Monday, December 04, 2006

A Pointed Discussion

I hate to spoil the mellow, friendly tone I started by telling how I realized that Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Life, but if I am to present an honest picture of my world I'm afraid controversy is inevitable.

Today's topic is socks on double-pointed needles (dpns) vs. socks on two circulars. You may wish to leave now, or at the very least hide the children and lock up the pets.


I'd only worked on dpns until this weekend, when John taught me the rudiments of beginning a sock with two circulars. What can I tell you? I was feeling wild, iconoclastic, rebellious. Had I been wearing a bra, I would have burned it.

We are now on day three and inch six of the first two-circulars sock. Here are my feelings so far.

Like a good little Buddhist I find myself inclined to follow a Middle Way between the two usual camps. In one camp, you have those who believe any knitter promoting the use of circulars is an unmitigated yahoo and very possibly a menace to the underpinnings of decent society. In the other are those who suspect anyone using dpns probably also wears bustles and sends messages by telegraph.

My own, more moderate, feelings I have recorded below.

Category One: Convenience When Traveling.

Possibly the finest aspect of socks as a knitting project is portability. I can (and do) take them with me whenever I have any distance to travel by public transit. They fit well into my accustomed shoulder bag and still leave ample room for gym clothes, books, small firearms–the impedimenta of modern urban life.

As it is the nature of Chicago transit to be, shall we say, unpredictible, my socks-in-progress are subject to being pulled out of the bag and shoved back in with great haste. This has on more than one occasion caused a dpn to go flying through the air, leaving whole rows of stitches vulnerable. If the errant needle hits the floor, I must decide whether to retrieve it and risk catching something incurable from whatever's down there; or just give the needle up for lost and fix a whole mess of dropped stitches once I get home.

Like well-mannered children, unless greatly interfered with circular needles stay put. Winner: circulars.

Category Two: Ease of Use

As of now, I don't seem to go any faster on the circulars than I did on four dpns, in spite of having fewer changes of needle. It's a mystery I could solve through careful observation, timing, record-keeping, and data analysis. However, had I that sort of time on my hands I would probably elect to spend it doing something else, like reading the Halcyon Yarns catalogue or polishing my boots. Winner: tie.

Category Three: Aesthetics

There is a certain dignity in the sight of a knitter working round and round on double-pointed needles. Even those who do not knit sense this, and tend to ask questions from a discreet distance and with a sense of awe. Double-points have history behind them. Double points have tone that circulars do not, in much the same way battered, old Louis Vuitton luggage outshines brand-new bags from American Tourister.

A sock being knitted on two circulars has far too many weird wires that shoot out the top and bottom, bobbing and flipping like a poor piece of 60s mod sculpture. The knitter appears to be cuddling an alien life form, to which he gives succour. Aesthetically, a sock on two circulars is brash, nouveau–a guest who talks too loudly and laughs too long, causing unease even when he is amusing. Winner: double-points.

My opinions may well shift as I progress into the heel flap. If so, I will revisit the topic.

And I know that there is a third camp, comprising those who advocate the Magic Loop. But of course they're just a bunch of whacked-out hippie freaks.


Shan said...

So true. Especially re: aesthetics. (Love "brash, nouveau circs".) The clanking, dangling ends really do drive you mad (and, further, wake up your partner when you're knitting in bed in the middle of the night).

Do let us know what you think after the heel flap (well, really after the gusset) because it's a whole different story when you're gusseting. This is even more true of Magic Loop: I find the entire ML system breaks down once I've picked up all the gusset stitches.

Anonymous said...

Magic Loop... Go all the way, Franklin, you won't look back.

Anonymous said...

you might not think you are knitting any faster on the circulars, but all of the sudden, your sock will be done! it's like magic!
(although it is the dpns that look more like magic.)

Anonymous said...

yep. magic loop. you'll love it. although i'm about to cast on for socks on dpns just to be able to use my brand spankin new wooden sock suitcase! HA!

shyknitter said...

There has been more than one moment while knitting a sock on dpns on the Toronto transit system and I have thought, if this subway car stops suddenly or worse crashes, I might be at risk of impaling myself. And then I imagine headlines that read "Woman killed by own knitting needles". But then I realize I have more of a chance of being killed while crossing the street in downtown traffic, and continue on knitting.

Anonymous said...

I find my opinions very close to yours. SOTCs are more easily ported, but there's something about my DPNs that I just can't give up. If nothing else, I secretly smirk every time someone looks at my work and says "Wow. I could never do that, work with all those little needles. Wow." There's history, and something just very classic about DPNs that the two circs can't compete with.

I also chose to try a sock with intarsia as my first SOTC project. That, that might have soured me a little...


Anonymous said...

I admit to returning to dpns after some flirtations with 2 circs and magic loop. dpns are easier to stick in my hair when one is not in use. Can't do that with a circular.

