Double Pointed Knitting Needles 101

Double Pointed Knitting Needles 101: Everything You Need to Know for Seamless Results

Ready to take your knitting skills up a notch? If you desire seamless, small-circumference creations like socks, mittens or hats, double pointed needles (DPNs) are your go-to companions! In this guide, we demystify the world of DPNs – from understanding their structure and purpose to mastering the art of knitting with them efficiently.

Main Highlights

  • Double pointed needles (DPNs) are specialized tools used for knitting small items in the round, typically coming in sets of four or five needles with both ends pointed.
  • To use DPNs, cast on stitches as usual and distribute them evenly across the needles before joining them in the round. Then start knitting with one needle until you reach the end of it, then switch to another needle.
  • Choosing between DPNs and circular needles depends on personal preference and project specifications. DPNs excel at creating small circumference items like socks and hats while circular needles dominate when it comes to larger projects such as sweaters and blankets.
  • When using DPNs, there’s no “right” way for distributing stitches – do what works best for you! And don’t worry if it takes a little practice – soon enough, distributing those pesky little loops will become second nature.

In this article:

Understanding Double Pointed Knitting Needles

Double pointed knitting needles are specialized tools used for knitting small items in the round, typically coming in sets of four or five needles with both ends pointed.

What Are Double Pointed Needles?

Double pointed needles, often referred to as DPNs, are a distinct type of knitting needle designed specifically for working with small, round projects. They come in sets of four or five and feature points at both ends, allowing knitters to join them in a circle and seamlessly knit items such as socks, mittens, and hat brims.

Double Pointed Knitting Needles

The versatility of double-pointed needles goes beyond their traditional use; they can also be employed alongside other needle types when switching between knitting methods is necessary.

For example: When tackling sleeves on a larger sweater project primarily knit on circular needles, transitioning to DPNs enables you to gracefully handle the narrow sleeve openings while maintaining an even tension throughout your work.

Different Types Of Double Pointed Needles

Double pointed needles (DPNs) come in a variety of materials, each offering its own benefits and drawbacks.

Bamboo and wood DPNs are favored by beginners due to their surface drag which helps prevent stitches from slipping off the needles. For example, Clover Takumi offers an excellent range of smooth yet grippy wooden double pointed needles.

More experienced knitters may prefer metal alternatives like Susan Bates or Knit Picks because they offer a faster knitting experience with their slick surfaces. Additionally, needle length varies from four to ten inches; however, most knitters choose lengths between five to eight inches for common projects such as socks or mittens.

Comparing Double Pointed Needles Vs Circular Needles

Choosing between double pointed needles (DPNs) and circular needles often depends on the size and complexity of your knitting project. Both types of needles are used for knitting in the round, but they have distinct differences which can impact your overall experience during a knitting session.

One key variation is that while DPNs come in sets of four or five, allowing you to distribute your stitches evenly among them, circular needles hold all the stitches on their cable.

This makes DPNs versatile for intricate stitch patterns requiring maneuverability, whereas circular needles tend to be better suited for flat knitting or simpler stitch patterns.

In summary, choosing the right type of needle greatly depends on personal preference and project specifications.

How To Use Double Pointed Needles

To use double pointed needles, cast on stitches as usual, then distribute them evenly across the needles and join them in the round; start knitting with one needle until you reach the end of it, then switch to another needle.

Step 1: Cast On Stitches As Normal

The first step to using double pointed knitting needles is to cast on stitches as you would normally do with any other type of needle. It’s important to ensure that the number of stitches you cast on can be evenly divided across the needles in your set.

How to Use Double Pointed Knitting Needles

Once your desired number of stitches has been cast on, distribute them across three or four needles depending on the size of your project. This allows for a seamless tube of fabric without laddering where circulars are too large, such as when knitting hats, socks or mittens.

Using stitch markers and needle stoppers can help keep track of where each needle starts and ends during this process.

Step 2: Distribute The Stitches

Once you’ve casted on your desired number of stitches, the next step is to distribute them onto the remaining double-pointed needles. Depending on how many stitches you have, you may need to use two or three additional needles.

The trick here is to make sure that the stitches are evenly distributed among all your needles before starting to knit in rounds.

To distribute your stitches, slide a portion of the cast-on stitches onto one of the unused double-pointed needle and hold it parallel with your working needle.

Then insert another empty needle into the following stitch on your working needle and pull it through until those new stitches sit just snugly against the rest of the work.

Keep in mind that when knitting with DPNs, there’s no “right” order or way for distributing stitches – do what works best for you! And don’t worry if it takes a little practice – soon enough, distributing those pesky little loops will become second nature!

Step 3: Join The Stitches In The Round

To begin knitting in the round with double-pointed needles, it’s time to join your stitches. First, ensure that all of your stitches are facing the same direction, then slide them down towards the end of one of your DPNs.

Take another needle and insert its tip into the first stitch on your working needle from left to right.

Now you can slide this stitch down to meet your other stitches’ remaining row or along their length if you haven’t yet cast any rows. Repeat these steps for each subsequent stitch until you’ve worked through half of them on this needle and transferred onto a second DPN as needed before moving onto step 4 and beginning to knit in earnest.

