When you are beginning to learn a new craft, it’s always exciting to gather the essential materials and tools needed for your new venture. There are so many fabulous knitting needles and accessories available today, it’s hard to resist making a purchase. But sometimes we purchase things that are not really necessary or required until we are more experienced. So, I’m going to discuss the essential items required for the basic knitter’s toolbox.
- Knitting Needles. These go without saying, however, I don’t keep all my needles in my working toolbox, simply because I have so many. They are stored elsewhere in glass vases, teapots, etc. As you become an experienced knitter, you will also acquire a collection of needles.
- Needle and Stitch Gauges. Needle gauges have a range of holes with both metric and US sizes; used for measuring needles. Some gauges are combined with a stitch gauge; a 4″ square window with a ruler to measure the number of stitches and rows per inch of knitted fabric.
- Tape Measure. As with sewing, this is an absolute necessity.
- Scissors. Folding types are great when transporting projects.
- Sewing Needles (finishing needle). The needles used to sew hand knits are different from the needles used to sew regular fabric – they do not have a sharp end. Blunt tipped needles are what you need for sewing knitted projects. Some other names for these needles include tapestry needles, darning needles, or knitters needles.
- Row Counters. These tools keep track of the rows as you knit. They are not absolutely essential, as you can simply keep track by writing on a paper. I highly recommend using counters, particularly when knitting garments. Your pieces will match row for row, making for easier seaming.
- Stitch Holders. Holders come in a variety of styles and sizes; they hold stitches to be worked later. With experience you will find your favorites.
- Pins. Knitters pins are blunt tipped, used to pin pieces together while seaming. T-pins are used for blocking, since they are easily inserted into a blocking board, easily removed, and hold pieces firmly while they dry. Safety pins are useful to hold small numbers of stitches, to hold a dropped stitch, and mark the beginning of rounds in circular knitting.
- Markers. There are so many different types of markers these days; jewelry for knitting. My favorite are simple, metal rings. Markers are placed between stitches on your knitting needle, and are great for complex stitch patterns.
- Cable Needles. These are used to hold stitches while knitting cables. My favorite are the ones with a U-shape in the middle.
- Notepad/pen/pencil. I’m a paper person and these are indispensable to me. You will most likely need to make notes or keep track of rows; so use whatever works for you (maybe your ipad).
- Point Protectors. I haven’t used these for years. These are caps placed on the tips of the needles to prevent stitches from sliding off your needles.
- Crochet Hook. I know how to crochet, so I have a small case with a variety of hook sizes. Some knitters like to use a crochet hook to fix dropped stitches. I would suggest the smaller sizes, up to 4mm for fixing mistakes.
- Bobbins. Small amounts of yarn are wrapped around bobbins when color knitting. I’m not a fan; working with many colors on bobbins can be cumbersome. It is often easier to leave lengths of yarn down the back of the work to pick up as you knit.
What you use for the actual toolbox can be whatever you like. I love baskets, and at home I use a small basket to hold the above items. I also have a larger basket to hold my ongoing projects (usually too many) with the necessary accessories for these projects, plus a zippered pouch for scissors, tape measure, pins and sewing needles for quick access.
It is popular to transport projects; knitting on the bus or during the lunch hour. So you want a bag that’s not too big, including just the essentials for one of your projects.
For all you beginner knitters, I hope this helps you in putting together your toolbox. Happy Knitting!