In today’s post, I’ll teach you how to cast on for knitting in the round using the long tail cast on method. You’ll be happy to know that it’s so easy to do.
This knitting tutorial will show you how to cast on in the round with different types of circular knitting needles. I’ll teach you how to cast on with one circular needle, two circular knitting needles, and double pointed knitting needles (DPNs).
Before I get into the tutorial though, I want to explain what knitting in the round is and talk about a couple of cast on methods.
Table of contents
- What is Knitting in the Round?
- Knitting Cast On Methods
- Knitting Supplies to Cast On in the Round
- How to Cast On Knitting in the Round
- How Do I Cast On in the Round without Twisted Stitches?
- What's the Next Step After Casting On in the Round?
- Is There a Long Tail Cast On Calculator?
What is Knitting in the Round?
At some point in your knitting journey, you’ll read a knitting pattern that tells you to knit in the round. In the simplest terms, knitting in the round means that you’ll connect yarn ends to knit in circles (or spirals) on circular knitting needles.
When you use this knitting technique, you can knit socks on circular needles, knit hats, or sweater sleeves, for example. You could even knit a gauge swatch in the round. These are just a few instances where you’d knit a tube using circular needles.
Now, circular knit projects can be as small as a knit toy and as big as a knit blanket. So it only makes sense that you’d use different knitting needles to comfortably knit your project.
When you knit in the round, you might use one or more of the following types of circular needles:
- Fixed circular knitting needles.
- Interchangeable knitting needles.
- Double Point Knitting Needles (DPNs).
- Flexible double point needles.
I talk more about knitting needle types here and circular knitting needles here.
Can I Knit in the Round with Straight Needles?
You cannot, unfortunately, knit in the round with straight needles. They’re designed to knit flat, not in the round. You need to be able to knit the stitches in a circle, from left to right, which straight knitting needles aren’t designed to do.
Now, this is not to say that you can’t knit a hat with straight needles or this cowl pattern, etc. However, it involves seaming up the edges to connect the yarn.
On the flip side, though, you can knit flat on circular needles. This is quite useful for large knitting projects like some knitted ponchos, shawls, or knit blankets.
Now, let's talk about cast on methods.
Knitting Cast On Methods
There are many different types of cast ons in knitting, but two of my favorite ways are:
- The long tail cast on method.
- The knitted cast on method.
Let me tell you why I prefer using these cast on types to most others.
First of all, they’re both stretchy cast on methods. Secondly, they’re universal in your knitting. This means you can use them to start most knitting projects. Third, the cast on always looks good (see below).
Get the Lazy River Cowl Pattern here.
Finally, they’re both cast on knitting methods that are easy for beginners to learn. So easy, in fact, that most knitters learn them first.
For this knitting tutorial, though, I’ll focus primarily on the elastic long tail cast on method.
Now let's talk about what knitting tools and supplies I used and what you’ll need to cast on for knitting in the round.
Knitting Supplies to Cast On in the Round
For this knitting tutorial you’ll need these knitting tools:
- Your choice of knitting yarn in any yarn weight and yarn fiber.
I’m using Cascade 220 worsted weight yarn, a 100% wool yarn.
- Your choice of circular knitting needles in any shape, needle size, or length.
As I mentioned earlier, you can use flexible double pointed needles (DPNs) or traditional ones, fixed circular needles, or interchangeable knitting needles.
- Stitch Markers. These are to help you mark the beginning of the round (BOR).
You won't need them to cast on, but you will need them once you join in the round. More on joining your knitting later on in this post.
You can use a locking stitch marker, split ring marker, round stitch marker, or a diy stitch marker. There are endless types, styles, and materials for stitch markers.
Try Split Ring Markers.
Get Clover locking stitch markers.
Try these ChiaoGoo round stitch markers.
Ready to learn how to cast on knitting in the round? Let’s begin.
How to Cast On Knitting in the Round
In this next section, I’ll show you how to cast on in the round using three different types of circular needles. I’ll begin by showing you how to cast on with 1 circular needle. Then, I’ll teach you how to cast on knitting with two circular needles. Last, I’ll be casting on with double pointed needles (DPNS).
The following cast on knitting tutorial will apply to the different types of circular needles shown in this post. What will be different is how you distribute your cast on stitches. I’ll show you how in each so you’ll be ready to join in the round and start knitting, which I’ll teach you about in another post.
How to Cast On to Knit in the Round with 1 Circular Needle
Casting on stitches in the round is exactly like casting on for flat knitting. So if you know how to long tail cast on, you can create this stretchy cast on in the round.
For this knitting tutorial I’m using this ChiaoGoo interchangeable knitting needles set (shown below) in size U.S. 8 (5 mm). These are some of the best interchangeable knitting needles I’ve used. Versatile and durable, they're my go-to for just about everything.
Get this ChiaoGoo Interchangeable circular knitting needles set.
Try Cascade 220 Worsted Weight yarn (100% wool).
Here's how to cast on with a circular knitting needle.
First, begin by making a slip knot. Slide this onto one needle and hold it in your right hand.
Next, with both strands in your left hand, drape the tail yarn over your left thumb and the working yarn over your left index finger. It should look like an open V with your left palm facing you.
