Learn all about the best knitting tools for beginners and experienced knitters. I recently saw the most heartwarming post on Reddit where a really thoughtful boyfriend/husband asked the knitters of Reddit what he should get as a gift for the lady in his life, who had just started knitting. The suggestions were many and varied! What tools do knitters actually need? This article will go through all the essentials, nice to have, and the more unusual tools for knitting.
Beginner Essential Knitting Tools and Supplies
Here we will start with all the essential tools for your knitting kit. This is a fairly short list and most of these are inexpensive.
This is an obvious one and something every knitter needs! If you are buying supplies for yourself, take a trip to your local yarn or craft store and just enjoy the huge variety of textures and colors that are available. If you are new to knitting, choose a smooth, thickish type of yarn (For example a double knit/Aran/ no. 4 weight yarn) as this is the easiest to work with.
MATERIALS - Here, again, there is an overwhelming number of choices! You can choose between various materials for your needles, such as metal, bamboo, wood, plastic, metal encased in plastic, and carbon. There are even needles made out of casein and solid gold! Needles can come with interchangeable tips.
SIZES - If you are a beginner at knitting, start off with a needle size of size 8 or 9 (5mm) bamboo needles. These are light and easy to work with and the stitches won't slip off the ends easily. You can read more about the different sizes of knitting needles. There are knitting needle gauges that will help you with any size conversions.
STYLES - There are also many different styles and lengths of needles including single-point, double-point, and circular needles. The straight needles come in different lengths, the circular needles have different lengths of cord between the actual needles. This is to accommodate various widths of knitting. A good starter needle is a straight, single-pointed needle around 9” (23cm) in length. Straight needles can be used to make blankets, scarves, and anything flat or rectangular. A double-point needle is used to knit in the round for projects such as socks and mittens. Cable needles are used for cabling designs and have a straight end with a bend in the middle.
KITS - You can buy entire sets of knitting needle sizes, which is convenient in that you won't need to buy another pair, whatever you are knitting, but keep in mind that your knitting needs may change over time, and those bamboo needles you started out with may no longer be your favorite type to work with after a few years.
Sewing needles with a large eye for yarn is another absolute essential! You will use it to weave in ends of yarn, and when you are knitting garments you will need it to stitch the pieces together. I definitely have a preference for a metal yarn needle for seaming. It is sturdier and easier to slide through the knitting stitches.
You can use a tapestry needle for this purpose, as it has a large eye which is easy to thread yarn through, and a blunt tip so that it doesn’t split your yarn or your stitches.
Knitting Stitch Holders
These are like very long safety pins that hold stitches for you until you are ready to come back to them- for example, when knitting a pocket, or the stitches at the top of the back section of a sweater. Then you can come back and pick up those stitches seamlessly, without having to cast on again.
These locking stitch markers help you keep track of where you are while knitting. They are used to mark divisions between repeats, to mark a line of decreases, or to help you keep track of the number of stitches on your needle. They come as small plastic ones which look like safety pins, or slightly larger loops of plastic, or you can purchase very beautiful, themed, handmade ones with metal loops to add to your knitting pleasure.
Knitting Needle Point Protectors
Knitting needle point protectors and stoppers prevent your stitches from falling off your needles. These are especially important when you need to put your work down when you are halfway across a row.
Whatever you choose to knit, you will most likely need to measure it somewhere along the way. You will need to measure sleeves, lengths of sweaters and beanies, and nearly every project you knit. Tape measures are notorious for getting lost, so set one aside for knitting only, and keep it in your project bag, to be replaced as soon as you have measured your work. A retractable tape measure is really nice, as it doesn’t keep unrolling itself and getting tangled with your yarn.
Gauge Swatch Ruler
This is designed to help you measure your gauge or tension. You can use your tape measure to check your gauge, but having one of these makes it a lot easier.Knitting gauge is very important when knitting garments, because if you don’t knit to the suggested gauge on the pattern, your garment may just end up way too big or too small. This is a handy measuring tool with a 4” (10cm) opening, which you just place over your work to count the exact number of stitches within that square. Almost all patterns are printed with the gauge as _x_ stitches per 4” (10cm) square.
Knitting Row Counter Tool
This is a very handy knitting tool to have. Some patterns suggest how many rows you need to work, instead of giving a measurement. Also, when knitting any kind of fancy stitch pattern, you need to know which row you are on because they are usually written in a set repeat of rows. (Especially if you get interrupted regularly while knitting, as I do!) You can get electronic row counters or the old-fashioned type of barrel row counter which is placed on the end of a straight needle. You turn the barrel one notch each row.
