Dear Olive: Circular Needle Length

Dear Olive,

How do I know which length circular needle to use for my project? And how do I know when it’s time to switch to a longer or shorter needle?



Dear L.M. (Length Matters?)

This is a great question – and you’re not alone in asking. Knitters often ask me about choosing the right length for their project. The short version is this: Your circular needle should generally be shorter in length than the circumference of the project you’re working on. If the needle is too long for the number of stitches you have, your stitches will feel stretched and will be difficult to work. If your circular needle length is too short, your stitches will be crowded. Crowded stitches are more difficult to manuever – and it’s a bit harder to catch mistakes. Check out the video and photos below for more detail about choosing the right circular needles for your knitting project.


Marie (AKA Olive)

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Two circular needle needles, one with a knitting project in progress.
Crowded stitches on a 24″ circular needle
Knitting pink yarn from one circular needle to another.
Knitting stitches from 24″ needle to 32″ needle
Pink colored yarn on a circular knitting needle.
Stitches transfered to 32″ needle (same number of stitches as shown above)

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