How to use Circular Knitting Needles

Circular knitting needles are used to knit projects in the round, and they are also used to knit heavier pieces such as blankets.  Find out here what they are, how to use them & more!


Knitting comes with many different types of needle requirements. Usually knitting is done with straight needles, to create flat knitting.

But sometimes there is a need for knitting in the round, or knitting heavier items, that require special circular knitting needles.

Here we let you know what circular knitting needles are, how to use them, how to measure them, what types there are and more!

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What are Circular Knitting Needles?

Circular knitting needles are versatile tools used for knitting projects in the round, such as hats, socks, and seamless garments.

They can also be used to knit pieces that are heavier, such as blankets. By spreading out the stitches on a circular needle these projects can be more manageable.

A circular needle consists of two pointed needle tips connected by a flexible cable. Instead of using two separate knitting needles, you just use one circular needle.

Types of Circular Knitting Needles

Circular knitting needles come in various types, each designed for specific purposes and preferences. Here are some of the different types of circular knitting needles:

Fixed Circular Needles

Fixed circular needles have the needle tips permanently attached to the cable. They are available in a wide range of sizes and cable lengths.

These needles are ideal for knitting in the round, such as making hats, socks, or seamless garments. Fixed circular needles are convenient for projects that require a specific cable length.

Interchangeable Circular Needles

Interchangeable circular needles consist of separate needle tips and cables that can be attached and removed.

They offer versatility as you can switch out needle tips and cables to accommodate different projects and sizes.

Interchangeable sets typically come with a variety of needle tip sizes, cable lengths, and accessories in a case.

Double-Pointed Needle (DPN) Sets

DPN sets include a collection of short, pointed needles with tips at both ends.  They are commonly used for small-circumference knitting, such as socks, mittens, and sleeves.

DPNs allow you to distribute your stitches evenly across multiple needles while working in the round.

Circular Needle Sets

Some manufacturers offer sets of fixed circular needles with various needle tip sizes and cable lengths.

These sets are convenient for knitters who want a comprehensive collection of circular needles in one package.  Circular needle sets may include a variety of sizes suitable for different projects.

Lace Circular Needles

Lace circular needles have sharper and longer needle tips designed to handle fine yarns and intricate lace patterns.

They are well-suited for lace knitting where precise stitches and yarn overs are essential.

Bamboo or Wooden Circular Needles

Circular needles are available in various materials, including bamboo, wood, and other natural fibers.

Bamboo and wooden needles are known for their warmth, flexibility, and comfortable grip, making them a favorite for many knitters.

Metal Circular Needles

Metal circular needles are typically made of aluminum, stainless steel, or other metallic materials.

They are known for their smooth, slick surfaces, which facilitate quick knitting and are ideal for working with slippery yarns.

Fixed Circular Needles with Specialty Features

Some circular needles come with specialty features such as extra-long tips, swivel connectors between the cable and tips, or flexible cables that reduce kinking and tangling.

Circular Needles for Specific Projects

Some circular needles are designed for specific purposes, such as short-cable circular needles for knitting baby garments or tiny items, or long-cable circular needles for knitting blankets and shawls.

Circular Needles with Color-Coded Tips

To help identify sizes easily, some circular needles have color-coded needle tips or cables.

The type of circular knitting needle you choose will depend on your project needs, personal preferences, and knitting style. Many knitters find that having a variety of circular needles in their collection allows them to tackle a wide range of projects with ease.



How to Measure Circular Knitting Needles

Measuring circular knitting needles is important to determine their size, which is typically indicated in both US and metric sizes.

Circular needles have two key measurements: the length of the needle tips (the part you knit with) and the length of the cable. Here’s how to measure circular knitting needles:

Measure the Needle Tip Length

The needle tip length refers to the length of the straight, pointed parts of the circular knitting needles.

Measure from the tip of one needle to the tip of the other, excluding the cable and any connecting hardware.

Measure in either inches (for US sizes) or millimeters (for metric sizes). The measurement should be taken from tip to tip, not including the cable.

Measure the Cable Length

The cable length is the measurement of the flexible part that connects the two needle tips.  Stretch the cable straight, and measure it from one needle tip to the other.  Measure in inches or centimeters.

Determine the Needle Size

Circular knitting needles come in various sizes, which are typically marked on the packaging or the needle itself.

US sizes are represented by numbers (e.g., US 6) and may also be indicated in millimeters.  Metric sizes are indicated in millimeters (e.g., 4.00 mm).  Some brands also include both US and metric sizes on the packaging or the needle.

Confirm the Length and Size

Check the packaging or the label on the needles to confirm both the needle tip length and size. The packaging or label should provide this information.

Verify the Needle Length

Some circular needles are categorized by their length from tip to tip (e.g., 16 inches, 24 inches, etc.). Make sure the length matches your project needs.

It’s important to have an accurate measurement of your circular knitting needles, as the size and length of the needles can affect your gauge and the outcome of your knitting projects.

Most circular needles have these measurements clearly labeled on the packaging or the needles themselves, making it easy to identify the size and length you need for your knitting project.

How to use Circular Knitting Needles: All you need to know!


