Double Pointed Knitting Needles
January 11, 2013
Using Double Pointed Knitting Needles (AKA: DPNs) is akin to learning to drive a stick. It is not just steering, gas and brake like knitting and purling. It is multiple needles balanced and held by both hands while knitting and purling. It sounds daunting and it can be very tricky until you learn your way. Each knitter has a slightly different way of holding the needles. Keep practicing if you really want to get it and rest assured that it will come to you just as knitting and purling did once upon a time.
DPNs come in sets of 4-5 needles and are great for small diameter knitting like socks, the tops of hats, sleeves and cording. If you have a set of 4 than your live stitches are on 3 needles and the 4th is your working needle. If your set contains 5 DPNs then you are working your stitches on 4 needles with your 5th as your working needle. As you knit onto your working needle, it becomes a holding needle and the needle you just worked stitches from becomes your working needle. For bigger circular knitting use 5 needles. For smaller diameters use 4 needles.
First, cast on all your stitches onto one needle. It is much easier to cast on to one needle and then transfer those stitches to your other needles than to cast on a few to each needle as you balance the remainder.
See, just letting them hang.
Next, slip the correct number of stitches purlwise onto your second needle. Then cast on the correct number of stitches onto your second and third and fourth(if you have a fourth). Allow the needles with stitches to hang down as you slide your stitches onto the next in line. Then pick up all your needles and orient all your stitches to face the inside holding your DPNs in a small-ish circle.
Hold two needles in your left hand and 1-2 in your right hand as well as your working needle. It helps to keep your stitches at the center of the non-working needle. This helps for balance as well as preventing them from sliding off. As you work each needle, slide your stitches to the center as you prepare for the next needle.
DPNs are also great for other odd knitting jobs so if you want to purchase a set of DPNs to try them out but worry that they may not be for you, fear not you will use them regardless. I am not a DPN lover but I use mine all the time. I avoid using them for small circular knitting but they make great stitch holders, cable needles, row markers and serve as the occasion 3rd needle for 3-needle bind offs.
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