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October 04, 2005

Two Circular Needles

alt_hereIt's not that I don't like double pointed needles, really it's not.  It's just that knitting in the round using 2 circular needles seems to render my double points obsolete.  True, it does require you to have two circular needles in the same size.  But as I scan my needles collection I realize that in some cases -- okay, in many cases -- I have at least 2 circular needles per size -- not a problem.

Let me ask you, experimenting reader, have you knit in the round using two circular needles?   Don't know what I'm talking about?  Let me show you how...

In this example, I'm knitting the sweater from the top down and am currently working on a sleeve.  Traditionally, I would have started with 16" circulars and moved to double points as the sleeve narrowed.  Instead, I'm using 2 circular needles -- both the same size, US8 -- for the entire length of the sleeve.  Let's take this step by step.

Step 1: Using 2 circular needles of the same size, put half of the stitches on one needle and the other half on the other needle.  Notice how I've moved the stitches to the middle of the cords, well away from the tips of the needles.

Tip:  It's helpful if the 2 circular needles look different.  For example, if one is metal and the other is plastic.  This will make it easier to tell the 2 needles apart.  Helpful, but not necessary!
Step2:  Determine which stitch is next in line to be knit and slide this stitch and all it's buddies to the tip of their circular needle.  Position the needle so it's facing you and the stitches are in your left hand.  Using the other tip of the same circular needle begin to knit normally.  Try your best to completely ignore the other circular needle and its half of the stitches dangling behind you.
Step3: Finish knitting all of the stitches on this circular needle. 

Hey, did you notice I'm wearing my pink and tangerine footlets?  They're peaking out from my clogs.  nona dear, please get back on track and leave your MCS for later.
Step4: Slide these newly knit stitches to the center of the cord, safely away from the needle tips.
Step5: Flip your knitting over so the other circular needle is now facing you and slide it's stitches to the needle tip.
Step6: Using the other tip of the same circular needle begin to knit normally.

It's as easy as that.  Just remember these two important points:

  1. Always knit the stitches with the other tip of the same circular needle.
  2. Make sure the stitches on the other, idle circular needle are safely positioned in the middle of the needle's cord.

October 4, 2005 in Tips and Techniques | Permalink


Is this also how you knit socks with two circs? Because I really don't understand that concept.

Posted by: Christina | Oct 4, 2005 9:03:09 PM

Okay so dontcha get ladders? I guess not, or everyone wouldn't be doing it. I faked the magic loop on a recent hat, but then I felted it, so its perfect top didn't matter so much.

Posted by: Daphne | Oct 4, 2005 11:19:30 PM

I've tryed this once and didn't like it much, for some unspotted reason. That's when I learned to work with 5 small bamboo dpns... Well, surely I'll try the 2 circs again. That's what knitting is mainly about : try, try, try ;-)

Posted by: Sophie | Oct 5, 2005 1:06:45 AM

I almost get this (pictures great!)....can you do it with just a very few stitches?...as in top of a hat?...and are you knitting in the round for that sleeve or does this work only for flat pieces?

Posted by: nona friend the oldest | Oct 5, 2005 3:30:01 AM

This is a very fortunate post for me right now, as I'm about to knit a sleeve in the round. Plans were to use magic loop (but I don't want to spend the $$$ for a 40-inch circ.) Now, I don't have to!

Any cast-on hints? Start on DPNs and switch after a few rows?

Posted by: Colleen | Oct 5, 2005 3:30:04 AM

I also favor two circulars for knitting in the round. Great pictures Nona.

Posted by: Teri | Oct 5, 2005 4:52:02 AM

I've tried the two-circ method, but ultimately, the dangling ends annoyed me (grin). They'd tangle in my yarn (especially if I was doing two socks at once), and after dealing for an afternoon, I decided it was too much of a pain. Then I tried the Magic Loop method and liked it SO much more! I guess, because it's "neater." Nothing dangles out of the way, you're always using the points of the needles, and it's easy to shove into your purse for a quick trip. (I've done that with DPNs and it's not always pretty!)

But still, isn't it wonderful that there are OPTIONS??

Posted by: --Deb | Oct 5, 2005 6:11:52 AM

I'm completely converted to two circs over dbl points. I've stopped buying dbl points all together. And when I need two circs of the same needle size, I just buy them in different lengths. Then it's easy to justify.

Posted by: Dena Childs | Oct 5, 2005 6:45:01 AM

Thank you for the great instructions and photos to match! I've been learning the Magic Loop method and could not figure out how people were knitting from 2 circulars...now it all makes sense. I still don't understand how to knit 2 socks at once on circulars but I think this will help me get it!

Posted by: springyknitting | Oct 5, 2005 7:32:53 AM

I have to try this... I don't think I'm visualizing it correctly because it sounds like you are doing the two halves of the sleeves flat, and I don't see how they stay connected. I probably need more coffee!

