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Knitting Tip: Using Circular Knitting Needles - Why & How?

We have been discussing how to avoid pain while knitting. One way is to not to hold lots of weight in your hands when you knit. Circular needles help you do this.

Circular needles are made of two knitting needle tips approximately 5 inches long and connected to each other by a flexible cord. The cord length can vary from 16" to about 50". The needle tips are made of plastic, metal, wood, or bamboo. The cords on most new needles are made of flexible nylon. In the past, the cords were made of twisted wire which sometimes caught on the stitches and gave circulars a bad name. Now the cords have smooth joins that won't snag your knitting.

Your choice of circular needle tips will probably be related to the type of material you like in straight needles. An exception is that many people who don't like metal single pointed knitting needles do like the Addi Turbo circular needles for their speed, their smooth and tangle free cords and their comfortable to hold tips. For a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of various types of needle tips, see last week's article on Knitting Needle Materials.

Although circulars let you knit in the round, they can also be used to knit back and forth. Again, the reason you might want to do this is to allow the weight of the knitting to rest in your lap. When you are knitting something that is quite wide, such as a shawl, circulars are indispensable because straight needles are too short to hold all the stitches. Circulars can also be used to knit in the round on a small scale, such as knitting socks.

Whatever you choose, do try knitting with different types of needles so that you can make up your own mind. If you are in the middle of an episode of pain from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Arthritis, or Tendonitis, however, I heartily recommend that you try knitting with circular needles. Your hands and wrists will thank you!

Please check back next week for more helpful Knitting Tips from the Guru.