using dpns — travelling

18 Feb

This is the second in a series of comments on how to use double-pointed needles. If you’ve looked at the patterns in the Loumms Year of Socks, you’ll see we are huge fans of DPNs. But we know that if you’re new to them, things like how to make them lay still so you can run for the bus can seem a little tricky.

Travelling with your knitting doesn’t have to be trying, but for some reason it can often seem far more hazardous than it needs to. In my early DPN use I delighted in how easy it was to pick up and go with smaller projects. No more was my knitting house-bound! Nonetheless, I experienced many a tearful bus journey in which travelling with knitting seemed outrageously complex. Too many times I reached into my bag only to pull out an inky tangle of yarn hanging from one needle, while the other needles were busy puncturing yogurt pots and smearing library books with their milky insides. In part, this was because I had chosen needles that were a foot long for a project that was 4 inches wide, thus increasing the potential for the needles to snag as I was lifting other things out of my bag. However, the main reason was because it took me AGES to realise project bags are the way forward.


The problem I had faced was trying to reconcile how a project that is fundamentally three-dimensional could lie flat, and so let my projects go loose in my regular bag. The needles, to my mind, had to stay open otherwise, the whole system would collapse.


This seemed entirely convincing until I learned that even the most 3D project will lie flat if you make it and once I worked out how to align the needles, taking my knitting out in public meant actually knitting in public and not spending 20 minutes fishing about for dropped stitches. (There are project bags, like the Schrodinger Originals, specially designed to allow your projects to remain in 3D and protected from mishap, but the following is still worth bearing in mind.)

When your project travels lying flat, the needles collapse like a folding chair and stack one on top of the other:


If you look closely, you’ll notice that the four needles aren’t aligned, even though the stitches are. If you aren’t travelling anywhere, this won’t cause much of a problem, but if the needles aren’t flush with each other, it creates more opportunities for the ‘jagged edge’ to catch on something and pull one of the misaligned needles out. Or worse, for one of the ‘indented’ needles to catch on the stitches of needle that juts out.To fix this, shift the needles so that their tips run flush with each other and ease the stitches along so that they are centred and lying comfortably.


I realised yesterday that I’d jumped ahead of myself a bit, so in the next post I’ll cover casting on and joining in the round.


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