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How to Knit in the Round with Double-Pointed Needles

Double-pointed knitting isn’t my favorite, and I think a lot of knitters would admit that. The first time I ever saw double-pointed knitting in action was an in-progress glove that a friend of mine was working on. She had reached the part of the pattern when you create the fingers by knitting in the round with double-pointed needles (sometimes abbreviated DPNs), and wow, did it look crazy! Looking at all those double-pointed needles made me dizzy. But like any other knitting project, the hardest part of learning how to knit with double-pointed needles is just getting started.

Double Pointed Needles

Photo via MomAdvice

How many needles should I use?

Most double-pointed needles come in a set of five. You don’t have to use all five, though. If you’re casting on a few stitches for your project, you’ll probably only need to use four of them. Three of those needles will hold the stitches, while the fourth needle will be used to knit around the circle. If you’re casting on a larger number of stitches that won’t fit on just three needles, then you can bring that fourth needle in to hold stitches and use the fifth needle to knit.

What kind of needles should I use?

When it comes to the types of knitting needles that are good for DPN, a lot of knitters prefer to use bamboo double-pointed needles because the yarn grips them a little better than it would aluminum needles. When you’re knitting in the round with double-pointed needles, the needles can rotate, especially in the first few rows. Bamboo needles can help keep the stitches on the needles where they belong. Of course, like anything else, this depends on the knitter’s preference. Test different kinds of needles and find out what works for you.

Casting on

When you cast on, you can cast on to one double-pointed needle. It makes casting on quite a bit faster and easier.

Casting On DPN

After you cast on, distribute the stitches evenly across all of the needles. So for example, if you cast on six stitches and are using three double-pointed needles (plus a fourth to knit with), distribute two stitches on each needle.

Using Double Pointed Needles

Beginning the first round

Normally you would turn your knitting around and start knitting right where the tail of your yarn is. When you knit in the round, you’ll immediately connect the tail end of the yarn to the first stitch you cast on to start the circle.

Knitting With Double Pointed Needles - in Process

If you learn more efficiently by watching videos, you can view this helpful DPN how-to video from VeryPink.

Rearranging stitches

If you find that your stitches on the ends of each double-pointed needle are looking a little loose, be aware that you may need to pull those a little tighter as you knit. Another option is to transfer those end stitches to the adjacent needle for a few rounds. If you’re working with a natural fiber, you can block the piece and get rid of funkiness like that after you finish knitting.

Can’t get enough of knitting in the round? Find out everything you need to know about circular knitting — on both double-pointed and circular needles — from Stefanie Japel in Knit Lab: In the Round. And for even more tips on knitting in the round with DPNs, take a look at our post How to Knit on Double-Point Needles by Sarah Johnson.


Time to confess. Do you like double-pointed knitting? Share your tips with us!



I actually love working with DPNs – mainly because they were my very first introduction to circular knitting. I had come across circular knitting online, and I liked the idea of not having sew up a seam at the end of a project, but no craft store in Jamaica carried circular needles. DPNS – on the other hand – could be made… and thus it began.

I eventually got the ‘non-DIY stuff’, by the way. I love my DPNs. 🙂

Sheila Zachariae

Ruth, I’m with you! I love my DPN’S as well. The first pattern I started with was a little hat by Susan B. Anderson. She made it so easy to jump in starting with circulars and easing on to the DPN’S.

Great post Ashely.

Sheila Zachariae
Craftsy Instructor


I took a course on mittens and gloves on Craftsy with Marly Bird and she suggested square DPNs. Since it was my first time using any DPNs (other than for cables, etc.) I bought a set and LOVE them. Stitches stay put and they seem more comfortable in my hand. I find bamboo needles get too sticky if my hands are sweaty.

Charlotte Passinger Ehrhart

I have begun knitting all sleeves for sweaters on DPNs. No seams in the end to sew up.


“Normally you would turn your knitting around and start knitting right where the tail of your yarn is. When you knit in the round, you’ll immediately connect the tail end of the yarn to the first stitch you casted on to start the circle.”

I think you meant to say …connect the working end of the yarn to the first stitch cast on.

That much said, though, I learned to use DPNs making socks some 15 or so years ago. I took to it quickly and have yet to have any of the twisted cast on or laddering problems that are always mentioned. Now I use magic loop or two circulars for the tubular part of two-at-a-time sock knitting simply because I like having a finished pair, rather than a finished single; but I still cast on with DPNs and work about an inch before transfering to the circular(s), and I work the heel flaps and turns on my DPNs as well.

