Let’s all switch to Magic Loop. It’s Easier that way.

When I first heard of the Magic Loop method of knitting, I thought it was cheating. I was a die hard double point fan.  Magic Loop, was for suckers who did not think they were smart enough to use double pointed needles, or were intimidated by their porcupine like pointiness.  Double points  made me feel smart and talented.  I will even admit to being a bit  smug as strangers would look at my sock in progress and their jaws would drop a bit.  You have to admit, knitting with 3 or 4 needles sticking out of your knitting looks complicated.  I loved the little thrill of accomplishment as I completed each needle. It was like finishing a row 3 times each round.  There was always a good stopping point, because you were always almost to the end of a needle.  Of course, it seemed almost impossible to stop because each little thrill as a needle was completed led to the inevitable pull to do just 1 more, and then 1 more…

My double points and I got along swimmingly until the day came when I wanted to knit a hat in worsted weight yarn.  This ment that I needed to buy new needles.  I needed a 16 inch circular needle and I needed double pointed needles in the same size.  I realized right away that I am not a fan of very small diameter circular needles.  The needles always seem to be just a bit too long and the cable just a bit too short for them to curve nicely around.  The tips would point together at an steep angle and there never seemed to be enough slack in the cable.  I could only knit 3 or 4 stitches before needing to slide the stitches around. In order to avoid this frustration, I attempted to knit the hat just on the double pointed needles and found out that I liked this even less.  Sock needles, whether made out of metal or wood, have a give to them.  They curve and flex with your hands just the right amount.  Larger sized double pointed needles don’t.  Even the bamboo needles were rigid in my hands. They felt awkward and I had the same annoying tug on my stitches.  What was even worse, though, was when I got too many stitches and they began to slip off the ends of the needles as I was knitting.  I finished the hat, but was a little disgruntled with the whole process.

My full on conversion to Magic Loop came shortly thereafter when I realized that I absolutely did not have the money (or the inclination) to buy another couple of sets of needles for my next project. I had an entire drawer overflowing with an almost complete set of metal straights (which I never used), a complete set of bamboo straights (which I rarely used), a smattering of circulars in various sizes and lengths, and a handful of sets of double pointed needles.  Even with all of that, I STILL needed more.  It was insanity.  My solution was to buy a shiny new set of Knit Picks interchangeable needles and to give magic loop a go.

While before I saw the Magic Loop as a cheater’s way out, I now saw the brilliance (and elegance) in it.  All I really needed to knit ANYTHING I could ever want was a 36″ (or 40″) circular needle in each size (or interchangeable tips and extra cables).  I could knit an entire sweater on a single needle, cuffs, arms, body, neckline, everything.  I didn’t have to switch needles.  I was no longer afraid of stabbing myself with my impressive looking double point spiked sock.  I didn’t worry that my stitches would slip off the needles accidentally once I threw it in my bag.  I always had as much flex and give in the cable as I wanted and could scrunch up the needles right up against the tip and knit half my stitches before I had to slide them around.  I loved the ease of dividing all my stitches onto 2 needles rather than 3.  I loved the natural division for socks, instep stitches on 1 needle, heal stitches on the other (or the front of a mitten on 1 needle and the back on the other).  I loved the flexible nature of the cable and how even if I had twice as many stitches on one needle or the other, I still had lots of slack and room to knit.  I was hooked.  I was a through and through convert.

As I have begun to design knitting patterns, though, I realize that I have to at least give a  nod of acknowledgment to those of you who remain attached to your double points.  Unfortunately, I know that this is a large section of the knitting population.  You have not yet seen the light.  It is frustrating as I am writing instructions to have to convert my directions to accommodate both paths.  I fully believe that all knitters should be able to knit any which way they want, but I can’t help but thinking that we should all switch to magic loop.  It would just be easier that way.

The pattern for my July Project of the Month Club uses small diameter knitting.  While I (obviously) knit this using magic loop and designed it accordingly, you can knit it any way you would like.  I would hope, though, that you would give magic loop a try.  You might find you like it!  Here’s a video to help you out, courtesy of Knitwitch and Youtube:

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6 Responses

  1. All that annoying cable pulling though! Using one 9″ or 12″ circular is the one true way! 😉

    • I have yet to find a small diameter circular that I liked the angle of the needles on. Do have a recommendation on a brand for the 9″?

    • whoa… you can knit socks in the round on a 9″ circular needle? I didn’t know there was such a thing! Where can I get one and try it? That would be so much easier!
      (of course, just one more needle to buy, but still!)

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. I just knit a thumb hole on a 36″ circular needle. It is so freeing! I just need one circular needle in each size and I’ll be all set for everything.

    It kind of drives me crazy when I read knitting forums and suchlike and I see, “Too bad we still need to get dpns for those small diameter…” Why is it not common knowledge! Knitters could save so much money and be more free in their knitting. We need to SPREAD THE WORD!

  3. I found this post after getting extremely frustrated with my brand new, gifted-by-my-husband interchangeable knitting needle set, when I attempted to knit a hat in the round with my 5″ needles and 16″ cord. It was so clumsy and tight, and I felt like I was learning to knit all over again, which I don’t want to repeat.

    I was also seething at the thought of having to buy DPNs in All the Sizes just to make a hat.

    Thank you for the recommendation for learning Magic Loop — I feel freer already!

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