tom bihn

My must-have knitting tools

how toSasha TorresComment

In this series of posts about knitting tools, I've talked about my needle stash and how I organize and store it. This week: my knitting tool kit.

I keep a small kit of essential tools in my knitting bag. It has what I need to deal with pretty much any knitting problem I'm likely to encounter on the go, but it's deliberately minimal and lightweight. It contains:

  • a small pair of sharp scissors
  • a retractable measuring tape
  • cable needles
  • stitch holders
  • several big, blunt embroidery needles for weaving in ends, housed in a Clover Chibi
  • a needle sizer in the shape of a sheep (of course)
  • a set of cheap, lightweight aluminum crochet hooks, for picking up dropped stitches
  • a 24" circular needle, US size 0/2 mm, for picking up or holding stitches, or as an afterthought lifeline when ripping back

I actually have two of these kits all made up and ready to go; I've kept an extra one as a backup ever since leaving one in my rental car at SFO after visiting the Knitmores! This little pouch from Namaste (below) is perfect. I also like these bags from Tom Bihn.

I have a larger bag with post-its and highlighter tape (for back in the day when I used paper patterns; more on that next week), a small notebook, and other odds and ends, but I don't ever use it. My tiny little tool kit does the job!

Do you have other must-have knitting tools? Let me know and I'll do a follow-up to this story. Just hit reply!

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The project bag problem

musingsSasha TorresComment

The bags I use to store my knitting projects loom large in my life. I am a slow knitter, and I'm usually working on lots of projects at the same time. Whether or not a WIP is housed in an appropriate bag has a lot to do with how likely I am to take it along with me when I go out, which in turn has a lot to do with how quickly I finish it. I usually knit socks or accessories, so I need lots of sturdy bags that can hold a skein or two and my needles. (All my patterns live on my phone and on my iPad, so they're always with me.)

For a while I thought I had the solution: these project bags from Tom Bihn. There are a lot of things to like about these bags. My favorite thing about them is that they have these neat clear bottoms so that I can easily see what project is in which bag. Since they're made of nylon, they are indestructible. And Tom Bihn makes all its products in Seattle. 

But there are a couple of things that have always bugged me about them. The first is this clip, which is on the outside of every bag. It allows you to hook the project bag to a larger Tom Bihn bag, which is not something I ever want to do, and it provides a perfect place for the yarn to get caught. Drives me crazy!  

The crazy-making thing

The crazy-making thing


The second thing: for me, the very thing that makes these bags so great also makes them terrible, which is that they're made of nylon. The production of nylon is highly resource intensive, and worse, produces nitrous oxide, a very powerful greenhouse gas. As I've become more aware of the environmental effects of all kinds of textile production, it's become clear to me that I really don't want my knitting habit to be bringing more nylon into the world. There are uses for which nylon makes sense, but for me, project bags isn't one of them. 

And cotton's no better; in fact, in many ways it's worse. The production of conventionally-grown cotton is an ongoing environmental catastrophe: it requires massive amounts of water, pesticides and insecticides to grow, and its production is making small farmers in the developing world sick, driving them into ever deeper debt, and reducing their food security. And that's just growing the stuff. Processing it produces a whole other set of problems

For all these reasons, I was so excited to find a shop called Madder Root. Madder Root is a tiny company in Maine that uses organic linen to make beautiful handprinted napkins, tea towels, and bags...including project bags like these: 

Nice, huh? I love them

I've always liked linen; these days I wear more and more of it as I try to decrease the amount of cotton I use. I love its crisp hand and the fact that it gets better and better with each wash. Linen has very long, strong fibers, so it wears really well, which means I know these bags will be durable. Plus they're beautifully made by hand, and perfectly in sync with my longing to make every aspect of my crafting life as natural, clean, and sustainable as possible. 

I know many of you want these things in your crafting life, as well.  So I'm delighted to announce that these bags are now available in the shop. Each is about 10"x 12", perfect for a couple of skeins and your needles. Take them everywhere with you, and when they get dirty, simply machine wash them in cold water. At just $11 USD, they're wonderfully accessible, both for you and as gifts.

What's more, they're available in all these delicious colors: 

At last: an eco-friendly project bag that looks and feels pretty. Get yours here.