Monday, November 12, 2012

Knitting Tools and Notions

What are the absolute essential tools we need for knitting? Knitting needles are the obvious first choice.  In the past people made them with wood, bicycle spokes even precious metals.( I assume this based on the story that Helen of Troy had a golden spindle.)  I know of a few desperate knitters who have used toothpicks, coffee stirrers and even pencils.

 We are so lucky today to have not only gorgeous needles but ones that have nicely tapered points, smooth surfaces and smooth joins on circulars and a plethora of choices – woods, metal, plastic, glass, gorgeous or beautifully simple, colorful and playful. We get aesthetic enjoyment from beautiful needles and tools.
From the top: Clover Bamboo, KnitPicks Harmony, Addi Turbo Lace
We can choose knitting needles to suit a slippery yarn or a toothy yarn, fine tapered points for lace and double points, circulars or straights for the need of our project or our own personal style of knitting.
The next essentials are scissors and tape measures. These can be just functional or beautiful or cute like the little critter tape measures here.
Once we get past the bare essentials then the next needed item is something to hold our knitting – a basket or a bag. Some just use paper bags or the plastic grocery store bags. Some of us like gorgeous bags.
Nantucket Bag - photo from Nantucket Bag website
Some bags are made for knitters and others are totes knitters have borrowed – multi-pocketed totes for garden tools or builders tools or totes with logos that mean something to us.
Then there are the project bags. These can be little purses or designed especially for knitters. Sometimes there are so many bags and pockets we cannot figure out where we put stuff. Or maybe that just happens to me.
Gauges from Debra's Garden and Kiwi Knitting
I think needle gauges are essential.  Most knitters who use double points or circular needles agree. Even if I label the cases I always find one lonely double point or circular that has no identifying mark as to what size needle it is.
Another useful thing about needle gauges - they can help you choose a needle size appropriate for the yarn you plan to use - such as, when substituting a yarn different from what the pattern recommends. Double the yarn and lay it on top or underneath the needle gauge without stretching the yarn.  Find the opening in the gauge that the doubled yarn fills. Whatever needle size is filled that would be a good starting needle size for that yarn. Please, swatch it to be sure.
Notions are the most fun of all. I love the wonderful stitch markers we have now – little dogs or sheep, precious silver rings, beautiful beads. My vote for the most useful is the locking stitch markers - those are the turquoise and coral plastic ones in the case above.Not only do they work on the needle to mark pattern changes but they can be pinned into the knitting to track decreases or increases, hold a dropped stitch until it can be repaired, act as a little stitch holder, help with seaming and on and on. This notions case from Nancy’s Knit Knacks is perfect for holding these tiny things as well as tiny scissors and another essential – tapestry needles.

Buttons could be added to the list. So could stitch holders, point protectors, needle cases, highlighter tape, magnetic chart holders, cable needles, crochet hooks, the dental pick tool from Patternworks, hand cream, pencils, graph paper …. Oh! And Yarn!


Susan said...

Where can I get a kitty needle gauge? I really want one!

Jill said...

These were made for Kiwi Knitting by Images Stitchery Design. You might be able to find more through their website:
I hope you can find one. I love beautiful and whimsical tools too!