Essential knitting tools
Here's our guide to all the knitting accessories and tools you should keep in your knitting bag.
Is it just us, or is shopping for a hobby sometimes just as fun as doing that hobby? When we are just not feeling yarn enough to work some rows on our WIP knits, sneaking off to by a new knitting tool or knitting accessory can be just the thing that is needed to help get that knitting train back on track. Well, sometimes casting on a new project can do that too. But keep your knitting pile under control by adding one of these brilliant knitting tools or knitting accessories to your life instead of a new WIP.
Of course, the ultimate in knitting tools and accessories are knitting needles, but we've got you covered with those in our best knitting needles round up. Yarn is an obvious knitting essential too, but we are not including that in our best knitting tools and accessories list – check out our best cotton yarns, best yarn bundles, best hand-dyed yarns and many more besides, right here on Gathered.
Helpful note for you – sometimes going and browsing a yarn store can spark inspiration just as much as any online purchase. But if you have no local stores or if you just can't wait and need some knitting accessories inspiration right now, read on to discover the knitting tools and knitting accessories we rate to help you make the most of your hobby.
Essential knitting tools and accessories:
A tapestry needle
Probably the most basic and essential tools a knitter can have to hand (besides their actual knitting needles). You'll use the needle to weave in all those pesky ends so try to get one with quite a big eye, making it easier to thread the yarn.
We like: 12 piece stainless steel blunt needle set
This set of 12 stainless steel tapestry needles comes with 3 different lengths of needle, plus a needle threader and a thimble, as well as a steel carry case. Tapestry needles are super easy to misplace, so we don't rate paying extra for fancy finishes like gold plating or colours – though if those appeal to you, don't let us put you off. But instead we'd spend our money on a nice storage case to keep them together and safe in your knitting storage, like this one here, and the thick and threads make handy knitting accessories too.
A measuring tape
We might not like it, but checking our tension is critical to a good knit - see our knitting tension squares article to find out why. Plus, it's always handy to have a measuring tape nearby to make sure that our cosy socks aren't on their way to becoming accidental Christmas stockings…
We like: Needle felted tape measure cover and tape
You can get lots of cute plastic shaped tape measures themed towards knitters, but we've not seen anything else as beautiful as these lovely needle-felted covers featuring sheep and pastoral scenes from LittleGemFelts on Etsy. Each punch needle pouch is unique and handmade, and you are supporting a craftswoman with your purchase without paying an exorbitant price. Just lovely!
More like this
If you've knitted lace before then you know the importance of stitch markers. They do what they say on the tin and mark your stitches so you can keep track of your pattern (especially when working in the round). Some markers are clip on markers (known as locking stitch markers) and some slide on to your needle between stitches (ring markers). However, if you need a marker in a pinch just use a scrap piece of contrasting yarn!
We like: Pony stitch markers
These plastic safety-pin style stitch markers are the most practical and economical option of stitch marker knitting accessories you can buy. Being able to unclip your marker should you accidentally knit into into your garment is a real bonus. And despite being plastic, they are pretty resilient and sturdy too, you'd have to try pretty hard to break them. So they are definitely the best knitting tool for all kinds of knitters in the stitch marker category. But that all being said, if you are interested in cats, you might like these cat stitch markers, too. Or see our best stitch markers article for even more (some animal themed, some not) options.
Find the knitting tool Pony stitch markers on Amazon
We don't suggest breaking off your yarn using brute force… Every knitter needs a good pair of sharp scissors to finish off a project. A traditional pair of embroidery scissors are small enough to fit into most knitting kits, but for even better portability you can buy smaller yarn clippers or fold-up scissors.
We like: Sheep embroidery scissors
It's hard to resist the classic stork broidery scissors, but these sheep embroidery scissors from HawthorneHandmade on Etsy are a great alternative for knitters, though you can explore more options in our best embroidery scissors roundup. Slightly smaller in size than the classic storks and with a lovely matt black finish, we'd love to have these sheep embroidery scissors for our knitting bag.
These are essential for taking your knitting on the go or simply for storing it away. Needle protectors (despite their name) actually seem to protect everything else from the points of the needles, as well as keeping your stitches where they should be.
We like: Rubber point protector stoppers
Etsy, £1.50 per pair
We love a novelty item as much as the next knitter - more probably. But our solid plastic unicorn knitting stoppers just don't function as well as these rubber ones. Being rubber as opposed to plastic, a pair of these is just so much more practical as they grip and stick to the needle more securely, so are less likely to fall off. And being small, they won't catch or snag your yarn either, so are more stable all round. Plus, they look a bit like little mushrooms when you are using them, so that's a big plus. Save the plastic unicorns for the under 5 year olds.
It's always useful to have a couple of these on hand for when a pattern throws out something unexpected, or you have some kind of knitting needle disaster and need to keep your stitches safe. You can get safety-pin style stitch holders, or plastic clip style versions that lets you take your stitches out for both sides, but we'd normally just use a cable needle for two-sided access.
