Vintage Knitting Tools

By Sarah Johnson

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vintage knitting tools

Knitting has been around for, well, I don't even know how long. The basics have remained the same, so all any knitter has ever really needed are two sticks and some yarn. Though the tools have changed a bit over the years, so it can be a lot of fun to look back to see ways vintage knitting tools differ from what we're used to today.

Looking for vintage knitting tools in person can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. I've spent many hours scouring antique malls hoping to find some vintage needles or an old loom and found nothing for my trouble. But lucky for you, the Internet is a virtual treasure trove of vintage knitting tools, patterns, and information.

Let's begin with needles. Needles now are similar to vintage needles in terms of length and shapes: some are circular, some are straight. But vintage needles look quite different. For example these to the right, which a friend came across.

They're so colorful, not at all like the standard bamboo or silver metal needles we're used to today. It would be easy to keep all these needles in one spot, say a mason jar, and pick out a pair just by matching the color. I've heard, though, that the material of these vintage needles is trickier to work with than the bamboo so many of us prefer today.

Even the boxes that sets of vintage knitting needles used to come in are full of charm.

vintage tools

Photo via Meg at MegaCrafty

This pinterest board is chock full of pictures of vintage knitting tools, many of which are items that you likely recognize, for example the yarn winder (though mine is durable plastic, not a beautiful wood crafted heart shape) and the yarn swift. Also, I adore these antique English bell knitting gauges.

How many modern knitters, though, use a yarn ball holder? A friend once mentioned threading her yarn through the hole of a colander to keep it from getting twisted as she worked. I would be a lot more inclined to go to the trouble of using something to hold my yarn if it looked like this beautiful sterling yarn holder.

This vintage knitting needle caddy is a decorative piece that could grace the hearth in any room, unlike my modern fabric knitting case.

Check out the knitting needle guards in the bottom photo here. I especially like the boots version. (As a shoe addict, I would.) They have so much more character than my boring plastic traffic cones.

You might have heard about knitting sheaths. A knitting sheath is a tool that holds one needle stable, helping ladies to knit more quickly and efficiently, even on the go. I guess if you actually relied on hand knitting for all of your wool socks, sweaters, and undergarments, you would need to knit constantly to keep up with your family's needs. No wonder knitters needed special tools to help them make quick work of it.

There are even organizations for vintage knitting tools collectors to join!

Do you have any vintage knitting tools handed down from previous generations?

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