Right now I’m knitting the legs of a pair of longies. Thanks to the technique of Magic Loop knitting, the legs are being knit two at a time. I think that’s just the most awesome thing in the world.
Admittedly, I was extremely intimidated by the magic loop method and it took me a long time to attempt it. My first attempts weren’t great, and a large reason for this was because I was so accustomed to knitting small diameter projects on double pointed needles. The two methods differ from each other, and I recommend trying both.
When I finally got the hang of knitting small diameter projects in the round with one long circular knitting needle (magic loop), I decided that this technique was for me.
Reasons I like Magic Loop so much:
I can knit items two at a time (socks, gloves, sleeves, pant legs, different toy appendages, ect). This way both items end up being identical. This is a huge advantage.
I only need one long circular needle and I no longer have to keep track of all those DPNs.
Ways Magic Loop and knitting with DPN’s differ:
Something I hated when using DPNs was the ladder that always seemed to appear between the stitches that ended and began on each needle. This does not exist with the magic loop method. BUT one thing that was hard to get used to was not tightening my yarn when I switched sides whilst magic looping.
Many old school knitters will not accept the idea or try the magic loop method. They say they hate all that adjusting. To that, I say WHAT? I find I adjust way more with DPN’s. At first I felt oafish when changing sides, but after I found my rhythm, I adjust very little compared to my DPN knitting.
When I knit with DPN’s, I am very particular with my needle positions. The needle holding the stitches that are currently being worked must rest above the next needle, and the needle I am knitting the stitches onto must rest on top of the needle before it. Since I am so particular, this takes much adjusting every time I switch needles.
I decided I wanted to write down tips that I have found with my magic loop knitting that help it move along smoothly.
Tips For Smoother Magic Loop Knitting:
1. Relax. When switching sides, do not pull the yarn tight. Just keep knitting. Pulling it tight will make the needle transition difficult and make it hard to allow the stitches to move along the needle. This was a hard lesson for me to learn.
2. If you are knitting something two at a time with one ball of yarn (one strand coming from the outside, one from the center), it can get tangled easily. Here’s what works for me: the side of the ball where the strand comes out of the center must be face down at all times. It still pulls freely, and this way the yarn coming from the outside of the ball can unwind freely as well. It takes some practice, and soon I got the hang of which way to flip the work when switching sides so the yarn doesn’t get wound around each other.
3. When working two at a time and it’s time to start the next item on the needle (and this happens on each side during each round): let the yarn that you just finished knitting with hang over the top of the needle, toward the front of the work. If the yarn falls to the inside, what can happen is when you begin working the next side, the cord from the circular knitting needle can get caught underneath the bar between the stitches. The cord is easily removed, but the result is that the bar between the stitches on either side will be loose and sloppy. I hope that made sense. If you practice knitting on something it will be more clear.
4. Use a long circular, 32 inches or longer. I prefer a 40″ circular needle. If the cable is a bit stiff, boil water in a tea kettle and run the cable through the steam. This will soften the cord and make it more flexible. This is only necessary (possible, advisable) before casting on.
5. Check out the video tutorial at Knittinghelp.com under the advanced techniques tab. It’s a wonderful demonstration.
Remember that magic loop knitting is simple in principle. Of course this is true of knitting in general. Magic loop knitting is simple because you divide the stitches once, and all the live stitches stay on the side they were appointed to. For some reason I thought all the adjusting old school knitters complained of meant that the live stitches had to be continuously positioned. They don’t. They stay where they were put.
Everything takes practice. It’s good to try all the options and choose your favorite technique for your project. Knitting should be fun!
Happy knitting everyone!