Tip of the Week

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tip of the Month: Knitting Supplies & Tools

If you are new to knitting or already knitting, you might have seen all the different supplies in the knitting aisle at your local craft store.  Sometimes, especially as a new-to-the-craft beginner it can be overwhelming when you are looking for your supplies.  So I am here to help you sort through some of the supplies and tools to get you knitting.  And it's okay if you want to try knitting with a knitting kit that includes some of the basic supplies.

Knitting Needles:
These are the main necessity to knitting (unless you have chosen to Loom Knit).  There are three main types of knitting needles: straights, circular, and double-pointed.  Circular needles can be fixed or interchangeable; I like my interchangeable ones, but some of the larger needles are fixed only, so I have both.  In addition, all three are made of different materials, the typical choices are acrylic, nickel, bamboo/wood, and sometimes plastic.  It really is a personal preference as to which material will work best for you and no matter what you read, there are pros and cons to each.  If you can, I would recommend going to a local/specialty yarn shop and seeing if you can try out the different materials.

                    Straights: Great for most projects and come in varying sizes and lengths
                    Circular: Necessary for knitting in the round; great for most projects, especially large projects
                    Double-pointed: Necessary for knitting socks and other patterns that call for them; can be  
                    useful for fixing mistakes

Stitch Markers and Holders:
You will need stitch markers and they come in varying sizes and shapes.  The size you will need will depend on the needle size you are using for your project and you can buy a set with multiple sizes.  Whether you choose circular or triangular will be a personal choice; I have both, even "fun" ones in a heart shape.  You will also find locking stitch markers (the teal-green ones pictured below) and split ring stitch markers (not pictured).  Locking stitch markers are great for crochet, fixing mistakes in your knitting and some knitting projects, so far I have not used them in my knitting projects.  Split ring stitch markers are great if you need to mark rows, decreases/increases or mistakes.  And stitch holders do exactly what the package says - hold stitches, these also come in varying sizes (1 larger and 2 small are pictured below).  You will also find brass or metal stitch markers that have charms or beads on them - I call these designer stitch markers, and these will also work for most yarns.

Point Protectors and Stoppers:
For me, I only had a few stoppers that were my Grandmother's and for my first few projects I have not used them.  Now that I have started larger projects, stoppers come in handy when I set my work aside or take it with me.  The stoppers will "stop" your stitches from falling off your needles and also prevent your needles from poking through your bag.  Point protectors are similar to stoppers, but can also be used on double-pointed needles.  Again these come in varying sizes and shapes, so be sure to buy the correct size based on the needle size you are using for your project.

Other accessories:
Yarn needle (also called tapestry needles) - You will need these to weave in ends or sew pieces together when you are finishing your project
Tape measure - Necessary for measuring your gauge swatch and measuring your projects
Scissors - To cut yarn
Sticky-notes - Great for marking your point in the pattern, notes or keeping track of the number of rows completed
Pen/Pencil - Necessary if you are marking your rows or other notes in the pattern
Yarn Sleeve - Basically a yarn sleeve is helpful to hold yarn together and I haven't used these often, but before you go buy any try this simple project.  If you buy any single garlic cloves or pearl onions, save the mesh bag and trim both ends off.  Now you have a yarn sleeve, just like the ones you can purchase.
Cable Stitch Holders - If you decide to knit cable patterns you will need cable stitch holders.  The most common style (pictured below center) are the hooks, but I have seen two other styles in yarn shops.
Knitting Project Bags or Yarn Holders - There are so many styles that I will discuss these in a separate post later in the week.  Basically these are just bags to carry your project and yarn.

There are other supplies for knitting you can purchase, but I find that the tools I have discussed above are the necessities for knitting most projects.  If you buy hanks of yarn, you will need a yarn swift and ball winder to wind your yarn into a ball (Do Not try to knit or crochet from a hank of yarn).  And if you start buying needles in all sizes you will need a knitting needle case to carry all your needles.

Happy Knitting!

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