Even after reading many of the negative reviews of the Ostart Double Pointed Carbonized Bamboo Knitting Needles
I found on Amazon two years ago, I bought a set because I’m a woodworker and I trust bamboo. The price was great, about ten dollars with shipping, and although you might not find that same deal today, even if it costs you twice that, it’s a great buy. Here’s why:
The main complaint I have seen about these needles is the finish. Mine were like that, dark compared to the needles in the ad picture and treated with something that wasn’t slick. The yarn grabbed and it caused strain and generally was awkward. On the first project I tried, one of the five needles in that particular set broke. Probably was my fault and not the needle’s fault, but it caused me to buy a new single set of five Dreamz double pointed knitting needles and they cost me nearly the same as the complete panoramic set of Ostart bamboo needles. I like the Dreamz. They are made from resin-injected laminated birchwood, a product used in knife handles. It’s pretty much indestructible and it’s slick. While using them, I wondered if possibly there was something I could do to make the bamboo needles better, and there was. If you have problems with your bamboo knitting needles, try this.
I also came up with a way to harden the tips of the bamboo needles so that they don’t fuzz, so read on.
When I did fine joinery and turnery work years ago, one of the best finishes I found was carnauba wax. It’s very hard, non-toxic and give a very high shine on woodwork as well as on shoes. This is the natural wax that was or possibly still is used in floor wax. It’s hard enough to walk on. To perk up your double-pointed bamboo knitting needles you won’t need much. Buy a little tin of Kiwi Neutral Shoe Wax and cut a couple of squares of wool cloth (I used the leftovers from some military pants I bought and hemmed to length). Use one square to pick up a little shoe wax and rub it on the needles. Keep a sequence going, a little drying time in between stages is a good thing. When all the needles are waxed and have a slightly fuzzy appearance, shift to the clean wool square. Polish the needles until they shine, it only take about 30 seconds. Not only does it make the needles look great, it fixes all the problems. Any time you feel a needle getting a little cranky, rotate it out of the work and polish it again. A tin of Kiwi Neutral Shoe Wax will last you almost forever.
The points on the Dreamz needles are a little tougher than bamboo, but by tuning them up with extra fine sandpaper from time to time I did get by with the bamboo needles even when the tips became worn and fuzzy. I just didn’t like that they did this, so I tried an old camp technique — fire-hardening. If you are making a wooden spear you do this so the point will stay sharp. What I noticed about the fuzzy tips of the bamboo needles was that the fibers bent instead of being abraded away. I could improve them with sandpaper but I could never get the end grain perfectly smooth. Grass bends in the wind I guess. So I lit a match and rotated the very tip of the bamboo in the flame for just a second or two, just until it flamed, then blew it out. That removed the troublesome fibers but left the shape of the point exactly as I wanted it. I rubbed the point on a scrap piece of wool cloth until all the carbon that would came off had transferred to the cloth, and then I rewaxed the point. The set of needles I treated that way has never fuzzed up again and I’ve been through two kilt hose projects and a couple of hats since I did this.