How to Work with 2 Circular Knitting Needles

Learn how to work with two circular needles from circular knitting expert Jessica Kaufman in this Howcast video.

So there’s this really cool method of knitting in the round, where you use two different circular needles. I love this method. It’s how I first learned to knit socks, and I’m very fond of it. Some people think it’s simpler than Magic Lube. Some people don’t. But it’s great for knitting any diameter. You can use this for tiny diameters or large diameters, and I’ll show you how it works.

So don’t be intimidated by this spiderweb of things hanging down. This is just the tail of my work, and this is the working yarn. And then I have two different circulars, which I’ll hold out parallel here for you. And I think it’s really helpful to use two needles that look different from each other. So I’ve got two bamboo size five needles, but one has a darker bronze colored cord, and the other one has a translucent cord, and they are different lengths, as you can see. So in my mind I’ve got the long dark needle and short see-through needle.

I’m going to be working across the front of the work, and then the other side of the work, and I don’t want you to get too hung up on front side, back side, because they switch every time. But I’ll say ‘presenting’ side and ‘other’ side. So I’m going to work across here. Then across here. Then across here. Spirally, like a helix, around and around and around, just like I would with a shorter circular needle.

So here’s how to do it. Like Magic Lube, I’m going to push the front needle in, so this side of the work, this ‘presenting’ side of my work, is on, and will always be on the darker cable. So this is fun because this side is always on the darker cable, this side is always on the lighter cable. They will never switch unless you do the following part incorrectly. So I’ll show you how to do it right.

So I’m going to push my needle in so that the point is lined up with the first stitch that needs to be worked, and I’ve got this long guy hanging out over here. We’re just going to come around and I’m going to use this one to knit from the point on the left onto the point on the right. And I know I’m working on this side because my working yarn is coming from this stitch just behind this one, so of course, working across here, this is the last stitch I worked, and I can tell because that’s where my yarn is, which means this is the next stitch that needs to be worked. And this is on the long bronze needle side. So I’ve got the stitches mounted up onto the point on the left. I’m going to knit them with the point on the right. Which you can tell since I’m knitting from this side of the bronze needle to the other side of the bronze needle, it’s going to stay on the bronze needle. The only way to mess this up is if I accidentally start knitting it onto this needle that’s hanging out in the back. So do your best to ignore the needle on the side that you’re not working on. So this is the ‘presenting’ side. I’m going to knit across. I’m just doing the plain old knit stitch here to show you on my little stockinette example. I guess this could be the sleeve of an infant sweater, or the top of a sock for a doll. So I’ve got two stitches left. One stitch left. Here’s my last stitch. I’m going to work it from the left hand to the right hand needle.

Now I have an empty needle on my left hand side, and my right needle is full. Just going to pull it down here so it’s on the cable. It’s now done until we get back to it. So I’m going to turn.

Now it’s time to do the same thing on my new ‘presenting’ side. This side is always going to live on my translucent needle.

So it’s great to find two very different looking needles, but in the same diameter. So that you won’t get easily confused, you could just quickly grab, it only takes me half a second to look and see, is this clear? Yep. OK. This is the needle I’m working with.

So it was on the cable. I shoved the stitches onto the needle. I pick up the other side. I give a tug on that yarn back there so that I don’t end up with a ladder in between. And just like in working Magic Lube, I like to contain this back part of the work, that I’m not working on, with the front part, just to keep it all snug and together. You don’t have to. You could certainly work with your fingers inside, but I just work with holding it together.

So I’m going to insert my yarn, and because this is a knit stitch, I know that my yarn has to be behind the needle, but if I was going to purl, I would want the yarn to be in front of the needle so that it can wrap the right way. When you mess that up, you end up getting yarn overs accidentally between, and that just comes with practice, inserting the needle and making sure the yarn is right where you need it to be. Every so often you will capture your yarn in the cable. It’s really simple to just take it out. So I’m going to work across this front needle. This is my new front. Knitting the stitches from the left hand needle to the right hand needle. I’ve got three, two, the last stitch.

Now I have an empty needle on my left hand side, and I’m going to pull it down onto the cable because I’m done with that side now, and go back to this side, and repeat.

So what you’re doing is, you’re working around and around, front, back, front, back, front, back, as you helix up and you should have absolutely no mark of where the needles join.

So that is how to work with two circular needles.