Necessity is the Mother of Invention

There’s a forum going at Wendy’s place, about knitting socks on double-pointed needles versus two circular needles (vs. Magic Loop). I’ve tried them all, and started with the traditional DPNs. But, given that I’m a loose knitter and one who takes her knitting everywhere, I was frustrated by stitches sliding off the needles, and my tendency to ladder also.

Since I love to read and I love to knit, I love to read about knitting. Perhaps 4 years ago, I bought “Confessions of a Knitting Heretic” by Annie Modesitt. I tried what she calls “Combination Knitting” (though I also like another name for it, “Eastern Uncrossed” — sounds like a band name!) and I do use that technique at times. However, I looked at the photos of two-circular-needle knitting in that book and just couldn’t wrap my mind around how it worked without actually doing it or having seen it; and DPNs were working OK, after all.

Then we took a family trip to Florida, and while there planned to visit a friend. Our friend and his wife were about to have a baby. Of course, this meant an absolute need for a hand-knit baby hat! I threw my wood double points in my pocket, Moda Dea Sassy Stripes yarn and a 16″ circular in my carry-on, and started it on the plane.

Oh, no! I ended up deciding to take another coat and forgot about the DPs! Here I am, ready to decrease for the top of the hat, and NO DPNs! But I did have a stray circular of roughly the same size. How did those pictures in that book go again??

After a few episodes of knitting onto the wrong needle, I ‘got it’, and the rest was history. Now I have not used DPNs for a couple years, other than I-cord occasionally.

Here’s a couple things I’ve learned: (some of these tips are also in my free pattern, “Knitting Fingerless Gloves on 2 circular needles”)

16 – 24″ needles work best, but I really like 20″, which Addi Turbos do come in. The actual metal needle parts are long enough on the 20″ needles to be comfortable in my hands, unlike most 16″ needles for me; the Addi join is silky smooth as is the KnitPicks circular needle join for the most part (I have some circs I would like except the join will make me lunatic eventually!); the Addi & KP cable in the small needle sizes is flexible; and if you get longer than 20 to 24″ needles, you spend too much time pulling the needle through. Especially early on, but even when you’re experienced, it’s helpful to have two different kinds of needles, as you can figure it out right away if you’re incorrectly knitting from one needle to the other (in knitting on 2 circs, you always knit from one end of the needle to the other end of the same needle, letting the second one ‘rest’ as Cat Bordhi puts it in her “Treasury of Magical Knitting“.

A great photo pictorial of the two circular process, especially getting started, is here, and a great video is here (love this site! check out the free pattern links! For my lefty friend Lee, there’s even a nod to lefties in the basic techniques section!).

If you look at these WIPs from the posts on May 1 (red/black Jaywalker socks)

jaywalker-socks-sock-yarn.jpg

and May 9 (turquoise Magic 28 socks),

magic-28-_2.jpg

you can see the 2 circ technique in action (so to speak). Each to their own (chacun a son gout!) but two circular needles for me!

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