Sunday, June 27, 2010

DPNs; Double Pointed Needles - Lesson: Knitting in the Round, Part 1 of 2

Knitting in the round with Double Pointed Needles (dpns) PART 1 of 2

Supplies: 4 dpns, U.S. size 8, 9 or 10, worsted weight yarn
Prior knowledge necessary: casting on/off, knitting, purling

Dpns are just that--knitting needles with a point at each end as opposed to needles with a point at one end and a stopper at the other. DPNs are sold in sets of 4 or 5.

The stitches are evenly spread across 3 dpns, while the 4th dpn is used to work each stitch around (or 4 dpns while using the 5th to work the stitches).

Why dpns? Rather than knitting an item flat and sewing it up:
1) the project is seamless, knitted in rounds, not rows; no seaming\sewing needed
2) for stockinette stitch, purling is eliminated since item is not turned at each row
3) tension is more even since item is not turned
4) works up quicker since item is not turned
5) works great on tube shaped items, such as hats, gloves, socks, caddies, stuffed toys, doll
clothing, leg warmers, gauntlets
6) many patterns can be adapted to working with dpns, and by doing so, eliminating the
need to sew seams and, thus, also saving time

Potential issues, and fixes, for working with dpns:

1) Use the longtail cast on (will be taught if needed). This keeps the stitches tightly together. While the simpler finger wrap is an easy cast on, it creates a distracting long strand between each stitch, which we want to avoid.

2) Juggling several needles at a time is awkward initially. As with all knitting, it becomes comfortable with practice.

3) Gauge may be different (slightly smaller) since it is worked in one direction. Adjust needle size to achieve proper gauge for the project.

4) Stitches slipping off the ends of the dpns. Keep the stitches spread evenly between all dpns. When putting the work down, either use stoppers or push the stitches to the center of each dpn.

5) BIG TIME TIP: The join at the first 2 stitches can gap. To eliminate this at the initial join, cast on 1 extra stitch and slip the first 2 joining stitches one over the other. Alternatively, cast on 1 extra stitch and slip the first and last stitch together onto one needle, then knit them together. Either method creates one decrease, leaving the correct number of cast on stitches intact, and no gap.

6) Strands, called ladders, or gaps between stitches can occur at stitches where the dpns meet. Pull tightly at the joins between dpns--more snuggly than you do for other stitches. You may also wish to adjust the stitches every so often.for example, with 30 stitches on 3 needles, 10/10/10, instead work 11 stitches onto a needle, then 11 onto the next, etc. Thereafter, work 9, then, 9 more, etc. This moves the joins around, making them less noticeable. Again, practice will remedy most initial problems encountered.

7) Markers are useful for knitting in the round to mark the end/beginning of each round.

For practice, cast on 30 stitches, 10 per needle, and begin. It may be easier to cast all 30 stitches onto 1 dpn, then transfer 10 to a 2nd and 10 to a 3rd. Note: cast on 1 extra and work 2 stitches together at the initial join.

The 4th dpn is called the free needle.

Be careful not to twist your stitches, or else your project will be a mobius and not a tube.

The dpns are now naturally forming a triangle. Using the free needle, knit the stitches on the first needle as you normally would and when you knit the last stitch, pull your yarn tightly to prevent gaps.

Now, you have a free needle again. Knit the next 10 stitches as previously, pulling tightly with the last stitch. Again, you have a free needle--knit the last 10 stitches.

You have just completed one round. You could place a marker here if needed for your project.

Since there is no turning the work with dpns, to create stockinette stitch we simply continue knitting, and have eliminated the need to purl. This doesn't mean that we'll never purl with dpns; we would if a pattern required it. Since this doesn't, let's continue knitting around and around until our tube measures an inch or two.

Cast off in knitting, leaving a tail for whip stitching the end closed (if desired).

Supplies: Four U.S. size 8, 9 or 10 dpns, worsted weight yarn any color, darning needle

PROJECT: Let's adapt a hat knitted flat on 2 straight needles (pattern below) to knitting in the round on dpns. As the straight knitted hat has to be seamed up the back, 70 stitches are cast on, with 2 stitches allowing for the sewn seam. Since we will not be seaming the item, we need to eliminate 2 stitches. Therefore, instead of casting on 70 stitches, we'll cast on 68 either all onto one dpn and transfer them to 3 dpns evenly (approx. 22 stitches per dpn), or spread evenly over 3 dpns with a direct cast on. If you are uncomfortable with the initial join, cast on 69 and stitch the first 2 together as directed above in No. 3.

Because this hat is stretchy, worked in 3K, 1P ribbing, whether or not you want it tighter or looser on your head will determine which size needles you use. Since this is a very stretchy pattern, a little bit tighter or looser gauge isn't going to drastically change the fit.

Round 1: k3, p1
Subsequent rounds: repeat round 1
At 7 inches, begin decreasing as follows:
Round 1: k2 together, around
Round 2: k2together, around
Round 3: cut yarn leaving a 5 inch tail. Thread a darning needle and slip it through all stitches on the dpns, pull the yarn tight and make 2 stitches to keep the top of the hat shut. Add a pompon to the top if desired.

Note the differences between knitting the project as above on dpns, and as below on straight needles.
Consider what other projects that are written for straight needles could be adapted to knitting on dpns


STRETCHY RIBBED CAP (for average-sized adult head)
Supplies: (less than) 1 skein worsted weight acrylic yarn, your brand/color choice
Needles: U.S. size 8, 9 or 10
Alternately, may be worked on circular needles if desired
Gauge: since this hat is very stretchy, any of the 3 sized needles will work and not change the overall fit too dramatically.

Cast on 70 stitches
Row 1: K3, P1, repeat across, ending in K2.
Row 2: P2, *k1, P3*, repeat across from *to*.
Repeat rows 1 - 2 and work as established in rib pattern until piece measures 7 inches long. At 7 inches, decrease as follows:
Row 1: k2tog across. Row 2: Purl across.
Row 3-5: Repeat rows 1 & 2, ending in a decrease row. DO NOT CAST OFF.

Leaving a 12 inch tail, cut yarn. Thread the tail through a darning needle. Slip the darning needle through the stitches on the knitting needle as you remove the knitting needle. Pull the tail tightly and secure the tightened opening with a whipstitch. Using the remaining length of tail, continue down the back of the hat and whipstitch the seams together until finished. Weave the tail in one direction, then the other to secure. Cut tail.
Notes: Hat may be made with scraps in various colors. The ribbing pattern can be altered as you wish. It can be embellished with a tassel or pompon at the top, or knitted flowers/shapes or buttons may be sewn on. Knitting it 9 to 10 inches long instead of 7 before decreasing, creates a brimmed edge that can be turned up.

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