I would never have thought of making my own knitting needles, but that's just what the kids do at my daughter's Steiner school - and if 6, 7 and 8 year olds can do it, so can I. I'm shortly running a craft course for children and decided that it would be fun to make knitting needles for them that they could then take away, plus wooden needles are less slippery for novice knitters to hold. So here are my first attempts and the instructions too.
First, buy some thin dowel. I bought 6mm oak dowel from my local hardware store in a 2.4m length and cut it down. 2.4m conveniently cut down into 8 30cm lengths - about the length of a standard knitting needle. The dowel cut down very easily with a craft knife. I could just as easily have made 3 pairs of 40cm needles, suitable for bigger knits.
I cut a circle around one end of each needle, about 1cm in from the end, and cut a small amount away between the circle and the end to make it a bit narrower in circumference. I did this in order to fit the end of the needle into a large wooden bead.
I also whittled away a small amount at the other end of the needle...
... so that I wouldn't have to spend all day with the pencil sharpener! A standard metal sharpener works very well to create a point at the business end of the needle.
Sand the whole length of the needle with fine grade sandpaper, paying particular attention to the point and to the area where the point tapers off into the main shaft of the needle: the transition from point to shaft needs to be as smooth as possible otherwise the knitting will bunch up around here.
Finish off with a light coat of olive oil followed by beeswax rubbed all the way up the shaft of the needle, then wipe back and finally glue on the bead. Et voila!
It's a funny thing, isn't it, making your own tools. These needles are SO easy to make and yet I've always gone out and bought them. I suppose the availability of suitable dowel might be an issue, but essentially they're cheap and quick to make. I've never really thought about knitting needles but I have a quiet sense of satisfaction now that I've made some.
10 months ago