How to: work magic loop knitting
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Working in the round on a small circumference, for a pair of mittens or socks, usually calls for double-pointed needles (DPNs). If, however, you don’t find these easy to work with, find a long circular needle and give this magic loop option a go!
This handy technique was made popular by Bev Galeskas and Sarah Hauschka in 2002, and works well in plain stocking stitch or patterns. You’ll need a circular needle that is ideally 100cm long and with a good flexible cord, and begin by casting the required number of stitches for the pattern onto the circular needle.
Slide the stitches down onto the cord and find the mid point; if you are working a lacy or textured pattern it is best to count and be accurate, but if it is just stocking stitch this is less critical. Pull the cord out between the stitches at the midpoint with your left hand so there are roughly an equal number of stitches on the front and back cords, and slide the two sets of stitches up to the needle tips. Don't worry about it distorting the stitches separated by the cord, as they will be apart for for one round.
Hold the needles parallel in your left hand with the tips pointing to the right. You will have a front and a back needle, and the yarn should be coming from the right-hand side of the back needle. Note that this is the correct position for starting to work stitches from a needle each time.
TIP If you have an odd number of stitches, pull it through as near the mid point as you can
Next pull out the back needle with your right hand so the back stitches will simply sit on the cord parallel to the front stitches and keeping the loop of cord at the mid point – you only need to pull out enough cord to knit with comfortably.
Making sure that the stitches are not twisted, join the round by knitting the first stitch tightly, then continue to work all the stitches from the front needle.
When all the stitches have been knitted from the front needle, turn your work 180 degrees – not upside down, just around in the same plane – so the unworked stitches on the cord are at the front. Slide them up onto the new empty front needle, keeping the needle tips are again pointing to the right and the working yarn is coming from the back needle and the right.
As before, pull out the back needle, leaving the cord loop in the middle and work the second set of stitches. This completes the round, and the tail end will be at the needle tips again.
Add a stitch marker to help keep a track of the start of the round, or pattern repeats, as you would normally for working in the round. As with circular knitting in general, you can always move the stitches along to change the ‘split’ point if you are concerned about a slight difference in appearance over these stitches.
TIP Always work the first stitch of each round tightly to avoid a ladder of looser stitches forming across the join.