Now, the secret to the gusset with 2 circs is to forget all that crap about moving your stitches around so that you have the right/left half of the sock on each needle. I prefer to divide along the sole and instep, with the gussets on the sole side. You don't need stitch markers this way (yet another thing you don't have to worry about losing on public transit). You just decrease on each edge of the sole circular. This way, you are also all set up for the toe decreases.

It's all about efficiency.


Redford Phyl said...

Magic Loop. Try it. Easier than 2 circs.

Anonymous said...

I have tried the 2 circulars method and found it a pain to learn and not faster, for me, than DPNs. I have a (very rapid) rhythm with DPNs that I enjoy. They do go flying though, at least occasionally.

You're also right about the onlookers - people are very impressed by DPN knitting. I find new knitters quite intimidated by them, so I will finally say, "You know, you're only knitting on two at a time. The other two are just hanging there." It's a matter of learning where to hold the knitting so that the other two are out of the way.

My fortunate husband only wears handknit socks, all knitted by me on DPNs.

Linda said...

I laughed out loud when I read this: "The knitter appears to be cuddling an alien life form, to which he gives succour." Yes! That's it exactly!

Like you, I don't find that I'm any faster on 2 circulars. I choose convenience over aesthetics here; I'd rather look weird than f**k up my sock or knitting experience because I dropped a needle or accidentally dislodged one from my sock. Yeah, I may make items for gifts, but the whole knitting thing is for ME first, so my convenience is most important.

I go with the 2 circulars. As for Magic Loop...I agree with shan. Picking up gusset stitches is hard enough with 2 circulars. That's the only downside that I can find. OK, the truth is I sometimes use my DPNs to pick up the gusset stitches and then knit them onto the circulars. But I have to make sure I'm doing this in a very controllable environment (not on the CTA, Metra, or in a public place where I may have to stuff the sock away quickly).

Debi said...

Hate the dangling, errant needles with 2 circs. Can tolerate the dangle for magic loop when portability is priority but I feel I spend 60% of my time schlepping cables thru stitches and 40% actual knitting...which brings me to my beloved DPNs for the flow and artistry they provide. Luck us, knitting provides a niche for every beat :)

Anonymous said...

Another from the whacked-out hippie freak contingent. Try it! It impresses onlookers even more than DPNS. And listen to Ann about doing the gusset.

Scoutj said...

I'm with you. I like my Crystal Palace DPNs.....

Anonymous said...

Sock knitting is just awesome! I'm a magic loop gal. I get weird looks while knitting my socks on the train so better make it look as confusing as I can for the non knitters :)

Julie said...

DPNs. Only way to go.

I refuse to admit that I might possibly be biased by the fact that I've knit with DPNs for twenty-odd years and am too darn lazy to learn anything else.

No. That can't be it. And the octopus-wrasslin' aspect of the two-circular method can't possibly be what puts me off.

Poo. I wanted to be a whacked-out hippie freak. Maybe next time.

Marlene said...

And then there are smart asses like me that show off by doing Two socks at once on ONE circular needle, magic loop style. I'm one who easily falls victim to the dreaded Second Sock Syndrom so doing them both at once is the only way to get a pair. All the dangling ends of the 2 circular needle method didn't work for me.

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, but knitting a sock toe-up on magic loop is so ... transcendent. Well, okay, so i'm a hippie freak as far as knitting goes. But toe-up on magic loop feels terribly efficient, which is what appeals to me: no kitchener in the toe, i can try on the sock as i'm knitting, and i don't need a stitch holder when doing the heel because the other side of the cable is doing the job.

Rabbitch said...

The more I read your blog, the more I realize that although I think of myself as all modern and avant-garde, really, I'm some sort of troglodyte.

And I think I may well be proud of that.

ps, dpns all the way, baby.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm a whacked out hippie freak! Honestly, Magic Loop is the way to go! It solves the aesthetics issue, too, btw.

jill said...

I used to be a dyed-in-the-wool dpn socknitter - I even knit my size 11 husband a pair of kneesocks for his fly-fishing waders on size 1 dpns, but turned to the "dark side" of 2 circs. In addition to the issues you note, I have to say there is an additional solution to an occasional-but-frustrating problem: laddering.

In fact, if you yank the just-finished circ through to hang down before you start on the next circ, you get a slightly tighter column of stitches (which I find vastly preferable to any ladder) on each side of each sock.

And I do instep/sole 2-circ knitting as well.

Carson said...

Who would've thought that the knitter's answer to the "Muscle Car" would be the dpns?
As in, you know, impressing complete strangers.
Except you can't drag up and a public thoroughfare with really bad music blaring from your dpns..
Although maybe the more technically inclined of us could rig up something with a set of dpns and an ipod.

Emy said...

I love that someone said "Ooooh, but knitting a sock toe-up on magic loop is so ... transcendent." That's exactly how I feel about knitting socks on my dpns. Heh. I've tried other ways, but my dpns make me happy, and I think that's the key. Go with what makes YOU happy, and your socks will rock.

Emy said...

And to add further to my previous comment...TOP DOWN on dpns is, for me, transcendent. Who cares what anyone else says?

