I want to make a baby blanket or maybe a throw blanket as a beginning project. Do I need to have circular needles to do this? I only have 5.25 mm needles right now. Can anyone tell me the general projects associated with using circular needles vs. regular knitting needles?
No, you do not have to have circulars, but very helpful with a large number of stitches. I sometimes just use the 14" but the work gets so heavy it’s murder on your wrists. Clover makes a “Flex” needle that has two, short, wooden needles with points and each needle has the plastic cord like a circular with a large bead at each end to keep the work from coming off. Those are great and very easy on the wrists.
I use circulars for hats, sweaters, bags, wrist warmers, and other tubular stuff that I don’t want to have a seam or just to do circular, flat, radial pieces.
The reason for using circular needles for a blanket or throw is that it’s difficult to get lots of stitches on a straight needle… and even if you do, it’s very heavy and gets tiresome to knit. With a circ you can knit back and forth, turning at the end of a row, and the cord holds the work so your arms and wrists don’t have to.
You can of course also use them for sweaters and hats; for smaller diameters like sleeves and hats you can use the Magic Loop method which is shown in a video in the Advanced Techniques section.
edit: And as I said, you can make flat pieces with them too. I don’t use straights at all anymore, they’re too long.
This might sound silly, but how do you know when to turn your work if you’re using circ needles? Just by counting the stitches? Do you use a stitch marker?
I’m with Suzeeq, I don’t use straights anymore.
One thing to note if you aren’t familiar with circular needles. They come in different cord lengths as well as needles sizes. They are measured from needle tip to needle tip. 16 inch is generally used for hats and stuff that is about that diameter. 24 up to maybe 32 are used for sweaters, etc. Over 32s are usually used for magic loop knitting, blankets and things like that. Needle size is dependent only on the the yarn and effect you want. So that’s it in a nutshell. If you decided to try them and need help come to KH and ask away.
One more thing… not all circs are created equal. The ones you can buy in craft stores tend to have a cord that is stiffer and curls which can be annoying, but they are good to learn on. The better needles are pricier, but you can get them in interchangeable sets. If you’ve seen the word “Options” in the forum…that is one of the most popular brands.
When you get to the end (last stitch) you just turn it around so that end is in the front. The work with the working yarn will be in you left hand the other end of the needle in your right. Just like knitting with straights.
What do you use magic loop knitting for?
I’ve only ever crocheted, and I am just learning to knit. I’ve basically only learned how to cast on, and I can knit and purl. I just feel lost after that!
Magic loop is generally use for knitting a project in the round that might be too small for a 16 in circular and you don’t want to use Double Pointed Needles (DPN). Some people use it to knit socks, but you can also use it on hats, etc. There is a tutorial here at the top of the page on the techniques tabs.
You’ll learn. It just takes practice and we’ve all been there. I’ve been knitting for a little less than two years.
And if you don’t want to use a 16" for sleeves or a hat, you can use a variation of the Magic Loop with needles 24-32 inches long. I did this years and years ago before ML was invented - I think. Anyone know when that technique first came out?