Silver Threads

a knitting blog with occasional side trips


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2015 Knitting & Crochet Blog Week—Day 4: Bags of Fun

Time to delve into that most treasured collection of tools, notions and oddments as you are asked to spill the contents of your knitting or crochet bag, caddy or other method of organisation and put your crafting unmentionables on display.

You may wish to talk about your bag of crocheting tools as a whole, or delve deep into the contents of your knitting caddy and talk about the contents each in turn. Good, clear photography can help readers familiarise with your tools, and you might just help someone find a new item for their wish-list if they are awe-struck by your pom-pom maker.

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I’m a little nervous about completely emptying my notions bag: I may never get everything back inside.

I want every possible knitting/crochet tool with me at all times. I also want to be able to carry my knitting bag without causing back or shoulder strain, so yes, there’s a conflict here. But into a bag that measures roughly 7¾” x 5¾” (197 x 146 mm), I have managed to cram the following:

  • Double ended crochet hooks: When I crochet, I use a normal hook with a comfortable handle. But these are fine for repairing dropped stitches, and I only have to carry four of them instead of eight regular hooks. Yes, there are four in the set. I didn’t realize the fourth one was missing until I started writing this post. Guess how thrilled I am about that discovery. 😡
  • Cable needle: Despite the fact that I usually don’t use it even when I’m working on a project with cables. But not every cable out there is amenable to being worked without one.
  • Tape measure and 6″ ruler: Which already had their moment of glory in one of last year’s posts. 🙂
  • Row counter: The kind that can hang from a circular needle. When I use it, it usually takes the place of a stitch marker.
  • Needle sizer: Because we have the technology to make circular needles from wood, metal, plastic, and carbon fiber, but still can’t permanently mark what size they are.
  • Folding scissors: Good quality ones. I’ve had it with the cheap ones: the blades never go together well enough to cut anything without a struggle.
  • Sewing needles and point protectors: Boring to list, but necessary.
  • Mangled paper clip: For tightening and loosening interchangeable circular needles. Because why would I carry any of the tighteners they include with the interchangeable needle sets?
  • Stitch markers: An unreasonable quantity of them. I love the ones with cute dangly things on them, but the cute dangly things get tangled in my yarn and add weight to the project. So it’s plain, or nearly plain, rings from now on. The locking stitch markers are useful as all get-out, but I must admit they don’t do much for me aesthetically.
  • Digital pocket scale: The newest addition to the bag, acquired after I saw it in action during the last knitting retreat. I was miles from home when I was confronted by the following instruction in my pattern: “When I knit the Twisted Fiber Art Catnip sample I had 48 grams (~106 yds) remaining in the ball at this point. I recommend using this as a guide for checking your own remaining yardage if you’re working with a limited about [sic].” And no, I hadn’t brought my kitchen scale to the retreat. But the woman I was sitting next to had this little gem with her, and so I was able to find out that I had 49 grams of yarn left and could continue knitting my cowl without anxiety.

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2014 Knitting and Crochet Blog Week—Day 4: Conversations Between Workers

Day Four (Thursday 15th May): Conversations Between Workers.
Start by writing a few short paragraphs from the point of view of one of the tools you use for your craft. this might be a spinning wheel, crochet hook, pair of scissors or your knitting bag. These first few lines should include a description of this tool’s task and usage. If you are feeling particularly in tune with this item you might assign it feelings.

Then, write a dialogue between yourself and this item. It might describe your relationships, the annoyances that you have felt for this item at some point (or could it have possible ever have felt annoyances with you) and the wonderful work that you have created together.

Needle gauge, tape measure, six-inch ruler.

The triumvirate of measuring tools.

6″ ruler: Hello? Am I supposed to talk now? I’m not sure what to say. Um, okay, I’m a 6″ ruler. My formal name is Singer Sewing & Knitting Gauge. I’m different from standard rulers because of the slider that can be set to mark a particular length. I was manufactured in the 1970’s, and was originally part of a learn to sew kit. Basically, well, I measure things. Knitting usually, sometimes crochet. I can’t measure the long pieces, of course, nothing over 6″, but I do a good job with smaller pieces. The work is pretty easy. I get taken out of the notions bag to measure things, maybe hang out on a table for a while, measure something else, eventually get put back in the notions bag.

Me: Hi. I’m the person who got that learn to sew kit way back when I was little. You’re a tie to my childhood. I hope you’ve enjoyed all the measuring.

6″ ruler: No complaints here. Really, when we first met, I figured you were going to be into sewing and that I’d be permanently fixed at ⅝”. Instead—oh, and you were still a little girl back then—you learned to crochet and knit, and you hardly ever sew nowadays.

Me: And you’re more or less fixed at 4″ (10 cm) instead. I hope that’s all right with you.