(Except for those hippie freaks, of course. *g*)

Anonymous said...

I just finished a pair on dpns and I have another started on 2 circs. I go both ways ;-)

I have done 2 socks on 2 circs as well. Get Cat's book if you want to try it. She makes it very easy to understand. Also, get longer circs - at least 24". The 16" ones I used for one sock at a time will work for 2 baby socks together but not 2 adult socks. I've tried 2 socks on 2 circs toe up and that was a *huge* mess at the heel. Doing each heel separately helped but it's still not something I'd do again.

FiberQat said...

I've done socks on dpns, two circulars, and magic loop. Each has its place. I gravitate to dpns because I don't like the weight of the loose circ needle hanging down, and I'm not crazy about the magic loop method. And if a needle breaks, I snag a spare from the skewers in my kitchen drawer.

Find what fits you, hon.

Anonymous said...

Two circs for me. Because I don't want to be driven mad in white linen. When I tried dpn's (admittedly 30+ years ago) those lil' suckers kept slipping free like the gang in Prison Break no matter how I held my tongue or switched between needles. I got friggin' tired of ending up with one or two needles' worth of dropped stitches. They'd just slide right on out of the yarn and sit there, laughing at me. I have a thing about disobedient tools. I vape the suckers and find a better option. ;)

When I got sockBorged, despite all protests and the kicking and screaming I did on my blog (and it's half your fault, Franklin, you and Stephanie, so suck it up), I'd already been using the 2 circ method for finishing hats for several years. Once I tried it, I knew they'd have to pry my circs out of my cold, dead hands. Ok, I was already of that opinion - I'm a dedicated in the round knitter - but now I could stick to my resolution with items of small circumference, too! Including socks.

So even as a brand-new sock knitter, I don't mind a little floppiness. I'm not bothered by ends hanging down. (Lots less dangerous than multiple points in close vicinity to my bosom, after all. [g]) And while normally I passionately hate metal needles because of the incessant, madness-inducing clanking noises, #0 or #1 circs with metal tips aren't big enough to make a noticeable clank. Especially when they're KnitPicks 16" classic circs. Great needles! Although for anything above #4's, it's my Denise interchangeables all the way. (It's that tightening necessity with other interchangeables. See opinionated notion about misbehaving tools above. Or engineering thereof. [g])

Now, if KP made 12" circs...yeah, I could go for those. But since they don't, I'll be happy with the 16" circs. And yes, I do realize I've left myself open for size queen comments now; right back atcha, people. [g] Back to knitting - yes, the gusset can be a little fussy, but once you're past that, you're free and clear and things sail right along. Even for a newbie like me.

Hmm. Maybe there's a new cartoon there - the dpn, two circulars, and magic loop sock knitters knitting peaceably together. I mean, the main point is what works for you. Don't all knitters have some sort of odd kick in their gallop? ;)

Anonymous said...

Or a fourth camp - those of us who like to knit socks on 11" circs.

Anonymous said...

Magic. Loop.

We will convert you.

Mother of Chaos said...

BWA! "whacked-out hippie freaks"!

I love both circulars and dpns equally. I would not have thought this a possible thing...but then I had four kids, and I love each of them equally too so mighty things are possible when it comes to love.

Anonymous said...

Two socks. Two circs. Short-row heels. I do love my alien life-forms.

beadlizard said...

I think magic loop is interesting, but you can end up with gaps at the exit point of the crossed loop, and moving the loop takes a few seconds each time.

Two circs works. Am using two circs on a sleeve right now. However, size 1 circ needles bend too easily and end up suffering in the bottom of my backpack. Also, not as fast as dpns.

Can't use a 12" circ because my hands cramp with the tiny needles. Neat idea, though.

Straights or a longer dpn and double-knitting works, but it's easy to screw up and tack the layers together by mistake, and double-knitting skews the gauge so it's more square than rectangular. Also, slower than dpnps.

Dpns? I knit fast on aluminum 8"-ers. Get a tin needle holder from Jen of Woolworks Ltd., tel 860-963-1228. Truly splendid device. Haven't lost a needle since I bought the tube.

And if you really want to add style to your knitting bag, get one of Cassie's (Too Much Wool) ESK's to stow extra needles, ruler, etc.

--Syl, walking knitter of socks

Anonymous said...

I've never done a pair of socks on DPN's and prefer the 2 circs to magic loop. (And, umm, what about my sock? You act like those three inches I knit next to you during John's taping don't matter!)

Both magic loop and DPNs have a certain amount of adjusting when going from one needle to the next, whether it's rearranging that side's stitches or passing your just finished needle to the right hand and turning the project.

2 circs not only travel better, there's 50% less turning of the sock, 50% less tension worries and time seems to fly faster. "One more row/needle" means twice the stitches as before. I've got the DPNs, but I doubt I'll ever cast on a sock.

mary said...

One more category: efficiency. I hate counting rows, and when I have knit one sock at a time, the second invariably ends up longer or shorter. At least when I knit 2 socks on 2 circs, I can be lazy and not worry about counting rows.

