When I sat down to make a pair of fingerless gloves for my Secret Santa (free Ravelry pattern “Hedgerow mitts” designed by Amy Ripton) I followed the instructions and bought a set of double pointed needles. I had knitted with dpn’s before—the sleeves of my goldfinch top—and found them easy enough to work with.
While I was knitting on my lunch breaks a fellow knitter/coworker suggested that circular needles were a better option because they could use used for circular and flat projects (effectively, reducing your costs on additional needles). And then he showed me how—using the Magic Loop technique—he was knitting two socks simultaneously on the same circular needle in order to ensure they were the same length and maintained a consistant color pattern. I love the idea of being able to knit a pair of gloves simultaneously. There were a few moments during the 2nd Hedgerow mitt when I stumbled over my memory: Did I adjust the pattern here by 1 inch? or 8 rows? Buying two sets of double pointed needles would be more expensive than one larger (32-in.) circular needle.
I took a very informal poll of my Facebook friends, asking them about their needle preferences for knitting-in-the-round. Unsurprisingly, the field was more or less evenly spilt between double-pointed and circular proponents. Some of the preference was tied to how each knitter learned to knit. Those who prefer circular needles continuously cited the magic loop as their saving grace. It allowed them to knit small tubes without picking up a set of double-pointed needles.
I had to see what the fuss was about, so I picked up a fingerless glove pattern and tried my hand at the magic loop. It ended up being much easier than I expected. Although, I have not yet figured out how to create two magic loops on one circular needle.
Only time will tell whether I fully convert to circular needles and the magic loop. To some degree, it feels analogous to knowing how to use both Macs and Windows-based PCs. Regardless of my preference, I have the ability to choose the better option for specific knitting patterns.
Where do you stand where it comes to knitting-in-the-round? What are your tips and tricks for using dpn or cir needles?