We like: Aluminium stitch holder 5 size set
Support a small business by purchasing this handy set of 5 different sizes of aluminium stitch holder from Craftline shop on Etsy. Good quality and lovely coloured finishes too.
These might not be what you consider essential, but hear us out! Wouldn't you rather not need a cable needle and have one, than need a cable needle and not have one? Plus, they're a great help when fixing little knitting mistakes.
We like: Subabul wooden cable needles
We favour the indented centre style of cable needle for keeping stitches safe from dropping off – otherwise why not just use a regular old sock DPN, right? These special cable needles made from Subabul wood are a great shape and just beautiful! The wood gives them a slightly textured surface to help grip your stitches, too. The set comes in 3 sizes, working best with chunky, DK and 4 ply yarn. If you are an American knitter, see our knitting conversion chart to help convert these UK yarn descriptions to the American terms.
Some knitters prefer to tick their rows off with a pen as they go, but it can really save time if you have a handy little row counter sitting on the end of your needle. Row counters come in a range of sizes to fit most needles, or you can buy ones that hang around your neck (or even sit on your finger as a ring).
We like: Knit pro row counter ring
Amazon, approx £18
Here's a knitting accessory that will more than pay for itself within your first garment knit. Keeping track of the row you are working on and where you are in pattern will save you a whole lot of brain power and a whole lot of frogging, too. If you have a habit of working on multiple WIP knits at ones (what knitter does not?), you can invest in a few of these to store with your project to help you keep track even if you don't work any rows for months. You can also get this ring in a rainbow shimmer finish, too!
We like: Pony knitting register row counter
Lovecrafts, approx £2.50
If you don't need your row counters to be wearable, you can save big money by buying this double pack from Pony to use with 2 and 7.5mm needles. You get different colours and sizes, suitable for knits up to 99 rows. The different colours and sizes make it easier to keep track of which counter belongs to which project, too, even if you don't keep them on your needles, so you can use them with different sizes as well.
A few scraps of yarn
Scraps of yarns are real life savers – no really, they're perfect lifelines! Thread them through your work to keep your knitting safe from pesky little mistakes. It's always wise to have a few close to hand.
We like: Upcycling our yarn scraps and oddments! These are also great for visible mending.
For when essential knitting tools just aren't enough…
We know it's difficult to decide what's essential and what's not when it comes to your knitting accessories, so here's a few worthy mentions that you might (or rather, should) find at the bottom of your knitting bag.
A notebook and pen
Handy for making notes on a pattern, keeping track of stitches and rows, or for jotting down your own design ideas. It's always a good idea to keep some form of pen and paper nearby when knitting. If you're worried about making mistakes, use a pencil or an erasing pen!
We like: Knitters graph paper notebook
There are loads of knitters notebooks available with funny saying or sweet yarn artwork on the front, bu we like this one because of its graph paper interior. Not just for French school children, a graph paper notebook is quite handy for knitters as it lets you draw out your own charts for annotation or revisions.
A needle gauge
It's always nice to get a new pair of needles, but a lot of us have needles that were made before we were even born and it's hard to tell what size they are. That's why it's handy to have a needle gauge close by so you can always check if that worn down number is a five or a six…
We like: cat knitting needle gauge
Approx. £11, Etsy
At first glance, knitting needles gauges may seem like useless (albeit sometimes cute cat-shaped) knitting accessories. I mean, all knitting needles have their size, both European and American printed on them, right? Well, sort of. That is to say that most of them start off with these. But after a little use, especially when the information is printed on plastic or cables, that label comes right off. So any knitter worth their salt who has used their needles for more than one project, should have a needle gauge in their stash of knitting tools. It does not have to be cat shaped. But why wouldn't you want it to be?
Find the knitting tool cat needle gauge on Etsy
We like: Sock blocker with needle gauge
Okay, we've just found a reason that you might choose a needle gauge that is not cat shaped. That is, if you are a sock knitter and would rather buy a 2-in-1 tool that will let you check out your missing needle sizes and block socks of all sizes, too. This sock blocker complete with needle gauge is that very knitting tool, friends! When it comes to sock blcokers, a more open interior design is better for faster drying, but if you knit socks in all different sixes you need an extendable toe, which will not work with an open structure. So if you knit all sizes of sock, we recommend you choose this one with extendable toe and needle gauge options, from YarnWorxUK's Etsy store.
A crochet hook
Don't hiss just yet! Crochet hooks are a great tool for picking up dropped stitches and, who knows, maybe even giving crochet a go… You can hiss now if you want.
We like: a single crochet hook
If you only want a hook for picking up dropped stitches, cheap and cheerful is the best bet, and you don't need elaborate multipacks. 3 or 4mm sizes are the best all rounders for knitters, and we like these KnitPro waves crochet hooks from Lovecrafts with coloured handles that will make it easy to spot amongst your DPNS, and a study metal finish.
