brought to you by Theresa B of Egret Effects
I'm a learn-as-you-go kind of gal, so one day I started knitting a toy bear but only got as far as finishing the arms before realizing that I didn't know how to do the rest. I knew from the pattern specs that I would need double-pointed needles (DPNs) and I had a set thanks to my grandma's hand-me-downs, but what the heck do you do with them?
Like most things in knitting, it looks way more complicated than it is. DPNs allow you to knit a nice little tube - a spiral of stitches - just like circular needles. The difference is that circular needles come in different lengths so you can knit larger items in the round (like a sweater), whereas DPNs are for smaller projects that don't have enough stitches to stretch all the way around a circular needle (like socks).
This year for the holidays I wanted to make my mom a wine bottle cozy, but I didn't come to that decision until December 21st so it's still in the works. This pattern is perfect for practicing on DPNs because it really is just a tube that's cinched at the top to contour to the bottle's neck.
To begin, I cast on all my stitches to one needle. Then I distribute them evenly between two more needles. Most sets of DPNs come with five needles, but in this case I'm only using four - three to hold the stitches and one working needle. I can do this because I don't have so many stitches that they're crowded on three needles. If there were more and they were in danger of slipping off either end, I would have distributed the stitches onto four needles and used the fifth as the working needle. For today, that fifth needle is sad and lonely in its case.
With my stitches set up, I join the round (being careful that nothing is twisted) by beginning to knit at the last stitch I cast on. I know where the beginning of my round is by the cast-on tail dangling between needle one and needle three.
So the stitches on needle one will be knit onto the working needle until needle one is empty. Now you have a new working needle and can proceed to knit off of needle two. When needle two is empty, it in turn becomes the working needle and will take on the stitches of needle three. You've just knit in the round with DPNs.
If you were to just knit every stitch, you'd end up with a tube of stockinette - all knit stitches on the right side. No purling necessary. This pattern involves yarn-overs, knit-two-togethers, and slip-slip-knits which is how it takes on this texture. Think of the possibilities! Toys, socks, mittens, wine cozies, iPod cozies, cell phone cozies! You can make a cozy for just about anything.