Substituting Circular Cable Size

Hello Everyone, I’m new to knitting and am now making the leap to cirulars and dpn. Since the circulars come in all different size cables and I’m trying to see which size cables are best to have on hand i have a ?. If for example a pattern says to use size 8 needles on 34" cable is it okay to use the same size needle but a 32" cable instead or if it says use size 16" cable can u substitute a size 24". Sorry if this has already been asked but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Thanks!!!


If for example a pattern says to use size 8 needles on 34" cable is it okay to use the same size needle but a 32" cable instead
Yes, this would work fine. A smaller needle than given will often work even with a lot of stitches. A circular will hold a lot of stitches and as many as you can comfortably work on the needle length will work.

or if it says use size 16" cable can u substitute a size 24"
Likely not with this change. If it said use a 24" you could probably use the 16" but you need to have enough stitches to go around the needle and the stitches they give for a 16" would likely not fit very well on a 24" because they wouldn’t go all the way around without a lot of stretching.

There is a method of using a very long, flexible cable for small circumferences that is called Magic Loop. It is not that hard, but look for a good video, at least I could never figure it out from any of the still tutorials I saw. :oops: You can also make a too long circular work by pulling up a simple loop. Suzeeq on this site promotes that method. I’m not sure what she calls it, but she will probably come on and say and maybe have a link where you can learn about it. I’ve been using it on my latest project and it is working nicely.

So there are options. A 16" will probably work for anything that says 24", maybe 29" too. A 32" will do for most adult size sweaters, and probably work for afghans as well. So you don’t have to have as many sizes as it sounds like based on pattern information.

If you are starting out and want to have the maximum flexibility with the least cost, IMHO I would go for a longer cable, 36/42 etc. and do a magic loop. When using magic loop the length of the cable, as long as you can create the loop, is not important.

A video of magic loop can be found in the advanced video tab, look of the heading “Small Diameter Circular Knitting

Also… That’s why so many of us have interchangeable needles. That way we have most sizes we’ll ever need.

You can sub a longer cable instead of a short one, but you need to ‘shorten’ the long cable by making loops in it. Either use Magic loop (shown on the Advanced Techniques page) which actually has two loops in it, or a single loop which I use to make hats with a 24" even if the pattern says a 16". I find a 29-32" length the most versatile, but I also use 24" a lot.

For Merigold - there’s a single loop video here - Modified Magic Loop

[color="#330099"]Some prefer DPNs I choose to use my circulars like a pair of DPNs. I like to work with two circulars of the same size. I treat them as flexible DPNs. You just need a pair the same size but they don’t have to be the same length.

Here are some videos on knitting in the round with two circulars.
*Look for the vid icon after the heading “[U]On two circular needles[/U]

Thanks everyone!!! I think I got it now and am ready to start knitting.

well, the most importatn question in my eyes is:

will you be knitting in the round on those dpn? or do you just search for comfort (as i do) and the easier ergonomic work on circs?

if it is just to make flat work… the cable length is of minor importance. The stitches need to fit on, that is it.

I have most my needles in 80 cm length and that is perfect for almost all projects.

big blankets / afghans made in one piece might need biggern needles… 100 cm maybe even 120 cm… also scarfs knit lengthwise might need that.

but honestly: 120cm seems extreme to me… that is a lot to handle on your lap and might get in your way.

if you want to work in the round: 80 cm for pullovers works well for adults - sometimes it might get bunchy with stitches if you have thick yarn, but it still works.

for hats in the round… I mostly use dpn (also because you can try on then) but I do have a perfect 60cm needle (5mm thick) that I love for hats untill the decreases start (then my dpn take over)

if you are unsure and do not specifically want to make small projects: 80 cm does the trick most of the time!