tips tricks and techniques

Beginning and experienced knitters alike often ask me what tools I have in my knitting bag … what do I consider the essential must haves for any type of knitting. Many know that I am lazy and I don’t want to have to repack my tool-bag every time I start a new project. I want to have all the tools I need … where I need them … and when I need them. I also want to have tools that can do double-duty.

So what do I have in my knitting bag?

must-haves in the knitting bag

must-haves in the knitting bag

  • a set of crochet hooks in different sizes. I can use these to pick up dropped stitches … to do crochet edgings (including just a simple “knitted” BO) … or even as a cable needle. I keep them in a plastic “pencil box” that fits nicely into one of the pockets of my Nantucket Bagg.
  • a row counter to keep track. I don’t use this often (I’ve taught myself to read my knitting and count my rows/rounds) but it is useful to have when you’re doing cables or lace repeats to ensure you don’t get lost in your knitting.
  • locking stitch markers — LOVE these. I don’t like the rings as they fly off my needles when I’m knitting along. With the locking type, I can move them every few rounds rather than all the time. I can keep them in place for rounds that I know are right. I like the plastic ones (and have a ton) but occasionally I like to “pretty up” my knitting by using hand-made markers from Anita at The Clay Sheep.
  • post-it notes — this particular “booklet” from Knit Happy is a wonderful set. I can use the arrowed post-its for marking lines of directions of particular import and I can use the more traditional post-its for notes on pattern or detailed directions when I’m editing my original designs.
  • cable needles — different types for different situations. My favorite are the straight, wooden type. I’ve even taken to using 5-inch double-points in the size of the knitting I’m doing (eg, a size 8 for my current project). I like the wood the best since it “catches” the stitches and they don’t slide around. The cable needles with the slices irritate me — the slice catches the stitches too much and slows me down. But if I was working with a slippery yarn, this extra bit of “catch” would be just what I’d need. The hook and the “wing” style cable needles work but I’m tending toward the straight, wooden type.
  • puppy snips — these are amazing as they are “airplane approved” but have a nice blade to clip ends plus they’re so darn cute!
  • tapestry needles — I use either the metal of the plastic ones. You want some with a blunt tip that won’t split the yarn as you tuck in ends and sew up seams. I also have some that are super sharp for working the Russian join. One of my metal tapestry needles has been with me for decades!
  • stitch holders — you can always rely on scraps of yarn, but these are nice since you can knit right off them and the stitches don’t tighten (as they will on yarn scraps). They’re like huge safety pins without the coil.
  • point-protectors — these are a must, especially if you do lots of knitting on circs. These will keep your stitches from falling off and keep the needles (especially those bitty sock needles) from poking thru your knitting bag and stabbing you … just sayin’
  • finally, and not pictured, is a tape measure — I actually use two types: 1) a stiff 6-inch metal ruler for measuring gauge and small areas of knitting and 2) a fabric, 60-inch tape measure to measure sleeves or amount of knitting done. I replace the tape measure every few years as they can get stretched out of “true”.

Some of these tools are able to do double-duty (eg, the crochet hooks) or you can gerry-rig something in a pinch — I’ve been known to use a paper clip as a “tapestry needle” to sew bulky knits or unbend a paper clip and use it as a cable needle. A large safety pin can hold stitches while a pencil or pen can be used as a cable needle.

Necessity is the mother of invention, but having all your tools in one spot is a lot less stressful.

So what do you have in your knitting bag? What tools are your must-haves …sig block

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