View Full Version : Accessories for Beginners

06-06-2009, 11:30 PM
I'm a brand new knitter and I bought a kit to learn. I own two skeins of yarn, a fat sewing needle and two 10" plastic knitting needles (size 11).

I have a catalog for knitters that has all sorts of fun-looking objects in it, but I don't know what they are. I thought maybe I could list some and you seasoned knitters could explain what they are for and maybe also tell us newbies what your favorite can't-live-without-'em accessories are.

1) stitch markers--catalog has locking, flexible and brass
2) row counter
3) cable needle
4) blocking mat
5) sock blocker
6) sock blank
7) tip protector (I get what those do, but does one need them? How sharp does a knitting needle get?)

06-06-2009, 11:53 PM
1. I think these are invaluable. They are something you slip onto the needle inbetween sts to mark something off in the pattern, such as where the center is, or where a cable pattern begins, etc. There are people who use pieces of contrasting thread tied in a loop and knotted, but I find those get in the way. I think the thinnest, somewhat flexible ones are the best because they don't create gaps inbetween the sts, and I only use the ones by Clover: http://www.joann.com/joann/catalog.jsp?CATID=cat2874&PRODID=prd32214 and http://www.joann.com/joann/catalog.jsp?CATID=cat2874&PRODID=prd30094 .

2. I like these a lot, especially this kind: http://www.joann.com/joann/catalog.jsp?CATID=cat2874&PRODID=prd2728 . Some people just use a pad of paper and pencil, but I find it much easier to just "ka-ching" at the end of each row.

3. I think this is mandatory if you're going to do cables. Some people do cables without a cable needle, but you run a chance of losing your sts that way. You slip some sts onto the cable needle and hold it in front or in back of your work, knit more sts, and then knit the sts off of the cable sts. It twists the sts and looks really cool! There is a video here about cabling.

4. Blocking is wetting or steaming the finished item while it is pinned in place to shape it exactly the way you want to. It also can give a more finished look to the fabric. You can't really block acrylic-- it has to be an animal fiber, or at least contain animal fiber (I'm including silk in that category). When you get to the point in your knitting where you need to block things, then a blocking board with a set of wires and pins in pretty much a necessity.

5. When blocking socks, instead of pinning them flat to a blocking board, you insert a form which is a sock blocker and it holds the sock in the right shape while it dries over a few days' time. The only problem is that sock blockers come in various sizes, and you need to use the correct size for the socks you've knit. I have also been frustrated that they seem to make no sock blockers for children's sizes or larger men's sizes. Sock blockers need to be made of something that won't get mildewy or rot, because they stay wet for a few days until the socks dry absolutely completely (and wool can seem dry before it really is).

6. Sock blanks. I think you probably mean "flats" of white knitting that you dye on your own with dye kits, and then as you knit socks with them, you unravel the flat as you go.

7. The first time you set your knitting down and then go pick it up later and the sts all fall off of the needle, you'll realize why you you put tip protectors on.:) You rarely damage the tips of your needles. They're miss-named: they should be called Sanity Protectors instead of Tip Protectors.:)

Personally, I would hold off on the blocking equipment and only get sock blanks if you really are interested in dying your own yarn. I WOULD get items 1, 2, 3 and 7, I would invest in some really nice needles in different types and sizes. You'll get lots of input on people's favorites, but my choices are Harmony by Knitpicks and the "teflon" coated grays by Susan Bates or Aero.

Jan in CA
06-07-2009, 12:07 AM
1) stitch markers--catalog has locking, flexible and brass
2) row counter
3) cable needle
4) blocking mat
5) sock blocker
6) sock blank
7) tip protector (I get what those do, but does one need them? How sharp does a knitting needle get?)

1. extremely important..although you can use a piece of yarn tied into a loop in a pinch.

2. Personal preference..I prefer a pencil and paper myself. I find I remember to mark rows easier, plus it has the added benefit of being able to make notes for increases, etc.

3. fairly important for cabling, but you can do it w/o one at all for small cables.

4. important when you're doing sweaters in wool or other natural fiber, but not if you're using acrylic.

5 & 6. Not important at all IMO. I've never blocked a pair of socks.

7. These help keep your knitting from falling off the needles. You can also use a rubber band.

06-07-2009, 09:18 AM
These stitch marker things...do they just hang in your yarn or what? The locking ones I "get"...but the solid circles have me stumped.

06-07-2009, 09:43 AM
Here's a photo of them in use: http://www.knitnight.net/blog/images/birthday_stitch_markers_large.jpg . I dislike this kind because those bead hanging down, while pretty, tend to get caught in my work. But if the beads were gone, see how there would just be silver rings on the needles? The knitter has them spaced apart in a way that there's something in the pattern she has to keep track of. Like every however many sts, many you're supposed to decrease or increase or do some fancy stitch pattern or something. Or if you're knitting in the round, you can keep track of where the round begins.

06-07-2009, 09:49 AM
P.S. They just slide along the needle. So let's say you're knitting the crown of a hat and you need to make decreases every other row, in quarter sections of the hat, at the beginning of each of those quarters. Let's say you had 100 sts. You would K 25, place a marker on the needle, K25, place a marker (this is usually abbreviated to PM), K25, PM, and knit the last 25 sts. Now you know where the fourths of the hat are and where to make your decreases. Every time you come to the marker, you just slide it over to the other needle and keep going. When you're done, you just slide them off the needle as you come to them in the last row, or in the cast off-- or when that part of the pattern is done that you don't need them anymore.

