Saturday, June 23, 2007

The 99-Cent Special

Yes, dear reader, for the remarkable sum of 99 cents (plus postage), I acquired this complete set (size 0-15) of bamboo needles from good old eBay (xiaolingli99).

They are almost totally worthless. After being released from their highly compressed packaging, several of the points dropped gracefully to the floor, leaving the cables in my hand. Other tips scrambled for the deck while I was untangling the needle glob. The points were, um, erratic, varying from not too bad to really too bad.

Wait! Don't go away! There's lemonade to be made from these sour excuses for knitting needles.

What attracted me to the set, (aside from the gaily colored cords--I am a sucker for gaily colored cords), was the join. It looked remarkably smooth in the photo and, in fact, this proved to be the case. The joins are impeccable--the finest lace yarns slide easily from cable to needle and vice versa.

Furthermore, the cables turned out to be cheapo hollow tubing. Hmm. I stuck a pin in the size 0 cable and heated it with a lighter, producing a stable hole suitable for threading a lifeline.

A little glue and a bit of sandpaper on the tips and these bamboo disasters will transform into perfect lace needles. Lightweight, smooth join, sharp tips, flexible cable, and lifeline hole. I tossed out sizes 2-15, so each remaining needle cost a whopping 50 cents.

I bought another set. as the manufacturers might "improve" these in the future with a lippy metal join to match the high-priced competition.


Carol said...

Now that's definitely lemonade! One of my favourite summertime drinks. Way to reduce reuse and recycle.

Opal said...

50 cents? Can't go wrong with that!

Margo said...

Wow -- great idea! I love the idea of a lifeline hole. I've never seen that, had you seen that somewhere before or were you simply being brilliant??

What glue did you use? How confident are you in the glue?

fleegle said...

I insist on lifeline holes for fine lace knitting. I rarely drop stitches when I am knitting, but often do when I tink back.

My normal lace needles are interchangables, so they have lifeline holes, but they only go down to size 3.

I had a gunsmith drill holes in my size 2 KnitPicks, but he couldn't do it for sizes 0 and 1.

Thus I have been on the lookout for a way to have lifelines for extra-fine lace knitting aka the Princess Shawl.

One pin, one lighter, cheap cables, and there you have it!

fleegle said...

I haven't glued them yet (this is a job for Roy and he is currently 8000 miles away), but we used Gorilla Glue with the KnitPicks needles and found it works most excellently.

Marie said...

Hee, I'm a sucker for gaily colored cords too. Love, love those cables. And the lifeline hole is brilliant. Great lemonade making! :)

Jane said...

Dear fleegle,

I think you are brilliant! I'm going to try to buy a set and give your technique a try as well. The only time I tried a "lifeline" was with the Wedding Ring Shawl at the beginning, but I had no hole in the needles I used so I had to resort to a long threaded needle. What glue are you going to use?

Batty said...

50 cents is good even for crap needles. So glad you managed to salvage some of them!

JeanTownsend said...

i bought some of these from a joann fabrics that closed. they too fell apart. i cannot picture what you did to them. i re read it but i cant seem to see it in my head. any chance of a picture?? i sure would like to see it. please?

2trees said...

I'm kind of intrigued by these, as I need some cheapos to practice my sharpening technique on. And how smooth will the join be, once you've re-glued it?

Nik said...

These look exactly like the needles I got as a gift from a blog reader who lives in Korea. I haven't had the chance to use mine yet. However, like you, I was in love with the join. Mine are very smooth.

Laughingrat said...

It is exciting to get down-n-dirty with one's tools!

Er...that sounded bad.

But you know what I mean--to repair one's knitting needles or other craft tools, modify them, understand how they work and how to maintain kind of makes you feel like you've attained that much greater mastery of your craft, you know?