Circular Knitting Needle Tips
Here are some "tips" (get the pun?) on how to
tame some of those annoying needle problems we all seem to have at one
time or another.
Do your circular needles stay curly when you're using
them? I'm talking about those needles with plastic cables between
the needle tips - which can turn into pesky curlicues when you try to
use them. These hints probably won't work if you are using some of
the old needles with metal cables, but it usually works with any needle with
plastic cables, regardless of what the tips are made of (even wood or
Soak the needle for a 2-3 minutes in hot tap water and
watch it uncoil. Here's what I usually do
put a couple of inches of hot tap water (boiling
water might be too hot for the plastic) in my kitchen or bathroom
drop in the needle so it is totally covered with
watch it unwind
when you take it out of the sink, hold it straight
and taut until it cools and/or run it under cold water (I hold one end in
one hand, one end in my teeth, and one hand turns on the faucet)
Blow hot air from a blow-dryer on it.
Run it through the steam of a boiling
Hang it over the hood of a lit goose-neck lamp.
Hang it over the shower head when you
take a hot & steamy shower.
Ever knit a tablecloth, doily, or other
knitted-from-the-center-out project that calls for two or more different
lengths of the same-sized circular needle as well as a set of double-point
needles (DPs) of the same size? You can use this same technique if knitting a
tubular project that is too small for the circular needle you have
-- for instance, the body of a child's sweater or sweater sleeves or cuffs
on any size sweater. Well, I can't eliminate the use of DPs, but I
can help you avoid buying extra circular needles. Buy the longest
size necessary for the project, then use one of the DPs to shorten the
needed length. Here's the alternative I use (see the picture) -- it
works easily, but it's hard to describe -- so here goes:
Knit on the DPs as directed until you have so many
stitches that you think they'll fall off the needles
Pick up your too-long circular needle (same size as
DPs, remember?) and begin to knit with it -- work around until all of the
stitches are on the circular needle (be sure you have added any
necessary stitch markers).
Slide a few of the just-worked stitches back onto one
of the DPs (necessary to keep the stitch size accurate), then use this
DP as your working needle (i.e., right hand needle).
Now (and this is more difficult to visualize than to
do), pull on the right-hand end of the circular needle until it's
hanging out of your work and most of the stitches are bunched up on
the left-hand end of the circular needle (do NOT pull the left end out
of your work).
Work about 3-5 inches along the row with the DP
(that is, work whatever number of stitches will stay comfortably on
Stop working with the DP and begin working with the
dangling circular needle tip -- leave a loose loop of the cable
jutting out of the work as shown in the picture.
Knit with the circular needle until all stitches are
on it, INCLUDING those from the DP.
Now keep endlessly repeating steps 3 - 7. NOTE
-- you may or may not reach a point where you have so many stitches
that you no longer need the DP to short-circuit the needle.
By the way, you may be asking why I
don't use the "magic loop" single-very-long-circular-needle method
that has become so popular lately. I use both methods depending
on the circumstances. I use (and love) the "magic loop" method
when I'm using needles US size 3 (about 3 mm) or below, especially for
socks, but not when the needle size is larger than size 3. That's
because I think that the magic loop method could distort the stitch
size of the project because the cable diameter is so much smaller than
the needle diameter - so I use the double point needle short
circuiting method and never have to worry about that being a potential