How did you learn to use dpn's?

Part of my knitting “things to learn” list is making a pair of socks. I don’t know how to begin using dpn’s and was curious how others learned.


For me, desperation. Seriously the only way to learn is to do it. There are suggestions for making it easier that others can offer, I defer to them. My main experience with dpns was ribbing for the top of toe-up socks on U.S. size 000 but I just transferred the stitches from circs to dpn.

I didn’t. I learned Magic Loop to start with and never looked back. So that’s my recommendation to anyone who asks about small-diameter knitting. BUT, I can understand wanting to learn something for its own sake. Try out both methods, figure out which works best for you and do that. But GG’s right about just picking 'em up and doing it. There’s a collection of videos here under “Advanced Techniques” that demo at least 3 different methods for small-diameter work.

I just picked up some sock dpns and started with them. They are awkward at first. Actually, they are awkward all the time, but doable. Like anything, it just takes some getting used to. Watch the videos and see what works for you. I started with dpn before learning magic loop or 2 circs. So, at this point I’ve only make socks, the few I’ve done, with the dpns. My next pair will be on circular needles.

It helped that I already knew how to knit in the round on fixed circulars. After that, I learned how to knit socks using the 4 DPN method (three needles holding stitches and one working needle), because it seemed less overwhelming and I used [U]Silver’s Sock Class[/U]. and sport weight yarn. I got it right on the first try.

If DPNs aren’t really your thing, you could learn Magic Loop, which uses only one pair of long (32" or longer) circular needles. Once I learned ML, I never used DPNs again.

I actually really like using DPNs. I’ve used ML (or some variation thereof), but I go back to my DPNs time and time again. DPNs are awkward on the first round to be sure, but once you get past that, things get much easier.

At first DPNs scared me–how do I hold all four or five needles at once. Then I realized that you don’t hold any more needles with this method than you do in normal (flat knitting). In fact, you can ignore all the other needles most of the time cause you’re just working with two of them. The only time I pay attention to the other needles is to make sure my stitches aren’t sneaking (i.e., slipping) off. I use bamboo DPNs a lot, so this doesn’t happen that often.

Yeah, I’d say watch a few videos with yarn and DPNs in hand. The best way to learn is to jump in and do it. If you get stuck or are having a specific problem, come here and ask; you’re sure to get some help.

I’ve done ML on needles as short as 24", but I’d recommend at least 29" for most things. The size of the work is the deciding factor for me. If the maximum diameter you’re going for is small enough, you could theoretically do it on needles even shorter than that. I’d [I]suggest[/I] using at least a 32" needle, but if what you [I]have[/I] is only 29" long, there’s (probably) no need to run out and get a longer one. And you probably have a short circular in the same size ( say a 16" one?) so if ML doesn’t do it for you you could always go to the 2 circular technique if you had to. That’s sort of a hybrid between DPNs and ML anyway, and (if you just WANT to learn DPNs) might be a good way to get used to joining using multiple needles – without the hazard of 6 or 8 points sticking out at random intervals.

Until you hear that telltale sound of one hitting the floor. :mrgreen:

I know people who feel the same way about using DPNs that I do about ML. That’s what they learned, and it works so why reinvent the wheel? Which is a perfectly legitimate thing to do. And perhaps one day when there’s no more plastic to be had because all the petrochemicals on Earth have been depleted we’ll be forced to use DPNs because there won’t be anything to make circulars out of. But until then…

That should happen just about the same time we’ve learned all there is to know about knitting and can invent no other ways to tangle our yarn. Maybe before midnight, tonight :roflhard:

I learned when I was working the top of a hat. I started on a 16" circular and had to switch for the decreases. Now I rarely use them preferring magic loop for seamless projects. I prefer 32" for socks and 40" for hats because I don’t like modified ml.

If you want to use DPN here’s a link to an excellent sock class with great pictures for each step. I used this for my first socks.

I find this thread fascinating. I’d always gotten the feeling that Magic Loop was somehow disdained in the knitting community at large, because I almost never see it referenced in patterns. But it seems it’s much more popular than I thought.

Is there a bias toward DPNs in published patterns, or am I just not reading enough of them? Or are the ones I’m seeing just too old to know from ML?

Questions for the ages, I tell ya.

Interesting point. And one I never thought about until you just mentioned it. Most small diameter circular patterns I’ve seen are for dpns. But I have the book Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch, and there are instructions for both dpn and 2 circs, but not magic loop specifically. I suppose that 2 circs and magic loop are pretty much interchangeable as far as patterns are concerned.

I’m another one that only uses magic loop. My opinion is that the patterns require certain size circulars and then switch to double points (like for hats) so they can sell you more needles. More needles, more money for the pattern/yarn/needle company. Double points to finish the top of the hat are unnecessary. I use single or traveling loop to do the main body of the hat and switch to magic loop for the decreases. And circulars are attached. No more chasing needles across the floor and digging them out of the sofa.

I don’t agree with that except maybe in the case of patterns from a company that makes them. The majority of patterns I see are just from knitters like all of us… What needle to use is personal preference.

Pattern companies don’t make needles, so that’s not a really strong arguement. It’s pretty simple really. Needles with really flexible cords are fairly recent, maybe the last 5 years. The Magic Loop booklet which popularized the method was published only 10 years ago, even though some of us had been doing it years before that. We just never thought about printing a book about it.

Dpns have been around forever and were what you used to make socks and hats with, shorter needles have only become readily available in the last 10 years too. So ML is a more recent method of knitting and not a lot of older knitters or patterns will use it, only newer ones. And it is a very personsal preference, both by designers and knitters. Some hate ML and love dpns, some the other way, so there’s no real conspiracy by anyone.

It is probably easier to adapt a pattern from DPN to Magic Loop than it is to go the other way so that DPN is just a standard. But maybe not; that’s just my guess.

I learned magic loop first and after three projects I decided I would never knit in the round again. I decided to try again and I am currently working on a project using 5 DPNs; I’m tolerating it. It’s not fun for me, but I am less unhappy than I had been with magic loop.

It’s all personal preference. I always thought I might like the two circular needle method, but I have not tried it.

I also recommend trying dpns on an established piece like the top of a hat. They start out stable and don’t want to flop around the way they do when you first start out.

I prefer them over magic loop in most cases because it’s basically just knitting–no fussing around.

I like knitting sleeves on two circs, though, when they’re attached to the sweater–just have to flip the sleeves rather than twirling the whole sweater.

Darn it, no conspiracy. Good grief. :wink:

I think that a lot of people don’t have interchangeable sets and do have dpns in the same size as their fixed circulars. For them switching to dpn would make sense. The little I have done with dpn makes me think it’s no big deal once you get used to it. There have been a lot of lovely knitted pieces produced on dpn. It was only when I saw how quickly the price of buying different sizes of needles was adding up, along with reading about the sets of needles with different cable lengths here, that I even considered buying an entire set.

Variety is the spice of life.

Oh yeah, I forgot about interchangeables for 2 circ knitting. They haven’t been as affordable and readily available very long either. I do have multiple circs in the sizes I use a lot, half the time they’re holding a WIP though, but can use them if I need 2 the same size.

Variety is the spice of life.

Oui, vive le difference!!

Yes, I highly recommend Silver’s…great video:cheering: