Recently, I decided to make a hat for a friend of mine. I always try to learn new little tricks when working with new patterns, but in this case, an old trick that I learned a long time ago is what I fall back on. I always had a difficult time joining stitches in the round while knitting so that they looked invisible. If I just knitted to join the last stitch to the first stitch, I ended up with very loose stitches that meant extra work when weaving in the ends at the end of the project. Some techniques I tried resulted in holes, more like a yarn over than a stockinette stitch.
There is a very simple method that I enjoy. You simply move the first stitch from the left-hand needle to the right-hand needle, while moving the last stitch on the right-hand needle to the left-hand needle. It sounds much more fiddly and complicated than it really is.
Once you have finished your casting on the required number of stitches for a sock, hat, cowl, or even a sweater sleeve, it’s time to join the two and make a circle. Make sure that your stitches are not twisted on the needles.
I like to start the process with the left-hand needle where the first cast-on stitch lives. I start there because I am going to be moving it off the needle and let is remain unattached while it is still live.
Slip the first stitch from the left-hand needle and let it stand alone.
Because of the stitch orientation and the tension of the cast-on stitches, that first stitch is very sturdy. Since unraveling occurs from subsequent stitches back to previous stitches in any row, that first live stitch will behave itself and wait for you to pick it up once you work with the stitch on the right-hand needle.
Carefully, remove the last stitch from the right-hand needle and slip it over the left-hand needle. It may become larger as you move it, but you can snug it up after it is placed on the needle by tugging a bit on the working yarn.
Now slip the live stitch that is waiting for you onto the right-hand needle.
Place your marker on the right-hand needle and begin knitting in the round.
Once you have knit a few rounds, you will see that the joined stitches are not noticeable.
Make sure that when you do weave in your ends, you do not tie them into a knot in the cast-on row, or you will have an obvious knot in a very visible area. Weave them far enough in so that they stay put. If you do feel it necessary to add a bit of strength, then work the ends far enough away from the cast-on row that you can use your favorite knotting technique.
Of course, there are many ways of joining stitches in the round. I just find this is the easiest way and also the best way to make the join as invisible as possible.
Special thanks to Mark Rougeux