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How to Work w/ Long Circular Needle using Magic Loop Method

Learn how to work with a long circular needle using the magic loop method from circular knitting expert Jessica Kaufman in this Howcast video.


So now I get to show you how to knit with a long circular needle which is called popularly the Magic Loop method.

This is my magic loop here. These are my long, these are 40 inch long circulars, and I'm going to show you on a sock which means they're going to be really tiny diameter. I'm working on size 0's. But you can use magic loop method for any size yarn, for any project.

The benefits here are that you can use this 40 inch circular for any diameter of project. So I could work on this sock that's about 8 or 9 inches around. I could could do a teeny, teeny, tiny little sleeve like a doll sweater. Or I could use the same needle to knit the sleeves or the body of a sweater.

So one benefit to using a long circular is that it's really, really economical. I only need this one needle and it can be good for so many projects, as opposed to if you were using a 32 inch circular and then needing to go down to a 24 inch circular, and then a 16 inch circular, then double points. Just to work, for example, the top shaping of a hat.

With magic loop, you can use the same needle for all those diameters.

So the theory here is that we've got the needle, because we've pulled this loop out here, I'll show you. We've got the needle dividing the work into like the front needle and the back needle, which we'll switch.

So right now, this is the front and this is the back. Then I'm going to be working around and around and around, so this will be the front and this will be the back.

But this is the presenting side, so I'll use that language to say, first I'm working on the presenting side, and then I'll work on this side.

In order to work on the magic loop you have to set the front needle into the stitches. So I'm sliding it in so that these stitches are loaded up on the front needle and ready to go.

And then I can't knit with this needle until I have enough cable to be able to pull it around and position it just like I normally would with any other type of needle.

So this is why you need a 40 inch circular. I have pushed it and tried to do magic loop on something shorter. I'd say it's possible once you're proficient at this to use a 32 inch circular needle, but you might be kinking the cables a little bit because you're trying to get more length than you actually have.

I would never do it with anything as short as a 24 inch. Not for using this method.

So this is my magic loop that's pulled out over here. And what it is basically is it's lots of give so that I can pull a loop out over here and be able to work properly with my needles.

So this is all a knit round. I'm going to make sure that the yarn is behind the needle. And the way that I remember this is, however I'm putting my needle into the first stitch, that's going to inform where the yarn is.

If I was doing a pearl stitch where the yarn needs to be in front, I would want the yarn to be coming down here from underneath the needle because my first stitch is a knit, all I do is slip the needle in here in front of the yarn so that the yarn is behind the needle.

So I'm going to work across the front needle here just like I normally would. I'm ignoring the fact that half of my sock is hanging out back here on the cable. I'm ignoring it and including it in my grip, however you grip your yarn in your project is fine. But I'm holding it all together here and that reduces ladders on the side.

So I'm going to knit across, I believe I've got 42 stitches on each needle. And while I knit, I'll talk to you about stitch distribution. Because you have roughly half the stitches on the front and half the stitches on the other side, I like to divide my stitches perfectly in half. I have an 84 stitch sock. I've got 42 stitches on the front needle and 42 stitches on the back needle.

And don't get too hung up on front and back because they're going to change as you go around and around. Just the presenting needle, the 42 presenting stitches that I'm working on here, and the 42 that are hanging out in the back just waiting for me to get to them.

So I'm almost through with this round. And right now I'm just doing the regular knit stitch which is why I'm working going fast. If you're ready to work magic loop, you should be totally proficient with making the knit stitch, so I don't need to slow that down here. But I will slow down here as I get to the end. I've got three stitches left. Two stitches left. Here's my last stitch on the left hand needle. And after I'm finished working it, I have an empty needle on the left side and a full needle on the right side.

So I'm going to turn my work because I'm done with that side and now I need to knit this side. And this is where we start again from the beginning. We push what is now the front needle or the presenting side of the work. We push it in, load it up, and I can't do anything with it until I have a needle to knit with.

So this back needle that I just knit stitches on to is going to come out and around and we're going to set up to knit the presenting side again.

So we're going to pull this yarn nice and tight. That's going to prevent you getting a ladder or a stretched out point here between the needles.

I've got my front stitches loaded up onto my needle. I'm hugging both sides of my sock in with my left hand, or however you like to hold your project.

My right hand needle is empty, ready to go. And I'm going to make sure the needle goes in front of the working yarn, into the first stitch as if to knit. I tug again to make it nice and tight. And then I'm off and running, or off and knitting.

So you finish the side. Turn it around. Reset the needles. Finish the side. Turn it around. Reset the needles.

And that's what you need to do to work magic loop.

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