Must have knitting supplies for knitters. A list of essential items and equipment you can buy to improve your hobby.
Are you just starting out? Or are you looking for a gift for Christmas or a birthday? And now you are wondering about essential knitting tools every knitter needs? Well, then you came to the right place!
I compiled a massive list of knitting tools with detailed explanations of why you need them. These are items I personally use on a regular basis and can recommend from the bottom of my heart. I buy most of my stuff on Amazon or Etsy and I made sure to provide you with links to my favorite items where appropriate. But if you have a local yarn store (LYS) in your vicinity, nothing speaks against visiting them either (make sure to compare prices, so you don’t miss the bargains).
Before I dive right into the list, I would like to add one more important thing. Right after your creativity, the tools you use are the second most important things. So, invest in quality rather than quantity. Otherwise, you’ll buy it twice. You can’t expect a lifetime guarantee on a cheap plastic knitting needle you bought for less than a dollar.
Oh, and don’t rush and shop it all at once, but when you actually need it (check out my guide about the 5 basic knitting supplies you need when you start out) 😉
Note: This guide contains affiliate links and I earn a small commission for purchases made through these links
1. Interchangeable needle set
The most important tool for knitters are, quite unsurprising, knitting needles. Now, popular culture will conjure up images of grandmas knitting with long clickety-clack straight needles. But these days, most knitters prefer circular needles. They are just so much more versatile. Other than teaching beginners, straight needles are rarely used these days (if you are one, here’s a needle guide for beginners).
To be more precise, most intermediate and advanced makers will rely on interchangeable needle sets. The idea? Instead of buying many single needles, you buy a toolkit of needle tips and cables you can combine at will in the size and length you need for a new project. As there is more than one brand around, I wrote a detailed guide to the best interchangeable knitting needles here.
The next thing every knitter needs is yarn. Beginners might imagine that you just walk into a store demand some yarn, maybe add a color, and then the salesperson will happily hand it over to you. In reality, there are thousands upon thousands of different yarns out there. Different fibers, different spinning, different weights. Sometimes, finding the right yarn for a project is closer to science than a hobby, lol.
If you are just starting out, then I wrote a detailed guide on the best knitting yarns for beginners. But as you proceed, a lot of knitters want to express their personality through their knitting and will be looking for customized dyes. In recent years, the internet gave indie yarn dyers the unique possibility to market their amazing creations directly.
So, in case you are looking for something special, I compiled a list of the best indie yarn dyers here.
The third most used item in knitting are scissors. You actually don’t need them that often, because you shape a garment through your stitches. But of course, you will need to cut away the tails hanging down from the start and the end of your project. And whenever you join in a new yarn (for bigger projects), you will have tails you need to tidy up as well.
I personally got quite a huge scissor collection and it makes sense to invest in something proper. A lot of makers don’t just knit, they also crochet, embroider or sew. Good scissors can be used for more than just knitting and can last a lifetime when taken care of properly (mostly not dropping them or cutting stuff they were not meant to cut).
Here’s a link to similar stork scissors like the one from above (I bought mine directly in Uzbekistan, though).
If you don’t want to invest a fortune yet, there are also simple yarn snips for a couple of dollars.
4. Tapestry needle
To finish a knitting project, you will also need a tapestry needle. Before you can cut the yarn with the aforementioned scissor, you need to weave in the tails.
Tapestry needles are usually quite cheap. I’d advise getting a set with a couple of different sizes, so you will have the proper needle to finish your project no matter the weight of your yarn.
Here’s the link to the one on the picture above.
5. Double-Pointed needles
As you start out, you will be able to finish almost every project with circular needles. But intermediate knitters will often come to a point where they want to knit in the round on double-pointed needles (DPNs). This is a great technique used for socks and other tubular objects with a small diameter.
Naturally, you can use those DPNS for small straight projects (like this dishcloth pattern) as well. It is advisable to buy a full set of dpns in different sizes, because these sets often are sold with a big discount. As you begin, you might want to start with wooden needles, as they offer higher friction and more grip. For faster knitting, metal dpns are better. So, maybe start with single needles and test a bit what you prefer most.
