Collapsible Knitting Needle

I needed a break. I’ve been working hard on the osPID for several months, and I just needed to not look at code or control algorithms for a little bit. Nothing says “break” like an out-of-left-field project.

I only started knitting recently. Something that’s been bothering me about it is the length of the needles. They’re 14″ long, and I’ve been worried they’ll be bent while riding in my backpack.

It occurred to me that some sort of collapsible needle might be useful in this situation. Taking my inspiration from elastic tent poles, I got to work on my “not PID” project.


The first thing to do was cut the needles in half. I used a pipe cutter for a nice clean cut, then cleaned up the seam with a drill.

With the needles prepped, I then used a lathe to make the supporting inserts.

I didn’t quite get the diameter of the inserts right, so I touched things up at the sanding station.

To get some decent springiness, I looped 3 rubber bands together, then doubled that over. This was pulled through the insert and locked in place with a piece of paperclip. I then super-glued the insert into the pointed half of the needle.

The last thing to do was anchor the other end of the rubber bands in a hole drilled in the cap.


I’m really happy with how these turned out. The weight increase was negligible, and the seam is almost invisible. It puts a slight drag on the yarn, but nothing major, and I haven’t had any hangs yet. Also, because the halves are connected, you can fold the needle with your knitting on it, without worrying that things are going to fall off.

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12 Responses to Collapsible Knitting Needle

  1. seph says:

    Er, that’s awesome, but… Did you ever look at circular knitting needles? They can do double duty as small needles you can crumple up and stash in your bag.

  2. Brett says:

    Yeah I had a feeling circular needles would also be a solution to the crumple problem. I mainly wanted to see if I could pull this off. Are there any advantages to having straight needles over circular? Like I said. I’m just learning.

  3. curiositykt says:

    Circular needles can knit more sizes of things, tend to get less tangled, do not involve accidentally getting needles caught on things like your clothes, do not involve needles poking people nearby.. all around they are pretty superior once you get the hang of them, I’m always surprised that people don’t start new knitters on them since they are considerably easier. And you can make anything flat or circular on them! I only use Double Pointed Needles and Circular now. Long ones are just too unwieldy.

  4. Keith Neufeld says:

    For those of us with a handspan greater than an octave, knitting with circular needles is like trying to use toothpicks for chopsticks. Long, straight needles are the only way I can knit at any speed and without cramping up my hands. Of course, YMMV.

  5. ema says:

    I prefer straights and can see the advantage to having needles that fold – occasionally…. I am the opposite of Keith – I have small hands and have created some very short needles (3-4″) that are great for knitting on your daily walk… For portability, I use interchangeable needles with a cord and end-cap. I’d LOVE to be able to purchase needles that are a straight/circular hybrid – that is, a 6-7″ needle with a cord on the end. I have designed them, but am not in a position to manufacture them…..

  6. Pam Collins says:

    I used to use striaghts all the time & still find at times they would be the better alternative…Your invention would really get my attention!

  7. Maryann says:

    I’m a knitter and a circular fan but I love your inventiveness with this! That’s what really matters.

  8. Sandi says:

    Ema – I have some of those! I think they’re from Clover, and are bamboo.

  9. ema says:

    Thanks Sandi! This design is easier to carry on a plane, easier to tote in a project bag and great for larger/heavier knitting! I’m off to order some!

  10. mimim says:

    you are a very cleve man! i want some but dont have the equipment to make them! you should seriously think about selling these!!

  11. Kaila says:

    You’ve GOT to patent or you’ll wind up kicking yourself! It’s neat someone else thought about collapsible needles 🙂 nice product!! Well done!

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