My hands tend to get cold, so I decided to make something cozy and fun to keep them warm. I found a pattern for simple ribbed wristlets and started knitting. Things were going swimmingly until I came across instructions to "turn work and start working back and forth." I was a bit stumped about this – I understood what it meant to "turn work" when using straight needles, but I didn't understand how to apply that to knitting in the round with dpns.
After some needle aerobics and tangled yarn, I finally figured it out. When you reach the end of a round, the working yarn (yarn attached to the ball) is on the needle in your right hand. If you wanted to continue knitting in the round, you would pick up the empty dpn with your right hand (let go of the needle with the working yarn first), use the empty dpn to knit into the first stitch on the needle in your left hand, pulling the working yarn from the needle on your right side around the empty dpn tightly.
When you are instructed to turn your work, you do things differently:
A) Take the needle in your right hand (the needle with the working yarn) and switch it to your left hand.
B) Orient this needle so the working yarn is hanging off the right end of the needle.
C) Place the empty dpn in your right hand.
Stop and think for a moment – doesn't this scenario look and feel familiar? It should because you are basically in the same position when start a new row on straight needles!
D) Use the empty dpn in your right hand to knit into the first stitch on the needle in your left hand, pulling the working yarn from the needle in your left hand around the empty dpn tightly. Continue knitting.
When you get to the end of the round, repeat steps A thru D for as many rounds as the pattern specifies.
When you knit in the round on dpns, you are creating a tube. When you turn your work on dpns, you will be effectively creating a rectangle just like if you were knitting on straight needles. If you knit in the round, then turn your work and knit for a few rounds, then continue knitting in the round, you will create a vertical slit in the tube (perfect, say for a thumb to poke through).
I finished the wristlets and proudly showed them off to my husband, who started laughing and declared that they should be named Cookie Monster Mitts because the color and slight fuzziness of the knitted yarn reminded him of a certain blue, furry cookie-loving monster. I had to agree, but I think in the right context, they look cool and edgy instead of comical. Wouldn't you agree?