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.

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.

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.

The finished scarf
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.


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?


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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

4 thoughts on “Knitting Hack: Using Pens As Needles”

    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.


  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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