Paisley said...

Excellent summary of pros and cons. I tend towards the dpns when working a project from scratch, but there are circumstances where two circs are more expedient. I haven't tried magic loop - I can't quite see the point (no pun intended).

Anonymous said...

I've tried all the above, and find they all work fine.

Right now I'm doing 2 toe up socks at the same time using magic loop. Works fine, but too fiddly sometimes. Heels and gussets are no problem. Like others commented, the instep is on one side, the heel and gusset on the other.

DPNS are probably my favourite method. It's how I learned socks, and it's what I go back to for the 'comfort' knitting factor.

Nikki said...

"And I know that there is a third camp, comprising those who advocate the Magic Loop. But of course they're just a bunch of whacked-out hippie freaks."

Lordy. I just spewed a blast of tea on to my screen in a fit of laughter. I embrace my hippie freak method. I also hug trees. Well, I've always meant to. Try magic loop. You know all the kids are doing it.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Beadlizard in disliking short circulars. Anything shorter than a 24" has too short of a needle section and makes my somewhat large hands do gymnastics.

The socks I have done so far have been on dpns, but I use five. It makes the change of needle easier because the angle isn't so tight. It also makes it easier to pack up your sock-in-progress: Flatten out the "square" of the four needles in the sock. Place your ball of wool on the sock by the needles. Roll it up, wrapping the sock around the needles and yarn ball. And then use the fifth needle as a stickpin to hold the whole shebang together.

Oh, and I have two sets of needles so I can knit two socks in tandem.

That said, I just got two circs from Knitpicks and the next sock I'm going to try that method.

Anonymous said...

"whacked out hippy freaks"

HAH! How about a reclusive, knitting, airplane pilot grandmother! You really ought to give it a try. It is faster and more intuitive than the two needle technique, and mind-blowing besides. Affirming your above quote.

Sarah - the inventor of the magic loop.

Jeanne said...

I'm with Scoutj, Crystal Palace DPNs rock! Anybody want a full set of aluminums? Anyone?

Things to accomplish in 2007:
1. Find out what this Magic Loop thingie is all about
2. Learn how to knit two socks at once on circulars
3. Decide for myself which of the three methods suits my sockification project.
4. Learn the toe-up method (because it'll solve the "will it fit when I get to the foot" mystery).

Franklin, you rock, too! Love the cartoons.

Sara M said...

You forgot the 2 socks on 2 circs camp. Yes, we are crazy. But, we never suffer from SSS!

sarah said...

I agree that two circulars give the appearance of disheveled disorganisation as compared to dpns, especially those hand-forged dpns from Celtic Swan. There's another factor to consider. I do two socks at the same time toe-up on two circulars, and I frequently hold them up to wonder at the beauty of the yarn and the way the increases form the shape of my toes. So obvious, yet so clever. On a recent train journey I eventually noticed other passengers were looking, well, askance at my wonderful pair of sock toes. I gave the matter serious thought and realised that the uninitiated probably thought my two proto-socks held neatly between two circulars were some kind of bra. A really weird, artistic bra. On balance I like what that says about my appearance.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with the "more convenient on public transport" point. I've only knitted socks on DPNs, but I've never felt the need to try anything else. When using a set of 5 DPNs, the spare one can be stuck into the knitting already completed and the other four fold flat into two parallel lines. (I live in Sydney, Australia, where my bus regularly takes an hour to travel 10 kms.) All you need to calculate is whether you'll finish the next DPN in time to get off at your stop.

Rebekkah said...

One of the things I love about DPNs is that they're so low-tech. And so easily futzed around with. Want to use 3 (plus one to knit with)? No problem. 4? Go ahead. 28? Well, if you really want to, I don't see why not.

One question I have for people who are big fans of the 2-circ method - don't you have problems with too-tight stitches at transitions? I used the method for 2 entire sleeves of a fair isle sweater, and loved it until I realized that you end up pulling the stitch at the end of each needle too tight, because as you put tension on the yarn and knit the first stitches on the next needle, you're pulling that last stitch tight around a very thin cord, not around the appropriately sized needle, as you do with DPNs, which don't vary in circumference along their length. I was okay with the technique until I realized this one very major flaw. Maybe it doesn't matter as much for solid colored knitting, but I think it was a bad idea for fair isle, where stitch evenness is of the utmost importance.

I guess, after having learned on DPNs, given a very long try to 2-circs, and having learned how to magic loop, I'm a fairly rabid DPN fan when it comes to my own personal choices. I obviously don't like the pitfall of having to pull a stitch tight around a skinny cord, and I just don't like tugging cords back and forth when I'd rather be knitting. Like you, I haven't found it any faster than using DPNs. And if I have to manipulate my equipment (*ahem*) as I'm knitting, I like the solid feel of DPNs shifting around in my hands much more than floppy ends of circular needles and cords dangling about. Plus, as a crazy person who has a tendency to knit sweaters on the sizes of needles most people use for socks, it's good to keep those size 1 and 2 circulars free, while I put the socks on DPNs.