I personally love the Knitter’s Pride Karbonz (picture above) as they don’t end up crooked after a couple of hours of knitting, like many other metal needles in smaller sizes often do. They are by far my favorite dpns to date. You can buy them here.
6. Stitch Markers
Knitting patterns can get incredibly complicated (just take a look at my traditional bavarian half socks). A lot of knitters employ stitch markers so they don’t miss the start of a repeat or other significant turning points in a pattern. Stitch markers are basically simple loops you can add or remove from your project at will.
Some people use simple loops made from a contrasting yarn, others get very ornamental metal markers that look more like earrings. As you start out, simple plastic markers will do the job as well. Here’s a link to Etsy with a great variety from cheap to fancy.
7. Yarn winder & swift
You can buy yarn in my forms. Most big brands sell their wares in skeins, but as soon as you want to buy more exclusive or hand-dyed yarn, you will begin your love-hate with yarn hanks. That’s because smaller lots of yarn are usually dyed in loose coils, and a hank is basically nothing else but a twisted form of these coils. This allows you to see the color of the product much better than a tightly wound ball or skein, but it also means you have to re-wind it before you start knitting.
And that’s where yarn swifts come into play. It’s basically a wooden frame where you can stretch out the hank so you can wind it up in a convenient way that doesn’t run the risk of creating a tangled mess.
There are two types:
- The umbrella swifts (this is the one I am currently using)
- the Amish yarn swift (usually a bit cheaper)
You can use the swift and wind up the yarn into balls by hand, or you get a separate yarn winder on top of that. This little contraption allows you to wind up yarn cakes, which allows you to do a center pull. A ball will always move around as you pull out yarn from it. A yarn cake will sit where you put it and then you can pull out the yarn from the middle. A lot of knitters love it (I actually prefer balls, though) and the winding-up process is quite a bit faster on top of it.
Here’s the link to the yarn winder I am currently using (it’s by KnitPro)
8. Blocking Mats & Wires
If you have ever washed a woolen sweater then you might already know that your garment might exit the washing machine in a less than desirable condition. Water and heat can change the shape of knitting in a dramatic way. That’s why most professionals will wash their finished projects once before they wear them the first time to get it into its final shape.
To facilitate the process, most will employ so-called blocking mats. These are basically foamed plastic mats. You can use them to pin a wet project into shape. Once it’s dry, it will retain that shape. The process also helps to even out stitches and the overall structure of a project.
For lace shawls, which are quite a bit more delicate by nature, there are also blocking wires available that help you to achieve a uniform and straight edge you will not be able to achieve with needles.
9. Measuring Tape
Most people knit to produce wearables. Hats, scarfs, sweaters – you name it. One of the big advantages of hand-knitted items is the fact that you can customize the fit according to your own preferences. This is especially valuable for people who have trouble fitting into the molds of the standard sizes from S to XXL for whatever reason.
While trial and error is certainly a possibility, most advanced knitters will employ a measuring tape. First, you’ll take the measurements of the intended wearer to adust the pattern. And while you are working on the project, you can use it to check if you are succeeding.
A simple roll-up tape is all that is needed. I would get a retractable one (like this one here). They are a bit easier to store.
10. Stitch holders
A scarf has (usually) the same width from end to the beginning and there is little shaping in between. But if you want to knit gloves, sweaters or other more complicated constructions, you will often come to a point where you’ll only knit half of the stitches in a row. That’s because you want to create a large hole/cavity where you can continue knitting later on (like the thumb of a glove, or the sleeve of a sweater).
If you got some spare knitting needles in the same size, you could obviously use these. But most knitters prefer to use stitch holders. They are much more secure and easier to handle.
Mine are quite old and don’t remember where I bought them, but here are some very affordable ones on Etsy.
11. Emery board
A lot of yarns are quite delicate. They are spun from multiple thin threads into a 4-ply or sometimes even 6-ply yarn for higher durability. But here’s the thing: If your fingernails are not totally smooth, you can accidentally pull out some of these single threads. That’s why I personally always have an emery board (like this one) in my knitting knit.
