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Tutorial: Working With Double-Point Needles
Double-point needles are typically used for working on small in-the-round projects such as hats, gloves and mittens. If you are new to working with double-point needles, it may feel awkward at first. This awkwardness is normal, and as with any new endeavor, it will go away with time as you become more comfortable manipulating multiple needles.
Double-point needles usually come in sets of five, with the work divided evenly among three or four needles, with the fourth or fifth working needle used as the free working needle. Very short (4-inch) needles are available from specialty sources and are often known as glove or finger needles.
Cast on one-third of the desired number of stitches onto the first needle. Holding the second needle parallel and below the first, cast on another one-third of the stitches. Hold the third needle parallel below the first two and cast on the remaining one-third. Photo 1 shows 10 stitches cast onto each needle.
Arranging the Needles
Rearrange the needles to form a triangle, with the base closest to you and the point facing away. All the stitches are at the bottom of the needles and should not be twisted. Both the tail end and the end of yarn connected to the skein are at the left end of needle 3 as shown in Photo 2 below. If you're using four needles, rearrange the needles to form a square so that the tail end and the end of yarn connected to the skein are at the left end of needle 4.
Slip the first stitch from needle 1 and place onto needle 3. Slip the ending stitch from needle 3 up and over the stitch just transferred onto needle 1 to join into a ring. Using the end of yarn connected to the skein and the fourth (free) needle, knit the stitches on the first needle. When all stitches are on the new needle, the needle that formerly held the stitches now becomes the free needle. Continue turning the work, so you are always working at the base of the triangle. The yarn tail will mark the beginning of needle 1. To avoid a ladder of larger stitches from forming when you change from one needle to the next, work the first stitch of each needle a bit tighter than usual.
Photo 3 shows a cuff being worked in k1, p1 ribbing. Our sample of 30 stitches works out rather nicely with 10 stitches per needle. In k1, p1 ribbing, you start off with k2 on the first needle, and end with p2 on the last needle, making your cuff exactly even with the pattern.