Tag Archives: dpns

Getting to the Point, Part 2

(Can I just say how ridiculous this title is?  I didn’t come up with the title until I had written out this whole post as well as the last post.  Anyway.  Dorky me and my wordiness.)

Even once you have decided on the kind of needle material you want, you still have to figure out the type of needle you are going to use.  Here, again, you pretty much have three choices.

straight-needles[1]“Straights” or “straight needles” are your grandmother’s knitting needles.  They’re they kind that you imagine when you hear the words “knitting needles.”  They’re straight (obviously), usually longish (12+ inches), and have a point on one end and a nubbin on the other.  The nubbin stops your stitches from falling off the end.  They are great for learning on, and are good for knitting flat things.  However, if you knit big projects (like blankets or sweaters), you might want to avoid using straights, because the weight can cause wrist/hand problems.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second type of needle are Double Point Needles (or DPNs).  DPNs are usually shortish (in the 5-8 inch range), and, as the name implies, have points on each end.  They’re sold in sets of 5 or so (depending on the brand).  They’re used to knit up small projects in the round.  If you’re making mittens, socks or sleeves, you might make the whole project on DPNs.  Or, you could make the top of a hat on DPNs.  They’re a little scary to use the first time, since you use so many at the same time, but they’re really the best/only way to make certain projects.

circular-needles[1]The last type of needle is the circular needle.  These are two short needles (usually about 3-8 inches, depending on the brand) connected by a long cord.  These are my absolute favorites.  They’re versatile, allowing you to knit flat (like with straight needles) or work large projects in the round.  The fact that the project hangs more or less evenly between your hands means that there is less chance of arm/hand fatigue.  Also, if you knit in public/on the bus/on a couch next to people, circulars are nice and compact so you won’t keep poking your neighbors. But, one drawback of circular needles is that they are fairly specific to the project you want to make.  For example, even though they’re both knit on size 8 needles, you will need a long circular needle to make a sweater in the round, but a short circular needle to make a hat.  (But, that’s a pretty minor complaint in my biased opinion.)  Also, poorly made circular needles can snag where the needle joins the cord, which can be a huge pain in the butt when you are cruising along a project.  This means that when I buy circular knitting needles, I almost always go for the super fancy ones (like Addi Turbos), which cost way too much.  But, I think it’s worth it to not hate my knitting.

They type of needle you use is pretty much determined by the project you’re making, but still you’ll develop preferences.  If you hate DPNs, you could end up buying a whole bunch of tiny little circular needles, so you never have to break out the DPNs on a sleeve.  Maybe you love circulars, so you end up knitting everything on circulars and never touch straights again.  It’s really all up to you and your personal preference.  What do you prefer?

You spin me right ’round

I love stripes, and I adore knitting stripes especially.  The whole “knitting with two colors at the same time” is pretty much the best.  But I do not love weaving in all the ends at the end of a project.  It’s like the world’s worst knitting practical joke.  “Oh, you think your sweater’s done?  HAHA NO!  You get to spend the next six hours weaving in ends. Sucker!”  Not fun.

So, here’s a trick that I like to use when I want to make something in the round with itty bitty stripes.  Essentially, I’m working both colors at the same time, spiraling them together.  This way, it looks like I have perfect jogless stripes, AND I don’t have to worry about a million little ends to weave in at the end.  (Also, despite my poor description, it’s actually quite easy.)

Please forgive the messy drawings… I’m still figuring out the whole “graphics” thing.

1.  Cast on with your first color, and join in the round using a set of 5 dpns (4 to hold your knitting, and one to use).  Knit a few rows (it can get too fiddly if you don’t have a good solid base before adding the second color).

Swirl 12. At the beginning of the round, start knitting with the second color, but don’t cut the first color.  Knit needles 1, 2, and 3 with the second color.

Swirl 23. Stop knitting with the second color, but don’t cut the yarn.  Pick up the first color and start knitting where you left off.  This time, only knit two needles (needles 1 and 2).

Swirl 3

4.  Pick up the second color again, and knit two needles (in this case, needles 4 and 1)

Swirl 45.  Keep going in pattern, picking up the first color and knitting two needles (needles 3 and 4).

Swirl 56. See how the pattern is going?  You knit two needles of the first color, then two needles of the second color.  This way you keep building up a spiral of stripes, until you end up with a great big long spirally/striped scarf/hat/mitten etc.

Swirl 6When your project gets long enough, knit until your secondary color is back at the beginning of the row, then cut it.  Do a couple more rows in the first color, and bind of as usual.

Easy!

I-cord

When I first learned about I-cord, I was told that the name was short for “Idiot-Cord.”   Supposedly it has this name because the first person who made I-cord did it on accident because she was an “idiot” who forgot to flip her knitting around when she started a new row.  I think this is kind of mean.   Especially since I-cord is super fun to make, useful, and more than a little ingenious.  Maybe we’ll pretend the “I” stands for ingenious.

So, what is I-cord?  It’s a very thin tube of knitting.  It can be used as a tie or drawstring, and back in ‘ye olden times’ was used to make shoelaces before they were commercially available.  I-cord is knit in the round, but on two needles, which makes it super easy to make.  If you can knit a garter stitch swatch, you can make an I-cord.

Here’s how you do it:

Using double-pointed needles, cast on 3-4 stitches (you could cast on more stitches if you want a thicker cord, but I-cords with more than 4 stitches end up a bit wonky looking).

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Usually at this point, you’d flip your knitting, so that the working yarn is on the right.  But, since we’re making an I-cord, we’ll do something a little different.  It’ll feel a little weird at first, but it’ll work, I promise.

Without flipping your knitting around, slide your stitches to the right hand end of the needle.  The working yarn should be coming off the left side of your knitting.  Take the needle with your stitches on it in your left hand, and your empty needle in your right hand.  Knit across.

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Do the same thing again.  Slide you knitting to the right end of the needle, and knit all stitches.  Repeat ad nauseum, making sure not to flip your knitting between rows.

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See how your knitting is turning into a little tube? That’s an I-cord!  Give the I-cord a little tug after every couple rows to settle the stitches into a nice even cord.

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Keep going until your I-cord is as long as you want it to be, and then finish by either binding off, or sewing your tail through your active loops (like you do at the top of a hat).

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Now, don’t you feel ingenious?

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