Saturday, February 17, 2007

Nifty notions, gadgets and gewgaws

The rather stern-looking fellow in the photograph is Rupert Everett playing Inspector Gadget in the movie of the same name.
Seeing the sock forms Barbara was using to block her Highlander socks made me envious. I know there are all kinds of cool accessories like that for knitters, but I have none of them. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's because the few times I have bought knitting gadgets, I end up not using them.

Take stitch markers. I have a couple of different kinds. Yet I don't care for them. Invariably, I just use safety pins or a piece of contrasting yarn. Same with stitch holders. I had one I used when knitting socks, then I lost it and have since just been stringing the idle stitches on an extra piece of yarn.

Yarn winders look cool, but since most yarn comes in skeins already, how useful are they? The few times I don't get yarn in a skein, I wind it in a ball by hand.

About the only gadget I use on a consistent basis in a stitch counter. I have one that's shaped like a small cylinder and slips onto the knitting needle. This is really helpful when knitting patterns -- as long as I remember to turn the little dial at the end of each row.

So -- what gadgets do you love and use?


Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Cindi, it's funny you're blogging about this. My husband was just complaining that knitting offers little scope for the gift-buying spouse. I'll have to suggest that he read your blog for ideas since I own almost no gadgets either.

The stitch counter sounds like a something I could really use. You reminded me that my mother had one of those. I guess it's hard to improve on a classic gizmo.

I just bought stitch holders because my mitting pattern called for them. The problem was that they came in a set of three sizes and I really needed two small ones but I made do.

All yarn winding is done by my LYS on their winding machine so I definitely don't need one of those.

I'm still hoping for a set of light-up needles...

10:07 PM  
Blogger monica said...

I have a ton of gadgets and hardly ever use any of them. I do like the little flexible stitch markers that clover has, they don't seem to fly off the needles as easily as some of the others. I have a ton of stitch holders, but usually use yarn. I seldom use my little clicker row counter, I never remember to click it. Gadgets are wasted on me. I think the lighted needles are a neat idea, and they really do illuminate well, but I think they are heavy and cumbersome. I prefer circular needles to straight ones. My husband did buy a ball winder and swift for me a few years ago, and I do love that. I would really just rather have yarn than the gadgets.

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

Definately the ball winder and swift (you get to use those on the pretty hanks of hand dyed stuff like Koigu and Artyarns), stitch markers (I like the ones that are beaded and handcrafted by other knitters--they make them so they don't catch in your knitting; I also like the plastic safety-pin ones), row counters, scisors, yarn needles, crochet hooks, tape measures, and the handy dandy knitting needle gauge thing (you can find out what size your needles are when the size has either not been listed, been listed in metric, or has rubbed off with use). I have all of those except the ball winder and swift in a little case I throw in my knitting bag--plus a nail file. You never know when your nail will snag your yarn....

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Pam said...

The only gadgets I have are scissors for when I finish a project (yeah!), a crochet hook for dropped stitches and a pen to keep track of stitches. I've been knitting for 10 years and I didn't even know what a ball winder and swift were until a few weeks ago. My hubby holds the hank for me while I wind the yarn into a ball like they did back in the day. Monica is right, I would rather have yarn than the gadgets, too.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Nephele said...

My favorites are the little plastic safety pin type stitch markers. I use them on the needle to keep count when I'm casting on a huge number of stitches. I use them in the knitting to mark decreases and increases. I use them to pin the sleave in the armhole for sewing. I use them to divide the neckline into small sections making it easier to pick up stitches evenly. I've purchased several packs of these things and really, I want more.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

I bought those sock blockers for 2 reasons: 1) to try to stretch out the badly shrunken Fixations Goldisox had washed in HOT WATER and then tossed into a HOT DRYER! (I know I shouldn't complain. I have a husband who does the laundry, the vacuuming, and the grocery shopping, but still . . . ) 2) THE Wendy's use for them is the best: so they can pose pretty for the camera.

I'm madly in love with those Clover plastic stitch markers that look like coilless safety pins. Like Nephele, I can't get enough of 'em. I used them to mark the decreases down the sleeves of the sweater I was making and as a round marker.

I have some counting gadgets but end up using the stitch markers and paper and pencil most of the time. Also scraps of contrasting yarn like Cindi.

Chibi needles for seaming are wonderful.

My Spaceboard for blocking is a necessity.

I love my $35 ballwinder. I rarely use the swift but the ballwinder is so much fun.

I don't know if you can count Denise Interchangeable Needles in the "gadget" category but they're so multifunctional that I'm inclined to try. You can use the short cords as stitch holders or cable needles. When you're making a hat and it's time to switch over to dpns for the final decreases, I pop on the extender and an extra length of cord and Magic Loop myself to the end.

Can't live without my $1 metal needlesizer.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Pam's right. A crochet hook. How could I forget my crochet hook, savior of many projects??

2:30 PM  
Blogger Cindi Myers said...

Thank you everyone for your input! You have convinced me I must look for some of those Clover stitch markers -- thanks to Nephele for all the ways to use them that I hadn't thought of. I'm ashamed to admit I don't own a crochet hook -- I use very small gauge knitting needles to pick up stitches, but can see how a crochet hook would be much better.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I use the little coiless safty pins to mark my front or back side to whatever project I am doing. I bought a package of little girl plastic hair rubber bands that come in neon colors of orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink and white. The package I bought had a couple of different sizes, had maybe 50+ in the package and was very inexpensive. I find that I use them all the time to mark my place since they are so colorful it's easy to see where you are.
I also carry a crochet hook and wouldn't know what to do without one. I like my little 3 foot tape measure that's on a keychain because I can stick it in my pocket if I am going to need it when knitting on the go.
Can't think of much else right now. This is a great topic though because you never know what gadget you don't have but could use that someone else has!

6:33 PM  
Anonymous theresa s. said...

I have all the usual stuff -- stitch markers, row counters, stitch holders, crochet hooks, yarn cutters, etc etc. I use most of it, especially when working on complex texture patterns.

But my favorite knitting tool was purchased at Toys R Us. I got some of those big foam interlocking puzzle pieces used for baby play mats. They are awesome for blocking. Waterproof (droolproof!) and they can withstand a lot of pin sticks. Plus you can hook them together in any shape you need. And cheap!

11:33 AM  
Blogger Cindi Myers said...

Theresa! Those interlocking puzzle pieces are a great idea. I will be on the lookout for those.

Also, if anyone wants a nifty little tape measure, I had some made up to promote one of my books, Learning Curves. I still have some left over. They're hot pink, round, about three inches in diameter and are handy to tuck into a purse or knitting bag. Send me your address and I'll put one in the mail to you.

11:52 AM  
Blogger LauraP said...

Theresa - Interlocking foam puzzle pieces for blocking - what a great idea! That's going on my must-have list. I never use most of my gadgets. I love the yarn winder, but never end up using it for purchased skeins, just the handspun.

6:48 PM  

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