From what I’ve seen, knitters are a very inventive sort, and are much given to adapting non-knitting tools to their own uses. Here are a few of mine. Although none approach the level of “MacGyvering“, I think the originators of these items might be a bit surprised to see how they are put to non-traditional uses.
First up, my favorite… split rings, intended for jewelry making (and I use them for that, too!), in 6mm and 8mm sizes. When I make beaded sets, usually one of the four is just enough different to be a useful beginning-of-row or round marker, while the others serve to mark increase points, counts, or whatever is needed. The plain ones work well for this, too. Pictured here is a combination stitch and round marker which was easy to customize for a particular pattern. The original marker had an 8mm silver split ring, to which I added five 6mm gold-colored rings. The pattern (Windowpane Check socks) calls for every 6th round to be purled. Rather than count – or mis-count – each time, I use the silver ring for the purl round, then at the end, slip it off and slip on the end gold ring. Each round, I advance to the next gold ring, and when I get back to silver, I know it’s time to purl. Easy!
One note of caution… I have learned NOT to work from one end of the ‘chain’ to the other and then back again. It can be really difficult to tell whether you were heading toward or away from the beaded end last time you laid down your knitting. So I always work from the plain end to the beaded end, and never get confused! (Well, not about that, anyway.)
Next up, hair clips! I buy the teeny size, twelve to a card, for around $3. These do an excellent job of holding together flat pieces to be seamed. Their teeth are long enough to hold even thick knitted fabric (I used them on Keith’s Cabled Cardigan), and are smooth enough not to snag delicate fibers.
Promotional items can come in handy for knitters, too! This letter opener makes a dandy yarn cutter. You might even be able to get it on a plane. And it’s a lot less expensive than the yarn-cutter pendants you can buy. I don’t think this would look as nice hanging from a chain around your neck, though.
Another promotional item that could have been designed for knitters who like to write their own patterns, or just tweak them: a ruler/calculator! And the compact size makes it really easy to tuck in a project bag.
Speaking of bags, here are a couple of container possibilities – shell purses are beautiful and elegant holders for stitch markers, needles, and other tiny tools. Keep your eye open for them at science and nature shops, import shops, or jewelry supply stores.
Makeup bags, of the size intended for purses, can neatly contain a surprising amount of needful things.
Included in the items that can fit into that bag are the usual things that most knitters try to keep at hand; a small notebook, a small pen (the carabiner clip makes it harder to lose and easier to find), and sticky notes. Of course, plastic zipper bags are indispensable!
Another fun find in the office supply goldmine is pencil grips. They are just stretchy enough to make good needle holders or tips, depending on the size of needles you like to use. And again, just a couple of dollars will get you a generous number.
And last but not least, my garden dibber/nostepinde (or nostepinne)! I bought this dibber at the shop at Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon. I have never brought myself to use it to make little holes in the garden to transplant seedlings, but it works quite well as a base to wind smallish center-pull balls of yarn. I use my ball winder for whole skeins, but find this much more convenient for re-winding leftover yarn. The taper makes it just a bit tricky (I have to pay attention so the ball doesn’t try to slip off the end as I wind), but it’s still close enough in shape to the traditional tool to do the job quite well.
I like to think that Anne Hathaway would have approved of either use!