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Better knitting starts with the right accessories [tools of the trade]

by Fiona Stevenson

Hello again! This week I’m making a big cozy poncho using delightfully squishy Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn in the earthy colorway ‘Kale’ using the free Cabled Poncho pattern by Lion Brand. This yarn really lives up to its name, and this project knits up very quickly! Grab your yarn and your pattern, and now you’re ready to knit…almost. First, you need the right tools for the job. Let me help you find some great accessories to make knitting your poncho a breeze!

A beautiful woman with long grey hair poses in front of a gray background wearing an oversized taupe cabled poncho over a light grey long sleeved shirt, grey gaucho pants, and high heeled taupe suede boots; Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick

Knit this Cabled Poncho from Lion Brand with Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn with a free pattern and advice on what knitting tools to use to make knitting it quick, easy, and fun!

On a wooden table in the middle of a creative office sits a knitting bag filled with knitting tools & yarn, an iPad, a pattern holder, and a partially knit green poncho.

Making sure you have the right tools for the job gives you the advantage when you knit.

As I started on my project, I began to gather all the accessories I need to make it. Most people think that you grab yarn and needles and just go! It’s not that simple. I have a lot of different supplies to get my knitting done right. I’ve invested a good deal of money into ensuring I have the best accessories at my fingertips, and I appreciate every one of them. I often think of a conversation I had with a man who was buying some very expensive knitting needles for his wife. When the total was rung up at the cash register, he didn’t bat an eye at the cost. He said that he was a mechanic, and he understood that he needed to pay whatever it cost to get good quality tools to make his work easier and better. I was impressed and realized I didn’t need to be ashamed of splashing out for the equipment I need to make my knitting more enjoyable, well-knit, and professionally finished.

So this week, as I knit my poncho, I’ll let you in on the secret of the tools of the trade that make knitting every project easier and better. Today let’s start with the very first tools you need to make this Cabled Poncho: pattern and pattern holder, yarn, and a project bag to keep them all together.


If you haven’t already, you can download this pattern for free on the Lion Brand website by following this link: Cabled Poncho. When it comes to knitting any project, it’s important to see if any errata (pattern mistakes with corrections) are posted. I didn’t see any on the website, but as I knit this project, I did find a few. Here are the corrections to the pattern:

Row 2: *P2, 3/3 RC, p2, K1, p2, k2, p2;…

Row 4: *P2, k6, p2, K1, p2, k2, p2;…

Row 8: *P2, 3/3 LC, p2, K1, p2, k2, p2;…

If you’ve got a tablet or cell phone, a great accessory is a holder of some kind. I, however, like to print my patterns to avoid spending my whole time squinting at a screen and continually scrolling back and forth. For this pattern, I increased the size of my printed page, so it would be easy to see with a quick glance. Then I placed it in my KNITTER’S PRIDE Pattern Holder which also has a pocket for my iPad in case I need to look back to the digital pattern. With this holder, I can prop my pattern up on a table, and use the magnetic strip to move along the rows as I go, so I don’t lose my place. I can’t even tell you the amount of tinking (knitting back) and frogging (ripping back) my pattern holder has saved me from! It also protects my pattern as I carry it around from place to place. I am always knitting on the go.

Side by side photos of a floral pattern holder, one open and one closed, in front of a knitting bag filled with thick green yarn and various knitting supplies

A KNITTER’S PRIDE pattern holder holds a paper printout or tablet PDF to help your knitting stay on track


Choose a yarn you love! I mean it! I have been selling yarn and teaching for over a decade, and one of the mistakes I see over and over again is someone choosing bad yarn. Here are my suggestions when it comes to choosing yarn:

  1. The easiest way to make sure your project comes out the way it’s supposed to is to use the yarn recommended in the pattern. Unless you know what you’re doing, substituting yarn can be disastrous.
  2. Use yarn that you enjoy. Working with a yarn that you don’t like means you’ll spend hours unpleasantly knitting only to end up with a project you may not like.
  3. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. Part of choosing a yarn you enjoy is making sure you don’t go broke buying it. If you like it, and can get it cheap, that’s awesome!
  4. Don’t work with musty, mildewy, or moth-eaten yarn. Throw it away and start fresh.

With these ideas in mind, I chose the yarn recommended for the Cabled Poncho pattern, Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn in the color 172 ‘Kale’. I love this yarn because it’s soft, squishy, warm, and knits up quickly. Then I went on to get their recommended needles to start my poncho.

A close-up of a thick green ball of Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn.

True to its name, Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease Thick & Quick knits up superfast and super squishy!

Project bags

I have a confession to make, I’m addicted to project bags. I have a lot of yarn, sure, but I have enough project bags to hold almost my entire yarn stash. I just have to have the right bag for the job. I have tiny ones for socks, two section ones for colorwork, ones that attach to belt loops for walking and knitting, long tubes, square fabric yarn bowls, plastic ones I can see into, and some huge ones for large projects. I’ve got every color, every shape, every type you can imagine (and probably some you couldn’t even imagine if you tried). Well, now you know, I’m a knitting bag hoarder.

For this project, well of course, I had to start with a new bag. Because I’m talking about ‘tools of the trade’, I thought it would be fun to have a bag that was kind of like a tool belt. This Vivace Accessories Bag was perfect. And it goes perfectly with my kale green yarn! Ok, color coordination isn’t the most important thing, but it sure is fun!

A dark green Vivace bag sits on a wooden table. It’s filled with all sorts of knitting accessories and Lion Brand Thick & Quick kale green yarn; Vivace Accessories Bag

All my knitting tools fit in this Vivace bag with room to spare.

Here are the things I look for in a good project bag:

  • It must be big enough to hold my yarn, the project, and all my accessories.
  • No Velcro! Or anything else that can snag and damage the yarn.
  • I like a safe place to store my tablet and pattern holder.
  • Lots of different sized pockets.
  • Waterproof is preferred.

Well, that’s a good start on setting up to knit the Cabled Poncho, but there’s a few more essential accessories we need to start this project. No knitting can begin without the right knitting needles, and, because this is cabled, we need a cable needle, too. Also, the smallest needle in our tool kit will be discussed, the yarn needle. Come back tomorrow when I’ll share info on the best needle choices for you. Wednesday we’ll look at stitch markers, measuring tools, and yarn cutters which are the other must-haves in your project bag this week. Later in the week I’ll explore some more of the best tools of the trade to help knit this poncho like an expert and finish it like a pro. You may not need them, but you will want them, trust me. See you tomorrow!

This is part 1 of 5 in this series

Go to part 2: Wood, metal, straight or circular: Which knitting needle is best for you?


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