Monday, April 16, 2007


Marjorie, a reader (and a blogger) asks:
" I recently got some very short [needles] ... but I haven't tried them yet. Do you have any advice on the length of the dpns? I thought these short ones might be more comfortable on a thin sock."
"De gustibus non est disputandum," "in matters of taste, there is no right and wrong." If you like them, and they work for you, go for it. BUT, I will say that the type of work being done doesn't influence the length of the needle as much as the interaction of your HAND and the needle--a very short dpn might be too short to get your hand on properly. If you look back at the illustrations in this blog, you'll see that every hand grasping a needle presses the needle between some fingers and the palm of the hand, or between the fingers and the heel of the thumb. In no case is any needle held in the fingers alone. Unfortunately, a very short needle might be too short to hold any way EXCEPT in the fingers alone--uncomfortable.

Long answer short: Make sure the dpn's are at least long enough to get a good grip on.

Polarbears, a reader, left this
"I wonder if you will suggest my own "unvented" solution.

Those first few [rounds of dpn knitting] can be maddening. I'd recommend finding an experienced knitter to 'start' your initial experiments with double points. That way you can perfect your technique first and then move on to attempting those slippery first rows when you are more comfortable with the process."

RESPONSE: Polarbears, you're right! If you're learning, find someone to cast-on your first dpn project. Makes learning dpn's easier AND contributes to community... I'll bet anything that a new dpn-er at a guild meeting--ANY guild meeting anywhere, will have knitters falling over themselves to be the first to help out. If you're the shy type, the nice folks at your LYS (local yarn shop) will be happy to get you going with the needles and yarn you just bought from them. (If you like knitting, you'll be back for more supplies!)

Another advantage: Obviously, I (of all people) think a lot can be accomplished by sitting quietly and looking at illustrated instructions, BUT adding that real-life component--watching someone else do it--is invaluable.

Dear Readers: If you are feeling bold, and if you have anything to say or ask about dpn's, consider speaking out in the comments. If it's a question to you, it's probably a question to others.... If it is a neat trick which worked for you, others will be glad to know of it, too.



Ashley said...

Well, since you're asking ;)

My biggest problem when I was starting to learn knitting in the round was that I always, no matter how hard I tried, twisted the join. My solution was to cast on on straights (or on a single DPN) and work back and forth for a couple of rows before joining for working in the round. Once a few rows are knit, it's much easier to make sure the join isn't twisted, and the back-and-forth rows are easily seamed up with the yarn tail from the cast-on. There may be a teensy difference in gauge, but I don't think it would be enough to make a significant difference if only a few rows are being knit.

twellve said...

i totally agree about too-short DPNs. my 5" DPNs don't touch my palms, leaving all the work to my fingers and less leverage.

Emma in France said...

Another way to get used to DPNs is to start a toe-up sock with a short row toe. Once you finish the toe on two needles and undo the provisional cast-on and put it onto 3/4 needles you have a sizeable piece of work hanging from the needles. Also there's no chance of twisting the cast-on stitches this way.

marjorie said...

The reason I asked about needle length is that I just got 4 inch sizes 0 and 1 in Suzanne ebony and rosewood. Until now, I've used 8 inch Brittany birch (and I like them). I think the 4 inch was all that was available, and it seemed an acceptible length if I knit with 5 needles on thin yarn. I haven't tried them yet.

I usually cast on using one of my 8 inch dpns (as if it were a straight needle), then I move the stitches to the remaining 3 or 4. When I'm done (with a sock), I take the tail from the cast on and thread it through the "end" of the cast on row, and there is no problem with the join. I have tended to use the tubular (circular) method for casting on socks that Charlene Schurch shows in her Hats On! book, and I like it very much (it is easy and gives a stretchy top).

Posie Knit said...

Great Blog!! Very informative.

I use both steel and wood (ebony and bamboo) dpns. My steels are 8in - I am looking for a good 6in. pair because I think that the 8in are just too pokey and pointy to carry around. My wood dpns range from 5in to 6in. I like that size much better. I have to limit how much of the steel dpns that I use because the last knuckle of my ring finger on my left hand becomes numb after prolonged dpn knitting. I am a continental knitter so don't have much independent finger movement in my left hand when I knit.

OfTroy said...

Knitters who knit holding one needle in there arm, (or between their legs, etc) often find DPN's hard.

many knitters like little DPN's, but you can find 10, 12, and even 14 inch DPN's --and with these, you can learn to while still holding a needle under your arm.

some might thing you crazy, with 50 or so inches of needles for 10 of knitting, but don't let that bother you!

KnitMom said...

I found that I knit a substantially tighter gauge with shorter needles! in fact I tested in unknowingly by changing needles in mid-sock. I got some of those Lantern Moon enony sock needles, and somewhere in the middle of my sock one broke. (Ebony is not very flexible, and I seem to wrestle my socks just a little...) I went to shorter bamboos and discovered about an inch later that I was really tighter in my gauge. So you may need to do some testing to see the difference between 8 inch and 5 inch!

Patricia A. said...

On the question of finding 6 inch steel needles. There is a new needle company that was recently recommended (Dec 2008) on the Socknitter's mailing list called Hiya-Hiya. They are steel dpns and circulars from 6/0 (0.75mm) up to US 15 or so. Comments claim the cable is extremely flexible and is highly compatible with Magic Loop, as well as they are available in lengths from 9 inches to 60 inches. The company homepage has a pdf file of the currently available sizes and lengths, as well as a script for finding a local dealer. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Hi TechKnitter!

Thanks for the marvellous DP tips. I was really challenged when I first started using DPs (thanks to some tendon damage) and finally came up with an EasyFix. There are two types of brightly colored hair elastics for kids. The plain vanilla elastic that pulls hair like heck is PERFECT for wrapping around the hinder most end of a DP that you are loading with stitches as you knit. No matter how fumblefingered you (meaning me) are, those stitches will STAY PUT on the DP while you get the knitting in the round rolling, even if you concentrate too hard on a different place or just drop the needles. I also use a red hair elastic on the hinder most end of a DP as I knit my way around, to mark the beginning of the next round. It doesn't fall off and won't stretch stitches. And you can selectively color code if a pattern should be limited to one section of stitches on a particular DP (the sweet tomato heel sock for example).

Finally, the colored hair elastics that are thread wrapped and labelled no-pull are in constant use as stitch makers for size 7 and up needles in my knitting. While they are not as elegant as some markers, they will slide right along with the stitches, have sets of multiple colors in an single packages, are price performers (i.e. cheap) and best of all, if I accidentally drop one, it will not cause panic as I leap for it before the Lab-vacuum-pup can mouth it.

Thanks again for your wonderful website. Much appreciation for all the rescues and tips.

ValSew on Ravelry

DoctrDee said...

To make the first few rows of knitting in the round easier, and to solve the problem of twisting when joining, you can use DNTCO (Dee's No Twist Cast On) tool. It's simply a knitted strip (you can even use one of your swatches) that you attach as you're casting on. I created the idea and posted it on Ravelry at

I also made a YouTube video which is at

It's free of course.

Hope it's helpful to you.

Anonymous said...

Im looking for 14" long 2
5mm dpn knitting needles. .. can't find them anywhere. ..any suggestions. ..

TECHknitter said...

Hi Edward--I googled 14" double pointed knitting needles and I found them here in sizes 4 and up:

Best regards, TK