Just like needlework scissors, you need to have a special pair of ‘knitting scissors’, which never leave your project bag! These must be forbidden to children and husbands, or they will constantly be getting lost! You can, in fact, buy special yarn scissors, but actually, any pair will do, as long as it is sharp enough to cut through the yarn. I like small embroidery scissors.
Knitting Tools - More Knitting Accessories
Here are some more knitting accessories that will make you more organized.
Yarn bobbins are usually made from plastic and are used to wind yarn to prevent tangling. They are especially useful for scraps of yarn or when you are knitting stripes or for complex color designs.
As you build up your collection of needles and knitting supplies, you will need somewhere to store the ones you are not currently using. You can get hard, solid needle cases or a soft fabric roll with pockets for needles. This storage will keep your needles safe and in good condition. Behind the sofa cushions is not a good storage space!
Knitting Stitch Dictionary
This is a wonderful resource for planning different textures or designs in your knitting. If you have a few basic knitting patterns, you can replace the basic stocking stitch with new and interesting stitch variations using a book like this. Do be sure to check your gauge with the new pattern stitches, though! It is inspiring to page through books like this and see just what you can create, using just knit and purl stitches along with a few ‘yarn overs’ or twists!
Project Planner / Knitting Notebook
You may think this is just a little too much, but honestly, it is so handy for keeping track of changes made to your pattern, notes on gauge and needles, remembering how many decreases you have done on that raglan sleeve, and any other things you may want to remember! It is also a good place to brainstorm ideas for future projects or future color combos you may want to use. If you don’t have a row counter you can keep a tally of your rows using your notebook and a pencil.
If you are the kind of person who likes to keep a journal or a scrapbook, you can add photos of completed projects, samples of yarn, ball bands, pictures of garments that you would like to make in the future, and so on. It can actually be a whole creative project on its own!
Now that you have collected all these supplies, you will need somewhere to keep them. You will need a fairly large bag so that it can hold all the little bits and pieces, as well as your pattern, your needles with which you are currently working, your yarn, and any parts which you have already completed. You can buy lovely knitting bags with clever sayings or balls of yarn printed on them, (nice gift!) or make your own bag using any tote bag pattern. It is extra useful to have a large pocket inside the bag to keep all the little bits and bobs in one place.
This is not so much a knitting tool as just something to think about when you take up this wonderful hobby! You are definitely going to need somewhere to keep all those leftover bits of yarn from past projects, that huge bag of yarn you bought because it was on sale, all those patterns which are so difficult to throw out, as well as books and magazines about knitting.
Pom Pom Makers
When you start knitting projects, chances are that you will want to decorate something with pom poms. A plastic pom pom maker creates fat and fluffy pom poms of a consistent size. Read how to make pom poms with a pom pom maker or the traditional method with cardboard.
More Unusual Crochet Tools
These are not essential tools, but if this is your favorite hobby, they may well come in handy! Also useful if you are looking for an original and unusual gift for a knitter.
Once your project is complete, you will need to block your work out with steam to get it to lie flat and to ease it into exact shapes or measurements. You can do this on towels, but the blocking mats do make it easier!
Knitting Yarn Bowls
These are neat little bowls, usually with a groove or a hole to thread your yarn through. They keep your yarn neat and stop it from getting tangled. They come in the most fanciful and fun designs. I have even seen a teapot used as a yarn bowl, with the working yarn coming out of the spout!
Swift and Ball Winder
If you plan to use hanks of yarn rather than balls or cakes of yarn, this will be very useful. Very special handspun or hand-dyed yarns come in hanks. It is extremely difficult to pull yarn directly from a hank, the yarn just does not flow off it easily or neatly. A ball winder winds these hanks into nice neat ‘cakes’ from which you can pull yarn easily.
Knitting Tools - In Conclusion
Don’t be intimidated by this long list! All you really need to get started is knitting needles, yarn, scissors, and a yarn needle. The others are just luxuries that will make your knitting more enjoyable. Jump in there, and just get started! Often, people say they are afraid to try knitting. Don’t be! If you think about it, what is the worst that can happen? If your project does not work out as you wanted, you can simply pull it all out and re-use the yarn for a different project! Knitting is creative and calming and good for your brain. And it is a lot of fun!
Free Knitting Projects
Once you have all your knitting tools, it is time to make some simple projects. Here are some suggestions for beginner knitters.