Wednesday, January 30, 2008

True Plies: Needle-lessly Cool

Our Very Special Yarn column is on hiatus until the project I'm knitting with it is done. Sorry, I'm a slower knitter than expected...

True Plies: MY Top 5 (Coolest & Most) Essential Tools of the Trade

Aside from yarn and needles, there are a few items any knitter will need to keep on stitching away blissfully. Ignoring the standards, like tape measurers and needle gauges, let's look at some other less known but extremely useful bits and bobs created to save our collective sanity. Some may argue with the products I chose, but this is my column and we all know I'm right anyway.

1. The KA Mini Cro-Hook

I love this thing with a deep and abiding devotion. Only 2" long and perfectly useful for a million tasks (picking up stitches, crocheting edges, seaming, etc), this is THE SPIFFIEST new knitting tool I've found. It also comes with it's own plastic pouch, to protect it from nicks and suchlike. Since it's so teeny-tiny, it can fit in any project bag and won't take up room better used to store yarn.
2. Clover lock-ring stitch markers

O', little plastic locking stitch markers, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. For thou art:

  1. fantastic stitch markers for any project.

  2. perfect to identify other important project details - pattern repeats, rows, shaping, you name it.

  3. invaluable in placing buttons.

  4. also be useful in lieu of buttons (just guess how I figured that one out).

  5. wonderfully contained in a sturdy pouch.

Truly, thou art the epitome of stitch-markerdom.

3. Boxy Project Bags

I used to be one of Those knitters. Unhappy with my traveling projects because I was constantly losing DPNs, pulling out tangled birds' nests from my backpack, and just having a Bad Time of it. Then I discovered project bags. Put your knitting and toys in a bag within your purse/ messenger bag/ backpack and voila! No more snares, missing needles or puncture marks in your Physics homework. After a couple of years worth of experimenting I have found:

  • Boxy is better - more space and it's trendy to boot.

  • Closed is essential, an open bag (without zipper or snaps) will end in the same trauma as having no bag at all.

  • Snaps or buttons are less hassle than zippers, but all are better than none (see above).

  • A wrist-strap is priceless. Aside from giving you the option of knitting while walking/ jogging/ chasing sheep, it also offers something to grab.

  • Less is more. Honestly, are you really going to want a project bag big enough for a sweater? Remember, your project bag has to be able to fit inside your purse/ messenger bag/ backpack.
My own preferences are to the Lantern Moon Diamon-Drop bags and the Misocrafty wrist bags - both are large enough to carry a small to medium sized project (socks, hat, scarf) and fulfil all my realistic* project bag needs.
4. SnipIt Scissors

Many knitters (and knitting-product reviewers) prefer the Clover Yarn Cutter Pendant, but I'm an old-fashioned stickler to scissors. Aside from appreciating such a purely human feat of engineering, they're more adaptable to different jobs - good luck steeking with that pendant. And these scissors fold up to prevent snaring or poking holes in anything nearby.
5. The Clover Chibi

Chibi means "little one" in Japanese. Just like the KA mini cro-hook, this is a small, affordable and completely indispensable tool. Or toy, depending on how you look at it. I store all types of needles in mine - sewing needles for buttons, various embroidery needles, and the standard tapestry needles for knitting. Once you get one of these, you'll get attached to how functional and, well, cute it is!

So those are my Top 5 toys to keep any knitter sane. Try 'em out and prove me wrong, I have a hard time imagining anyone not loving one of these products!

*Yes, I do have a secret wish for Hermione Granger's magical ability to store anything and everything in a handbag.

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