Beginner’s Guide to Knitting in the Round with the Magic Loop Technique

What are circular knitting needles?

Step by Step Guide to Knitting in the Round with Magic Loop – with video, photos and written steps.

Circular knitting needles are ideal when knitting large tubes such as tote bags, cowls, or the body of a sweater, or when you have too many stitches for double pointed needles. Circular knitting needles are also wonderful for flat knitting worked in rows when you have lots of stitches, like with wide lengths for shawls or afghans.

Introduction to Online Knitting Course Part 1

Types of Circular Knitting Needles

Circular knitting needles come in bamboo, wood, metal, plastic or with coated tips. They come sized like any other knitting needles, and the size of the needle determines your gauge. The size is often written in millimeters and it indicates the circumference of the actual needle. Circular knitting needles also have a length measurement and this measures the entire length of the needles from needle tip to needle tip including the cable in the middle. They come in many lengths with the intention of being useful for many types of projects. Sets with detachable tips and cables are also available, providing an endless combination of needle sizes and cable lengths to adapt to your needs. These sets are an investment, and if you want to get started knitting in the round all of these choices can be intimidating. My suggestion is to learn the magic loop technique and then you only need one cable length per knitting needle size to get started because a larger cord length will accommodate large stitch counts for big projects but will also work for even the smallest of projects once you learn the magic loop technique for knitting in the round.

Introduction to Knitting Online Course Part 2 | Kristin Omdahl

What is Magic Loop Technique for Knitting In The Round?

Magic Loop is a knitting technique available for working in the round that gives you a second option other than the use of double pointed needles. Using ‘longer-than-necessary for your given circumference’ circular needles, you can knit projects even with very small circumferences, like socks, hats, cowls, sweater sleeves and so much more! If you are looking to invest in some circular knitting needles, this eliminates the need for many different length cords, too.

Getting Started with Magic Loop Knitting In The Round

Here is a step by step photo demonstration of knitting in the round with magic loop technique. Scroll down to to watch a video tutorial on this wonderful technique, too. And I’ve also included some knitting pattern suggestions for practicing your new found skill!

Supplies for Magic Loop Knitting In the Round

Use the needle size suggested in the pattern you are making, or the needle size that results in the proper gauge for the pattern you are making, but make sure that the circular cord is at least 40 in (100cm) long.

I love to use Addi Turbo circular knitting needles because their cords are so pliable and flexible for magic loop. In this technique we are gently bending the cord into soft loops over and over again and I have found these to be the very best tools for this technique.

These are my favorite knitting needles for knitting in the round.

Otherwise, all other tools remain the same. Whatever stitch markers, yarn needle, tape measure or scissors you prefer for any knit or crochet project will be perfect for your magic loop knitting projects, too.

And this technique will work for any project that is knit in the round. But keep in mind that there are many ways to do anything. If you prefer double pointed needles or smaller circular needles, that is perfectly fine, too. This is simply an additional technique to add to your tool box of skills so you have more options when choosing which technique is right for any facet of any project. Some knitting projects have parts that make sense for small circular knitting in the round, some parts that make sense for double pointed needles and even other facets of the same project that are more enjoyable with magic loop technique. Whichever tool works best for you, in any part of any project, is right for you! As long as you are getting the desired results, there is no wrong way to be creative!

Remember, there is no wrong way to be creative.

Step by Step Guide and Photo Tutorial for Knitting in the Round with Magic Loop

Step 1: Cast on the number of stitches called for in your desired pattern.

Step 2: Move the stitches to the center of the cable and find the middle point between equal number of stitches. Gently bend your cable to pull a loop of cable between the center of the stitches.

Step 3: Gently slide each half of the cast on stitches along each side of the cord until they are now resting on the needles and not the cable.

Step 4: Turn the needles so they are horizontal to the table or floor and make sure that the first cast on stitch is on the needle closest to you.

Note: Depending on the cast on technique you used, this could be the stitch with or without the tail. Long tail cast on will have the tail at the last cast on stitch and knit cast on will have the tail at the first cast on stitch.

Step 5: Hang the tail of the yarn down toward the table or floor, and lay the working yarn over the back needle. (This is done because you will be knitting your first stitch. If you are purling, you will let your working yarn hang down between the needles).

Note: This is similar to having your working yarn in back to knit and your working yarn in front to purl.

Step 6: Pull the back needle out so the back stitches are on the cable now. But do not pull so hard that you remove the loop between the two halves of stitches from the cast on. That first loop will decrease in size as you create this second loop from pulling the back needle out. Be careful to keep the working yarn toward the back. Bring the needle into the first stitch to knit.

Step 7: Knit across all the stitches on the front needle.

Step 8: After you knit the first half of stitches, turn your needles so the unworked stitches are now closest to you. Pull the back needle (the one you just worked) so the just-knit stitches are resting on the cable. Then slide the unworked stitches onto the front needle. Keep the working yarn toward the back and over the back part of the cable.

Step 9: Bring the back needle around and prepare to knit the first stitch on the front needle.

Continue knitting in pattern all the way down the front needle. When you complete this set of stitches you have just worked one round. Repeat steps 6 – 9 to complete each round of knitting you need for your project. You will be knitting each round in two halves: knit all the front stitches, readjust the needles, knit all the back stitches, readjust the needles, knit all the front stitches, etc. Continue this way for as many rounds as you need.

Video Tutorial for Knitting in the Round with Magic Loop

This tutorial shows you step by step how to get started knitting in the round with magic loop. I used Be So Baby Yarn in color Salmon and US5 (3.75mm) circular knitting needles with 40 in (100cm) cord.


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Kristin Omdahl is the best-selling author of dozens of knit and crochet books; designer of almost 1000 knit and crochet patterns; and producer of award-winning videos. You can join Kristin LIVE 5 days a week for The Kristin Omdahl Show on YouTube and browse through thousands of tutorial videos there, too. Kristin donates a portion of every sale to help survivors of domestic violence. Learn more about Kristin’s charity, Project Kristin Cares HERE.

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2 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide to Knitting in the Round with the Magic Loop Technique

  1. Pingback: Kristin's Top Tips for Knitting with Circular Needles | Kristin Omdahl

  2. Pingback: Nightingale Knit Hat Pattern Free Pattern Page | Kristin Omdahl

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