I tend to do a lot of other DIY, am a rather outdoorsy person and then, of course, there is the household to take care of. So, my nails usually don’t look like straight from a high gloss photo shooting. So, when I notice a little rough edge that annoys me while knitting, I just pull out the emery board and smoothen it out. It’s certainly not your standard knitting tool, but still very helpful.
12. Crochet hook
There is an ongoing fight between knitters and crocheters trying to solve the question which is better. In reality, however, most knitters will end up crocheting at one point or the other in their knitting career (and vice versa). Crochet hooks are amazing tools and every knitter should have at least one. Here’s why:
- You can use them to fix dropped stitches in a very easy manner (by picking up the loop and crocheting a SC from the strands between the stitches).
- You can use it to pick up stitches (like when you are knitting the gusset of a sock, etc).
- A lot of wearables are finished with a nice crochet border or you can use it to seam together a sweater, etc.
As a start, one hook in a medium-size (like size 3) is probably enough for those quick fixes. Later, you might want to invest in other sizes, if your pattern calls for a crochet edge, etc.
I wouldn’t get the cheapest ones available because you might need them for some serious crocheting at some time. But you don’t need to get the luxury rosewood set either if you get my meaning (which would be the one in the picture above).
13. Row or stitch Counter
A lot of knitters will tell you that knitting feels a lot like meditation. It’s very calming and helps you to forget the stress. On the downside, it’s hard to keep track of your progress while you are “in the zone”. Counting straight is harder than you might actually think, lol.
For more complicated patterns, it’s fundamental to know which row you are currently in. That’s why a simple little counter will be a life safer.
- There are special row counters (buy them here) that double function as a stitch marker.
- Or, you could get one of the digital stitch counters (they are usually below 2 USD on Etsy) you can also use as a row counter.
I would like to point out, that the row counters are more reliable for me. Why? Because they force you to use them at a specific point, whereas I often forget to count on the freely moveable stitch counters.
14. Needle gauge & gauge swatch ruler
Knitting needles come in many different sizes. Over the years, you will amass quite a collection of needles. Some of them have the sizes printed somewhere on the needles, but these printings often rub off over the years. Now, you could employ a ruler to check out the size, but as there are 1.5mm needles and 1.75 mm needles, this is prone to making mistakes. Instead, get a simple needle gauge for a dollar or two (here’s a link to the cute sheep shaped one)
Another very handy knitting tool are the gauge swatch rulers. These are essentially little square rulers that allow you to count your stitches per inch/centimeter in an easy and consistent way. Knitting a garment in a certain size from a pattern requires you to knit with the same stitch count as the creator of the pattern. Why? Well, the pattern will say knit 10 stitches, but if your 10 stitches are 5 inches and the creator had 4, your garment will end up in a different size.
These swatch rulers will help you figure out how much looser or tighter you need to knit to meet the gauge.
15. Project bag
Most knitting projects aren’t finished in a day. Depending on how fast you knit and how big the project is, they can take up weeks and sometimes even months. This is why it’s important to store your work in progress (WIP) in a safe way. Even if you don’t have any cats, kids, or uncomprehending partners at home, you yourself might move it around or stumble over it.
So, do yourself a favor and invest in a project bag. Most of these bags will have little compartments where you can store scissors, stitch markers, and other knitting tools you might need throughout your project, so it’s not only safer but also very practical.
16. Needle Case
And just like you need to store your WIPs I also recommend you find a nice solution for your knitting needles. Pencil holders work quite amazing for straight needles, but for circular needles, you might want to find a more suitable option. There are a lot of sellers on Etsy who sell amazing hand-sewn needle cases to store your circulars and DPNs.
17. Storage box
Yarn also needs to be stored in a safe place. Moths (and other vermin) love wool and you really don’t want to invest a fortune on providing them a nice meal, do you? If you look around on Amazon or your local hardware shop, you will be able to find cheap see-through and airtight (important) storage boxes. Use them to store your stash and protect it from moths, mold, and direct sunlight (can bleach away the dyes over time).
