Hard-to-find Curiosities for Those Who are All Thumbs

I'm writing a book about mittens. Which means I'm knitting thumbs. Lots and lots of thumbs.

Know what's good when you're all thumbs? Little, short DPNs! And by short, I mean 4 or 5 inches long; not your garden-variety 6 or 8 inch-long ones.

And you can get those little cuties all day long, in sizes 0-4, from all our favorite knitting retailers. But what you CAN'T have, I found out, is any short DPNs in diameters larger than size US 4. So if you have the crazy idea to knit gloves out of, say, worsted weight yarn (super-exotic, right?), and you'd like to knit all 10 tiny little finger tubes on needles shorter than 6 or 8 inches, tough cookies. That's right. Knitting has failed us in this regard, for reasons surpassing understanding. Drat.

Until today, that is. Yes, just leave all the knitting problems in my impatient hands.

I suited up, took myself hunting, and bagged the wild DPNs. I give you Ostart brand bamboo needles, available HERE , for the low, low price of $4.69 US. Yes, for less than a cup of coffee, you can have all eleven sizes of 5" DPNs, in sets of five. That's 55 needles for those of you who like the Maths. 

I am neither an employee nor shill for Ostart or Amazon, but when I find something cool, I love to pass it along to you, Gentle Readers. I've never heard of Ostart before, and I didn't have much luck learning about the company. I'm pretty sure the needles are from Asia. Ostart makes lots of different sets of both circular and DPNs, all for sale through Amazon. Now I know that for a lot of us, the idea of buying needles from a 400-lb gorilla rather than our beloved LYS induces hives. And rightly so. So if any of my LYS owner friends, or our dear needle-making associates can find a better source for this somewhat obscure need, please please please let us know.

But for those who can place $4.69 into unknown hands with a calm heart, Let me share the following:

Short DPNs are specifically made for sock, mitten and glove knitting. Their abbreviated length keeps you from getting poked as you work, and makes them easier and faster to manage when knitting small tubular shapes. The small tubes these are intended for are more commonly knit with finer-gauge yarns, so their small diameters are appropriate. 

As I said, most short DPN sets include sizes US 1/2, 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4. This set is different, in that it includes those, plus US 1 1/2, 2 1/2, 5, 6, 7, and 8. It is extremely difficult to find short DPNs in any size larger than US 4, so if you have that need (I do: I'l be knitting 20 pairs of mittens ASAP), this is the set for you.

The needles are bamboo, about as smooth as you could expect at this price, and have medium-ish points. I'd say the points are sharper than a Brittany or a Clover, but more blunt than Hiya Hyia, Chaio Goo or Addi lace. Their surface could benefit from a once-over with emery paper and then waxed paper to smooth them out a bit. Or you could do what I do and just use them for a while, letting them smooth out over time. While extremely small and hard to read, each needle does have its size inscribed (perhaps with a laser?), expressed in mm. This can be a lifesaver if you ever spill or mix up the whole collection; just find a magnifying glass!

The set includes five needles in each of the following 11 sizes: 2.0 mm (US 1/2), 2.25 mm (US 1), 2.5 mm (US 1 1/2), 2.75 (US 2), 3.0 mm (US 2 1/2), 3.25 mm (US 3), 3.5 mm (US 4), 3.75 mm (US 5), 4.0 mm (US 6), 4.5 mm (US 7), and 5.0 mm (US 8). Again, these last 4 sizes are extremely rare to find in the short 5" length.

The set is a great price, so even if you already have the smaller sizes in a sock set, you'll be happy to keep them as spares just to get those 4 larger sizes. I wish Amazon's product information had been more clear - I had to buy the set just to find out what I would get. The low price and quick shipping made it seem worth the gamble though, and I'll do anything for you, Gentle Readers. Just one more service I provide.