Help on Circular Needles

I am working for the first time with circular needles to make a hat pattern I found. I got the stitches all on the needles. I put on a marker and then tried to purl the first row. I found that the stitches on the circular part of the needles had become so tight that it was impossible to get them back on the thicker part of the needle tips. I have now torn it out and am going to start over again. I cast on by making a loop and adding stitches from the yarn end of the yarn rather than the tail. Not sure how they tightened up so badly. I had to throw that yarn away as they also knotted as I tried to undo the cast on stitches. Any suggestions and help? Not sure how to avoid this situation. Thank you in advance.

Not sure which cast on you used, if it was the simple loop that’s not so great as the beginning cast on. Try the knit or cable cast on and make sure you have enough stitches to go all around the needle. If you don’t have enough for them to quite meet at the tips, then you’ll need to magic or single loop for a few rounds to work the sts.

Try doing a knitted cast on or a long tail cast on. They will be easier to knit into. You don’t have to pull the cast on very snugly onto the needle. Let it relax and it will make the first row less difficult to work into. There are videos for both cast ons under the Free Videos tab at the top of the page, Cast Ons.

I’ve actually cast on with a larger needle to make sure it’s not too tight. I find the long tail cast on works well for me. Which cast on did you use?

If you’re a new knitter (I’ve only been knitting since May 2011 myself), I recommend the knitted-on cast-on. Although many knitters love to burden newbies with the long-tail cast-on, I and others find it a right pain. There are just too many things that can go wrong with the LT CO. Grrrr…

The knitted-on cast-on is just like the basic knit stitch, so there’s one LESS thing to deal with. Watch the video at to see the difference btw the stitch and the cast-on.

Best wishes.


I generally use LT CO, but agree that a knit CO is fine to teach new knitters. I did for the one person I got started on knitting and because it’s like the knit st. If they want to learn LT later, that’s fine.

This may be an odd question, but what size are your circular needles? Lengthwise?

Thanks for the help here. I am using 16" needles in size US 11. I did not use the long tail, I knitted and pulled each stitch on until I have the 62 stitches and then went to purl the 2nd round. I did a few and then the following ones had become so tight I had to finally cut them off. The yarn I wanted was classic elite, but the store sold me another type which started thick and then would be a thread size for about 6 cast ons and then the heavy yarn would reappear. I wondered if that was part of the challenge. I have watched some of the videos and am thinking of buying the exact yarn and retrying. I can use the other skeins for some other straight needle project. I have knitted off and on for years and done just fine, but this is my first excursion into circular which seem great for hats. It should not be this hard!!! I so happy to get all the responses here.

Sorry, I do not know what the single or magic loop is. Am I supposed to be sure the stitches come up over the needle on the other side? Thank you all again.

Yes the stitches should fit all the way around the needle, but ‘looping’ the cord lets you use longer needles for a smaller tube where the sts won’t fit all the way. Magic loop is shown on the Advanced techniques page. Single loop is on this video.

Thick and thin yarn can sometimes be a challenge for the cast on and first row but should work out ok on the circular needles. Here’s two videos that may help with knitting a hat in the round on 16" needles. I don’t like the cast on in the KnitPicks video but other than that, it’s very helpful. Good luck with the hat!

What some knitters like to do is to knit a few rows straight, back and forth, then join the stitches into a round. You’ll have a little bit to sew up but you will have to weave in the tail end anyway. This loosens up the first few rows and makes it easier to knit in the round.

Sixteen inches I think is short for a hat. I use as long a cable as I have, which is a 32. I use a single or traveling loop. When I get to the hat decreases, I switch to magic loop. I used to only knit with larger needles, like 10 1/2, 11, and 13. Now I avoid them as much as possible and my favs are 5’s to 8’s. An 11 will give you loose stitches anyway. Another thing that might make them looser still is the type of yarn you’re using. You can use a worsted weight with this, but the work tends to look a little thin. My experience has been that bulky weights work better with this size needle. I’d say go bulky and use a longer cable.