Monday, September 24, 2012

How to Make Homemade Knitting Needles

So, I've been busy.  I was sick with a sore throat for a week, so that halted everything.  I'm pretty sure I got that while going on a great thrift store hunt, where I found a couple t-shirts for my husband and a bowl.  Not what I bargained for!

I was able to knit a lot though.  I finished a Halloween colored sweater, and made a matching one for my dog.  When it actually gets cold enough to wear, I will post some pics.  Right now it's still in the 90's.

Ever hopeful, I'm working on a pumpkin pie colored cardigan.  That ought to be fun.  So, I discovered I didn't have the right sized knitting needles for that project.  Being me, of course, I decided to make my own.

I bought a couple of dowels at the hardware store.
I used an old serrated steak knife to cut the wood, then used a pencil sharpener to make the edges.
Sandpaper and an emery board to smooth out.
Easy peasy.

homemade knitting needles

homemade knitting needlesI made some double points and straight needles.  For the straight needles, I got a pack of "buttons" which were next to the dowels.  I nailed and glued them in place.  A more elegant solution would be nice, but oh well.  I know you can use Sculpey to form a little mushroom end, but I didn't have any.

The smaller needles fit in the electric pencil sharpener, and their edges turned out great.  I had to use a little manual sharpener on the big needles, so they're not as even, but they came out ok.

I will probably turn some into circular needles with some weed eater line and possibly tape.  We'll see on that one.

homemade knitting needles

Cost of project ~$3 (including 4 dp needles, two straight needles, and button ends)

I'm not sure how they'll knit, but for a couple bucks, it's worth a shot.  It'd be fabulous if I could find some bamboo dowels.

I will withhold my button rating on these until I knit with them.


I have been using my needles.  The yarn stuck really bad, so I got some very fine (320) sand paper, and I got a polyurethane coating.


homemade knitting needles
In order to paint this on the needles, I had to tie them up and string them on another dowel.

I then painted each side of the double points, and most of the straight needles.  I flipped the dp around and did the other side.  

I put at least 3 coats on.  It takes 2 weeks before they are completely cured and ready to go.  

I couldn't wait that long for one set, so I'm using them now.  Works great.  I had to re-sand after painting though because I know I didn't get all the little sawdust bits off before painting.

The ones I'm using right now do tend to get nicked where the point hits the needle when knitting.  But, the nicks are not sharp or catching the yarn.

I also discovered that the hardware store has oak and poplar dowels.  The craft stores only carry poplar.  Oak is a far superior wood and much harder.  Unfortunately, oak only came in a couple sizes.

The dowels are sold in 1/4" increments which are not as precise as the mm sizes knitting needles come in, so you will only be able to make certain sizes from store bought dowels.

The polyurethane will make the needles last longer and protect from nicks and dulling points.

Dowels $0.25 - $1.50 (depending on quality and coupons)
Sandpaper $3-4
Polyurethane $7

1 Set of needles total cost ~ $2

For the minimal cost for the great product outcome, I give the homemade knitting needles 4 buttons up.  I think they will not hold up as well as bamboo a few years down the road, but are otherwise better than metal or plastic needles I have.

Second Update

I made circular needles easily with some double point needles, weed eater line, duct tape, and scotch tape.

homemade knitting needles

Third Update: 

Tape does not work.  The yarn kept getting caught at the tape, and it was very difficult to push it along.  I went with drilling a hole and inserting the cord.  It wasn't as difficult as I thought.

homemade double point knitting needles

Snipped off a bit of sharp end of needle.
Used drill bit the size of weed eater cord.  
By hand, I screwed in the drill bit until it made a deep enough hole to put the cord ~1/2"

homemade double point knitting needles

Inserted the cord.
Sand, sand, sand to get a nice smooth, flowing end - nothing to snag yarn.

homemade double point knitting needles

I used tacky glue and superglue, just to be sure.  
One end did come out after some knitting, so I just superglued it.  It's fine now. 

homemade double point knitting needles

After it dries, sand, sand, sand again until yarn passes over tip smoothly.

Now to figure out how to make interchangeable double points.  Hmmmm......


Anonymous said...

thnx sooo much. bin lookin 4 this 4ever! :)

Anonymous said...

besides weed eater, what can you use to make a circular needle.

Anonymous said...

If you do ever attempt to make interchangeable circulars I would almost suggest trying a necklace clasp. There are some that wind together and might work well.

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