Circular knitting needles are a type of knitting needle with a plastic cord attaching two needle tips. The needle tips are typically about four to five inches (10-12 cm) long and come in all available needle sizes. They can be made of wood, bamboo, metal, or plastic. The cord attaching the needle points comes in a wide variety of lengths, and most circular knitting needles are between 16 inches and 50 inches (40 -127 cm) long. These different lengths allow them to be used for a variety of projects ranging from hats to sweaters.
Perhaps the main advantage of circular knitting needles is that they are more ergonomic. This is because they let the weight of the project rest in the knitter's lap, rather than forcing the knitter to carry the weight with his or her hands. Carrying the weight of a large project with the hands often causes or contributes to hand, wrist, and arm strain, and might lead to serious injury.
Some knitters use circular knitting needles only to knit in the round, but one of the many advantages of using circular knitting needles is that they can be used for both knitting in the round and knitting flat. Circular needles are also easier to store and transport than straight or double-pointed needles. In addition, they can hold projects with many more stitches than straight or double-pointed needles can. Another advantage of circular knitting needles is that they are easier to use in crowded spaces such as airplanes and buses. They are also somewhat less likely to break than straight or double-pointed needles, as circular needles have shorter tips.
Long, circular knitting needles can be used for the magic loop method, which is a technique in which a long circular needle is used to knit a project that has a small circumference, such as a sock. Normally, a circular needle will only work with a project that has a circumference that is longer than the length of the needle. However, in the magic loop method, a long circular needle is folded in half, making it possible to knit smaller items with it. This technique is advantageous because it can save the knitter a significant amount of money and eases the problem of storing many circular needles of different lengths.