Anyone who has knit something in the round has seen these instructions before, right? "Join, being careful not to twist." And we've all thought, "Duh!" Until we get overconfident and realize that we have, indeed, twisted it. (I can't be the only one.)
A blog reader asked me about joining in the round and not twisting your work in my Hermione's Cable and Eyelet Hat post. Rather than give a lengthy and boring text answer in the comments, I figured I'd give a quick and dirty tutorial on joining in the round.
1. Cast on the desired number of stitches.
2. Spread those stitches out along the length of the needle and turn your work so that the bumps all fall to the center of the needles when you lay it down on a flat surface. (This is MUCH easier to see than trying to point them all down while holding your work up in the air.) This helps you make sure that nothing is twisted. If the nubs wrapped around a needle like a candy cane, you'd have a problem that would need to be fixed before the next step.
4. Slide a stitch marker onto your right needle to mark the beginning of the round.
5. Pick up your work carefully, being careful not to accidentally twist your work at this stage. Knit the first stitch on the left needle. Pull this new stitch close to the last stitch on your right needle to close the gap.
7. Continue working around, per your pattern, slipping your stitch marker as you pass it on each round.
Note: You may notice a gap forming in the first couple rounds where you joined your work. Just take care to pull those stitches snug each time you pass them and that gap will close. When you tuck in your ends, you can further close any gap that remains at the cast-on edge, if necessary.
Now, on to double pointed needles (DPNs). The concept here is the same, so I'll abbreviate the steps further.
When you transfer stitches from one DPN to another, make sure you slip the stitches purl-wise. This keeps all your stitches seated appropriately.
3. Make sure your working yarn is on the right-hand needle as you look down on it.
4. There's really no need for a stitch marker when using DPNs since the beginning of your round will begin with a new DPN. And a stitch marker would just slide off the DPN anyway. Your yarn tail will tell you which join is the beginning of your round.
Make sure you check after your first and second rows to make sure everything is progressing as it should.
And there it is. It can be fiddly at times, but a little extra care at this stage can keep you out of trouble.