Mel said...

Well, I don't know that I can be considered an inveterate sock knitter, but I have tried all three methods (well, fiddled with magic loop, but I'm hardly a hippie freak, whacked-out or otherwise). I have to say, I definitely prefer dpn's, though I'm thinking of getting me some metal ones, as my wrists really need their slippy nature, rather than the stickiness of wood. I just find two circs too fiddly for me and slower.

Incidentally, Don did time his sock knitting last spring (He's also 69% geek, 65% nerd - go figure). I believe he does primarily the whacked-out hippie method. I thought he had commented on circs vs. dpn's, but it appears that it was one at a time vs. two at a time.

My verification word is "mxekxis". Sounds like a race from a sci-fi novel.

Anonymous said...

May I humbly suggest, 1 sock on 1 circular? A very short (12 inches) circular needle allows you to go around and around and around and around in a very speedy manner. Lovely.

Helen said...

I've just travelled in the opposite direction to you, from never being able to get the hang of dpns and using either two circs or Magic Loop, depending on what size of which needles I had free at the time, to finally discovering what I was doing wrong with dpns and getting the hang of it. I don't think I would go back now, although I love circs and use them for knitting lots of things that aren't circular. I just feel that with circs there's too much manhandling of the yarn, and with Magic Loop too much manhandling of the poor old cables.

Or maybe I'm just trying to justify the expense of the ebony dpns I bought...

LaurieM said...

I think it's great that you've picked up a new skill and that you've immediately found it useful.

I like to have as many tools in my kit as possible, and as many skills in my repertoire too. So I know how to do all three techniques and I use them where appropriate.

the fiddlin' fool said...

So many posts. Clearly the passion runs high.

One thing you may want to weigh in on as well, Franklin, is the ease of getting a sock started. Personally, and I don't know why, starting a sock on dpns always makes me feel like I'm riding a little too close to the edge... like all of the needles may just fall out when I'm not looking. It takes a good two inches for me to get over this fear. I don't seem to have this problem with 2 circs.

Other thoughts about Magic Loop: it's cheaper because you only have to buy one needle, and they aren't constantly going clickety-click. I'll admit, though, there is a lot of weird re-arranging, and it all depends on how willing you are to be open to sliding stitches around in a new way. Personally, I loathe sliding DPN stitches up, because there are twice as many stitches to slide, and I consider switching needles like breaking your rhythm in the pool more often, something no swimmer wants to do.

That's why most swimming knitters prefer 2C or ML!

Mindy said...

I have used all three methods (started with 2 circs) but I far prefer DPNs. The circs just seem to get in my way and there is way to much fussing with the stitches for me.

Ruth said...

I've used all three methods, and 2 circs just doesn't do it for me. I only knit on ML if I want to knit two socks at once (read: I have to get these puppies finished quickly!). But with all the time in the world and all options available, I will choose my Crystal Palace or Inox aluminum dpns. Especially the Inox. They're awesome.

marie in florida said...

yes sir, the middle way. i use dpn to start my hats, then switch to the circ, and back to dpn. furthermore, i used a magic loop method by accident and thought i'd just made a way to use a circ that was too long.

stacey said...

Wait until you get a chance to try two socks on ONE circular :o)

I have never been able to make DPN's work for me...I spend more time poking myself or digging for them in the couch and I am in awe of those who can knit beautiful things with them.

Anonymous said...

I love two circs and Magic Loop for every other kind of small circular knitting - but am a dedicated fan of dpns for the sock. I like having the stitches for each portion tidily divided onto different needles, appreciate the way the sock looks like the three dimensional sculpture it truly is (rather than a flat blob with danglies) and love the sense of connectedness with history and tradition.

Liz said...

I recently learned how to knit a sock with 2 circular needles, specifically so I could knit a pair of socks at the same time. I really enjoy this technique and I have finished 2 pairs of knee length stockings within the last month and have not had to suffer the dreaded "second sock syndrome".

I do still enjoy using my dp's, especially for small portable projects. The circular needles will not replace the dp's, or vice versa. They both have a place in my inventory.

Great cartoon!

Marcy said...

DPN's for sure. Besides, they look ever so slightly sinister and dangerous poking out in all directions as they do. Perhaps you learned to use them in jail?

Roggey said...

I'm one of those that truly believe DPNs have their uses as well as 2 circs have their uses. It depends on the materials I'm using and the project I'm knitting.

I wouldn't want to give either of them up.

Anonymous said...

DPNs for socks.

I guess I knit tight enought that I've never dropped a whole row of stitches taking my knitting out or stuffing it away - firm knitting on wood needles=plenty of grip.

And for me, the grippy points of circulars don't feel *long* enough. My hands are pretty big, and I tend to grip further back on the needle and use my forefinger to carry the yarn like the bobbin hooks on a spinning wheel. Circulars taper off to the dratted cord before the base of my hand, making me feel like I don't have a firm grip. If I could get 12" DPNs I'd probably knit my sweater bodies on DPNS!

