Essential Tools Series: Knitting
A big part of being an accomplished knitter is having the right tools at your disposal. While it is true that all you need is two needles and a ball of yarn to knit, there are tools that will both make your life easier and transform your knitting to the next level. Here is our list of the essential tools for all knitters.
We love KnitPro interchangeable circular knitting needles at Morris & Sons. Having a full set means you are ready to cast on any project whenever you feel like it. It also means you can experiment with your gauge. Having the correct gauge is one of the most important parts of knitting a garment or even an accessory successfully. Often, I need to adjust my needle size up or down slightly from what the pattern calls for and before I had a full set of needles, I would be tempted to just stick with what I had rather than making a trip to get the new needles. Those projects never turned out quite right and only led to disappointment. For more information on KnitPro interchangeable knitting needles read our guide here.
A good needle gauge serves two purposes; to measure the size of your knitting needles and to help you measure your knitting gauge. Some knitting needles are clearly marked with their size but others either do not have the size printed on them or the size wears away over time from holding the needles. The KnitPro View Sizer has a 6 inch ruler that includes a magnified marked out 4 inch (10 cm) section to help see your stitches when you are counting your gauge. If you’re not familiar with checking your knitting gauge or how to alter it, read our blog here.
After knitting needles and yarn, wool needles are the next most essential knitter’s tool. Also called yarn or darning needles, they are what you use to weave in your ends after knitting or sew together two pieces. A standard pack of two sizes will do the job for most projects but they also come with a bent tip which makes it easier to sew. The Clover Chibi Set is the Rolls-Royce of darning needles, with three needles in two sizes, presented in a very handy needle case. Since I upgraded my darning needles to those, I haven’t lost a single one down the couch! I also keep the little key to tighten my interchangeable needles in the case as well as a cable connecter from KnitPro should I need to connect two sizes of cables. Clover also makes a Jumbo Chibi Bent Tip Set for super bulky yarns, perfect for Rowan Big Wool and Manos Franca.
Counting your rows in knitting is necessary as soon as you begin working with a pattern. Some people prefer to just count on scrap paper but after countless times of losing that paper or forgetting to mark my rows I finally moved on to using a proper counter. There are row counters that slide onto your knitting needles, either in various diameters that fit specific sizes or a universal one that will fit most sizes. These can be good when you are just starting out but can also slide around too much on your needles and get annoying. Our favourite counters are ones that click, a very satisfyingly fun thing to do after you finish knitting a row that it helps ensure you won’t forget! Clover makes one that can sit next to you, the Kacha Kacha Counter, or one that you can thread yarn through to wear around your neck and never misplace it, the Mini Kacha Kacha Counter.
KnitPro also makes counter rings which are a stylish way to keep track of your rows and perfect to never misplace. They make a great gift for the knitter who has everything.
Once you are knitting anything in the round or more complicated than a basic scarf or blanket, you will need stitch markers to keep your place. Locking stitch markers that look a little bit like a safety pin are the most useful because they can be moved around at any time not just when you are at that point in your knitting. In addition to the locking stitch markers, I like to have a set of the x-small triangles from Clover for when I am working on socks or mittens and don’t want the bigger stitch markers getting in my way.
A good, sharp pair of scissors is essential for knitting. If you are travelling with your knitting, yarn cutting pendants are safe and compact to take with you. Many customers swear by them for their long-haul flights!
Tape measures are needed to take body measurements for garments as well as measure your knitting progress. A good needle gauge will have a ruler on it as well so you won’t need to use a tape measure until your knitting has grown larger than the ruler.
Cable knitting is so much fun and looks much harder than it is once you use a good cable needle. We recommend the Clover U-Shape cable needles for all level of knitters, not just beginners. They are the most secure and their packs come in an array of sizes, one for fine to medium knitting and a jumbo pack for thicker yarns. If you find the U shape slows you down, KnitPro make a beautiful wooden set in the same lacquered birch as their ever-popular Symfonie needles.
Stitch holders are a must for knitting any garment or even some accessories, such as mittens. Traditional stitch holders are very large pins and they work well for smaller sized, especially children’s garments. An updated version of traditional pin stitch holders are ones with double detachable ends, meaning to can slide your stitches on one way and knit them off the other without having to think about making sure they are in the right direction. The double ended stitch holders come in a size small, medium, and large.
For larger adult garments when there are more stitches to put aside, circular stitch holders are great and allow you to try your garment on with the stitches in place. If you are already using interchangeable knitting needles, extra cables are perfect to use as stitch holders, especially the 40 and 60cm lengths. The cables come with end stoppers you can screw on to secure your stitches and then when ready you can attach your needles and begin knitting immediately.
When knitting from a complicated knitting chart, usually for colourwork, cables, or lace, it can be helpful to use a chart keeper to keep your place. These magnetic boards are a secure way to mark your place in a pattern and can stand upright when folded, vertically or horizontally. They will make it easier to ‘read’ your knitting and be working through complicated patterns in no time.
Pom Pom Makers-
Most beanies are not complete without the addition of a perfect pompom. Clover PomPom Makers are so much easier to use than traditional cardboard and make the neatest, fluffiest pom poms.
Swifts and Ball Winders-
If you knit with yarns that are twisted into a skein you will know how essential swifts and ball winders are. While you can turn your skeins into balls yourself at home, a ball winder turns them into beautiful cakes which allow you to pull the yarn neatly from the centre rather than have a ball rolling all over the place. And swifts hold your skeins firmly in place while you are winding, much easier than the back of a chair or asking for the generous helping hands of a friend to hold the skein for you.
Blocking and Washing Supplies-
The final essential knitter’s tools are for caring for your knits. After all your hard work you want to finish your projects with a wash and a block (if you are unfamiliar with blocking, read our blog here). We recommend using a wool wash that does not need to be rinsed to allow for a gentle handle of your knits. After washing we recommend blocking them either rust free T-pins or our personal favourite KnitPro Blockers. They come in sets of combs of pins that make it easier to block your knits straight. If you have knitted a lace shawl or blanket, KnitPro also makes blocking wires which help with straight edges and to open up your lacework.
After compiling all of your essential knitter's tools, you will need a good bag or case to store them all. We love using zippered needle cases that we can take with us anywhere to store both our interchangeable knitting needles as well as any other tools we will need for the project we are currently working on.
Let us know if there are any other tools that are essential to your knitting!