Thursday, September 17, 2009

By Hand: knitting needles

(modified from Kids’ Knitting, by Melanie Falick -- a book every knitter should have on the shelf)

  • 2 or more colors polymer clay (Sculpey works great) or anything to use as the end-cap – acorn, wooden bead, button – to ensure your stitches don’t fall off
  • 1/4-inch or 3/16-inch dowel cut into two 14-inch lengths
  • pencil sharpener
  • fine-grit sandpaper
  • mineral oil or any type of oil that the wood can soak up
  • craft glue
Note: a 1/4 inch dowel will make a size 10 needle and a 3/16 inch dowel will make a size 8 needle. Any size dowel can be used, but smaller ones tend to break and larger ones are hard to use.
STEP 1 -- To make the needle ends:
1. preheat oven to 250 degrees for clay
2. choose a main color of clay and roll into a 1/2 inch ball. Don't make the ball too large or it will weigh down the needle. Repeat for 2nd ball.
3. break off bits of 2nd color and press tiny dots onto larger balls. Roll them around and around until you have a nice smooth ball.
4. press each ball onto 1 end of each dowel piece. I flattened my balls so that the needles wouldn't roll when on their sides -- you can make any shape you want.
5. lay dowels on baking dish (such as a pyrex pan) so ball hangs over; place in oven, making sure balls do not touch oven shelf.
6. bake according to clay directions -- about 30 minutes for Sculpey.
7. cool about 10 minutes. Remove balls from dowels and set aside while you work with dowels.

STEP 2 -- To make needles:
1. using the pencil sharpener, sharpen one end of each dowel until tip is as pointy as a dull pencil. You can make double-pointed needles by sharpening both ends! You don’t want the point too sharp as that will split the yarn as you knit.
2. rub each dowel with sandpaper until very smooth, making sure that each point is dull. All rough spots need to be sanded off, else yarn will stick to needle.
3. with a paper towel or clean rag, rub the dowels with mineral oil until shiny and extra smooth. Replace clay balls, using glue to secure clay to flat end of dowel.

You can use anything for the end of your needle to keep the stitches from falling-off – an acorn cap, bead, rubber band, etc. The important thing is that it doesn’t catch on your yarn but does hold the yarn on the needle.

Happy knitting!