What’s in your knitting bag? Essential Knitting Tools

A sometime series on What is in Your Knitting Bag? This one is Essential Knitting Tools.

No matter what you are knitting there are some essential knitting tools that  you will need at some point during the life of your project. Scissors, measuring tapes, and needles come immediately to mind – but there are more, many more things in my knitting bag that I personally find essential.


Essential Knitting ToolsLet’s start with the obvious.  Scissors are a must-have in any notions bag.  Smaller ones are easier to carry around. (But not on a plane, don’t bring them on a plane!) I find the different types of sewing/knitting scissors to be little jewels!

But be careful! I recently purchased a beautiful pair of scissors shaped like fish from a very reputable establishment. (Mentioning no names but it is in NYC and it rhymes with hurl!)

They are beautiful, but they simply don’t work.  The two scissor edges are warped and don’t touch – so no cutting action.  I emailed the shop – no response. I emailed the company who made them – no response.  I didn’t pay a huge amount of money for them, but they are seriously flawed and I am seriously disappointed.

Moral of the story: examine and TEST scissor before you buy them, no matter how many yarn fumes you have inhaled or how much you respect the reputation of the shop.

Measuring tape

Measuring tapes are another ubiquitous notions bag item.  I prefer fabric tape to metal, and I prefer the ones that have a ring or hook so that I can connect them to something (you will see why in a moment).  The more interesting the shape the less likely that someone will accidentally pick it up thinking it’s theirs. I was at a knitting event once and four of us at a table of 6 had the same measuring tape!



Finishing is an integral part of knitting, and the mindful knitter often decides to sew in some ends along the way so there won’t be as much to do at the end.  I always have TWO types of needles with me. One type is the yarn needle, dull pointed and usually larger, for sewing seams.  The other type is the chenille or tapestry needle, very sharp and usually a bit smaller, for sewing in ends.

Essential Knitting ToolsYou need to keep needles in something HARD so they don’t poke you, your knitting, or someone who picks up your notions bag.

The blue and white container is the classic Chibi, you can’t see the wording cause it’s so old it has worn off. They are very useful but the little loop to tie it onto something is TINY and brittle and often breaks and the needles that come in it are not very useful, usually.  Not my favorite.

The other is a toothpick holder I scored at a flea market. The gentleman made them from scrap pieces of kitchen countertop.  It was only $5 and honestly, I wish I had bought a hundred of them.  The top screws on with a rubber gaskets so it is watertight and the HUGE  ring makes it easy to join it. I love it!!

Idiot Cord

Essential Knitting ToolsHINT: Now you may or may not know this already, but my mother is a genius. This is proven to me on a regular basis, and she will tell you herself, if asked. And here is proof.

Mum makes an idiot cord and then connects her ESSENTIAL essentials all together. She can put open stitch markers into the icord too, and open stitch markers holding closed stitch markers.

This she often keeps at the bottom of her project bag, or looped over the handle, so it’s easy to find. Keeping them all together keeps things neater and there is less pawing through the notions bag.  Great job, Mum!

Essential Knitting ToolsCrochet Hooks

Everyone makes mistakes, so having a crochet hook of some kind in your notions bag is definitely essential.  Here are a few options I have found.

The one in the middle has a crochet hook on either end, one larger, one smaller.  Very useful. I have seen some like this but smaller and with a key chain option in the middle. I find those very awkward to use, the keychain always seems to be in the wrong place. But if it works for you that’s something else you could put on your idiot cord!

The short tool on the far left is a  recent acquisition.  It has a hook on one end and a dull point on the other.  VERY useful, and small enough to fit in any notions bag. I have several of these!

Essential Knitting ToolsThe longest tool, silver on the far right, is one of my favorites.  We call it a dental tool, we found ours at Patternworks.  Again it has a hook on one end and a point on the other, but the point is TINY and sharp and angled just a bit and it’s incredibly useful! (see smaller picture)

Cable Needles

Essential Knitting ToolsSome people like to use cable needles, here are two excellent options.

The metal one (white) has a dip in the middle that makes it easier to not drop stitches when holding them in front or in back for cables.

The wooden ones are also lovely as the texture of the wood and those very excellent grooves hold the stitches very nicely on the tool until you need them.

If you are not doing cables, you might be thinking, then these can’t be essential!!  But you would be mistaken.

Just as they hold your stitches easily and well when you are cabling so they also hold your stitches when you suddenly realize that you made a mistake five rows back that you must fix.

Rather than undo the whole row, of course, you just undo the few stitches around the error and then build them back up. A cable needle is just as useful as a crochet hook for situations like that!  It “saves” the stitches while you and your hook fix them one at a time.

Needle Sizer

Essential Knitting ToolsIf you use your needles as much as I do the numbers will inevitably wear off. And while the difference between a US#1 and a US#3 is pretty obvious the difference between a #3 and a #4 is not always so clear (at least to me!)

I like to keep a size tool in my notions bag.  They come in all shapes and sizes, colors and materials.  Be careful though – not all size tools are made the same.  Some less expertly made tools are a little off.

Make sure you test them against sizes you KNOW before you trust them completely.

Miscellaneous Essentials

Essential Knitting ToolsAnd finally, I always keep a calculator, paper and pencil in my notions bag. To be honest, I generally do math on my phone now, but the calculator comes in handy enough that I haven’t let go of it yet, even though it takes up the most room.

I keep a little pad of sticky notes in a tiny plastic bag. I do that so that if I write a note and then take it off the pad it doesn’t get lost in the bottom of the notions bag. It also prevents accidental marks on the pad that I then spend 30 minutes puzzling over before I figure out it’s a mistake.

I often make notes on my patterns and I always want to be able to correct my notes, or change them, so pencil works better for me than pen.  I used to carry around lead and an extra erasure, as well, but I don’t do that any more, it was taking up too much room and was used very rarely.

Show us yours!

OK, that’s it. My list of essentials.  What about you?  What do you consider essential?  Share your pictures in the comments or jump over to the Spinfoolish Facebook page and show us your must-have items!

Click here to learn more about What is in MY knitting bag.

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