Welcome back to this week’s posts to help you find some amazing tools of the trade to make knitting easier, faster, and better. Over the last three days I showed you some essential accessories for knitting this week’s project, the Cabled Poncho using a free pattern from Lion Brand and using Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn. Yesterday was about the little knitting essentials that are must-haves, and now it’s time for some of knitting’s special little extras. These are the items that I could knit without, but I don’t wanna! When I start a knitting project, I want a progress keeper to keep me motivated. While I knit, I love having a row counter, sometimes two or three for a really complicated one, to help me keep track. And finally, when the knitting is all done, I want to have a simple, easy blocking system to make my hand knits neat and professional looking.
Although some knitters don’t consider row counters essential, I consider them absolutely necessary in my knitting tool kits. I used to track my knitting in the old school way of pencil scratches on the printed pattern. Then I had a few troubles with my note-taking, and I found myself turning to row counters for the solution. The first problem was when a sweater I was knitting had several different decreases and increases happening at the same time, and my little scratches kept on getting messed up. When I’d put the project down for a while, then try to figure out where I’d left off, I was lost. I went out and bought two different colored row counters and keeping track became a lot easier.
It also solved the problem of finding a pen or pencil which always seem to disappear into the ether when I need them. And, I was always losing the paper on which I was keeping track. I have a busy life with many, many details to manage. Papers are so easily lost in the shuffle. Row counters are used only for knitting, so they don’t stray far from my knitting bag like a pen would. They’re often brightly colored and unique in shape whereas one paper looks an awful lot like another.
I love the simplicity of a quick click to move the counter forward. Anything that speeds up my knitting is welcome. One of my favorite row counters is a Mini Kacha-Kacha which has a locking mechanism on it. I started using row counters when I had twin toddlers in my life, and the fun of clicking my row counters was too much temptation for a little one to resist. The kacha-kacha has a little locking mechanism that stops tiny fingers from playing havoc with my row count. It also means you can throw it in your knitting bag without accidental clicks.
Lately, I’ve been in love with the Row Counter App on my phone. It allows me to download my pattern right into it, and has settings to run multiple row counters simultaneously on a project. I always have my phone with me, so I always have my row counter.
I have row counters that I wear as a ring or bracelet, that sit on my needles, and that are voice activated. There are so many row counters to try, you’ll find one that works best for your knitting. I suggest you simplify your knitting life, and use a row counter to keep track of the cables on your Cabled Poncho project.
What’s a progress keeper? Well, it’s a special kind of stitch marker that creates a bit of a psychological boost for knitters. Sometimes knitting can seem to take forever! I call this the Black Hole of Knitting. You knit and knit and knit for hours, but when you look at your project, it seems to have hardly grown at all. A special stitch marker attached to a stitch at the beginning of your knitting session allows you to see just exactly how much you’ve accomplished. It’s a morale booster that keeps you going through the long hours to the project’s completion. A progress keeper can be as basic as using a spare locking stitch marker or a safety pin. If you wanna get fancy, you can buy a precious handmade progress keeper at your local yarn store (LYS), online, or at a fiber festival booth. Any charm with a clasp will do. I have a pile of them from really pretty, to pretty silly. No matter what type of progress keeper you use, make sure you use a unique marker that you won’t confuse for a regular stitch marker. Other than that, go wild and have fun with this friendly little knitter’s helper.
To make the cables of your poncho really come to life, you need to block them. There are all kinds of blocking tools out there. I found, through trial and error, the blocking equipment that works best for my knitting projects.
I recommend having blocking mats on hand. I use blocking mats for pinning down my knits without putting holes in my furniture. The blocking mats I use are interlocking floor or play mats that I bought at my local hardware store. I love that I can make any sized blocking area that I need!
The other thing you need are blocking pins. The pins need to be wide enough at the top that your stitches can’t slide off them. You can use simple T-Pins which are nice and inexpensive. I found, however, that on a big project like this poncho, it was time consuming and more than just a little annoying to put all the pins in and pull them out after drying. Discovering KNITTER’S PRIDE Knit Blockers made my life so much easier! Each blocker has a plastic handle with multiple pins in it. This saves me a lot of time pinning down my projects and taking them off. They make the blocked edges more even as well. They come in a bunch of different colors which just adds fun to the whole process. I have three sets of knit blockers which means I can handle blocking any sized project. I have a white set, rainbow ones, and just got these really pretty blue KNITTER’S PRIDE Mindful Knit Blockers. Tomorrow I’ll show you the whole Mindful knitting accessories collection – a fabulous gift for knitters.
When it comes to my knitting, I always make sure I have the best tools for the job. Sure, I spend a bit more, but anything that adds ease, calm, and speed when I knit is worth it. A builder needs the right tools. And I am a builder of amazing knits. Get what you need to do the job right the first time.
Ready for the big reveal?
Over the past 4 days I showed you all the knitting tools I used to make my Cabled Poncho up, thickly & quickly & beautifully. I’ll show you my finished poncho, and share with you how it was done. I also show the complete Mindful knitting accessory collection which I used throughout this project. Come back tomorrow for the big reveal!
Come back tomorrow to see my finished Cabled Poncho using Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn.
This is part 4 of 5 in this series
Go back to part 3: Knitting essentials: Why it’s the small things that count