DIY Knitting Needles (by Brian Sawyer)Though I guess the basic idea behind DIY knitting needles has been around for some time, I first learned about it from Danese Cooper at last year’s FOO Camp. In short, you take wooden dowels, sharpen the working ends with a pencil sharpener, sand down the points a bit, and hot glue buttons to the base. You wind up with some useful and not unattractive knitting needles that serve as a great conversation piece for any knitting circle or get-together.

I’d planned to work up a whole how-to on this, but the process is pretty straightforward and has already been covered elsewhere, notably in this great tutorial.

But there is something I’ve seen less coverage of that might be worth adding here (though I’m by no means claiming it as original), and that’s how easy it is to use skewers for the same purpose. Since they’re so thin, you’re of course limited in the size of knitting needle you’re going for, but they’re perfect for those pesky double-pointed needles (DPNs) I always seem to need only once, in some odd size I don’t have, for just a simple cuff or something on a much larger project.

Materials (Skewers) for DIY DPNs (by Brian Sawyer)Just get yourself some wooden skewers (you can even find some nice bamboo ones, which will make them even closer to my personal favorite style of needles) and follow the instructions in the tutorial I linked to earlier in this post, sharpening both ends instead of applying something like clay or a button to the base (since DPNs are, of course, double-pointed).

You might need to experiment with a variety of skewer styles, especially if you’re looking for a particular size, but skewers are so inexpensive (especially compared with the mind-boggling price of nice bamboo DPNs) you can afford to buy a bunch and mess around. This is something else I haven’t seen much discussion of with DIY knitting needles: size. Some arbitrary size is great if you’re just learning to knit and any old sticks will do, but you need to be a little more deliberate if you’re making something to work with a pattern; your gauge will obviously be blown with a guess at needle size.

So, get yourself a needle size and knitting gauge checker and size those skewers up. As you see, I’ve got the materials for a nice set of size 3s:

Size 3 Skewer (by Brian Sawyer)

Make yourself needles in as many different sizes as you can find skewers for and keep them on hand for those odd projects that don’t warrant investing in the real thing. These DIY DPNs are a perfectly workable alternative, as you can see with these finished size 3s working up a sock I just might never finish (for reasons that have nothing to do with the needles):

Sock on DIY DPNs (by Brian Sawyer)


Over at, Natalie passes on Laurie’s handy dowel-to-knitting-needle size conversion guide:

Approximate dowel sizes are:
5/16″ = about a size 11
1/4″ = about a size 10
7/32″ = about a size 9
3/16″ = about a size 7
1/8″ = about a size 4

above a 5/16″ won’t fit in most pencil sharpeners.

She also points to a great roundup of other DIY knitting needle tutorials, including circulars. Nice!