It’s easy to get lost in thought while knitting a garment or toy, and that’s the beauty of this hobby—it’s incredibly relaxing. That’s why it can be frustrating when your speed and efficiency somehow decrease gradually as you continue to knit.
Are my hands getting tired? Is my knitting needle dull? Do knitting needles get dull in the first place? That’s the typical line of thought of most knitters, so do they?
Unsurprisingly, knitting needles do get dull. That’s why knitters like yourself must find ways to sharpen their knitting needles whenever necessary.
Keep in mind, though, that there’s much more to this than you might imagine. For example, while they do get dull, the rate at which they wear out varies.
Do Knitting Needles Wear Out?
As mentioned earlier, knitting needles do get dull, so they obviously also wear out after repeated use. The rate at which they wear out may vary according to their material. For reference, knitting needles are typically made of one of four materials.
Let’s take a closer look at how fast each type of knitting needles wear out:
- Wooden knitting needles wear out after around five years.
- Metal knitting needles wear out after around five years.
- Plastic knitting needles wear out after around two years.
- Carbon fiber knitting needles don’t wear out.
Keep in mind, though, that the longevity of a knitting needle may vary according to other factors aside from its material, like frequency of usage, for example.
If you only knit once every month, for instance, then even a plastic knitting needle can last for over five years. But] at the same time, if you knit garments or toys intensely every day, then a metal knitting needle may not even last for a year.
Another factor that can affect how fast a knitting needle wears out is maintenance. If you maintain a needle properly, it can last for much longer than usual.
That being said, how do you maintain or take care of knitting needles?
How Do You Take Care of Knitting Needles?
There are several ways to make a knitting needle last longer and dull slower.
However, some of these methods are applicable only to specific types of knitting needles. With that being said, here’s a closer look at some of these methods:
1. Use Point Protectors
A point protector is a cap that you can put on the tip of a knitting needle.
It’s incredibly helpful since they prevent the tip of your needles from colliding with harder surfaces, which may chip its material and cause it to be dull.
A point protector is handy if you bring your needles when you leave since movement may cause them to collide with other objects more easily.
2. Sand the Tip if It’s Rough
Knitting needles can get rough over time. However, it won’t affect your knitting efficiency as much as when it becomes dull, but it’s still not desirable.
In addition, if you don’t deal with the rough patches on your knitting needle, it can get dull much faster. As such, it would be in your best interest to sand the tip of the needle whenever it gets rough. In doing so, you can smoothen its surface.
There’s a specific method to sand a knitting needle depending on its material:
- For wooden knitting needles, you need a wax paper or candle wax. You can smoothen the tip by simply rubbing it with wax paper or candle wax.
- For metal knitting needles, you need a rotary tool and a sander bit. Attach the sander bit to the rotary tool, turn it on, then position it, so the rotating sander bit is touching and sanding the tip of your knitting needle.
- For plastic knitting needles, you need sandpaper. All you have to do is scrape or rub the tip of the knitting table with the sandpaper gently.
It’s also advisable to sand the tip whenever you sharpen your knitting needle.
That’s because usually, after sharpening the needle, the tip will be uneven in texture, and there are often rough patches. As such, sanding is necessary.
3. Moisturize Wooden Knitting Needles
Dirt and dust can damage wood by causing abrasions or scratches, which in turn makes the wood rough. And that’s not ideal for your wooden knitting needles.
These contaminants can also work their way into the small gaps or cracks in the needle. This, in turn, can damage the needle from the inside out, reducing its durability. That’s why it’s advisable to moisturize wooden knitting needles.
Wood moisturizers like beeswax and olive oil can wipe away accumulated dirt and repel dust and dirt for quite a long time.
4. Straighten Plastic Knitting Needles
If you use plastic knitting needles, you might be familiar with their tendency to bend. Like dirt and dust, that’s not ideal since the integrity of the material will dwindle the longer you leave your plastic knitting needles bent.
For that reason, it’s best to straighten them right away. You can do so by boiling water in a pot and holding the needles on top, so they’re exposed to steam.
That should soften them temporarily, so all that’s left is to straighten them with your fingers. Make sure you don’t put too much force, though, since you might snap them in half. Plastic knitting needles are quite fragile when bent.
Does Quality of Knitting Needles Matter?
Yes, the quality of your knitting needle can contribute to how easily or fast it dulls. As one might expect, those that are low quality will naturally dull faster.
Interestingly enough, though, the material often matters more than quality.
Here’s how the material typically correlates to how fast a knitting needle dulls:
- Wooden knitting needles dull easier than metal knitting needles.
- Plastic knitting needles dull the fastest.
- Carbon fiber knitting needles dull the slowest.
For that reason, if you don’t want to deal with dull knitting needles, it’s best to choose high-quality ones and stick to metal or carbon fiber knitting needles.
In addition to quality and material, it would also help to know that knitting needles come in different sharpness according to the manufacturer. For example, a manufacturer or brand known for constructing sharp knitting needles is ChiaoGoo.
Though that might be the case, it’s a fact that knitting needles eventually dull, no matter how high-quality it is, how durable their material, and how sharp it was.
As such, it’s best to learn how to sharpen knitting needles.
How Do You Sharpen a Knitting Needle?
There’s no fixed way of sharpening knitting needles.
Knitters would usually rely on the method they personally have found effective. It’s also worth noting that the methods will vary according to the needle’s material.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the viable methods as per material:
Wooden Knitting Needles (Bamboo)
To sharpen wooden knitting needles, you can either use a nail file or sandpaper. Their grit should be sufficient to scrape the material, which is usually bamboo.
Simply scrape the tip of the needle with the nail file in the same way you would scrape your nail. If you decide to use sandpaper instead, you just have to hold the sandpaper between your fingers, put the tip in between, and spin the needle.
It shouldn’t cost much, considering nail files can be as cheap as $5, and you can use it several times, and you can buy a few pieces of sandpaper for a dollar or two.
Metal Knitting Needles (Aluminum/Steel)
Metal knitting needles, which are usually made of either aluminum or steel, are naturally much harder to sharpen since the material is sturdier and though.
For this, you’ll need a rotary tool and a grinder bit that goes along with it.
Once you have these, simply attach the grinder bit to the rotary tool, turn it on, and then grind the tip of the knitting needle.
Be gentle, though, since you don’t want to scrape too much material.
This method will cost you at least $100 if you don’t have the tools yet.
Plastic Knitting Needles (Acrylic)
You can sharpen plastic knitting needles in the same way you would sharpen a knife—with a whetstone. All you have to do is to touch the whetstone with the needle’s tip, angle it properly, then move it while putting a bit of pressure.
The only difference is that you have to spin the needle, so all sides are sharpened.
Again, you don’t want to scrape too much material, so make sure you stop once you think the plastic knitting needle is already sharp enough for knitting.
A whetstone should cost around $30, so it shouldn’t break your wallet. Besides, you may already have a whetstone, so it’s practically free if that’s the case.
With these methods, dull knitting needles should be the least of your worries.
Summing It Up
Do knitting needles get dull? This is what most knitters ask whenever they feel like they’re progressing with their knitting project more slowly. Knitting needles do get dull, but with a bit of work, you can at least keep them sharp for longer.