So you’ve ventured into the world of sock knitting. While knitting socks is certainly intimidating for a beginner, there are so many different techniques, styles, and designs that you can explore.
Although most beginners knit socks with double-pointed needles, there are circular knitting needles that you can use to make the process faster and easier.
So, what are the best circular knitting needles for socks? The best circular knitting needles for socks will be durable enough to last you years, be comfortable to use, and make the process much easier rather than more complicated.
In this article, we will go over some of the most popular techniques and tools that you can use to make sock knitting easier and more enjoyable.
What You Need For Easy Sock Knitting
Socks are basically narrow tubes, and for that, you will need to know the techniques of knitting in the round. There are two popular tools for knitting in the round – circular needles and double-pointed needles (DPNs).
Circular needle lengths range from 9-60″, which is the measurement from one tip of a needle to the other (including the cord).
Circular needles are most commonly used when the circumference of the garment matches the length of the needle so that the stitches will rest comfortably on the needles (or on the cord connecting the two needles) while you knit in the round.
For example, 9″ circular needles are often used for socks, 16″ circular needles are often used to make hats, while 24-32″ circular needles are often used for sweaters.
There are also several ways to manipulate circular needles to use them to make narrow tubes, such as socks, including the magic loop method, or using two circular needles at the same time.
DPNs can also be employed to make socks, but there are a lot of cons when it comes to working with DPNs that make it an unpopular choice for sock knitters.
Cons Of Using Double-Pointed Needles (DPNs)
Casting on with DPNs can be very difficult, especially for beginners. Since DPNs come in a set of 4 or 5, you will have to divide your stitches evenly among 3 or 4 DPNs (leaving one remaining DPN to knit with).
Casting on one continuous loop using 3 or 4 DPNs can be very difficult, and your loop will likely get twisted and have gaps where the stitches transition from one needle to another.
Speaking of gaps, the wide gap that can occur between the needles when you use DPNs are called “ladders.” Laddering happens a lot if you don’t pull your stitches tightly when you transition from one needle to another, which can affect the overall look of your product.
DPNs that are made of slippery materials such as aluminum or stainless steel do not have strong grips on your stitches, so they will slip out when you try to knit in the round.
If you use bamboo or wooden DPNs, especially the small sides, they tend to break easily or have splinters that can hurt your hands while you knit.
If these difficulties are driving you away from knitting socks, there are wonderful alternatives that allow you to knit socks using circular needles.
Consider The Pattern
One quick note before we move on to explore how to use circular needles to knit socks: pay attention to your pattern. There are two main popular ways to knit socks: kitting from the toe up or knitting from the cuff down.
With the toe-up method, you will start with the smallest part of the sock first and then gradually make increases to create the tube. Many knitters argue that this method is more difficult since you have to tackle the hardest part of the sock first. This method is also usually more difficult when working with DPNs.
With the cuff-down method, you will knit the tube, followed by the heels, and then seal the toes. You can work on the “easy” part first with the tube, and there are more beginners’ sock patterns that are cuff-down rather than toe-up.
Knitting Socks On Circular Needles
There are many advantages to knitting socks using circular needles, and why many knitters prefer knitting socks with circular needles over DPNs.
First of all, knitting with circular needles is faster. Compared to knitting with DPNs, where you have to knit over three or four needles to complete one row, with circular needles, you don’t have to adjust your needles so much. You’ll finish a row much faster and make fewer mistakes in the process.
Not having to switch needles so much also means you will be able to avoid the “ladders” that can occur when you switch needles. Your socks will look more seamless in the process.
If you are using the magic loop method using long circular needles, you will also be able to work on two socks at a time. This means you can hold two socks in the same pair of needles and use two different strands of yarn to work on two different socks.
Knitting socks two at a time is not only time-saving, but it will ensure that your socks can look uniform and even without having to count your rows. If you have patterns, it also makes it easy to follow the pattern and follow it to create a uniform look over two socks, rather than having to read and follow the pattern twice.
If you are intrigued about how to knit socks using circular needles, below are some popular ways to do that.
