Good to go

Essential knitting tools

the bare necessities

It’s Saturday which means yay weekend! and yay more knitting time! Which means I can get some knitting done on my mascot project. But first I’ll share my favorite knitting tool with you, since that’s today’s assignment:

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?

Now I have to say, I don’t really have one favorite tool. I do love my swift and my ball winder – they make life so much easier. No more tedious winding of yarn by hand, yay! Once you’ve figured out the right setup and method, there’s something quite Zen about winding yarn. Woohoo!

organized knitting tools

I also love my pointy knitting needles, and my project bags (of which I probably have too many) and lots of little useful tools here and there. But what I really like is the ways I try to organize my most important knitting tools so I can find them when I need them. Which makes life so much easier – I don’t have to hunt around for the second needle to a needle pair or try to find a size in the middle of a ginormous box and so on.

I actually wrote a bit about my knitting tools and organization in another Knitting and Crochet Blog Week some time ago. Wow, I just checked – that post was written over two years ago. Whoa. But how interesting that my organization hasn’t changed that much. I still use one of those fabric knitting needle organizers – well, since I have more knitting needles I actually have more than one. I love this one with the cute little red riding hood pattern that a friend created for me.

What I did change is my notions bag. I still have those two notions bags, a bigger one and a smaller one. But since I tend to carry around a small project bag with me, I’ve created a little essential notions pouch that can go with me without taking up much space. In fact, it usually sits in the bottom of my project bag, the one that I’m currently working on the most. It’s also great for travelling – I have the most essential stuff on me all the time and I don’t have to hunt around for the right knitting notions. One thing I do, though is to swap out the little scissors for an empty tooth floss case. I like the Toms’ flat floss case – it has a large enough floss cutter to use for yarn without problems.

very small notions case

really small: 2.5” x 4”

That little bag is very small – 2.5” x 4” but it’s just the right size to accommodate all that I need. I got the case as part of some kind of Loopy Ewe kit (it has the Loopy Ewe logo on the other side). It’s soft plastic and it’s stable enough to keep the scissors or cable needles from poking through and making a mess or my yarn or knitting. As you can see, I also have small measuring tape attached to the key chain part. That’s been really useful.

And then the contents of the pouch: embroidery needles, a little crochet hook, a pencil, two cable needles and a few different stitch markers. The markers with the beads are no-snag stitch markers from Jed’s Joy – I really like those. There’s also one of those Knitpicks tighteners that comes from with the interchangeable needles, an awesome needle gauge from Succaplokki and a small, very sharp pair of scissors that can also be used for steeking. Not that I’ve actually done any steeking – not yet – but they are really good and small enough to fit into the pouch. Oh, and a paper IKEA tape for good measure.

That’s pretty much it! With that, and a project bag – and my knitting of course – I’m pretty much good to go. So now to you – what tools do you love/hate?

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Hoppity Hop

You might have noticed that I’ve added a few new pages to the blog. They all revolve around blog hops, link parties and whatever else they’re called (it’s a work in progress). There are so many of them, I thought it might be nice to accumulate and organize them, so you can find whatever blog hop you’d like to. I’ve put up a separate page of the blog hops that I actually manage to visit regularly. I’m hoping to get better at visiting more of these…

When I started blogging, I thought I’d use it as a way to keep track of my knitting, as an extension to Ravelry. I like the Ravelry project pages, but you only have so many possibilities to share images and your notes with others. And I wanted to find out more about other people’s experiences. Then I came across the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week shortly after I started blogging. It was a nice way to challenge me to go beyond writing a few paragraphs and occasionally throwing in a few photographs. Plus it gave me the opportunity to think and plan more as to what topics I’d like to tackle.

building blocks

T-Shirt via Threadless

Then I started to blog on other topics – mostly on food, but also a bit on photography as I was improving my skill set. A bit of commentary here and there, little insights into my everyday life, posts on other crafting projects, and all those funny things that popped into my head, like Monty Python, and you have the basic building blocks of my blog.

I won’t bore you with the evolution of my blogging year, but needless to say, I learned a lot – mostly through my own blogging, but also through randomly visiting other blogs. I wrote a bit about my blogging motivation the other day, but since I’ve been poking around other blogs so much, I’m going to make an additional short little list:

  • Have something to say. It doesn’t have to be a high-flying theoretical or academic post, or a hilarious little joke. It’s about what interests you. If you like it, chances are that someone else will like it too.
  • Even if you’re just saying things to yourself, you still have an audience – at least of one.
  • Don’t write long, run-on posts. It’s like in school when you were writing papers. Don’t write looooong paragraphs – they make it hard to read, plus, you tend to skip over long posts. Remember tl;dr.
Have an idea?

Everyone’s a critic

  • Structure what you’re writing. You dont need headers – you can also use visual interest, like photographs, sketches, videos, whatever you’d like.
  • Make sure your links work.
  • Watch your typos.
  • Have a regular blogging rhythm, whatever it may be – once a month, once a week and so on. If readers know how often they’ll find new content, then they’ll also stop by. If there’s no content for, oh, forever, and then content for a few days in a row, it might not get seen.
  • Respond to comments. I first thought that it might be obnoxious if posts with comments had a response after each one of them, but I think people appreciate answers. I apologize to all early blog commenters who didn’t get a reply.
  • Make sure it’s easy to read your blog. Crazy colors, blinking links, annoying pop-ups or text that’s hard to read – if I can’t even get to the content, I won’t be back. Don’t link to crappy or dangerous-to-my-computer websites.
  • Bazillion of images and ads and so on in the sidebars (especially when you’re using both sidebars). This is a pet peeve of mine. I know there are a great blogs out there, but some of them are so hard to figure out. If there are so many sponsors that I can’t figure out what’s your content and their content, well, that’s pretty darn annoying.
  • I like categories and tags, and archives – all of these make it easier to find content. I’ve been looking at a lot of blog hops, trying to figure out what and when and so on, and so many times, posts don’t have categories. And no tags. Too many tags are annoying, but use these methods to help your audience – and yourself
What the???

