DPNs Trouble...the ladder

I am at my wit’s end. I have tried and failed three times to knit without a ladder forming between the first and last stich using DPNs. I have looked at all of the help sites and have knit tightly between needles but they still form. It seems as though while I am knitting the rest of the work the hanging needles pull my completed work and tighten it so that there is slack where there once was none. I thought of clipping my work together with a little “claw” hair clip to support it while I knit but I thought I’d post a message here first. Any suggestions? I have already had to rip my work several times…I even knit the first couple of rounds on straight needles then transfered it to DPNs but I must have flipped the work because afterwards I was knitting on the wrong side so I had to purl where I wanted the knit stich to show. Argh!!!
Any suggestions?


The first stitch of each needle should be pulled very tightly. Mostly it comes with practice, but you [I]will[/I] get better! It’s most common when it’s your first time with DPN’s, and it happens to the best of us.

What I do is to knit tight the first couple of stitches, as the stitch you’re working on depends on the tension of the stitch before it. Though don’t knit it so tight that you can’t get yer needle through.

Rotating the stitches between the DPNs will keep the ladder from forming. Knit to the end of the DPN and then knit a couple from the next DPN too --for a complete circle. I move a couple of stitches every few rows. Just use stitch markers if you need too and reorganize by sliding the stitches around when you need to go to the next step and want the stitches in the correct order and number.

I do like Mshelton said and I knit them tighter than the others and also don’t start a new neddle with a purl…

The absolute best advice I can give you is to switch to using 2 circular needles. I tried all the tricks that were supposed to eliminate ladders and nothing worked for me. When I did my first pair of socks on 2 circs I was amazed at how professional they looked because there were no gaps and no ladders! There is a video on this site on how to knit small diameters with 2 circs if you haven’t tried it before.

Interesting! I have seen this but haven’t tried it myself. I love circular needles though. I knit my baby’s first hat no problem using circulars but thought I’d try the DPNs to advance my experience. It isn’t working well.



I never realy had this probelm with ladders, but i am a tight knitter anyway. I found that it helps not only to pull the first stitch on the needle tight, but the [I]second[/I] stitch, i dont know why but that seemed to sort of ‘lock in’ the tension.

I did my first pair of socks on dpns and did not enjoy it at all. It was actually a couple of years before I made another attempt and the second time I decided to try the 2 circ method. Boy, what a difference! I actually enjoyed it and the socks looked great. There is a pretty good photo tutorial on how to get started below:


You can use this method in place of any method that calls for dpns. I don’t know whether you are making socks or something else but the book Sensational Knitted Socks gives directions for doing all the patterns with 2 circs in addition to dpns.

I thought that I’d practice a little using some acrylic yarn…wow…I had NO trouble with the DPNs at all. No ladder, no prob. I was trying to use an angora/merino yarn and I guess that it is more slippery than the acrylic. I guess the good news is I am not completely incompetent but the bad news is this yarn is a problem for the pattern I got it for. I’ll definitely check out that link about using two circular needles. Thanks!

Yep ML or 2 circulars because the stitches form around the cable, which is smaller than the needle.
Or move a few stitches back and forth so that the join between needles is not always in the same vertical line.
And make sure the second stitch of each needle is really tight (not just the first and last)
and it might help to make the last stitch on each needle a purl, and each first stitch of the needle a knit stitch (if your pattern permits).
Knitty also has a good article about reducing ladders I think.

Thanks for the advice. I think that I’m going to give the DPNs another go. I’ll try moving the stiches around. Also maybe giving some support to the work by resting it on a table while I work. The problem is because of the weight of the piece pulling between needles.

I think giving them another go is a good idea. It took me a while to be able to not have the ladder… Switching the first stitch is what seems to help me to most… I love knitting on dpn now!!! Happy Knitting! :x:

I tried them again and after moving the stitches around I have resolved the problem. I also pulled the stitch out that I was knitting into with the working needle while I knitted it. That is to say, I tried to constantly pull up the loose slack as I knitted along. It seemed to work well. However because I was concentrating so hard on the yarn, I knit an extra row. No problem it’s just a hat but I can see that I am going to have to dust off my multi-tasking skills :slight_smile:

OH I have been there!!! Done that!!! I get so carried away with working on one part of knitting that I loose track of the BIG picture, whatever it is I’m knitting… at least it’s just one row… if it were me I might have done like 5 extras… lol!!!:lol:

It’s good to hear that I’m not alone :smiley:

i’ve been having the same problem. i hate the ladders! i’m glad to hear the switching helped; i’ll have to try that. did you most a stitch each time?

Hi brooke,
I think you are asking if I moved a stitch at a time…Is that right? I moved two stitches at a time because of my pattern but I think that it wouldn’t matter how many you moved as long as you can do it comfortably within your pattern and keep track of where the row actually ends. I use the tail as a marker. Also, I think that pulling up the slack with the working needle helped. That way I can slowly distribute it along the row as I knit. I use the working needle to open up the stitch that I am knitting in to.

Instead of the table, you could leave it in your lap, rather than lifting it up to be high in front of your face. Probably better for your eyes too.

thanks, hollie. that’s [I]exactly[I] what i was asking! :slight_smile: can’t wait to see your finished project!