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Knitting with Double-Pointed Needles

Knitting Round and Round

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Using double pointed needles.

Using double-pointed needles.

(c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Knitting with double-pointed needles is a great way to knit small-circumference circular items such as socks and the crowns of hats.

Though it is also possible to knit such items with circular needles, it is very handy to know how to knit in the round using double-points.

But juggling multiple needles can be confusing and awkward at first. Here are some tips to make it a little easier.

Casting on

  • When casting on for knitting that will be worked on double-pointed needles, cast onto just one needle and then distribute the stitches onto the other needles as needed.
  • To move stitches from one needle to another, slide the cast on stitches down the needle so that the first cast-on stitch is close to the end. Use the second needle to slip the stitch (as if to purl) onto the needle.
  • Patterns will typically tell you how many stitches should be on each needle. If not, get as close to having the same number of stitches on each needle as you can.
  • Join your stitches in the round as you would for circular knitting. Make sure that all of the bumps of the cast-on edge are pointing inward before you join the work in the round. I like to join in the round by swapping the first cast on stitch with the last cast on stitch, but there are many other methods.
  • Once you have your stitches distributed, you may want to slide a stitch marker between the second to last and last stitch on the last needle to mark the end of the round. Or simply use the cast-on tail as a guide to which needle is the end of your round.

Knitting with Double-Pointed Needles

  • The first row or two knitting in the round with double-pointed needles can feel pretty awkward, but go slowly and it will get easier. To knit, just hold the needle with the first cast on stitches on it in your left hand and the empty needle in your right hand and knit as normal. When the needle in your left hand is empty, put it in your right hand and knit from the next needle on the left. Let the remaining needles hang as you work.
  • It's important to knit tightly when you switch between needles, because if the yarn is too lose between needles, you will get a gap in your knitting commonly called laddering. To prevent this, be mindful of pulling a little tighter when you make the first stitch on each needle. You can also periodically shift one or two stitches from one needle to the next to move the position of the space between the needles.
  • Some patterns call for four double-pointed needles, while others call for five. You can really use either as long as you understand how any pattern directions that talk about needle numbers would change if you have more or fewer needles than the pattern calls for.

Finishing Knitting

  • Instead of making a tube, circular knitting with double-pointed needles is often used to make something that is closed at one end, such as a hat or a sock. Because of this, the traditional method of binding off is not used. The pattern will tell you how to finish of the remaining stitches, whether it is by grafting or just sliding the stitches off the needle onto a yarn needle and pulling tight.
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