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4 Magic Loop Problems Most Knitters Face (+ How to Avoid Them!)

I tried unsuccessfully to use magic loop for years. I was discouraged by so many problems, from gaps between rounds to stitches slipping off the needles. I just didn’t understand why knitters were so obsessed with this technique.

 

Sometimes knitters like me are discouraged by the little things that go wrong when we try something new. But occasionally there are easy little tricks you can use to solve your problem. See if your magic loop problem is included in the list below, then try our tips to finally master this convenient technique for knitting in the round.

The problem: Your stitches won’t stay separated.

Magic loop troubleshooting gathered stitches

Every time you pull the needle to move to the other side, your stitches gather up on the edge of the work and you have to divide them again.

Solution #1: Use a longer cable.

When you’re working magic loop, you need a needle that has enough room to pull through the stitches. A longer cable — that’s the cord that connects the two ends of the needle — can help you avoid separating the stitches into two groups every time you start knitting on a new needle.

Solution #2: Push the needle closest to you into place first, then pull the needle farthest away from you.

If you try to pull the back needle into place first, you lose a lot of length in the cord. Arranging the needle tips side by side first just gives you more needle cable to work with.

The problem: Laddering at the beginning of each round.

Magic loop laddering

Laddering just means that the stitches are pulling apart a little. See how the stitches between the two needles in the photo above look a lot looser and more separated than the other stitches? That’s laddering, because the yarn running across looks like the rungs of a ladder.

Solution #1: Hold the needles closer together.

When we’re first starting magic loop, sometimes holding the needles feels awkward. That causes us to pull on the needles in ways we normally wouldn’t. Hold the needle tips as close together as possible when you’re starting a new needle.

Solution #2: Use a needle with a more flexible cable.

This was one of the problems I had when I first tried magic loop. My cable had a mind of its own, so the stitches on the opposite side of the needle tips were being pulled away from each other by the stubborn cable. A more flexible cable will keep the stitches closer together as you work.

The Problem: You have extra stitches or holes at the beginning of each group of stitches.

Solution: Pay close attention to where the working yarn is coming from when starting a new needle.

Magic loop working yarn

Pull the working yarn to the center of your work and make sure it isn’t draping itself over the back needle. The working yarn should come straight out of the last stitch in the back, then be pulled over the center of the work, ready for knitting the first stitch on the needle closest to you. (Check out the photo above for a visual.)

Extra stitch in magic loop

If you pull the working yarn over the back needle, like in the photo above, it can create a  yarn over hole, which might look like a gap. This will also create extra stitches in your work.

The Problem: There’s a big space between your first and last stitches after knitting the first round.

Solution #1: After you knit the second stitch of the next round, pull it snugly.

It’s normal for knitters to see that single strand of yarn connecting the first round, but there’s no need to panic. After you knit the second stitch on the needle closest to you, give that stitch a little tug. Notice that we’re not tugging on that very first stitch. Doing so will make it difficult to knit it when you come back to it, so tugging on the second stitch is a better way to even things out.

Solution #2: Connect the join when you weave in your loose ends in the finishing stage.

Sometimes that loose join corrects itself after a few rounds. Once you finish the project, use the cast-on yarn tail to weave in that loose end. Pull on it a bit to bring that first round of stitches together. Easy!

What’s your biggest magic loop woe?

Tell us in the comments whether you’ve experienced these or any other problems when trying magic loop.

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12 Comments

Samina

Good points, all. I’m a DPN-er at heart, but I’ve been using magic loop more & more, especially for travel sock knitting. I’m also finding that I’m faster with magic loop, since I’m having to transition from needle to needle half as often as with DPNs.

Reply
Carol

Holes in the gusset of my socks

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Louise

When I’m trying to do two at a time, after a couple of rows one of the pieces goes in two directions from the middle. It should be funny (TAAT for real), but I can’t knit it if I can’t get to the yarn.

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Cath

I made one attempt so I haven’t really given this a fair shot. I’ve been using 2 circulars to do socks and it works for me. I tried the toe up and the cast on was my first issue. The second issue was trying to do two socks at once and getting my yarns all twisted with each other. It was a bird’s nest of a mess. I quickly decided this was not for me as I knit to calm myself, not to create more hassles. Maybe I will give it another shot someday.

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Kathy Simkins

I am a to up knitter that is a dedicated double point needle user. If you hold two needles tightly together and slip your slip knot for your longtail cast on over the needle on the left side you can cast on the next stitch onto the right needle. Then switch back and forth side to side until you have the number of stitches you need. ( I usually cast on 16 stitches per side for an adult sized sock. That gives you 32 stitches to work and NO SEAM ! ) I will admit that this technique takes some practice but it is so worth it!

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Linda Mihay

I do 2 at a time on 1 circ, and have found (1 or 2 at a time) for problem 1, I use markers at both sides (beginning of row, and loop side. When I’m ready to change needles, I put my finger in the loop, and hold it, while I pull the needle out, til the other needle is against the fabric, then slide the stitches onto that needle. The cable slides easily on your finger and the loop stays a loop. I never mastered DPN’s although, I recently bought some and have tried, but I love doing 2@ a time on 1 circ.

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Kathy Simkins

Don’t you just hate auto spell check? Sorry if my previous comment seems a bit goofed up!

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Elizabeth

I’ve used magic loop for knitting a circle, that was a bit of a challenge in the very beginning. I had set the technique aside until I was knitting a pair of mitts. It was so much easier to deal with the back of the hand stitches on the front and palm stitches at the back. Wow The second mitt will be completed much faster I am sure.

Regarding a flexible cable…I am having a difficult time managing with Knitters Pride and KnitPicks cables. Kollage cables, even the firm are more flexible.

Reply
Heather

I’m using ChiaoGoo needles with a red cable and it’s very flexible! I’m not having any trouble with magic loop on it. My Boye interchangeable circulars are way too stiff! Stinks having to buy another set of circulars, but whatever works!

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Erin

I’m using ChiaoGoo as well for the first time and I think I’m in love! The cable is strong but very flexible and the yarn never catches at the cable join.

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sheralyn

I keep getting an extra stitch at the END of the first half. (I’m not causing an extra stitch due to wrap around the cable). I’m not sure what’s causing it and no matter how carefully I watch, I can’t seem to catch it…any ideas of how to fix it?

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Wai Yi

I had a similar issue when making my mittens. It might be due to the ladder getting caught on the needle? I made my way over then just pulled out the first (ladder stitch and then it turned out fine.

Reply

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