Today I’m going to show you four different methods that will teach you how to join knitting in the round.
Unlike flat knitting, where you are knitting a row then turning your work, you work circular knitting in rounds. You do not turn your work. You work each row of the pattern in circular rounds on circular needles.
Let's talk a little bit about circular knitting needles.
Circular Knitting Needles
To knit in the round you must use circular needles. You can learn more about the different types of circular needles here.
For this photo tutorial, I am using ChiaoGoo fixed circulars in bamboo to knit in the round. This is just one type of circular knitting needles.
Try ChiaoGoo 16" bamboo circulars for your next knitting project.
You can learn about all the types of knitting needles here.
What Does it Mean to Join Knitting in the Round?
To join knitting in the round is to connect the first and last cast on stitches together. This joining of stitches is what makes circular knitting possible.
But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. Before you can join your knitting in the round, you must first cast on. Here's how to cast on to knit in the round.
Here you will cast on as you normally do. Just be sure to check your knitting pattern for cast on method and stitch count.
Avoid Twisted Stitches
When joining in the round, you want to avoid twisted stitches. Make sure your cast on row is aligned before you begin.
If you are planning to knit a hat and your stitches are twisted, you'll have to start over. Nobody likes to do that.
There are some patterns which take advantage of a twisted cast on, like this Mobius Cowl. You can find the pattern here.
How to Knit in the Round with Circular Needles
When you are ready to join to knit in the round:
- First check your stitches to make sure your cast on row is aligned. You do not want to knit with your stitches twisted.
- Next, set up your needles like in the picture below. Here, the last stitch cast on will be on your right needle, and the first stitch cast on will be on your left needle.
This is how you will set up your knitting needles to join in the round. It will always be this way when knitting in the round.
As you read through the methods below, be sure to keep this in mind. And so, without further ado, below are the methods to join knitting in the round.
Method 1: Stitch Swap Join
First, cast on the required number of stitches for your project.
Next, insert your right needle into the first stitch on your left. Slip the stitch as if to purl.
Then, insert your left needle into the last cast on stitch on your right needle. Pass this stitch over the other.
TIP: Make sure your yarn is either in front (or back) and ready to knit (or purl) your first stitch.
Now, insert your right needle into the first stitch on your left needle and begin knitting in the round.
Method 2: Add 1, Decrease 1 Join
When you cast on, add an extra stitch to your cast on row.
Move this extra stitch to your left hand needle purlwise.
Now, with your right needle, knit two together (k2tog). Then, continue knitting.
TIP: Remember to place a stitch marker to show the beginning of your round.
Method 3: Double Strand Join
Here you will cast on only the required number of stitches.
With both the active yarn and the yarn tail, begin knitting.
TIP: You do not have to work until you reach the end of your tail. Simply work 1” – 2” worth of stitches. Just remember to work the double stitches as one stitch when you start your next round.
Working this method prevents you from having to weave in that pesky yarn tail later. Who doesn't love that?!
Method 4: Invisible Join
Using this method, you'll cast on one additional stitch than what your pattern calls for.
To begin, slip the first stitch from your left needle purlwise on to the right needle.
Next, pass the extra stitch over the slipped stitch and drop it off the needle. The image shows an enlarged stitch but this will be corrected in a later step. Don't worry.
Then, slip the first stitch on your right needle back to your left needle.
Now, with the active yarn and the yarn tail, cinch up the excess yarn. This will create the invisible join.
Finally, you can begin knitting in the round.
TIP: When you come back to the beginning of the round, really tighten the join. This will help you avoid a gap, and create a nice, seamless join in your knitting.
There you have it. Four different ways to join in the round. Try one, try them all! You will find that some work better for you than others.
With a little time and practice, one of these will quickly become your favorite method for knitting in the round.
Do you have a favorite join for knitting in the round? Did you learn a new one? We’d love to hear your experience. Leave us a comment and let us know.
