Knitting Socks With Nine Inch Needles

Sock knitting with 9 in (23 cm) needles. Tricky but possible.

A while back when I was hemming and hawing about the merits of double pointed versus magic loop techniques for knitting socks, a reader cleverly pointed out that there is such a thing as 9 in (23 cm) needles for sock knitting. Knit them in the round and no complaining.


I ordered a pair promptly thereafter (WEBS carries one single brand in size 2 (2.75 mm).) My first attempt at usage was casting on a pair of ladies socks with just 52 stitches. I didn’t get far. After a couple of rounds, it was apparent these little cuties would have to wait for a men’s socks knitting project with more stitches per round. The rounds were just too tight and stretched to work.


Fast forward a few months and I have cast on my first pair of men’s sock. 64 stitches. The perfect amount for the super short needle. I am using the Hermione’s Everyday Sock pattern, free from Ravelry here and generally hoping the pattern will be male-suitable. (It is, right?) The yarn is the Plaid Blanket colorway from Madelinetosh Sock. It might be sacrilegious to say something mildly critical about one of my favorite yarn brands of all eternity, but the forest green shade is pooling in a particularly irritating way.

What is the point of a sock yarn that suffers from color pooling when you knit…socks!

Good grief.

I am tempted to abort because of the pooling, but I think I will just keep with it and have faith it turns out well in teh end. Determined, I am.

Or in denial. Hard to tell sometimes.


From the first few rounds, I could tell it was going to be a rough go. My hands were cramping on the inside edges of my palms, and the knitting was slow going on those itty bitty points.

I wasn’t having that much fun.

But it was possible.

I mean, if I found myself unexpectedly stranded on a tropical island with a well stocked bar, an infinite supply of high quality sock yarn, and this one pair of ridiculously short and tiny sock needles, I would be grateful and plod away without (much) complaint.

However, I am not (presently) in this predicament, am I?

I told myself I had to at least make it through the 20 rounds of ribbing before I could make up my mind. For sure.


I finished my 20 rounds dutifully, not unlike the way an Olympic athlete completes their jumping jacks (or whatever) at the beginning of their training sessions.

And then I switched.

Magic loop, I am BAAAACCCCKKKK.


And these little babies…? Well, into the hall closet they go.

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  • Reply Karin January 24, 2016 at 6:11 am

    I’m a die-hard dpn user for socks, I think because this is how I learned to knit. I tried magic loop but found it too much ‘floopiness’ in my small hands. I do like short circs for some small circumference knitting but usually use two of them and keep stitch markers (if I use them) a few rounds below. It’s good to have options – there’s bound to be one that will work great 🙂

    • Reply Jeanne November 5, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      I have made 5 pair of socks so far on 9″ Circe needles and is the only way I do them now. Yes, it takes a bit to get used to them and you have to switch to double pointed needles for the heel flap, gusset and toe but the leg and foot go so much faster.

      • Reply Laurie January 24, 2017 at 10:50 am

        I recently discovered how easy the 9″ circular for socks is!! I discovered I could use them for everything/ but switch to dpn for toe when there’s only a few stitches left. So much easier 😄 Happy knitting!!

  • Reply Andi January 24, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Those socks look fabulous despite your struggle with the 9in circ. I had similar problems with my hands cramping when attempting to knit with this little needle. I know that there are those that swear by them, but they are not for me. I live for my DPNs and like your 9in circ, mine has been hibernating possibly forever.

  • Reply hardknitlife January 24, 2016 at 8:06 am

    I tried some 9 inch circs on a patterned pair of socks…couldn’t figure out why my hands hurt so much! I switched them over the DPNs and talked with a young lady in a yarn store about it. She does her socks on 9inch circs, and then she held up her hand to compare to mine…I swear my fingers were like 2 inches longer than hers! She said since her hands were so small it was easier to grip the smaller needles….she also suggested I try them again, but just on plain stockinette. I still have mine, but I’m not sure when I’ll be busting them out to use again 🙂

    Also I love the colorway! It could just be your stitch count that is causing it to pool or it could have been the 9inch circulars. I was listening to a recent episode of the Prairie Girls Knit & Spin and Susie is doing a sock experiment with Cherie from Kirby Wirby yarns. Each of the ladies are using the same yarn to knit socks but Susie is using DPNs and 72 stitches from the cuff down and Cherie is using 9inch circs 56 stitches and from the toe up…their socks are coming out completely different and super cool! I know they have posted some on instagram, Susie is prairiegirlsusie and Cherie is kirbywirbyyarns 🙂 Thanks for sharing your dilemma!

