Help what size circular needle?

Beginner here...i finally found a skull cap that my husband likes and I am getting ready to knit it for him, but the pattern only says to use 10 US size circular needles - not the length . The cap is 23" in circumference - what length circular needles should I use? I'm thinking 16"?? I know that I will need to switch to dpns as I decrease (no prob since I just finished my first sweater [yea!] and used them for the sleeves). Any suggestions? thanks guys!


ronhuber's picture

You are right!! 16" is the perfect size. Good luck!

aah's picture

The longer needle is much easier to knit with. I would definitely chose the 16".
But you'll also need a set of DPNs for the small rounds at the top of the hat.

AKQGuy's picture

12" or 16" are going to be perfect. You typically want you're needle to be a few inches shorter than the project circumference to give you room to knit without stretching out your stitches. As Aage stated, you are also going to want either a set of Double Points or another circular so you can close the top (or a single long circular and utilize the magic loop method but let's not get ahead of ourselves). I myself prefer a little bit shorter of a needle for hats so would go with either the 12" needle or more likely would do the entire thing on double points. You're going to find in time your hands prefer certain ways of doing things that just feel easier than other ways. Good luck with the hat and I hope he appreciates it!

I am sure this comment will bring howls of displeasure but if you have big,clunky fingers like mine, knit the cap with double-points alone. I find my hands get very tired using q 16" circular. After struggling with double-pointed for a while, they may quickly become a favourite tool.

Remeber the frist 2 rounds on double-points are awkward but after that things just start to breeze by.

Good luck.

AKQGuy's picture

No howls of displeasure here. I have fairly small agile hands and still prefer to do a project like a hat from start to finish on double points. One, I find it easier to not twist on joining and two, I prefer not to switch. Maybe i'm just a traditionalist in some ways... but it's all about preference. Knit how it's easiest and gives you results you like.

RickMartin's picture

I would definitely use two sets of circular needles. Depending on whether you start at the crown or the brim of your hat you'll find you will have to use double pointed needles when you knit the crown unless you do something like knitting with two sets of circular needles. If you do a "Google Search" on knit hat on two pairs of circular needles you'll find lots of videos and other instruction on how to do it.

I find double pointed needles to be difficult at their best, and downright aggravating at their worst.


PaulKnittingNow's picture

thanks guys!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I use doublepoints for most of my knitting but have used 2 circulars and Magic Loop also. Quinton said what I would have suggested, though: For no longer than it usually takes for a hat, why bother with switching back and forth. Ultimately, it boils down to whatever you find most comfortable to work with. Hope the cap is appreciated.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

davidUK's picture

I love using a single circular for hats - it makes it so easy to knit. I use one roughly the same size as the circumference of a small head.

Good luck!

If you opt for two circulars, consider one of each length. The needle length won't be as important as if you were using just one circular. The 12 inch might be cheaper than the 16 inch, and the two different lengths might prepare your for a greater variety of projects in the future. However, to be honest, a 12 inch 10 gauge needle won't be as versatile as a 16 inch one. Also, regarding the first row twist issue, there are a bunch of cool techniques to avoid it, such as knitting the first two rows back and forth and then sewing up the short seam.

Tallguy's picture

Exactly. If you are using the 2-circ method, it would be best to use a much longer needle, 24" at least or even more. That would be cost effective in building up your set of needles, because a longer circ is more versatile. It matters little what size of item you are knitting -- you could do fingers of a glove with a 24" circ. Longer needles seem to accommodate my larger hands better as well. The only reason there are various lengths of circs is because the manufacturer needs you to buy all of them; you only need to have one length in each size of needle you use for practical purposes. Or I might have two or three sets! :-)

But I have to disagree with RickMartin -- you do NOT have to switch to dpns when using the 2-circ method. What ever for??? Isn't a circ just a double pointed needle with a flexible middle? You just keep on decreasing until you are down to 2 stitches for all that matters. There is absolutely NO reason whatsoever to switch. None! You do some lovely work, Rick, but really -- you need to break out of your traditional ways! There are much more efficient ways to do a lot of things-- and this is one of them.

I feel very strongly that when we are trying to encourage new knitters, we need to teach them the fundamentals and not impose upon them the old-fashioned ideas that have no basis on facts or reality. That does them a disservice.

ronhuber's picture

I think you should reread RickMartin's comment !!

PaulKnittingNow's picture

Wow...thanks for all the comments guys...I ended up using a 16" circular needle and then switching to dpns (which I don't find awkward at all)...the hat came out great - my hubby loves it. I had a little problem with the top last few stitches, but will talk to the folks at my LYS for advice on that (they are a great bunch of people!).