Help with circulars!

OK folks, I am stumped! I have a baby hat pattern that calls for US 8, 16" circular needle. It says to cast on 64 stitches, but I can NOT stretch it that far to be able to join. I have scootched my stitches as close to the ends as possible, but no go. What am I doing wrong?!!

I am a novice but I have read you need the correct yarn and gauge. Perhaps you are a tighter knitter?

I will have to look into this gauge business, Bluejaygirl5! :smile: Thanks!

Are you using the same weight yarn as the pattern suggests? A lighter weight yarn may not work.

That is pushing the limits of a 16" circular needle though at any rate. Personally I’d use two circulars or magic loop…magic loop is my preference. I like to use a 40" cable so I get nice loops that don’t stretch the stitches.

I will try magic loop, as I did get the recommended yarn. I only have a 36" circular in a US 13…wish I’d’ve bought the switchable cabled needles! :smile:

Interchangeable needles are really handy. I have a couple full sets and many other additions. If you need help with ML let us know.


I find that I have the same issue, even with baby hats that are all ribbing. But after I get past the first couple of rows, it’s fine. Even though I use an extremely stretchy cast-on. You might try knitting a couple of rows flat, then join in the round. Use the yarn from the start to sew up the opening as you’re weaving it in.


Not all cast on methods give the same amount of stretch. This is one reason you are having trouble with your knitting.

There are demos on YouTube of various cast ons. It is often when starting out that people knit very tightly. The other is that not all needles are slippery enough for the kind of yarn you are using. Metal needles are the most slick with nickel or chrome being the fastest. Aluminum is what many buy because they are the most available. But the yarn does not slide all that well on them. The cord which comes on Susan Bates circulars are often hard to work with, the cable won’t unwind but does so if you warm it up by putting hot water in the sink and let them soak a little. The heat softens the cord. But steam is the best, if you have a kettle, you can run the cord through the steam but just don’t get your fingers near the steam.

New needles, if metal, can have machine oil on them which makes them even stickier, some dish soap and water removes this. Be sure your hands don’t have hand lotion on them when starting to knit.

Additionally, some yarn is not as stretchy. For a baby hat a stretchy cast on is a must. You may want to practice the cast on technique using extra yarn so you don’t wear out your pattern yarn.

I did this search term in YouTube: best knitting cast on for hat – and got many good cast on methods. Personally the one I like best for a hat and makes a nice edge is the crocheted cast on. It is similar to the cable cast on but I find it easier to do.

For crocheted cast on, here’s a video for you:

What is nice you don’t have to figure out how long to make the yarn for the long-tail cast on.

I would suggest since on a hat you will have ribbing typically, is try this or other cast ons and do a a ribbing swatch, so you know the brim will be stretchy.

When I do a cast on for circulars, I usually make the cast on, on a straight needle of the same size needle. You transfer it to the circular needle. It is easier to count the stitches on a straight needle. For knitting in the round, I make one extra stitch, this allows you to then knit two stitches together to join in the round. Care must be taken to keep the cast on to not twist, I like to have all my cast on bumps facing in. If you have a long enough needle to use the Magic Loop Method, you put all the stitches on the cord, find the center of it, then bend your needle cable enough for you to pull a loop out of it. Then you slide both sides toward the tips. You do not have to have exactly the same number of stitches on both needles.

The way a 16" needle works is you’ll be scrunching every time your stitches get tight, around the loop. If you don’t like this, the Magic Loop method is worth learning. You don’t have to stretch your hat repeatedly. Good wool yarn will stretch back great most times, but acrylic does not, so if you over stretch the yarn, you ruin its overall elasticity.

For Magic Loop, here is a video:

Once you get the hang of the Magic Loop method, you can invest in just 40" needles (or shorter) and you are able to knit any project. New knitters often find that bamboo is good for them as then stitches won’t fall off the tips.