A detailed look at my personal knitting toolkit. What’s always in it and why.
There are tons of different knitting tools out there. While they certainly all serve their unique purpose, you don’t need to carry them around all the time. So, in this post, I will focus exclusively on the ones I always have in my knitting toolkit – no matter where I go.
If you look around my blog, you will find tons of reviews of yarn, knitting needles, books, and so on. And there, I always try to be as objective as possible. We are all so different and I feel it’s very important to acknowledge that what works for me might not work for you. So, I try to avoid influencing you with my personal bias as much as possible.
At the same time, I get so many questions about the various materials and tools on my pictures, I thought I’d answer all these in one place. If you are knitting as much as I do, you’ll notice that some needles, etc just suit your style better. And this is a list of all the items and tools I constantly have in my project bag (make sure to check out my list of my favorite knitting podcasts as well)
Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.
1. Project bag & basket
At home, I have a project basket. I don’t have any pets or kids running around, so a basket is just very practical. I wish I could provide you with a link to my basket but the truth is, I made it myself. It’s a very cheap Ikea basket which I spray-varnished and then lined with black fabric because I couldn’t find anything (reasonably priced) that matched my living room.
When I’m on the road I always take a project bag along. Because I (used to) travel a lot I decided on a rather expensive version in leather. I have a big one and a small one and they are downright the best project bags I ever came across. They are by a danish company called “Muud“. They are really sturdy and it’s definitely something I can bring as my carry-on luggage (just in case: here’s everything you need to know about bringing knitting needles on a plane).
Admittedly, they are reaaally pricey (160 USD+) and often sold out on top of that. As an alternative, I can recommend the BeCraftee Knitting Bag which has a very similar design/layout and only costs a tenth of that.
2. Knitting needles and spares
It might not surprise you overly much that I have some needles in my project bag. But what might be new to you is that I always have a set of DPNS in my kit. Why? Well, first of all, they can serve as makeshift stitch holders and cable needles, whenever and for whatever reason I decide to add a little more detail to my project. A spare needle also helps to secure a dropped stitch until you can fix it.
I personally knit most often with Knitter’s Pride needles. I’d estimate 8 out of 10 of my projects are knit with them. I love the Nova Platina Interchangeables and I truly believe they are the fastest and most silent needle out there. And they are quite reasonably priced on top of that.
When I am working on socks or other small diameter projects knit in the round, I usually do so with the Karbonz Double Pointed Needles. They are a personal dream come true and you can read my Karbonz review here. Still, I will usually have a spare set of circulars in my project bag so I can quickly knit one round and try my socks (or whatever) on to see how things fit.
Note: I got a review of the best double-pointed knitting needles here on my blog in case you are interested.
I rarely use my ChiaoGoo or HiyaHiya needles. This is just a personal preference but I just can’t bear the noise of these uncoated needles. Plus, they are a bit slower to knit, and I really don’t like the cables. But what personally bothers me the most is that the sharp tips will split the yarn quite frequently when I am are knitting fast and this will mess up my stitch definition. I only bring them out my HiyaHiya for lace projects.
Tip: When you are knitting with interchangeable, don’t forget to put a key into your bag so you can screw the tips tight in case they accidentally loosened up.
Some people have watches or TVs in every room of their house, I have scissors wherever you look. I have a huge collection of them and of course, there always needs to be one in my knitting toolkit. Now, obviously, you don’t need an antique 19th-century pair made from pure gold – some simple yarn snips will do the job just as well.
That being said, if you have a good pair of scissors along, you can use them for other purposes as well. You can cut away an offending cuticle or even a broken nail, etc. A lot of the scissors you may see in pictures here on my blog are by a lovely french company called Sajou. They are handmade – though more suitable for embroidery than “hard work”.
4. Crochet hook
A crochet hook is another such essential part of my knitting toolkit. No matter if I need to pick up stitches (like for the heel of a sock) or fix a mistake – it can truly be a lifesaver. As I am mostly knitting with small needle sizes, my go-to crochet hook is this 2.00mm version.
If you are fixing big sections, you should ideally do it with a hook matching your needle size but a small size will always work while you will have problems with too big a hook. What I did notice, however, is that the hooks that work well for crochet sometimes are not all that ideal for knitting. A sharp tip and a long hook with a deep uh..nook…work best for me. And, as it’s only a couple of stitches, an ergonomic grip just takes away too much space.
Tip: Check out my list of the 10 best knitting tips here.
5. Emery board
Now, don’t call me crazy or vain yet. The reason why there’s always an emery board in my knitting kit is simple: Nothing is more annoying than a splintered nail (or even just rough edges) when you are knitting. You will constantly catch the yarn with it and might even pull out one of the threads. It’s certainly no secret insider knitting tip, but still very useful.
Also, if you are using wooden needles (bamboo in particular) you can actually use it to fix the tips in an emergency. I don’t have anything fancy. I just pick whatever is on sale in my local drugstore here in Germany. Those here are quite similar.
6. Tapestry needle
I usually weave in tails as I go – but maybe not in the way you might think (here’s a post on how I weave in tails). Tails dangling down from my work in progress are annoying me quite a bit. So, I usually weave them in after a couple of rows if they bother me too much so I don’t risk them getting tangled with my working yarn.
