Thursday, August 26, 2010

DPN vs Circular?

I think there was only one time I tried making a hat with DPNs.
It was my first one--or was it? I can't remember if mine or my husband's were the first hat I ever made.. anyhow, since I made a bad choice when I bought the needle and got a heavy, slippery metal DPNs I just couldn't do it.  Every few minutes the needles fell off onto the floor and I'd panic.  Later, I got my first circular needles and was...amazed.  you really did not have to think ANYTHING.
<-one of my first hats I ever made, 2009

So ever since that incident, if whatever I"m knitting had a circumference of 14" or more, I don't hesitate to pick up my circulars.  Well..everything other than small diameter knitting, really.  I rarely use straights anymore.  Circulars are way portable. I knit 99% of my flat stuff on circulars too, also because of the interchangeable needle sets I have.
Ever since I taught myself magic loop, I was pretty much in love with it.
Being able to use just two needles and 2 needle tips instead of 4-5 needles and 8-10 needle tips were just...Huzzaaaah!! especially as a knitter who's mother kept on sending her how she shouldn't knit on the train because I'll eventually kill someone (well..she didn't go that far) and got kinda paranoid herself that she'll poke someone.  Since one of the things I don't like about knitting hats are the decreases, and how I eventually have to switch to a DPN at one point to knit a standard shaped hat, I'm almost tempted to knit my hat on a 60" circular w/magic loop...or, at least the decreases w/magic loop.

For knitting a small diameter tube that is mainly stockinette, I absolutely recommend magic loop.
Why--because magic loop gives you slightly more time of mindlessness.

Say your socks has 64 stitches all around.
If you use magic loop, you can mindlessly knit for 32 stitches before you have to switch over to the other side, as oppose to knitting 16 stitches and switching needles four times.

But here comes the 'preference' bit.
Some people say magic loop is faster, but does it really make a difference?  Because frankly, I don't think there isn't really.

While you only have to swap needles two times when you use magic loop instead of three or four, you have to do a bit of sliding and adjusting before you can start knitting the other side.  On the other hand, if you use DPNs you will have to switch needles few more times, but when you're done with one needle, you can immediately start on the next one.
I guess this won't be the case if you're using an 8" DPN for your socks, because you'd have to slide and adjust the stitches towards the tip instead of the center part of the needle.  As I recently got into sock knitting, I got myself a 4" DPNs from Knitpicks.  Since I love metal needles, going back to wood was a bit 'eeh..' for me, even though I love harmony wood needles.  When I do decreases I feel like I'm just going to crack the tiny toothpick-needles in half (fortunately this hasn't happened yet).  However, it's probably good that it's not metal, esp. because the needles are so short.  These 4" needles are pretty amazing.  Yes, they're just a little short enough that you sometimes have few needles poking at your palm, so some may find it too painful.  But you'll either 1) develop a callus or 2) figure out needle placement so that doesn't happen.  I would have to be careful when I put my WIP socks in my bag (though I could get one of those tube-thing ), but those 4" needles----are strangely growing on me.  Also because I don't have to worry about the long cable dangling off the sock that the yarn occasionally gets tangled in, and since you know the needles are poking your own palm you're kind of...pretty much safe from poking other people.  haha.

Another reason why DPNs aren't totally mehh is that many sock patterns seem to have the DPN method in mind. I haven't looked through a whole database of sock patterns so I may be wrong, but the one I saw so far has stuff written, especially from the heel turn and on.  There will be stuff like "work till the last 3 st. of needle 2, k2tog, k1"
which, if you are using magic loop you'd need to do a little more counting.

So for socks, I'm pretty neutral. Both DPN and Circular needles are good.  Though I really can't find a reason to use long DPNs to knit a sweater yoke, if people like it that way, that's the way they should knit.

Ok now I'm not really sure how to conclude this entry, but here you go.  Here's my ramble on DPNs and Circulars.

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