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Tools of the Trade

a look at my knitting and crocheting tools

my tools

Without my tools, I wouldn’t be able to make what I make. These are the essential pieces of equipment that help me hone my needle art skills and practice my trade.

I have collected these tools over time; this is not all that I use, but a thorough sample of my most-used tools. (I don’t think I could fit all of my needles, hooks, tools, and accessories in one photo!) That is the joy of practicing over time; you begin to discern what needles feel best in your hands, what measuring tape works the best for you, and so on.

In this post, I will walk you through my personal arsenal of knitting and crocheting tools. This is what I use, as an experienced crafter of over 13 years. I’ll give my tips along the way, but in no way is this a beginner’s kit. (Stay tuned for a beginner’s knitting and crocheting kit post!)

A brief disclaimer: any links to items for purchase are simply my recommendations, and I make no money from your clicking the link and/or purchasing the item.

First and foremost, we have knitting needles and crochet hooks.

Knitting Needles
Crochet Hooks

There are so many varieties of knitting needles and crochet hooks. The most common forms of knitting needles are double-pointed needles, standard (straight) needles, and circular needles. They come in numerous textures and materials. Crochet hooks are pretty standard in look, but it is the material in which they differ most. In the photo above, I feature crochet hooks of varying sizes and materials: metal, wood, and plastic.

My first ever set of knitting needles (I’ve misplaced the matching needle)
My first crochet hook

These are my first ever tools of the trade: size 10.5 knitting needles and size G/6 crochet hook, both by the brand Boye. Boye crochet hooks and Boye knitting needles can be found practically anywhere: Walmart, JoAnns, Michael’s, Meijer, Amazon. The ones I have linked are made from aluminum. I have found they are typically cold to the touch, which is perfect for crafters who have particularly sweaty hands, or when working on a “wintery” project in the middle of summer. There are so many varieties of hooks and needles. (JoAnns even sells light-up crochet hooks for those late-night sessions in front of the TV!) My favorite brand for needles and hooks is Knitter’s Pride. The polished wood feel is so soothing in my hands and provides the perfect texture on which to work stitches. Another brand I’ve heard a lot of love for is ChiaoGoo, which offers knitting needles and crochet hooks as well.

A Tunisian Crochet Hook

Tunisian Crochet is a sub-category of crocheting that deserves its own special post. I thought it necessary to note that I have one in my collection and it has been fun to experiment with as I’ve learned more about Tunisian Crochet. If you are interested, here is a great set of Tunisian Crochet hooks. (They can also be found at JoAnns, Michael’s, Knitter’s Pride, and ChiaoGoo.)

My travel scissors

Scissors are a must for any knitter and/or crocheter. The scissors pictured above are my travel scissors and work in a pinch, but when I have the ability to use my high-quality, forged embroidery scissors at home, I always prefer those. At the end of the day, what matters is that you’ve cut your yarn, but it helps to have a clean cut with a nice pair of shears. (Though, when you get into steeking a fair isle knit, it is highly recommended that you use a sharp pair of high-quality scissors.)

Measuring tapes

A measuring tape is another essential for all knitters and crocheters. Measuring tapes are useful when following patterns, perfecting the fit of a garment, and for checking your progress. I like to use flexible, retractable measuring tapes so that they can bend with the contours of the project. They also come in handy when measuring the circumference of something (hats, sleeves, socks).

The leather measuring tape in the center of the photo above is actually a wearable ruler bracelet. I found the “Wrist Ruler” at a local yarn store and thought it was the neatest idea! It’s fantastic for knitting/crocheting on the go; you can wear your ruler bracelet to measure your project wherever you are!

Thread, yarn scraps, embroidery floss, yarn needles, and embroidery needles

Yarn needles, tapestry needles, and embroidery needles are excellent tools for finishing projects. From weaving in ends to embroidering a design, these needles are very useful! Thread, yarn, and embroidery floss can be used to sew on buttons, beads, and other embellishments to give your projects some personality.

