Thursday, December 29, 2011


Most people agree that circular needles make some kinds of knitting a lot easier and faster when compared to that done with traditional straight needles. The circular needles have a plastic cord that runs between the two needle tips. The cord attaching the needles is usually  16 inches to 29 inches long. The needle tips can be made of plastic, wood, bamboo, or metal, and most are about five inches long. They come in all regular needle sizes.

Circular needles are used much in the same way as straight needles for flat knitting. But circular knitting needles allow you to do knit projects in the round, otherwise known as tube knitting. That is something that, in the past, was done with three double-pointed needles. And, if you've ever tried them, you must know that the use of double pointed needles is a bit of a challenge. But the main advantage of circular needles is their length that lets them hold projects with a lot more stitches than straight needles can. These different lengths can accomodate a variety of larger projects like long scarves, shawls and afghans - sometimes calling for 100 or more stitches. Last, but not least, circular knitting needles are more compact than straight needles, and that makes them easier to store and carry around, including outside the home.

Knitters also use circular needles to save time by not having to turn the work, and that's how you can do a lot of quick projects.You may have read some fast knit patterns that call for circular needles. On the other hand, it's not always easy to find the circular needles in larger sizes. Or you may already have some straight needles and don't want to buy circular needles of the same size.

Luckily, not having circular needles doesn't have to be such a problem. Here's a trick that I've learned to use my long straight needles for some fast-knit projects. This method works best for long, rectangular projects like long scarves, shawls, and coverlets. (It wouldn't do so well for longer tube-type patterns because straight needle knitting would produce long rectangles. Those long pieces of knitting would then have to be seamed up, and that's another time consuming chore.)

Here's an adaptation of a two-hour scarf usually made on circular needles and knitted from side-to-side. That means that the cast on is for the length and not for the width. The faster knit comes from the fact that you only have to turn the work a few times instead of the many turns that are required for working end-to-end. The scarf described here is made by knitting the two halves separately and then seaming them together. The seam is located at what would be the back of the neck and is made with a simple crochet stitch. So, maybe, it requires three-hours, what with the added seaming and pretty edges with fringe or tassels.

Pattern for a "three-hour", bulky knit scarf


Size 19 straight needles.
Super bulky yarn or 3- 4 worsted-weight strands knitted together- can be different colors for a tweedy effect.
Large size crochet needle


Make two equal size balls of all your yarn. That way you'll always have enough for the second half.

Cast on 33 stitches.

Row 1- purl 3, garter stitch (all knit) 27, purl 3

Row 2 - all garter stitches

Continue knitting the same two rows until it has the width you are looking for. (I knitted Rows 1 and 2 - 4 times - and then repeated Row 1 to finish off.) Cast off very loosely. (If you don't do this, you'll have one entire, long side of your scarf loose bound and the other tight bound. And that doesn't make for a happy outcome.) Leave about 20 inches of yarn at the end as you cast off. That way you can make the seam with one less knot that needs to be hidden somewhere - a not so easy task, when you're working with bulky yarn or several yarn strands.

Then make the other half of the scarf in the same way. Join the two halves neatly with a crochet slip stitch. Make fringe or 2 tassels for the ends of the scarf in the same color (or colors of) yarn.

Scarf will be about 56 inches long - plus fringe, if you make it. (If you want a really long scarf, just make another panel and seam up all three end-to-end. And why not? Made with care, the seams are an attractive addition.)

You'll enjoy your warm bulky scarf all winter long. Or give it as a gift to someone. It will certainly be appreciated.

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