Need guidance about setting up your craft room, or just trying to create a useful and properly-stocked gift? Use one of these handy lists. And feel free to suggest additions in the comments, too! I plan to update this as I go through each craft, so check back or make a request if you want to see one of my crafts that hasn’t been listed yet.
- Full-size scissors (for fabric)
- Thread snips or small scissors (for cutting thread ends)
- Seam ripper (for disassembling or correcting)
- Round-head pins (multicolor allows you to see them on different fabrics)
- Safety pins (get an assortment of sizes)
- Tailor’s chalk (I like loose, light blue chalk but plain solid white works. Tailor’s chalk is more like a flat crayon.)
- Hem ruler (usually 6 inches long with a slider; great for quick, small measurements)
- Cloth tape measure (60 inches is best)
- Hand sewing needles
- Black thread
- White thread
- Black or white button thread (Button thread is thicker and stronger than normal thread)
Knitting or Crochet:
- Stitch markers (most knitting stitch markers have a ring for the needle to pass through; most crochet markers have a clip or hook to attach to the work.)
- Thread snips or small scissors
- Tape measure
- Needle gauge (usually plastic or metal, with holes of different sizes to determine needle width; many have built-in rulers as well)
- Yarn needles (large blunt needles, often with a bent tip, made of plastic, metal, or wood)
- Yarn needle holder (Clover brand’s “Chibi” is an excellent one)
- Stitch counter
- Yarn bobbins (usually flat plastic, used in intarsia knitting)
- Knitting needle roll (similar to a paintbrush roll, made of fabric with long, thin pockets for each set of needles)
- Knitting needles (keep reading for more info)
If you’re setting up as a first time knitter (or creating a gift package for a new knitter), I recommend buying two gauges, or thicknesses, of knitting needles. Needles are sized by their cross-section diameter, measured in millimeters. US sizes are assigned a number, while most of the rest of the world uses the actual measurement. A beginning knitter will generally use worsted weight yarn to start, so a size US8 (5mm) or US9 (5.5mm) needle will work well. A pair of straight needles (pointy on one end, capped on the other) will get you started, but there are three main types of needles:
STRAIGHTS come in roughly 8-inch or 14-inch lengths. These are good for working something back and forth, like a scarf or a section of a sweater. It’s nearly impossible to knit something in the round on straights, however, and they aren’t recommended for large heavy items like blankets as the weight of the item can cause severe wrist strain.
CIRCULAR knitting needles (or “circs”) come in many lengths. These are two needle points attached to a flexible cord. They can be used for back-and-forth knitting and are excellent for knitting in the round. They are also preferred by many knitters for travel, as there is only one needle to keep track of and the project is less likely to slip off the cord. They are great for large heavy objects like blankets. Items knit in the round can only be as wide around as the circ’s measurement. Anything smaller will be stretched around the needle too much. The same is true of items that are too big; there is a finite number of stitches you can fit on a circ’s cord, so select your needle accordingly. They are generally found in the following lengths (though some brands carry longer or shorter sizes): 16 inches, 22 inches, 24 inches, 30 inches, 36 inches, and 40 inches. NOTE: circular needles are measured tip to tip, NOT by the length of the cord. different brands will have different length cords attached to different length needles, but the overall size is what you go by. There are several brands of interchangeable needles on the market, in case you want to buy one set that can be any length.
DOUBLE-POINTED needles (DPNs) are used for knitting in the round. They are best for circumferences that circs can’t handle and are a hugely popular choice for socks, gloves, mittens, and other small knitted tubes. They are generally found in lengths from 4 inches to 8 inches, though there are some metal brands that go up to 10 inches. DPNs can also be used to knit flat, either as-is or with a stopper placed over one end.
Buy a new knitter at least one of each type of needle above, in one or both of the sizes I recommended. This will give them the opportunity to try out new skills, as well as start them off with a matched set of needles for any project.
Crochet hooks are sized very similarly to knitting needles if you go by the measurement, but US sizes are assigned a letter range from B-P, with B (2.25mm) being the smallest and P (15mm) being the largest commonly found on the market. Smaller, non-lettered hooks are also available, going down to .6mm in diameter. These tiny hooks are sometimes given a number instead of a letter; the numbers get bigger as the hooks get smaller. Generally, if you’re working with worsted-weight yarn, you want an H (5mm) or I (5.5mm) hook. These correspond with the US8 and US9 knitting needles mentioned above.
If you run across what looks like a combination of a crochet hook and a long knitting needle, you’ve found a Tunisian (or Afghan) hook. This is used for a specific type of crochet that is worked in rows rather than a single stitch at a time. Unless you’re planning to do Tunisian work, stick to a standard crochet hook for normal crochet projects.
Knitting needles and crochet hooks can be made out of almost any rigid substance, but the most common are wood, metal, and plastic. For working with wool and other natural fibers, use wood. Metal is better for acrylic yarns, which can feel sticky on wood needles. Plastic also works with acrylic yarn.