Magic Loop, Modified Magic Loop, or DPNs?


Let’s talk knitting seamless sleeves! When I knit my sleeve caps, I prefer to do them with a 16″ circular needle. I find it’s the easiest needle size to use for working the short rows in my size. Once I start the decreases on the sleeve, I continue to use the same needles and simply pull out a loop of the excess cable from in between the stitches. I use the modified magic loop method, also known as the travelling loop method. Instead of the loop of cable always staying in the same position in the stitches, the loop travels around until it starts to get close to the left needle, and then I pinch out a new loop from near the right needle, and the first loop disappears. This avoids some of the laddering I occasionally get with the regular magic loop method, and it allows me to use the shorter circular needle. If I can’t find my 16″ needles, I just use the same needles as I used for my sweater body and do the modified magic loop from the beginning. I almost never use DPNs for my sleeves. They’re a bit fussy to use for the short row portion, and I prefer to use the same set of needles for my whole sleeve.

How do you like to knit your seamless set-in sleeves?





14 responses to “Magic Loop, Modified Magic Loop, or DPNs?”

  1. I use magic loop but I’ve varied what I’ve seen on the video tutorials a bit. It’s a mix between travelling loop and magic loop. I see no reason to use DPNs and I’m a total magic loop convert now.

  2. I prefer to do a “proper” magic loop but I will use pretty much whatever circular needle I can find, so have done something like the modified magic loop you describe. I dislike DPNs as my gauge is different on them.

    1. That’s interesting. I wonder if my gauge is different on DPNs, too. I know I hold them differently than circular needles, but I use them so infrequently that I’ve never really thought to check my gauge.

  3. Emma

    What a perfectly timed post! I was just wondering whether to add some DPNs to my next stash online order that I’m doing this evening. I think I’ll follow your advice and give them a miss. And with the money I save…well I can buy one of your patterns. Yay!!!

  4. Julia

    Would you consider doing a video demonstrating this? I’m new to the magic loop method and having some trouble visualizing how you pinch out a loop for the modified magic loop.

  5. Katie Lynn

    I start with a 16″ circ, but I would never attempt to do the modified magic loop on them. I use chiagoo reds, which have a metal cable and bending it like that would weaken (and eventually break), so I switch to a 32″ once the sleeve gets too small for the 16″. I usually use a hiyahiya or addi for this, as they have the nice bendy cables. I usually do the bottom ribbing on dpns, just because.

  6. I use the magic loop method. If I use DPNs for any circular knitting I finish up with two needles instead of four – every time! I use Knit picks interchangeable needles and they work brilliantly.

  7. I definitely use the traveling loop, although I didn’t realize it was a real method. I thought I made it up through laziness!

    I found a cheap set of bamboo DPNs in every size for something like $25, so I bought them. I sometimes wonder why I even bother keeping them. I really only use them to hold cables, make little stuffed toys or when I need a third needle for a 3 needle bind off.

  8. Catherine

    I use 30cm (12″) or if necessary 20cm (8″) Addi circ, it’s easier for me!

    1. Tiny circs always look so useful! I don’t know why I haven’t tried them yet.

  9. Sari

    Turns out I’ve been doing some version of the travelling loop, but I didn’t even know that was an official thing. I can work with dpns, but I have this really great convertible needle kit I got for Christmas, so why start buying dpns in all different sized too? And I know me, dpns have a much higher chance of getting lost than just the one circular..
    I do try to change up the position of the loop every other row or so, to avoid laddering as you said, as well.

  10. Rachel Boothe

    I know it has been awhile since you posted this, but I have just found it. I am so happy to know that traveling loop can be used for sleeves on shorter needles. I had wondered if it was possible.

    1. Ida

      I was actually wondering the same thing! I read this blogpost that said it would NOT work for socks and other small circumferences.

      Yay for us finding this blogpost, though!

  11. Ida

    Any chance you would do a tutorial for this sometime?

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