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Knitting with Double Pointed Needles for Beginners

Updated on September 13, 2012
Knitting with double pointed needles.
Knitting with double pointed needles. | Source
A finished sock, and a sock in progress made using double pointed needles.
A finished sock, and a sock in progress made using double pointed needles. | Source

You can only get so far with two knitting needles, before the need arises to knit in the round (or circular knit). When this happens, you can either pick up circular knitting needles, or you can learn to use double pointed needles (DPNs).

DPNs are long, with two tapered ends, allowing you to knit from either side, and are known as the oldest style of knitting needle. They are found depicted in paintings as far back as the 14th century.

Deciding to use circular needles or DPNs is largely a personal choice. While circular needles are more versatile in terms of how you can use them, DPNs can be particularly useful for knitting socks or other small items made in the round. Circulars just can’t quite manage to stich super small items. Additionally, the I-Cord can only be made using DPNs (see video below for I-Cord tutorial).

Using DPNs can be a little intimidating at first. It can be challenging to figure out exactly how and where the needles should hang, but with a little patience and a lot of perseverance, they can quickly become second nature.

As someone who recently broke into the world of DPNs, my biggest piece of advice would be to simply pretend that you know what you’re doing, and decide that it will work out just fine. (Seriously.) Then, knit like you would with two needles.

It will initially feel very awkward and weird to knit with four needles, but soon you’ll begin to find your rhythm. After all, knitting was probably a little weird to learn too, initially. Once you get in a rhythm you’ll see that circular knitting isn’t much different than flat knitting.

DPNs, Some Things to Keep In Mind

  • With DPNs the right side is always facing you, which means you never reverse your work. This means that to make the stockinette stitch, you just use the knit stitch the entire time, never purling.
  • A “ladder” occurs because of looseness in tension when transitioning from one needle to the next. To avoid this problem, try making sure your first few stitches are tight, but be careful of making them too tight because they may be hard to stitch into later. Or, you can try the tips found in this article by TECHknitting.

It's Quiz Time!

How do you feel about DPNs?

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How to Knit an I-Cord

3 Needle Cast On With DPNs

Knitting with 5 DPNs

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