Knitting in the Round on Circular Needles

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Knitting in the round on circular needles allows you to create tubes of knitting.  Many also prefer to use circular needles for flat knitting as well because of the way circular needles distribute the weight of the work into the lap instead of at the end of a set of needles.  When you use circular needles for flat knitting, you don't join the round.

Circular needles come in many lengths:  the length you choose depends on the number of stitches that the needle can physically accommodate as well as the gauge at which you are working:  circular needles that are too long will cause the stitches to stretch.  There is a point at which your knitted tube will be too small to be worked on circular needles.  At that point, you will need to do your circular work on Double Pointed Needles.

Another characteristic of knitting in the round is that the right side is always facing you.  This means that if you are working up a stockinette swatch, you will knit all rows.

Knitting in the Round on Circular Needles, Step 1

Step 1:  You must first cast on or pick up stitches to have a foundation of stitches on your circular needles just as you would for straight knitting.  (See Knit Tutorial Index for techniques used to cast on or pick up stitches.) 

In preparation for joining, arrange the stitches so that they are not twisted.  In this example, the cast-on edge is facing center.

Knitting in the Round on Circular Needles, Step 2

Step 2: Picking up the circulars so that the start of your cast-on / picked-up foundation row is in your left hand, and the end of your foundation row is in your right hand, place a marker on your right needle.  This marker will indicate the end of the round. 

Make sure to keep your stitches untwisted!

Knitting in the Round on Circular Needles, Step 3

Step 3:  Purl or knit the first stitch on the left needle as desired (knit shown). Pull the loop on the right needle through the stitch on the left needle.

Pull the yarn tight to avoid a hole.

Knitting in the Round on Circular Needles, Step 4

Step 4: Continue working the stitches.  You will find that you need to periodically redistribute the stitches evenly around the circular needle so that they do not pull.

Knitting in the Round on Circular Needles, Step 5

Step 5: Continue working until you come to the marker.  This marks the completion of the first round.  Slip the marker to the right needle and continue working the number of rounds required.