Robin said...

Gotta go Magic Loop, all the way. I think they have a little bit of the coolness factor that the DPNs have and the 2 circs don't.

Bliss said...

Whacked-out hippie freak here, weighing in. Once I went Magic Loop, I never went back...

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those that likes all three methods--sometimes Magic Loop, sometimes two circs, sometimes DPNs. Depends on my mood, and the project. I tend to like the DPNs for the tiniest stuff, though.....more stability, somehow.....

evergreenknits said...

You are an incredibly acute observer of humanness through (knitting) signs and symbols.

You've pegged me perfectly. Half in the dp camp, corresponding to my eastern, even Ivy League sensibilities. Half in the magic loop camp - and damn proud of my hippie leanings.

Danielle said...

Pardon me while I go take a hit off my bong and whip up some socks on a Magic Loop...

Elizabeth said...

I just gave the two socks/two circulars a serious try for the first time and I prefer dbl pts. For me, they just feel more right. I feel like I clip along more quickly. When I get to the end of a block of stitches, I find my next starting point more quickly. But I gave it fair try.

I think some people will go to any lengths to avoid double points. I'm not in that camp.

Juno said...

Eh, whatever the particualr sock seems to call for. We have room for all..

And if you'd been wearing a bra? That would have been iconoclastic.

FemiKnitMafia said...

True. I am a wacked out hippie freak.

AuntyNin said...

Another fascinating post. Me, I'm a DPN girl all the way. This is after trying both 2 circs and ML, both methods producing airborne fiber and ... um ... well ... decidedly unladylike language. Just leave me my DPNs, and the rest of the world can use whatever method works best for them.

junior_goddess said...

As long as they have lime green yarn on them, it's great!


Andrea Rusin said...

I'm really entirely done with making rules for other people's knitting. I use two circulars for socks -but not for hats or sleeves, although they would work there just as well. I just instinctively reach for dpns there. I don't claim that this makes sense; it's jsut what happens. For me, it was the portability of the two circular method that convinced me to give it a try. For many (but not all) beginners to circular knitting, the two circulars eliminate ladders, as Jill mentioned. I think the most exciting thing is when knitters find their own way -rather than learning MY way. Just so we're clear that my way is actually superior ;)

Anonymous said...

I've knit socks on dpns, two circs, magic loop and two socks at a time on two circs. I love the two socks at a time; no mateless socks for me.
But, dpns have a place close to my heart and I keep going back to them.

The solution to losing a dpn while work is in progress is to get one of the tin needle holders available from Woolworks Ltd in Putnam CT. You can see pictures of them on the Yarn Harlot's blog from 4/25/06. As Stephanie's says, "They could save socks. Possibly lives." I have one and they are wonderful; a perfect stocking stuffer.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I should go do some mushrooms and try the Magic Loop.

SolSionnach said...

Haven't tried circs, but love DPNs... especially 6" Plymouth bamboos. I guess I'm a tight knitter, because I've never had needles slip out of stitches.

Now: yarn?
I knit a wonderful pair of Marnie MacLean's Wyvern socks out of koigu - lovely, soft - and wearing out after 2 outings. I will *never* knit another pair of socks out of koigu again, unless they are for wintertime, in bed.

But I have another pair of koigu skeins. Any idea what to knit with them?

Anonymous said...

But Franklin, you forgot the most important reason to jump into the circular camp - you can knit two socks at once, thus avoiding "second sock syndrome" and forever walking around with one cold foot or else wildly mismatched ones.

I use both, I consider myself not only of the "middle path" but also adaptable to whatever situation arises. Can't find the last dpn of the set? Circulars for this pair! Doing a bunch of stranded colorwork? dpn's of course!

Anonymous said...


I'm such an old-fashioned, bustle wearing, telegraph using, dpn sock knitter. Tried the two circs method and disliked it. I haven't bothered with the magic loop method.

I too disagree with your portability assessment of dpns. As long as you keep stitches on all four needles (that 5th one just stays at home), it collapses into a neat kite shape that is completely safe to stow in the most hurried conditions with no loose needle to lose.

And obviously you have never mindlessly reached into your knitting bag and yanked an entire circular needle out of your knitting.

Anonymous said...

I also do equally well on 2 circs or double points and will flip back and forth between the two. No desire whatsoever (it's one word in the midwest) to try the Magic Loop, even though I'm pretty liberal.

jillian said...

I have to chime in as a ML devotee. I've tried all three methods, and prefer the ML. Why? Only one needle size and length to have and to tote, even easier to store and travel with, no picking up the wrong end of the needle as there are only two ends to be had. Once I got a rythym going, I found it much faster than either DPNs or 2 circs.

While you're in this rebellious place, try it, you might like it!

Anonymous said...

I tried doing it on 2 circs - I missed my dpns - didn't like the tension, missed the 'firmness' of dpns in my hand, and it was just way too fussy - not to mention that even though I can keep track of 4 or 5 dpns, I was constantly using the wrong circ. WAY too fussy!

