Circular Needle Cast-On

Previously, directions were given for the long tail cast-on method and starting the sock with 4 dpns. This article describes starting the round using 2 circular needles instead of 4 dpns. The first 5 cast-on steps are similar when using either dpns or circular needles for the sock construction, so they are not repeated here. Refer to the Basic Long-Tail Cast-on article for these specifics.

In the photo above, the two differences between the 4 dpn and 2 circular needle sock construction are shown:

  1. The 62 stitches are cast directly onto one of the 2 circular needles (Needle #1).
  2. Four (4) markers divide the 64 stitches as follows: 20 sts, 10 sts, 10 sts, 20 sts, 4, to facilitate separating the stitches into two (2) groups of 32.

Step 6: Slide Stitches to Opposite End of Needle #1
Step six begins with the yarn tails at the needle tip. After this step, the yarn ends are in the center of the circular needle and all 4 markers are still in place.


Step 7: Transfer 32 Sts to Needle #2 With the second needle start slipping stitches (purlwise) until half the stitches have been transferred and 2 of the 4 markers have been removed. Needle #2 has no markers. The close-up at right shows how the tips of each of the two needles appear after this step. The yarn appears folded in half about the center and the yarn tails are away from the needle tips.

Rnd_Cast_5Slide StitchesStep 8: Slide Sts to Opposite Ends of Needles In preparation for step 9, slide the yarn down each needle to the opposite tip. The yarn tails that were in the middle in step 7 are again at the needle tip and the yarn is splayed in a "V" shape, with the point of the "V" away from the tips.


Rnd_Cast_6Swap StsStep 9: Swap End Stitches Transfer the last stitch from Needle #2 to the end of Needle #1. Needle #2 has no markers. Transfer the former the last stitch of Needle #1 to Needle #2 by drawing it through the stitch that has just been transferred. Alternatively, you may find it easier to pass the last stitch of Needle #2 over the Needle #1 stitch. The stitches have now been joined in the round, with care to avoid twisting the foundation row. The needles are parallel and close together to facilitate starting the round.

Rnd_Cast_71st StitchRnd_Cast_8End Needle #1Step 10: Knit the First Round When knitting in the round with two circular needles, each needle is only used to knit the stitches that reside on it. Slide the stitches on Needle #2 (no markers) to the middle of the cable and park them there. This will keep them from sliding off the end while you are working with Needle #1. In addition, this will make it less awkward to form the first stitch on Needle #1 and prevent a large loop between the two needles, by improving the angle of approach.

If you are new to knitting with 2 circular needles, the opposite end of Needle #1 works the stitches on Needle #1.
Remove the markers as you work across (K2 P2) Needle #1 in a clockwise direction. When you get to the end of Needle #1, park the stitches in the center of the cable.

Rnd_Cast_9End Needle #2Slide the stitches on Needle #2 to the tip where the yarn feeds. In actuality you are pulling the opposite needle tip away, which has the effect of sliding the stitches towards the yarn feed. This step will become automatic as you develop the rhythm of knitting with 2 circular needles. Work these stitches in a clockwise direction to complete the first round. The photograph shows the Needle #1 sts parked in the center (on the cable), while a purl stitch is worked on Needle #2.

NEXT STEP: Basic Sock - Cuff
Click here to transfer to the Basic Socks article.

Further Reading Excellent diagrams of the long tail cast-on method can be found on pages 18-19 of the Big Book of Knitting.

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