Why Are My Knitting Needles Sticky?

When you find a good pair of knitting needles you want to take care of them. Sticky needles can make it difficult to transition from one stitch to the next. If you deal with this issue, you’ll likely ask why are my knitting needles sticky and how do I fix it?

It’s not uncommon for knitting needles to get sticky over time or when you’ve been using them for a while without cleaning them. Since there are many materials that needles can be made out of, they can get damaged, build up residue, and stick to your delicate yarns. 

There are simple techniques to keep knitting needles clean depending on what material they’re made out of so you’re not having to consistently deal with sticky yarn or knitting needles.

Causes of Sticky Knitting Needles

Sticky knitting needles are a hassle to work with. Sticky needles aren’t always a bad thing, but some knitters can’t stand them. On the other hand, some types of sticky needles are more of a residual stickiness that can get in the way of a peaceful knitting experience.

Residue From Yarn or Fibers

Some yarns, especially made with synthetic fibers, pick up grease and residue from your hands and needles more easily than natural fibers. This may stop your yarn from seamlessly weaving through your needles, which can disrupt the evenness of your pattern.

Exposure to Moisture or Humidity

Your hands can get sweaty as you knit and that moisture can transfer onto your needles. If you’re working in a humid environment, you might even find that your yarn starts to feel a bit sticky as well. When you’re not using your needles, consider how and where you’re storing them as well in case you’re inadvertently exposing them to excess moisture.

Lack of Proper Cleaning and Maintenance

It’s a good idea to know how to clean your needles based on the types of needles you work with. Simply running them under water with some dish soap isn’t the right approach, and can actually end up tarnishing or ruining some kinds of needles.

Use of Certain Types of Materials for the Needles

Some materials used for knitting needles aren’t as prone to stickiness as others. For instance, while plastic needles are inexpensive, yarn doesn’t glide through the needles very smoothly. Wooden needles need to be wiped down to avoid getting sticky since you can’t wash them.

Preventing Sticky Knitting Needles

Whether your needles tend to get dull, catch on your yarn, or literally feel sticky due to residue, you don’t have to tolerate any of it. A little bit of effort goes a long way in making your knitting needles feel brand new every time you use them.

Proper Cleaning and Maintenance of Needles

Most knitting needles just need a good wipe with the right type of towel or paper to get rid of any debris, residue, or stickiness. It’s a good idea to polish your needles occasionally to keep them fresh.

polish every few months or so based on how often you use them is perfectly fine, as too much polish could end up making your needles either too slick or even stickier than normal.

Use of a Yarn or Needle Lubricant

Keeping your needles lubricated will ensure a smooth grip as well as a much more seamless knitting experience. Beeswax is your best choice as it works with a variety of needle types, but you can also opt for some coconut oil if you have it on hand.

Yarn lubricants can help to keep your yarn intact, but they can also help keep it easy to work with. You’ll find that your yarn glides much more seamlessly as you work on your knitting pattern of choice. You can find yarn lubricants based on the material you’re using.

How Do You Clean Wooden Knitting Needles?

Wooden knitting needles can be a little bit more difficult to clean, and it’s important to keep them moisturized so they don’t become dull. Getting your wooden needles wet isn’t recommended nor is it necessary to keep them looking nice and working efficiently.

Give your wooden needles a dry wipe with a clean paper towel or a microfiber cloth before giving them a couple of swipes with some wax paper. This will help rub off anything that may be sticking to your wooden needles without having to wash them. Beeswax can be used if they’re in need of polish.

How Do You Clean Old Knitting Needles?

Every now and then, a knitter will stumble upon the holy grail of knitting needles that they’ll never want to part with. Of course, the older your needles get, the harder they can be to work with. This is especially true of metal needles since they typically last the longest and are usually the most expensive.

If your old metal knitting needles are in need of a refresh, giving them a bath with some white vinegar and water should help remove any stuck residue and rust that has your needles looking worse for wear.

Give your needles a thorough rinse so that they don’t end up forming new residue as they dry. Be sure to give your needles adequate time to dry before you start using them again.

Why Does My Yarn Feel Sticky?

Sticky yarn is usually caused by excess moisture in your environment. To avoid this, be sure you’re storing your yarn in a cool, well-ventilated area.

Check out this Hanging Yarn Storage Organizer. It has 5 large compartments that can fit all your yarn.

Final Thoughts

Sticky knitting needles aren’t easy to work with. Constantly replacing our knitting needles isn’t feasible, especially when removing the sticky residue isn’t as difficult as it might seem. Not all types of knitting needles are created equally so knowing the right way to clean your needles is important.

You may also encounter yarns that are stickier than others. While it is a little bit harder to prevent and fix sticky yarn, it’s possible with some forethought. You don’t have to be afraid of investing in knitting supplies for fear that they’re going to turn before you can use them when you take the time for cleaning and maintenance.

Make sure to follow my tips and recommend products to ensure your knitting project turns out amazing! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your Q&A’s. Happy knitting!

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