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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Knitting With 2 Circular Needles

By Paulette Vickery

I love knitting with 2 circular needles rather than using double pointed needles. Once you get the hang of it, the technique is much easier, less complicated and your stitches never fall off the needles. Plus, you never have a short little needle get lost in the innerds of a couch or chair or go rolling merrily across the floor, always managing to stay just out of reach. Let me explain how to do it with a simple set of step by step instructions that will remove all of the confusion from the learning process. But first, take time to settle yourself in your favorite knitting chair with a glass of your favorite libation near at hand. Being comfortable while learning is just as important as the learning process itself. I know that I always learn best when I am relaxed and comfortable. Now, let's do it!

So we are all working on the same project, so to speak, let's talk about finishing a simple hat which has been knit in the round, using a circular needle. When you get to the part of the hat, where you would have to use double pointed needles because the opening is too small to continue knitting on 1 circular needle, here is what you need to do in order to use 2 circulars instead of double pointed needles.

First, divide your stitches onto 2 needles. I like to have 1 needle slightly longer than the other so I can tell where the beginning of the round is. Let's say that your original needle is the shorter needle and the second one is the longer needle. Okay; when you have finished putting half of your stitches on the longer needle, the short needle, the one with the yarn coming out of the first stitch, will be on the right, and the long needle, the one with the other half of the stitches on it will be on the left.

Now; let go of both of the points of the short, right-hand, needle. Just center those stitches in the middle of the cable so they won't go anywhere.

Now; you will be working with both points of the long needle, the one on your left. Take hold of the closest tip. This will be your left-hand needle. Now, grab hold of the other tip, which is probably somewhere out there, dangling toward the floor. Pull it around past the new left-hand needle to the other side, so it is in your right hand. This is now your new, right-hand needle.

Now, let's look at what you've got. You have the short needle, the original one in the back with the stitches that you are not working right now, centered on the cable and both points pushed somewhere out of the way. The yarn is hanging down on your right side, from the cable, not near the point of the needle, because you pushed your stitches to the center of the cable to keep them safe. You also have your front needle, the long one, which is now your current working needle, and the needle at the beginning of the round. You have the point with the stitches on it in your left hand, and you have the empty point in your right hand.

Now; slip the point of your right hand needle into your first stitch on your left-hand needle like you usually do for whatever kind of stitch you are doing. For simplicity, let's say it is a knit stitch. Pretend that the yarn coming from the cable of the needle in the back, the short one, is coming out of the needle that you are using, and just knit the stitch just as usual, being sure to give the working yarn a little extra tug to make the stitches nice and snug and avoid an unwanted gap. Now, the yarn really is coming out of the stitch on the needle that you are using. Just continue knitting and knit all of the stitches on the long needle.

Ok; now, repeat the process; only this time the current working needle will be the short one, and you will be working the second half of the round.

Drop both points of the long needle and center the stitches in the middle of the cable. Pick up both of the points of the new short needle, the one that was In the back, which is now on your left, because you have shifted things around a bit. Push the stitches up to the top of the closest end of the needle, which is now your left-hand needle. Pull the other end of the needle around so it is now your right-hand needle. Then, knit all of the stitches on the short needle.

Now, you are ready to do it again. You will have the long needle as the current working needle, and when you begin knitting the stitches on that needle, you will be starting a new round.

If you decide to knit the entire hat using 2 circular needles, or you are knitting a miniature hat or some other small project, here is how to begin a project with 2 circular needles. Remember to use 2 different needle lengths to make it easier to recognize the beginning of each round.

Using the shorter needle, cast on the number of stitches you need, plus 1 extra stitch. Then, slide all of the stitches to the other end of the needle, so that the first stitch cast on is near the point at the other end.

Now, beginning with the first stitch you cast on, move the first half of the stitches, onto the longer needle. You will have one half of the stitches on the short needle and the other half of the stitches on the long needle, but they will still not be joined to form a circle. In order to close the circle, slide both sets of stitches to the other end of there needles. Be sure that when you look at the stitches, that they are all going the same direction and not twisted. You can do this by starting with each hand at the opposite end of each needle and moving them toward each other to make sure there are no twists and the stitches are all facing the same way. The first stitch cast on and the extra last stitch cast on are near the points of both the short and long needles and beside each other. The points are close enough together for you to just lift the extra stitch onto the long needle.

So now, the first 2 stitches on the long needle are the first stitch you cast on and that extra stitch. Using only the tips of the long needle, knit these 2 stitches together to join the circle and get rid of the extra stitch. For a really smooth join, knit those 2 stitches together using both the long working yarn and the tail held together as a single strand of yarn. Then, still using both points of the long needle, continue working across the stitches on that needle to finish the first half of the round.

Next, just like we did before, drop the points of the long needle, pushing the stitches to the middle of the cable to keep them safe and pick up both points of the short needle and work across the other half of the stitches on that needle to finish the first round.

It really isn't hard. After you do a few rounds, you will probably wonder why you ever used those pesky double pointed needles in the first place!

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