Pattern Play: Knitting Notions

Usually when we learn to knit, someone teaches us the basic skills and tells us to practice. That’s a great start, but then we have to learn how to read a pattern. This 7-part series explains how. In this issue, designer and tech editor Kate Atherley is here to share her knitting notions case must-haves, along with some tips and tricks for makeshift notions. Originally published in knitscene Spring 2016.

A pattern should have a list of notions, the tools you need to work the pattern in addition to yarn and needles. Some examples: a cable needle, a tapestry needle (a large-eye sewing needle with a blunt tip), buttons.

knitting notions

It’s easy to skip this bit and focus on the yarn when shopping for a project, but always check the notions list to see if there’s a tool you don’t have. I recommend gathering the listed tools and putting them in a notions case to tuck into your project bag. There’s nothing worse than being away from home, working on your project, and discovering you don’t have a key tool you need.

There are some tools I always have whether they are listed or not: scissors, a tape measure, and a tapestry needle. You’d be hard-pressed to complete a knitting project without them.

Every single notions case and project bag should have some stitch markers, both the removable and the closed-ring styles. Markers are useful for dividing up pattern repeats or helping you keep track of stitches for a long cast-on (I like to place one every twenty stitches). A removable marker clipped to the right side of my fabric helps when working a patterned fabric; when placed on key rows, a removable marker can also help keep track of rows worked in patterns—mark your decrease or increase rows, or where you start a charted pattern. Removable markers are fantastic for clipping pieces together when sewing up, catching dropped stitches, or marking things that need my attention later.

A crochet hook is handy, too. They’re good for some provisional cast-on methods, catching dropped stitches, picking up stitches, and helping with picking up and knitting stitches along an edge.

I like to have a length of a smooth scrap yarn in a light color to use as an impromptu stitch holder. Slip all the stitches to this scrap yarn if you need to use the needles for another project, want to try on the piece, or when stretching out a large piece to see how it looks. A length of yarn can double as a stitch marker: simply tie a knot to create a little loop. A well-packed notions case means that you’ll never suffer my worst vacation disaster ever: trapped on a week-long cruise with a cabled sweater pattern and no cable needle to work it. (Turns out, a bobby pin can work in a pinch.)


Header Image: Photo by Garrett Evans.

Read More of Kate’s Pattern Tips in knitscene

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