In my last article, I touched upon various ways of readying yourself to begin an afghan project. Once you have selected a pattern -- you can then select your yarn and needles. Needles, of course, come in many different sizes, from very small (size 0 or 1) up to very large (size 18 or 19). Needles also vary in type as well.
Most knitters, or newbies, are familiar with straight knitting needles. These are usually 14" in length and come in a wood finish or aluminum. Straight needles are easy to knit with, but there is one little drawback; if you are knitting somethingwith more than 75 stitches it becomes increasingly difficult to fit more stitches onto your needle. The longer your knitting becomes, the heavier and bulkier your project will get.
Sometimes this is not a problem, and sometimes it is. So, what to do?Well, don't panic, for one. With a little practice, knitting with circular needles, will become just like second nature to you. Here are a variety of tips to remember when using circular needles:
Once you have cast on the number of stitches that are required, go back and straighten out the entire row, so all the stitches look uniform and not twisted.
If working a "closed" end, you want to join the yarn at the first stitch to make a closed "circle." Place a marker at the first stitch, so you know where you began.
To work an "open" end, cast on an even number of stitches, and slip half of those stitches onto a second needle. Fold your work, holding the needles parallel; one in front of the other. Using a third needle, slip one stitch first from the front needle and then from the back needle until they are all on one needle. Then knit to your desired length. To bind off divide the stitches onto two needles, and bind off alternating the two needles.
For a stockinette stitch, when using circular needles, just knit every row. (Use this technique when knitting using a closed end.)
For a garter stitch, knit one round, then purl the next round, then knit, then purl, and so on.
For flat work using a circular needle, knit as with straight needles; when you come to the end of your stitches, turn your work, and purl the next row, and so on. Continue working back and forth, just as with straight needles. (Use this technique with an open end.)
Knitting from the first stitch to the last stitch of one "row" is called a "round" in circular knitting. When you come to the marker, just slip it onto the right needle, and continue to the second round. Just keep knitting round and round, without turning your work.
Keep pushing your work along as you knit. This is especially important when knitting with circular needles.
Circular needles are available in different lengths from 11-inches to 47-inches. They come in various sizes, too.
As you continue knitting "in the round" your knitting will start looking more and more like a garment. The first row or two will be the most awkward to work; once you get beyond those, your work will get easier.
So, there you have it! Just knowing a few circular needle tips can make all the difference when it comes to making your next big knitting project!