Double-Pointed Needles Demystified

comments (0) September 19th, 2008     

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Tina_Hilton Tina Hilton, contributor
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Knitting with double-pointed needles is easy-peasy!
Divide the stitches evenly between the four needles.
Go slow and keep your needles in order.
Knitting with double-pointed needles is easy-peasy!

Knitting with double-pointed needles is easy-peasy!

Photo: Tina Hilton

Double-pointed needles (DPNs) are one of those necessary evils of knitting. They are indispensable for knitting tube-shaped things like sleeve cuffs, glove fingers, and typically anything in the round that has too few stitches to work on a circular needle. DPNs have not always been my favorite knitting tools, but I have learned to respect and admire their usefulness. Casting on with DPNs is easy. Using them for making I-cord is a snap. Dividing the cast-on stitches onto separate needles is no problem! Here’s where the trouble begins—let’s say you’ve cast on 28 stitches for the cuff of a toddler sock. You’ve divided the stitches evenly, putting seven stitches on four needles. You take a breath, look out the window, and when you look down, the stitches have twisted and you can’t figure out the order the stitches are positioned on the now-crossed and tangled mess you have in your hand. The only solution is to rip it out and recast on and redistribute without taking your eyes off the prize. Here is a blow-by-blow walk-through to get you started on your DPN journey that will help you through the first critical steps and alleviate the pain and frustration of the process.

1. First and foremost, relax and breathe.

2. Cast on your stitches according to the pattern instructions, keeping the stitches even and moderately loose.

3.  Make sure that your stitches are not twisted so that the cast-on edge runs along the bottom.

Divide the stitches evenly between the four needles.

4. Slide the stitches to the opposite side of the needle and then divide the stitches evenly between the four needles.

5. It helps to work on a flat surface at a table or a pillow on your lap. I like working at a table with an overturned bowl to rest my needles on. This provides added stability and prevents the needles from accidentally slipping out of the stitches during this wobbly stage. 

Go slow and keep your needles in order.

6. Hold the needle with the first cast-on stitch in your left hand and the needle with the yarn attached in your right hand. Make sure the yarn from the ball does not come up from the center but from the outside. Begin knitting with the fifth needle at this point, making sure you are pulling the yarn tight between the needles.

Keeping the needles close together and the yarn pulled tight will avoid the holes, or "ladders," from forming between the needles.

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