Get ready to learn how to knit in the round and have that age old knitting question answered: What is circular knitting?

Learning how to knit in the round is super important for your knitting skill set. Until you can answer the question, “What is circular knitting?” Your projects will be a bit limited. You can always seam the flat pieces, but some things like fair isle colorwork knitting and fingerless mitts and mittens with thumb gussets can only be achieved by knitting-in-the-round.

Baable hat pattern review, a great fair isles knitting pattern for a hat | Pattymac Knits
Baa ble hat is a wonderful color work pattern which can only be done in-the-round

So here’s the real deal when it comes to knitting projects. They can only be one of two things. That’s right. In all of knitting, your project can only be classified in one of two ways. What are they?

  1. Your project is either flat or
  2. Your project is a tube

Yup that’s it. All of knitting is either one of these things or a combination. Here are some examples.

Flat Knitting:

  • Scarves
  • Blankets
  • Dish clothes

Easy Scarf Knitting Patterns are perfect for both beginner knitters and for those of us who prefer a little mindless TV knitting. Enjoy this roundup of free knitting patterns showcasing great projects for all knitters!
Flat knitting with color blocking

Tube or In-the-round knitting:

  • Socks
  • Hats
  • Raglan Sweaters

Try this easy hat Knitting Pattern. It's such a Cute Cat Hat and is Perfect for Fall. If you are looking for a great first hat to knit, this one is it!
A hat is a tube where one end is closed up.


  • Sweaters that are seamed consist of front and back body panels with sleeves that are generally knit separately in-the-round and joined to the body with seaming.
  • Lots of cool yarn bomb projects utilize all sorts of combinations of flat and tube pieces to construct sculptural pieces.

Fun yarn bombing project here in Virginia Beach

Ok, so that’s cool. It’s either flat or it’s a tube. The big question is “How to do I go from knitting flat pieces to knitting-in-the-round?”

Generally, we use different knitting needles to achieve this goal.

  • Circular knitting needles have the same straight knitting needles we already know and love (only shorter) connected to each other with a cable. The cable varies in length depending on the project we are making.
  • DPNS which stands for Double Pointed Needles are a tried and true classic tool for knitting in the round. It works and gives a lovely result, but it can be a bit fiddly to get through. Especially for a beginner who is already confused enough.

My recommendation is that you start with circular needles and knit something easy like a cowl as a first project. It doesn’t require shaping or color changes or anything fancy. And it still looks really good and is something you can use. People also love them as gifts.

So what’s a cowl? It’s basically a great big tube of knitting you slip over your head and wear around your neck. It’s like a scarf that doesn’t get in the way.  I didn’t know what they were until I started knitting, and then I saw them every where. Cowls are a pretty popular item in knitting circles, so understanding how to make them is kind of a big deal. 

This is a gorgeous over sized cowl!

I’m going to share the pattern to make this squidgy big cowl in a couple of weeks, so make sure you are subscribed to my email list! I don’t want you to forget and miss the pattern.  And while you’re at it, subscribe to my channel on youtube. If enough of you tell me you want to make one of these as a knit along project, then I’ll do a live youtube knit along to get you going. You can ask me questions in the chat and we can knit one of these projects up together.

In the meantime, here’s a video I made that talks about understanding circular knitting and how to get started. Watch this and start looking at these kinds of knitting needles. Take some time and read the packages to get a feeling on cable lengths and needle size.

If you are blessed with a good local yarn shop, go there and spend some time really taking in the selection of different needles.

The array of materials for needles and kinds of cables is fairly over whelming. So just go, have a good look and pick up a couple in the same needle size with different cables, different material, same length,  to try them out. You have to try different brands and styles to figure out what YOU like. We all like something different. Deciding on your favorite brand of circular knitting needle is a very personal choice and we all like different ones for different reasons. That’s why there are so many to choose from!

In the meantime, watch this video on getting started with circular knitting needles. There’s plenty more information coming along, but this is a great place to get started. Watch it a couple of times if needed! You can follow my facebook page and feel free to ask questions. Don’t be shy, because I guarantee that if you have the question, someone else does too!

Thanks for popping in today! I hope you enjoy this handy tutorial! I share new projects, tutorials and tasty recipes every month.  I make everything in my simple home kitchen along with my crafting adventures. Please subscribe to my Knitting Insider Newsletter List to receive personal notifications whenever something new goes live!

Author: Pattymac

Patty loves figuring out new ways to use pom poms, where to stash more yarn and is always wondering what to bake next...chocolate or lemon? When not dreaming up new things to knit (or bake), she loves riding her beach cruiser on the Boardwalk, escaping to mid week movie matinees, and planting new things in her container garden.