What is the Magic Loop?
Despite it’s rather grand name the magic loop is actually a simple method of knitting in the round using one, long cable, circular needle. It can be especially useful when working projects of small circumference such as socks and gloves and is an alternative to working with dpns (double pointed needles).
Why use it?
- As there is no juggling of multiple needles required, it can be an easier introduction to knitting in the round.
- The work sits nicely on the cable when not being worked so the project is safe for storage and transport (unlike dpns where one stitch nearly always slips off at least one needle during a handbag journey!).
- It is particularly useful for projects that start with a very small number of stitches which can be very fiddly with dpns e.g. working a circle from the centre out, or knitting Christmas baubles etc.
How to work the magic loop
Cast on the required number of stitches on to a long cable (I tend to use 80cm or longer for items such as socks and mitts) needle.
Divide the number of stitches in half (the exact number on each side can be varied as required) and carefully pull the cable through the half way point until there are stitches on each needle.
Hold the needles parallel with the cast on edges on the inside to check that the cast on hasn’t twisted. Turn the work until the working yarn is on your dominant hand side (e.g. on the right if you knit right handed).
Gently pull the needle up through the stitches on the side that you are going to knit with (e.g. right if right handed) and allow those stitches to slip down on to the cable (far enough down that you can freely move the right hand needle tip).
Place the free needle tip in to the first stitch on the other needle to join in the round and work it according to the pattern.
Continue working each stitch in turn from the needle until all have been worked from that side.
Rotate the work and carefully slide the stitches from the cable back up to the needle tip so that stitches are on both needle tips again (as in the second photo above). Pull that needle tip up on the side just worked to place the just worked stitches on to the cable. Repeat the steps above to complete the second half of the round.
The Magic Loop continues as above, working the rounds in a rectangular fashion, knitting one half, turning the work, then knitting the other half, transferring the stitches between the needle tips and cable as required.
The steps I’ve described above i.e. working in halves, are a good way of learning the technique but of course the magic loop can be a moveable thing i.e. pulling out the cable in different places in the work as you go.
I hope that this mini tutorial has helped you get to grips with working the Magic Loop method of knitting in the round. Personally I prefer my dpns for hosiery projects but I would use this method for something that starts off fiddly such as a knitted Christmas bauble. More on this next time…..
Happy knitting in the round folks.