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How to Avoid Having to Buy Every Size DPNs Ever Made

From Karen in Alaska

I have an assortment of knitting needles that defies description. I have every type of DPN made in the last 10 years (except the super $$ Rosewood and Ebony ones) but I never seem to have the size I want when needed. Probably because I've so many works in progress.  Some time ago, I found that I could knit anything on circulars that I could on DPNs. That was enlightening, but didn't help my needle collection too much as there are a significant number of LENGTHS of circular needles. Then came my brainstorm.

Circular needles can be too short, but not too long. I've seen some people pinch their circs and pull a segment of cord out of use to try to work in a smaller segment, but this seems awkward to me and is hard on the needles.

I'm currently working on the sleeve for a baby sweater.somewhat smaller than a typical sock, though this technique works well for socks also.  There are some very tiny circular needles available (I actually like to use them as stitch holders, but that is another story.) but I don't find them comfortable to use.the straight portion is too small and causes my hand to cramp.

I don't have 4 or 5 size 3dpns free for my sleeve, so I'm going to use 27 inch circulars. If I cast on all thirty stitches on one needle, the straight portion of the circular needle will prevent the stitches from bending so I cannot connect the ends and work in the, instead,  I will cast on 15 stitches on one circular and 15 stitches on a SECOND circular.

I have two options at this point. I can either use a third circular as my 'free needle' and knit half the sleeve stitches at a time (less needles than when using dpns, but the same procedure. With circular needles, you can slide your work to the center cable and your stitches flex.)

The other option is to knit with an unused end from the circular needles you  are already using. It is possible to get a little twisted up using this method, so the easiest way to keep things straight is to use one needle for each segment of the item you are knitting on. Since we are using two needles and have divided our sleeve in half, I'll use the opposite end of the needle holding my current stitches for each segment of the sleeve. When you switch to another segment (in this case, the second half of the sleeve) tighten the stitches the same way as you do between DPNs to avoid ladders.

I could use many circular needles on a project. rather like they used multiple dpns in older times to make petticoats and the like. If I need a very long circular for a shawl. I will just use two shorter problem and I can make more lengths than manufacturers currently do. The longest one I've seen manufactured is either a 47-inch or 60-inch. I forget which. I've MADE a 72 inch length by using two 36 inchers.and didn't have stitches falling off the ends. I could stretch out my shawl, try it on and see how much further I had to knit to finish. Remember to secure the ends with end-caps, rubber bands, or clips of some sort before doing this or you'll lose some stitches. Before I figured this method out, I crammed hundreds of stitches on a 27 inch circular and had half of them 'pop off' when the needles slipped out of my hand because they were compressed so tightly. This method also allows you to work with larger fair-isle items as you can stretch the stitches out properly avoiding working too tightly.

There are advantages to this method. I don't have to buy as many needles. At one point I thought I'd have to buy a set of every length and every SIZE of every length. What a relief--I'll have room left over for fiber! I can also try on socks very easily as I work and Fair Isle socks are easier for me to stretch out properly.  I don't have nearly the trouble with stitches sliding off the ends of needles. Knitting on a few circs crams in a parka pocket easily. and, more importantly, is easier to pull out to work again. Circular needles are less prone to breaking with this storage method than dpns--at least according to my history. Disadvantages include long hanging needles (I find they hang out of my way, but they may irritate some people) and the weight of those needles, particularly metal ones can pull the corner stitches causing ladders. I can't think of any other disadvantages. This method comes with no guarantee, but it has helped me immensely. I hope you find it useful too.

This idea is my own, created out of necessity. Any questions about my directions can be sent to