June 20th, 2011

Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting by Melissa Morgan-Oakes

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Our good friend and author Melissa Morgan-Oakes has released her third book and we’re very excited about it. Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting is a fantastic guide to the world of circular knitting. Even a seasoned knitter would find this handy to have on the shelf. Not only does it include a ton of helpful tips and tricks, you’ll also find fantastic patterns that use the different techniques laid out in the book. The best part? This book is FULL of color photos demonstrating the techniques!

As part of Melissa’s blog tour, she answered some questions for us and shared with us her Top 5 Must-Haves. (In our latest Valley Yarns catalog, we have introduced a feature called ‘WEBS Loves.’ You’ll see that feature once the catalog hits your mailbox, or you can check out the online version soon.)

How long have you been knitting and who taught you?
My whole family were knitters, the women anyway, so I grew up in a world where one’s knitting was always close at hand, at least in my grandmother’s generation. A lot of people tried to teach me, and I would cruise along well enough until I went home and another relative saw me. They’d say I was doing it wrong, and show me their way. It wasn’t until they had all passed away that I could sit down to learn on my own. What I discovered was that they had all been teaching my very different styles. No wonder my poor little-kid brain gave up so easily!

If you weren’t in the knitting book business, what would you be doing?
I am not sure I know! I have a tendency to change career paths, and I have to say knitting is one of the longest runs I’ve had with any job. I think I would expand my farm, honestly, if I could do anything I desired and money was no object.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
That’s easy. My kids (the human variety, not the baby goat type). Although I can’t take credit for them entirely, because it takes a village, I can take credit for the whole egg to squalling infant part, and a fair amount of the rest. I have done a lot in my life, but nothing compares to that.

What was the most recent yarn purchase you made and where did you buy it?
Blue Heron Rayon Metallic, which I bought at Webs (maybe you’ve heard of them…) to knit into a shrug for my daughter using a modified version of Stefanie Japel’s Two-Toned Shrug from her book Fitted Knits. I am in love with it, jealous, and may have to buy more to knit one for myself – but in a different color.

What constitutes a perfect day for Melissa Morgan-Oakes?
There would have to be no stress, that’s for sure, so no telephone, cell phone, or email. Coffee on the deck at 6:30AM, with knitting and my spouse at my side – maybe make that 7:00 for his sake – then a morning kayak run, and an afternoon walking with Yoshi in the woods, followed by a really good red on my deck and something delicious on the grill. Then there would be friends over to visit, possibly bearing chocolate and something Mary Alice threw together, and knitting on the deck until bedtime!

If you could have only one yarn in your stash, what would it be and why? (Or if you could only knit with one yarn…)
I default to the practical: Valley Yarns Northampton, Cascade 220. Give me good, sturdy, logical, rational wool and the world is a happy place. Yes, I would miss the colors of Noro, and the luxury of Buffalo Gold, but in the end it always comes down to practicality with me!

What is your favorite food?
All of it! I think if I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, I would choose spinach. I love fresh spinach, barely steamed. Or Asparagus. Really I love diversity in my food just as I do in my yarn and my chicken breeds and about every other area of my life.

How many projects do you currently have on the needles and what are you currently knitting?
I am currently knitting that shrug for my daughter and a secret project for Carol Sulcoski’s next book. How many projects on needles – I shudder to think! At least 6 or 7, and that may be conservative. I did a big stash clean-out recently and tried to weed out things I know I will not finish. It didn’t go as well as I would have hoped. It’s very hard for me to discard a project in progress.

“Aside from yarn, which is sort of an occupational necessity, I always have on hand:
1. At least one set each of Dyakcraft and Signature circulars, because I am worth it, and I adore them both so much!
2. Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns – all of them, I consider them to count as one thing.
3. My Toika metal swift which I sometimes think I could run over and it would still work, and a ball winder.
4. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. If the world were filled with only lanolin saturated natural yarns this would not be such an issue, but my skin needs this stuff!
5. My great Aunt Blanche’s ancient mauve small-sized La-Z-Boy recliner, the official (if slightly worn and tacky!) knitting spot of MMO. I am sure that there are other chairs that would work just as well, but heaven help me if I ever have to go and find one!” (Check out Yoshi keeping the seat warm!)

Interested in Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting? Melissa has given us a signed copy to give away to a lucky reader. Just leave a comment on what your favorite circular technique (magic loop, dpn, etc.) is, or if you haven’t tried circular knitting yet, let us know why you haven’t. Winner will be selected at random Friday, June 24th, so you have until then at 9:00am EDT to comment.


