Double-pointed needles (dpns) have points at both ends and come in sets of four or five needles in 7"/18cm and 10"/25cm lengths.
Unlike circular needles, they are used only for tubular pieces. Actually, the very first circular knitting was done on double-pointed needles. Since the invention of circular needles, double-pointed needles are used less often, usually to knit small items such as mittens, gloves, socks hats and sleeve cuffs.
The stitches are divided evenly among three or four needles. An extra needle is used to knit the stitches. When your work is joined on three needles, the needles form a triangle. When joined on four needles, a square is formed. Make sure that you keep an even tension when going from one needle to the next. If you find that your stitches slip off the needles as you work, choose longer double-pointed needles or switch to a circular needle.
On the first round, you can work the first few stitches with both the working yarn and the cast-on tail to create a neater joining. Another way to make a neat joining is to cast on one extra stitch on the last needle. Slip this stitch to the first needle and knit it together with the first cast-on stitch.
Just as for circular needles, you should mark the beginning of the round, and take care to make sure that the cast-on edge is not twisted.
On the last round, use the free needle to bind off the stitches on the first needle until one stitch remains. Drop the free needle and use the needle with the one remaining stitch to bind off the stitches on the next needle to the last stitch. Continue in this way to the last stitch on the last needle and fasten off this stitch.
casting on and knitting
|Cast on with three needles|
|1. Cast on the required number of stitches on the first needle, plus one extra. Slip this extra stitch to the next needle as shown. Continue in this way, casting on the required number of stitches on the last needle.||2. Arrange the needles as shown, with the cast-on edge facing the center of the triangle (or square).||3. Place a stitch marker after the last cast-on stitch. With the free needle, knit the first cast-on stitch, pulling the yarn tightly. Continue knitting in rounds, slipping the marker before beginning each round.|