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You know how some projects end up feeling like wrestling matches—stitches get caught on the join of your circular needle, and you spend more time nudging stitches than you do knitting? Lace projects are where this happens for me. The combination of thin yarn and large circs is a recipe for nudging.

I had a bit of that with my first Nesting Wrap, Bristol Ivy’s brioche pattern. Not terrible, but it was the sort of thing that got me to thinking: if only this size 10.5 needle weren’t a circular needle. If only it were straight, and somehow allowed me to do that thing in two-color brioche where you have to slide the stitches back across the needle to work the second color?

Well, I figured out how to get this fantasy to become reality. I realize this is a very specific hack for a very specific project. But it does make me think about needles, and how sometimes the tool we instinctively reach for may not be the right choice. I guess that’s my Thought for the DayTM.

My fantasy required double-pointed needles of unusual length and size: ten inches long, size 10.5. That’s just a weird size for a DPN. Socks for a giant? Knit your own sleeping bag? I embarked on a comprehensive search of the internet, a visit to Meg Strong at Haus of Yarn, and a consideration of making my own superlong DPNs out of dowels. Conclusion after this exploration: I’m not really eager to take on needle manufacturing as a new craft.

I got out a set of Clover tip protectors, from the drawer of exotic knitting notions. (Are there any fans of point protectors out there? This is the first time I’ve had a real need for them.)

Here’s what happens. You knit one row in one color—here, it’s the dark Mallard color I’ve just finished. Next, I’m supposed to knit the Verdigris. See how it’s not knittable, given that there’s an obstacle in the way, namely the point protector?

Well, alls ya gotta do is move it to the other end, and voila: off you go.

Susan Bates 10″ DPNs do the job!

When the pattern says, “Slide stitches back to other end to begin next color,” you just move the tip from one end to the other, slide your stitches, and you’re good to go.

It’s about ten billion times faster than working this stuff on a circular. Zipzap, I tell you!


  • Good tip! The Lismore Sheep Farm here in Nova Scotia makes what they call swing needles for projects like that. They have a web page. I love your choice of colors.

      Weird – the swing needles were the first thing I thought of when I read this post. Although I don’t see a 10.5mm size. The 14″ length is generous though.

      • Swing needles! Thank you both for this. I’ve never heard of such a thing–they’re really more artful than my MacGyvered version.

  • Brilliant and beautiful, Ann!

  • Extra long 10.5 size double pointed needles – no problem! I bought some standard size dowel at a wood shop that my husband frequents. I think it was quarter inch an)d it comes in various lengths. I bought walnut but you can get a variety of woods. I wanted a new set of double pointed needles, having broken a plastic set and being down to three needles. The length of the dowel in my case was just the right length to cut into five pieces. I sharpened both ends in an electric pencil sharpener and then lightly oiled the wood with a little bit of mineral oil. I wiped them to make sure there was no residue and voila! While I think that they are not precisely the same size of a standard 10.5 needle they are darned close. And I have news for you – I have several sets of interchangeable needles and the tolerances on sizing is farther off than my homemade needles. As long as you can get your gauge, it shouldn’t really make any difference. For something like four or five bucks I have ten needles.

    • Louise! That’s amazing! Maybe I DO need to get into needle manufacturing. It would be such fun to use a pencil sharpener to get a tip going. And walnut? One of the most beautiful woods. Could I use wax to smooth the wood? Does it even really need to be smoothed anymore than it already is?

  • You are brilliant! I hate sliding on circs. One of the reasons I don’t like magic loop. Thank you!

  • You have us all MacGuyvering now. You should recruit Ms. BuildMeUpButtercup to get these going!

    • Yes, get Carrington involved, stat!

  • Nice hack-will remember this tip when I start to tackle brioche. I wonder if it would work using two short circular needles?

  • Brittany makes 10″ long birch double points in sizes 2 to 13.
    I’m a big fan of Brittany birch needles. And yes, I use point protectors as end caps when I’m using double point needles as simple single points, because sometimes I just like a shorter needle than is available as a single point. The Brittany website that I’ve linked here has a list of places where their needles are available online. Anyway, ingenious idea, Ann. Go, Ann, go.

    • That’s what I did to have really short needles for a 10 stitch blanket

  • While we’re hacking things, I use my point protectors to protect my pointy scissors that don’t come with sheaths.

    • Good idea!

  • Brilliant tip, but my first & only experience with those Quicksilver needles was as a newbie knitter: Quicksilver needles with Lion Brand’s Homespun. It was a bad combination. The yarn squeaked going over needles! Like nails on chalkboard squeaking. It was so awful that I tossed both yarn & needles & have never touched either again! I’m sure that they’re both fine in their own right, but I don’t expect to every find out.

  • Interesting idea! Would work great on relatively narrow projects. However, some of Nancy Marchant’s and Stephen West’s designs are wide enough to require circulars. I find the join a problem in some of my circular sets — just in some needles, not all of them.

  • How clever!

  • How clever. I had also never heard of swing needles before, either, though I am fond of knitting needles in weird sizes and lengths. I happen to have quite a few sets of double points in large sizes: 10, 10.5, 11, and even 15! They are mostly from my early days (circa 2004-2005) of knitting, where I was fond of making hats with bulky wool. Oh, and I also somehow acquired a 12 inch circ in a size 8. I’m not sure what I intended to knit with it…I think something circular that I later meant to felt.

  • Thank you for introducing this intriguing technique. I am particularly interested after struggling with brioche in the round both on double pointed and circular needles. Sorry to admit I’m not understanding something in the verbal directions. Ann, is it possible to make a brief video of this technique for the visual learners among us?

  • I have used two short circs for this same technique.

  • I just love those colors.
    And I do use point protectors if I’m carrying a WIP where the stitches might creep off the needles. Hard to keep track of them, though…excellent kitten toys. Apparently just the right degree of unpredictable bounce and resistant toothiness.
    Those colors are just about perfect. Oh, did I say that already?

    • Sorry, I am a little late to the party.

      I too, used point protectors to stop the stitches coming off the needles, in my on-the-go project bag. Alas, too many times they failed. Especially on DPNs for sock projects, and especially metal needles (bamboo has a better grip). So now I flatten out the needles together and wind a small rubber band around each end to hold the stitches on the needles – before stuffing in the bag and jumping out of/on to tram/train MacGuyver style 😉

      Perhaps kittens are not so partial to rubber bands?

      • There is a real danger of cats swallowing rubber bands!

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