Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Make your own chunky knitting needles... ...

If you've read the last post I did you'll know I have been adventuring into the realm of knitting, with pretty good results (I'm happy at least) We now make our own floor and dish cloths, mainly because ours our better than bought ones, and last longer, and when finished with they can be composted, sounds like a winner to me.

Anyway I mentioned in the post about other applications for knitting, and I came up with the idea for knitting hanging baskets, admittedly this isn't a new idea, but I decided to ponder it a little, and after trying to knit with some fairly thick string I figured I'd need bigger needles to actually have a proper go, either that or some thinner string, I was feeling creative so I went for making the needles in the end, and here's how I did it.

Okay so I've kind of cheated a little, mainly because I bought two lengths of 12mm dowel for the needle shafts, at a cost of 68p each, so £1.36 for the pair, I could have turned the shafts on my lathe, but if I'm honest it was the last qualifying session of the 2010 formula 1 season and I didn't want to miss it, and in my defence I didn't actually have any wood as long as this, or that I wanted to turn down to 12mm, I have plenty of wood, it's just marked for other projects and such like.

So with my two lengths of dowel I trundled down to the mole cave and set about putting a point on the end of each needle.

Picture time -

Starting the point.
I started the point off by clamping the dowel in a vice and using a small block plane to shave the ends down, again this was done as it's less time consuming than sanding, again had I turned them I could have made the point at the same time.

Once I'd got a rough point I then sanded the ends using the sanding disc I made for my lathe, and with a fine grade sanding disc on it I was able to get a nice smooth point on each needle.

Finishing the points - 

I should have removed the bar code sticker first.
Both ends done - 

Pretty much equal, ish :-)
After I'd finished the ends it occurred to me that I would need some kind of stopper on the opposite ends, so that anything I was knitting wouldn't just slide of the end, I had some rough turned pieces of wood lying about so I measured a couple until I found a bit that I felt was big enough to fit on the end of each needle.

For the needle ends I got two sections of wood from the roughly turned piece I chose, and then marked the centres of each part, by drawing lines across each bit to find the centre, the same way you would find the centre of a circle on a bit of paper.

Then using a spade bit I made a hole in the centre of the needles end, and as it turned out the dowels were a little larger than 12mm, either that or the spade bit is wrong, a large drill bit would do just as well.

Needle end and spade bit - 

Spade bit and needle end.
The dowel turned out to be closer to 13mm according to my vernier which was okay as it meant I could get a nice tight fit on the needles ends, and with a spot of wood glue they wouldn't come off easily.

I did however have to sand the ends of the needles so they would actually go into the holes I'd made.

Sanded needle end and end - 

Needle and end.
Once that was done it was just a matter of finishing the ends, I did this using the sanding disc on the lathe, and then I gave each needle a good sanding with a finishing pad to make them nice and smooth, and below is what I ended up with, which is a set of knitting needles that are more or less 3feet long.

Knitting needles - 

Not the best picture, but you get the idea.
I think they turned out okay, and for about £2 and 45minutes work they are pretty good, and they work, they are a little strange at first because of the length of them, but after a while you get used to holding them, and just to prove they can be used I did a quick few rows of string.

String knitting - 

Much easier to use this type of string.
Of course you can use chunky wool as well, but I made these for the purpose of knitting hanging baskets, and yes you did read that right, I have already made a prototype which I will post about eventually, it actually looks quite good as it goes, but I'll let you be the judge of that when I get round to writing the post.

You can easily make something like this yourself even with out the lathe and such like, all you need is a drill a spade bit and some wood and sand paper, or you could just use a large drill bit, 10mm would be about right, of course with out the lathe sander it may take a little longer to make them, but there is a lot of satisfaction to be had in making your own tools.

I will get round to doing the hanging basket post as soon as possible, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading.

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