A 9″ Circular Needle
The simplest way to knit socks with circular needles is to use the shortest length available – 9″. Your sock cuff will be a bit smaller than the needles’ length, around 7″ to 8″, but this length will be the most appropriate if you want to use circular needles to knit socks.
While some knitters believe this length is too short to work effectively, and it definitely takes some practice, you will be able to work in one continuous loop to create your sock tube without having to change needles.
With this technique, you will only need to know how to knit in the round. You don’t have to adjust the cords or switch needles, which makes knitting a lot faster and arguably simpler.
However, since needles are too short, when you work on the narrower areas of your socks, you may find it very difficult to knit and may have to switch to DPNs to shape the toe and heel areas.
If you have large hands or if your hands tend to get fatigued easily, this method can be very tiring for you. Since the needles are so short, it will take some getting used to, even if you are an experienced knitter.
The Magic Loop method is a popular method among sock knitters, just because it is a truly versatile technique that allows you to use long circular needles (at least 32″) to knit whatever sized tubes that you want. With this method, you can even knit socks two at a time using two separate strands of yarn.
For this method to work, you will need a pair of long circular needles with some nimble but highly reliable cable.
After casting on your stitches, you will fold the cable in half and divide half of the stitches on one cable and the other half on the other cable by pulling the cable outwards from the mid-point of your stitches.
Then, you can push the stitches that you need to knit on the needle portion of the circular needles and use the other needle to knit. After you finish that half of the stitches, you can pull the cable from the other end to push the stitches on the needle, and then flip your workaround and continue to knit in the round.
The strength of this technique is that you only have to switch your needles once to complete a row. Long circular needles are great to help you create various sizes for socks. If your circular needles are long enough, you can also hold two socks to knit at the same time.
However, laddering can still occur since you will have to switch needles halfway through the stitches. If you don’t have quality circular needles with a reliable cord, the cord can be disfigured or even break during this process.
Here’s a handy tutorial from Crazy Sock Lady on YouTube all about how to knit socks with the magic loop method.
If the magic loop technique seems a bit intimidating to you, you can start with something similar but much simpler – using two identical circular needles, preferably 9″ or 16″.
Similar to the magic loop method, you will divide your stitches in half and hold each half with one pair of circular needles. Then, you can knit in the round using one needle from each of the pairs, switching needles when you finish each half.
Similar to the magic loop method, you can also use this technique to knit two socks at a time, but we recommend using 16″ or 24″ circular needles if you want to do that so you don’t accidentally drop stitches from the other end of your needles.
With this method, you won’t have to bend any cables, which is a lot easier on your tools. However, you will have four needles in total going around your project, which can be a bit confusing, especially for beginners.
What Kinds Of Circular Needles Are Best For Knitting Socks?
Depending on your preferred technique, you will need to select the best length for your circular needles. Your pattern may specify the length of the needles required, but if you have a personal preference and experience working with one technique, you can go for it.
A quick note about needle and cord material, as this can substantially affect your knitting experience.
Knitting needles come in various materials, including stainless steel, aluminum, plastic, wood, bamboo, etc. The plastic and metal needles tend to be very smooth, which means your stitches will glide off the needles easily. This means experienced knitters can knit faster, but beginners may find that they drop stitches too easily.
Bamboo and wooden circular needles are tricky to buy – the cheaper options may not be as smooth as you expect, some may even still have splinters. If you are using small sizes, the needles tend to break easily because they are not as strong as the metal ones.
However, many knitters still opt for bamboo or wooden needles because they have a good grip on the yarn, which gives you a reliable knitting experience.
For the magic loop method to work well, you may also want to pay attention to the cord’s material since the cord will have to be highly reliable to be able to bend and fold the way you want it to. You will want a cord with a metal cable and coated with nylon or plastic, which are the most reliable.
