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Tools

Written by Brigit Yarn

Tools

  • Knitting needles
    • Addi Click set
    • Chiao Goo fixed circulars
    • Lykke Circulars
    • Knitters Pride DPNs

*Note, these are my preferred needles. You may find others that you prefer. If you are still shopping around, try out a few different brands.

What is in my tool case:

  • Crochet Hooks
  • Tape measure
  • 6” ruler
  • Row counters
  • Variety of stitch markers
  • Scissors 
  • Darning Needles
  • Knitting Gauge
  • Needle Gauge

Other necessities:

  • Projects bags, various sizes
  • Wool Winder and a Swift
  • Yarn Bowl
  • Kitchen scale
  • Clear plastic zip bags
  • Blocking Mats, wires and pins
  • Wool Wash, Euculan, Soak
  • Large Towels
  • Extra Large Salad Spinner

 

Technology:

  • Ravelry
  • Knit Companion App
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
(coming soon, links to some of my favourite websites and YouTube channels with tips, tricks and tutorials.)

      I love good tools I cannot lie. They are transformative. Now that I have acquired them I don’t know how I ever knit without them. I believe they are worth the investment if you are going to be a serious knitter. Start with a few basics and build as needed.

      This is not to say you Must have them to knit. I used Aero needles for many many years. They are what I learned on and they did the trick up until I got back into the craft seriously just over 12 years ago. A friend suggested I try something else and so I got some Addi fixed circulars and the difference was amazing. Now I only knit with circular needles except on those extremely rare occasions where DPNs are necessary. But circular needles are a personal preference and what works for me based on my style of knitting. The key is to find what works best for you and then get the best you can afford.

      Once you have your needles and your yarn and the pattern you wish to knit, you are going to find you will need a few more things. Get yourself a small case to put these necessities in so that you always have them handy. Have a dedicated set of tools that are just for your knitting. Keep the tool case in your knitting bag so that you always have what you need when you need them. See my list of items that I keep in my tool case. Experienced knitters will all have a selection of these basics. New knitters may find my list helpful so that they have an idea of what basic tools they will need.

      Project bag(s)

      The other items on my tool list are things that you may need eventually however I find all of them to be essential to my knitting. These you can acquire over time and as needed.

      Let’s start with a knitting bag or a basket. You need something dedicated to your knitting to hold your project and your tool case. A sturdy cloth bag will do. I have several project sized and those for carrying project and pattern/book/tablet as well. I take my knitting everywhere I go so I have several dedicated bags of various sizes. You may have something already, a book tote or an overnight bag that you can use. What I do not recommend is grocery or shopping bags as these do not hold up over time and are easily confused with bags used for other purposes and easily misplaced.

      Wool Winder and Swift

      Unless you buy mostly commercially dyed yarn that usually comes wound into balls, you may eventually want your own wool winder and swift. Some stores and dyers offer wool winding services but if you are not going to be knitting that yarn right away, you may want to hold off winding your yarn until you are ready for it. You can always enlist the help of a friend to hold a skein in their hands while you slowly wind it into a ball but that is slow and not always possible. As you build up your stash, having your own wool winder and swift will certainly come in handy.

      A swift is often an umbrella-like contraption although there are a few varieties that hold the yarn differently. You will need one of these to hold a skein of yarn so you can wind your yarn from it and into a ball or preferably a cake. The swift turns freely as you wind your yarn. A wool winder does exactly that. It winds your yarn into a nicely formed cake (the knitting term for a wound skein of yarn) by which you can knit easily. 

      Yarn Bowl

      No matter whether you have a nicely wound cake of yarn or a ready-to-knit ball, having a clean container to hold it in as you knit certainly comes in handy. You can get some beautiful yarn-specific pottery bowls for this purpose but you can also make use of bowls or baskets you may already have. Even an old teapot. I have been known to use a Halloween candy bowl during the season (OK, maybe more than just during the season). Use whatever will keep your yarn clean and secure so that it does not travel across your table, sofa or floor.

