How to Straighten Circular Knitting Needles

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Things You'll Need

  • Sink

  • Dishwashing gloves

  • Tea kettle or saucepan

  • Oven mitts

  • Circular needle hanger (optional)

Circular knitting needles are used to create knitted fabric in closed circular rounds. They consist of a flexible cable with a knitting needle on each end and come in lengths ranging from 12 to 60 inches to accommodate different circumferences. The cable is often made of plastic or nylon and curled to fit into store packaging. Because the curls in the cable may make it difficult for you to knit comfortably, hot water or steam can be used to straighten the circular knitting needle.

Hot Water Method

Step 1

Fill a sink with hot water.

Step 2

Put dishwashing gloves on your hands to protect them from the water temperature.

Step 3

Submerge the circular knitting needle cable in the hot water, being careful not to place the needles in the water. This is especially important if the needles are wood, as water will them to warp.

Step 4

Pull the cable straight while it is under the water, working from one end to the other. You may need to keep the needles in the water for a few minutes for the cable to relax thoroughly.

Step 5

Draw the cable out of the water, hold it by one end and smooth down the length of the cable with your other hand to encourage it to straighten.

Step 6

Check your progress and repeat steps 3 through 5 until it is relaxed enough for your use.

Step 7

Drape the needles over the top of a door or back of a chair to prevent them from recoiling while you get ready to use them.

Steam Method

Step 1

Fill a tea kettle or saucepan with water and set on the stove to boil.

Step 2

Put oven mitts on your hands to protect them from the steam.

Step 3

Once the water comes to a roiling boil, move the circular knitting needle cable back and forth in the steam from the kettle or the saucepan. This will soften the cable.

Step 4

Keep the cable moving. If you pause too long, it could cause the cable to melt, weaken or break.

Step 5

Gently pull the cable straight as you are passing it through the steam to relax it. When it has relaxed, turn the stove off and drape the needles over the top of a door or back of a chair to cool without recoiling.


To keep your circular needles straight after relaxing them, try a hanging storage device that fits in your closet or on the back of a door. These hangers allow the needles to hang loose and straight so they don't curl up again.

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