Are you worried over what to get your special someone who drools over string made from various fibers? Does a yarn shop or craft store seem like the Bermuda Triangle? Take a deep breath. This will be quick and painless for you, while making the yarn-a-holic in your life squeal with delight. At the end of this article you’ll find a list of web sites you can shop so you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your home.
1) Ball winder. This is a yarn addict’s dream come true. If your knitter or crocheter winds balls by hand, or sometimes enlists you to help, here’s your ticket out of this labor of love. A ball winder clamps to the edge of the table. Thread one end of the yarn through, turn the crank, and watch the yarn transform from a skein to an even-sized cake that sits nice and neat wherever the knitter may decide to set up camp. Average price: $45
2) Yarn Swift. There’s nothing so lovely to a yarn addict than those beautiful hanks of yarn. Hanks look like a yarn braid, showing off the color and texture of the yarn. As lovely as they are to look at, working with them is a pain in the neck. Enter the yarn swift. It takes the place of your sturdy wrists, or the back of the chair. Undo the hank, drape the yarn around the swift, run the thread to the ball winder, and get, an equally beautiful cake of yarn that is so much easier to work with. Swifts come in two flavors: metal and wood. I recommend the wood for the versatility to handle the different yarn textures. If you’re a woodworker or like to put things together, you can buy the plans on how to make one from Schoolhouse Press. Average price: $65
3) Yarn Meter. This handy gadget is perfect between the yarn swift and ball winder. As you wind the ball of yarn off the swift, the yarn meter measures the yardage. Since yardage amount is vital to the knitter or crocheter, this is a great tool to keep track of when they need to buy more yarn. Or when then they have the right amount of yarn in their stash to make something. Average price: $40
4) Interchangeable Needle sets. Needles are important. Having many needles is extra important. One of your knitter’s deepest fears might be running out of needles. It’s happened to me. Help end this terror by purchasing an all-in-one needle set. There are three on the market: NeedleMaster (aluminum), Denise (resin), and a bamboo set. These sets have needle points ranging from size 2 US / 2.75 mm to 15 US / 10 mm. The cables twist into the needle points to make circular needles in varying lengths. All the needle points, cables, and extras like connectors, stitch holders, and even making the circular needles into straight ones are neatly together in compact cases. These are the workhorses of the knitting world. Prices range from $45 to $110.
5) Stocking stuffers. These items are small, usually under $10, and there’s no such thing as too many. Here’s your list: stitch markers (in several colors and designs), straight pins, coil-less safety pins, row counters, scissors, tapestry needles, cable needles, and double pointed needles. With the double pointed needles, do an inquiry into favorite needle material such as plastic, bamboo, metal. If you want to get fancy you can get knitting needles from exotic woods such as ebony and rosewood.
6) Wool washes. No this does not mean Woolite. There are special mild detergents for hand knit items that clean and condition the wool along with adding natural ingredients to thwart moths. Two excellent brands: Kookaburra and Eucalan. If you want to get extra fancy, how about a camp washer? This is perfect for one or two sweaters, wash with no electricity, it won’t damage the hand knit items, all the while coming out very clean and with little soap and little effort. It sure beats the tub method of soaking, squeezing, and toweling. Wool Washes approximately $10 Wonder Wash camp washer $43
7) Manicure gift certificates. If your knitter can put their knitting down long enough, it’s time to pamper those never idle fingers which make such beautiful, warm, and thoughtful items. Prices vary by salon and region.
8) Books. This one you’ll have to investigate a little bit, look at the current books bending your book shelves and make note. When you’re shopping online, browse the book section and get something that your knitter doesn’t already have. If there’s a new release, grab it. If you’re really at a loss for a book title, stitch pattern treasuries, encyclopedias, and dictionaries are wonderful. Buy a Barbara Walker treasury (four in the series) to impress your knitter with a very thoughtful gift.
9) Yarn and Yarn Kits. The life’s blood of a knitter. Buying yarn is a very personal activity, almost like buying underwear. Yarn addicts caress, rub, fondle, and even smell their yarn before they decide to take it home. However you’re not out of the woods on this one, and a gift certificate to the local fancy yarn shop is acceptable. Some online retailers offer gift certificates as well. But if you want to take a leap of faith and buy actual yarn for your beloved knitter, you cannot go wrong with anything from the Knit Picks line. Their yarn is all natural fibers: wool, alpaca, silk, and cashmere. The prices are the best to be had, and very good to excellent quality. The color selections are somewhat limited but when you can buy alpaca for less than $4 for 110 yards, who cares? Be kind to your knitter and buy at least two skeins of the same type and color; four if you see the words “lace weight.”
Kits. Many designers and independent yarn companies put together project kits. The kit comes with all the yarn, the pattern, and sometimes even the needles. This is a great alternative to actually picking out the yarn. All you have to do is decide on the kit and the color, the company does the rest. Kits tend to be on the expensive side, usually starting around $80. The only out you have on buying yarn or a gift certificate for yarn, is booking a reservation for Schoolhouse Press / Meg Swansen’s once-a-year Knitting Camp in Wisconsin.
10) Storage. Knitters often have problems storing their precious yarn. Some use plastic tubs, while some sadly just keep their yarn in bags. Buy your knitter natural, pretty baskets. Big chain craft stores often have a large selection. Lantern Moon has expensive, but beautiful, baskets to display yarn. Last year to solve my yarn storage problem, my husband bought me two shoe cubbies from Target. These work perfectly.
With this list, along with suggestions from the different online companies, your holiday shopping will be quick, and easy. Best of all, it’ll look like you spent a lot of thought on the gifts, being brave and venturing into the world of string and sticks just to please your yarn obsessed knitter. Who knows, you might reap the rewards of your hard work by getting a one-of-a-kind labor of love from him or her.