Nov 27, 2014

Knitting Tools DIY Alternatives

If you've ever opened a recently written knitting book, you'll know that the first few pages are usually dedicated to the different types of yarns available and the tools needed to knit.

All of these tools may seem confusing at first to a person just wanting to start with some basic knitting without all the bells and whistles.

This is why I decided to write a post and show you how you don't have to buy every single tool: I'm a seasoned knitter and there are a few tools I do without.

The mains tools you need are knitting needles. Some like straight needles, others prefer circulars. If you're a beginner, I'd recommend first buying a cheap pair of straight knitting needles in the size required for the yarn you're using (if you're not sure, just ask the person at the counter).

1 - The cable needle: this is a short needle that is double pointed and is curved in the middle. When you knit cables, you need to slide a number of stitches onto this needles so that you can knit a few other stitches from the main needle before knitting the stitches left on hold to get the crossed effect. If you have regular double-pointed needles, you don't need to buy cable needles: I actually find curved cable needles awkward to use, and I'd rather use a straight one.

2- Still with the cable needle, the size of cable needle (or double-pointed needle if that's what you're using for your cables): you don't need to invest in every single size of cable needle. You'll only be using them to hold stitches for less than a minute. You need to make sure your cable needle is not too small, to avoid the stitches slipping out too easily, and not too big, in order not to struggle trying to put those few stitches on the needle and stretching the stitches. For example if you're using DK wool with 4mm needles and you only have a 5mm cable or double pointed needle, just use that! You can invest in a 4mm one later if you know you're going to need them a lot but I wouldn't worry about having only a size up or down.

3-The stitch holder: sometimes you need to leave some stitches on hold (for example for a thumb while you're knitting the rest of a mitten) and you may think you need to buy the large plastic contraption that looks exacly like a large safety pin. Well I've got new for you if you're a minimalist like me: you have at least 3 other alternatives that work just as well!
3a- Use a length of yarn about double the size of the stitches that need to be put on hold, carefully thread this through your stitches, remove the needle and tie a knot to keep your stitches secure.
3b- Use a spare circular needle if you have one, place the stitches to be put on hold on the cable part. The extra needles may get in your way when working the rest of your knitting but if you can live with it, so can I!
3c- If Mc Gyver was a knitter, he'd use a safety pin and I've tried this myself but you need to be very careful of this method as the tip of the safety pin can be very sharp and may split the yarn if you try inserting the pin too fast (mind your fingers too!).

In my knitter's toolbelt
4- Stitch markers: these are very cheap and I do a lot of circular knitting so I did invest in a pack eventually, but when starting out you can just use a small bit of yarn tied in a knot, looped around your needle. You can also use a small elastic band. If you have children your house is probably full of these loom bands that are all the rage at the moment: if you're going to use some, just avoid the glittery ones unless you want your hands and knitting full of glitter (glitter sticks and is pretty difficult to wash out, believe me I've been a glitter victim before;-)

5- Pompom makers: different types of pompom makers, usually made out of plastic, are available now: I just wonder what happened to cutting 2 circles with a hole in the middle out of an empty cardboard cereal box?

That's all I can think of now, but I'm sure there are a lot of other tips out there, as more often than not, logic takes over as necessity arises. You're welcome to add some of your tips in the comments section: I'm sure I've left out lots!

Don't forget of course the knitting needles, yarn and the measuring tape;-)

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