Last night I knit a 188 stitch 2x2 ribbing for 3" and it was TWISTED....again...I am left handed and could never figure out how the WS of the cast on was always on the intended RS, twisted or not. I followed your instructions and I am not only NOT twisted but the Rs of the cast on is the RS! I had to do the long-tail cast on holding the yarn in my left hand....so simple yet so confusing for this lefty!
You are a lifesaver!
Christina Garza-Brown says
As a self-taught knitter, I can understand where you're coming from, Sharon. I'm so glad that I was able to help you! You made my day! - Christina
I still cannot keep the stitches from twisting, I have tried every thing ans it still twist on me, I have 382 stitches that I have cast on. I have knitted for years and never have been this stumped. Thanks Norrine
Christina Garza-Brown says
Hi Norrine! That is A LOT of stitches! I can understand your frustration. Without seeing it, it's hard to say what's going wrong. What I'd suggest is laying out the stitches on a flat surface to make sure they're all lined up before joining in the round. If that doesn't solve the problem, it might be that you twisted the leg of your cast on without realizing it, causing it to change direction. I've done this a time - or three - before. With that many stitches to cast on, it's a possibility. Let me know if this helps!
Helen Yang says
Thanks for your lesson. I've learned a lot from your post. You explained it much better...
Christina Garza-Brown says
I'm happy to hear it. Thanks for dropping me a note! I appreciate it.
Hi. If I cast on with larger needles for a project in the round ...do I join after switching to the correct size needles? Can I do the first row to get the needles onto the smaller , correct size needle ? And then join? I’m pretty confused. Thanks. Jill
Hi there, thankyou so much. I've knitted a couple of projects in the round and have never been happy with the join. I now do a knitted cast on with the loop of the slip knot as the tail, makes it very easy to tighten up when I come back round to it. And then do your Invisible Method. I can then tighten both the slip knot at the start and the slipped stitch and away I go. I also use the tail as well as the working end for the first few stitches, sometimes even for the whole first round, makes for a very long tail though. Thanks again, so so simple.
Christina Garza-Brown says
Sarah, glad to hear you found this tutorial useful. That makes my day. Thanks for the note. Much appreciated! 🙂
I knit 2 hats using just a knit stitch. One looked like the knit stitch the other looked like a knit and purl. Was I holding the needles wrong?
Hi Ellen! It's a great question so thank you for sharing.
Two things come to mind to explain the knit and purl hat. One, perhaps you set the hat down and picked it up again and, unbeknownst to you, you were knitting the opposite direction. Two, maybe the inside of the hat got flipped to the outside and altered the stitch composition. Both are common, both are possible. I don't think it has anything to do with how you were holding the needles.
I hope both hats still turned out well enough to be worn and/or gifted. I hope this helps!
Ronnie Karel says
My project directions, with dpn ,CO 8 sts , leaving an 8” tail,and join for knitting in the rnd , being careful not to twist sts. Pm for beg of rnd.
For the life of me I can’t get it done. I just windup with a tangled mess. Frustrated, Help Help Help !
Hi Ronnie! Sorry to hear you're having trouble. I'd like to help but I need more info. Can you be more specific about what's going wrong?
Gladys's bransky says
How do I knit Inbetween two. Circular needles
Hi Gladys. Just so I can give you the best information, are you wondering how to knit with two circulars or are you looking for something more specific? Let me know and I'll be happy to help you. Thanks!
When joining in the round do you place your marker on needle before or after you join? I’ve been placing before and my ribbing stitch count comes out with an extra stitch
Hi Diana! Good question. You want to place your marker on your needle BEFORE you knit your first stitch. In your words, after you join in the round.
When knitting in the round does the same stitch have to be knitted for every round? As the work is never being turned it is always on the same side. Thanks for any advice
Hi Robyn! Great question! It depends on the pattern. If the pattern calls for stockinette, you'll knit (or purl) around and around. For garter stitch, you'll switch between a knit round and a purl round. If it's something else, then (hopefully) your pattern already includes those instructions. I hope this helps!