How to Knit in the Round on Straight Needles

by Alexi Shide

Knitting in the round is typically done on circular or double pointed needles (DPNs). Circular needles are great for distributing stitches evenly, but can’t be easily used for small diameter knitting. DPNs can be used for any project, but some knitters find juggling them difficult.

Fortunately, you can knit a tube open on both ends using straight needles for the entire project. You may want to use a cable needle or DPN to help with casting on and off, but this is up to you. Some say that tubular knitting on straight needles is impossible. Actually, anyone can do it.  Once you learn this method, you can easily adapt it to your favorite glove pattern. Knitting the fingers of gloves has never been easier.

First, cast on the required number of stitches using your preferred method.

Here comes the hardest part. (Don’t worry! It’s not that hard.) You are going to completely rearrange the stitches on your needle. The goal here is to arrange your stitches so that every other stitch in your cast-on row corresponds to the front of the work. The remaining stitches correspond to the back. To do this, slip the first stitch (the last cast-on) to the right needle. Next, transfer the last stitch (the first cast-on) to your right needle. You will need to remove the intervening stitches temporarily from your needle. Pinch them between your fingers or hold them out of the way on a spare needle. (A DPN works well for this purpose.) Now, slip the second stitch onto the right needle. Then slip the second-to-last stitch and so on, until all your cast-on stitches have been rearranged. Your new stitch order will look something like this:


You’re not quite ready to knit yet. Your stitches are arranged in the correct order, but your yarn is nowhere near your needle tip. To fix this, transfer all of the stitches from your right needle to your left needle, without knitting them.

It’s time to join your round. The first two stitches currently on your needle are the first and last stitches in the round. Reverse them for a quick join.

Now comes the fun part. Knit or purl the first stitch as called for in your pattern. Then, keeping the yarn in back of the work, slip the next stitch. Work the next stitch. Slip the stitch after that. Work a stitch. Slip a stitch.  Always remember to keep the yarn in back of the work while you slip a stitch. That’s all there is to it. Work a stitch, slip a stitch. Never work or slip two stitches in a row. Always remember to keep the yarn behind the work while slipping.

You’re doing it! You’re knitting in the round on straight needles!

To cast off, you will need to hold the slipped stitches out of the way while you bind together every other stitch. Again, you can just hold them out of the way with your finger, or keep them handy on a cable needle.

Happy knitting!

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  1. I used this method a few years ago to make soap bags for small leftover pieces of soap. I hang them in the shower and as they get filled with bits of soap, I can use them as a soap-washcloth combined. I misplaced the directions and am so glad I was able to find them again. When I made the bags, I would bind off two at a time to seal one end of the bag. Put a string tie on and voila! Thanks for posting the directions!!

  2. I understand how to switch the stitches around to knit in the round on straight needles but can I do a 2×2 pattern after switching the stitches or knit a hat using a pattern while knitting in the round with straight needles? I wouold really appreciate an answer to this question. Thank you very much, Connie Moskowitz

  3. I understand how to switch the stitches so I can knit in the round on straight needles. What I would like to know is if I can knit a hat with a pattern while knitting in the round with straight needles? Thank you very much.

  4. Thanks so much for instructions on how to knit in the round on straight needles.
    Is it possible to make socks doing this?
    Any help would be appreciated.

  5. Hi,
    I would appreciate it very much if you would please give me an answer to my questions in the two comments I have made. Thank you very much, Connie Moskowitz

  6. I’m such a visual learner I can’t figure this out for the life of me. If ever you do a video on how to do this technique please let me know.

  7. Learning to knit in the round with 2 circular needles is challenging, but well worth it in the end. Try this technique first with one sock, and as you become more comfortable you can perform the amazing feat of knitting 2 socks at the same time! This allows you to try on the socks as you progress in knitting them, and you avoid the dreaded “second sock syndrome”. (This happens when you finish knitting one sock and then don’ t have the heart or motivation to pick up and work the second sock.)

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