Knitting Essentials

Around here right now everyone is talking about back to school, and vaguely aware of incoming fall seasonal things despite being in the muggy fog of a heat wave that has not let up for a week. I myself am not heading back to school, but I am starting to think very keenly about a ramp up in knitting activity pretty soon. More sweaters, more accessories, just…more. But the miscellaneous activity of the summer adds up too, and I’ve been taking the odd moment to start bringing order and organization to small corners of my knitting life.

Even if it’s still too hot, too busy, or too something to go into a full dive into fall knitting quite just yet, I’m going to recommend taking a spare few moments this month to make sure you’re ready to go. Take stock of your supplies so you have a good sense of what you need, what you don’t need more of, and what you could stand to give away or throw away.

First, give yourself permission to throw away things that aren’t working out so well: Those cables for the interchangeable needles that have gotten a kink in them and don’t sit right, the stitch markers you got in an emergency but they keep breaking on you more often than you’d like and you’ve come to hate them a little bit, the page protector you’ve been using over and over even though you spilled tea on it back in July and it’s still kind of sticky…whatever the equivalent is for you, it’s okay to ditch it. Most knitting materials and notions problems can be solved for about $10 or less, which if you think about it is a pretty big bargain for the peace of mind.

Sept8-Buttons

How are your current supplies looking? Are you still short a couple of needle sizes? You lost your favourite cable needle three months ago and it never reappeared again? Start a list of needs. Do you have a button box that you are afraid of opening because nothing is matched up? Get matching. Has your summer knitting accumulated in a pile of discarded needles that never made their way back to the case or needle box? Time to corral those suckers. (this last one is definitely for me. I have a snarl of Addi Turbos on my table that are perfectly useable and I have no idea which sizes they are because they’ve been hanging out so long).

Sept8-Needles

Where do you knit most often at home? How are you set up there for things you might need to be in arm’s reach? Double-pointed needles, crochet hooks, pens and pencils, stitch markers and some stitch gauge rulers will all fit nicely in a mug or pencil jar. (Mine is currently full to bursting and could stand to have some culling, actually). How are you supplied for tapestry needles, post-it notes, tape measures, stitch markers, and waste yarn or stitch holders? If you’re knitting sweaters or anything with cable patterns, you’ll need most of those things. Set yourself up a little kit for the nearest table or shelf with whatever you’re most likely to use often.

Sept8-TableKit

Finally, are you all set for knitting on the go? Are you back to work, back to school, or back to a different routine at this time of year? Did you change handbags or backpacks? Make sure you’ve got a travel notions kit ready to go. All of the things below fit in my little empty Altoids tin – stitch markers (decorative, ring, and closeable, all miscellaneous and all from different original sets because these things take on a life of their own and disperse everywhere), tapestry needles and a pin for tightening the cords on my KnitPicks interchangeable sets, a portable needle gauge pendant (one of the few needle gauges that fits in a little tin like this), puppy snips from HiyaHiya (small enough to fit in the tin, also juuuuust sharp enough to cut wool but dull enough that nobody will consider them a security risk – or at least nobody has yet, also they apparently come in an octopus version now and i want one), and a retractable tape measure.

Sept8-AltoidsKit

This can seem like a lot, but once you stop and take quick stock of the things you need to have on hand, it gets easier. It’s also okay to take these kinds of tasks one at a time. For me, just organizing the button box was huge. It’s also incredible how quickly all these little supplies can multiply. If you don’t have a good sense of what you have on hand, it’s all too easy to end up buying more of something only to open a box and realize, oh look, I had three of those all along, so it’s good to check in every so often. It’s like a closet sort-out before you go shopping for clothes, to make sure you know what you’ve got and what you need, and what you definitely don’t need more of.

Happy September, knitter friends!  I’ll be back later this week with more project chatter, because there’s lots of knitting to get done. I hope your month is off to a good start.

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21 comments

  1. I think I need about 5 measuring tapes and 3 pairs of scissors for every room in the house because it seems like I can never find one when I need one, even though I already own a whole bunch.

  2. Jane Clay · ·

    I keep my notions in pencil cases, but I must give them a clear out. I also include a few short lengths of yarn, for holding sts, quick tacking or other jobs and a tiny pot of hand cream.

  3. Glenna, I love the “on-the-go kit” – it seems to me it’s the knitter’s equivalent of a capsule wardrobe. Awesome.

  4. All so true. I need to stock up on some size 6 double pointed (where do they all hide???) and size 1/2 needles for socks. Going to try DPN and see if I can also find a 9 inch to try… Hopefully I can leave the yarn shop without too much yarn as well!

