Sunday, December 03, 2006

What's in Your Knitting Bag?

Next to "How long have you been knitting," the question I am asked most frequently asked when teaching a class is "What do you keep in your knitting bag?" I think knitters are a lot like watercolorists in the sense that we are gadget lovers. We like lots of little 'do-hickeys' to make the job easier. Our paint totes and knitting bags are stuffed full of all kinds of neat, unique, tools we find stacked by the cash registers when we check out. So here's a list of what I can't do without. How does it compare to yours?

First of all, I keep my supplies organized, clean, and visible, in a clear plastic Cultured Purl zippered toiletry bag. (Alright, I'll admit it here-I keep two identical bags going at all times, because I'm usually working on more than one project at the same time. However, I realize this leans toward the obsessive...) Anyhow- I highly recommend Cultured Purl's bags.

So here's the list, in no particular order, although I've marked the criticals with "**":

**yarn needles - I prefer Clover's CHIBI needles. They're gold-toned, with a slight bend at the tip. I use them for weaving in tails, kitchener seams, and some bind-offs.

** crochet hooks - for fixing a dropped stitch; picking up stitches at a cranky neckline; provisional cast-ons; and adding a crocheted edge. I keep 2 or 3 in my bag at all times - different sizes to match my project needles.

** measuring tape - anything will work, but the retractable fuzzy sheep tapes that Cultured Purl sells are the cutest things ever!

needle gauge- mine is the 5-inch wide, metal, Susan Bates "Knit Chek" which has holes to check needle diameter, as well as a window for measuring stitch & row gauge. Although it's not one of my criticals, I do use it all the time.

**stitch markers - I keep an assortment: a few of the circle variety, either plastic rings or pretty beads on wire; as well as the safety pin type which can be opened to clip onto actual stitches.

stitch holders - I keep several sizes and use them for holding stitches that will be worked later. They also come in handy when the unthinkable happen: you've just finished the most challenging part of a project, it looks like it's error free, then you sit on your needle, it snaps in half, and all your work falls off... I didn't mark these as critical because a length of yarn tied in a knot will work in a pinch. At the very least though, throw in a big safety pin or two.

** scissors - I use the little embroidery type. Cultured Purl sells cute scissor toppers to keep them from poking through the bag or stabbing you when you reach in for something.

Knitter's Little Helper - A hand balm that Cultured Purl sells. It's a quick absorbing moisturizer with lavender and other soothing natural ingredients which keeps hands smooth. Dry hands can catch and pull fine yarns. Makes a really nice stocking-stuffer...

small circular or double pointed needle - This can come in handy if you have to rip back. I carry a size 2 (US) 16 inch circular needle and I have found it to be incredibly useful.

**pencil - for taking notes on projects

nail file, tissues, and 1 Band-aid - nothing will wreck your project faster than a jagged torn nail or a bloody hang-nail... The file can also smooth a rough wooden needle in an emergency! (rub some Knitter's Helper on first.)

These next items are project specific so they're only in my bag if the project warrants:

cable needles - (never use a size larger than your project needles)

T-pins - or any pin with a very large head, Cultured Purl sells several styles. For pinning seams and blocking.


Well that's a first look at my gadget bag.

I'll edit this later if I find something important that slipped my mind this morning!! In the meantime, take a look at these cool new knitting bags that Shirani just got in:

Yours in knitting,

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