Yay for Double Pointed Needles!

Filed in Point of View, Skill Building by on November 30, 2015 0 Comments

In the past 12 or 13 years or so, working with DPNs has somewhat fallen out of favor. I haven’t done any market research to learn about whether sales have actually declined, but it seems to me they are harder to find in stores. Methods involving circular needles have taken the spotlight.

I’m all for innovation and improvement, and I fully recognize that working small circumferences on either 1 long or 2 medium length circular needles has revolutionized sock and other knitting for many. The fact for me remains that, having used these other methods extensively so that I would be able to teach them credibly, I like using 4 or 5 double pointed needles better in almost every single case.

I am working the second sleeve of a sweater for my 50th birthday UFO project and I found myself dreading the prospect of working on it. I got all the rest of the sweater done while on my trip to New Zealand almost a year ago, but when I returned, the rush of work and reentry after 6 weeks of travel got the better of me, and it languished. While on the trip, it was nice to only pack and carry one needle, so I worked the first sleeve using the Magic Loop method. I found it so tiresome though–having to slide the needle tips and guiding the fine yarn up over the connection between needle and cable every time without snagging (the sweater uses a lace-weight yarn on size 6 needles to create a light, airy fabric)–and I still haven’t picked it up again, except to work a few rounds at a time of that dang sleeve before I can’t stand it anymore. Finally this morning, I switched over to DPNs and it felt like I’d gone outside into the fresh air after being stuck in a small room for months. It felt so free and fluent to go round after round with my stitches all ready for me on the next needle tip, just rotate and go. I feel confident I’ll finish today and I’ll be so glad.

I do realize the disadvantages of DPNs, such as only making one sock at at time, but since I really like making socks, that’s not a problem for me, and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. One technique really is not ever truly easier or harder except in terms of the individual. We choose one or the other because we prefer one set of challenges over another. If you are teaching a new knitter, consider offering them options so they can choose and feel in control of their knitting, rather than feeling out of place or uncomfortable because your favorite way isn’t instantly the right way for them.

We knitters can show the world that we can get along in spite of disagreeing.

If you only ever learned to knit circularly on small circumferences with long circular needles, depending on the project, you might enjoy trying out double pointed needles, even if just to say you tried them. Here are two tutorials about how to cast on from our Quick Clips page. Once your stitches are on, you’re only working on 2 needles at a time; the others are just holding stitches. Knit the stitches to the left of the working yarn every time and you’re good to go.


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