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Marketing Manager at WEBS - America's Yarn Store
Mary has worked at WEBS since 2005. She has been knitting since 2000 and also knows how to crochet, spin, and use a rigid heddle loom.
Her favorite color: bright pink
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  • Christine

    I love magic loop – you can never have the wrong length needle!

  • Kelli

    I like 2 circular needles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hiltont Tina Hilton

    I like the magic loop.  I find it so much easier than using dpns.  And making sweaters from the top down on circular needles is so nice because you can try it on as you go and make it fit just right.

  • susankou

    I would LOVE this book. I have some of her others and taught myself socks using this! And only magic loop!

  • MB@YarnUiPhoneAppv1.5

    Interesting…I was knitting some ribbing on some straight needles yesterday once I switched over to circular needles it made such a difference. My hands weren’t carrying the weight of the fabric. I think I’m going to love me some circular knitting books in the future. I’ll have to check out Melissa’s book. 

  • Ikkinlala

    I’ve only tried DPNs so far, so I guess they’re my favourite.

  • http://thepaintedsheep.wordpress.com/ Kris

    I’m not a huge fan of DPNs – too many pointy awkward things for someone so uncoordinated – so I tend to go for Magic Loop or sometimes, 2 circs. 

  • Susan

    I find I knit longer with a single circular needle — I love dpns, but every time I come to the end of a needle it’s an opportunity to stop . Same thing with magic loop — it’s the only way I’ll do socks in fingering weight, but there are still clear stopping spots, and socks bore me anyway, so I take them!One appropriatel length circular needle makes me happiest.

  • teresa

    My favorite method is knitting with two circular needles – I guess I just haven’t figured magic loop out yet.  I also haven’t figured out how to comfortably knit with really short circular needles.

  • Laura

    after reading the article and the comments below, I know nothing about using 1 or 2 circs. I back away from dp’s, my last socks and mittens with with 2 straight. It is time to leave my comfort level and try something very new.

  • CrochetBlogger

    Great interview!

  • Lynda Bogel

    magic loop is the cleverest; I’ve just used it for doing chullo earflaps and linings.  Would love Melissa’s new book !

  • enidb

    Though I’m in the middle of a pair of socks using dpns, I prefer magic loop for my circular knitting.

  • NanciKnits

    Every time I start a project with DPNs I swear I have to learn magic loop.  Then I get into the meat of the project and the clumsiness I started with leaves me and I’m enjoying my knitting again!  So I guess DPNs is my answer……:)

  • Susan

    I am doing a lot of lace knitting on circulars right know.

  • Teri Harter

    I mostly use DPN when knitting in the round. I find the dangling ends, of the long circular needles, get tangled and I can’t just start up without untangling them. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, and need Melissa’s book. I loved this article and the “5” Must Have’s. I’m not sure about the chair but I’ll try. Thanks for the inspiration. Teri

  • JCD

    I learned sock knitting with Melissa’s two at a time top down book and I loved the clarity of the directions and the photos.  I also have her toe up two at a time book and love that as well. Thanks to her I love sock knitting and have all pairs!

  • jaydawnrn

    I use dpns most of the time….Not as proficient w/other methods….though I would LOVE this book to help me become a better knitter 8)

  • Guest

    I’m a circular person — the last time I used straight needles was when you had us knit a square at a Yarn Harlot presentation in Northampton.  I use circs as a straight, I use circs as magic loop.   And I would seriously love to get a copy of Melissa’s book.

  • debra

    I love magic loop…when I learned it made me sorry I had all those double points lying around.

  • http://nulandnews.blogspot.com/ Carmen

    I’m a new knitter so I actually haven’t tried circular knitting yet.  I’ve watched my mother-in-law make mittens for years using dpns.  I have some bookmarks saved on the magic loop, so I can try that out sometime.

  • Kitten With A Whiplash

    I don’t have a favorite. The choice between dpns or circs is pretty much as a matter of whim. I just found out about a technique called the traveling loop that I’m eager to try.  Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Carol

    I have been knitting since 1963 and have not used straight needles for years.  Hats, mittens, gloves and scarves (using stoppers) are made with dbl point needles and all other knitting is done with circular needles.  My first “in the round” project was a tubular skirt I made as part of my first knitting project in 1963.

  • Cindy

    My friend just showed me how to knit a pair of socks on circular needles. I just might become a sock addict. I recenty made my fist Fair Isle in felted tote bag. I love to use circular needles and would treasure a copy of Melissa’s book!

  • Jane

    I love Magic Loop! Thanks to a class with Melissa, I now love to knit socks (and sweater sleeves) 2-at-time. This was an enjoyable interview to read. Thanks!

