Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Measure, Cut, Sharpen, Sand---and Knit!

Long after I'm gone, my house will probably still be giving up all the yarn needles, dpns, crochet hooks, and various other small needlework implements that have disappeared over time. It's hard to believe that I've brought many, many of these things into this house, yet, when I need something specific, I've never got the right thing. The ducts, the moldings, the window wells, the radiators, and those dark and dusty slits under the bookcases and dressers must all be full of small, pointed things.

For a while, I've been down to three #3 dpns, and have been using a #4 to make up a set. Moreover, the 3's are aluminum and just not very nice. I've gotten spoiled over the years, and my hands have also deteriorated quite a bit. Now, I want bamboo or wood needles. Luckily, there are a lot of blogs out there written by people who make their own needles from dowels, so I decided to give it a try.

I took my needle gauge down to Tru-Value Hardware and went through their bin of dowels. The 1/8" dowel corresponded to our US#3. I was also able to buy a dowel to make a set of #8's, and one to make some 10 1/2. The smallest dowel was 80 cents for a yard. The others were slightly more.

The 36" dowels yield four 7" sticks and one 8". I measured, marked each length with a black marker, and sawed through the dowel with an old bread knife. Then, using a little plastic pencil sharpener, I sharpened each end into a point. I only had one size of sandpaper (most other needle makers use two or three different grades), but it was a very fine grade. I rubbed the sticks between the folded paper, then scraped the points against the paper quite vigorously, to blunt them a bit.

Again, most other people rub the finished sticks with waxed paper, or use some sort of beeswax or other polish. I decided to give the needles a test run first, and they were as smooth and silky as could be. Perhaps the larger needles will need more finishing, but these work great! I can't believe all the money I've spent on dpns, when all I needed was an 80 cent dowel (this one is made of birch wood). I'm addicted! Of course, you can also make single point needles in any length desired, by sharpening only one end, and gluing a button or whatever to the other end.

Honestly, making these took about half an hour (not counting the trip to the store). And I'm not handy with tools.

Back to frantically finishing my Christmas projects. Hugs.


Sasa said...

LOL! I've always been threatening to try that! As usual, I think you have given me the inspiration I needed to at least TRY it!

BTW - one of the best ways I have found to "condition" new or dry needles is to run them through my hair and along my scalp . . . the natural oils really condition the wood nicely!

I have kind of longish hair that I normally wear in a pony tail (which is a very handy place to put those extra needles when you are doing the heel of a sock - tee hee). I was sitting in a MacDonald's the other day waiting for a friend and, of course, knitting with a new set of rather "cheapy" needles that were just dry and uncomfortable to use. So I was running first one needle and then the other through the hair at the base of my pony tail. I looked up and here was an "older" lady sitting across the restaurant just enraptured with what I was doing. I started laughing and held the needle up and said "new needles . . . " She started laughing with me. When she was finished she stopped at my table and chatted for a few minutes.

It's amazing how suffering from "KIP" brings interesting people into your life.

Well, love you, take care, have a wonderful Christmas and God Bless!

Barbara said...

Now that's just cool. I can envision a trip to Home Depot or Ace Hardware in my future because I love doing stuff like that.

Good luck gift finishing.

Shoefairy3 said...

great idea

Aunt Kathy said...

Me too, I ahve wanted to try making my own. You inspired me to try. I'll let you know if I can do it as good as you