While yarn and a couple of needles are all you need to get started, there are lots of knitting accessories that will provide additional help and convenience. Maybe you’ve seen some of these in our knitting department, but weren’t really sure what they were or how to use them. Here’s a little info about each one, so you can add them to your ‘must have’ list!
If you’ve ever put your knitting away and then pulled it out again only to find that your work has slipped off the needles, you’ll understand the value of point protectors. These handy gadgets are designed to fit snugly over the end of your needles, making it very difficult for your stitches to slide off the needles. These are particularly handy if your work will be put aside for a while, such as when you leave your sweater front and back on the needles while you are knitting the sleeves. An added benefit is that your needles won’t poke through your knitting bag if you are carrying it with you.
Ring Markers are an invaluable tool. For many knitting projects such as toques, sweaters, mitts and socks, you will need to keep track of where the side seams are or where you have to work increases or decreases. These rings get placed on your needle between two stitches and you pass them from one needle to the other as you knit. The advantage of the split-ring markers is that they can be added or removed at any time – you don’t have to slide all of the stitches over in order to have access to them.
Many patterns will provide instructions that refer to specific rows, such as “knit sleeve, increasing one stitch at the beginning and end of every 5th row” or “continue knitting until you have finished 20 rows and then…” The handy thing about this counter is that it slides right on to your needle so every time you finish a row, you can turn the counter one number higher. Please note that these counters come in different sizes to accommodate different sized needles.
Cable Stitch Holders
This tool is for a slightly more advanced or confident knitter. Have you ever wondered how the beautiful cable pattern that looks like a braid down the length of knitting is achieved? This tool is the key! After a certain number of rows (determined by the pattern), some of the stitches (usually 3 – 4) are passed onto the cable-stitch holder and held in front of your work (usually – although they may be held on the back as well). The next few stitches are knit, and then the cable-stitch holder is passed over to the left (or under if held in the back), where those stitches are then knit. This process is continually repeated after a certain number of rows to create the look of a braid.
The tool pictured is a true multi-use accessory, so keep it handy!
The main purpose of this tool is to measure your knitting gauge. If you look at any knitting pattern, the most important instruction is “be sure to create a tension swatch to make sure your gauge is correct!” What is the gauge? The gauge is the desired number of stitches and rows to create a 4” (10cm) X 4” (10cm) swatch. The reason gauge is so important is for size. If your gauge is off, your project may end up too small or too big. When you lay this gauge over your tension swatch, the little window will show how many stitches or rows in 2” (5cm). Simply double this number to ascertain the number of stitches or rows in 4” (10cm).
Have you ever pulled out a knitting needle and found that the needle size has become illegible or, in the case of many double-pointed needles, was never marked to begin with? This is what the little incremental holes in the middle of this gauge are for. Simply try sliding your needle into the holes. The size of the needle will be determined by the smallest hole into which the needle will fit.
The last purpose of this tool is as a yarn cutter. This is a handy way of cutting yarn, especially if you are knitting on the go and don’t want to have to carry pointy (and potentially dangerous) scissors around with you!
Now that you have a little more information about these tools, maybe you’ll pick them up on your next visit to our yarn department. You’ll wonder how you ever knit without them!