Skip to main content

How to Distribute Stitches on Double-Pointed Needles

Learn how to distribute stitches on double-pointed needles in circular knitting from expert Jessica Kaufman in this Howcast video.


I'm going to explain to you how best to distribute your stitches when you're working in the round on DPNs-double pointed needles. You don't have to worry about that when you're knitting on a short circular because all of those stitches are together on the same cable. When you're using magic loop or two circular needles or double pointed needles though, you do have to figure out how many stitches are going to be on each needle cord for magic loop and two circs and each needle for double pointed needles.

So I'm going to show you what I like to do. I am knitting this example on 32 stitches, which is good to know because I'm knitting knit two, purl two ribbing, which is a stitch repeat of four stitches. Knit two, purl two- that's four. So the number of stitches I have in total needs to be divisible by four. So I have 32 stitches, which will not distribute evenly on three needles. It's totally okay to have one needle that has a few more or a few less stitches. Don't worry about that. I wouldn't put, for example, 20 of them over here and 12 over here. I've got ten, ten and 12. But what I want to talk about is how to best distribute the types of stitches that you have. If you can see here, my knit two, purl two ribbing starts with two purls. For most people, it's difficult to start any needle with a purl, just because it's hard to figure out where the yarn is coming from. For me, I have worked on this long enough that I don't have a problem figuring that out. If I'm inserting my working needle into the stitch as if to purl, I know that my yarn has to be in the front.

But I'm going to show you how to redistribute purl stitches so they don't start your needle off. It's just a lot easier to start your needle off with a knit. So instead of going ahead and starting my new, empty needle with the purl stitches, which is difficult, I'm going to redistribute them by knitting them onto this back needle that I just finished. This is a kind of a little cheat to redistribute them. So instead of using the empty needle, I'm going to use the needle that I just finished. I'm just going to slip the finished purls onto this back needle so that this needle now starts with knits. There is another way to do it where you don't have to work the stitches, so I'll show you on this side.

That's where I just redistributed by knitting... by working the stitches. This is where I just redistributed by purling the stitches. And this is how I'm going to redistribute without working the stitches. So if you're working around, you're working on this over here, and you notice you need to redistribute over here, here is what you can do. So I want to move these two purl stitches to the end of the proceeding needle so they're not at the beginning of this needle. All I'm going to do is sort of scoot my proceeding needle down a little bit-the one on the right-and I'm going to slip, as if to purl, which means you're entering the stitch from the right, going from back to the front.

You're not slipping as if to knit. You're slipping as if to purl. And there I have moved them over correctly without having to work them. So now we're going to count our stitches and get them a little more evenly distributed. I'm just going to check to make sure all three of my needles start with knits. This one starts with two knits. This one starts with two knits. And this one starts with two knits. But my stitch count is off. Over here I've got two, four, six, eight, ten, 12 stitches. Over here I've got two, four, six, eight, ten, 12 stitches. And on this little guy, I've got two, four, six, eight.

So I feel like things could be a little more evenly distributed. If you end up working like this, it's really no problem at all. Like I was saying, unless you've got a high number on one needle and small numbers on the other, you're not really going to run into any pulling problems. But just to show you again how to redistribute the stitches, I've got 12 over here, 12 over here and eight on this little guy, so I am going to need to move some stitches over. How about let's slip these two purls back over here? Now I've got ten stitches here and ten stitches here and the only thing is this needle now starts with two purls. So I've shown you how to redistribute stitches by knitting or purling them and I've shown you how to redistribute them by simply slipping them over. The only thing you have to remember about slipping is that you always slip as if to purl and that means the stitch is moved and it's still mounted correctly.

Try starting your needles with purl stitches and try starting your needles with knitting stiches. You may be surprised at how easy it is to start with a purl and if you're doing something in stockinette on double points, you won't have to worry about purls at all. So those are two ways of redistributing stiches on double pointed needles.

Popular Categories