Stitch markers

Stitch markers are very helpful for marking your place in knitting or crocheting. Sometimes it’s a pattern repeat, other times it’s marking a decrease, and most times, it is marking the beginning of the row. Stitch markers are invaluable little tools that help you keep track of your work. I have a variety of stitch markers in my kit. The circular stitch markers are great for slipping on your knitting needles, while the clasp style stitch markers are wonderful for crochet projects, as well as functioning as makeshift safety pins when sewing up a seam.

Stitch holders, left, and cable needles, right

Stitch holders and cable needles are tools used for moving or holding stitches within your work. Many times, a knitted top-down sweater requires portioning off some of the stitches for sleeves to be knit later, for which one uses stitch holders. Cable needles are used for making cables in knitting. Cables look like braids or raised patterns on the knitted fabric, and are made by moving a number of stitches in front of or behind the work and are knitted after the next stitches in the row. (More on that in another post!)

Row counter, left, and needle sizer, right

A row counter is pretty self explanatory; one clicks the side buttons after each row to count your rows. This is useful when working a section of color work, a lace pattern, or just making sure one adheres to the pattern they’re following. There are many types of row counters–such as digital, ring, and necklace row counters–but I’ve found that keeping track of rows on a notepad, on the notes app on my phone, or with this handheld one works best for me. A needle sizer is useful for needles you’ve used so much that the size markings rubbed off, or for a mixed bag of double pointed needles, or for double-checking the listed size. I found this one at a local yarn store and fell in love with its cute and portable qualities. Here is a similar one!

My knitting and crocheting “tackle box”

Storing your supplies and taking care of your tools is so important. I use a “tackle box” (above) for my main collection of all things knitting and crocheting, and a 4″ x 6″ travel pouch (below) for my on-the-go tools. I put other needles and items that do not fit in these two containers in one big storage bin in my craft closet.

My accessory bag that I always carry with me
A yarn bowl for a ball of yarn

A yarn bowl is a fun way to corral your ball of yarn and prevent it from rolling far away from you as you knit or crochet. This one was a gift from my lovely friend, but I have seen these at Hobby Lobby, JoAnns, and Michael’s, as well as at craft shows and on etsy.

My yarn label album

I like to catalog my yarn labels in a standard 4″ x 6″ photo album. These are vital pieces of information to keep around; they help describe how to wash your yarn/garments, what size needle/hook works best, the fiber makeup of the yarn, and sometimes even contain patterns inside the label which can be fun to work up! For example, Henry’s Honeymoon Socks (yarn label on the left in the image below) are knitted in Schachenmayr Regia Pairfect Sock Yarn, and inside the label is a pattern for how to use this specific yarn to make a matching pair of socks! The yarn labels on the right in the image below were used to make my Easy-Peasy Dishcloth. It is so useful to have an organized home for my yarn labels, instead of throwing them all in a basket and never being able to find the right one.

I try to log which pattern and what needles I’ve used under each yarn label.
Cuticle cream and a nail file

Taking care of your hands is crucial. I usually carry cuticle cream and a nail file with me wherever I go, but I always at least have them in my knitting bag, too! The cuticle butter in my photo is from Lush and it is the best one I have ever tried, but your favorite hand lotion and an emery board will do.

Blocking mats and pins are my best tools for finishing projects. Blocking is the process of soaking knitted or crocheted garments for a short time before pinning to shape and air drying for 24-48 hours. (I’ll have a dedicated post about blocking in the future.) The kit that I have is by Knit IQ and comes with nine interlocking foam squares and a set of T-pins. I purchased some pin combs separately, which I would highly recommend. (In fact, I would recommend having at least two sets of both blocking mats and pin combs if you tend to make larger projects like shawls and sweaters.)

I use Eucalan no rinse delicate wash to block most of my items. I use about 1 teaspoon of Eucalan to 1 gallon of water in a wash tub. In the photos below, I am blocking my Midori Shawl, which I have a whole post about here.

Other tools I use are a yarn thimble, yarn guide ring, a yarn swift, and a ball winder. These will be discussed in later posts, as I’m still looking for my favorite versions of each item. I have linked some as a starting point if you are interested.

I hope this post has given you a greater insight into the needle arts. It’s more than just some needles and yarn, and there are so many elements that go in to making a beautiful, handmade item. Thank you all for reading!

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