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Circular Needles vs. Double-Pointed Needles

Learn the difference between circular knitting needles and double-pointed needles from expert Jessica Kaufman in this Howcast video.


So I'm going to explain to you the difference between knitting in the round on circular needles and knitting in the round on double pointed needles.

This is a point of some debate between knitters because there's a lot of preferences and opinions out there so I'll just give you an overview of some pros and cons and some things to keep in mind when choosing a method that works for you.

The traditional method is to work around and around on double points. So you'd be working just on the front two needles and then the next two needles and then the next two needles. But this can be really intimidating looking when you're new at working with double points because they are just so, there's so much going on. There's so many points here.

So on double points, you're only working with two needles, just like normal. So I'm knitting my stitches from the left needle on to the right needle, just like you normally would, and I'm ignoring the other needles that are hanging out in the back. And we'll get more into that in how to work with DPN's, a video in this series.

When you're working with a circular needle you don't have to worry about which needle you're working with because there's only one. So, for me, this is simpler to teach new knitters because it looks just like straight needles that happen to be connected around the back.

So for circular needles, you just continue to knit the stitches from the left needle to the right, around and around and around, and there's no stopping points like there are with double points.

You don't have to worry about changing the needle when you get to the end of one needle.

And then there's magic loop, which again, we're going to talk about in a different video. So, this is a great time to say that one of the cons of knitting with a circular needle is that if you're using a long needle like this, the cable can get in the way. It can kink, like this one does. And again, it can just generally confuse you if you're not used to handling a strand of yarn and a cable.

That problem is taken care of when you use a shorter circular. There's no cable to get in the way because it's all being used up by the stitches.

And for me, there are huge pros to using a short circular needle because I'm a traveling knitter and I like to throw my project into my bag and by pulling the work down on to the cable, that's not going anywhere. I feel really secure about it so I can kind of stuff it into my bag and go.

Whereas with double points, you have, you know if you're working around on 3 needles and knitting with the fourth, you have 6 points where a stitch can fall off at any given point and 6 points that could poke you. Three needles that could break in your bag.

This isn't like a complete deterrent because a lot of people just fold it down like this. They even make cute little carrying cases. But for me, this is just too much bother and too much worry.

There's nothing wrong with knitting in the round on double points, but I prefer to use circular needles whether short or long.

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