06-08-2009, 07:21 AM
Something I just learned, always mark the "right side" of your work as you just begin your knitting. I use a interlocking stitch marker and carefully slip it onto a completed stitch on the right side of my project.

06-08-2009, 05:20 PM
When I first learned to knit 3 years ago, I ran out and bought all kinds of accessories. Some I still use, others were a waste of money.

Stitch markers. I finally copied the owner of my local yarn shop (LYS) and used scrap yarn in a contrasting color, tied to the needle. The cute little rings kept sliding off the needles or over the stitches.

Needle case. I bought a large one for circulars at the LYS, made by Ashland Sky. It held my needles all right but the yellow plastic size clippies (bought separately) were hard to keep track of when I removed them from the needles I wanted to use. Plus, it was big and bulky to carry in my knitting tote. So I gave it to my daughter and bought a smaller canvas zippered case, similar to a CD holder. It has heavy plastic ziploc-type bags for the needles, with binder rings to keep them in place. More bags can be purchased if needed. It came with stick-on labels where I could write the needle size and length of cord.

**I should mention that I only use circulars. My LYS does not stock straights, except for DPN.**;)

Point protectors. The cute little ones shaped like socks were a real pain. They stuck so firmly that they were hard to remove. I now use blue oblong ones I found at Walmart and Hancock's.

Knitting bag. I'll be on a quest for the perfect knitting bag forever, I think. Those sold at the LYS are outrageously expensive. I converted a beach bag from L.L. Bean when I was knitting a sweater and needed lots of space. It was far too big to carry comfortably, however. Right now I'm using a black Earth Fare tote bag. Nice, but hard to see inside and no place for my cell phone.

Tape measures and row counters. Buy several if you have cats. I kept losing the round row counters that slide over the needle, so I bought a larger one, oblong, that clicks to count the rows. Available at Hancock's or Michael's. Try not to fall victim to the cute tape measures covered to look like sheep or beetles. Too expensive for me anyway.

I also have a regular tape measure for when I need measurements for a sweater or cap. It's easier than those you pull out of the case.

Stitch holders, buy as needed. I like the softer plastic ones instead of the metal ones.

A small hand-held calculator is great. You can use the one on your cell phone, but it may drain the battery quickly.

Post-It notes shaped like little arrows are invaluable for marking my place on the pattern. I can move it as needed. I also have a regular pad of Post-Its for notes to myself.

When I start a new project, I always make a copy of the pattern so I won't mark up my book or magazine. It is perfectly legal to make a copy for your own use.

Early on, I created an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my needles. The columns list size, cord length, and how many of each I have. As I buy new needles, I update the spreadsheet. I keep this in a small binder in my knitting tote. If I am at the LYS and fall victim to some gorgeous yarn, I can tell at a glance if I have the needles desired.

The binder also holds patterns for my WIP's, as well as notes I've made.

I also have a small cosmetic bag in my tote holding tissues, Advil, bandaids, etc.

Hope this helps.

06-09-2009, 08:53 PM
These row counters...I haven't held one in my hand, just seen a picture. Do you just click it whenever you get to the end of the row?

I like the Post-It idea. I use Post-Its for everything!!!

06-09-2009, 10:06 PM
Also, do cats count as knitting accessories? :)

06-10-2009, 10:19 AM
Row counters - yes, there is generally a button to click when you get to the end of the row. or beginning of a row, whatever works for you. I always forget to click or can't remember if I already clicked so I never trust them. I much prefer a post it note to mark what row I'm on.

Pet hair should always be an integral part of any project! :thumbsup:

06-10-2009, 10:23 AM
5 & 6. Not important at all IMO. I've never blocked a pair of socks.

I agree. I don't block socks.

06-14-2009, 11:49 PM
I have my row-counter (manually turn the dial thing) hanging around my neck on a fairly long bit of wool. Then it is near my hands and is not a huge chore to stop and turn to next number.

I turn when I have finished a row. The number showing is the row I have completed. Which ever you do - do it consistantly, chopping and changing leads to confusion!!

06-15-2009, 01:21 AM
I do the same thing with my row counter, except it's usually sitting on the side table or in my lap somewhere until the cats bat it across the floor. I knit a lot of flat projects with circs, and of course the stitch marker falls off (to the delight of the kitties). So I'll definitely try around the neck!

Stitch markers are important to me and the fancy ones are cute, but too pricey for my wallet. I use a lot of handmade markers: yarn bits, snipped-up straws, rings and earrings, and so on. But NOT safety pins with the little coil at the end - the yarn always gets stuck in the coil.

I've never invested in point protectors because on circs it's easy to push the knitting to the center of the cable abd it stays there. On straight needles I've used rubber bands and (my favorite) synthetic wine corks.

06-16-2009, 04:31 PM
Just remember to remove the row counter from around your neck before you go out ................ a hunk of wool and a row counter as a necklace is not the best look when out on the town!

06-16-2009, 04:57 PM
Also, do cats count as knitting accessories? :)

We have strict rules at our house...C.(my last name) pets are not allowed to touch yarn or knitting/crocheting equipment or supplies under any circumstances (unless of course the house is on fire or flooding and they're helping me get it all out).

The cats "get it", and leave my stuff alone. The dogs don't. The turtles & fish don't care one way or another.

:roflhard: :roflhard:

06-20-2009, 08:55 PM
This gadget has been invaluable to me. You can use it in a pinch you can use it as a cable needle.


06-23-2009, 12:27 AM
Also, do cats count as knitting accessories? :)

Dogs too. At least with the fishermen's Wool I am using the dog hair doesn't show up!!!!!