Hot Tip: Go long

Hot Tip: Go long

I ran across this tip on Pinterest a few years ago — a link to a 2009 blog post about “traveling loop” — and only just recently tried it. It’s a cure for what may be a less-common problem: trying to knit with a circular needle that’s longer than the circumference of your knitting. All you do to get the excess cord length out of your way is pull the right needle tip out, along with the slack in your cord, bend it into a loop, and start knitting. The loop will remain between those two stitches, and will travel around the round with them, just like a stitch marker would. (In fact, it could function as your Beginning of Round marker if that’s where you create the loop.) It will continue to travel on up your left needle tip at the end of the round, so once you’ve knitted the last stitch, you start over — pushing your stitches to the end of the left tip, pulling the right one out, making your loop. There are step-by-step pics in the blog post linked above, but it’s also the kind of thing that’s hard to grasp until you’ve done it.

So when and why would you do this? It will work on a cowl or a sweater body or any circular situation where your cord is too long but your tips aren’t. For small-circumference knitting, you’d still need to resort to Magic Loop or DPNs. (Long needle tips won’t allow you to knit a hat or mitts this way.) But I’ve discovered a bonus aspect of this, if you’re knitting a sweater body in the round, is that using one really long needle is a decent alternative to the two-needle method for try-on. With this method, when you’re ready to try on, just pull the two tips free and the whole sweater can rest on the longer cord. It makes for more fiddly knitting, but it’s a good trick to have in your arsenal.

(And why are the two tips in the pic different colors? See Mismatch your tips.)

UNRELATED: I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting this blog (and others) to load in Safari over the past week. Are you any of you experiencing that?


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26 thoughts on “Hot Tip: Go long

  1. I do this with hats when it is getting too small for the 16″ needle. I switch to a 32″ and use travelling loop until I need to switch over to magic loop. I find the 16″ a bit awkward to do traveling loop, so I switch sizes early since I have to for magic loop anyway.

    No problems at all with Safari here.

  2. No problems with safari.

    I’ve also “discovered” the travelling loop out of necessity and playing around. It’s useful for those tight rounds when you join the yoke to the sleeves (or provisional cast on), it gives you more play than a right-sized circular does.

  3. This tip came at the perfect time. I am knitting the revised version of the Peace Cowl and found I can’t find a cord the perfect size in my needle stash nor could I find one at the lys. I have been struggling these past couple of days.

  4. Don’t know about Safari, but I had trouble loading this blog in Mozilla about 10 minutes ago -had to try the last link, the one that starts”trouble clicking?” Using the extra loop like that is genius, I have a very long circ I bought for shawls and have been unable to use ordinarily, thanks.

  5. Great tip. I am going to try it today. I am knitting a vest that has rows of ‘cross stitch’ in which I have to wrap every stitch 3 times. When I get to the beginning again and have to drop these wraps and knit the stitches, they time consuming to slide onto the left hand needle. I wonder how small to make the left hand needle. I am knitting with #9s.

    • This really works and has changed my knitting life. It is so much faster to knit round on a circular needle when the left hand needle is smaller. I went down two sizes.

  6. When I started to really get back into knitting, after college, I had almost no spare money for supplies. I found a set of 40″ circulars online for under $20, and did absolutely all knitting on those for over a decade. Traveling loop and magic loop made it possible to knit anything, flat or round, from a little I-cord to xl men’s sweaters. Thanks for sharing this great technique!!

  7. Do not get along with Magic Loop! Been doing this for years. In fact using it on a project right now.
    No problem with Safari

  8. Travelling looper here, too! But usually only when the cord I really want is in another project. Although I love an extra-long cord when try-on time comes…that way there’s no accidentally popping stitches off the needle when I’m getting my arms into the sweater!

  9. Safari is always slow for me, but I have had trouble loading comments and notifications this week in Windows 10. WordPress – what’s up? I love traveling loop, and it DOES work for hats, right up until there the very peak of the cap, when I switch to magic loop.

  10. that is what i do and for the exact reason that i do it; so that it is easier to try on as i go. plus i don’t have a wide supply of cables for my needles. the long work for everything that i do.

  11. No problems with safari here, though I often have glitches with it. I’m a Mac user…don’t know if that makes a difference.

  12. Hi Karen, this is the third comment I am trying to get in. As I read about your Safari issues, I decided to try and open this post on Safari: no problem. But when I tried to load my comment, it did not work. I went back to Bloglovin, still on my iPad, same problem (of course, when you type a comment in, it goes through Safari as well). And I have noticed these past couple of weeks more and more issues on some news sites I am regularly visiting – the process seems to go on forever, I often have to stop and reload the page. When I go to the same sites through IE, no problem. So yes, there is definitely something going on with Safari at the moment, I’m just not sure what and why – it is sort of comforting to know I’m not the only one. OK, typing this comment in IE and hoping it will load this time. Cheers.

  13. I discovered this by accident a while ago. I also have a 50cm needle which is ideal for hats etc.

  14. Yes, I have been having problems with your page not loading on Safari or Firefox on my Mac desktop. But it loads just fine on my iPad using Chrome. I noticed this on Tuesday and yesterday.

  15. I didn’t read all the comments so someone else might have mentioned this, but I just switched to google chrome, and it is a zillion times faster than any other browser I have used.

  16. I do this all the time with hats and mitts, so I’m not sure under what circumstances it wouldn’t work there? I’m not using needles with especially short tips or anything. I also don’t necessarily use a super long cord (I recently used this technique to knit a baby hat with a 24 inch circular, for example). If the circumference is getting smaller and smaller such that it’s hard to keep both needle tips “full” of stitches, I just move the loop to wherever I am.

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  18. Pingback: Hot Tip: If it ain’t broke, don’t rip it | Fringe Association

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