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How to Knit With Double-Pointed Needles

How to Knit With Double-Pointed Needles main article image
Posted on June 23, 2022 by Lyndsey Drooby

Knitting with double-pointed needles or DPNs is for knitting smaller items in the round. A set of needles are exactly what the name implies: they have points on each end to allow knitting to happen from either side. They usually come in a package of four or five. Since there are so many, don’t let it look intimidating at all. It can seem overwhelming to figure out how to knit with so many needles but once you discover that the needles are meant to form a shape for in-the-round knitting, it will seem like an easy jump from circular needles to straight double-pointed ones. 

DPNs, as they will be referred to now, are meant for smaller in-the-round knitting like socks or sleeves for a sweater. DPNs do come in different lengths and are made of different materials metal and bamboo, much like regular knitting needles. Depending on the project, knowing the length and size will be important. Lengths of DPNs average four inches to ten inches. Socks can be made with a length of five or six inches and a hat (yes, you can still make a hat with DPNs!) Can be made with needles eight or ten inches in length.

When it comes to the material of the needle, the advantages and disadvantages of different needles are in another article here on Creative Fabrica, but when it comes to working with DPNs, bamboo may make a great decision as the stitches have less surface drag and won’t slide off the needles. 

Double Pointed Needles vs Circular Needles

Circular needles are needles connected by a cable in between. They are meant to be used to knit things over sixteen inches in diameter. So anything smaller than that diameter you grab some double-pointed needles. 

So DPNs will come in handy when knitting smaller items like socks, mittens and gloves, finishing off hats and sleeves of sweaters. There are many other knitted things to make with DPN and these are just examples. 

How Do You Use Double-Pointed Needles

Knitting with circular needles is a continuous process of knitting around the cable needle in a big loop. The yarn does not leave the needles until you completely cast off. 

With DPNs, each needle will have a set number of stitches, preferably the same number and knitting along the row of one needle then jumping off to the next needle. 

How to Cast On and Start Knitting

The first step to casting on DPNs is using one needle to carry all the stitches and then dividing them across three other needles. Join the stitches in the round the same way as circular knitting. Make sure any bumps of the cast-on edge are facing inward and also check that you don’t have any twisted stitches before joining. Once you start knitting, you’ll be working in a triangular shape. Or, if mentioned in the pattern to work with four needles, you’ll be working in a square shape. The remaining needle without any stitches will be your right hand working needle. 

Getting started while working on the first two needles on your first row is a little awkward, but once you add more rows, the ease gets better. Hold the needle with the first cast-on stitches on it in your left hand and the needle without stitches in your hand. Knit as you normally would through each needle and let the others hang while you work. You’ll realize that when you finish one row of stitches on one needle, you’ll have to connect to the next needle. After finishing one circuit of stitches along with the needles, use the tail of the yarn from your first cast on stitch to be your starting point, or use a stitch marker so you remember where the round starts. 

After a few rows, there might be some “ladders” appearing between the stitches where you have to join from the next needle. They are quite easy to fix as they are formed by knitting with uneven, loose tension. It is easy to lose that tension when switching to the next needle but a great solution four would be to loosen the tension around the neighboring stitches. When you use the other stitches to carry the tension burden, the gap will be less obvious. When you continue to knit the next rows, be mindful of pulling on the yarn a little tighter when you make the switch to the next needle. As you progress a few rows further, you’ll see how seamless your stitches are. 

Three? Four? Five Needles? What’s the Difference?

When you see packs of DPNs sold in a store, they are usually in a set of four or five. The number of needles needed is usually mentioned in the pattern and comes down to what you are making. Sometimes a pattern may even call for changes, even if working in decreases you may be working with an additional needle and will have to lose one as you continue on the pattern. 

If you find your stitches dropping off the ends, switch from aluminium needles to bamboo, or when you’re taking a break from knitting, storing your knitting for a time or bringing it with you for any reason, use needle stoppers or rubber bands at the ends of the needles to prevent dropped stitches. You don’t want to be rows and rows into your project to only deal with dreaded dropped stitches falling off more than one needle. Oh, what a mess! 

Finishing a Project With DPNs

Most knitted items used with DPNs are meant to be made into something that is closed at one end or meant to be attached to something like the body of a sweater. The usual method of binding off is not used and will be dictated in the pattern. You will be grafting the stitches to another body of work or sliding the stitches off of the needles onto a yarn needle and pulling tight to close, like a sock. 

That will be it! Now you’re knitting with double-pointed needles! 

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How to Knit With Double-Pointed Needles

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