These are a few of my favorite things

Nope…no raindrops or whiskers, just knitting stuff.

I’m sure like anyone else with a hobby, there are a few particular tools in my knitting bag that I don’t think I could live without (including a couple recent additions).

Knit Counter App

I used to use a little red clicker to keep track of my rows. And I nearly throttled my husband’s best friend when he saw it on a table and just started clicking away because it was there. A much better solution came along for me after I got my iPhone. The Knit Counter App. This is, by far, my favorite app and the one I use the most (aside from The Weather Channel). It’s a pretty bit step up from my little red clicker.

I really love that you can track multiple projects at the same time. Another nice feature is that you can automatically count repeats of a pattern. I haven’t used it yet, but you can even track stitch markers.

Interchangeable circular knitting needles

I’ve talked about these before. My interchangeable circulars are Knit Picks Options in Harmony Wood. I have them in nearly every frequently used size and even have a couple doubles so that I can keep multiple projects on the needles at the same time. I don’t use regular straight needles anymore.

I prefer using these to straight primarily because the weight of a project distributes a little more evenly between my hands as I move back & forth. As for knitting in the round, I like the Options cables because they are very flexible and don’t have a memory (i.e. when they are wound up for storage you can still pull them out straight and they won’t spring right back).

Tiny “fix-it” crochet hook keychain thingy (Emergency Fix Keychain)

This thing is awesome! For a LONG time I used a small crochet hook to fix my dropped stitches, but about 6 months ago I bought this little keychain crochet hook “fixer” as an impulse addition to one of my orders (yes Knit Picks again). I heart this tiny keychain. I don’t think there are really any major pluses to using this as opposed to a regular crochet hook, I just love how cute and little it is and how nicely it fits in my accessory pouch.

Swift & Ball-winder

Another pretty recent addition to my “bag of tricks,” I have no idea how I managed without for such a long time. Actually I do know…I just avoided buying really nice yarn that had to be wound up. Well, no more. Yes, I will still be a frequent shopper of the craft stores and online places that sell less expensive, pre-wound yarn, but now I can go to the nice yarn stores and easily use my purchases. Yay!

PS – Trust me, Knit Picks still has no idea who I am and they have given me nothing. I just happen to enjoy their stuff and spend WAY too much money on their site. Oh, also Apple and the maker of the Knit Counter App have never heard of me.

Knitting needles – it’s a personal choice

When I first decided to take up knitting the one thing I was a little overwhelmed and intimidated by was the amount of needle sizes and types to choose from.  On top of that, I was totally freaked out by the potential cost of my new pursuit.  So, I took the suggestion of the internets and went with one set of needles – a 10.5.  I chose a pretty purple acrylic set,  got one of the cheapest worsted weight yarns I could find, and set out to pursue my new hobby.

Holy crap!!  It was awful.  I think it took me two days to figure out how to cast on.  And when I finally started to knit, it was nearly impossible for me to keep the yarn on the needles.

Over time I’ve learned what works best for me and what I like using the most.  I say what works for me because it’s really all a matter of personal preference.  Some people love their acrylic needles, some people change depending on the type of yarn they use…all of the options exist for a reason.  Here’s what I like and why:

  1. Wood and Bamboo.  I’ve learned that acrylic and aluminum are way too slippery for my taste.  Wood and bamboo have a little bit of texture to them that allows the yarn to “grip” a little and not slip off so easily.
  2. Circular needles are your friend!  I was SO intimidated by using circular needles that I wasted a fairly large sum of money buying nearly every size of straight needles.  Ooops.  Circular needles can be used as straight needles or for circular projects.  I don’t think I’ve used a straight needle in three years.
  3. Interchangeable circulars are the way to go.  This was an excellent investment and is a great way to get the most for your money.  Personally, I use Knit Picks Harmony Wood interchangeables.  I have nearly every size they carry at this point and the set comes with two sizes of cables which are great for medium and large size projects.  As I said before, you can use them as circular or straight needles – which I love.
  4. Small circular projects require double-pointed needles.  Another thing I was terrified of.  Here’s what I learned pretty quickly.  As much as I love wood for my circular needles, I need the flexibility of bamboo for double-pointed knitting.  I bought one set of wood DPNs and they tore my fingers up.  My only exception to this are my sock needles (the teeny tiny sizes)…those I have in wood.
  5. Small circumference fixed circulars.  I’ve just started knitting with these recently and I am in love.  For a long time I just couldn’t see the point of them.  If you have something small and circular to knit, just use the DPNs…which is what I’ve been doing for a couple years now.  However, making hats for my daughter has changed my mind.  DPNs are great, but the because there is no “needle change” on the small circumference circulars you don’t get the weird little line/gap running up the sides of your hats like you do with the DPNs.  I’ve bought them in two sizes so far…4 and 7 (from Knit Picks and in wood, but you probably already guessed that).  The total size is 16″ and the needles themselves are smaller than your average needle to allow the most flexibility in the round itself.

Side note – I know I mentioned Knit Picks like a thousand times.  I don’t receive anything from them for free and I highly doubt I ever will, although if I ever do I will be sure to let you know (and I just provide the links so you can see what I’m talking about).  Honestly I just find their products nice to use and easy to order.  I don’t have a local yarn store super close to me & there are only so many needle choices available at the big craft stores (you know who I’m talking about…A.C. Moore, Michael’s, et al).