Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Minute Gift Ideas For The Knitter Who Has (Almost) Everything

Two days to go before Christmas, Hanukkah is coming to an end before you know it, and you still need the perfect Wow! gift for the knitter in your life?

Or maybe you suspect that your significant other is stumped? If so, leave this page showing on your computer and give them some help!

A while back in the Kiwi newsletter I gave you a list of things that every knitter needs to have in their tool case, which I later revisited here on the blog. But what about the tools that go above and beyond?

So they have all the needles they want, you don't know what yarn or patterns to get them. Here are some ideas for thing that they might not buy for themselves, but will change their knitting life and make their projects easier and more professional. These items are life savers, and once a knitter has them, they will wonder how they ever lived without them.

Yarn Swift and Ball Winder
Every knitter needs one of these set-ups. Every Knitter. I bought mine early in my knitting career thanks to the generosity of our own Marianne, and I couldn't live without them. A yarn swift is that umbrella-like contraption that holds a hank of yarn taut and even while a yarn ball is wound from it. Sure, you can ask to have your yarn wound at the shop. Sure, you can put the hank on the back of a chair and wind a ball from it there. Yes, you can ask an obliging family member to hold the hank for you on two hands while you wind. But trust me, these things are worth their weight in gold. They twirl smoothly while the ball is wound, feeding the yarn to the ball winder with nary and tangle or a burst of frustrated language.

Now pair the yarn swift with the ball winder and you have a match made in heaven. You can get the basic ball winder, which I have, and it will last forever and serve you well. I cannot begin to imagine how many hundreds of balls of yarn I have wound on mine, and it is sill merrily winding yarn balls at my command. Or you can get my dream ball winder, which is the super-duper orbiting one that you have seen Lynn use at the shop. This one will wind a much larger hank of yarn into a ball, and while my regular size one serves perfectly for almost every hank of yarn there have been times when I have needed the big one. If you are buying a new ball winder, my advice is to go for the big one and be done with it.

Blocking Boards
A knitted or crocheted garment is made or broken by the finishing. And finishing includes blocking properly. Blocking makes all the difference between hand-made and home-made. And yes, we have all blocked things on layers of towels spread out on our dining table, or bed or floor until they dry. How much easier to use blocking boards with their gridded surfaces that can be pinned into. Although they are quite big, blocking boards fold away and can be tucked into a closet between uses. The grid makes it easy for you to line up edges and make sure that your project is even and straight as it dries.

Blocking Wires
And to make the blocking package complete - blocking wires. These are a handy set of wires that you use along the edges of your project as you block it, in order to make perfectly smooth and even lines on your edges. Think bottom hems that are no longer wavy, button bands that are straight and precise, pocket tops that don't sag, side edges that are straight. I got a set of these a couple of years ago for my birthday, and I do wonder how I thought I was blocking properly without them.

Anytime you are sewing pieces of your project together, you need pins. Long shanked, large headed pins that are made especially for this purpose. They aren't expensive, pick up a couple of packages of them. Not small safety pins, not dress-maker pins, and not quilting pins, but the pins made by Clover for exactly this purpose - to hold your two pieces of knitted or crocheted fabric together firmly while you sew your seams. If you want your seaming process to go well and loo professional once you are finished, you need to pin your fabric.

Double Pointed Needles
Yes, you heard me. One set each of short double pointed needles in several sizes. Although I no longer knit in the round using dpns, I am always grateful that early in my knitting life I bought a set of these in each and every size. When I start a new project - especially anything with cables, I toss a matching size set into my knitting bag for emergencies. I use them for cable needles, and I also use them to fix mistakes. Suddenly spot that eight rows back you crossed that cable in the wrong direction? And you don't want to frog back all those eight rows either, do you? No problem. Ladder back just the offending stitches, and reknit them up on your dpns. Put the fixed sts back onto your regular needles, and you are good to go.

Needle and hook organizers.
If I never see another knitter whip out a large zip-lock bag containing tangles of circular needles in a massive disarray of sizes and lengths, it will be too soon. Do you have a size 7, I ask? I don't know, they reply. Does this look like a 7? Maybe this one is. Needle organizers are a very valuable investment for not a lot of money. It would meant that you know what you have and what you don't, and can get to it quickly and easily. It would mean that you are ready for anything. It would mean longer life for your no-longer-battered needles. And it will give you a little moment of beauty when you take one of these lovely things out of your knitting bag.

Sticky Notes
Get a couple of small pads of sticky notes and put them in your knitting bag. They are invaluable for marking pages in pattern books, for taking quick notes, for marking your spot in your pattern or chart when you put your knitting down. Worth their weight in gold.

Waste Yarn
I carry two small balls of waste yarn in my knitting bag - both white - in DK or worsted weight, and in fingering weight. Any time your pattern asks you to put your sts onto holders, you really want waste yarn instead. Thread your needle with a length of yarn, slip it through all the sts and slip them off the needles. Use it for emergency markers. Use it for provisional cast-ons. Waste yarn can be tossed out when it gets ragged from reuse.

I hope you are all enjoying this holiday season and that this gives you some ideas for gift giving - even to yourself! and if all else fails, a gift certificate to Kiwi Knitting Co is the gift that is perfect in every size!

Best wishes-

1 comment:

Marianne Casteel said...

Happy Holidays to everyone at Kiwi Knits