It may seem like an advanced move, but knitting in the round can be mastered by beginner knitters with ease. And by adding it to your knitting bag of tricks, you will open up an entirely new world – one of hats, sweaters, and socks!
Getting started with knitting in the round can seem tricky on the best of days, but with just a few tips and tricks you can be joining to work in the round in no time at all. When I began my circular needles journey, these four tips helped me immensely.
Trick #1 – Make sure your circular needle is shorter than your finished circumference. If you’re knitting a hat for a 20” head, grab 16” long circular needles. If you’re knitting a sweater for someone that’s 36” around, be sure you’re not using your 40” long needles. Seems self-explanatory, but I spent many frustrated hours fighting with needles that were just a bit too long for projects I was working on. When in doubt, go a bit shorter – you’ll never regret it!
Trick #2 – Cast on one extra stitch. When you join for working in the round, knit that last stitch you cast on together with the first stitch you cast on. You will have the correct number of cast on stitches, and you will have a much less noticeable join for your work.
Trick #3 – When casting on a large number of stitches, to ensure you don’t twist them (and create a Mobius on accident!) knit the first few rows of the pattern before joining. You’ll have a much clearer view of joining your stitches together, and you can use your tail to sew up that open spot later.
Trick #4 - Use a different color stitch marker to mark the beginning of the row. When you are using stitch markers to mark decreases, increases, pattern changes and the like be sure your “beginning of the row” marker is a different color, shape, or size. This will help you more easily distinguish it from your other markers.
With these four simple tips, you will find yourself knitting around and around before you know it! You can use this new-found skill to whip up some sweaters for all the folks in your life, hats to keep their noggins warm, and maybe even donate a few things to a local charity!
I got a phone call the other day from my best friend. She asked if I could talk and that she needed help. I said sure and the first words out of her mouth were “my son has a giant head”. Naturally the first thing that goes through my mind is that this sweet little three year old has gotten his head stuck somewhere and she needs someone to calm her down while help arrives. Luckily this was not the case. It turns out she is knitting him a cute little hat and the pattern is too small for his giant head. My best friend has fairly recently begun to knit and has only done basic projects so she needs help modifying the hat. I whipped out the laptop, read through the pattern and told her exactly what she needed to do to make the hat larger. As I was reading through the pattern, I noticed that there was a pattern repeat. I explained that it would be wise to learn to use stitch markers for this pattern or she might just end up with a few gray hairs!
Stitch markers are a wonderful invention. They have kept me sane through a few projects, as well as made them fly by that much faster. Before the phone call from my best friend, I had never really thought about people not knowing what stitch markers were used for. I taught myself to knit from a book and they were discussed in there. I have taught several people to knit and I don’t believe I have ever once covered stitch markers in any of my lessons. Now I realize this was terrible of me!
Are all stitch markers created equal? No! There is the obvious difference between larger and smaller markers. Larger markers fit on larger needles. And yes you can use the larger markers on smaller needles, but be careful as big markers on small needles with small yarn can equal a big gap in the knitting. A friend of mine, who used to own a yarn shop, taught me something wonderful to use for stitch markers: baby hair bands. These look like those rubber bands that you use on braces. They are multicolored and I believe they can be found in the toddler area, with the rest of the little girl hair accessories. The bands that I bought came separated by color in a plastic container. They are not sticky feeling like regular rubber bands so they don’t get stuck in the yarn. These do not create holes at all. I do find though that when I am working with a heavier yarn, I like a thicker marker. There are also split markers which can be used like a regular marker but they can also be used to mark a stitch in the actual body of whatever you are knitting.
Stitch markers do not have to be used only when the pattern calls for them. You can use them any time you want to mark a stitch or a group of stitches. The times that I most commonly use them are:
- Any time there is a large number of stitches. You can break down that 400 stitch count into a smaller, more manageable number. This comes in handy when casting on or when you are KIPing and that wonderful friend of yours decides to count by tens while you are trying to double check your stitch count causing you to have to start over again and again.
- Pattern repeats. *K1, P4 , K1* Repeat across row. By marking each repeat, you don’t have to wait till the end of the row to realize that you are one stitch off at the very beginning of the row. Tink, tink, tink. When you get to the end of that particular repeat, you should know that you are off. I found this saved me from pulling my hair out when knitting lace.
- Places you want to keep an eye on. For me this is usually the borders. I am knitting a scarf for my mother right now that has a 4 stitch seed stitch border on each side. If I don’t mark the stitch, sometimes I will get going and not realize that the first stitch needs to be a purl instead of a knit. It may be only one little stitch, but it still takes time to tink and then correct.
- Measuring length. Knit 4 inches ST st, increasing on each side on even rows. Then knit another 4 rows of ST st with no increasing. Where do you measure from? Sometimes it is hard to tell which row to measure from. If you mark that with a split marker in the middle of the row, it will be much easier to measure from.
Just learning to knit, and feel overwhelmed by patterns that tell you to do such things ask “kfb”, “m1” and more? I remember the feeling well – I still sometimes have it!
But have no fear, beginner knitters.
There are plenty of patterns that call for no more knitting knowledge than casting on, binding off, knitting and purling. And with those few skills under your belt, you can make many a knitted item – possibly something handmade for the holidays?!
From scarves to hats (yes, hats!), from baby items to those for adults, and even a few for your home – here’s some of my favorite ‘easy peasy’ patterns for you to try!
Entwined - this great pattern gives you a scarf and hand warmers all in one!
Rockstar Scarf – easy peasy, all knit stitch, this scarf gets it’s drama from the variety of yarns used.
Waffle Stitch Dishcloth – looks harder than it is! This dishcloth uses only knits and purls to give it a great texture.
The Squidge Cloth – another one where the pattern is all knits and purls, I use this dish cloth all the time!
Calorimetry – looks so much harder than it is. Short rows are a new skill to be sure, but again, just knits and purls and you’ve got a great cold-weather headband!
Drops Headband – another great headband, this time ribbed.
Flat Hat – this is a great go-to pattern for flat-knit hats. You just knit up a big square and gather the top, and you’ve got a hat! Perfect for donation hats!
Baby Surprise Jacket – really Robyn? Yes, really. This jacket is knit flat, with knits, purls and bind-offs and then suddenly? You have a jacket! (Ravelry link)
Baby Bib O’Love – from Mason-Dixon Knitting, this bib is the perfect gift for any baby shower. (Ravelry link)