For knitters and crocheters who want to blaze their own trail with patterns and stitches, a good stitch dictionary is invaluable. The ones I like best have charted patterns, but many of the stitch dictionaries provide both charts and written directions for each stitch pattern.
1. Japanese stitch dictionaries – Charts of each pattern repeat are shown next to a picture of the pattern knitted up. Although there are no written directions in either of these dictionaries, a quick internet search of Japanese knitting symbols will provide the basic key symbols. For a knitter or crocheter who has experience working with charts, the chart symbols are easily decipherable.
Both of the Japanese stitch dictionaries that we carry also have a crochet stitch section in the back – if you are a person who enjoys both crafts, you luck out with these books. Choose from 500 stitch patterns or (drumroll) 1000 stitch patterns encompassing everything from textured stitches to cables, lace to colorwork motifs,and traveling stitches to twisted stitches.
2. Colorwork charts – Mary Jane Mucklestone’s latest book, 200 Fair Isle Motifs, fills a spot on the knitting library shelf with charts of colorwork patterns, motifs in a variety of sizes, and alternate color choices for charts.
3. The latest two Vogue Stitchionaries are on our shelves and a number of the Ewes are hoping to receive at least one of them in their stockings. Volume 5 covers lace patterns and Volume 6 showcases edgings and finishings.
Okay, maybe you wouldn’t want to try fitting a book into a handknit stocking, but these might look pretty delectable wrapped up and stacked under a tree.
1. The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancy Wiseman. A true must-have for every knitter’s library and covering everything from weaving in ends to one-row buttonholes, the pictures are excellent and the text is full of helpful tidbits and notes.
2. 365 Knitting Stitches a Year Perpetual Calendar – Flip the page each day for an inspiring stitch pattern. Since this calendar is not year specific, it really is one of those gifts that keep on giving.
3. Knits to Give by Debbie Bliss – There is no rule stating that you must knit the items in this book as gifts and there are such a variety of projects included that it would be a lovely gift for any knitter. From clutches to shawls to dog sweaters, there is a certain to be a project that will fit the desire of any knitter.
1. Highlighter tape is exactly what it sounds like – colored translucent tape that highlights whatever you cover with it. Designed to not leave permanent marks on the document, a strip can be easily moved to highlight a row on a knitting chart or a specific line within a pattern. 1/2″ wide and in a variety of colors, you won’t lose your place in a pattern or chart with highlighter tape to mark the spot.
2. Chart Reading kits come with a stand, a magnetic board and a line magnifier. Easily slide the line magnifier up to the next row you wish to highlight while it holds the place using magnets. Using the stand to hold the pattern at a readable angle can reduce neck strain from moving your head up to your knitting and down to your pattern on the table,.
3. Checking gauge mid-project is always a good idea to make sure you are still on track. A cute sheep needle and stitch gauge will help you remember. Made of solid brass, with a needle sizer ranging from US0000 to US 15 and a 2″ slot for counting rows and stitches, this is a notion that will get a lot of use.
Yes, some of the stocking stuffers we’ve already listed have been for your hands, but there are even more! Working with fiber puts a lot of stress on your hands, especially the skin and there are a lot of products out there to keep your hands healthy.
1. Need a fiber reminder at the sink? Sheep soaps will make you smile and remind you that soon you will be back at the yarn, doing something you love. Available in assorted colors and kits, they are great for use or for decoration.
2. After you have your hands oh-so-clean, moisturize them against dry winter air with a Lavishea bar. Crafted from soy wax, shea butter and various fragrances, each bar comes in a personal tin. I have a couple of these in different places – my backpack (or a purse, depending on the day), my knitting notions bag and one on my nightstand.
3. Thergonomic Hand-Aids – these gloves fit securely on your hands to provide heat and support during repetitive motion activities (such as crocheting or knitting).
Now get back to that pile of yarn that still needs to be made into gifts!
Need a few more ideas of gifts for fiber enthusiasts?
