A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Monday, September 18, 2006

Making Knitting Needles

There are many sites on the Internet that will give you directions for making your own knitting needles, and that is not what I am going to do... I do want to fill you in on the great job my group of 30 first grade handwork students have done in making their first set of needles.

Of course, they have had plenty of assistance from their teacher, who posted a photo last week of cutting apart the hardwood dowels into 10-inchs lengths. What I didn't know then was that the wood is actually a very nice quality, and did not require much in the way of sanding.

The next step after cutting 60 lengths was to use one of the school's pencil sharpeners to rough out points. Then, the students spent their handwork periods last week and today sanding their needles, until the points were smooth. Now, using a pencil sharpener and sandpaper has made me far more appreciative of my bamboo and ebony needles - some of the points are "pointier" or "scoopier" (those of you who have used these adjectives to describe your favorite needles will feel the lack thereof immediately), and then again, some are a bit too rounded for my liking.

However, looking over last year's crop of needles, still in ready use by my second grade students, showed that the needles had almost all developed the patina that comes from being clutched in a pair of small hands, and that the students turned out excellent projects with them.

I spent most of yesterday evening doing some finish sanding, and getting ready to glue these lovely beads on the ends; I found that 11 of my students had finished both of their needles, while 11 more had only a bit of sanding on the second one to reach their goal. I also discovered that I had grabbed the wrong size of glue sticks (even though the packages were hanging on a display with the hot glue gun I bought last week, they were too big).

Here is the assembly line set-up, to make sure that each student had a pair of matching beads and all needles were ready for glueing.

Our class today went well, with most students having the increased motivation to finish their pair of needles, since those who were done sanding got to pay a visit to the handwork room (where older students have their classes, and where the WOOL is kept on shelves, displayed in color groupings of the rainbow).

These students brought back bags of many colors, and helped roll up small balls. We now have a large basket full of an array of colors, waiting for the lessons in How To Knit, and much practice, as the students make their first project, a striped case to hold their flutes when not in use for music lessons!

Those pairs of needles that are finished have been tied together and are ready for me to present to the students at the next class, on Wednesday.
Don't they look nice, resting in my Booga Bag? There will be a little story, and a knitting verse to help them remember the steps as well, at our next lesson.

I have to say that it really warms my heart to pass on my love of fiber (or is it an addiction?) I am also grateful that the school has a well-organized parent volunteer program, as I have had at least two parent helpers for each class period! The time still flies by, and I will be working all year to contain the after-hours portion to a reasonable amount of time, so that I can get to my own knitting. After spending five hours of weekend time over the past two weekends on the needle construction, it's time for me to have some quality moments with my Forest Canopy shoulder shawl.


Anonymous Kat said...

So cool. I'm going to have to look into making my own needles.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Yarngirl said...

Fantastic! What an amazing thing to be able to teach and how lucky are those children?

3:43 AM  
Anonymous DebbieB said...

How cool - I wish I'd had you as a craft teacher when I was a kid... all we ever did was draw, and I had no talent for that.

3:51 AM  
Blogger margene said...

The children will remember always how they learned to knit from 'scratch'. The needles look so nice in your bag!

5:13 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

What a fun task and they look great!

5:47 AM  
Blogger stitchnsnitch said...

Wow. I would have died to have had a class like yours when I was in Elementary School! :)

5:57 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

You are going to have so much fun! The needles do look so cozy in your bag.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Great post. The needles look great nestled in the booga bag.

Hey, you win. Lace that is. I'll get it in the mail this weekend. Thanks for playing!

7:00 AM  
Blogger beadlizard said...

They're beautiful. Excellent work!!!

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Imbrium said...

This just makes me smile all over. Your class is lucky to have you as a teacher.

7:58 AM  
Blogger knitnthings said...

Wow - that's really neat! What a fantastic idea!! That looks like fun I might give it a try. Do those kids know how lucky they are to have you???

9:22 AM  
Blogger The Purloined Letter said...

How wonderful! They look so perfect in the felted bag. (I feel inspired: I think we'll have to felt little bags for our recorders soon!)

My son loves to glue acorn caps to the tops of sharpened dowels to make knitting needles for his friends. Are you teaching at a Waldorf school?

12:50 PM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

Birdsong, that's such a cool project! I cannot ever remember anything I did in school being half as wonderful as this will be for your kids...

3:48 PM  
Blogger Purple Fuzzy Mittens said...

So much fun! Reminds me of teaching my niece to knit. It also gives me an idea for my own next blog entry! Be sure to post some pictures of their knitting progress!

4:53 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Wish I could change my font color to green because I'm envious. I'm thinking about how I could make 10" long double points because I keep breaking mine. Your idea completes the learning package for the students - plus they're beautiful. How satisfying. Waldorf Schools believe that knitting helps in students perform better in math.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Carrie K said...

That is so cool!

11:11 AM  
Blogger anna said...

Awesome! I love the matching beads on the end. They make the needles look very classy.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Using the dowels and beads is a great idea. An eighth grader gave me the idea of using bamboo skewers that were sanded for US size 2 or 3 needles. They didn't need to be cut further, but they did benefit from two coats of clear nail polish on the point, and one on the shaft to keep the bamboo fibers in place. For first graders, a coat of Mod Podge would work as good, and not be toxic.

1:28 AM  

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