Step 4: Start Knitting In The Round

Once your stitches are evenly distributed on the double pointed needles, it’s time to start knitting in the round. To begin, hold the needle with the first stitch in your right hand and insert the other needle into that stitch from left to right.

Next, wrap your working yarn around the back needle counterclockwise so that it crosses over both needles. Use this wrapped yarn to draw a new loop through the old stitch by pulling it through towards you between both needles.

Once all of these stitches have been worked onto another needle, move on to knit with a third one – allowing you to keep transferring across each set of stitches as they become knitted.

Keep going in rounds until your knitted item reaches its desired length or it’s time for binding off! If at any point during this process your tension becomes loose or uneven, try using smaller size DPNs or adjust how tightly you are holding and handling them while working.

Using double pointed knitting needles may take some practice but once mastered they can open up countless possibilities for creating beautiful small-circumference items like hats and mittens!

Step 5: Switch To The Second Needle

Once you’ve completed a set of stitches on your first needle, it’s time to switch to the second one. This step is crucial in ensuring that your tension remains even and prevents laddering (the gap between needles).

To make this transition seamless, insert your new working needle into the next stitch as if you were about to knit it and start knitting with it. Keep repeating this process until all stitches have been worked on one or more needles.

For those struggling with switching needles smoothly, try using a small piece of scotch tape to hold the two unused needles together while working with the active ones.

Additionally, investing in needle stoppers will keep your stitches from slipping off accidentally when not in use.

Step 6: Continue Knitting

After switching to the second needle in Step 5, you’ll continue knitting in the round with your double pointed needles. It’s important to note that as you work, you’ll have three or four needles with live stitches on them and one empty needle for stitching.

It’s common for knitters using DPNs to worry about laddering – gaps between their stitches on different needles – but this can be easily avoided by tightening the first and last two stitches or using four needles instead of three.

Once you’ve finished your project, bind off and weave in any loose ends before enjoying your seamless tube of fabric! Knitting with double pointed needles is an excellent skill to learn if you’re interested in expanding your repertoire beyond flat projects like scarves and blankets.

Step 7: Bind Off (Optional)

Once you have reached the desired length, it’s time to bind off your project. Binding off is an important step in knitting with double pointed needles as it creates a secure edge and prevents unraveling.

There are different ways to bind off, including decorative and stretchy bind-offs. It’s essential to bind off loosely to ensure that the finished project isn’t too tight.

Cutting the working yarn and pulling it through the final stitch secures your project and allows you to weave in any loose ends for a polished finish.

Troubleshooting DPNs

Even experienced knitters can run into trouble when using double pointed needles. One of the most common issues is laddering, which happens when there are gaps between stitches on different needles.

Using Double Pointed Knitting Needles

To prevent this, try tightening the first and last two stitches on each needle or slipping the first stitch purl-wise and knitting the second stitch tightly.

Another issue that may arise is accidentally twisting your cast-on round when joining in the round. Be sure to double-check that all your stitches are facing the same direction before joining in order to avoid this mistake.

If you’re having trouble keeping track of where your round begins, try using a stitch marker or even a contrasting piece of yarn tied around one of your needles as a visual cue.

When knitting with double pointed needles, it’s essential to keep your stitches from slipping off. One trick is using needle stoppers or porcupine quills on the ends of your DPNs to prevent stitches from sliding off when you’re not working with them.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different cast-on methods when using DPNs! While some prefer long tail cast-ons for its stretchy edge, others swear by tubular or garter tab cast-ons for their polished look on ribbed projects.

Remember that knitting should always be enjoyable and therapeutic – so relax and enjoy trying out these tips and tricks as you perfect your technique!

Before you go…

In conclusion, using double pointed needles can seem intimidating at first, but with a little practice and the right techniques, you can easily create stunning projects like mittens, socks, and hats.

Remember to choose needles that are appropriate for your skill level and personal preferences in terms of length and material.


1. What are double pointed knitting needles used for?

Double pointed knitting needles are used to knit in the round, allowing you to create seamless garments such as hats, socks or sleeves without any visible seams.

2. How do I start using double pointed knitting needles?

To start using double pointed knitting needles, you will need to cast on your stitches evenly across three or four of the needles and join them into a circle before beginning to knit in a continuous spiral.

3. How many stitches can I put on each needle when using double pointed knitting needles?

The number of stitches that can be placed on each needle will depend upon the circumference of your project and the size of your chosen needles. It is important to ensure that all stitches are evenly distributed so that there is minimal tension between each needle.

4. Are there any tips for working with double pointed knitting needles?

It is recommended to use stitch markers at regular intervals throughout your work to help keep track of where you are in the pattern and avoid accidentally dropping stitches off one end of a needle. Additionally, light-colored yarn may make it easier for beginners just starting out with this technique since mistakes can be more clearly seen against lighter colors rather than darker hues which might go unnoticed until later stages if not paying close attention during initial steps towards completion!

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