The tools that I use for projects are listed here. Knitting and crochet needles have their own separate blog entries. I will add to this basic list, as I reference tools in projects.
Stitch Markers: I use two types of split ring markers, one type (white in the photo) that I really like but haven't been able to find anymore. The small white, split-ring markers are very useful when knitting and marking fingering and sport weight yarns and when using small diameter needles. The green and orange markers locking stitch markers are better for larger diameter needles, when you want to hold a few stitches at a end of the row for completion later, to temporarily hold a dropped a stitch, or for marking increases and decreases. The green and orange markers are Clover Locking Stitch Markers (#353).
I like split ring markers because you can add them or remove them without being at the specific stitch. I use split ring markers for quality control, stitch pattern repeats, and as a counting aid while casting on. Also called, Open Coil Stitch Marker Rings, these come in 5 colors and 2 sizes: Small (6.0 mm ID / 9.5 mm OD) and larger (7.5 mm ID / 10 mm OD.) Click here for more details on split ring stitch markers. I use the smallest ones for knitting lace weight and fingering weight yarns.
Stitch Holders: I use 3 types. The small orange and green locking clips are suitable for holding a few stitches. I use them to hold a dropped stitch until I can repair it and to hold edge stitches that will be later worked into an I-cord or button band. For years the metal loops (approximate clothes hanger wire gauge) were my workhorses and I still use them to hold small spans of stitches, for example in pocket construction. My new workshorses are the versatile Knit Picks cables with screw-on caps (purple in photo). These can hold a large number of stitches without dropping any and can be marked with the needle gauge. See needle size labels below. They have great portability, due to the flexible cables and come in various lengths. When you are again ready to knit the reserved stitches, you just attach the needle tips.
Blocking Mats, Wires and T-pins: Nine (9), 3/4" thick, 12" square, foam rubber interlocking mats, reconfigurable to accomodate needlework projects of many sizes. The blocking wire kit from Knit Picks comes with fifteen (15), 32-1/2" long, stainless steel wires and 20 nickel plated T-pins, and blocking instructions. Click here to read the articles: Product Review - Blocking Mat and Product Review - Lace Blocking Wires - Not Only for Lace.
Point Protectors: Placed on the points of needles, these elastomeric tips protect the needle points, but more significantly they prevent the knitting needles from poking through knitting bags and into people. Point protectors can also be used to keep your yarn stitches from sliding off the needle point(s) when you are not knitting. Shown is the WrightsRT / Boye RT Point Protector Set (7547), for sizes: US 0 - 15, Metric 2.00 - 10.00 mm.
Stitch Row Counters: These are also called stitch registers. It is helpful to have a few, for example if you are knitting several cables that have different repeat patterns. In addition, with some novelty yarns it is difficult to see the rows, so you may want to use a row counter when instructions are indicated by row, rather than dimension. Pictured are Aero and Susan Bates brands.
Tally Counter: Pictured at left is a mechanical, push button lap counter that does double duty for jogging and needlework. I asked for this at a number of athletic and running stores before I found it at Amazon.com under Tally Counter. The nice features about the tally counter are the large numbers and the ability to index the counter without putting your knitting down. The knit registers are more compact, can be left on your needles, and travel well, but you have to interrupt your knitting periodically to index them.
Knitting/crochet/sewing Gauges: Illustrated at left are 2 types of metal gauges--the Susan Bates Knit/Crochet gauge and a sewing gauge. The knit/crochet gauge has an "L" shaped window for counting stitches in swatches and projects. An additional feature is the crochet and knitting needle hole gauge. This blue sewing gauge has travelled the world and is used measure toe lengths and cuffs during knitting. The cherished "Magic Baking Powder" gauge is now an antique so it is rarely used anymore. It displays old English needle sizes.
Turbo Needlegauge Gauge This compact, black plastic gauge has US & metric sizes printed on it and measures 2-1/4" x 2-1/4" x 1/16". US/metric sizes include: 000/1.5 mm; 00/1.75 mm; 0/2.0 mm; 2.25 mm; 1/2.5 mm; 2.75 mm; 2/3.0 mm; 3/3.25 mm; 4/3.5 mm; 5/3.75 mm; 6/4.0 mm; 7/4.5 mm; 8/5.0 mm; 9/5.5 mm; 10/6.0 mm; 10.5/6.5 mm; 10.75/7.0 mm; 11/8.0 mm; 13/9.0 mm; and 15/10.0 mm. Click here to read: Product Review - Turbo Needlegauge.
Simflex Expandible Sewing Gauge: This handy, accordion motion tool makes fast work of calculating a pleasing button spacing, without having to crunch numbers. In just a few seconds I marked the button centerlines and began attaching the buttons for the lacy leg warmers. It works as advertised and stores very compactly.
Cable Needles: I use a number of types, depending on the yarn weight and purpose. From left to right: DPN, hook, hook, wave and wave cable needles. I use DPNs when going back a number of rows to change a cable pattern, or to correct a mistake. I like the hook type when using yarns of worsted weight and heavier. If you feed the stitches on the short end of the hook, you unload them on the long end--this memory aid prevents twisting the cable stitches. In addition, I find the stitches are less likely to slip off the hook than the wave. I use the wave needles for fingering weight and lace weight yarns, for example when creating socks with cables.
