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We’re all magpies, we knitters.

We collect pins and stitch markers and whatever shiny things we think are cool. Or useful. Or both.

Over the years, we’ve brought in big things for the MDK Shop—yarn bundles to chart the temperature, artisanal chocolate, 44 pairs of Estonian mittens. (We will not do that again, and if you want mittens from Estonia, you’ll need to get over to Tallinn or something.)

And we’ve also brought in very small things, tools that are uncommonly helpful to a knitter.

I’m gonna go ahead and declare the following items to be the charter members of the MDK Knitting Tool Hall of Fame.

These are the best of their kind, in our opinion. We use these all the time. I share these with you in the event you’re looking to have a love-your-gear moment. Which is one of our favorite moments in knitting.

Akerworks Swatch Gauge. The grippy teeth are everything here.

MDK Tape Measure. Slurps up the tape like a noodle.

Needle Felting Tools. Felted steeks are the newest crazy stunt (here’s how). These will get you there.

Yarn Ball Winder. Absolute classic. Go from a skein to a cake zipzap just like that.

Wooden Umbrella Swift. Beautiful and useful and adjustable and wooden, yeah.

Gingher Embroidery Scissors, Stork and Epaulette, with a leather cover to protect the wicked sharp blades.

Clover Wonder Clips, 10 or 50. Kay will be buried with these, for use in her eternal afterlife when she’ll have a lot of blankets to seam up.

Chibi Tapestry Needles. It’s all about that bent tip. And the case.

Kacha-Kacha Counter. For those times when keeping it in your head is just a bridge too far.


  • Love the needles
    Now I know where to find them when I misplace my last one

  • Felted steels??? Please show & tell!

    • Who knew there were felted steeks!??! Love all these tools!

    • Here’s the tutorial:

      • Also a great idea for securing the sides of a swatch. Instead of looping along the back, cut and push back to the beginning. Makes nice little coasters!

    • Steeks (spellcheck did me wrong)

      • That’s because autocorrect (my name for it) is really a little gnome who wants to help you with your spelling, but is in fact, quite drunk

        • I always picture it as a room full of teenage boys, snickering and punching each other on the arm “dude, look what I changed this to”.

  • I’d agree with all or very similar produces but the stitch counter. For my money the stitch marker the type that open close whether metal or plastic these could be my burial item….. have to give that a bit more consideration. Thank for the column.

  • Oh for me, barber cords are the #1 game changer.

    • I’ve never heard of “barber cords” before…what a good idea! Much better than a random but of leftover yarn than turns out to be too short (and too dark/similar to the main yarn when you try to put the knitting back on the needles).

    • You are right an amazing game changer for trying on sweaters halfway!!!

      • Trying on sweaters, provisional casts on and emergency cord with dpns when traveling without your interchangeable set. So many uses

  • I have a few of your useful tools already. I ordered the Akerwerks Swatch Gauge right after watching a yarn store employee use hers to measure my gauge. I need all the help I can get on that! And I have the felting tools already for my anticipated needle-felting obsession. (When one can’t/won’t embroider for the life of her, perhaps one can stab a needle to her heart’s content? We shall see.). And my family is always looking for stocking gifts, so there ya go! Order soon to follow. (Now-if you just stocked enough storage space to house my knitting-obsessed engorgement of supplies (yarn, needles, etc.) my fiber life would be complete:).

    • It’s true! We should at least go into the prefab shed business! Thanks for the laugh. Right there with you, despite my best efforts to keep the supplies to a reasonable level.

  • I whole-heartedly agree with all of these recommendations! I have and use them ALL!!! But, BARBER CORDS are a definite game-changer for me! I have 3 sets of them and absolutely love them!!! MDK should think about offering them in the shop! Thank you for this helpful column!

  • Akerworks swatch gauge! You have to be Very intentional to cheat on the count ; D

  • I would vote for the Cocoknits Flight of Stitch Markers as the perfect notions for my knitting after-life. Perfect size, perfect collection, practical/adorable box. Unless knitting heaven makes stitch markers magically not disappear, this is the notion I choose for my destiny. Better take 2 or 3 if we are talking eternity.

  • Ok I’ll bite: what are: BARBER CORDS? I must be the only one who is clueless!!! I love my tape measure and gauge counter as well as the super sharp Bird scissor !!

    • You can also use them for provisional cast on. I also used them with dpns when traveling without my interchangeable set.

    • “The Knitting Barber cords are hollow silicone cables that you can use as stitch holders. Perfect for quickly getting your stitches on holders so you can try on your sweater or even for holding your stitches so you can use the needles on another project. Simply insert the tip of your knitting needle into the flexible silicone tube and slide those stitches right on / off” copied from another website

      • They really are wonderful to use!

    • Lyn, I’m wondering the same thing!