I prefer using the 3-needle arrangement you show in the first photo to using four needles for stitches. It is well balanced, fits the hands well, is comfortable, and doesn’t have a needle flopping around limply to slide out of your stitches.


I love knitting with double points. Knitting socks is a particular favorite of mine. I need more people who want the finished socks!


Why not donate these socks to hospitals? They would make great gifts for cancer patients.


I love using dpn’s. Much prefer them to a circular needle. With the circular needles my baby fingers fall asleep. Hate that feeling. Never happens with the double pointed needles.


I enjoy both, and I always cast onto just one of the dpns, and knit using only two of them for about a least an inch before I add the third. For me this gives a stable base to keep the stitches from twisting as they are divided and joined and that inch or so of seaming (or not as it also has interesting design possibilities in gloves or socks) is a small price to pay to know that dividing will be a breeze.


One recent tip I picked up when using circular needles that have lots of stitches (such as a sweater body) is to work a row or two without joining. It makes it easier to keep the stitches from twisting. The gap can be easily closed when you are running in the ends anyway.

Oddly enough, when using DPN’s I rarely have problems with the stitches twisting for the first round.

I don’t really care whether I use a circular or DPN’s for tubular when it is feasible, but I lean to the circulars when I take a project on the road.

I use the circulars for knitting all my flat pieces since they are so much more manageable.



I have used DPN and haven’t had a lot of problems with them. I have found that the stitches where the needles join tend to be looser but I either pull the tension a little tighter when I knit them or “rearrange” my stitches as I knit and that takes care of the problem. I do prefer knitting with circular needles but for small projects DPNs are the way to go!


Started using circulars (even for straight knit) when commuting by train – nothing worse than dropping the spare. Also, for the same reason, I taught myself to twist the stitches on the needles rather than use a cable needle.


I dislike working with DPNs. I find that they slow me down and get in my way. I much prefer using long circulars with the Magic Loop method, or even a small circular for a hat. However, there is one exception. I am currently working on the Beekeeper’s Quilt and I will use a bamboo DPN to loosely cast on my 20 stitches and then I transfer the stitches to my circular needle by starting at the opposite end from the working yarn and moving, purlwise, one stitch at a time to each needle, alternating. It gets me started in the round and, if I do it right, the whole process can be completed in less than two minutes. Right now, it takes me about an hour to do a complete Hexipuff. I have a LONG way to go on this project, so I’ll be experimenting and refining techniques, such as doing puffs in the Portuguese style (which I’m currently learning), doing two at a time puffs, and this tiny project is perfect for learning how to knit without looking at my hands. It’s all a matter of confidence. Knit on!!

Jo An Baptie

I have not done a lot of circular double point knitting but I am intrigued to find a sock pattern using 5 needles. 4 for the stitches and the fifth needle to work with. please pin it or e-mail

Robbyn Bray

I hate them I always lose stitches. Any suggestions?

Vicky Poole

Use bamboo needles – I haven’t looked back since I got onto bamboo they aren’t as “slidy”


I learned the Magic Loop method a few years ago and never felt the need to knit in the round any other way. I love it! But soon I will be taking a class that will employ DPNs so I’m educating myself on their use. Just this morning, I cast stitches on DPNs and knitted 8 rounds; worked great! I’m happy to add new skills to my repertoire.


I’ve exclusively used 8” steel dpns (chiaogoo) to knit socks and beanies (in sizes from infant to adult).

I had some problems early on with stitches sliding off the needles occasionally particularly when making bigger beanies as the weight of the piece increased and tended to tug stitches off the ends, necessitating annoying interruptions to pick them back up.

However, I solved this problem quite easily: i use some scrap yarn or a hair elastic around the body of the hat to hold it, ocassionally sliding it up towards the needles further as the piece grows. This keeps your stitches closer together on the needles, which also can even speed up the work (of course just be wary of bundling it so tightly it actually pulls on your working stitches or otherwise deforms your project).

Now I can knit with as loose a tension as I like without worrying about dropping stitches, so that the stitches feed up those smooth stainless wonders effortlessly and I can knit faster with less fatigue.

I don’t find the longer dpns awkward. on the contrary i think longer means they are more versatile for larger projects and your stitches are more secure on smaller projects. But I supposed it’s all down to what one is accustomed too.


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