  • Reply Inge January 24, 2016 at 11:02 am

    I’ve seen this needles and don’t understand how they can be practical. Now I’m sure I don’t have to try them 😉
    I love magic loop for simple socks: no row counting, just knit knit knit. For socks with a pattern I choose the short sock dpn’s (15 cm). I have small hands and they really fit me.

  • Reply Stefanie January 24, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Yeah, 9″ are damn short and even 12″ is considerably shorter than a 16″. I think the last time I used a 9″ was to make a baby hat but had to throw because Continental would cramp my hands.

  • Reply Dartmoor Yarns January 24, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks for the write up. I’ve never got round to trying them – probably because I’m very happy magic looping. Since I’ve got huge hands, I’m even more unlikely to try them now.

  • Reply pumpkin sunrise January 24, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    I am a dpn diehard lover but you know that. I tried those needles and you just can’t get a comfortable grip to knit fast, I didn’t like them and mine were wooden so the stitches didn’t slide well enough to my liking. I tried ML and never cared for it. I think I imprinted on the dpns too early in life….

  • Reply Beth January 25, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Thank you for the candid review of the 9″ sock needles! Being a sock addicted knitter, I’m sure I would have tried them at some point, but now can save myself the trouble. I, too, have large hands and am grateful that I’ve been saved trying to manipulate such a short needle. I prefer either double points or magic loop depending on the sock pattern!
    I say keep going with your handsome socks despite the pooling, I had a pair of gauntlets that pooled a great deal, but I kept going and because they pooled in a consistent manner, the final effect was really cool!

  • Reply FogKnits January 26, 2016 at 9:31 am

    I bought a couple 8″ addi turbos about a decade ago. Same result, I forced myself to use them in an attempt to acclimate but they’ve been untouched for years now!

  • Reply caffeinegirl January 26, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    I tried the 9-inch circs, and they just killed my hands! I’d like to learn magic loop someday, but I like dpns for now.

  • Reply Audry January 26, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I’ve used small circs in the past, but I’m with you… magic loop all the way!

    I noticed that I got heavy pooling with my skein of Plaid Blanket as well. It swirled all the way down the sock, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

  • Reply woolythymes January 27, 2016 at 11:18 am

    I tried them once….fortunately, mine were borrowed from a friend. And they were promptly returned. I’m a dp gal…..and I’m sticking to it.

  • Reply utesmile January 28, 2016 at 9:41 am

    I am not sure what you mean with magic loop. I knit socks with 4 needles Plus one. ( I guess that is the German way though and for me it is the best. I did try a small round needle for the arms of my Norwegian jumper and it worked very well but it was longer than 9 inches. I am going to use it for some legwarmers matching the jumper as I have some yarn left. 🙂

    • Reply Tiffany January 23, 2017 at 9:21 am

      Magic loop is knitting small items on circular needles with a relatively long cord. The excess cord is pulled in a loop between two halves of the project. I have switched to this method for socks because it allows me to knit 2 socks at the same time. I suffered terrible second sock syndrome with double pointed needles.

  • Reply knittedblissjc January 29, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    haha, the struggle! And a shame about the pooling, sock yarn should never pool, I agree. But- I absolutely adore my 9″ circs! I hate dpns, and find magic loop okay, but tiny circs are awesome for me, I like them for mitts, too. What size do you have? Maybe I can buy them off of you!