A yarn bowl
As we'll as being visually appealing, having a yarn bowl will help keep your working yarn clean and stop it piling as you handle it. Their slotted structure means that the working yarn is always in place and won't tangle, and your ball won't unwind and roll away as you knit.
We like: large wooden yarn bowl
Amazon, approx £18
There is more than a few knitters who have never tried using a yarn bowl. Though not a knitting essential, these sleek items can really level up your knitting game, keeping your yarn contained and under control however speedy your stitches may be, and they are vital if you have a cat who likes to get involved with your working yarn, too. We're highlighting this large bowl from Amazon here as we love its two-tone finish and flexible size, but there are so many options to explore - see our best yarn bowls article for more.
We like: Yarn ball winder
So you know how we said above that using a yarn bowl can really speed up your knitting? You do, however, have to window your hanks or lose balls of yarn into tighter balls first, before they will fit into most yarn bowls. For many this is a lovely, medative process that only takes a few minutes and is great for getting a real tactile immersion into the qualities of the yarn you are working with. But for some knitters, it is just a right old pain that slows them down when all the want to do is get casting on! For those knitters, or for those spring in mass production where all those minutes can quickly add up, a yarn bowl winder is a pretty vital accessory. See what other styles are available in our best yarn winders article.
Knitting storage bag
Are you a yarn holder or a minimalist? Most knitters tend to have a substantial stash of beautiful yarns they have bought just because of their beauty. We recon that if Marie Kondo were knitter, even she would have a few hanks knocking about. So some bespoke storage can help keep things under control, while simultaneously having all your knitting accessories close at hand. You want pockets for needles, roomy central storage for your yarn stash plus any large knitting accessories you have. And most importantly, it should be in a fabric that you love – no nasty plastic totes will do.
We like: Make your own knitting storage bag
The Gathered team do love to shop – but we love to craft even more. So if you want to maximise your knitting accessories style, make it DIY with our make your own knitting storage bag project. We take you step-by-step through crafting this knitting accessory. There's room inside for your yarns, with external pockets, perfect for your needles and other knitting tools. Bet of all, you can craft it in any size or fabric that you wish! Find the DIY knitting project bag tutorial.
We like: Knitting storage accessory
Don't be put off by the terribly bad photoshopped yarn and accessories added to the main image of this bag on Amazon - but do take a look if you want a chuckle. This bag is actually very well made, with a large internal storage, and a great choice if you are not of a mind to craft your own storage. The external pockets are great for long items like your needles, which are protected and supported y the bag at their back.
Knitting accessory notions
Though we have turned our noses up at plastic unicorn point protectors, sometimes having a knitting novelty is just why you need to get your yarn mojo up and running if you have had to frog back a big project or muster up enthusiasm for a tension square - see our knitting tension squares article for more motivation on why these are so useful! Having something cute and appealing to help spark your drive to knit is very handy when times get tough.
We like: Knitting power robot
Etsy, approx £22
Do you believe in fairies? Every time someone says they don't believe in fairies, a fairy dies, and that is why we 100 percent believe in the power of these knitting robots, as they are just so darn cute, we don't want any of their deaths on our hands. Artist and creator Gary Hirsh paints each robot individually onto the back on a domino, and programs each one to make your knitting awesome. Instructions for use are:
1. Allow your robot to get to know you by letting him watch you work your needle magic.
2. Wait till you are totally frustrated with a project. You know, throw it on the floor and stomp on it, frustrated. At that moment your robot will shower you with a burst of super knitting powers to get you through the pain and able to take on any fiber challenge.
3. Take him with you for knitting karma on the go.
We want to believe!
We like: Seek adventure enamel pin
Combining cats, knitting and a saying to remind us of the magic that you can make with needle and yarn, we love this enamel pin. Perfect for our knitting bag, jacket, hat or anything we take with us to celebrate yarn and the adventures it can take you on. And cats.
Find the knitting badge on Etsy
More knitting accessories?
What do you think of our knitting accessory essentials? Let us know what you keep in your knitting tools stash and if you think we missed anything off! Browse more yarn treats in our knitting kits article and up your technique in our knitting for beginners guide, or discover more fun notions in our gifts for knitters article.
Hannah has worked on Gathered for 3 years, since our launch in 2019. At school Hannah learned to knit collaborating on dorcas blankets – now she edits our knitting section. She inherited her love of stitching and embroidery from her talented grandmother, and her passion for thread led her to be Editor of The World of Cross Stitching for six years. Card making is a more recent passion, developing from her position as editor of Cross Stitch Card Shop. She loves using kinetic techniques to make cards that move – she was editor of Papercraft inspirations magazine for over four years, creating loads of card making video tutorials at www.youtube.com/PapercraftTV.