Best Circular Knitting Needles For Socks
Below are our recommendations for the best circular needles for sock knitting.
|1.||HiyaHiya Circular 9 inch (23cm) Steel Knitting Needle||Stainless steel, smooth joint, flexible cable|
|2.||CLOVER Bamboo 9" Circular Knitting Needles||Soft finish, angled, 6 sizes|
|3.||Boye 16" Circular Knitting Needles||Made in the USA, comfortable, 10 sizes|
|4.||Addi Knitting Needle Turbo Circular Skacel Blue Cord 16 inch||Nickel-plated brass, flexible cord, snag-free|
|5.||CLOVER Bamboo Circular Knitting Needles Takumi, 16-Inch||Snag-free, durable, 15 sizes|
|6.||ChiaoGoo Red Lace Circular 32 inch (81cm) Stainless Steel Knitting Needle||Stainless steel, great for magic loop method|
|7.||Weabetfu Bamboo Circular Knitting Needle||Nylon coated steel cable, durable|
|8.||Knitter's Pride 4/3.5mm Dreamz Fixed Circular Needles, 32"||Lightweight wood, flexible and strong cord|
|9.||CLOVER Takumi Combo Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles||12 needle sizes, 5 cord sizes, lightweight wood|
1. HiyaHiya Circular 9 inch (23cm) Steel Knitting Needle
HiyaHiya knitting needles are favored by sock knitters because of their high quality and consistent performance.
With the durability of stainless steel and the pliable cord that offers no resistance against stitches, you’re sure to find these needles perfect for even the most intricate sock patterns.
These 9″ needles are designed with a smooth joint so that you won’t have any issues moving your stitches from the needle to the cord when you knit in the round.
The 2″ tips make knitting more enjoyable because you will be able to easily pick up stitches and create a consistent tension for your new stitches.
With a small tube such as socks, having a highly flexible cable can make knitting in the round more pleasant. These circular needles are perfect for that purpose, and the stainless steel material makes knitting socks quite effortless.
These needles come in various sizes – US 2 (2.75mm) to US 5 (3.75mm), which are great for a wide range of yarns and patterns.
2. CLOVER Bamboo 9″ Circular Knitting Needles
The Clover 9″ Bamboo circular needles are smooth and highly flexible. The soft finish provides a pleasurable knitting experience, offering a comfortable grip on the stitches while still smooth enough to allow the stitches to glide.
These circular knitting needles are great for new sock knitters. The lightweight bamboo material makes knitting a lot less tiring, while the 9″ length makes it perfect for knitting socks while avoiding ladders.
The needles are angled slightly to reduce wrist strain, so you will find it much faster and more effortless to knit in the round. These needles are available in 6 sizes ranging from US 2-7, so you will be able to find the perfect needles for your next sock project, no matter what pattern you follow.
3. Boye 16″ Circular Knitting Needles
Boye knitting needles are expertly crafted in the USA to deliver quality, comfort, and value.
The products that bear the Boye name have become highly regarded throughout the world and recognized for exceptional quality, consistency, and unmatched value, so you’ll know you’ll get a reliable pair of circular knitting needles with this brand.
These 16″ knitting needles, in particular, are made from light but very strong aluminum making them great for those who find knitting for any length of time uncomfortable.
The needles have a classic shiny finish with a strong plastic cable, making them highly dependable regardless of your skill level. You’ll find various sizes ranging from US 1-10, so you can get whatever your pattern demands.
For socks, these 16″ circular needles are great for using two pairs of circular needles at the same time. The cord is highly flexible, allowing the needles to work with you while you knit in the round.
4. Addi Knitting Needle Turbo Circular Skacel Blue Cord 16 inch
Versatile and exceptionally smooth working, these addi Turbo circular knitting needles are the favorite choice among experienced knitters.
These needles are made from strong nickel-plated brass and topped with an ultra- pliable plastic cord, making them highly dependable, lightweight, and comfortable to hold. The cords feature a snag-free joint which makes knitting your socks even more pleasant.
These needles, in particular, come in size US 4 (3.5mm), which is great for sport weight sock yarn. You can use two pairs of these 16″ circular needles to work on one or two socks at a time, and the highly flexible plastic cords will make the process much easier.