  • Reply Man Socks - This Knitted Life February 3, 2016 at 4:49 am

    […] Cast on 64 stitches (Madelinetosh Sock in Plaid Blanket) using 9 inch (2.75 mm) circular needles. Immediately decide to switch to the magic loop methods. […]

  • Reply Linda February 18, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    I would have had to agree two years ago. I had bought a pair of bamboo when they first hit the market. Hated them. I have lately read a review on metal 9″ and liked what I read. So I bought a ChiaoGoo Red Circular 9-inch and I love them. I also bought some Audii 8″ which I have not tried yet. They will never take the place of my Signature DPN’s. But to take on a long trip or motorcycle I think they will be the bomb

  • Reply Susan February 20, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    I love, love, love my 9″ circs. I previously used DPNs but the ladders were killing me. I have never attempted the magic loop.

  • Reply Carol Urban February 20, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    I watched a video on 9-inch circulars last week by Very Pink Knits. She said bamboo needles gripped the yarn too much and that metal ones worked better for her.

  • Reply Kat February 21, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I personally **love** my 9 inch circs. I have 1s, two pairs of 2s, 3s 6s and 8s. I do EVERYTHING on them. Colorwork socks and mittwns and gloves and teent hats gor preemies and tight fitting cuffs of sweaters. They can have my tibt circs when they pry thsm from my cold dead hands

  • Reply Lisa Martin Smith March 6, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I knit all my socks on the 9″ circulars. It’s just a matter of getting used to them like anything else. I’ve not used DPNs for anything, can’t imagine all those skinny needles going every which way.

  • Reply Lisa Martin Smith March 6, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I love my 9″ bamboo circs. I have them in several sizes and have knit all my socks on them. Mittens and other gifts as well. It’s all what your used to.

  • Reply Den May 26, 2016 at 3:47 am

    I will very happily go back and forth between magic loop or DPNs, but I absolutely can not do circulars on anything shorter than 24 inches, otherwise I have the same reaction that you do. 🙂

  • Reply Shirley July 3, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    I absolutely love the 8 and 9″ circs. Feel free to send all of yours my way. I do have to agree that the wood or bamboo are not as good as the metal. My favourites are the Chiagoo red cord 9″ but I like pretty much all the 8and 9″.

  • Reply Carla August 9, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    I recently went back to knitting socks and used dpn before and went back to them until a friend lent me her chiagoo 9 inch circular. I tried to do the ribs but “did not” liked them. I decided to go back to them for the leg, changed my grip for a looser one and got used to them very quickly. I go back to the dpn for the heel and the toes, it is easier to reduce on 4 dpn, I forget to make them on circular because I knit faster.
    I also tried the bamboo but the yarn sticks to much to the needle.
    Have fun and keep knitting.

  • Reply Marla Davis August 24, 2016 at 9:05 am

    I have far too much trouble with do needles to actually enjoy the process. I do love the 3 pair I managed to make. I tried to understand the direction s for magic loop but it doesn’t feel right either. I can’t wait to try 8 or 9″ needles! I think these may be exactly what I have been looking for! I’m going to save up for a pair for myself for Christmas! Thank you for posting all the pros and con’s. Have a blessed day.

    • Reply Andrea @ This Knitted Life August 24, 2016 at 10:07 am

      Hi Marla, I should mail you my pair! I hope it is your dream solution. I have been loving magic loop. Have you looked over on YouTube? That’s what I did to learn… xoxo

      • Reply Marla Davis August 24, 2016 at 11:35 am

        I found a few good videos but I think its the stopping to readjust. I use circs for almost everything, and when I can just work in the round like the cowl I just cast on it is so relaxing. The thought of being able to relax while making socks thrills me! If you truly don’t want your pair anymore I would be willing to give them a happy home! My email is if you would like my address.

      • Reply Marla Davis August 24, 2016 at 11:56 am

        Silly me, I just saw the contact button at the top of the page and sent you a missive. Have a lovely afternoon.

  • Reply Pamela August 24, 2016 at 9:40 am

    I have started a pair of #3 9in socks with 64 st. Stitched to 12″ less pain, but my sock looks too big. I am getting 7 st to an inch. Can anyone recommend a pattern to follow for a simple sock on the 12′

    • Reply Andrea @ This Knitted Life August 24, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Hmmm… Maybe someone will chime in with a good pattern for you. I have been doing simple stockinette or ribbed lately. No pattern. Just basic sock math. Let me know how it turns out.

