For many knitters, spring means that it’s time to put away the bulky sweater projects and break out smaller ones, like socks. To knit socks, you usually use double-pointed needles, or dpns—straight needles that are tapered at both ends. If you’ve been wanting to give dpns a try but have been feeling a little intimidated, look no further. In this tutorial from our upcoming book Teach Yourself VISUALLY Circular Knitting, sock-knitting superstar Melissa Morgan-Oakes takes the fear out of working with a set of four dpns.
Cast the desired number of stitches onto one of your double-pointed needles.
Starting with the first cast-on stitch (the slipknot), slip about one-third of the stitches onto an empty dpn as if to purl. This is needle 1.
Slip the center third of the stitches onto another empty needle, needle 2. Needle 3 retains the last third of the stitches. One empty needle (needle 4) remains.
Adjust your cast-on edge so that it is not twisted around the needles. Make sure that the bottom edge of the cast-on runs smoothly from needle to needle without looping over the needles.
Flip the work over so that needle 3 (with the yarn tail and working yarn) is on the right and needle 1 (with the first cast-on stitch) is on the left. Bring the free ends of needles 1 and 3 together to form a triangle. Lift the work in your left hand with needle 1 on top of needle 3. This may feel fiddly at first, but you will get used to it.
Position the working yarn so that it runs up from the last cast-on stitch to the outside of this triangle. The working yarn should not pass through the center of the triangle.
Begin to work in the round by inserting the tip of the empty needle (needle 4) into the first cast-on stitch on needle 1. Knit this stitch. Be sure to pull this first stitch very tightly, as it will join your work.
Continue knitting across needle 1. When you have knit all of the stitches on this needle, rotate your work and begin knitting the stitches of needle 2 using the newly emptied needle.
When you reach the end of needle 2, rotate your work again and use the empty needle to knit the stitches on needle 3.
When you reach the end of needle 3, you have knit one complete round. Note the presence of your yarn tail, which indicates where your new round begins. Because it gets harder to see this tail as you knit more rounds, you can use a stitch marker to indicate the end of your round.
Recheck that your work is not twisted–the cast-on runs smoothly along the bottom edge of your work and does not loop over the needles at any point. Then continue to knit in a spiraling path around your work.