Newbie Question: 4 needles vs. 2?

I’m very new to knitting and really enjoying it. But I picked up a book at the library and on the cover is a picture of a sweater-in-progress with FOUR NEEDLES in it! I nearly keeled over. I am just trying to master two needles and cannot imagine using four at the same time. So my questions are, Why would someone use four needles rather than two? What are the advantages? And seriously, how hard is it? (I am imagining that it’s pretty tricky.)

Thanks in advance for your time answering my newbie questions!

It’s not very tricky once you learn. They were knitting on double pointed needles in the round. The advantage is that you can knit something circular, instead of only flat (you knit around the circle, instead of back and forth)

Before circular needles were available, people used long (10-14") double pointed ones to make seamless sweaters. Shorter ones are used to make socks and mittens. Circular needles are much more versatile though, making either seamless pieces on them or using them like 2 straight needles.

don’t panic - when you are ready to make a hat, use a circular needle and then you’ll switch to dpn’s as you decrease the top - much easier to learn when you all ready have a work in progress.

No matter how many needles are in your work you are still only using 2 at a time to knit.

What everyone else said, with one caveat: DON’T try to learn on aluminum double-points, even if the rest of your knitting group thinks they’re wonderful. They’re way too slick if you don’t knit terribly, terribly tight. That said, I’d still go with the circulars. They’re far more versatile and easier to understand at first. After you get the idea with them, DPs will be no problem.

I’m also a “newbie” and finishing my first nonscarf project- a simple felted bag on round needles. I was pretty nervous about using double pointed needles. I found that when following the pattern step by step, nothing has been difficult. My bag has 4 needles attached right now but the round needles are basically holding the stitches while I’m knitting only on the double pointed ones. I have point protectors on the ends of my double pointed needles and they work just like regular straight needles.

What do you suggest instead of aluminum? (that’s all I have right now! Not that I’m going to do something that advanced yet…)

Wow. Lots of great advice and help. Thanks to everyone. There is soooo much I want to knit and try. I just can’t knit fast enough!

In general bamboo dpns are recommended to start. With metal, stitches slip off the needles very easily so it makes the learning process difficult. I would also suggest to start with needle sizes US 6-8 for instance, as opposed to US 1-2. Don’t ask me why I know. :teehee:

Don’t be afraid of dpns! Really it looks hard, but it’s not. If you’re comfortable knitting on two needles, you can knit on four. It’s a bit tricky at first it’s true, but just like when you learn on two needles, it just takes a bit of practice. :thumbsup:

And you can try the metal needles too, they’re just trickier. Do a practice piece, CO 30 sts or so and just practice joining and knitting around. Or CO a bunch of sts to your shortest circular, join that and decrease after a few rounds, then start knitting with the dpns. It’s easier for a beginner to work on an already knit piece than from the CO. After you practice it for a while, it shouldn’t be as difficult.

If your library has a copy of the Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee look in the front of the book. She has a practice piece to make in the round using a number of techniques. She has you do a few rows of stockinette, garter, and numerous configurations of ribbing so that you get a feel for how the stitches look and affect the finished project. You’ll also do some decorative stitches and increases and decreases, placket and buttonhole, sweatshirt pocket, knitted belt, swiss darning, 2 color striping etc. It gives you a chance to try different techniques without messing up a garment. She also suggests sewing up the bottom and using as a pouch.