Knitting essentials: Why it’s the small things that count

Hey there! Welcome back! Today I’m showing you the next set of knitting accessories you need to complete this week’s project, the Cabled Poncho (free pattern from Lion Brand) using Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn. It’s all about the little knitting essentials that you need to add to your knitting bag to complete this project: stitch markers, measuring tools, and yarn cutters.

Let’s add stitch markers, measuring tapes, and cable needles to the knitting bag for our Thick & Quick Cabled Poncho.

Stitch Markers

Stitch markers – you can never have too many, am I right? I have so many it’s ridiculous! But there’s more to the simple stitch marker than you think. For this project, I recommend a couple of different types to help you get it done right.

This helpful KNITTER’S PRIDE Mindful Stitch Marker kit offers a variety of options to help your knitting along.

The first thing you need to do is to make sure you have large stitch markers. With a 9mm (US 13) needle you’re gonna need them big! You need either locking or ring stitch markers to mark off the cable pattern repeat sections. Doing this helps you keep track of the pattern as you go, and reduces the number of mistakes which decreases the amount of swearing you do as you angrily rip back row upon row to fix them. Save yourself the stress! You can use stitch markers to successfully keep track of the repeats in the cable pattern of your poncho.

I also use stitch markers to keep track of a mistake that I need to fix later. Yes, I still make mistakes…all the time! I place a locking stitch marker at the spot that needs fixing. If I’ve dropped a stitch, a locking stitch marker can hold it in place until I return to the place where I can pick it back up.

There’s one more main function of a stitch marker for knitters in the know. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you more about the final use for stitch markers which are as progress keepers to keep the knitting mojo going. If you’ve never heard of a progress keeper before, pop in tomorrow and find out more.

Measuring tapes and gauge rulers

To make a Cabled Poncho you absolutely need a measuring tape, and I recommend a gauge ruler as well. First, make sure you have a measuring tape in your knitting bag so you’ll be able to keep track of the length of your project. Make sure it’s long enough to properly measure this oversized cabled poncho. I like retractable measuring tapes like the Mindful Tape Measure pictured below. They are tidy and easy to pack. I have as many measuring tapes as I have projects, because I like to place one in every knitting bag. The total number of them is a secret I will not share here, but imagine a huge amount of WIP’s (works in progress) and UFOs (unfinished objects), then double that number and you might be close to it. Retractable measuring tapes are essential tools for me.

Mindful measuring tapes are pretty and practical!

I also use a small straight ruler for measuring gauge swatches. The flexibility of a measuring tape is less accurate than a clean edge of a straight ruler. Although the Cabled Poncho gauge isn’t essential as it’s not fitted, it’s still recommended you gauge your work to get the best results. You want a straight hard plastic or wood ruler to make sure you’ve got the right numbers.

Use this handy UNIQUE Ruler to figure out your gauge and check your needle size.

The UNIQUE Ruler does double duty as it allows you to check the gauge of your needles too. I’m forever ending up with a pile of needles in my knitting bag, and most of them have illegible size numbers. Putting the tip of your needle through the matching hole quickly solves the mystery of ‘what size is this needle?’.

Yarn cutters 

Ok, ok, I mostly mean scissors, but there are other options for cutting your yarn than just a regular pair of scissors. Even scissors themselves come in a wide variety of options. There are folding scissors and pen snips that fit neatly into any small knitting kit. Fancy embroidery scissors that look fabulous, but aren’t merely pretty. These small scissors help you get precise cuts for your steeking projects. There are scissors with clips that are guaranteed to keep closed to keep everything safe in your knitting bag, and snips with guard tips that do the same.

You can take this Clover yarn cutter anywhere!

I have many, many scissors, but my favorite cutting tool is my Clover Yarn Cutter Pendant, and I’ll tell you why. This convenient cutter has been designed specially to have all the sharp edges covered which is great for protecting all your yarn and accessories from damage, but that’s not the best part. Because the blades are tucked away under metal tips, it’s impossible for them to accidentally cut yourself or hurt anyone. They’re safe for airplane travel or anywhere else that bringing a sharp pair of scissors would be unwise: toddler play groups, indoor playgrounds, public transit, driving with your crazy brother-in-law through a bumpy back road shortcut. You can safely cut your yarn wherever you like. Since it’s a pendant it can also be worn around your neck, very convenient! Eliminate all the wasted time searching for where you last put down your scissors. If I had a top ten list for knitting tools, my yarn cutter pendant would be on it.

 What’s next?

Is your knitting kit starting to fill up with useful tools for your Cabled Poncho project? Good! Now that we’ve put together the necessities to get you started, let’s add a few more very helpful tools to your knitting bag to help you knit faster and better. Tomorrow I’m talking row counters, progress keepers, and blockers. These accessories really are a knitter’s best friend. Make sure to visit Friday’s post too, for the reveal of my Cabled Poncho.

This is part 3 of 5 in this series

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

Go to part 4: 3 special little tools for smooth knitting and a professional look

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