  • Paula

    I’ve been a dpn since forever! Now I am really interested in learning new techniques.

  • penelope10

    I am trying to learn magic loop, that’s why I need this book!

  • Cathy

    OMG, my recliner looks exactly like that!  I’m a new knitter and I need to know everything about circular knitting, especially using continental!

  • http://raciebaby.blogspot.co.nz/ Rachelle Crosbie

    I’m a magic looper for small things, and a normal circular needle for bigger things; hate DPN’s I always feel like I’m knitting with a hedgehog.

  • Cathy Enders

    Melissa’s book Toe-Up 2-at-a-time Socks changed my sock knitting and probably the way I will knit in the round on other projects as well.  The Magic Loop she used, and explained so clearly, is my favorite!! When I return to knitting hats for charity this fall I will try using that method again.  Now if only I could knit faster, or not have to work for a living, or BOTH!

  • Elizabeth Rutledge

    Oh, I’d love to get my hands on this new book! Melissa is a hero! She’s allowed me to knit socks with a modicum of calm. I love knitting magic loop!

  • Takearest

    fav circular knitting technique…for socks dpns!

  • Ohhhdear

    My favorite circular technique is magic loop. I taught myself using MMO’s “Two at a time sock” book (cuff down), and now pretty much everything I make is on a 40″ needle. What I love about magic loop is the portability. We travel a lot and since coach airplane seats are NOT spacious I can contain my work in my lap without knocking needles into whoever’s beside me. DPN’s have too many pokey ends for the kids who inevitably crowd around watching me knit.

  • betty

    I just learned to knit from patterns this winter and had to try socks. I used DPN and also circular ones. Hard to choose. But, I think I prefer the DPNs only because my circular needles were a bit too short. Maybe my technique wasn’t the most efficient one.
    I would love to win the book!!! Thank you MMO for offering it.
    Betty in Forest Hills, NY

  • http://hailbritannia.com Diana

    I like DPNs the best. It’s funny because I started with DPNs, hated them, moved on to circular needles and Magic Loop, but then came back to DPNs. A circular trip …

  • http://twitter.com/teachdig Dvora Geller

    So far I have only done dpn or singular circle. Which I prefer depends on the project I am doing. I want to learn magic loop. This book sounds really fabulous.

  • http://www.knitnteach.blogspot.com Deb

    I haven’t used a straight needle in years.  I use 2 circular needles for socks and other tubes. I  want to learn magic loop someday. . . . I knit everything else on a single circular.

  • Dianna Llewellyn

    Started a project yesterday that was supposed to be on DP’s.  I am using circular needels and the magic loop method and it works great.  Love my Addi Click bamboo circular needles.

  • akcabingirl

    My first knitting experience was three years ago in Coleville, WA where I took a lesson so I could make felted hats.  I learned to knit in the round first.   After that, someone mentioned socks to me…I was afraid. Heel turns, heel flaps, gussets, what the heck?   I knit a couple of pairs on DPNs, but was not impressed.  Then I saw Melissa’s first book and bought a copy.  I loved it from the first (errata and all).  Using that book (and some common sense) I figured out how to knit TAAT socks…I prefer a 40″ circular needle and Two-At-A-Time Socks because when I finish a project – I have finished a project (not just half – one sock – of a project).  I still refer to 2-At-A-Time Socks for all of my Kitchener stitch needs – I believe it provides the best written directions for this technique.

  • Carvalho1246

    I have used circular needles, but I always feel clumsy using dpn’s.  I’d love a copy of Melissa’s new book.

  • http://twitter.com/jchants Julie

    I love knitting socks on two circular needles—it’s the way I learned to knit socks, and while I’ve also tried dpns and Magic Loop, I always come back to two circulars. 

  • DebKnits2

    I use circulars for everything!

  • Jill

    I own both of Melissa’s two at a time sock books and have learned a great deal from them.

  • sricker

    I enjoy dpn’s and am quite comfortable with them, now i would like to try circulars for socks and I really like the Dyak Craft dpn’s.

  • sricker

    I really like to use dpn’s and I am quite comfortable with them, I would like to start using circulars.

  • Edna Isaac

    I like pretty much everything you can do with a circular.  I have bunches of size 0 through ? in every length from 9″ to ?!  After knitting for almost 50 years I’ve really put my collection to good use!

  • Anne-Cross

    DPNs.  Never been tempted by the other stuff ~ just like I’m “still” an English knitter!

  • Nazzy42

    Love my circulars, use them whenever possible.  Always do anything in the round using two circulars.  I have 3 sets of interchangeables a a bunch of fixed…Knit Picks, Addi’s, WEBS, and a couple of Signatures.