18. Needle Stoppers
Most knitting beginners are scared of one thing the most: That they drop stitches and their projects start unraveling. And to be fair, this is a very real risk. Until you bound off all stitches, a knitting project can unravel at any time when the stitches fall of the working needle. The risk is even higher when you are working with double-pointed needles.
If you want to play it safe, you can invest in some needle caps (usually around 1-5 dollars). There are tons of really fun ones available on Etsy.
19. Wool wash kit
Sheep wool is quite a sturdy fiber. But as soon as it gets wet and warm, things change dramatically. Stir it once to often or heat it too much, and it will felt. That’s why it’s important to take extra care whenever you wash a project. Most brands recommend hand-wash with lukewarm water or downright cold water.
A special wool detergent will help you a lot to find the balance between cleaning and protecting the knitted garment. I usually buy them on crafts markets, but there are certainly good choices available on Etsy as well.
20. Cable needles
There are many different knitting techniques, most one of the most popular is probably the cable stitch. With it, you can produce amazing things like my free hat pattern “Into the Wild”. But unlike so many other knitting stitches, you actually need an extra cable needle (a bit like a stitch holder) to achieve these super structured and beautiful fabrics.
Note: Advanced knitters will be able to knit cables without a cable needle.
21. Yarn bowl & Yarn holder
Unlike so many other hobbies, knitting isn’t limited to a specific workroom or environment. You can basically knit whenever you want, and in centuries past, a lot of farmers and helps did it while walking to, from, and during their job. There is just one problem: Your ball of yarn tends to run away all the time or might even get dirty. A simple yarn bowl or yarn holder will easily remedy that (for walking, there are special yarn hooks).
I personally couldn’t knit without one. I love yarn balls. For me, they are the most reliable way to knit. But to keep them from running all over the place or attracting the attention of those kittens, you need a yarn bowl.
In case you were wondering where I got mine – this is an heirloom from my great-grandmother. Again, Etsy has plenty of beautiful options.
22. Yarn Bobbins
Once you knitted for a bit of time, you will certainly start to notice those beautiful sweaters with fantastic pictures on the front (like my love sweater). These are knit with the intarsia technique and it’s basically about knitting with many small amounts of yarns at the same time. To help you stay organized, I recommend you to get some yarn bobbins or yarn winders. They are a lot more popular in embroidery and macrame, but knitters can also employ them to be a lot more efficient.
23. Knitting thimble/yarn guide
Another popular knitting technique to produce multi-colored projects is Fair Isle. You basically knit with two (or three) colors at the same time, alternating between the different yarns as you go. A knitting thimble will help you to keep these different yarns organized so they don’t get tangled.
It’s also a great knitting tool for people who knit with very coarse or thin yarn (the yarn starts to dig into your finger over time and this can hurt quite a bit). Here are the ones I am using.
24. Pom Pom maker
Unpopular opinion: No knitted hat is ever complete without a pom-pom! If you agree and love to knit those fantastic winter clothes, then you might consider investing in a pom pom maker. These are sturdy plastic templates to help you create these wooly bobbles. Creating your own from cardboard works as well, but you can only reuse it so many times.
25. Fuzz remover
Especially sheep wool and cashmere tends to pill over time. Typically around the armpits and the cuffs, you’ll get these unsightly little yarn pills. The worst thing you can do is plucking them off. That way, you also pull out more lose fibers which are going to start pilling 5 seconds later. Instead, use a fuzz remove that cuts away the ends. This will lead to a lot less pilling over time.
Other knitting tools (more uncommon)
As long as this list of knitting tools was, it is far from being comprehensive. There are so many other items I could mention. Sock blockers (here are the ones from the picture above) would be one of them. In ancient times, knitting sheaths were very popular. Portuguese knitters will employ a special pin to hold the yarn, while many people use a yarn threader to help them with getting fuzzy yarn through the eye of a tapestry needle.
Instead of listing all these somewhat exotic items, I tried to limit this list to tools every knitter will probably use at one point or another. I could show you my collection of fantastic antique golden scissors or exotic knitting needles made of ebony, whale bones, etc. While I value them deeply, they are so far from being essential that it would be quite preposterous to even mention them here.