What the ???

    • It takes patience to build a blog, and an audience. Your writing will improve as you blog regularly. The post scheduling function is your friend.
    • Chose what you want to keep private and what not, then stay consistent. If you want to publish your name and other personal information, and link up to your personal Facebook page, and so on, good for you. But be conscious regarding your choices.
    • Oh, and if you don’t want to share where you are and what you’re doing, make sure to turn of the geotagging function on your camera, or that information will also be out there once you’re uploading your images, especially through a service like Flickr.
    • If you’re using content that will load slowly, make sure you add titles and descriptions to you images so people will know what you’re talking about even if the links don’t load or work.
    • It takes time to grow a blog.  There are lots of posts out there on building your blog, let me know. if you’d like to provide some links. WordPress for example has a good post on how to get more visitors.
  • Comment. Be consistent. Be interesting – or more particularly, if you’re commenting, don’t comment spam people. If you post a standard, irrelevant post with a link to your post everywhere, it’ll just annoy people and actually keep them from visiting your blog. Plus, you might end up in people’s spam filters.
  • If you’re blog hopping, include links to the blog hop in the specific post and not just somewhere on your blog or on a link page – it has something to do with back linking. Also, it is apparently really important to also put in a text link – it has a lot to do with Search Engine Optimization.
old school

this is not the meaning of old school

Whoa, this is a long list! I didn’t think I’d have this much to say. I hope it was interesting and not too much of an infodump. Oh, that’s another thing to add: – Avoid infodumping – keep your audience in mind.

On a side note, the post title was inspired by the little bunny FooFoo rhyme. I had no idea that there really is a thing named Hoppity Hop. I just called it a bouncy ball, just one with handles. I have good childhood memories of hopping along on one of those in Kindergarten. It’s one of those childhood things. I always liked  the ones with a ring better than the ones with the individual handles – somehow the looked like weird cow udders. Or long nipples. In fact, I remember a gym teacher calling them nipples. Oh well, they were easier to grasp.

I bet you won’t get that image out of your head now that I’ve said that. *snicker* Well, I guess that sometimes happens when you reexamine your childhood from an adult’s viewpoint. But at least I can try to erase that image by providing you with images of other retro Hoppity Hops out there:

Tidy mind, tidy stitches

Alright, let’s move on to Day 3.

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

I’ll first tackle the part of knitting tool organization, since that’s the part that I’m managing quite well. I have two sets of interchangeable needles – a set of Knitpicks and a set of Addi Click needles (btw, if you know anyone who’s heading to Europe, have them pick up the up a set for you, since they’re significantly cheaper there). And well, neither set of interchangeables comes in a particular practical case (Addi must have figured that out for themselves since the new cases are neat little leather envelopes). Anyway, I got so frustrated by my needles rattling around – both the interchangeables and the circular ones that I decided to invest in a knitting organizers from Sarah Kincheloe:

from Sarah Kincheloe

circular knitting needle organizer

crochet hook organizer

needle roll

knitpicks organizer

interchangeable Knitpicks organizer

I also have a knitting bag from Schroedinger Originals that I love. And in case I don’t have a knitting bag available, there’s always good old Ziploc. And I have a lace knitting bag from 3AM Enchantments for my bigger projects.

Apples bag

cube apples knitting project bag

Country Chic lace bag

lace knitting bag

I keep two small bags for my knitting notions – one that I can throw into my project bag and has the notions I always need – scissors, stitch markers, crochet hook, tape measure, gauge measuring thingy, knitting needle gauge, safety  pins, tapestry needles in various sizes, needle binder thingy, cable needle, knitting counter, little notebook, and a bit of string. The bigger bag holds everything else.

notions

small notions bag

notions bag

large notions bag

As to my stash, well, my organizing skills have been outpaced by my stash acquisition. I originally started out adding my yarn including photographs to my stash on Ravelry, but then it just got too difficult to keep up with the photos and the entries and so on. I do have a Excel master list that is lists most of my stash and is in urgent need of being updated. And the rest of my stash is organized as follows:

Ziploc bags

Ziploc bags

+

 

IKEA

IKEA

means:  

Yup, good old IKEA boxes. I have a few other boxes and a bit of underbed storage, but most of it is in Ziploc bags in IKEA boxes. And to be on the safe side, I’ve also included a few cedar blocks in my boxes. Yup, I’m trying to make sure that no moths decide to make a nice meal out of my yarn. The boxes are all labelled and within the boxes, the yarn is organized by dyer – that way I have at least some way of organization and can find what I’m looking for without plowing through my entire stash.

As to projects, I use Ravelry to keep track of my projects. I tend to add projects one I have some decent pictures of the WIP, and sometimes I only add a project once it’s finished. But I really like how you can log your entries in detailed ways, and being able to rate the pattern, yarn and difficulty is incredible convenient.

Even though I don’t like to look at the dimensions of my stash I did manage to tackle this post. Phew! If you’d like to look at my projects, stash, or queue, you can find me on Ravelry, username anji. And if you’re interested in seeing other posts on the topic ‘Tidy mind, tidy stitches’  from other bloggers who’ll be blogging today on this topic, just search on Google (or another search engine) for the tag 2KCBWDAY3.