If you have noticed that most knitting patterns assume that you know how to knit with circular knitting needles, you may be a bit intimidated to get started. Circular knitting needles are so much fun to knit with and they allow you to make bags, sweaters, and other garments without seams. While flat needles are great for knitting two-dimensional garments, circular needles allow you to knit round tubes.
Typically made from the same materials as straight knitting needles, circular knitting needles are joined with a flexible cable. As you knit, the flexible cable will hold the stitches. When purchasing circular knitting needles, you can select needles that are attached to the cable or you can buy a set where the knitting needle tips are removable. The removable ones allow you to change out different size needles, depending on your pattern.
Circular knitting needles also offer different length of flexible cable. You will need different lengths for different size garments. Your stitches will need to sit on the cable while you knit, so it is important to pay attention to the cable length called for by your pattern.
Knitting using circular needles is referred to as "knitting in the round."
When knitting with circular knitting needles, you will knit the front side of the fabric. This allows for much faster knitting. Stockinette stitch is perfect for circular knitting needles because you knit every row. Garter stitch will require you to knit one row and then purl one row. There are several knitting stitches that can be worked in the round. If your pattern is meant to be followed with circular knitting needles, it will specify and the directions will assume that you are knitting on the front of the fabric.
Circular knitting needles are especially helpful when knitting large, flat garments. When knitting a heavy throw blanket, the cable of the circular needles helps to hold and support the weight of the blanket. When using circular knitting needles to knit a flat garment, simply work it the same as you would with flat needles. Cast on and knit without joining in the round.
If you want to break out the circular knitting needles and start practicing, here are a few patterns that will help you brush up on your "in the round" skills.
This free pattern by All Free Knitting is super cute and perfect for a beginner who doesn't want to knit anything too complicated. It uses a bulky weight yarn and basic knitting stitches. In just a few hours, you will have knitted your first garment with your circular knitting needles.
These brightly colored cuff down socks are adorned with an all-over lace pattern. The hybrid fleegle heel is integrated in the leg, meaning that the heel flap and gusset are worked in the round together with the leg. The best part is that this pattern comes in a convenient knitting kit.
If you are looking for some fun, cozy mittens to knit in the round, this pattern may be for you. The garter stitch pattern looks like a lattice crust pie and will provide practice with your circular needles.
Once you started knitting with circular knitting needles, you may not ever go back to flat needles.