hard to use if you have a larger project with lots of stitches (since the loop needs to be large).
3. Two Circulars
Advantages – easy to do, if you do “Judy’s Magic Cast-on” then you already have two circular needles, good for larger projects.
Disadvantages – two needles can be a little pricey, it’s relatively easy to get needles mixed up and knit using the wrong one, tangling of yarn and cables possible when doing color work.
(You may have noticed that I did not include working with shorter cable needles. When you work with a cable needle that’s just the size that you need, it’s hard to deal with increases and decreases. In addition, it’s darn nigh impossible to do something as small as a sock on a cable needle without Magic Loop or some other technique. The three techniques here are the ones I have used for socks and other projects.)
So, go out there and enjoy knitting! What technique do you prefer? What did I leave out?