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January 16, 2011 / Gillian

On Tools…

For the last several days I’ve been thinking about a knitter’s tool kit.  After all, knitting isn’t just sticks and yarn.  There are any number of tools which range from absolutely necessary to the completely optional but recommended and beyond.  Before we start on that, though, I also want to share my current project.

Hats Off to Harold: Irish Hiking Scarf

This is the beginning of an Irish Hiking Scarf.  The Hats Off to Harold charity collects hats, scarves and gloves for local families in Altoona.  At this moment I find  myself otherwise unoccupied and what better way to occupy oneself than to make something for charity?

Anyway, let’s get back to the matter at hand.  Every knitter probably has his or her own idea of what constitutes the best tool kit, but this is my blog so I’m just going to show you mine.  Pretending to be organized is one of my specialties.  I struggle with it nearly constantly.  I really think organization is important and I can be quite good at getting things organized, just not so great at keeping them that way.  Currently, I’ve got my necessities in a canvas and plastic pencil bag and it’s working out rather well.  Let me take you inside the case…

Inside the Case

  • Scissors – This should probably go without saying.  At some point you’ll need to cut your yarn, so an appropriate cutting tool is a good thing to have.
  • Tape Measure – Again, measuring is another inevitability.  You will measure stuff so best to have something to do that with.
  • Ruler – This isn’t actually in my pencil case because a 12″ ruler wouldn’t fit in it.  And I know what you’re going to say, “but you have a tape measure, isn’t this redundant?”  It’s not and I’ll tell you why.  Tape measures are flexible and but rulers are stiff.  Sometimes, especially when you’re measuring to figure out gauge, it’s good to have a ruler to get a nice accurate measurement.  On the other hand, if say you’re measuring  your wrist or you waist or some part of you to determine how big something should be then you want your tape measure.
  • Stitch markers – I have dozens of shiny pretty stitch markers in various sizes.  I’m forever losing them and finding them again and in the meantime acquiring more.  You should have a lot of stitch markers because they are so losable,  but also because there are a lot of projects that become much easier to handle once you have stitch markers to separate things.
  • Pens (or pencils), and a highlighter – When you get into even mildly complicated patterns, it’s a good idea to write things down.  Note where you are when you put down your project.  How many repeats have you done?  It’s a good idea to note things like this as you go along.  You may want to make notes on  your printed out pattern, or maybe in a knitting notebook.  Maybe you’re prone to forgetting things or maybe – like me – you just can’t stop straying from the pattern.  Either way, it’s a good bet that you’re going to thank yourself for taking notes sometime down the road.
  • Notebook – see above
  • Cable Needle – Now here’s a thing that I don’t actually use.  Mostly I have it to show people what it is or to lend it to new cablers.  These days I’ve learned to cable without a cable needle.  There are, however, cables that even I find require a needle and for those reasons I always keep a cable needle on  hand.
  • Stitch/Row counter – Some projects require extreme precision in counting rows, for which reason I have a row counter.  They come in many sizes and varieties.  Mine is just one that came with a How-to-Knit kit I got a couple years ago.
  • Yarn Needles – Keep a variety.  Get some plastic and some metal and in varied sizes for different kinds of yarn.  Also, they’re small so I lose them often, and thus keep a number of them on hand.  Your project is never truly finished until your ends are woven in.
  • Hand lotion – “Seriously,” you say, “hand lotion?”  Yes, hand lotion.  Try knitting for awhile.  Depending on the fiber you use, odds are after a bit (especially in the winter) all the moisture has been sucked right out of your hands.  Always keep some hand lotion in your bag.  Your hands will thank you.

So those are my recommendations.  That is, of course, not everything I keep regularly in my knitting bag, but those are the things I couldn’t function without.

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