One of the things I love about knitting is it is so portable. At its simplest, you only need needles and a ball of wool. I have knitted in GP waiting rooms, on the Victoria Line, and watching my daughter’s tennis and swimming lessons from the side of courts and pool. I started off with one pair of size 5mm needles, but in the last few months I have built up a substantial kit. Here are the basics:
To start, single pointed needles. Generally, I prefer the feel of bamboo to steel or aluminium as it is warmer and smoother. But they are breakable – I have had one broken needle disaster already, halfway through my first jumper. Metal needles can also encourage looser tension, if that’s what’s required. A lot of pieces I’ve done so far have been on 4mm or 4.5mm needles, but there is a summer top project I am planning which requires smaller sizes of 2.25mm and 2.75mm, and so I’m going to use aluminium needles so they don’t break.
Whenever I go to a wool shop I cannot resist buying yarn, even though it is not for a specific project. I know I am not alone in this. There are so many beautiful colours and textures to choose from, by different suppliers, it can be easy to build up a huge stash before you know it. I have a basket of wool that is over-flowing; but on the other hand, it can provide inspiration to start a new project.
A small pair of scissors to snip ends, in a little pouch to stop them snagging your work. I got this ornate Liberty pair from my daughter for my birthday.
Like a giant safety pin, essential for parking one set of stitches when making jumpers and tops.
A small retractable tape, for measuring sections of a garment as you go along.
Darning or embroidery needle
For sewing up seams and to sew in the excess strands at the start and end of pieces, which gives a neater finish than cutting short.
Books and patterns
Unless you are going to knit countless scarves, or are so good you don’t need a guide, you will need these. I’ve written more about knitting books here.
For pulling stray wool from right side to wrong side, and for work on seams and necklines.
For knitting in the round: 80cm long for tops and jumpers, 40cm for leg warmers, mittens and socks.
Double pointed needles
For socks and other small items knitted in the round – trickier to handle than circular needles, but more flexible for much smaller pieces that won’t fit on a 40cm circular needle.
Any cloth bag would do for carrying your knitting around, but there are some lovely specialist knitting bags with side pockets for needles. I bought this one years ago from Liberty; it is now stuffed full with three or four projects.
Like tiny curtain hooks that sit between stitches. Useful for knitting on circular needles to mark where you started and need to switch stitches.