How to Be A Fabulous Knitter/Crocheter–Basic Tools

Vera says:

In the Spirit of the Sunday Confessional,  I have one to make…

I am profoundly addicted to knitting and crocheting tools, and I’m pretty much powerless in resisting their allure.

  • I have put projects on hold because I didn’t have the right needle, hook, gadget, stitch marker, or even– the ruler that I wanted.
  • I can relax after a difficult day by merely window shopping for accessories.
  • There’s no such thing as too many stitch markers.

You can read about some of my favorite tools here, but you don’t have to live in fear of being featured on an episode of Hoarders (as I do) to get started. All you really need is a hook, needle, some yarn, and something to cut with, and you’re all set.

Needles and Hooks

The only “right” needle or hook is the one that works the best for you. You may find what you like immediately or it make take some trial and error. Don’t tolerate or struggle with something that’s not working; a good hook or needle can transform a horrid project into a joyful one.

Here are some general guidelines to get started . YMMV*

While you really need only one set of knitting needles to start, it’s probably a good idea to have three sets of straight needles in sizes 7 (4.5 mm)** 8 (5 mm) and 9 (5.5 mm) handy to make adjustments.  There’s no need to be fancy; almost any reasonable pair of needles will do–although I do love my rosewood needles with amethyst and silver tips.

I would suggest a smooth pair of bamboo or aluminum needles no longer than 9 inches. Nickel plated brass needles (my personal favorites) are probably too slick for most beginners.

Pretty much the same thing goes for hooks.  Either start off with one or have a collection of three–G (4.5 mm), H (5 mm) and I (5.5 mm) on hand.

While I’m always on the lookout for something interesting, my favorites are the Clover Soft Touch (The ones on the far left and right).

Yarn

A good yarn is at the epicenter of any project. Just as a good hook or needle makes a world of difference, of course, so does the yarn. From type of fiber, to weight, to brand, it runs the gamut from super cheap to stunningly expensive.*** The choices can make one dizzy.

For practice, however, I would choose an inexpensive worsted weight cotton or cotton blend in a solid color. Stay away from multicolors, dark colors, and novelty yarns and yarn that splits or comes apart easily as these make if difficult to see your stitches and are harder for beginners to work with.

Some brands I like for teaching are  Sugar N’ Cream and Peaches and Cream. They also make excellent dishcloths, which are good first projects.

Moving On Up

Of course, you’ll need a scissor for cutting.  A yarn cutter pendant is attractive and good for travel. While gauge is not very important while learning, a tape measure or ruler is essential once you graduate to projects. While you can use any tape measure or ruler, my “Mr. Roboto” tape measure makes me smile.

I always encourage people I teach to get a  good reference book. It’s good to have something to fall back on, learn some history and terms, and it aids in good pattern reading. Like needles, hooks, and yarn, the “right” reference book is entirely a matter of personal taste.

Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t understand many of the concepts ay first; they will come to light as you grow in knowledge. I always have to go to my books for things I don’t do often like short rows and seaming.

Some of my “go to” books are Interweave’s Knitter’s and Crocheter’s Companion. I also highly recommend Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet and Encyclopedia of Knitting.

So go out and get ready.  I’ll manicure my nails and have my husband shoot some lessons for next time. Please leave any questions in the comments.

We are on the road to fabulous.

*Your Mileage May Vary. Does anyone say that anymore?

**Learning some metric system basics is highly recommended. Sounds like a future post may be in order.

***There’s yarn that is over $90 an ounce–28 grams to the ounce.  Sugar N’ Cream is cheaper, I promise.

Vera Hannaford lives and crafts in Charleston, South Carolina. She’s currently finishing up a crocheted baby blanket, setting in sleeves for a knitted bolero, and thinking about making a red cardigan.  You can follow her adventures in needlework on Vera’s Crafty Blog.



6 Comments

  1. VeraThomasHannaford on June 24, 2011 at 10:31 am

    @surveymom1470 Thanks. I’m planning a tutorial. Let me know if you have any particular questions.

  2. VeraThomasHannaford on June 24, 2011 at 10:29 am

    @Roadrunner I love hats to the point that I’ve been called The Crazy Hat Lady. Going with a chunky yarn and large needles will work up quickly. Fingerless gloves are basically a tube with a thumb. They can work fast depending on the yarn and needle. They are normally not that complicated but you will have to hold stitches for the thumb hole, then come back to it later and pick up some more stitches. It’s not that bad, and a good pattern will give you solid instruction.

  3. Roadrunner on June 24, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I’m a beginner knitter. I’m just finishing my second scarf. I made up a basket weave pattern with the knit and purl stitches and I’m very pleased with it. Unfortunately, it was rather epic with what seemed to me small size yarn and small size needles. My husband chose the yarn, and wanted it 6 ft long… Do you have any suggestions for something a little quicker for my next project? I was thinking about a hat or some of those fingerless gloves. Are those very complicated?

  4. VeraThomasHannaford on June 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    @jaina1138 Thanks. I used to travel with those pendants with no problem. I need to brush up on the latest info.

  5. jaina1138 on June 23, 2011 at 10:21 am

    I just finished my first lace project and was really please with how it turned out even though I’ve never used many of the techniques involved before. 🙂 As a heads up though, currently TSA doesn’t allow you to carrry-on those awesome yarn cutter pendants. I have to check mine in my suitcase every time. Now they do allow small needlepoint scissors and I’ve never had any trouble getting those through security as long as I pack them in my yarn project bag. But for some reason they really don’t want you to carry on those yarn cutter pendants.

  6. surveymom1470 on June 23, 2011 at 6:15 am

    This is awesome. I’m bookmarking it. I have thought about getting started and teaching myself but didn’t know what tools or anything I need. I know nothing about it. This was SO helpful. Thanks!!!!

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