Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It was our Studio Tour this weekend, an annual event which draws thousands of visitors to the area. Artisans opened up their spaces to the public, with a warm inviting atmosphere, demonstrations and seasonal displays of colourful mums, pumpkins and picture worthy scarecrows.

Just like an artist needs the right paintbrush or chisel to work with, knitters also require specific tools, to make the stitches flow with simplicity and speed. Its a personal choice for knitters, whether they prefer wood to steel, circular to straight, all types of needles have benefits and a certain feel which makes them comfortable.

Wood and bamboo needles are extremely light, soft, and warm to the touch. They are friendly to the environment, recyclable, and have a little bit more grip for a new knitter who finds stitches slide too quickly. Doctors advise arthritic patients to try wood, as metal and steel draws heat away from sensitive fingers. Bamboo can dry out and splinter over time, so a hardwood such as Birch is the more durable type of needle. Steel circular needles are popular for those knitters who like to travel with small projects and prefer stitches to move at the speed of a jaguar. They have a very flexible wire and are easy to use in cramped areas, like a bus or train.

Having a good reference book will be helpful to a knitter in correcting mistakes and understanding knitting terms. The two most popular ones are- Knitters Companion by Vicki Square and Tips For Knitters by Debbie Bliss. Both are spiral bound, compact, and include wonderful diagrams on knitting and finishing techniques.

Knitters are fascinated with new gadgets, just as carpenters are drawn to Home Depot to browse the tool aisle. The hottest gadget in the knitting world is The Knit Kit. It resembles a swiss army knife and includes seven tools- a retractable tape measure, thread cutter, row counter, folding scissors, markers, point protectors, and a crochet hook for dropped stitches. These compact little kits, roughly the size of a cd, have been selling like hotcakes since the beginning of summer. Many knitters buy one for themselves and another as a gift for a friend or relative. For anyone who travels or is just starting their journey as a new knitter, its a must-have. Inspiring a new knitter with a tool that you have found to be helpful can make a world of difference.

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