Needle Reassignment Surgery

A while back, I posted a short "teaser" which one of my commenters referred to as "needle reassignment surgery," and I think that this is terribly clever, so this is the term I will use. LOL.

I turned Balenes and Boye interchangeables into circular needles, and some skewers and pick up sticks into straights - and you can, too! It's really quite easy.

First, have a look at my article, to get an understanding of how it all goes together.

What I'm doing here is exactly the same thing, only with plastic Balenes instead of wooden dowels. MUCH to my surprise, it's extremely easy to drill into plastic needles - MUCH easier than drilling into wood. First, plastic is so much softer than wood, and it has no grain. When drilling into wood, the drill bit seems to follow the grain of the wood, and sometimes, come out of the side of the needle, as indicated in the article.

Step one - saw off one pointy end of one of the Balene double points.

Next, drill into the end of the needle - just like you did with the wooden ones, but look how much fun it is to drill into plastic! Twirlies!!!Because I think that these twirlies are just too cute, I'll treat you to another photo, lol. Notice a very important point - twirlies means NO sawdust! A very clean activity! (I made my next pair in the house, at the dining room table...)

Since it is so easy to do, just drill the whole length of the drill bit.

Here is what you end up with - a deep hole.

Next, shape the shoulders of the "hole" and proceed as in the article with notching the Weed Whacker Filament and gluing it into the hole and wrapping with plumber's tape and knitting.
These needles are wonderful - - Very flexible, very nice. These are a Balene size 3. Oh - wait! I had to reshape the tips - see - On top is the original shape, and below it is the reshaped. I just used my Revlon nail file - it only took a few seconds. I really hated the original shape - those little shoulders were annoying. Small changes can make big differences!
One point - when I made mine, I used the same glue that I always use - the Locktite Household Adhesive - and it didn't dry! Now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense - plastic weed whacker filament inside of a plastic hole is just the same as sealing it in plastic, right? But, of course, this didn't occur to me at the time, I just thought that I was being my regular old clever self, lol. When did I make this discovery, you ask? When I was on the road, on our trip to Moab, and of *course* I didn't have any other needles. Sigh. So, I just wrapped the plumber's tape onto the join, really really really tightly, and hoped for the best. Since hoping for the best nearly always worked, it worked for me and while it was decidedly weird to knit with needles which are swiveling around on the cables, it all held together and I knitted a perfectly decent pair of mittens and I didn't even cry or anything, lol.

Now that I've successfully made these circs out of plastic dpns, I'm going to do some plastic surgery (get it? get it?) on a batch of circs which my mom gave me. They are her old ones and they are lovely needles with awful cables and awful joins. Besides, they are *all* way too short for magic loop, so I'm going to repair the whole lot of them.

Now, on to an experiment which didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I've used these for many projects, most recently for knitting a darling little alpaca hat for my dh to wear under his bike helmet, and while they... knit... they annoy me. See, I thought I was being all smart and all and I ground down the join end of the needle, but all this did was to provide a place for the smooth finish to chip off and get all pokey and scratchy.

This was a pair of needles which someone, somewhere along the line, gave to me. They were new in the package - Boye interchangeables - size 2 - no cables, just the needles. So, I chopped off a bit of weed whacker filament, glued it in, and ground down the straight sides to make a smoother join. But, like I said, it isn't completely satisfactory as the finish is now flaking off and poking my yarn and me. Were I to do it again, I'd leave the straight sides as they are, and do a little sculpting with the pipe tape. Also, the pipe tape doesn't adhere very well to the metal, so I'll probably not repeat this experiment. That is, until someone gives me another pair of Boye interchangeables...

See how shallow the hole is? This doesn't inspire confidence. But, I have to say that they've knitted just fine, I'm simply whining.

See how little difference there is between the diameter of the cable and the needle? I should have left well enough alone... You can see little bits of glue in the area of the join. I learned my lesson with the plastic needles, so I used some sort of odd-ball plastic epoxy on these. It worked out just fine.

On rare occasions, I like to use straight needles - always short ones. Here, you see my little collection.

From top to bottom, roughly left to right, you can see a pair of needles which I made out of culinary skewers, a pair of Britanny Birch dpns - reassigned (with a lone Balene in between), a pair of pickup sticks - reassigned, and more culinary skewers. Missing are my most faves, a particularly short pair of wooden dowel needles which are loaned out to a friend. I made the skewers and the dowel pairs in order to knit the blue alpaca neckwarmer which is way down below.

The pickup sticks make great needles! Here are two different boxes, one from the dollar store and one from the Goodwill. The box on top are filled with perfect number 2 needles, which I used, once upon a time, to begin my Heere Be Dragone shawl (must get back to it...) and the box on the bottom holds perfect number 3's. No, the Goodwill didn't mark the box, I did, lol.
I tied the stoppers onto the needles with this "yarn" and it works perfectly. It's way too cute, too - a nice, bright greenish yellow.
Making needles out of dowels is easy - just do it. You can finish them or not, you decide. The skewers, on the other hand, are a pain in the neck. I ended up soaking them in Formby's oil finish, then letting them dry, then steelwooling them and yes, they came out FANTASTIC, and are wonderful to use, but way too labor intensive for me. I had to do this because the skewers are quite splintery, and unusable in their au naturale form.

Next up - more adventures with needle-felted finishing techniques!


SheepsPyjamas said...

I visited from Ravelry to see your Spindle post, but this post is even moreso an "I must try this right now" post -- I love your instructions and I happen to have a few Balenes and some weedwacker filament about. Now to figure out something to do with the twirlies...

atlaw said...

Rosemary, once again you have outdone yourself. You are so creative! I love reading your posts.

Sally said...

Hi! I just wanted to tell you that your article on Knitters Review inspired me! I HATE HATE HATE the purple KnitPicks cables. They're rough, they come undone from the metal "caps" etc. YUCK! I sort of like the Harmony interchangable tips - they knit well, but also become divorced from the metal cap! I took your hints and bought the weed wacker cord. I roughed it up with a utility knife and glued that into the caps of the cord. I now have blue and clear cords. I want to "color code" so that I can tell the 24" cords from the 32" cords and the 40" cords from the 47" cords. I also want a cord longer than 60" for large lace projects.

When my wood needle came out of the metal cap, I cut grooves into the side of the needle, hoping that there would be more "grip" for the glue and that might make the needle stay in the metal thingie. yarn has "drag" against the metal because the metal tarnishes and stops being slick. I bought the plumber's tape (in three wonderful colors!) and am going to try using that to provide a slick, yarn gliding surface.

Thanks again for all the inspiration!

Rosemary said...

Hi Sally. How nice you are! Thanks for all of your kind words. Yes, the Knitpicks *always* come out of their caps - I hold the purple to the metal with pipe tape. It doesn't seem like it ought to work, but it does. I don't mind the purple too much, but I much prefer my weed whacker stuff. Since I made these posts, I've discovered even narrower weed whacker stuff in a sort of a transluscent-almost-opaque white, which is very nice. It's a little thinnner than the light blue stuff. Also, there is sort of a royal blue in a different brand which seems really nice, too. I can't remember the brand name. The light blue is electrolux, believe it or not, and the darker blue is... darn, can't remember. The light blue is from walmart, but the dark blue is from Lowes and Home Depot. The white is from Big R, a ranch supply store.

Happy knitting! Cheers!

Sally said...

Rosemary, I'm curious why you would want to use a smaller diameter weed whacker cord rather than something slightly larger? The .065" cord is just a hair smaller than the interior dimension of the KnitPicks metal caps. I am hoping that something a hair larger would be good to reduce the wee bitty gap. I found some monofilament fishing line that is 1.75mm (the weed whacker cord is 1.65mm). I ordered the fishing line today on the internet and can't wait to try it. I tried two brands of weed whacker. One is the blue one at Lowes and the other is the clear Black and Decker. Love the blue stuff. It's just as flexible as KnitPicks but is ROUND, not with molded wings. I knit with it last night and was really shocked at how the wool glided over the lump of plumber's tape. The only "drag" was from the uncovered metal cap of the needle (off to put more tape on the needle cap now!). I was scared that my "amateur" wrapping of the tape would cause a problem...but no...1" of tape, even with lumpy wrapping technique, was still pleasant to use! I made a B&D clear cord yesterday and can't wait to try it for size. This time, I'm going to try not using the tape, just to compare the "feeling".

I'm now addicted to removing the purple cords from their caps!!! I got a whole spool of 100 yds of fish line and I can't wait to try it and see if it's better. The only problem I can see with a fatter cord is that there needs to be "room" inside that cap to accomodate the glue and if there isn't enough room, it may not fasten properly. It definitely won't be tight enough for the cord to just stay in there by friction alone.

Now...if only someone could find a way to permanently color the cord so that I could have a rainbow of cord colors by length. I saw that there are neon fish lines but not in the thickness that I need. Weed whacker cord is industry color coded and the .065 size only comes in clear/opaque or blue. The rainbow of color is only in different sizes :( might want to join "The Operating Room" group on Ravelry. They talk about how to do these "knitting needle surgical procedures". I'm apparently the only one who loves to replace KnitPicks cords...everyone else loves them and just wants them to work on a BOYE needle. I keep telling them that your methods are FAB!

Rosemary said...

Hmmm.... I'll have to visit "the operating room" just as soon as I can, because I can't leave anything alone and am always re-doing something. Thanks for the tip.

Please, where oh where did you find heavier fishing line. All I can find in town is hair-thin stuff - on the order of sewing thread. This is what I looked for first, but couldn't find it.

Mostly, I drill holes into dowels or plastic needles for the purpose of making circs, and the finer line matches my drill bits - this is why I was delighted to find it.

Did you notice the Boye surgery in this web post? I didn't glue that cord in - I dont' think. I just wrapped the tape and miracles, it holds. Maybe you can do the same with your stuff?

Another thought would be to use hot-glue - then if you ever wanted to change out the cords, you could just heat up the metal part and it would release.

By the way, my original article was bought by - you might like to read that one, too. Go to "how to" and you'll find it. I sold it and all rights to it, so all I can really do is refer you to the article, heh heh heh. Here's the link -

Pizza is here! Yeah! Off to supper -


Sally said...

Hi...I found the fishing line here: Now, don't rush out and order a spool. The nice dude sent me an email saying that he's out of stock and wouldn't get anymore for another month. He offered me two other "very strong" lines. I had to admit to him that I didn't need the strength and I wouldn't be fishing...I'd be doing "knitting needle repair". I'm sure he's laughing!!! I asked him if he had another 1.75mm line and if there were other colors. I haven't heard back from him yet. Meet me in the Operating Room and I can keep you updated. :)

Your original article in Knitter's Review was fab. Hope they paid you lots for it because it was truly an inspiration!!!!

I'm actually glad that you recommended the weed whacker cord because it was something I could find locally. I'm in an "instant gratification" mode at the moment so it was nice to just buy several small spools at the store to try. I'm now using my B&D cord without any plumber's tape and it works great...not a snag yet. I'm now hopeful that if I can get that 1.75mm line, I'll have 0 gap. YEAH!!!!!

Plus, I've had to surgically correct a knit picks needle and used my file to give the round surface the "roughness" it needed to grip with the glue. It's holding GREAT! All I can say is - why didn't they ask YOU how to design the needles? And could adding grooves to hold the glue be that time consuming/costly???

Another "duh" moment...I realized that all this time, I could have cut the "divets" into the original Knit Picks purple cords and glued them back. That wouldn't have done anything for the rough sides from the molding process. But frankly, the weed whacker cord in any color is better than KnitPicks purple. I have high hopes for my fish line!!!

Becky said...

Could you do a visual of how to redo the knitpicks interchangeable needles?
I am not so sure I understand the procedure. And would like to see it to clarify it in my mind.

Also, do you have an tutorial about soaking skewers or doles in the oil to finish them?