Double-pointed needles, or DPNs, are knitting needles with points on both ends. Shorter than regular knitting needles, DPNs are specifically designed for knitting small objects in the round and making i-cord. DPNs are frequently used to make socks, wristbands, the cuffs of sweaters and the tops of hats. When you knit a pattern with cabled circular needles that calls for decreasing stitches, the decreases will often leave too few stitches for you to continue the project on the cabled needles. Switching to DPNs allows you to finish the project without stretching out your stitches.
Cast on as many stitches as the pattern calls for using one DPN and the cast-on method of your choice. Cast on slightly tighter than you normally would.
Divide the number of stitches by three. If the number cannot be evenly divided by three, add the extra stitches to the third needle. For example, a pattern with 32 stitches would be divided into segments of 10, 10 and 12.
Slip the first group of stitches onto another DPN. Slip the third group of stitches onto a third DPN, making sure not to twist the cast-on edge or the stitches themselves. Slide each group of stitches to the middle of each needle.
Push the first and last DPN toward each other to form a triangle shape. The working yarn should be at the end of the last needle, with the next stitch on the needle to its left being the first stitch you cast on.
Insert the fourth DPN into the first stitch as if to knit it. Pull the working yarn from the third needle to knit the stitch, joining the work in the round.
Free the first needle by knitting the last stitch in the group onto the fourth DPN. Knit the stitches on the second needle with the freed DPN. Knit every stitch on the third needle with the second DPN. Each time you free a needle, use it to knit the next segment of stitches.
Knit every stitch to form stockinette or alternate knit and purl stitches to make ribbing.