In any case, knitting needles are a remarkably easy thing to make (according to Martha Stewart) and they make a great little gift.
Saw the dowel to the desired length (my dowels were all 36″, so I cut most of my needles to 12″ lengths, though I did make a set of four 9″ double-ended needles). Use a pencil sharpener to create a point.
Sand the dowels down to create a smooth surface that won’t catch on the yarn. Make sure as well to dull the points a bit. It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. You can rub the needles with a bit of warm beeswax, just to protect them and let the wool slide a bit easier.