      Kitchen Scale

      This might seem like an odd tool for use when knitting but for me, it is one of my most used tools. I weigh every skein of yarn I use so that I know exactly how much yarn I have used on any given project and since I want to make use of all of my leftovers, this helps me to keep track of just how much yarn I used and how much I may have for another project. It is also good to use when calculating how much yarn you used to knit a row or a repeat of the pattern so that you can estimate how much more yarn you will need to complete your project. For instance, if you are knitting a scarf that has ribbing at both ends and you want to use up the skein if you weigh your yarn at the beginning and after you finish the first ribbed section, you will know how much you will need at the end to do the last ribbed section. Also, if I want to knit projects that require a selection of accent colours and I don’t need a full ball/skein, I can use my leftovers if I know exactly how much I have. I use an inexpensive Starfrit scale that I got at Canadian Tire for under $20.

      Clear Ziploc Bags

      Unless you are one of those knitters who purchase only the yarn you need for your immediate project, clear bags come in handy. Since I have a large stash, I often group skeins for specific projects in Extra Large zip bags. It keeps them organized, clean and safe from moths. These bags of yarn then go into clear storage bins. I also use smaller zippy bags for my leftovers. I write on the bag with a sharpy or put a note in the bag saying what type of yarn is in each bag. All my ZedLux Sock would go in one baggy and my DK etc would go into another. When you have enough leftovers, you can use these as mini skeins on a new project.

      Wool Wash

      I always, without exception wash my project after I finish knitting it. You don’t need much and Euculan or Soak requires no rinsing.

      Blocking Mats

      I use the big puzzle-like foam mats you get for the kids to play on as they are inexpensive and are approximately 24 square inches each so a pack of 5 gives you are pretty large surface to block on. There are knitter-specific blocking mats available as well but they tend to be smaller.

      Either way, you want to block on a surface that you can stick pins into and that air can circulate to facilitate drying. Using towels to lay your knits on only holds onto the moisture and will prolong the drying time.

      Blocking Wires and Pins

      Some knits benefit from the use of wires. To maintain a straight edge or have a uniform curve, adding wires during blocking will give you a nice consistent edge. Using stainless steel T pins hold the wires in place. I highly recommend them if you knit a lot of shawls or lacework.

      Salad Spinner

      Yup, you read that right. Now I know of no one else who uses one but I really like it for smaller projects. It is in no way a necessity and I use it only for small items to get the excess water out after soaking my knitted piece. First, carefully squeeze out as much water as possible without wringing and then place it in the spinner. Spin just like you would your salad greens and then transfer your project to towels to soak up the rest of the water.

      (See article on blocking)

      Technology

      If you are reading this, you obviously use some form of technology, whether a phone, a tablet, or a computer. You probably also purchase patterns from sites such as Ravelry in a pdf format to either print out or read on your devices. You probably also look to Pinterest or YouTube for technical assistance because just about everything you want to learn about knitting is available somewhere on the internet. There are several sites I have Bookmarked for when I need help with a technique or if I want to share a technique with another knitter. I also Pin articles and videos to a board on Pinterest for when I need to refer to it again.

      My favourite techy thing is the app Knit Companion. I upload my pdf patterns into the app and it makes my knit life so much easier. A free version does most of what you need, but the paid version gives you lots of bonus features. I would recommend looking at the series by Very Pink Knits on YouTube as it outlines all the free and paid features this app offers. This is the first video in the series for you to check out. The app is available for Android and iOS.

      Chart reading has never been so easy.

      The other app that I find extraordinarily useful is Ravelry. I know some of you cannot use it, but it is more than a place to just look for patterns. I use it to inventory my yarn stash, keep track of what projects I am working on, the projects I want to knit next and those that I may want to knit eventually. I record all my notes on a project on my project page, including what yarn and what size of needles I am using. You can purchase patterns to gift to your friends, download lists into a spreadsheet and so much more.

       

      Brigit Hampel

      The Enabler Queen

      This article is part of the Build Your Skills mini workshops.

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