Things You'll Need
Circular knitting needles are connected by a plastic or nylon cable that joins each needle's base. These needles enable knitters to knit large items, such as afghans, in one piece, or to knit a sweater seamlessly. They also can be used to knit small, round circumferences, such as hats, socks and sleeves. Many circular needles are packaged with the cable in a coil, which can cause it to curl on itself or twist the knitting. Additionally, new cables can be stiff and require softening prior to use. Fortunately, a wide variety of techniques are available to help with this issue. Not all of those techniques need to be used in order to soften the cable, however. Use one technique, and if it doesn't work, try another technique.
Place the cable under hot water. Turn on the hot water tap in your sink. Hold the knitting needles at the joint between the cable and needle with paper towels to prevent water from entering and harming the needles or dissolving the glue in the joint. Run the center part of the cable under hot water until it begins to soften.
Steam the needles. Bring a pot of water to boil on your stove. Pull your circular knitting needles taut, and hold them over the steam rising from the boiling water for at least five minutes. Take care not to burn yourself with the steam. The heat from the water will soften the plastic in the cable, making it more pliable and easier to uncoil.
Soak the cable in hot water. Let boiling water cool slightly. Then place the cable directly into the hot water, without allowing the water reach the joint between the cable and the needle. Let the cable soak for five minutes, and then test whether or not it softened.
Heat the cable with a hairdryer. Straighten the needles, and clamp them carefully to a flat surface such as a table. Set a hairdryer to its hottest setting, and direct its heat onto the cable. Move the hairdryer back and forth across the cable for a few minutes, or until it begins to soften.