Monday, July 27, 2009

Ask Stella: What The Heck Are THOSE For?

Dear Stella,
I'm not a totally brand new knitter, but I'm just starting to think about making something a little bit trickier than scarves. I've been looking through pattern books and a lot of times I come across things listed in the "supplies" section that I'm not familiar with. Can you help me?
What the Heck Is A Marker?

Dear What the Heck,
Oh Goody! A chance for me to give you a little tour of our gadget wall, which is in the back room, to the right of the wall-o-needles. One cool thing about knitting, besides the knitting itself, is that it's an opportunity to collect bags. Another cool thing is that knitting is also an opportunity to collect lots of cool little doodads that can greatly help you get a project right. Instead of just telling you about these things, allow me to show you a few of the most handy items with brief descriptions. And then, excuse me, did you notice it's over one hundred degrees again-- I am getting back to my nap. Here's the skinny on the gadgets:

First, The Gadget Wall-- The Whole Glorious Thing:

Next, Mini Sweaters-- Actually, these aren't really mini-sweaters, they're needle holders. Let's say you're working on a pair of socks, and you are using four pairs of DP needles. When you're ready for a break, instead of risking stitches slipping off when the project is in your knit bag, you tuck the ends into these open ended sweaters and voila, the needles are bundled together, no slippage.

Next, Counter-- There are a few different kinds of counters out there. Some folks like counters you can put right on your needles. Some use a free iPhone app that features a cool hi-tech counter, and some folks like the little, old school red counters that make a very satisfying clicking sound. (Warning, little kids love these.) This green counter is a variation on the red, slightly upgraded because it features a lock so that when it's in your bag it won't accidentally click ahead. And what's the counter for? You can keep track of how many rows you've knitted, if you're on an even or odd row (helpful when decreasing every other row), or even where you're at in a pattern that repeats across a long row of stitches. Counters are priceless, the modern knitter's answer to the old hash-marks-on-paper routine.

Next, All-In-One-- This is one variation of an all-in-one knit-gadget collection. Excellent for a first time gadget collector, you'll find lots of basic stuff, like markers and a tape measure and a stitch holder.

Next, Stitch Holder-- Looks like an enormous safety pin for Shrek's kilt, right? The purpose of this nifty gadget is to hold stitches off to the side. For example, when you make a top down sweater, you reach a point where you need to isolate two sets of stitches that will be used for sleeves later one. Since binding off is not what you want to do, but getting stitches out of the way is what you want to do, stitch holders handle the job.

Next, Embroidery Needle-- excellent for weaving in loose ends as well as necessary for sewing pieces together when you're making something like a sweater.

Next, Nifty Needle Holder-- not absolutely crucial to your adventures, but super handy when it comes to keeping track of those embroidery needles.

Next, Crochet Hook-- possibly a knitter's best friend. Even I, Stella, genius dog knitter, have been known to drop the occasional stitch. And this, my friend, this little tool will save your butt every time when you have to go fishing down several rows to pick up that dropped stitch. (Note, the crochet hooks are actual on the needle wall, but I included this because it's so darn important.)

Hope that helps. Keep those questions coming.
Nap time,

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