One of DH's favorite lines from Zap Comix is "Mr. Natural says, 'The right tool for the right job.'"
While blocking Glacier Sweep yesterday, I thought, the right tool: too true. Glacier Sweep is a REALLY big half-circle shawl with an i-cord edge (more on i-cord edges in the next post). The only way to block it was with the right blocking wires. So on Sunday I invested in these:
I own a set of straight blocking wires bought sometime in the 1990's. But if you want to block a curved edge, you need these wires. They worked perfectly. I threaded the longest wires through the curved i-cord, then pulled the wired edge and pinned it so the stockinette stitch contrasted strongly against the garter stitch curved stripes.
The right tool for the right job. Worth the investment. And it's not like tools wear out.
Get some blocking mats. Mine are from Knit Picks but you can get the same thing for less in weird colors at Home Depot or other hardware stores:
In any case, I cover my studio table with the mats to the size I want. Pins stick in the mats. The mats have a raised grid that holds the shawl, etc., in place enough to wire and pin it without chasing it around the table. Yes, your bed will work, too, as a blocking surface. Me, I prefer to sleep in the bed and allow a shawl to dry overnight.
These are the needles I use for joining yarn, burying yarn ends and the occasional fiber repair job:
What other tools do you absolutely need?
1. Row counters that live on your knitting needle:
Hang the bottom one from your needle when working after joining in the round. That way it functions as an end-of-round marker as well.
2. Invest in some good stitch markers. My preference is metal ones, since they slide across the needles without grabbing. Again, yes, you can use bits of yarn for stitch markers. But the small investment makes your knitting time so much easier and more enjoyable.
(Optional, though not in our house.) Cat, to oversee everything you do: