On Using Those Ravelry Features

I think it’s safe to assume most knitters know about Ravelry.  If you don’t, stop reading this post and get yourself an account. Ravelry is the largest and best online knitting community website. It’s social network meets pattern database meets personal database. In short, it’s awesome.

Everyone uses Ravelry in their own ways. I use ‘My Notebook’ feature quite frequently, adding WIPs and tracking favourites. I’m not as faithful with the stash feature, but it is handy if you’re looking for project inspiration; you can see what other knitters have made with the same yarn. This isn’t what I want to talk about today. Today I want to sing the praises of the Needles & Hooks tracker.

I was wanting to start a new project; pattern was printed, yarn purchased, but I realized I didn’t have the right circular needles for the project. In fact, I needed four different needles, different sizes, all 16″ in length. Many of you may be thinking I could use DPNs for such a project, but I prefer circular, and I digress. As much as I LOVE new needles, my bank account just couldn’t face this investment.  My solution? I turned to thrift shops. A few weeks ago, at one of the better shops in the ‘hood, I hit the motherload. There were at least 15 sets of circular needles, all various sizes and length, and the shop was asking a whopping 99¢ each.

This is where personal preference comes in. The vast majority of the needles appeared to be Aero, or something very similar, and I have a soft spot for this workhorse needle.  When I started knitting, Grandma passed along her knitting supplies, many she acquired from her mother-in-law, my great-grandmother. Many of the needles I inherited were Aero needles, and after decades of use, they are still going strong. I may be a bit of a needle snob, but I won’t turn my nose up at Aero.

Seeing a wide selection of affordable needles, in a brand that I can appreciate, I was quite happy. Enter the Needle & Hook Ravelry feature.


Using the feature is so easy and super helpful. I have managed to keep this feature updated with the needles I’ve purchased, and in that thrift shop, I was able to pull up Ravelry, look at what needles I already had, and selected which ones to buy. Some were excluded because of duplication and some were excluded because I didn’t like the look of the cord, but I walked out of the store with 6 new needles for $6 (plus tax).

Another great feature about this tracker is that you can leave notes about the needles. Here is what I’ve entered for my 5mm, 16″ needles:


I’ve included details about the needles themselves. Now, admittedly, this is super nit-picky, but I like being about to pin-point which needle is which.

Ravelry has many wonderful features, some I’m sure I haven’t have the chance to use yet, but I would encourage any knitter to take advantage of the Needles and Hooks feature. You may never know when you’re faced with the chance to buy a lot of needles and need to know what you already own.


The Most Common Question I Get Knitting with 9″ Circulars

I love my 9″ circular sock needles. I bought them over six months ago and haven’t looked back since.Because they aren’t a common tool for knitting, people tend to be curious about them and ask me questions. Commonly, people ask how on earth I knit with such tiny needles (you get used to them), and even more common, how do I knit the heel flap and turn the heel? To best answer this question, I took pictures as I knit my latest sock project

Here is my sock, leg completed, ready to start the heel.

I use the circular needle to hold the instep stitches, and use DPNs to work the heel.

Working the flap with the DPNs and the circular is behind with the instep stitches
Another view, just after the heel has been turned. You can see, I’m ready to start picking up the gusset stitches.
So I transfer instep to DPN, and then transfer heel to circular which means I’m ready to start work on the gusset and foot!

Perhaps people think there’s some magic I’m able to ONLY knit the socks on the circular. That is not the trick. The trick is being prepared and having enough tools to get the job done!

And in case you’re wondering about the stunning yarn, it’s madelinetosh Tosh Sock, Robin’s Egg colourway, and the pattern is Devil’s Snare Sock by Erica Lueder.

The Whole New World of 9″ Circular Needles

In our knitting circle, Amanda is known as the sock knitting queen. She’s hard core. Every time we see her, it feels like she’s working on yet another new pair of socks, and she’s fast! In the time it would take me to knit the cuff, she’s already turned the heel to sock #2. Second sock syndrome isn’t a concern to our resident sock knitting queen. She slays.

Naturally, if I have burning sock-related questions, I’ll turn to her, as I did a week or so ago when I wanted to venture out of the world of DPNs and try knitting socks on a 9″ circular needle, Amanda’s preferred method for making socks. I’m taking a trip in just a few short weeks, and I felt knitting socks on circs would be easier on a plane than with DPNs. I’m extremely clumsy and I know I would be that person on the plane who would drop the needle and it would inevitably roll 10 rows behind me. I didn’t want to be that person, so based on Amanda’s highly informed opinion, I bought two sets of 9″ circular needles, one 2.25mm (US Size 1), and one 2.5mm (US Size 2.5).

Man, are these suckers tiny!

A little blurry, but the quarter is for scale!
A little blurry, but the quarter is for scale!

I always have a pair of socks on my needles, despite my love/hate relationship with sock knitting. It’s the perfect transportable project, stored in a small cosmetic bag, it can be thrown into my purse and it’s with me whenever I have a few minutes to knit a few stitches.  I was about 10 rows away from finishing the leg of a sock when I bought the circs; hardly containing my excitement, I switched needles at my first chance.

One of Amanda’s strongest arguments for the 9″ circs was the fact that you didn’t have to keep switching needles, which can be a time consuming and aggravating part of sock knitting. She was right on this front, it certainly is a more fluid and consistent method for knitting round after round.  However, I don’t think I was adequately prepared for how awkward and foreign these needles would feel in my hands. For my first few rounds, it almost felt like I was re-teaching myself how I should be holding my project and the left needle.  The last time I felt this unsure with needles in my hand was likely when I was learning to knit with double pointed needles for the first time.

In the round
In the round

Over 40 rounds later, the needles feel more natural in my hands, and the rounds are knitting very quickly, so quickly in fact that I might not have been too careful to note which round I was on, resulting in some tinking to correct some errors!

I’m quite happy with my purchase of 9″ circulars, and to anyone pondering these tiny wonders, I would recommend taking the plunge and buying a set! Be ready though, they take some getting used to!

Happy knitting!