  • I use interchangeable needle cords instead of barber cords. Also Floops are extremely handy.

  • Clover clips are the duct tape of the knitting/fiber world! I have jars of them on both floors of the house so they are always within reach. I constantly find new things they are good for…

    • I was proud of myself when I was on vacation and the hotel room drapes wouldn’t close all the way shut. I just Clover-clipped them together, snip snap!

    • SO TRUE!

  • You need the Chibi needles in the purple case – they are very thin and pointy and wonderful for lace yarns!

    Signed, she who owns tons of tape measures and has lost many of those short repair hooks down her chair. And whose best present was a ball/swift winder. Clover clips are also so useful.

  • Can we have a moment of silent respect for the bird scissors? They have saved many an embroidery project or alteration and are always nearby while knitting.
    The Akerwork piece is a game changer. Did you know it’s 3-D printed in a cottage industry environment.
    Having a great tape measure is a pleasure. You’ll appreciate the difference.
    These are all great tools and I’ve found the high quality makes a real difference.

    • I initially read that as “…embroidery project or ALTERCATION…” and thought damn right, those things could be used as a weapon! Haha! They are lovely though.

  • I can not function without my Chibi needle!!!! I’ve tried others but Chibi rules!!!

  • OMG, I have them all. Maybe not the exact version shown (scissors and counter), but something very similar. My knitting tools collection is similar to my cookbook collection – you’d think I was an excellent cook by the number I have, but I’m just an average cook. Same with my knitting – by all the tools (AND YARN) I have, you’d think I was a fabulous knitter. Nope, just an ok knitter, but one who hopes to get better!

  • I use the tape measure every single day at work measuring packages. It’s been heavily used for over a year and still slurps up the tape just as satisfyingly fast as the first time. I love it, and with the bright orange color, everyone at work knows it’s mine.

  • I am not ashamed to admit I have all the items mentioned above, and more!!! I also find elastic ponytail holders extremely helpful with my matcha. I use one on the top under the push thingy and one around the middle so I am assured that it doesn’t get adjusted in the jumble that is my knitting bag!

  • Kay really does love her clips, but I can see why. (They really are the best.)

  • I love your zipper bag. When did this style of pin lose favor. I think you need to bring them back into vogue!

  • I think you forgot one: Those inexpensive aluminum crochet hooks sold at many big-box stores. Simple, elegant, and nearly indestructible, they are perfect for fixing dropped stitches. They’re also great for helping you “pick up and knit” stitches to attach mitered squares, knit necklines, put trim on afghans, etc.

    • I agree! This is my go to for correcting stitches and for counting swatches. I’d say it’s my number one tool.

  • My favorite is the tapestry needles shown!

    • Thank you Karen, you would be proud of how I advocated for *this specific Chibi* at our team shop meeting. It really matters to me and when I can’t get my hands on a “rose-gold bent tip” I feel like it’s a sign from above that I should wait to sew that thing up.

  • All the things! I love my umbrella swift and yarn-winder; but even neater for ball-winding is a smooth hand-turned nostepinne.

  • I love this column! I always come here first to solve those nagging little problems that always crop up!

  • I think the Amish swift is simpler and easier to use.

  • I use Fiskars scissors have the best fitted cover…does not fall off or get lost in the bottom of my bag.. Greatest item I have ever bought… an electric ball winder…yes..yes..yes.
    I have been doing knitting and crochet for over 50 years..hand winding all that yarn..wore out my wrist and arm…

  • Oh those chibis in their little twist-top Clover case! Love them.

  • The Silvalume Handi Tool is at the top of my list. Also worthy- the ubiquitous plastic needle/ hook gauge and ruler.

  • I must have the Akerwerks Swatch Gauge!

  • I’d love to agree with the swatch gauge, but having used it several times, I must decline. The numbers are difficult to read, the little teeth that keep it in place on the knitted object snag stuff in my tool kit.

  • Don’t forget the red Wonder clips’ big sister in lime green. Clover makes a larger size that is equally handy, especially for worsted weight or larger yarn, or for grouping a row’s worth of blocks that go into your blanket.

  • Great selection of helpers!

  • I suggest adding a Lumos light to the list – makes working black yarn in poor lighting a breeze.

  • The dental tool for knitting. Has a crochet hood on one end and a pointy pick on other. Love it.

  • I’m knitting the day tripper cardigan and plan to do a felted steek. In fact, a bunch of the women in my knitting guild plan to come over and watch. We’re going to have a steeking party. I’m on sleeve island right now, plugging away.

  • Also love my Clover pompom makers, right next to the red clicker. It’s also fun to have a cute, clear travel accessory bag.

  • Wooden toothpick holders make wonderful needle holders.

  • I added magnets to my kacha-kacha counter to attach to numerous objects – makes my life easier and can’t really see why they don’t come that way

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