Posted by: Cathy | Oct 5, 2005 7:39:57 AM

My first foray into DPN's was in doing the Fuzzy Feet pattern from Knitty. In that case, the needles are way big (and heavy) in comparison to the yarn, and no matter how tight I pulled the yarn when I made the stitches at the beginning of the needles, when I got to one stitch on the end, the stitch I was knitting into would've stretched out from the weight of all the yarn and other needles hanging off of it.

I end up supporting the needles as I knit the beginning and end of each needle, but that's awkward and drives me nuts, so...

I really like the two circs method. Only 2 chances for ladders instead of 4. Only 12 stitches (3 at the beginning and end of each needle) that I have to try hard to make sure they stay tight, rather than 24.

That said, though... I've gotten a little better with DPN's, and so they don't bother me quite as much as they used to (nd I've discovered birch DPN's... they're much easier to work with than the Clover bamboos) so I'm not afraid to use those if they're called for.

Posted by: Leisel | Oct 5, 2005 7:47:11 AM

Excellent tutorial! I actually enjoy using DPN's for socks (I use short ones - they're 4 or 5" long) and I've done Magic Loop. I'll have to try 2 circs. Like Deb said above, it's all about options!

Posted by: Beth | Oct 5, 2005 7:51:51 AM

I love knitting on two circulars! The trick I use to determine quickly which other needle end to grab is to give a small tug and see which end moves. Fast, easy, foolproof.

Posted by: Kathy | Oct 5, 2005 8:18:26 AM

Oh, how I love knitting in the round on two circs. It's great that you are helping others see the beauty of this method!

Posted by: Purly Whites | Oct 5, 2005 10:17:05 AM

I absolutely love knitting on two circulars. Now that I have worked it out..... Those dpns were too pointy in the palms of my hands!
I have managed to get the stitches all onto one needle on my latest project which is fun to untangle!
Thanks for another of your excellent tutorials!

Posted by: Kira | Oct 5, 2005 10:51:51 AM

DOWN WITH DPNs! The Queen loves knitting in the round with 2 circs!

It's not that I hate DPNs, but I'm too clumsy (and my brain is too small) for so many needles at once.

And, excellent tutorial! :)

Posted by: The Queen of the Snow Cows | Oct 5, 2005 1:18:10 PM

I tried two circulars once, but it is just not for me - I do not like circulars much, and I think they *know*, so they alway try and poke me in the eyes (I wear glasses, ah ah).

Posted by: Lu | Oct 5, 2005 1:25:41 PM

i love knitting with two circulars, that's how i knit socks, and will possibly be how i knit anything round in the future. ie, gloves!!

Posted by: blossom | Oct 5, 2005 1:58:01 PM

So how do you feel about knitting a circle with one loooong circ? I have used this for socks and find that it certainly helps when I don't have the funds for two needles of the same size. Is there a reason you prefer to use two? Just curious.

Posted by: Vicki | Oct 5, 2005 7:28:56 PM

I've watched it done. Being there to see it cleared it up for me.

I'm in the double-point camp. I think I better go cast something on to four needles now....My pony pearl size one's ....I love those needles.

Posted by: kathy b | Oct 6, 2005 6:58:55 AM

Yay! Another technical how to knitting blog! I added you to http://www.thedietdiary.com/blog/lu-technicalKnitting.php , my list of technical knitting blogs.

(It's not a long list. If you know other people who regularly take photos showing "how" to do things, let me know. )

Posted by: Lucia | Oct 7, 2005 5:36:21 AM

I always use two circulars; I only have one set of dpns. But instead of using two different types of needles I like to use two lengths. That way they're easy to tell appart, but also I get two sets of circulars that I can use for other projects. But if you don't have the needles already, it's kinda expensive to buy two new pair of circulars.

Posted by: mattie | Oct 7, 2005 7:34:21 AM

I go back and forth between dps and circs. I like the circs for travel cause I never loose a needle in the plane seats etc. and everything is always together.

Posted by: Judy | Oct 11, 2005 8:03:39 AM

Local craft store had all their needles/hooks on sale for 30%off...SO..got some circulars and I'm going to give this 2 circular knitting thing a GO. Golly, sure wish I had someone sitting beside me to show me first hand what to do! (O: Any volunteers?

Posted by: Sandy | Oct 13, 2005 2:53:00 PM

You can also use this technique with a needle kit such as the Denise Interchangeable needles or the Boye NeedleMaster kit. You have 2 cables with one end being the correct size needle end and the opposite end being the next smaller size needle end. You always knit onto the correct size and knit off of the smaller needle size.

Save you buying matching needles if you already have the kit.

Posted by: TattinTeacher | Mar 16, 2006 9:35:28 PM

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