Five Ways to Join Stitches for Knitting in the Round

Often when we follow a pattern for a project worked in the round, somewhere at the very beginning the pattern tells us to “join stitches for working in the round”, but in most cases, it doesn’t tell us how exactly to do that. 

It’s not a hard task that requires some kind of advanced knitting skills. No. Joining stitches in the round is quite simple. There are several ways to do it, with each way creating a slightly different join. 

Let’s take a look at five most common ways. 

As usual, I made a video tutorial that shows every detail of joining stitches using each of these ways. Click here to watch it.

Before we get started, here is a VERY important thing to keep in mind – before you get to join the stitches, make sure the cast on edge is not twisted. 

When you arrange the cast on edge on the needle (or needles, if you use a set of double pointed needles), place the work on a flat surface so that the stitches form a circle. The bottom of the cast on edge (the ridge) should be inside that circle, as it is shown in this photo:

If a part of the ridge is outside the circle, untwist the cast on edge to fix it. Twisted cast on edge is one of a few knitting mistakes that can’t be fixed afterwards without unravelling the work, so be careful to keep the cast on edge well-aligned.

Now that the cast on edge is not twisted and we are ready to join stitches in the round, let’s see what each of the ways has to offer:

WAY #1

This way is the easiest one. 

1. Cast on the number of stitches you need for the project.

2. Arrange the stitches in a circle so that the working yarn is attached to the group of stitches on the right. 

If you plan to use a marker to help you remember where the beginning of the round is, place the marker on the right needle.

If the first stitch is a knit, move the yarn to the back of the work. If the first stitch is a purl, move the yarn to the front of the work.

3. Work the first stitch (knit or purl it depending on the pattern).

4. Pull the working yarn a bit to tighten the stitch and close the gap between the first and the last stitches. 

That’s it – now the stitches are joined, and we can continue to work in the round. 

As you make more rounds, you will notice that this way of joining stitches leaves a small step between the first and the last stitch. It’s not a big flaw, but if you want to make the cast on edge straighter, you can even it out when you weave in the cast on tail. Here’s how to do it.

WAY #2

This is my favourite way of joining stitches. It’s not easier or otherwise better than other ways. It’s probably a matter of habit for me because I’ve been using it for many years. And I also like the straight cast on edge created by this way. 

1. Cast on the number of stitches you need for the project.

2. Same as we did in way #1, arrange the stitches in a circle so that the working yarn is at the right side of the work. 

Keeping the working yarn at the right side of the work is not crucial for this way of joining stitches, but I would recommend it because this way it will be easier to tighten the first stitch if necessary. 

3. Move the working yarn to the back of the work.

4. Slip the first stitch on the left needle (if you followed the second step, it would be the first stitch you cast on) to the right needle.

5. Insert the tip of the left needle into the second stitch on the right needle (the last stitch you cast on) and pass this stitch over the first stitch on the right needle. Keep both stitches on the needles. Watch this step in a video.

If you plan to use a marker, place it on the right needle.

6. Work the first stitch.

7. Pull the yarn slightly to tighten the first stitch and close the gap between the first and the last stitches.

WAY #3

This way is similar to the previous one but with one big difference – we are not just passing one stitch over the other, we are binding off one stitch. To do that, we are going to cast on one extra stitch. 

Here’s how to do it step by step:

1. Cast on the number of stitches you need for the project plus one extra stitch. For example, if the pattern instructs you to cast on 50 stitches, you need to cast on 51 stitches.

2. Now arrange the stitches in a circle so that the working yarn is at the right side of the work, just as we did before. 

3. Move the working yarn to the back of the work.

4. Slip a stitch from the left needle to the right needle.

5. Insert the tip of the left needle into the second stitch on the right needle and pass this stitch over the first stitch on the right needle and off the needles, same as you do when you bind off stitches. Watch this step in a video.

If you plan to use a marker, place it on the right needle.

6. Work the first stitch.

7. Pull the yarn slightly to close the gap between the first and the last stitches.

WAY #4

This way of joining stitches also requires an extra stitch, not for binding it off, but for working two stitches together. Let’s see how it happens:

1. Cast on the number of stitches you need for the project plus one extra stitch. 

2. Arrange the stitches in a circle so that the working yarn is at the right side of the work, the same way as we did when we discussed the previous three ways.

3. If the first stitch is a knit, bring the working yarn to the back of the work. If it’s a purl, bring the yarn to the front of the work.

4. Slip a stitch from the right needle to the left needle (that’s the last stitch you cast on). If you plan to use a marker, place it on the right needle.

5. Depending on the pattern, knit or purl two stitches together. Watch how to do it.

6. Pull the yarn slightly to tighten the first stitch.

WAY #5

Unlike the previous four ways, this one is not intended for all types of cast on, only for those that leave a tail next to the first stitch (like knitted or cable cast on). This way will not work for the long tail cast on and other cast ons based on the long tail one.

Another difference of this way of joining stitches is that this time it doesn’t matter whether the working yarn is at the right or the left side of the work.

1. Cast on the number of stitches you need for the project (no extra stitches!).

2. Arrange the stitches in a circle. If you plan to use a marker, place it on the right needle.

3. Align the tail and the working yarn, and use them together to work the first stitch. Here’s how to do it.

4. Pull the yarn to close the gap between the first and the last stitches.

5. Let go of the tail and continue working in the round using only the working yarn.

Here they are – 5 ways to join stitches for knitting in the round. Take time to try all of them to pick the one that feels most comfortable to you. 


If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:


Happy knitting!

Maryna Shevchenko - www.10rowsaday.com
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