Travelling or Single Loop

The Travelling Loop or Single Loop for small circumference knitting

This method is used for knitting in the round when a circular needle is too long for the work e.g. you only have a 32″ / 80 cm needle but are knitting a hat. This method does not work for very small circumference knitting such as socks.

Not everyone loves Magic Loop. Not everyone will love this method either, but it’s an option for some of us. This is a technique I “un-vented” while knitting the hat in the example; I’m sure it’s not original — I lay no claim to originality — but I haven’t seen it written up anywhere else, so here goes.

NEW October 2009: Starting Travelling Loop

Thanks to Karen for asking more about how to start Travelling Loop right from the cast-on stage. Here are a couple of pictures that may help:

Note: I am a right-handed Continental knitter; Long-tail cast-on was used for this exampleCast on the required number of stitches.

Push the cast-on stitches to the left tip of the circular needle.

Bring the cord down (either in front of or behind the work — it doesn’t matter as long as you don’t “trap” the working yarn) and around to the right to bring the right tip of the circular needle to meet the left tip.

<<Picture: the stitch that was cast on first is at the left tip of the needle, the last cast-on stitch (the one with the tail yarn) is on the cable. The right tip of the circular needle is seen lying to the right in the picture.

Adjust the cable until it brings the stitches together, ready to knit.


Working the Travelling Loop:


Step 1: Position stitches on the Left-hand needle, ready to knit.

Pull the right-hand needle and cable and curl it into a loop as shown in picture. You can curl it toward the inside of the work as shown here or to the outside. Makes no difference.

Be sure that the cable doesn’t “capture” the yarn i.e. the yarn should not be wound around the cable in any manner.


Step 2: Start knitting




Steps 3 – 5 show the loop moving around the work as you work.

You just knit (or purl or whatever) and the loop does its own thing — it knows!!




Step 6: When you knit the last stitch from the left needle, the entire loop will be at that end of the needle and ready to uncoil.




Step 7: Pull the Right-hand needle and cable just like in Step 1, rearranging the stitches so that they slide to the tip of the Left-hand needle, ready to knit another round.


….and we’re right back to Step 1, ready to start the next round.



*March 28.2009:
A note of thanks to fellow  Raveler  notesandstitches  for two wonderful suggestions:  1. a new name for this method: Travelling Loop
 (since the extra cable travels around the work as you knit) and 2. for the observation that this method actually has a built-in end of round marker — the travelling loop itself!   Brilliant! Thanks notesandstitches for letting me share here!

17 thoughts on “Travelling or Single Loop”

  1. Thanks for demonstrating this. I always wondered exactly how it woked. I’ve been knitting socks with 5 needles my whole life so am quite comfortable with the “old” method. That said, it is always so nice to learn new methods!

    • impeccableknits said:

      You’re very welcome! And I totally agree that using what works best for you is the key to happy knitting :)

  2. Thank you, I use my own mix of this, and magic loop, or something, I’m not sure what, where I move the single loop extra cable, I will have to try this way.

  3. thea woodall said:

    Very cool!! I just want to thank you for all the great resources you have posted on your site here. It must have taken an incredible amount of time and effort to compile. So generous of you to share.

    • impeccableknits said:

      You’re too kind! Always happy to share a great knitting tidbit when I run across one :)

  4. This is great. Never another single cable for hats. FYI the reason that Knitpicks doesn’t offer 16″ cable for interchangeables is that the total length includes needles. Typically the needle is shorter for all 16″ cable needles, so the proprtions are different if using longer needles. I wanted it too but they explained their reasoning on their website.

  5. couldn’t you simply start out like the normal magic loop and then once you get a row or two on switch over to the traveling loop?

  6. This is just magic loop with one item being knit. If it works then it does not matter what it is called.

  7. would it be possible after knitting a hat on sixteen inch circulars to transfer the last twenty some stitches to a longer needle and completing the hat with the traveling loop method instead of using dpns?

    • Hi Linda, In this case I would transfer the stitches to the longer needle and use the Magic Loop method instead. Once the circumference gets really small, the length of the needle tips tend to make Travelling Loop really awkward if not unworkable. Hope that helps. :)

  8. louizie said:

    I just discovered the travelling loop! very happy as i couldn’t hold the d/e needles because of arthrites, now i can keep on knitting. thank you for sharing your knowledge. cheers

  9. Thanks for sharing this method.
    I will definitely try it, the “magic loop” is almost impossible for me.



    • Magic loop really relies on a very flexible cable — although some knitters still do not really care for having to pull the needles and cable all the time. I’m glad this method may help out :)

  10. i’ve just spent hours struggling with a circular needle to knit a skirt for my grandaughter. I have been folding the cable and pulling it through, resulting in some tight stitches and some loose. I found this and assumed it would be just as bad but after reading it once i thought “why not” and OMG it worked first time….. Will be using this to finish the skirt and make more 😅

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