All About Socks: Helpful Tools

As the days & minutes count down to the official launch of the Socks with Sarah KAL, I have to admit that I am getting really, really excited. I am working very hard these days to get the word out to as many as possible before the big day. If you have any favorite dyers, sock knitting groups, or local knitting friends & circles, please feel free to spread the word to them, too. I know a lot of you have been linking to our KAL on your blogs & that is awesome — Thank you!  We are assembling such a knowledge, enthusiastic group of knitters!

I’m also working hard to start rounding up some exciting prizes that y’all will be eligible to win later in the year. A million thanks to the shops who have already agreed to provide items for these giveaways!  If anyone knows of any shops (or perhaps you have a shop of your own) that might be interested in participating, please just shoot me an email at  knittingsarah {at} gmail {dot} com and I will be glad to follow up. Likewise, please feel free to share your favorite shops, too, as I will be happy to reach out to them — again, please email these suggestions to me. The more goodies I can assemble, the more chances you have to win!

That being said, onto the topic for today: Helpful Tools. There are a number of tools I pack along with me that are general as well as sock specific. With socks, I tend to carry everything I need for the entire project just because it is so compact and I never know when I will have a burst of speed and finish up a sock (this is equal parts reality & wishful thinking at all times).

First, the basics. My ultimate favorite knitting tool, part crochet hook & part knitting needle, the little Handi-Tool is indispensible.

20140111-095500.jpgIt is perfect for fixing mistakes & picking up dropped stitches. While it’s true a crochet hook will work just fine, these are well under $5 at your local yarn or craft shop & well worth the investment. I really love the versatility of the crochet hook/knitting needle combo. And it’s no lie, I have about 8 of these in my knitting kit at all times. That’s how much I love them.

Next two very basic things I don’t like being without: my Gingher embroidery scissors & a bent-tip yarn needle.

20140111-095452.jpgWhile my husband’s pocket knife will do in a pinch, I much prefer to have a nice sharp set of scissors with me. These I got as a gift many, many moons ago. They are about 4-5″ long and just heavy enough to be substantial without being annoyingly big.  The bent-tip needle is essential. While I’ve used the straight-tip yarn needles from time to time, whenever possible I stick to the bent-tip variety I was introduced to in my very first finishing class. They make seaming & finishing work so much more pleasant & quick. The bent-tip needle is another small investment that makes a big difference in my sock kit. Because I am me & I’m pretty specific with my tools, I can share that my preferred needles are Clover Chibi Jumbo Darning Needles Set.

Another not exactly exciting, but extremely useful tool is highlighter tape.

20140111-130041.jpgYou can tell from the, um, less than awesome state of mine that it’s been around the block once or twice. In fact, it travels with me everywhere. This was one of those items that I didn’t bother with for a long time, but have come to really appreciate having it. It is literally tape that is colored & see-through, so it works like I removable, reusable highlighter. I use it to mark my place in patterns. Especially helpful working from charts, I usually place the tape just below the row I am on — this tape allows me to easily see the row on I’m, but also let’s me see through it to the rows that have come before. I get to keep my ‘big picture’ and still keep my place. Finish one row, then I pull it up (I fold over one edge to make a little tab — a student showed me that — brilliant!) and replace in on the next row. And repeat. Love it.

20140111-130051.jpgI love it so much, I am still using this roll. It has definitely seen better days, but it still works!

Now a fun item: stitch markers!

20140111-095435.jpgAs you can see, I like options. I almost always carry this little green case with me. It’s a small tackle box made by Plano & I swear by it. The compartments are flush with the lid so the markers don’t mix. It has been dropped multiple times and not popped open (which would be a gigantic mess). You can read more about this case in all its glory here.

As you can see from the photo on the older post, I’ve added some new markers to the mix. Namely, my fave markers of all time from Heidi & Lana.

20140111-095443.jpgOver the years I’ve been accumulating different colors — you know — so I can designate different elements of the pattern. I rave about Margaret of Heidi & Lana on a regular basis for good reason. She. Is. Awesome. And so are her markers. And her shop in Sebring, OH. I’m so happy she’s joined us in the Socks with Sarah KAL!

Another fun item is a project bag — it keeps your knitting organized & contained and there are so many great options.

20140111-111837.jpgThese are some of my faves — one from Heidi & Lana (that sheep is so cute!), the chickadee from Blue Sky Alpacas Pretty Cheep Project Bags, and, of course, the ever-present prints of dellaQ. You really can’t go wrong with project bags, whether they are handmade or purchased, but I do find that having a cute little bag to contain your projects definitely helps to keep everything together. If you are working 2-at-a-time or with multiple colors, I recommend Namaste’s Oh-Snap bags.

oh snap2They come in multiple colors, are relatively inexpensive, and you can do this:

Oh Snap Bags in actionThose multi-color projects will never be the same!

One tool I didn’t spring for until the last year or so were sock blockers. They were always an investment I just didn’t want to make. Then I saw these from Bryson at my lys.

20140111-095520.jpgWhile it’s true there are much prettier sock blockers available, I jumped at these for one simple reason: I can hang them. I live in a small space & don’t have a lot of drying space. Now I can simple hang these up on the shower curtain rod. The are very open, too, so socks dry fast. I love them. Well worth the $15 in my opinion.

And last, but not least, the simplest of all tools: a notebook.

20140111-095414.jpgI understand that I will keep track of everything digitally, but I still like having a pen & paper. I plan to carry this little red moleskine right in my project bag to log my daily knitting this year. What can I say? I am a sucker for a blank notebook. There are so many possibilities.

As we all make our final preparations for the start of Socks with Sarah on the 15th, please keep sharing your thoughts, insights, and favorites, as well as how you are preparing for the KAL on the Ravelry thread. We have been having such a rich exchange — I’ve learned so much and have been enjoying getting to know everyone!

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26 responses to “All About Socks: Helpful Tools

  1. These are all great ideas! I got a mesh toiletries bag for Xmas this year, which I really didn’t need…my hubby got one too and I don’t think he needs his either…but they would be fantastic for small projects! Also like the idea of the moleskine (I think we have a few hundred blank ones in our basement – we both geek on office supplies…just a bit lol!) so I’m definitely going to throw one of those in the bag. Also love the tackle box idea for markers…now If I could just find where I put mine…

    what’s the tape for?

    • The tape is highlighter tape – I use it to keep my place in patterns, especially those with charts. I like it because I can keep my place in charts, but it doesn’t block my view of the pattern above or below. I will try to edit & get that in the post – Whoops!

  2. I never thought of a small tackle box. I use Altoid tins for my small items – free, and they work….. But I can’t separate the markers by type!! Hmmm….may need to get a small tackle box. Maybe my husband has one in the garage that I can “borrow.”

    • I LOVE ‘borrowing’ things. 😉 Sometimes I wish I could just use a tin, but you got it — I have too many things that need separating. Love my little Plano!

  3. Wow. All of these things are so great and I’ve never seen any of them before! (except I share your excitement for notebooks)
    I’ll have to go make some purchases now… 🙂
    Thanks for all the great info! I’m planning to knit my very first pair of socks once I finish up a few projects I have on the go.

  4. Oh I can see I am going to learn a lot in this KAL about lovely little things to enhance my knitting! Like I need encouragement to buy more……

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