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How to Work with Double-Pointed Needles

Learn how to work with double-pointed needles from circular knitting expert Jessica Kaufman in this Howcast video.


In this video I'm going to show you what you need to know to be able to knit in the round on double pointed needles. Now a lot of people feel really intimidated by projects on double pointed needles because there is a lot going on here. There's all these points. There's all these sticks. But if you're comfortable knitting with two needles, then you're going to be fine with this because you're really only ever knitting with two needles.

The other ones are just holding up your live stitches, waiting for you to get to them. So it's kind of the art of ignoring what you don't need to be using. I am going to be knitting with the front two needles that are closest to me and just like knitting with straight needles, I'm knitting from the left needle that's holding the stitches onto the right needle, which is currently empty, and I am going to be emptying the stitches from the left needle, over to the right, then the right needle will be full of stitches, the left needle will be empty, and I'll switch and move around. So I'll show you how to do that. I am going to ignore everything but this needle that is next in line, and I can tell it's next in line because the working yarn is coming from the stitch on my right, which means I just finished knitting these stitches and now the next stitch after this one is this one. So I've got my empty needle in my right hand and my working yarn right here in front of the next stitch that I have to do. So this is the next stitch in line.

And I'm going to work it. I'm working a knit two, purl two ribbing here, so I'm on my two purl stitches. And move the yarn to work my two knit stitches. And if you can see what I'm doing, I'm focusing just on the two needles that matter right now, which is the working needles. The other two look like they're in my hands, but they're really just there because they have to be, because they're holding up yarn that's attached to the project I'm working on. But I'm ignoring them. I'm not using them at all. And they might feel like they're in your way. Don't let that bother you.

They're going to be in your way, but soon, when you get used to this, you won't even feel them. And every knitter has a different way of sort of getting those out of the way. You can tuck them up with your left hand to get them less in the forefront of what you're doing. But for me, that bothers my left hand. So I just kind of let them go wherever they're going to go. It's like knitting very close with other knitters. Ignoring those two back needles and just concentrating on working with the front two. And by front, I mean the ones that are closest to your body. So I finished those stitches and my left needle is now empty.

That right needle that was empty before is now holding all the stitches that I worked onto it. So I'm going to turn in the direction of the knitting and reset again. This is the last stitch that I made. I can tell because it has the working arm coming from it. This is the next stitch to be worked. I have this empty needle in my right hand and I'm ready to begin again. And this is how you work with double pointed needles.

You just continue going around in the direction of the work, emptying your left-hand needle onto your right-hand needle. And so I'm going to speed up here just to get to the end of the round again. Move the yarn and knit two. Move the yarn and purl two. This is knit two, purl two ribbing. And now I have an empty needle in my left hand and a full needle in my right. So I would begin again by switching hands. But what I wanted to show you is what you're doing is you're working on the three needles using the fourth. So some packets of double pointed needles will come with four needles. Most of them come with five. I love this because if you lose one, you're not out of your whole set. You can just pick up your extra, your fifth needle. But in some parts of the world, they do knit on double pointed needles on four, so the work will be distributed across four needles and you'll be working with the fifth.

Generally, what I have seen in the western world, in western Europe and England and in the United States, is we work on three needles and knit with the fourth. So if you buy a packet of five needles, don't lose the fifth one. You will need it at some point if you lose or break your fourth needle. And that is how you work around and around and around on double pointed needles.

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