To start knitting, you only need two things: a pair of needles and a ball of yarn. If you want to finish a project, though, you’ll need a few more items. So what does an experienced knitter keep in a knitting kit?
A tapestry needle – The most basic tool in any knitter’s kit, a tapestry needle is a large sewing needle, with an eye big enough to accommodate bulky yarn. You’ll use the needle to weave in the tails of yarn left after you bind off your project.
Stitch markers – These small rings slip on your needles to mark particular points in your pattern. Some markers can be clipped directly onto a stitch if you need to mark a spot on the project itself to come back to later in the pattern.
Stitch holders – A stitch holder is like a large safety pin. When a pattern calls for you to set some stitches aside to come back to later, you will slip those stitches onto a holder.
Row counters – Many patterns require you to keep track of how many rows you have knit. Some counters slip onto your needle and have a number dial you change after each row. Some have a simple button you click. And, yes, there are smart phone apps for that.
A measuring tape - A lot of patterns call for a number of inches, rather than a number of rows. A flexible measuring tape will be indispensable, especially when making pairs of things, like mittens or sleeves. You don’t want to guess that your sleeves are the same length.
Needle caps – When you’re taking a knitting break, you can place them on the end of your needles to ensure no stitches slip off while your project is in your knitting bag. They can also be used to turn a double-point needle into a straight needle.
As for knitting needles, there are three types: the classic straight pair, double-point needles (sold in sets of 4 or 5), and circular needles. Keep knitting and you will eventually use each kind of needle. Some projects require the use of more than one kind.
Straight needles are used for most of your rectangular projects, like scarves and washcloths.
Circular needles are two needle heads connected to a cord. They are necessary for larger projects, like blankets. They are also used for projects that are worked in the round, like hats or the body of a seamless sweater. These needles vary by needle size and by cord length, from 9 inches to 60 inches. Frequent knitters might want to invest in a circular needle kit, which offers greater flexibility. Rather than buying a needle for each project, a kit allows you to customize the cord length and the needle size. Plus, if your project calls for changing needle size partway through, all you have to do is scrunch your stitches onto the cord and switch out the needle heads.
Double-point needles are used for smaller projects joined in the round, like mittens or the crown of a hat. Often, you will start a project on circular needles, then switch to double points as you get close to binding off.
Happily, most of these tools are fairly cheap and you’ll use them for years. So stock up and keep on knitting!
What other tools do you find helpful to have handy?