What knitting accessories make good gifts?

Victorian knitting basket, apron, needle case

Designs for home-made knitting basket, apron and needle case from the 1850s and 1860s. (PD-EXP)

Do you keep your yarn in a hand-woven basket or a plastic bag? Do you keep your knitting needles in an embroidered case or a mass-produced box?  If you’re choosing a gift for a knitting friend, or for yourself, attractive needle cases or knitting bags are an obvious first choice. Most people who enjoy crafts like to have containers and tools that are elegant or pretty or unusual – and not merely useful.

Of course you can make knitting bags, pouches, needle cases etc. youself, or find unique hand-crafted ones on

websites like etsy. Just don’t give the once-popular home-made knitting apron with roomy pockets to anyone who would feel a tad awkward wearing it.

Some knitting tools and accessories seem very simple, like point protectors for needles at rest or the tiny plastic rings that bookmark key spots in a work in progress. But these have more attractive alternatives, like neat little bamboo marker pins. Look out for antique ornamental point stops (you may even find silver ones), or decorative novelty protectors.

Knitters need scissors but can’t take them on planes. You can buy notched yarn cutters that pass security checks at airports. Stitch holders, row counters, and needle gauges tend to look plain and functional, but may be welcomed by knitters building up their toolkit.

More unusual items include a knitting sheath or knitting belt.  These are traditional tools for freeing up one hand while working. Some people find them fantastic, but you have to learn the right technique, so they’re not for most beginners. Nowadays there are also more complex aids available for knitters who can only use one arm comfortably.

Want something special for the knitter who has everything? How about a knitting hook or hooked pin from Portugal? They are used to hold tension in yarn without passing  it  behind the neck in the traditional southern European style, known also in South America. Like old knitting sheaths, many of the most beautiful were originally carved as love tokens. Someone interested in antique or unusual textile arts tools would love to get hold of one of these.

Final tip – do not buy yarn you love and give it to someone else. Your friends would rather choose their own! For similar reasons, don’t give knitting patterns or needles unless requested. However, a book full of good patterns, with nice photos and other interesting bits and pieces is a great gift.

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