The tools I keep in my knitting bag that every beginner knitter should have.
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Have you noticed that many designers (myself included) don’t give knitter’s a list of all the items they really need to finish a project?
You need to measure things like the length of your scarf or hem of your sweater, but the pattern doesn’t actually tell you you need a measuring tape. Or the pattern will list a yarn or tapestry needle, but not scissors (and you’ll need to cut your yarn eventually). And there are other things that are optional but really helpful such as stitch gauge to help measure your stitch and row counts.
Today, I thought I’d share the tools and notions that I keep handy for every knitting project. It’s not a long list – just five things (plus one bonus tool suggestion).
This post is geared towards the new knitter putting together a first notions set or tool kit for your knitting. But it’s not beginner specific. These are the tools I use on every project.
These are the tools you’ll need to finish 99% of knitting projects and the five things I’d buy if I were starting out as a knitter.
I’ve also included affordable options below. While it can be really fun and exciting to get a lot of tools or high end notions when you start a new hobby, not all of us have the money to buy every kind of tool. You don’t need to invest a hundred dollars on tools for your first knitting projects. You can get the five things I have listed below for around $20.00. And then when you’re ready to invest, just know that there is a whole world of options for each option below.
What You Need and Why: You’ll need a pair of scissor (or snips) to cut your yarn. You will cut a yarn tail when you bind off your project and you’ll cut your ends after you’ve woven in the loose ends when finishing your project. You may also need to cut your yarn if doing color work.
What I Recommend: You should use whatever you have handy when first starting out. You do not need to invest in new scissors or specialized craft scissors if you have a decent pair of scissors you can use for your first few projects!
When you are ready to buy a pair of scissor for you knitting tool bag, I’d get a pair of small pair of scissors like embroidery scissors. Fun fact: I actually use these DMC embroidery scissors for knitting and these Fiskars snips for my embroidery and cross stitch projects. I share this because you should use whatever is comfortable for the kinds of project you’re making.
The most important thing to know is that you’ll need a pair of scissors when finishing your knitting project.
(2) Yarn (Or Tapestry) Needles.
What You Need and Why: You’ll need a needle with a large eye that you can thread yarn through to weave in your loose ends and seam your pieces together when finishing your knitting project. You can buy needles specifically branded as yarn needles, but tapestry needles can also work. Whether you’re knitting a simple garter stitch scarf or a cardigan with multiple pieces, you’ll need a needle to finish your project. While you likely have scissors you can use, it’s more likely you’re going to need to buy a couple of dedicated yarn needles for your knitting projects..
What I recommend: Make sure you buy a needle that will work for your project. When buying your first yarn needles, make sure to read the descriptions and get the right size for your project. If you’re knitting something with a fingering or lace weight yarn, you can (and should) use a smaller needle with a smaller eye than if you’re knitting with a chunky or super bulky yarn.
I use Susan Bates needles (like these) and the Hiya Hiya yarn needles with the bent tip (both kinds of needles pictured below). For your first yarn needles, I would recommend a set of Susan Bates needles and I’d encourage you to consider getting a multipack like this one on amazon. That set has straight needles and needles with a bent tip in a couple of different sizes. The different needles would be worth buying to see what kind of a needle you like working with.
(3) Stitch Markers.
What You Need and Why: If you’re just starting out, you may not need a stitch marker for your first projects. If you’re knitting a garter stitch scarf or something else that is completely reversible, you probably won’t use a stitch marker. So if that’s you, save your dollars and don’t worry about buying stitch markers quite yet. However, once you knit projects where you need to keep track of which side is the right side, if you’re knitting in the round, or if you are knitting something where you need to mark stitch repeats, you will need at least one stitch marker.
What I recommend: Stitch markers are almost a world onto themselves for knitters and crocheters with options ranging from DIY solutions like using a piece of knotted yarn to really gorgeous handmade stitch markers sold on Etsy, you can really go down a rabbit hole with stitch markers. When shopping for your first stitch markers, I would recommend trying a rigid plastic like this set with 20 stitch markers in two sizes. I recommend this because I find the rigid plastic easy to move along your needle while knitting, so think it’s a good beginner friendly option.
A word of caution: you do need to make sure your stitch markers are the right size for your project. If a stitch marker is too big, it will work but it may be uncomfortable while knitting. On the other hand, if you get stitch markers that are too small, they won’t fit on your knitting needle and simply won’t work for your project. A great example is if you’re knitting with a super bulky weight yarn on US 17 (12mm) knitting needles. A lot of stitch markers, including the set I linked to above, will not fit on US 17 knitting needles. Make sure when you buy stitch markers, that you get a size that works with the knitting needles you’re going to use.
(4) Stitch Gauge
What You Need and Why: You’ll want a stitch gauge, sometimes called a swatch counting frame, for measuring your stitch and row counts. This is a great tool to have because you can use it to not only measure your gauge swatch, but you can also use it for small measurements as you’re knitting your project. One of the main differences between this and a measuring tape is your stitch gauge is likely to be a rigid tool made of metal or wood, while a measuring tape will be a soft, flexible material.
I would encourage a new knitter to invest in one of these tools and begin using it on your first projects as a way to learn how to count your stitches and rows. As you learn to count your stitches and rows per inch, you’ll also learn to read your knitting, which will help you level up as a knitter.
What I recommend: This link goes to the stitch gauge pictured at the top of this post in my knitting bag. I’ve gone through at least a half dozen of those in my knitting. They are a great tool, but like an tool, don’t last forever. I buy that kind again and again because it includes a needle gauge and has a ruler both on the inside and outside of the frame. I also recommend that kind of swatch gauge because a lot of metal knitting needles do not have the size of the needle printed on them so a needle gauge can help you figure out the size of your needle.
(5) Measuring Tape.
What You Need and Why: You need to be able to measure your projects! This is true even if your knitting your first project and it’s a garter stitch scarf. Knowing the length and width of your project is a key part of knitting, whether it’s a scarf, hat or sweater.
What I recommend: I keep a 60″ measuring tape in my bag and you can pick up essentially any soft tape measure. If you already have one at home, I would go ahead and use that and save the dollar or two until you need to spend it. My main tip is to not use a metal, retractable measuring tape; that can snag on your knitting and really mess you up.
This is a great example of one like mine, but I buy mine for 99 cents at Joann Fabrics so don’t spend more than you need to by shopping online for this. For the purposes of keeping your knitting bag tidy, I do recommend checking out the retractable options. I have an orange Fiskars measuring tape and a cute sheep shaped retractable, but tend to keep the inexpensive blue one pictured at the top of this post in my bag.
Bonus Tool: A Crochet Hook. Crochet hooks are fantastic to have on hand as they are a great tool for grabbing and fixing dropped stitches. Dropping stitches is an inevitable part of knitting and like most things in knitting, it’s totally fixable.
You can get a set of inexpensive crochet hooks like this one with a couple of different sizes to start out. If you’ve seen a knitter use a crochet hook to fix a dropped stitch or even out a pulled stitch in their knitting, the key tip I’d share is that it’s as easy as it looks on YouTube videos and having a crochet hook is like an extra hand to help you with your knitting.
I hope this is helpful as you put together your knitting notions bag. There are lots of other tools like cable needles and stitch holders, but these are the five things I’d suggest starting out with. You can buy all five of these tools for around $20.00 and if you already have scissors and measuring tape, I’d save those dollars and spend them on some pretty yarn!