Knitting in the round is a great way to finish a project faster and to avoid seaming. Over the centuries knitters came up with quite a few ways to work in the round – using four needles, five needles, one, two or even more circular needles…
But recently one way of working in the round became an instant hit. It is called “the magic loop”.
This technique is relatively new, it was invented by Sarah Hauschka and Bev Galeskas from FiberTrends.com, and thousands (maybe millions) of knitters are eternally grateful to them for this ingenious idea.
What makes this technique so unique that it became extremely popular almost overnight (if you search Google for “magic loop knitting”, you’ll get 15.5 million results)? As is the case with many popular techniques, the answer is – simplicity:
You can knit any project on just one circular needle, even two projects at a time (like socks, mittens or sweater sleeves). There is no need to change to a smaller cable when you start decreasing stitches at the top of a hat, for example.
Your project doesn’t look (and feel!) like a porcupine with needles sticking out all around it. When you have just one circular needle, you can fold your project neatly and carry it in your purse wherever you go.
You don’t waste time moving the needles around, and that leaves more time for actual knitting, which results in finishing your project faster.
Magic loop is a simple, elegant, portable solution to working in the round.
Let’s see how it works.
This technique works well for any type of yarn with any fibre content and thickness.
When it comes to needles, there are only three main guidelines:
1. It should be a circular needle in the size appropriate for the yarn.
2. The needle should be at least 80cm / 32″ long when measured from tip to tip. If you use a longer needle, that’s even better.
3. The cord that connects two needles should be flexible. Otherwise, you will find yourself fighting the cord while you knit.
That’s it. Get your supplies ready and let’s get started.
BASIC SET UP
1. Cast on the number of stitches you need for your project. It could be any number of stitches, no matter how small it is. For the swatch shown in the photo below, I cast on 40 stitches.
2. Move all stitches to the centre of the cord.
3. Depending on the type of cast on you used, the working yarn can be on the left or the right side of the work. If it is on the left side, turn your work.
I used the long-tail cast on, so my tail was on the left side of the work. That’s why I had to turn my work to move the working yarn to the right side, as it is shown in this photo (and in this video tutorial starting at 01:12):
4. Find the centre of the cast on (you can count the stitches and divide them exactly in half (20 + 20 in my swatch), or you can split them into two approximately equal groups).
Fold the cable and pull it out between the two stitches at the midpoint creating a loop. You can do it with your fingers, or use a tip of one of the needles if the cord is thin.
5. Place the work so that the loop is on the left, and the needles are on the right. The stitches are split in half with one group (let’s call it “the front group”) closer to you, and the other group (“the back group”) farther from you. Make sure the working yarn is attached to the back group of stitches.
6. Hold both groups of stitches from the top with your right hand, and pull the front part of the loop so that the front group of stitches moves to the tip of the front needle.
7. Then hold the stitches from the top with your left hand, and pull the back needle until the back group of stitches is approximately at the centre of the cord.
Now when you place the tips of the needles together, you will see one loop at each side of the stitches.
You are ready to start knitting.
If you prefer to join stitches before you start working in the round, there are a few additional steps to take:
8. Split the stitches of the back group approximately in half. Fold the cord and pull it out to make an additional loop.
9. Hold all stitches with your left hand, and pull the right side of the new loop until the right half of the back group of stitches moves to the tip of the right needle.
10. Bring the yarn to the back of the work. Make sure the bottom part of all stitches is underneath the needle, and the stitches are not twisted around the needle.
Join stitches for working in the round. My favourite way to do it is to pass the first stitch on the right needle over the first stitch on the left needle.
11. Now that the stitches are joined, pull the right needle out to get rid of the second loop.
You are ready to start knitting.
WORKING IN THE ROUND USING MAGIC LOOP TECHNIQUE
No more complications. Once your work is set up, the rest is easy.
Take the back needle in your right hand and start working the stitches of the front group as instructed in your pattern. In this swatch, I will simply knit all stitches in every round.
As you start knitting, you will notice that by using your right needle, you created another loop on the right side of your work. That’s exactly how it should be.
When you finish knitting stitches of the first group, move to working on the stitches of the second group.
Here’s how to do it:
These steps are shown in this video tutorial starting at 05:43
1. Bring the working yarn up and hold it above the needles.
This step might seem silly, but it is a very important one. If you don’t bring the yarn above your work BEFORE turning the needles, you can accidentally wrap the cord with the yarn creating a yarn over. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you use the magic loop technique. So be careful, and make sure the yarn is up and away from the cord.
2. Turn your work. Now the loop that used to be on the right is on the left side of your work.
3. Hold the stitches from the top with your right hand, and pull the front part of the loop so that the front group of stitches moves to the tip of the front needle.
4. Then hold the stitches from the top with your left hand, and pull the back needle until the back group of stitches is approximately at the centre of the cord.
Take the back needle in your right hand and work stitches of the other group, until you come to the beginning of the round. You can mark the beginning of the round with a stitch marker, or simply look at the yarn tail to remember where the round ends.
Then you start a new round in the same way we discussed above. Then another one, and another one, until you finish your project.
That’s the magic of “the magic loop”.
I know firsthand that once you try this technique, you will forget about your double pointed needles.
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.
Dealing with Unfinished Projects
Dictionary of Knitting Symbols and Abbreviations – E-Book
Eastern (Russian) Knitting Simplified
How to Shape Neckline Without Binding Off Stitches – E-Book