  5. Michelle Dry · ·

    I have several sets of knitting essential “Altoids” boxes! They really work well for all the little stuff and I feel great about recycling☺️

  6. Love the new look of your blog, Glenna! Very nice!

    I’m knee-deep in other projects but attacking the knitting
    supplies is definitely in the queue. I’m sure once I find all my stray
    needles, I’ll have a large supply and many in the same size.

  7. A tip for sharpening puppy snips – fold some tin foil in four, then cut through it repeatedly with the puppy snips – it sharpens them up.
    And a tip for holding stitches – I always use 1/8th or 1/4 inch ribbon. It is so much easier to pick the stitches back up as the needle just slide over the ribbon. A length of ribbon doesn’t take up much space. It works well as a row counter too – just slip the ribbon between the stitches every ten rows – you’ll never have to count those rows again.
    Love your blog Glenna – thanks for such regular postings. I need to follow your example!

  8. This is a great idea and I really have to do this. I recently bought a “starter kit” because I felt I was running out of stitch markers mainly and it had a few different kinds… and it also had another measuring tape (I have several), gauge ruler (several again), point protectors (which I almost never use and have a ton)… and then very soon after buying this I found my older notions case which had my stash of closable and ring stitch markers, so I now have a ton of those as well!

    I’m pretty sure at this point there are NO tools at all that I need, except I keep feeling like I need more sock-sized needles – but this is just because I have way too many projects on the go and need to get busy with finishing them! I think it’s definitely beyond time to get organized. I think I’ll start with the small stuff and then have a look at my (really old) stash of yarn after that!

  9. […] Knitting Essentials | Glenna Knits Around here right now everyone is talking about back to school, and vaguely aware of incoming fall seasonal things despite being in the muggy fog of a heat wave that has not let up for a week. I myself am not heading back to school, but I am starting to think very keenly about a ramp up in knitting activity pretty soon. More sweaters, more accessories, just…more. But the miscellaneous activity of the summer adds up too, and I’ve been taking the odd moment to start bringing order and organization to small corners of my knitting life. more… […]

  10. I’m just putting together my travelling knitting bag for a long train journey tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to taking over a table seat, putting my ipod on and getting a solid few hours knitting in. Bliss!

    http://www.mancunianvintage.com

  11. I’m slowly reorganizing my notions as well…great tips! And I love your little on-the-go kit, I’m sure I have an empty tin kicking around here somewhere. I usually keep most of my supplies in a set of plastic drawers on wheels, so I can easily move it from room to room as needed. (At least until I have a house big enough for my own crafting room…that’s the dream!)

  12. I received a cloth traveling jewelry holder years ago and have used it for holding knitting supplies ever since. It’s perfect because it has 3 different sized zippered pockets and one full length pocket behind all of the zippered ones. It simply rolls up and takes up hardly any space. I haven’t figured out a use for the ring holder, though! Any thoughts?

  13. Key ring loop holding stitch markers?

  14. Organization is an ongoing process no matter how hard I try to keep up with it.
    I use a closable stitch marker through the pin for tightening cords. It makes it much easier to find and I don’t loose it quite so often.

  15. Thanks for the permission to toss out whatever isn’t working/useful/adequate/making us happy. Crafting is meant to be enjoyable! Chuck whatever messes up your zen. (This idea can be extrapolated to other areas of life, too…)

  16. Instead of the little keys for tightening my interchangeables, I carry a couple of large safety pins. They serve the same purpose for tightening the tip/cable connection, and can also be run through the holes in the cable to keep stitches from falling off when thrown in the bottom of my purse.

    Every time I go to the dentist I leave with a gift bag which includes a sample pack of floss, which I use for lifelines, so that goes in my toolkit. I also carry a packet of the little rubber bands used for making friendship bracelets. Those work nicely as stitch markers. I leave them on lifelines and just slip on a new one. That way if I have to rip back I know where my markers go.

  17. I’m a big fan of having clearouts every now and then – although clearing out craft stuff can be dangerous as I spend the whole time coming up with new ideas or discovering yarn or projects i forgot I had!

  18. re: tape measures. Many years ago I started carrying a plain sewing style tape measure in my coat pocket (we needed to measure something at the hardware store, so I got a ruler from the display, and put it back when we were done) since then I have put a tape measure in each coat. I always wear a coat or jacket so I have a pocket for my keys, which are too heavy for my purse. Most of the time it is faster to reach into my pocket than to dig out the knitting tool kit. And when the fabric store sells tape measures at less than a dollar, I get extras.

  19. Ashley Wornell · ·

    I feel like all of my projects are travel projects because I have to put them away or out of reach of the curious 2yo. ;). Great ideas for organizing!

  20. Inspirational and motivational. Shared on my social media sites and now following! Thank you so much for this information. I especially loved the knitting gauge you use! So cute!

  21. Reblogged this on theflirtyknitter and commented:
    Very handy article with lots of useful and motivational stuff about knitting!

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