Knitting Hack: Using Pens As Needles

I spent a week in Las Vegas to help my sister sell her amazing glass work at Glass Craft and Bead Expo. Knowing that we would need things to keep us entertained between customers, Cleo brought some yarn made from sari scraps for me to play with, and play I did.

I had a knitting project with me (of course). Socks (double of course). Unfortunately, the size 1 needles I had with me were much too small for knitting strips of fabric. I could have waited until the end of the our work day, found a yarn store, and bought some fat needles. But as soon as I had this unusual yarn in my hands, I wanted to know what it would look like knit up. So I dug some pens out of my purse and used them as needles.

PensAsNeedles_web
Humble Bic pens doing the work of giants.

It worked much better than I imagined. I had to push the fabric on and off the pens with my fingers, applying more pressure than you would with regular needles. The pen tips were easy to slide into the stitches and I only got a little ink on my hand in the process.

PenMarks_web
Minimal pen marks. I was surprised.

While the pens weren’t ideal tools, they did work. I knit up all the yarn we had to make a narrow, multi-colored scarf.

Scarf01_web
The finished scarf
CleoWscarf_web
Cleo models the final product

The biggest down side: both pens gave their lives to make this scarf.

I knew I was killing them early on. I tried to make a note with one and it wouldn’t write. That’s when I saw the ink all globbed in the bottom and knew something was wrong.

DeadPens_web

As far as I can tell, repeatedly flexing the pens broke the inner tubes. Fortunately, the ink didn’t leak out of the pen proper.

I was pleased that my knitting hack worked as well as it did. In fact, I’m thinking I should try using pencils next.

Have you tried doing needlework with non-traditional tools? Did it work?

6 thoughts on “Knitting Hack: Using Pens As Needles

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    1. I *thought* pencils would work better than pens (although I did wonder if I’d give myself graphite poisoning in the process). Good to know someone has tried it and it works.

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  1. I’ve sharpened dowels to make double pointed needles when I didn’t want to run to the store (we had a variety of dowels 🙂 I’ve also used pencils and string to give an impromptu knitting lesson on purling in my chiropractor’s waiting room. (I only had a crochet hook with me)

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  2. This reminded me of the time I used toothpicks to make a small WIP for a doll house. The yarn was three strands of embroidery thread. After a few rows I broke one toothpick in half and put a tiny piece of a Big Pink eraser on the broken ends to mimic the stop and then stuck them into a “ball” of yarn. My finished WIP was placed in a tiny basket next to a small chair. Dulled T-pins also work. Use a wire cutter to cut off the top of the T.

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    1. I love miniatures, but I know that making it smaller doesn’t mean it’s any faster if you are trying to make something that is at all accurate.
      And your comment reminds me of Althea Crome’s tiny knits used in the movie Coraline. Do you know about these? You can see her knitting one here: https://youtu.be/muce8MVqTaU

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