KT said...

I usually knit two-socks-on-two-circs, but when I made a baby hat I used DPNs. I was so used to the circulars that every time I came to the end of a needle, I'd drop it. Onto the floor. And then wonder what I was supposed to knit the next group of stitches with. You'd think I'd have figured it out after a round or two, but you'd be wrong; every time I picked up the project to work on it I'd drop at least one needle. Circulars: for those of us who still need our mittens on a string, too.

Sandra said...

I was reading your well-thought out comparison, agreeing all the way along. Then I hit the last sentence, and snorted coffee through my nose. Funny! Those newfanglerd Magic loopers! They probably use computers and such new things, too...
(I'm an archaic dpn'er, myself)

Anonymous said...

Magic loop, magic loop, magic loop. That is all I have to say.

maryse said...

ha! for reason number 1, i gave magic loop a try ... yes a hippie freak in your view. however, i'm also open to giving double circs a go also.

however, i do love the fact that with 5 dpns, you never need a stitch marker.

Anonymous said...

I'm a two circs kind of gal and I'm now doing my first pair of TWO socks on 2 circs at the same time. No second sock syndrome. So far so good, but then I haven't gotten to the heel yet. We'll see....

Anonymous said...

Halfway thru your post, I was going to make a suggestion.

But, what do I know?

I'm just a wacked-out hippie freak.

Diane said...

Well, you sure opened a can of cables (er, worms). I fall into the very minority group of using one 11" circ. So far, this is one of the very few advantages that I have found to having very small hands.

Anonymous said...

Ergonomics - circulars make my arthritic hands hurt.

I finished the sleeves for a Swedish sweater on dpns quite happily and then when confronted with the body of the sweater could not make freaking guage at ALL on circulars and could only do about 1 row before my hands ached. Next stop - extra long Brittany dpns. And lots of 'em.

I got a set of middle sized ones for my present to myself, and I know now what I'm getting next time I need some sunshine....well, that and some chocolate.

Anonymous said...

Here are my favorite instructions for magic Loop:

Flossie in Stitches said...

I love my 30cm (12") circular. Round and round and round, with no stopping. Although I admit to using dpns for the heel flap and toe. I think I'm a little confused, lol

tb said...

Oh, you MUST try the Magic Loop! It raises more eyebrows than the dpns,and there are NO needle changes. I'm all about the magic loop method.

Ramona said...

2 socks/2 circs-enough said.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... I am a Luddite. I knit all my socks on Brittany Birch size 0 dpns. The wood needles have just enough "grab" to keep the yarn from slipping off the needles, and they are very short - about 5" long, so they fit in my hands nicely. I don't like the dangly bits with the 2 circular method and I fear the Magic Loop method will break the circulars. Besides, I like it when people stare at me in the train and breathe "oohh, I could NEVER do that!" Makes me giggle.

Ceallach said...

Hmmm, what does that make me then?

I who knit socks on 1 12" needle that goes round and round, where it ends no one knows. Although truth to be told, in point of needle, I knit 2 socks on 2 12" needles, but they exist entirely separate, not like those 2 socks on 2 circs folks that knit them like the conjoined twins of the knitting world.

Oh, wait, the guys in white coats are here.

Never mind.

Lucia said...

I tried ML and liked it, except that only Addis seem to be long enough, and their tips are too blunt, and besides I prefer wood. So it's back to SOTC for me, unless I'm working on size 0s or smaller, in which case I may have to go back to dpns: on 0 bamboo circs the join is too fat and the sts don't slide over easily.

Life's a bowl of tradeoffs.

cindi said...

This is a very interesting conversation, but everyone is missing the point! Can we get the cartoon on something? Mug? Notecards? It's adorable.

Peace and love from a whacked out hippie

Filambulle said...

Dearest Franklin, please note that there are no clanking, nor dangling ends with magic loop. Just two loops that may ressemble to some rabbit ears (but in a good way?) And that some new perfect circular for knitting come with a purple cable and sparkly metalic pointy sticks! Ahahhahaha, even the aesthetic aspect may be on the hippie's side!

Anonymous said...

I learned to knit socks using the Cat Bordhi, Socks Soar on Circular Needles, method. I loved it. I told all my knitting friends that it was the way to go. I bought my knitting mother-in-law the book, yarn, and 2 circs so she too could feel the love. At some point, I think when all my circs were full of socks in progress, I gave dpns a try. And I haven't gone back. I agree, its all about the aesthetics. I just feel so darn "traditional" knitting with dpns. I love it!

TheBunny said...

Don't forget the advantage of being able to knit both socks at the same time on circs.

Filambulle said...

---Added after reading the other comments-----

I don't understand why some people seem to think that there is more handling with the ML? Obviously this is all a matter of personal preferences and experience.
When I am done with the top needle (or the bottom one), i just put the sock-in-being in the left hand, pull on the left cable until the left-hand needle is half-way on place, then pull on the right-hand needle. A little push on the left needle, and i am ready to knit. When I was using dpn, it was much more complicated for me, but I was a real beginner too...
The tension on the transition stitch is a matter of (franklin) habit, but it helps a lot if you start with a knit stitch.
And at least there are only two of them.
I never need any stitch marker, as I use one Top and one Bottom needle.