1. Travel at all? Find the nearest yarn store during your peregrinations with Fiber and Fabric Mania! A Travel Guide 2012. Sorted by state, fiber stores of all sorts are listed and shown on a map of the state. Larger cities with many stores, such as Chicago, have their own map next to the state to which they belong.
2. It’s no secret that most fiber enthusiast are also usually enormously fond of bags. These Pencil Bags from Spud and Chloe are just the right size for notions or needles. Made of a sturdy canvas with an industrial zipper, those uber-pointy US 0 metal DPNs won’t poke out and stab you unexpectedly. To make it more desirable, the eponymous characters of Spud and Chloe are printed on the bag. Let me tell you, this bag has withstood some pretty tough times in my knitting travails – including surviving an epic coffee spill – if you want to protect your notions, this is the bag for it. Also, I pretty proudly proclaim my undying love for the Spud and Chloe yarn line, so I might pair this gift with a few skeins of Fine.
3. Crocheters and knitters like to measure things. A lot. If those in your family are anything like me, a tape measure can be found in just about every room of the house, but is never in the knitting bag when needed! If you are Christmas-minded, this festive tape measure from Lantern Moon keeps the holiday spirit year-round.
This heart-shaped tape measure from Spud and Chloe will a) match your notions bag and b) hook to your bag easily with the key ring, so it doesn’t wander off into someone else’s bag at Knit Nite. Please note: I always return whatever I’ve accidentally borrowed!
Look out, Santa! Our stocking stuffers just might take the place of all those trinkets in your pockets.
1. Heel Cream for all those feet to whom you’ve gifted hand-knit socks. Available in three different scents (scentless, cucumber and peppermint), this is just the thing to pamper feet and give them a rest from all the holiday running around. Best of all, we’ve teamed up with the folks at Soak to put on custom Woolie Ewe labels.
2. As well as a spa treatment for your feet, how about a spa treatment for your handknits? Four fragrances of Soak should please either a knitter or the recipient of a hand-knit item. Formulated for delicate, hand-wash only items, Soak is rinse-free and will perk up any item. Available in 4 oz or 14 oz sizes, either one will cover a goodly amount of washes.
3. How about those hard-working hands? Crocheting or knitting gifts is a lot of wear and tear on your skin, so protect it with Gloves in a Bottle. Designed to provide a protective, moisture-retaining layer over the skin, Gloves in a Bottle keeps irritants off the immediate skin surface and results in smoother skin. It naturally wears off as your hands shed excess skin cells and for continued protection should be re-applied every 4 hours.
Have you knit this little guy? I have. A bajillion and a half times. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating, but this is my go-to pattern for knitting baby gifts. Blankets are time-consuming, plus everyone always seems to knit blankets or give blankets. A handknit toy seems cute and practical. I also don’t knit them just for babies (but that is a whole additional post about choosing knitted gifts that are appropriate for the intended recipient).
Elijah (the elephant) is one of Ysolda Teague‘s most popular patterns in our store. I’ve made him out of several different yarns – the one for our shop sample is in Louisa Harding’s Kashmir Baby. If I want one that wee baby hands can grasp, I head for Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply. If I’m aiming for larger kiddoes, I knit him in Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran. I usually choose a yarn that is superwash, even if he can’t be really be tossed in the washer (the eyes!) because I like the additional safety net that he won’t felt while being swished around in a basin for handwashing.
If you haven’t knit this little guy (or any other toy), and even if you have knit a toy or two, I highly recommend our upcoming Monster Shaping Class with Ysolda. She is covering invisible cast-ons, different increases and decreases, picking up stitches from stuffed pieces (applicable to Elijah!), short row shaping and stuffing and embroidering features.
And if you want to knit Elijah (or Ysolda’s other toys: Otto the bear and Sophie the rabbit), we have plenty of patterns in stock.
Ysolda’s class will be Thursday Oct. 20, 1:30 – 4:30 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn just down the road. She will also be teaching classes on making perfectly fitted sweaters.