5. CLOVER Bamboo Circular Knitting Needles Takumi, 16-Inch
These CLOVER 16″ Circular Knitting Needles are made of bamboo and designed for sock knitting and small tubes like hats and sleeves. The bamboo material has a smooth, shiny finish that makes knitting a snag-free experience.
Not only is bamboo environmentally friendly, but this lightweight material also makes long knitting sessions more pleasant. These needles have outstanding durability, able to firmly hold stitches but still allow the stitches to glide easily across the needle.
These needles come in sizes ranging from US 1 to US 15, which are good for not only socks but also a wide range of other projects. If you are a beginner at sock knitting, this option gives you the most comfort while still helping you avoid mistakes like dropped stitches or snagged yarn.
6. ChiaoGoo Red Lace Circular 32 inch (81cm) Stainless Steel Knitting Needle
These 32″ circular knitting needles from ChiaoGoo are made of high-grade stainless steel and come with a bright red, highly flexible, multi-strand, nylon-coated steel cable.
Why is that important? If you are going to knit socks with these 32″ circular needles, you will need to use the magic loop method, which means your cable will need to withstand a lot of folding and bending.
If the cable is not flexible enough, you won’t be able to bend it to make it comfortable enough for knitting. However, if the cable isn’t sturdy enough, the cord may take that form permanently, which makes knitting other projects white unpleasant.
Fortunately, these circular knitting needles are designed to be sturdy yet highly flexible. The joints between the cord and the needles are seamless, allowing your yarn to slide end-to-end easily. The pointed tips make these a pleasure to knit with, and the perfectly tapered points make picking up new stitches quite effortless.
These circular knitting needles are precision-made with an extra smooth finish, which works best with experienced knitters who already have a strong command of their stitches and won’t accidentally drop stitches too often.
7. Weabetfu Bamboo Circular Knitting Needle
The Weabetfu Bamboo Circular Knitting Needles are flexible and smooth, making knitting socks even more enjoyable.
These needles are lightweight, sturdy, and strong with a nylon-coated steel cable that’s highly flexible for the magic loop method. This needle length is perfect if you want to knit two socks at a time.
Being premium-quality, these knitting needles are made of bamboo that has been carbonized for a smooth finish to avoid any rough edges, making sliding and creating stitches really effortless.
As a natural material, bamboo is also known for being highly sturdy yet lightweight, which is tremendously helpful for those who have joint pain or tend to get hand fatigue after knitting for a while.
If you want a pair of circular needles that is environmentally friendly, durable yet lightweight, this pair can satisfy all of those requirements!
8. Knitter’s Pride 4/3.5mm Dreamz Fixed Circular Needles, 32″
The Knitter’s Pride Dreamz circular needles are perfect if you want a highly dependable pair of wooden circular needles.
The densified laminated birchwood material is stronger than most other types of wood but is still lightweight, making the needles comfortable to hold for a long time. These needles are designed to last and are great for those who are constantly knitting.
The wooden material also offers a comfortable grip on your stitches, so you are less likely to drop stitches even if you are a complete beginner at knitting socks.
The strong and flexible cord also accommodates knitting using the magic loop method, which makes knitting a pair of socks so fast and enjoyable.
9. CLOVER Takumi Combo Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles
If you are unsure about what length of circular needles to use or what technique to learn, why not invest in a quality set of interchangeable circular knitting needles?
Since circular knitting needles come in so many sizes and so many cord lengths, this set saves you a ton of money by allowing you to customize the cord length and the needle size that is perfect for your project.
This set, in particular, comes with 12 needle sizes and 5 different cord sizes, which gives you 60 different combinations in total! All of them are neatly organized in the included case, so you’ll be able to find and put together the perfect circular needles for your project.
With interchangeable needles, having smooth yet sturdy joints that won’t unwind while you knit is truly the key. Luckily, these CLOVER interchangeable knitting needles are designed for that!
These wooden needles are lightweight with a smooth finish, with tapered tips to make knitting quicker and easier. You’ll be able to employ various techniques and explore a wide range of patterns with this extensive set of circular knitting needles!