Even if you prefer to use dpn for socks, ML is a very usefull technique for knitting hats of starting anything round from the middle. And you never has to match needles to make sur they all are the same size...
Give it a try.

Terri said...

I am so deep into the comfort zone with DPNs that just watching another knitter use the magic loop or two circs makes me anxious. I have never lost a needle yet, but KC doesn't have much in the way of public transport either...

Anonymous said...

no experience with circulars on socks, but some experience with circulars on booties and the like. problems? i like to knit with wood. with circulars, in the tiny sizes, they break! at least with dpns, if one breaks, you have four more. with circulars, you are out $12 or so. too rich for my blood.


Anonymous said...

I've tried all three. Frankly, I like it old school, bring on the dpns I say. I'm much faster and much neater with them.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe there are so many posts already, so I don't expect mine to be read.
Of course, preference is preference.
I was introduced to the circular method and didn't like it.
For me it was weird and unrhythmic.
I don't like pulling my work from end to end on circular needles, unless necessary to do so as in odd numbered rows color work and the like. In this sock method there is too much friction/stress on the work from cable to pin, over that nub.
Ultimately the finished product, in my opinion or at least in my work, is better on the dpns.
True, dpn projects are tricky to carry around for quick stop and go knitting, but not fatal.
There are better projects for travel, like scarves or best yet because they can be smallish, doilies worked from the center out after they have graduated from the the dpn stage and ready for 40 cm. circulars. Too bad they look like hell on the needles, all bunched up, while in progress. Not only will there be little admiration from curious onlookers, but when asked "Whatchyermakin?" a doily is too fruity for words.
Cheers FH.
Richard (of DC)
P.S. I think you should put aside sock knitting and immerse yourself in sweater knitting.
I could teach you things that would make your head spin.
Seamless, entirely.
Knitted from the top down.
Guaranteed fit every time because you can try it on in progress.
Think Barbara Walker.
Barbara Walker is all any knitter needs or will ever need, except for some things, like tubular cast off, which I don't think she covers, and which every top down knitter should know.

Stacy said...

I must confess, I am too easily confused to knit with two circulars. Even when I tried to make it easier by knitting with two different lengths and needle colors, I frequently picked up the wrong needle from the selection of flopping points when changing needles.

I went back to dpns.

Nana Sadie said...

I'm in the asthetics camp, too. Give me my dpns. Tho' I'd still pick mine up off the floor - what, you don't carry hand sanitizer?
Too funny - by all means, continue your reviews as you get there (heel flap, magic loop), can't wait to read them...

Anonymous said...

One hippie-freak here, voting for magic loops. US000 loops.

Anonymous said...

Magic Loop, all the way!

C'mon, Franklin. There is a certain--shall we say--Zen beauty to being able to knit anything, and I truly mean anything on a single circular needle. A circular needle is, after all, simply a long, flexible double point needle and it is magical to be able to do everything with just one. Plus, easy joins, no ladders, it's blazing fast, you can do two at once, and no pulling out the wrong $#@%*& needle as in two circulars.

One set of 40" circular needles in every size and you are good to go. (The trick to the gusset is having a single circular that is long enough to do everything you need it to do at once. Multitasking at its finest!)

I miss the beautiful finish on my Crystal Palace DPN's, but I don't miss the lost needles, the poking, the difficult joins.

Knitot (who has too many sets of 3 DPN's!)

Anonymous said...

I vote for magic loops too, changed my life. I'm surprised you didn't mention them. But once you know how to use 2 circulars, getting rid of one isn't so hard. It's so much faster than dpns, for me anyway.

turtlegirl76 said...

Don't judge until you try Toe-up on two circs with the Magic Cast-on and a reverse heel flap. Oh yeah baby.

Anonymous said...

I've knit a lot with dpns and do like them but lately I'm sold on the Magic, at age 61, to be once again a hippie-freak is like coming full to speak :) ...groovy!

Anonymous said...

To Sara, and to anyone else who wants long DPNs: they do exist. I've seen them at Schoolhouse Press, but I bet other places carry them too.


Anonymous said...

Awesome analysis.

Personally, I stick to DPNs for socks, mostly because of the aesthetics of the thing, with one exception -- lace socks, or cabled socks, or really, any sort of sock with an allover pattern more complicated than combinations of knit and purl. If Sivia Harding designed it, then I pull out my circs.

Just found your blog; very entertaining. :)


Anonymous said...

I agree with you on every one of your "points". I started with dpn's and now do circulars. The deciding factor? A 2 year old daughter who could take off with one of my dpn's in a flash. Circulars are more toddler proof. I miss the dpn's. One day when the kiddo gets older I'll likely go back. I just love how it feels and the "traditional" part of using dpn's.

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