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Friday, August 14, 2015

A Few Of My Favourite Things - Knitting Gadgets

This is the start of a new blog series where I share my favourite things. I'm mainly thinking about gadgets, both knitting related and stationery related.

First up is my 'can't live without' knitting notions and gardgets. These are the things I use almost on a daily basis. First up is a good row counter. I use the Clover Mini Kacha Kacha which is the best manual row counter I've come across. It locks so won't add rows while it's in your knitting bag.

There are lots of other row counters out there, both cheaper and more expensive. You can get electronic ones and mobile phone and tablet apps. On my mobile phone and my tablet I have an app called County. It comes as a free version and a paid version. On the free version you can only have one project but on the paid version you can create several projects and use it to keep track of several projects at the same time. I usually carry my phone or my tablet with me so I could easily use this app but I prefer the manual row counter.

Recently, I've seen an electronic row counter that you wear on your finger. I haven't seen this gadget in any shops yet but I've been told it's easy to buy on Ebay. I'm planning to get hold of it so I can try it out. I'll report back once I've tried it.

The second item I can't live without is stitch markers. Stitch markers come in two main varieties. Ring markers and removable markers. 

Above from left: Removable markers (from Fringe Supply Company), ringer markers with beads and oval silver markers (both from Fripperies & Bibelots) and finally, padlock removable markers.

Ring markers are a solid ring which sits on your needle. When you get to a marker you just slip it across to your other needle and continue knitting. I use ring markers to separate pattern repeats, mark where I want to do waist shaping, mark beginning of a round and to help me with counting if I'm casting on a lot of stitches. This week I had to cast on 200 stitches for a new sweater design. I placed a marker after every 50 stitches which made counting much easier and quicker.

There are lots of different ring markers from basic plastic rings to fancy handmade markers with dangly beads and custom made charms. I've bought some beautiful hand-made markers over the years but I prefer fairly plain ones. My favourite are solid coloured rings with one seed bead. I buy mine from Fripperies & Bibelots but lots of other sellers do similar ones.

In the picture below, I've used a bright pink marker to mark the beginning of the round and then the oval silver markers to mark where I'm decreasing for the waist. Each time I've decreased I've added a removable marker so I can easily count how many decrease rounds I've done. You can also use the plastic padlock markers for this.

One warning regarding the plastic padlock markers. I mainly use Knit Pro and Clover padlock markers. These are easily available online and in yarn shops. I did buy a few packs of different coloured, cheaper ones on Etsy. Although these were a lot cheaper, I've found that they break very easily and I won't be buying them again. In the future I'll only buy Clover and Knit Pro padlock markers.

I take my knitting everywhere with me, so I need a few knitting notions to take along with me as well. I always have a Tool Tin from The Sexy Knitter in my handbag. Earlier this year she did five tins with photos of my designs and yarn as a limited edition. These are shown below.

The picture below shows what the Tool Tins come with. There is a cable needle, stitch holder, tiny snips, a tape measure, tapestry needles, a tiny crochet hook (to pick up dropped stitches) and hand-made origami stitch markers. I also add a few of the padlock stitch markers and some Fripperies & Bibelot stitch markers.

I'll share more favourites soon.

What are you favourite knitting notions? Please tell me in the comments.

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