Some basic beginner sock (on dpns) questions

bayareafrancyFebruary 10, 2009

Hi there.

I have started my first sock--a simple stockinette sock. I have finished an inch of k2p2 ribbing, and about an inch of the leg.

I am NOT having fun with these dpns yet, but hopefully that will come. (The ribbing was especiallly awful, though I really enjoy the rhythm of ribbing on flat objects and am pretty fast at it.)

I think I have already made some mistakes. I'm not sure my mistakes will matter much, since my basic pattern isn't so dependent on row numbers and stitch count (is it??).

But I'm hoping someone can explain why my mistakes are in fact mistakes--because when I did them, they seemed to make things easier.

The Join:

I am following 2 different online sock tutorials. On the first one, she uses 3 needles, and then joins them using needle number 4. I tried this, and it was very clumsy, loose, and difficult. So I checked my other tutorial to make sure I was doing it right. She joins the same way, but I misread hers as instructing me to join with ONLY the 3 original needles (use the working yarn to knit/transfer one stitch to its neighbor needle). Voila! A joined triangle. I counted this as k1, and then used the fourth needle to proceed in the standard fashion with k,p,p,k,k,p,p, etc.

Why was this wrong (assuming it is--I can find no reference to joining this way when I google, so I assume it is "wrong.")? It seemed to work well.

Avoiding ladders:

Tightening my stitches at junctions wasn't working too well. I googled, and found various ways of migrating stitches, but they didn't make sense to me. So, I basically migratd using the same principle that I used to join. Every few rows, at each junction, I knitted (or purled) one stitch without the fourth needle (thus transferring it to its neighbor needle). The I proceeded with needle number 4 in the mix.

Is this wrong? I see that my tail is no longer at the end of a needle--it is several stitches in. So I'm thinking that when I get to the heel (and I want my needles to match the photo), I'll just rearrange all my stitches so that they are on the "correct" needles by scooting them all over a few stitches.

I hope these questions/issues make sense.

Can anyone offer any clarification on why my methods are not advisable? (Again, I'm assuming they are "wrong" because I can find no reference to them online.)

Thank very much!


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Francy, only you can decide what is right or wrong for you. I CAN knit with dpns, but I rarely do anymore. I use either use magic loop or 2 circulars (2 circulars being my favorite. Depending on the material the dpns are made of and the type of yarn, it can make for an especially fiddly knit. When using dpns, I try to stick with bamboo, as it is easier to assure that all the stitches stay on the needles.

You are right in saying that a basic sock does not rely so much on row counts, although you will want to count rows anyway, to assure that your second sock is reasonably the same.

The first join you mention is the one I usually use. No moving stitches back and forth from one needle to the other. You just start knitting. And at the end of the first row, it does appear that there may be a bit more yarn than there should be. But by the second or third row, that extra space magically disappears.

The second join you mention is a very good one to avoid that extra length of yarn at the end of the first row. But  if you move the last stitch you cast on to become the first stitch on the first needle, do not count it as K1. You must still knit it.

I have been knitting on dpns for several years and I STILL sometimes get ladders. That is why I prefer to use 2 circulars or one long circular (magic loop). I don't seem to get them when doing it that way.

Your assumption that you can just move the stitches around to match up with where the tail is at is perfect.

If you are happy with the look and fit of your piece, then you are definitely not doing it wrong!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 5:26PM
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I use dpn needles and love them, so hang in there....everything worthwhile takes practice, right? After a LOT of socks, I still sometimes get a ladder. I find that if I knit each first stitch on each needle, tightly, I don't have the problem. Howevever I sometimes move the last stitch on a needle to become the first stitch on the next needle, but wherever the stitches are, with ribbing, you knit the knit stitches and pearl the pearl stitches. Sometimes I use a K2P2 ribbing, and if I move stitches to the next needle I am sure to move both knits or both pearls..doesn't matter which, as long as you move both. You may use 4 or 5 needles...the new sets seem to come in 5s, which is new to me...I generally don't bother with them till I get to the foot, after the heel is turned, and find it handy to have the front on 2 needles and the back on 2 needles, so that when it comes time to start decreasing for the toes, you know exactly what is front and what is back, which you will discover, is important.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 7:50PM
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Thank you for the replies!

Donna--I understand what you mean about finding what is "right" vs "wrong" for me in my own techniques. But I suspect there is something "wrong" with my first join because I just can't find ANY reference to it, or demonstration of it, in the internet knitting world. That leads me to believe that my method will cause some kind of--not sure what to call it--geometric abnormality? Like, it will knock one row off and mess up the pattern? Something like that? I don't know...

To recap (because I'm probably not explaining myself very well): my first join is similar to the technique of switching the positions of the first and last stitch. Only, instead of switching them, I actually knitted them together. Because I am doing a K2P2 ribbing, I counted that as my first knit. Then I got my fourth needle, and proceeded to knit, starting with the second K stitch, then 2 purls, etc.

Was I wrong to count the knitted join as the first knit stitch?

