I’m combining two questions into one for this edition of FAQ. On my patterns I generally specify circular needles. That has raised the questions, “Is this cardigan knit in the round?” and “Can I use straight needles instead?” The answers to both questions are both yes and no. The body of a seamless cardigan is knit flat (unless there are steeks, but none of my patterns feature those), but the sleeves are knit in the round. You can knit the body on straights, but you’ll need different needles for the sleeves.
Why use circulars for the body? When you’re working seamlessly, you end up with a lot of stitches on your needles, and it can be hard to accommodate all of those stitches on straight needles so circular needles are recommended even though you’re not knitting in the round and could technically knit the body on straights. It’s just harder to see your work when the stitches are bunched together like that, and when you can’t see your work, mistakes are more likely to happen. Plus, for some knitters, the uneven distribution of weight that happens with straight needles becomes an issue for their wrists.
When you get to the sleeves, you won’t be able to use straights anymore. You could switch to DPNs or a small circular needle here, but you will need a different set of needles. If you use a longer circular for the body, you can actually use the exact same pair of needles to knit the entire sweater. You simply use the magic loop technique to work the sleeves.
But what’s important is what you’re doing, not the tools you use to do it. To knit a sweater, you can use any style of needles that will accomplish the task. You just might need more sets and styles of needles if you’re not a fan of using circulars.