  • Reply Rhonda September 10, 2016 at 12:01 am

    I have had my 8″ Chiagoo 3’s for a while. In fact, I forgot about them. Now, I will not go back to using DPN’s and I never liked the Magic Loop. This sock is knitting up quick, and without any gaps. BTW, I have large hands, and I don’t have any problem with them.

  • Reply Marla Davis September 17, 2016 at 8:43 am

    I have a basic sock math question. When determining the negative ease do you subtract 10% of the measurement or 10% of the number of stitches?

    • Reply Andrea @ This Knitted Life September 17, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Gosh I couldn’t tell you. Sorry! I know I use 52 stitches for women socks and 74 for man socks.

  • Reply Marla Davis September 28, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Thanks to an extra day at work I was able to order a 9″ circular! Since my son and his family are moving to cold Illinois I chose a size I can use for worsted weight slipper socks for the family. Hoping it will arrive tomorrow so I can get knitting for the babies!

    • Reply Andrea @ This Knitted Life September 28, 2016 at 7:23 am

      Sorry I haven’t mailed mine yet! I haven’t forgotten but haven’t gone closest hunting either. Bad me.

      • Reply Marla Davis September 28, 2016 at 10:12 pm

        Lol Believe me I understand. At the moment I am bombarded cooking for 7 extra people until my son and his family move. Today I finally got to do my laundry! No rush Andrea, whenever you get to it is fine with me. As soon as mine arrives I’ll be casting on boot socks for my son in worsted wool.

  • Reply Marla Davis October 4, 2016 at 4:26 am

    My size 4s finally arrived! I got started on worsted wool socks for my son. I am only 3″ in but I already love this needle!

  • Reply Trish October 30, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    My dear Andrea. Thank you for this post. I’ve been searching for 9″ needles here in Australia without success. Ordering online from USA had postage of $26!!! Then the cost of the needle on top which was cheap by comparison. Decided to do magic loop instead for my lovely new sock wool and hated it. So I’m back to my 4 beautiful cubic wood dpns and happy again. So I’ll be sticking to this method which I’ve been using for so long I find it easy and relaxing. I had wanted to try the one 9″ as I kept seeing socks by Sockit2me using them and figured it would be fun to try a new method but you’ve convinced me forget it. Happy knitting and thanks again.

  • Reply Newsitian December 7, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I use SQUARE 9″ needles to knit my toe up socks and that is all I do. It makes all the difference in the world. Squares don’t roll around in your hands, so your grip is not as tight. Squares give you a lovelier fabric from your knitting. 9″ needles omit all of that down time caused from having to slide stitches around all the time. I knit the same “foot”, regardless of what the pattern says, every time because I know just what it takes to fit my foot. And I don’t like pattern stitches inside my shoe as they rub on the top of my foot. So, I do my foot my way and then do what the designer wants me do when I finish the heel. This makes me a happy camper. I will adopt any and all homeless size 1 nine inch needles.

  • Reply Lucie December 15, 2016 at 4:53 am

    Could not agree more ! I’m a hardcore sock knitter and pretty much exclusively on magic loop, although as of late I’ve been doing two pairs at a time (4 socks at a time) for which 2 circs work better. But I too have had to try the 9″, simply for FOMO and hated it lol it may be due to my arthritic hands, but either way thepain and cramps were not worth dealing with. Back to the super easy and fun ML or 2 circs 😘

  • Reply Lori February 3, 2017 at 6:11 am

    I have the 9 inch circulars in sizes 2, 5, and 8. I have small hands, so they work well for me, and the finished product looks better as I tend to leave those “gaps” when I use the double points. I’ve made 2 pairs of tube socks on size 2. they look great but it takes a lot longer with that small of a needle. I haven’t tried the size 5 yet for socks, but I have done 2 baby caps and like how they have turned out.

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