I used to knit small projects in the round with a couple of double pointed needles (DPNs), but there is also an alternative method to knit in the round using circular needles, called the magic loop method. With this method, you can knit a smaller circle than would normally fit on your circular needles. You even need extra long circular needles, so that the cable can generously come out from halfway your work. It may look complicated at first, but it is actually quite simple.
Disclaimer: Magic Loop vs. DPNs
Just to be clear, knitting small projects in the round using the magic loop or DPNs are both fine methods. There is no competition here. I very much like having both options and since I have a beautiful set of interchangable circular needles in many sizes, the magic loop method is quite convenient for me.
Learning to knit with the Magic Loop
Follow the instructions in the photos to learn the magic loop in knitting.
Magic Loop knitting – step by step
1: Cast on all your stitches and slide them to the middle of your circular needles.
2: Bend the cable and determine the middle of your total number of stitches.
3: Pull the cable carefully out from between the middle of the total number of stitches. This is now your magic loop!
4: Slide the two groups of stitches back towards the needle tips.
5: Hold the needle with the working yarn in the back and the needle with the stitches that are going to be worked next in the front. Then, pull the back needle out the stitches en pull enough of the cable along to allow comfortable knitting, but be careful not to completely eliminate the loop on the other side. (The stitches in the back are now about halfway your cable)
6: Make sure the stitches on your circular needles are untwisted (the cast on edge is at the bottom of every stitch) and work the stitches of the front needle according to the pattern.
7: You work in the direction of the magic loop on the left side and – at the same time – a new magic loop emerges on the right.
8: When you worked all stitches of the first needle, the left needle is empty and the magic loop on the left side is gone. Push the empty needle into the next group of stitches and repeat the steps from step 4 onward to work the second half of the round and subsequently the rest of the pattern.
Tips for knitting with the Magic Loop method
As always in knitting, it gets easier to see what you do after a few rounds. You will see a tube arise. The yarn end from the cast on marks the beginning of round. Make sure you do not accidentally wrap the working yarn around the needle in step 4, creating an extra ‘yarn over’ stitch.
I hope learning this additional method of knitting in the round brings you joy and proves useful for your future knitting projects!