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Too Many Needles for Your Sweater? Here’s How to Pare Down

One of the advantages of knitting with the magic loop is that one long circular needle can do the job of several circular needles and double-pointed needle sets.

For example, if your sweater calls for a 32″ circular, a 16″ circular and a set of double-pointed needles, you can use magic loop and use only one long circular.

Pennington Sweater in the Round

For this sweater, I did a magic loop cast on, then changed to the usual in-the-round circular knitting when there were too many stitches.

The first time you give this a try, it might be a little confusing. Let’s walk through how magic loop works if you’re using the same needle for one project. (Plus, drool over a few seamless in-the-round sweater patterns you can stitch using magic loop.)

How magic loop works with sweaters

Most sweaters are either worked from the bottom up or the top down. To knit them in the round, you’ll use both magic loop and the usual way of knitting in the round on a circular needle.

Top down

Your top-down sweater will start with the neck, and that usually requires a 16″ needle. Instead of using a 16″ needle, though, use your long circular needle to knit the neck using magic loop.

When the stitches are crowding your needle, change to working in the round like you normally would.

Bottom up

A bottom-up sweater starts at the bottom, so you’ll work in the round as usual until the stitches seem like they’re stretching out on the needle too much. When this happens, switch to using magic loop.

Seamed sweaters

Even if your sweater isn’t seamless, you can still use magic loop to reduce the number of needles you use. For example, you can work the front and back of the sweater on one long circular needle, working back and forth in rows. Then you can use that same long needle to knit the sleeves using magic loop.

Sleeves

Usually sleeves are knit entirely on double-pointed needles. With magic loop, you can use one long circular instead, which makes it so easy when you’re working stitches like cables. You don’t have to shift stitches from one needle to the next.

If you’re increasing stitches, you also don’t have to worry about fitting all the stitches onto the double-pointed needles or distributing them evenly.

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Try it out with these patterns!

Give the magic loop and in-the-round technique combo a try with these seamless sweater patterns.

Mini Pullover Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Nutsknitwear

1. Mini Pullover

Use magic loop for the sleeves of this sweater, plus any smaller sections like the neckline if it’s necessary. Use your longer circular needle for the body of the sweater.

Get the Pattern

Glasgow Top Down Pullover Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Basix

2. Glasgow Top-Down Pullover

This sweater requires three circular needles, plus a set of double-pointed needles. If you use magic loop, you can reduce that to just two needles.

Get the Pattern

Heather's Cabled Raglan Top Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Heather Wielding Designs

3. Heather’s Cabled Raglan Top

Using magic loop for textured stitches like cables makes knitting a lot easier, since you don’t have to rotate from one double-pointed needle to the next or move stitches around for the cables. Using magic loop, you’ll only need one long circular instead of two different sizes.

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Blaze Sweater Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Universal Yarn

4. Blaze

Like textured stitches, colorwork can be pretty challenging when you’re rotating around on double-pointed needles. Magic loop places stitches in just two groups, so it’s easier to float those colors and control your tension.

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Top Down Cable and Diamond Pullover

Photo via Craftsy member Vermont Fiber Designs

5. Top-Down Cable and Diamond Pullover

This sweater requires a needle in sizes 16″, 24″ and 29″ long or longer, plus one set of double-pointed needles. One long circular needle can replace the different circular lengths, plus the double-pointed needle set. Plus, it makes the textured stitches way easier to keep track of on those sleeves.

Get the Pattern

Miss Ella's Sweater Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Knot Enuf Knitting

6. Adult Miss Ella’s Sweater

Magic loop can come in handy for the sleeves and the neck of this sweater. The body can be knit on a regular circular needle, which is very practical when you’re stitching gorgeous texture like this.

Get the Pattern

Snowfall Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Kraftling

7. Snowfall

Replace the double-pointed needles in this pattern with magic loop technique. You’ll use one less needle, plus you won’t have to worry about accommodating a large number of stitches on a set of double-pointed needles. If you only have a long circular needle for the neckline, you can even use magic loop there, too, to avoid buying a new needle.

Get the Pattern

La Primavera Top Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Suzie Sparkles Design

8. La Primavera Top

This sweater requires six different needles, but thanks to magic loop you can reduce that down to only two. Magic loop will especially come in handy if you choose one of the long-sleeve options.

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Front Royal Pullover Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member MK Designs

9. Front Royal Pullover

These sweater pieces are worked separately then seamed, but magic loop can still help you out. Use one long circular to work back and forth in rows on both the front and the back, then work the sleeves in magic loop using that same needle.

Get the Pattern

Sparia Sweater Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member MediaPeruana Designs

10. Sparia

The designer of this sweater certainly knows the advantages of magic loop! The materials are listed as “US 7/4.5mm 16”/40 cm circular needle, 24”/60 cm+ circular needle, and DPNs or long needle for magic loop.” It’s easy to see how magic loop can replace all those needles on this one!

Get the Pattern

Have you ever tried using magic loop for a sweater? Did you like it? Let us know in the comments!

Magic Loop Class on Craftsy

More Magic Loop Advice

Knit smarter and faster with up-close instructor from expert knitter Lorilee Beltman.Get the Class

8 Comments

Renee

I am one who doesn’t care for magic loop, but I was really happy when I learned to use two circular needles. The only drawback to this technique is that you do need two needles of the same size.

Reply
Bev

All of these patterns are beautiful. Thought I would let you know that the free pattern is not free.
Thank you for the interesting article.

Reply
Madeleine G.

On this page, it says:
1. MINI PULLOVER
Use magic loop for the sleeves of this sweater, plus any smaller sections like the neckline if it’s necessary. Use your longer circular needle for the body of the sweater.
Get the FREE Pattern……
When I try to load it, it charges 1.47$ !!! It is not that it is expensive but why isn’t not free as written?
Thank you for your follow up!

Reply
Kristin Doherty

Hi there! So sorry about that. Designers are able to change the price of their patterns at any time, so it’s possible that the designer changed the price of the pattern. Thanks for understanding!

Reply
Rosie

I love the Magic Loop and hate using double points. I use it for any circular knitting.

Reply
Cath

Yes! I started with circulars and I have very no double pointed needles and very few straight needles. I am so used to using circular needles that if I am using straights, when I get to the end of the row, I drop the empty needle on the floor. I love this method of knitting. I have not, I must admit tried the Magic Loop technique on two socks. It looks like trouble to me, although I know lots of people do it.
These patterns are lovely. Thanks

Reply
Janet Bower

Is there any way to do top down raglan with different color yarn for the sleeves? Ive tried and ripped 4 times so far. Still trying.

Reply
Liz

Did you figure it out yet? The only way I know of is called “intarsia in the round.” You’ll need separate yarn balls for front, left sleeve, back, right sleeve. Then pretend your end of round is, say, at the start of the right sleeve. Work all the way around in the usual right-to-left direction, twisting your yarns together whenever you change color.

This the weird part: now twist your yarn, turn around, and work (purl) all the way around facing the wrong side of the work, twisting your color changes. OR (this is easier) twist your yarns, and “knit back backward” all the way back around, twisting your color changes.

Repeat this pair of rounds until you reach the underarms. You can totally do this! I think it’s in Anne Berk’s intarsia class here.

“Knit back backward” freaked me out, but it’s great because the yarns don’t tangle nearly as much and now I hardly ever purl. 😉 I love it for short row heels.

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