How to Store Circular Knitting Needles

Properly storing circular knitting needles helps keep them organized, prevents damage, and ensures they remain in good condition for your knitting projects. Here are some tips on how to store circular knitting needles:

Use Needle Cases or Pouches

Needle cases or pouches specifically designed for circular knitting needles are a convenient storage option.

Look for cases with individual pockets or compartments for each needle size and cable length.  Some cases also have clear pockets or labels for easy identification.|

Label and Organize

If your storage case or pouch doesn’t have labels, consider labeling your circular needles with their size using removable stickers or markers.

Organize the needles by size, with each size placed in its designated pocket or section.

Binder or Needle Wallet

You can use a binder with plastic sleeves or a needle wallet with clear pockets to store circular needles.

Insert each needle into a separate pocket, making it easy to see and access your collection.

Zip-Top Bags

Store circular needles in zip-top bags, one bag for each size.  Label the bags with the needle size, and you can keep them in a larger storage container or drawer.

Hanging Storage

Consider using a hanging storage solution, such as a closet organizer with clear pockets.  Hang your circular needles by size, and they will be easily accessible.

Circular Needle Holders

Some specialty products, such as circular needle holders, are designed to keep your needles organized and untangled.  These holders often have slots or pockets for each needle size and cable length.

Dedicated Drawer or Box

If you have a large collection of circular needles, you might use a dedicated drawer or box to store them.  Sort the needles by size within the drawer or box.

Store in Their Original Packaging

Keep the original packaging, especially for interchangeable circular needle sets.  The packaging often includes slots or compartments for storing the tips, cables, and accessories together.

Avoid Tangling

To prevent circular needles from tangling, secure the cables using rubber bands, cable ties, or twist ties when not in use.  Use cable organizers designed for this purpose.

Protect Needle Tips

To protect the tips of your circular needles, consider using tip protectors or end caps.  These caps can help prevent the needles from poking through storage cases or pouches.

Store in a Cool, Dry Place

Keep your circular knitting needles in a cool, dry place to prevent damage from moisture or extreme temperatures.

Regularly Check and Organize

Periodically go through your collection to check for missing needles, damaged cables, or any needles that need cleaning or maintenance.  Reorganize and relabel as necessary.

Properly storing your circular knitting needles not only helps keep them in good condition but also makes it easier to find the right size when starting a new project. It’s worth investing in storage solutions that suit your needs to keep your knitting tools well-organized and accessible.

How to use Circular Knitting Needles: All you need to know!

How to use Circular Needles

Using circular knitting needles is similar to using straight needles, but circular needles have the added benefit of allowing you to knit in the round or work on large flat projects with ease. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use circular knitting needles:

Materials Needed:

  • Circular knitting needles of the appropriate size for your project.
  • Yarn suitable for your project.
  • Stitch markers (if needed for marking specific points in your pattern).
  • A knitting pattern or instructions for your project.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Gather Your Supplies

Ensure you have the circular knitting needles and yarn required for your project. Choose a cable length suitable for your project size.

Cast On

Start by casting on the required number of stitches onto one of the circular needles. You can use any suitable cast-on method for your project.

Position the Needles

Hold the needle with the cast-on stitches in your right hand, and the other needle tip in your left hand.

The cable should hang down below your hands, and the working yarn should be attached to the needle with the cast-on stitches.

Join in the Round (For Circular Knitting)

If you’re knitting in the round (e.g., for a hat or a sock), ensure that your cast-on stitches are not twisted along the cable. All stitches should face the same way.

Hold both needle tips together with your working yarn at the back.

Insert the right needle tip into the first stitch on the left needle (the one with your cast-on stitches).

Knit the first stitch, which will join your work in the round. This creates a seamless circle of stitches.

Knit or Purl

Continue knitting or purling as your pattern dictates.

Use the same knitting techniques you would with straight needles, such as knitting, purling, increasing, and decreasing.

Use Stitch Markers (If Needed)

If your pattern requires you to mark specific points (e.g., the beginning of a round or stitch pattern repeats), place stitch markers onto the needle as needed.

Continue Working

Keep working in the round or back and forth as directed by your pattern.

The stitches will be distributed across the needle tips and the cable, allowing you to work on a larger number of stitches than you could with straight needles.

Changing Needles (Interchangeable Sets)

If you’re using interchangeable circular needles, you can switch needle tips and cables as needed for different parts of your project or to change needle sizes.

Bind Off (Finishing)

When your project is complete, follow your pattern or your desired bind-off method.

If knitting in the round, cut the yarn, leaving a tail, and use a tapestry needle to thread the tail through the last stitches to secure them.

Weave in Ends

Weave in any loose yarn ends using a tapestry needle to finish your project.

Using circular knitting needles allows you to create seamless, tubular knitting projects efficiently. When knitting flat on circular needles, you can turn your work as you would with straight needles. With practice, you’ll become comfortable using circular needles and can tackle a wide range of knitting projects with ease.

How to use Circular Knitting Needles: All you need to know!


Circular knitting needles are used to knit projects in the round, and they are also used to knit heavier pieces such as blankets.  Find out here what they are, how to use them & more!

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