How Going in Circles Can Be a Good Thing

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When you knit in the round (often called circular knitting), you work on a circular needle or double-pointed needles (dpns) to knit a seamless tube. Years ago, circular knitting was a technique associated with more-experienced knitters. These days many popular patterns for beginners are written in the round. Many knitters — beginner and advanced — prefer knitting in the round because of its benefits, which include the following:

1 The right side always faces you. If you're averse to purling for some reason, knitting in the round allows you to skip it entirely — as long as you stick to stockinette stitch. Having the right side face you also makes working repeating color patterns easier because your pattern is always front and center; you're never looking at the back and having to flip to the front to double-check what color the next stitch should be.

1 Although circular knitting is great for sweater bodies, sleeves, hats, socks, and mittens, you're not limited to creating tubes. By using something called a steek — a means of opening the tube of knitted fabric with a line of crocheted or machine-sewn stitches — you also can create a flat piece after the fact. And that's good for such things as cardigans.

1 You can reduce the amount of sewing required for garments. When you knit back and forth on straight needles, you make flat pieces that have to be sewn together. Circular knitting eliminates many of these seams. In fact, some patterns let you make an entire sweater from bottom to top (or top to bottom) without having a single seam to sew up when the last stitch has been bound off.

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