your take on a tool: the teeny tiny needle

Last week I was at a work conference in a part of town where I don’t usually go. Lucky for me, it also happens to be the part of town which is home to a good yarn shop. I had been struggling with the project I had on the needles because my DPNs were terribly long. Imagine DPNs the length of regular straight needles (the ones on which you can only knit back and forth – remember those? ;). I don’t know why they were so long (I think the lady at the shop where I bought them ages ago had mentioned something about knitting sweater collars) nor why on earth I had them (they were probably the only ones the shop had in stock at the time). In any case, knitting 15 stitches in the round on them was a pain in the ass, and finding myself in the vicinity of a solution, I dived in. But it turned out that I had no idea what I was heading towards. After I explained my problem to the shopkeeper, she came back with something that you might say comes from the very opposite end of the spectrum.

This set of 6 (!) KnitPro Symphonie DPNs is only 10 cm in length (I guess that’s why you need 6 of them, otherwise no stitches would fit). The shopkeeper was very positive about them and claimed that they were so short that you could tuck your sock-in-progress in your pant pocket and not even notice it was there. My first concern when seeing them was about whether the stitches would keep falling off the ends, but she assured me that this was not the case, and I can confirm that the grip on these needles is unbelievable (even a bit too strong for my taste, but in any case – you can rest assured nothing will fall off!).

However, something I hadn’t anticipated was that these needles would poke me! It turns out that I hold the needles in such a way that I hug them with my whole palm. With an extremely short needle like this, however, this results in the non-working end of the needle poking me somewhere in the middle of my palm. Needless to say, this is not pleasant. I tried and tried to change the way I hold them, grip the needles closer to one end or the other, change the position of my hands, but it was all just uncomfortable.

I later remembered I had had a similar problem with a circular needle with short tips – in that case there wasn’t so much poking (what ended up in the middle of my palm was the join where the tip meets the cable, which is relatively round and soft), but some stability had been lost. As the non-working end of the needle rests on my palm, this provides me with a firmer grip and more control over my needle’s movement. Losing this, I had resorted to gripping the other end of the needle firmer, which led to pain in both my fingers and wrist.

I finished my project with the long DPNs. They may be a pain in the ass in terms of fiddliness, but at least they’re not physically hurting me like the short ones. Looking back on these two experiences, I think very short needles are simply not for me. What’s your take on them? Do you like using them? Am I missing some vital piece of information/instructions? Do tell!

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About fridica

I started knitting completely by accident, when I was visiting my parents for a holiday in 2008. On a boring Sunday afternoon, I decided to dig through their stash of books to see if there was anything interesting to take back to my apartment. A knitting manual happened to be one of the books I found. I got curious, my mom immediately dug out her old needles and yarn stash (which she hadn’t used in a decade at least), and in a few minutes we were both casting on - she by memory, I by following the instructions from the book… :) Since I normally prefer learning from books, this was ideal.. I took the book home with me, and very very soon - I was an addict.

10 thoughts on “your take on a tool: the teeny tiny needle

  1. I’m working on a pair of socks with the exact same needles at the moment and am having that exact issue — ugh, the poking. My poor palms. I foolishly bought a set of 4 or 5 different sizes of these from KnitPicks and now know they won’t be getting any use. So yes, you’re definitely not alone on this.

    • Hm, I don’t use straight needles anymore, but DPNs yes, for small circumferences I find them more comfortable than magic loop (which I use as well, but for larger circumferences).

  2. I hold my DPNs (on rare occasions when I use them) as a pencil. And the opposite needle tip rests on the outside of my ring finger and pinkie. I sort of push it away with them. So no poking. But I think mine are 15cm…

  3. short needles are hard to get used too. some people love them and for others they make good toothpicks.
    I imagine you bought the needles to knit the appendages for that super cute octopus. so I have a suggestion that isn’t related to needle size but helps when knitting long legs or tails on toys.
    I came up with this when I was having a workshop about finishing toys. one lady in the class was having all kinds of problems knitting a few sts on dp needles. the needles were way too fiddly with just 8 sts on them needles were sliding out getting twisted and it just wasn’t working. so I decided to show her how to double knit. the reaction at first was that it would be way to hard for her. but when I showed her it uses the same motions as knitting a 1 x 1 ribbed cuff. it all made sense and soon she was zipping along. and everyone else in the class wanted to learn how to double knit just the way she was. afterwards I made up an octopus toy that I could take with me and demonstrate double knitting with. you can read a little about it here and try it out
    this nifty trick can also be used for making a stockinette belt for a cardigan that doesn’t roll up or super warm hats and blankets that don’t have a wrong side.

    • Thanks very much for that, I’ve heard of double knitting before but never tried it, I’d love to give it a go. But just a question in terms of your octopus – is it then possible to stuff the legs or do they just remain flat?
      Actually the project I needed it for was a toy, but not this one, it’s another one I’ll be showing later on, and I was knitting the arms of the animal, which then needed to be stuffed.

      • yes you can stuff a leg if you double knit it. what I do is when I am almost done I rearrange the sts on 2 separate needles and then stuff and finish the leg. one suggestion if you are going to stuff the leg check the knitting every once and a while and make sure you haven’t knit where you should have slipped because this will cause your knitting to not be a tube.

  4. Have you tried the french dolly? I believe it’s a good investment for someone who likes to knit toys.
    PS: I kind of feel relieved now that I know it’s not my fault that short needles poke me, until now I was convinced I don’t know how to hold them as I tend to hold everything way too firmly (according to my mother).

    • Heh, I was kinda hoping for the opposite – that someone would tell me I was missing some key piece of instruction on how to use it and then it would stop poking me… But in any case it’s good to know I’m not alone!

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