Step 1, lift the yarn from under your thumb with the tip of your right knitting needle. Then, moving right, go under the yarn on your index finger as shown in step 2. For step 3, move back through the loop on your thumb.
Step 4 shows the release of the yarn off of your thumb. The new stitch is now on your right needle. Go ahead and give it a gentle tug to snug it up close to the needle.
Repeat the steps in the collage until you have the necessary number of stitches cast on.
This is what your cast on row should look like when you’ve cast on all your stitches.
As you can see in the image below, I've only cast on (CO) a small amount of stitches. Obviously, you couldn't knit a cowl in the round. However, it's a good set up for knitting a swatch in the round or knitting in the round with two circular needles.
How to Cast On to Knit in the Round with Two Circular Needles
Now, when you cast on knitting with two needles, here’s what you do. For this tutorial, I’m using ChiaoGoo Shorties (Blue) on size 7 knitting needles and Cascade 220 Worsted Weight yarn.
First, cast on the required stitches on one of your two circulars. After that’s done, pick up your second circular and slip (purlwise) half of your cast on stitches to it.
It doesn’t matter if you start from the beginning or the end. Just take care not to stretch your stitches as you do it. This is what your long tail cast on in the round should look like when you’re done.
It’s okay to use different lengths on your ChiaoGoo cables. Longer is often better, in my experience, just not uselessly long. What’s important is that you have a comfortable length of cable to easily knit your stitches.
Casting on with Double Pointed Needles
Here’s how to cast on with double pointed needles and set up your stitches to knit. For this knitting tutorial, I’m using Wayback Yarns Capital Sock yarn in Let’s Festivate and ChiaoGoo Double Pointed Needle set in size 1 knitting needles. This set of dpns comes in groups of 5 needles.
Get this ChiaoGoo Double Pointed Needle set.
With one of your needles in your DPNs set, cast on the required stitches (shown below) for your knitting pattern.
Then, distribute the stitches evenly on 3 or 4 of your DPNs. Again, as you slip the stitches to the needles, take care not to stretch them.
Also, be sure to leave one double point needle without stitches. You’ll end up using this one needle to knit or purl your stitches.
Your cast on row on your DPNs should look like this when you’re done.
How to Cast On with Flexible Needles
Unlike the previous DPNs, these flexible needles come in sets of 3 as seen in these Addi Flexiflips and Hiya Hiya Flyers.
Get these Hiya Hiya Flyers Flexible Needles set.
Try these Addi FlexiFlips DPN set.
Also available in Addi Flexiflips Squared tips (not shown).
When using these double pointed knitting needles, you’ll use two needles to hold your stitches and one needle to knit with. The set up looks similar to knitting with two circular needles, except you have a third needle to work the stitches.
This is how you cast on for knitting in the round with flexible needles.
Following the earlier collage of steps, cast on the required number of stitches for your project pattern. Next, carefully slip half of your stitches onto a second needle. Leave the third flexible needle free of stitches.
When you’re done, your cast on row of stitches should look like this.
How Do I Cast On in the Round without Twisted Stitches?
Now this next piece of advice applies to all types of circular knitting needles. Before you join your knitting in the round, you need to make sure that your stitches aren’t twisted. Here’s how you prevent this from happening.
After you’ve cast on all your stitches onto your needles, line them up on the needle. It helps to lay your needles down on a flat surface to be sure, as shown in the image above.
Notice how all the stitches are in line and facing the same direction. You need to check your cast on row before you join in the round to prevent twisted stitches. Believe me, it’ll save you a lot of heartache.
What's the Next Step After Casting On in the Round?
Let’s say you want to make a circular knitting pattern like this knit hat, for example. Then your next step is to learn how to join to knit in the round. Our knitting tutorial which will teach you a handful of ways to join your knitting.
But maybe you're thinking, I have a lot of stitches to cast on. Is there an easy way to know how much yarn for the long tail cast on?
Is There a Long Tail Cast On Calculator?
There is! In this knitting tutorial, I’ve written about several ways to calculate how much yarn for the long tail cast on. Check them out and save yourself from playing yarn chicken with your cast on.
Alright, so I've covered how to cast on for knitting in the round using one and two circular needles, and double pointed knitting needles (DPNs). I hope you found this long tail cast on knitting tutorial helpful. If you did, I'd love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below.
Minnie Choice says
How many stitches to cast on for a cowl scarf on the round with k2 p2 on Mandala ply 3
Christina Garza-Brown says
Hi there! It really depends on if you want a long cowl (infinity scarf) or a small cowl. The best way to figure out how many stitches is to knit a gauge swatch in the round. You can find my tutorial on how to swatch in the round here. Check your ball band for recommended needle size and cast on at least 28 stitches. You'll need a multiple of 4 stitches that will give you a 4" swatch to determine gauge. I hope this helps!
Elaine Mooty says
I have always used the long-tail cast on method for knitting. But I've never involved the first finger of my left hand. To me the cast on stitch doesn't look any different than only using the thumb. Is it a necessity to use the first finger of the left hand for the cast on with circular needles? And if so, please explain why. Thanks.
Hi Elaine! Great question! The thumb cast on is a variation of the long tail cast on that accomplishes the same thing. You may use whichever method you're most comfortable with to cast on in the round.
Thanks for writing in!