You can create a tube of knit fabric with double point needles (DPNs). This is done by casting your stitches onto three or four needles, then joining the ends of the cast on. Working around these needles in continual spirals creates a circular tube; this is referred to as “knitting in the round.”
When to Knit with Double Point Needles
Double point needles are well suited to knitting smaller tubes of fabric. For example, they can be especially useful for making small round knits like baby-sized mittens, hats, and sweater sleeves. Your DPNs will also be helpful in rounding the tops of larger hats.
Keeping Track of Rounds/Rows on Double Point Needles
When your rows connect seamlessly, they will turn into rounds. To keep track of your patterns, you will need a way to note where the rounds begin and end.
You can use a stitch marker to identify where the rows end and begin. On double point needles, you can clip the marker to the loop located between your first needle and third needle. As you work each new row/round, you will need to unclip the marker and move it up to the next loop.
Alternatively, watching the yarn tail on double point needles can show you where your rounds end and begin. When you cast on your knitting, you will always have a tail leftover that hangs just below the final cast on stitch. Connecting the last cast on stitch to the first cast on stitch starts the next row/round, so the tail will always be located on the corner where your rows begin and end. If you notice this, you can work on DPNs without using a stitch marker.
Below you will find both video and written guides to help you learn how to knit in the round on double point needles (DPNs).
Video Guide: How to Knit in the Round on Double Point Needles (DPNs)
Written Guide: How to Knit in the Round on Double Point Needles (DPNs)
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 1:
Using one double point needle (DPN), held in your right hand, cast on 1/3 of the stitches called for in your pattern; here we will use the long-tail cast on.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 2:
Once the first set of stitches are cast, grasp the first needle between your right pointer and middle fingers.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 3:
Pick up a second DPN and hold it between your right thumb and pointer finger. Bring your left hand back into cast-on position.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 4:
Cast on the next stitch with the second DPN.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 5:
To avoid gaps in your knitting, take care to bring the first and second DPNs close together as you cast on the first stitch on a new needle.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 6:
Cast on the remaining stitches for the second needle (approximately 1/3 of the total cast on stitches).
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 7:
Ensure you have not twisted any stitches. If you have not twisted stitches, you will have a straight edge along the bottom of your knitting needles.
The back side of the needles will have a “purl-side” pattern. If your stitches are twisted, straighten them before proceeding.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 8:
Next, place the first and second DPN between your right pointer and middle fingers. Pick up a third needle and place it between your thumb and pointer finger. Bring your left hand back into cast-on position.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 9:
Cast the remaining stitches onto the third needle, ensuring you do not leave a gap between the second and third needle.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 10:
Before moving on, ensure your stitches have not twisted, as you did in Step 7.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 11:
Now, you will begin forming a triangle with the three needles in your hands. Turn the first needle (the top needle) counterclockwise, taking care not to twist your stitches.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 12:
When you can see the purl-side of the first needle, you can begin turning the second needle in the same manner.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 13:
Form a triangle by ensuring the last cast on stitch and the first cast on stitch (the slipknot) meet.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 14:
Pick up the working yarn with your left hand, in your preferred yarn hold. Clasp the first double point needle (the needle which holds your slip knot) with your left hand; you will knit the stiches off this needle first. Grasp the fourth double point needle in your right hand and prepare to knit.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 15:
Slide the live stitches rightward, toward the tip of the left needle. Insert the right-hand needle tip into the first live stitch on the left-hand needle (this was your slipknot). Work directly into the live stitch and move it off the left needle and onto the right.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 16:
Following your pattern, work until you have moved all the live stiches from the left needle onto the right needle. At this point, pivot the knitting counterclockwise and place the next set of live stitches in your left hand. Move the empty needle to your right hand, then continue knitting into the live stitches.
Knit in the Round with DPNs, Step 17:
When you have worked all the stiches off three needles, you have finished one circular row or “round.” Repeat steps 14 through 17 for each pattern row.
The more circular rows or “rounds” that you knit in this spiral method, the more tube-like your knit will become.
Practice With My Knitting Pattern
My Basic Knit Ear Warmer Pattern is a great place to start learning to knit in the round. The smaller sizes are especially suited to double point needles (DPNs).
In many of my patterns, you will be asked to switch needle sizes as you work in the round. In the next lesson, I’ll show you how to switch needle sizes when you are working with DPNs.