6″ ruler: 10 cm?

Me: Yeah, the metric equiv- you don’t know what that means, do you?

6″ ruler: I’ve heard about it from the tape measure, and the crochet hooks tell me they’re sized in millimeters. But I can’t do metric measurements myself. Metric wasn’t used much in the USA when I was made. By the way, 4″ is fine. I’m into the measuring itself—it doesn’t have to be a different distance each time. And there’s variety in the work. You were just measuring a 1″ collar a few days ago, for instance, and the bottom ribbings of your sweaters are all sorts of lengths. Plus, you still sew something every few years.

Me: Yeah. Drawstring bags, usually. So, any thoughts about the future?

6″ ruler: No, not really. I plan to just keep on measuring things. Oh, and the tape measure has offered to teach me metric. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to measure in it, but I’m hoping to at least understand it when I run into it, like when you said 10 cm. Maybe then I could at least tell those crochet hooks apart.

Me: By the way, how are you and the tape measure getting along? Is it like a familial relationship? I hope I’m not prying!

6″ ruler: No, no, it’s all right. We definitely have more in common with each other than either of us does with anything else in your notions bag. Well, except the needle sizer. It mostly speaks metric, being German and all, but it’s quite polite and precise. Since the tape measure was made in Germany as well, and is bilingual, it translates when we talk. That tape measure really is an impressive length. It’s too bad it’s so flexible. I mean, I don’t want to badmouth it—I know it does the best it can—but I think it may have fudged a few measurements. Not deliberately, of course…it’s just that it’s so pliable…

Me: I’ll keep that in mind. It does confirm some of my suspicions about problems I’ve had with some of my projects, like measuring armhole depths… You know, I should introduce you to my tape rule someday. I think the two of you would get along splendidly. It has a certain rigidity you’ll love. And if you thought the tape measure was impressive at 5′, well, the tape rule comes in at 12′. And that’s considered small for its type!

6″ ruler: [speechless in awe]


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2013 Knitting and Crochet Blog Week—Day 6: A Tool to Covet

Day Six (Saturday April 27th): A Tool To Covet
Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers.

Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which applications/tasks do you think it is most suited. Conversely, do you have a tool/accessory that you regret buying? Why does it not work for you?

I’ve thought about this since the prompts were announced, and have come to the conclusion that I don’t have a favorite tool. I do have favorite tools in other fields—a favorite pen, some cooking equipment that I always reach for first—and I know that I don’t feel for my knitting and crochet tools the same way. But I do have a soft spot in my heart for my first crochet hook and knitting needles, and decided that writing about them would be as close to the spirit of this prompt as I was likely to get.

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My first crochet hook

This is the tool that got me into all this: my first crochet hook. It’s a size H (5 mm) crochet hook from Boye. My mother bought it for me in 1976 when she made me take that first crochet class, and since there’s not much you can do to damage one of these hooks, it basically looks exactly as it did 27 years ago. From this hook and others from Boye, I developed a preference for crochet hooks with rounded hooks instead of the sharper, more chiseled kind. I’ve used both kinds, but I’m convinced that I split yarn more frequently when using hooks with the more angular heads. As I did more crocheting, I bought more of these hooks, making sure that each new size was a different color. (Sad to say, the finish on the newer hooks tends to wear off with dedicated use.) I own other crochet hooks now, but my Boye set is still close at hand, and the H hook is a well-used part of the collection.

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My first knitting needles

Even though I got rid of most of my straight needles, I still have my first knitting needles as well. They’re a pair of size 8 (5 mm) straight needles made by Aero Bernat. Bernat needles were the only brand that the LYS of my hometown carried, but I haven’t seen them offered for sale in the United States for years; the last place I saw them was a yarn store in Vancouver, BC. While my set of Boye crochet hooks was all over the rainbow, my set of Bernat needles was a uniform gray. I did love these needles, so much smoother than the anodized aluminum ones you could get at Walmart, but the plastic end caps tended to crack if you dropped them on hard surfaces too often (like, say, the linoleum floors in your childhood home). Even when cracked, they usually stayed on, but every now and then, I had to get my dad to glue the end cap back on again. And while I loved the metal needles, I was stunned to discover that the larger sizes (probably size 9 and up) were plastic. I felt betrayed. Surely they weren’t that much heavier. And how could anyone put up with how plastic “gripped” yarn once they’d felt it glide against metal needles? So I began to round out the upper end of my straight needle collection with those anodized aluminum needles, and if the collection was no longer uniform, it was more equally pleasant to knit with.

So there you have it. Those first tools shaped my ideas of what good hooks and needles were like, and even if I don’t use those specific tools much nowadays, they are the foundations of my collection.