Darning Needles & Pins: I like the flower-head pins for holding knitting together as well as for blocking. Button pins are also illustrated. These are useful for testing button placement or for attaching shank buttons that will be removed for laundering. The darning needles are used for weaving in yarn ends and sewing pieces together. To prevent damage to the work, yarn needles are blunt-nosed.
Fingertip Yarn Guides: Yarn guides fit on your index finger and have channels that guide individual colors of yarn to prevent them from tangling. They also speed work when doing mosaic or other color patterns.
The top guide features a pivoting bar to retain yarn, the bottom a snap in bar. I find the "open" type on the bottom to be more comfortable to wear, but the closed guide is easier to use with larger diameter yarns.
Needle Size Labels: I use a combination of purchased markers and handmade labels for 2 main reasons: convenience and necessity. The quick, laminated, handmade tags were constructed of cardstock with large, contrasting, Letraset numbers. I made a number of these for needle sizes for which purchased tags didn't exist. If you used a circle punch when making them, they would look more uniform. The molded, plastic tags are available from Knit Picks.
1) Small diameter needles are too tiny to display the size.
2) When using cables to hold work while the needles or needle tips are deployed to another section or project. This way when I return I know what size needles are needed to complete the work and maintain the correct gauge.
Hairpin Lace Tool: This tool is used to create hairpin and broomstick lace. I used it for a decorative sleeve on a sweater. The tool pictured at left is manufactured by Susan Bates and the bar width is adjustable from 3/4" to 2". This is more convenient than using dowels of varying diameters.
Copy Holder: This is one of those tools that when you need it, it is indispensible. The 1608 Copyholder from Eldon Office Products holds printed instructions and can frame a specific row, which reduces eyestrain and hunting for a row, while eliminating distractions from other rows. The copy holder features a black plastic paper tray, fold-away support stand, and highlighting rule which pivots for loading paper and slides up and down along a pin, allowing you to focus on specific pattern rows.
Magnetic Board: It is available from many suppliers listed in "links tab" of this site. The specific product I use is the LoRan Magnetic Board, 6" x 10" in soft ivory, with magnetic strips to hold work instructions. The board is invaluable when working with color patterns, cross stitch and charted patterns. In the photo, it is shown supported by the Copyholder (black). The product can now be purchased with its own fold away support stand, and comes in more sizes, with additional options.
Yarn Bobbins: Yarn bobbins hold small amounts of yarn in localized areas to faciliate color work. When a particular bobbin is not in use, the yarn can be wound tightly to keep it out of the way while the knitting or crocheting a different section. Susan BatesRT bobbins are illustrated.
Yarn Keepers: I prefer working with round balls versus skeins, so I redeploy empty, clean disinfectant wipe containers (size appropriate to the ball size) to use as yarn keepers. They also make good containers for skein leftovers, corraling them in a single location where it is easy to find them when an accent yarn is needed. The yarn feeds through the center guide and is protected from dirt and dogs. One of our dogs loves playing ball and this prevents confusing the yarn with a toy. Also, reuse is the highest form of recycling.
Pressing Board: I use the combination June TailorRT cutting and pressing board for sewing and knitting. In knitting it is used for blocking swatches and experimenting with cable patterns. The grid is marked off in inches to ensure accuracy to assist in layout and the padded surface is ideal for pinning and pressing swatches. The convenient handle and compact size make it easy to transport and store. The photo shows the board being used to mock up cable patterns with bias tape.
Mister: This compact, watercolorist's mister (source Dick Blick) is used for blocking garments and swatches. After gently misting the garment or swatch, let it rest and dry overnight. There is no need to soak the garment. Misting works for yarns that cannot be steamed as well as those that can.
Steamer: I originally purchased the Rowenta steamer to keep my wool suits and clothing looking fresh between launderings, however, it gets used most frequently to block needlework. The steamer has greatly speeded and simplified finishing and also provides a professional-looking finish on garments and other projects made of synthetic yarn. Prior to having a steamer, I did not like creating garments with synthetic yarns as it was both difficult to block them and to obtain permanent or semi-permanent results. Click here to read the review article: Product Review - Rowenta Pro Compact Garment Steamer
Tape Measure: This PVC coated fiberglass tape measure has been a trusty servant for decades. The fiberglass prevents stretching and the plastic coating provides a slippery surface. Also pictured are travel scissors used for needlework.
Elastic Sewing Thread: Used for ribbing in fabrics that tend to grow with time, like some plant-based and synthetic yarns. Also used for smocking. StretchriteTM Elastic Sewing Thread, 30 yds, manufactured by the Rhode island Textile Company is shown. Purchased at Haberman Fabrics.
Woolly Nylon Serger Thread: Used for ribbing in fabrics that tend to grow with time, like some plant-based and synthetic yarns. Used for attaching gross grain ribbing to button bands. Also used in the neckline ribbing of the Strawberries & Cream Tabard. The traditional use is for lingerie. YLI, made in Japan, 100% nylon, 1000 m. Purchased at Joanns in black and ecru.
Windmere Clothes Shaver Plus: If you knit a lot or enjoy knitwear, then a clothes shaver is a must have tool. They do a great job of refreshing your knitwear, particularly elbows, cuffs, collars and other high wear, high friction areas. My two favorite sweaters both need an occasional shave to rejuvenate them I've also had a couple of pairs of socks that benefitted from a shave now and then.
Click here to read about the Product Review - Windmere Clothes Shaver Plus.