Tag Archives: tools

The End of an Era

In the light of all the wild stuff that’s happened this year (I’m not going to lay it out… you know what 2020 was), this isn’t a big deal. It barely even registers. It’s a tiny blip.

But, I’m still bummed.

My tape measure has finally broken.

I know, I know. Hardly something to write home about, but you don’t understand. This tape measure was originally my Mom’s. I remember digging it out of her sewing supplies and playing with it when I was a kid. It’s soft click-click-click as you pulled out the tape was just so satisfying. Then, I inherited (stole? Sorry, Mom) it when I went off to college. Since then, it’s lived in my knitting bag. I’ve probably used it every day (or at least every week) for the last 15 years.

It’s nothing fancy- it’s just a regular old tape measure you pick up for a buck or two from a bin at the checkout at JoAnn’s. But still, it’s served me well all these years, and I will miss it.

It even managed to survive my kid- I kind of figured he’d play with it too much or pull too hard on the tape and break the spring. But, no, it was me. I pressed the tape-return button the other day, and the plastic just broke right in two. I guess that’s what happens to plastic over 30+ years.

Because this tape measure was at least 30 years old. It was “MADE IN WEST GERMANY”, and West Germany hasn’t been a country since 1990. How’s that to make you feel old?

Rest in peace, tape measure. You served me well.

(Don’t worry about me… I’ve got at least 3 other tape measures. Not as good as this one, of course, but at the end of the day, they all measure the same.)

What’s your favorite tool in your knitting bag?

On the Road Again

It’s summer, and that means it’s time for road trips! It’s time to get the heck out of Dodge and take to the open road with nothing but a couple bucks, your faithful hound dog, and a skein or two of your favorite yarn.

(Or, if your boring, like me, it’s time to walk over to your local park and sit in the grass with a can of coke and a skein or two of your favorite yarn.)

I usually have a travel kit set up, but I make a point to restock and update it at the beginning of the summer. That way, I can just grab my project bag and head out the door on a whim.

So what do I keep in my travel kit?

I keep a little tool kit at all times in a tiny zippered coin pouch. It includes scissors, a handful of stitch markers, a couple yarn needles, a couple cable needles, and a few tiny stitch holders.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, I can throw my tool kit in whatever project I’m working on. In the summertime, I favor lacy shawls, socks and other small projects (call me crazy, but I’m not into having a big old sweater or blanket on my lap in 80 degree weather.  And yes, I know, I’ve become a total hot-weather weenie when I think that 80 is hot).

I have a stash of several kinds of sock yarn, a bunch of sets of sock-sized dpns, and a couple favorite project bags. When I need an emergency project for the road, I’ll grab a bag, throw in my tool kit, a set of needles and a ball or two of sock yarn (an adult pair of socks takes up about 100 grams of wool), and I’m out the door!  If you like knitting from patterns, think about printing out copies of your favorites, so you can have them ready to tuck into your project bag at a moment’s notice.

How do you take your projects with you when traveling?

Stitch Markers

Stitch markers are pretty neat little tools.  You might not use them for every project, or maybe you’ll just use one or two, but it’s really handy to have a handful in your knitting kit.  They’re super easy to use, they make complicated patterns (like lace) way easier to manage, PLUS you can get really pretty ones that look like jewelry for your knitting.  Win/win/win.

First off… what are they exactly?  They’re nothing more than a little loop that fits over your needle, between your stitches.  You know when kids learn to read (or when you’re really tired and trying to finish reading something before bed), and they use their finger to point at the words they are reading so that they know where they are?  That’s what stitch markers do.

They come in a bunch of sizes, and about a million styles.   If you’re super poor, or stuck somewhere where you don’t have access to a knitting store (poor you!), you can improvise, using little loops of yarn, twist-ties, or even soda can tabs, if your needles are small enough.

Mid-range stitch markers are usually made of plastic, and can be purchased for a couple bucks from any big box store with a knitting section.  They also come in these fantastic tiny little containers. (Don’t look at me like that.  I know you like tiny containers, too.)80593

If you’re looking for something with a little more flare, you can go to your local yarn store, or onto Etsy to buy some really beautiful markers.  I really like these, if anyone wanted to get me an early Christmas present…

But, no matter what kind of stitch marker you have, they all work the same way.  As you’re knitting along and you want to mark a specific stitch (your pattern may say “PM” or “place marker”, or you may want to mark the beginning of a particularly tricky pattern repeat), you’ll take the stitch marker and place it on your right-hand needle. You’ll then continue knitting, as if nothing happened.  Don’t stitch into the stitch marker.  No yarn should ever go into the marker, or wrap around it or anything.  On your next row, you’ll knit up to the stitch marker, at which point you’ll think “Ah ha!  This is the point that I have to do something important!”  To keep on knitting, you’ll then move the marker from the left needle to the right needle, and keep on knitting.  Easy peasy.