Friday, January 23, 2015

Circular Knitting with DPNs, Magic Loop and Two Circulars

I spent the week working on the Confident Beginner article.  It is about socks and for some bizarre reason I decided to do three pairs...two sized for women and one for men.  It takes more work to knit a man's sock. The Confident Beginner series requires a lot of videos which adds time to the knitting process.

I reviewed two lessons this week but three arrived today.  I won't get to them until tomorrow, most likely.

Since I have been focusing on socks all week and the Confident Beginner articles discuss this, I decided to do videos for the different ways you can knit socks.  Since the circumference socks is considerably smaller than the length of most circular needles you have to make a decision about what needles to use. Talk to any sock knitter and they will have a preference and, unfortunately, some of them feel obliged to tell you why their method is superior and yours is inferior.  Ignore comments of this sort.  It doesn't matter whether you use DPNS, one long circular or two circulars to knit your socks.  The important thing is that you like the method you use.  Try all the methods and decide for yourself.  (Can you tell I've gotten flak for my method?)  I'll discuss the three most common methods.  

DPNs--Double pointed needles are the most old fashioned of the methods.  They come in sets of 4 or 5.  The stitches are evenly arranged on 3 or 4 needles and the other needle is used to knit off the stitches.  I use double pointed needles.  It is how I learned and I like them.  The disadvantages are that there are so many needles to manage.  It is very easy to grab what you think is the working needle only to discover you have pulled out the needle with stitches on it.  I have pulled the stitches off a needle more times than I like.  I have lost one of the needles.  I have poked my fingers on the points.  Unless you are careful, you will get ladders at the location where the needles meet.  With all of this, why do I like them?  I tend to "unknit" quite a bit  and it is easier to do this on DPNs.   Here is the video for DPNs:  DPNs

I like using 5 needles as the photograph shows.

Magic Loop--I had just started knitting socks when this technique was invented.  You need one circular needle with a longer cable.  I've used needles with 24" cables and they work just fine.  To work this technique you loop the cables at the sides.  When you reach the end of the stitches on one needle, you slide them along the cable to reposition them.  The advantage of this method is that it is much harder to drop stitches and you can't lose a needle.  The disadvantage of this method is that you are sliding stitches constantly and this can be irritating to some knitters (like me).   I don't know why it irritates me so much but it does.  Ladders can be a problem with this technique as well.  You just have to make an effort to position the loop at different spots and you can avoid the ladders.  Here is the video:  Magic Loop

This cable is 30", I believe.

Two Circulars--I haven't met many knitters who use this method.  It requires two circular needles (you would think yarn shops would highly recommend this method!)  You position half of the stitches on one needle and the rest on the other.   You don't knit from needle to needle as you would with DPNs.  Rather you knit half the stitches with one needle and the rest with the other.  The advantages of this method is that unless the cables are long, you are not sliding stitches as much.  The chief disadvantage is that it can be hard telling the needles apart.  When I have tried this method, I frequently mess it up and wind up with stitches on the wrong end of the wrong needle.  The knitters I know who use this method try to use two different types of needles so they can tell them apart but that can lead to all sorts of tension and gauge issues so I don't recommend it.  Here is the video:  Two Circulars

Both of these needles are 16".

Salon will be on Sunday from 1:30-3:30.  

This is the first pattern for the Confident Beginner series.  The yarn is from Neighborhood Fibers.  I love this color.  The cable at the sides is optional.

The next pair is for men.  With so many men knitting now, I wanted to do a pair for them.  I had to order a special sock blocker (mine were all too small).  Thank you Loop Ewe for getting them to me so quickly.  I haven't blocked this sock yet, I just put it on the form for the photograph.  This sock is now soaking.  The other sock is getting closer to being finished.  Next week I will post a photo of the third sock.


  1. Yay! I agree with you about dpn's and about trying all and get your favorite method. Mine is the magic loop, yes it can be irritating sometimes but it works for me :) love the sock pattern. Thank you for your great job at tkga and on this blog! Xoxo, Giusy

    1. Most of the knitter I know do use the magic loop. I think I must be old-fashioned!

  2. I like the 2 circular method. My method for keeping myself from knitting with the wrong needle is 1. wait until it's in front of my face to slide the stitches from the cable up to the tips for knitting then, 2. take the end of the needle I think I'm supposed to be knitting onto and 3 tug just a hint and make sure the needle with the stitches to be worked twitches. If the stitches to be worked needle don't twitch, then I'm not tugging the right end to knit onto. Still goofs every so often but works 99% of the time.

  3. Thanks for your input and for your tip!

  4. My favorite method is the two circs method! I use the same needles - I agree, different needles makes for tension issues. You do have to be careful about which needle you pull - sometimes I have accidents when I'm in a hurry! :-)

  5. Just wanted to say Hello!
    You have a wonderful blog and inspiring knits!


  6. I too, love two circulars. In addition to socks, I also use them to make hats that way, and necklines, and sleeves made in the round. Thanks, Arenda, for all your knitting tips - they are much used.

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