The joys of mini circulars

Small circs in action on a stockinette West Yorkshire Spinners sock

Small circs in action on a stockinette West Yorkshire Spinners sock

Any method of sock knitting has it's firm devotees be it DPNs or magic loop but each of them is associated with a degree of unnesecssary needle wrangling. With DPNs I find it interrupts my knitting flow to have to transition from one needle to the other and no matter how hard I try I always waste valuable time in retensioning the yarn between each needle.

The same can be said for magic loop, where the speed I gain in knitting straight across for 32st is countered by the time spent moving the cable through and retensioning the yarn.

For this reason, one of my favourite methods for portable, travel sock knitting is to use a small circular needle. I typically use one which is 9" (23cm) diameter and of all the brands I tend to prefer Hiya Hiya for their super pointy tips.

If you haven't already tried one I do urge you to give it a go, although there a few things you might like to bear in mind

1. Don't expect to hold the needles as you would do normally. The tips are very small and if, like I do, you tend to rest the needle in the palm of your hand this might seem strange to you. Instead the movements happen at the tips of your fingers and work best if you release your death grip and try to hold the tips very lightly.

2. Give it time and practice a little every day. In the same way as you would allow yourself time to learn when transitioning from being an 'English thrower' to continental knitting, don't expect to jump straight in to using small circulars overnight. It takes time to develop new muscle memory and your fingers have to get used to making small, more controlled movements.

3. Stop and stretch your fingers after every few rounds. When knitting self-stripe yarn I usually stop briefly at each colour transition. Because you can knit around and around, without removing your fingers from the needles it is easy to give yourself cramp if you're not careful.

It really is worth trying these out if you do a lot of sock knitting on the go. It's worth noting that I only ever use these needles for plain, vanilla sock knitting. I use a long cable and magic loop for the toe, heel and cuff. For some reason, no matter how much I try, I really can't get the hang of purling with a small circular and so I have much speedier results working the ribbed sock cuffs via magic loop. For the die-hard sock knitter these needles really help you to wring as much productivity out of your down time as possible. For example, I can knit socks in the cinema or whilst standing in post office queues with no problems at all and quickly stuff it back in my project bag as needed, without fear of losing stitches or - horrors - dropping a needle.

Why not give it a go and see what you think. If you do decide to try, do pop back and let me know how you got on, I'd love to know.