Monday, February 7, 2011

DIY Circular Knitting Needles

So I wrote about wanting to make my own circular knitting needles recently. I thought it was something I could definitely manage. I was right. The real reason I even bothered looking this kind of thing up was because a circular 32" US17 needle isn't cheap or easy to come by. I had to try to make my own.

I used Rosemary Thomas' example as a place to start. I went to the local ACE/Rocky's hardware and found more than a dozen types of wooden dowels. Unfortunately, no one really knew what kind of wood they were. We assumed them to be pine, which I imagine isn't the best wood to use, but for starters, it's fine.

I bought a bunch of different sized dowels and headed home. I already had weed whacker trim, super duper glue (E6000 used in making my flower barrettes, available at any local craft store), sand paper and exacto knives, and very small drill bits.

The trick here is to drill very carefully, particularly with the smaller dowels. You can break the dowels apart really easily just by spinning them in the grip of some scissors and snapping them. I used a 3/64th and a 1/18th at some points. You also want to get the appropriate weed whacker trim. I guess they come in multiple widths - we had 0.60" width on hand. Just make sure your bit is equal to or just slightly larger than the weed whacker trim. The glue should hold that wiggle room just fine.

So you sand carve down and sand down your tips. I used a pencil sharpener for tips, but had to taper them a little more with an exacto knife. The end that connects to the cable (weed whacker trim) need to be pretty well tapered as well, but not as badly as business end of the needles.

You'll want some 600ish sand paper and then a much finer sand paper to do your work on these needles. This is probably the most time-consuming bit of the project, crafting your needles.

Another important thing to note is that weed whacker trim is tricky to glue. To assist the weed whacker trim in staying in the holes you drilled, cut into the trim just a smidge, making a jagged surface for the glue to grab on to better (see my very crudely drawn image to the left and laugh!)

Once you've got everything assembled, let the needles set for a while. I let mine sit, held drawn out by 2 cakes of yarn, for about 24 hours. After they set, you can sand down the glue residue and perfect your needles. You could also do as Rosemary Thomas suggests and use some teflon tape (plumber's tape, very cheap) at the connection between the cable and your needle.

A dip in beeswax and further sanded/polished will give your needles a lovely feel. It takes less than 45 minutes to engineer each pair, excluding setting time and finishing time. You'll make a bit of a mess, so set out some scrap paper in your workspace if you don't want wood shavings and sand paper dust everywhere. This is a very rewarding project if you're anything like me and want to stop paying high prices for your knitting tools!


Made by Hand on Planet Earth said...

Hi! Check out Brilliant Knitting on Etsy. They sell wonderful bamboo needles that come recommended by people actually using them. You can get 15 circular needles for only $30! Amazing. I just ordered some. Couldn't wait any longer.

Sassafrass said...

Bless your heart, woman. Thank you for the suggestion!

Made by Hand on Planet Earth said...

I am so impressed that you made your own. I think I would lose patience in about 10 minutes. How can you possibly achieve a smooth connection between needle and cable? I'll be curious to know how you like them once you are using them.

The Gift Laboratory said...

I used this and other pages as inspiration for my own method:


I have managed to make a really smooth connection and no drilling required!