Something that might perhaps surprise you is that I usually have a sharp-tipped and a blunt tapestry needle in my knitting bag. For things like the mattress stitch or the Kitchener stitch a blunt tapestry needle (like these here) work perfectly. But for weaving in, I like to split the yarn as I go, and here sharp tapestry needles are preferable (the ones on the right are, again, by Sajou but they don’t have any with really large eyelets).
I only use blunt tapestry needles for grafting.
Note: When I can’t weave in the tail (because it’s needed for sewing later on, etc), I usually use a little clip to gather it.
7. Measuring tape
A good measuring tape is also something I always bring along. No matter if you want to check the fit of something or you need to count the stitches of a swatch, it’s really something you always should have close-by. I don’t think there is any preferable brand but it should be retractable, dual-sided, and soft (as opposed to the rigid one’s craftsperson, etc might use).
I have this lovely vintage tape by Sajou (which has no automatic pull-back and is a bit impractical) but this one on Amazon has a similar vibe.
8. Stitch markers
Believe it or not but I rarely use stitch markers. About the only time, I actually use them is when casting on a lot of stitches. I often find myself browsing through Etsy and marveling at all the beautiful stitch markers there.
But at the end of the day I usually just throw a couple of very basic bulb stitch markers into my bag/basket where they will lead a very lonely and forgotten life at the very bottom. Sometimes, I use a stitch marker to mark the start of the round or an important repeat. Usually, I will attach it BELOW so I don’t need to slip it all the time.
9. Craft light
One thing I probably couldn’t knit without anymore is my craft light. My eyes are still quite excellent and I don’t even need glasses for reading etc. But as I’m slowly approaching the later decades of my life, I noticed that I need more light. That ailment sadly runs in the family and a portable craft light is an easy and cheap solution.
Plus, when I’m sitting in the living room with my partner, I don’t need to switch on all available lights to tanning studio brightness and we both get to enjoy the movie we are watching *chuckle*.
Here’s a very similar craft light (mine only seems to be available in Germany).
10. Row counters
I don’t know about you, but knitting thought me just how hard counting is! I never seem to get my cast on’s right on the first time. And mind you, not because of the tail (that’s quite easy to calculate) but simply because I misscount.
But you can also use it to count rows. For that, I personally prefer the counters that can double-function as a stitch marker because they force me to move them while I sometimes forget to trigger the digital ones (or trigger them twice, etc). Here’s a link to the stitch maker-like counte. For mid-row counting, the digital ones are much easier, though.
Much to nobody’s surprise, there is always the yarn for the current WIP in my project bag. You will find a veerry extensive list of the Indie Yarn Dyers on my blog here, and I am actually a bit hesitant to recommend a specific company or dyer here and share my personal favorites with you.
Personally, I’m no fan of colorways and rather like solid colors and interesting materials (yak, camel, alpaca, that sort of stuff). But above all, I try to shop locally. And with that, I specifically don’t exclusively mean local yarn shops but in particular local dyers & yarn producers.
I’m not convinced that yarn (or any other goods) needs to be shipped all across the country/globe to get to you when there’s an equivalent available much closer to home. Chances are pretty high the yarn base had already quite the long way to get to the dyer/shop – so I’m not sure how much sense it makes to add further to that carbon footprint.
And I try (as much as possible) to pick yarns that were sourced in a sustainable way. While it’s still only an emerging trend, a few companies have started to truly certify their yarn. And with that, I don’t mean only mulesing-free (especially as there are quite some misconceptions here). But also that the animals are treated well and they graze in a sustainable way (a major problem with cashmere, for example).
I also never understood the kind of sentimental approach to indie dyers. So often, I see people who want to support small businesses, etc. And I sincerely don’t get that. Why does that one-man-business deserve my support more than a small yarn company? Their accountant or their dyer needs to support their family just as much and really doesn’t want to lose their job.
I mean seriously, we are not talking about Amazon or Google here but about companies with perhaps 50 employees. In fact, and especially because they have employees, they are feeling the harsh realities of such a competitive market in a much more immediate way. Also, the reality is that big companies are much more likely to quickly lay off a couple of employees in a crisis when they notice sales figures are plummeting – no matter their cash reserves.
So, my focus has always been on a good and ideally sustainable product – no matter if it’s a big company or a small company. I want to be convinced by quality. Is that wrong?
Other items that occasionally are part of my knitting toolkit
For 99% of all projects, the list above is really everything I need. Sometimes, I also put in a cable needle, but usually, I knit cables stitches without a cable needle. For Fair Isle (which I also very rarely do), I will use a simple knitting thimble. Here are the ones I am using.
I very rarely knit other designers’ patterns, but I will often have a notebook and a pen at hand where I can document my own design choices. A notebook can also serve as a place to write down things that are easy to mix up. Like the difference between M1L & M1R, or Kitchener stitch purlwise & knitwise, etc.
Last but not least, I’d like to remind you that it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you can achieve better results with more/better knitting tools & materials. As a beginner, you don’t need a lot (here’s my list of essential knitting supplies for beginners). You really don’t need a wall full of yarn and every expensive knitting needle set out there to knit your scarves, big promise! 😛
Reading tip: How to price hand-knit items