Knitting in the round can seem daunting, but with a bit of
practice, it's no more difficult than knitting on straight
needles. Here are some tips that I hope will make it a bit easier!
Circulars and Length
The appropriate circular needle length is the same size or
slightly shorter than the circumference of the piece you are
knitting. If it's too short you'll have trouble keeping all the
stitches on the needle; if it's too long, the fabric will be
stretched too taut (this is why you need to switch to double
points when decreasing the crown of a hat).
A Neater Join
For some people, the usual way of knitting the first stitch of
the round can be loose and therefore sloppy. You can tighten it up
with the tail when weaving in the end later.
A better way to join it the round can be to cast on one extra
stitch. Slip this stitch to the left (the first needle if casting
on to double points); this is the beginning of the round and next
to the first stitch you cast on. Then knit the two stitches
Still better, slip the first stitch you cast on to the right,
next to the last cast on stitch. Pass the last cast on stitch
(which is now the second stitch on the right) over the slipped
stitch, give the yarn a tug and begin your round.
Needles to Buy
Aluminum needles can be slippery and your stitches will always
want to slide off. Try bamboo or plastic.
Double points come in different lengths. Longer ones can be a bit
more awkward but for larger number of stitches, you’ll need them
so your stitches don't fall off.
They come in sets of 4 or 5. If you have the option, always buy
5; then you'll have it if you need it (and if one disappears
you'll have a spare!).
"Ladders" are the visible loose "rungs" or "bars" between knit and
crochet stitches, which run up the piece where the needles join.
sometimes they become exaggerated when knitting in the round;
sometimes you see them when knitting on circular needles but they
are much more common while knitting with double points. Take
special care to knit the first and last stitch of each needle
tightly. If you still have trouble with ladders, knit all the
stitches from one needle plus one from the next needle on the
spare needle. This way, the spot where the needles join will not
Change from Circulars to Double Points
Sometimes you decrease, as with the crown of a hat, and need to
change from circulars to double points because the number of
stitches will no longer fit on circulars without stretching. You
could just knit the entire hat on double points but most people
find circulars a bit easier since you aren't juggling multiple
To switch, just work the next round with your double points. You
can either determine before hand how many stitches should be on
each needle by dividing the number of stitches worked by 3 or 4
(number of needles) or just knit and adjust afterward by slipping
stitches to various needles.
The Beginning of the Round on Double Points
Although some people can tell which which needle is the beginning
of the round because it's the point where the length is even or
because of the yarn tail at the beginning of the piece, it's
easier to mark the beginning or end of the round for quick
reference. Place your marker one stitch in on the last needle (the
end of round) or the first needle (the beginning of the round) so
it won't fall off. It doesn't matter which as long as you know if
it's the first or last needle.
If you are decreasing, you may need to move the marker depending
upon where your decreases fall. You can place it anywhere along
the needle so as you continue to decrease, you won't need to move
it every time.