To avoid ladders (since tightening wasn't working too well), I just repeated my joining technique of knitting (or purling) together the last stitch on one needle with the first stitch on the next needle. Then I brought in needle #4 and continued. That made those ladder junctions into stairsteps. Is that ok? Or will that majorly mess up a more complicated pattern that I might want to do someday?

Oh--I think I figured out what I'm disliking so much about this process. It isn't the dpns, per se, it is the teensy weensy sock yarn. It is so wispy that I cannot for the life of me get the tension right. It is too wispy for my fingers to hold on to, so my tension is always loose. I think I have tried wrapping it around my hand, fingers, elbow, arm, shoulder, etc. about 37 different ways to no avail. The only technique I haven't tried is routing it around my neck. I'll try that one tonight after I get the kids to bed! If that doesn't work, there's always teeth!

Wishing I would have used worsted weight for my first socks!

Thank you again for your help. I hope my questions/problems made sense. I'm not too good with the knitting lingo yet.



    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 10:47PM
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I'm dense on reading and comprehending, I'm afraid, so I think it'll be easier for me to just tell you how to, here's the first cast on your correct # of stitches, being sure that, for example, if you start with K2, then you end your cast ons with the correct # of stitches to end up with P2, so that when you join them, the K2P2 sequence will be correct. then, name your needles 1, 2, 3.....#1 contains the first stitches you cast on, #2, the next bunch (the number of these doesn't really matter...I just make sure that I end whatever stitches there are, on a needle, with either both Ks or Ps...just to make it easy)...and, #3 has the last cast ons...the one with the 'working end of the yarn on it. Then form the 3 needles into a triangle, with the Needle 1 on the left, followed by #2, and the tip of #3 (the caston that has the yarn hook to the ball) touching #1 (which is the first of your cast ons)...make sure none of the stitches are twisted....then, taking needle #4, stick it into the first stitch from needle #1).... and take the yarn that is on the last stitch on needle #3, and wrap it around Needle #4, pull it throught that first stitch on needle #1 and slip the 'old' stitch off needle now have one stitch on needle #4, and are now joined. Believe me, this is the hardest part of knitting with dpns... getting all your stitches on the needles, straight, and knitting that first stitch. But, as you can see, there is never a k2 together at the start, nor does there need to be...if you k2 tog, then everything is 'off', and decrease stitches, such as K2 tog, or K1 Slip1 pass the slipped stitch over, create a leaning stitch that you can see in your end, you don't ever want to be doing those unless the pattern calls for it.
I hope you can understand what I'm talking about...(this trying to write instructions is harder than it looks! lol)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 8:32AM
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Thank you Sandra.

Reading your reply, I realize that in my first post I had been typing k2, which could naturally be read as "knit 2 together." I typed wrong! I meant for it to mean simply "knit 2" as in "knit, knit, purl, purl" ribbing. Oops! So I haven't ever knitted two together.

My join happened as you describe it (i.e. the standard way) EXCEPT I didn't use needle 4 to do it. I just used needle 3 to knit into the first stitch on needle 1. And I counted that as my FIRST knit stitch.

Then, with needle 4, I went into the next stitch on #1, and that was the SECOND knit stitch in the ribbing. Next came two purl stitches, then two knits, and so on.

Assuming this isn't throwing off any row counts (like, making the sock into a spiral rather than a cylinder), I wonder why this isn't a more common join? It was easier than involving the fourth needle from the get go.

In the future, I will definitely use the "switch places with first and last stitch" as a join, since that doesn't involve the fourth needle.


Thank you again! It is really hard to read these kind of descriptions, and figure out what someone is doing, isn't it?


    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 12:34PM
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I join my two ends together by swaping the last stitch with the first stitch...before I even begin knitting. This way my "tail" is on the last stitch of needle two and my yarn is on the first stitch of needle one, but since they're crossed I can easily knit that first stitch.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 1:01PM
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Francey, Sounds to me like you're on the right track. By now you've probably finished at least one sock.

Here's a few of my thoughts for DPNs and sock knitting --

Instead of casting on, then immediately dividing the stitches among 3 needles and joining, I like to cast on and begin knitting the ribbing.

Let's say you cast on 64 or 65 stitches, Do 16 stitches, then start knitting onto the second needle. Do 32 stitches, then start on the third needle and knit the last 16 stitches. Join the yarn as you begin the second round.
When you finish the sock, you can tidy up the top of the cuff and weave in the loose end of yarn.

You might find it easier at first to knit socks from worsted weight yarn. It's easier to see your stitches and your sock will progress more quickly.

Socks are sooo versatile. You can learn the basics quickly by knitting slipper socks -- which are great in worsted weight yarn. Just knit the 2" cuff, then knit 5 plain rows and start the heel flap and continue on to the foot, etc. Short socks use the same techniques as long ones.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 8:03PM
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I've just started my first pair of "non-slipper" socks, but have used dpns to knit other things.. and I've found the easiest way to join the first round (for me anyway) is to CO one more stitch than originally called for in the pattern, and slip it onto my first needle from the last needle, then knit the 2 together, and count it as my first k stitch of the pattern...Hope that wasn't confusing.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 1:33AM
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