Mystery House

A Very Long Post About Tools

Each of my pursuits requires a different set of tools, and I’ve always believed in buying good ones and taking care of them.  These brushes?

Tools 3

I’ve had them since college.  Which was a long time ago.  No, I’m not telling.  Yeah, a few are taped, but I’ve never had to throw one out, and that’s because I paid the money for good ones, even way back when I I was a student and really couldn’t afford it.  Cheap brushes fall apart in no time, and they leave a trail of bristles on whatever you’re painting.  These don’t.  I’d be sad without them.

Bonsai tools.

Tools 2

I’m a newbie, big time.  Not much idea what I’m doing.  Bonsai tools can be incredibly expensive, so these are not top of the line, but they’re really good, Japanese-made tools.  Solid, and very, very sharp.  You could just about take your arm off with those scissors.  (I’m trying not to do that.)

I have far too many kitchen tools.  I won’t even go there.

Writing tools, for my real work

Tools 1

A small representative sample, that is.  I’m a pen geek.  I won’t show you all the pens.  Or the bottled ink.  Or the pencils.  Or the journals.  Not today.

Okay, maybe just a little ink.  In case Dan stops by.  He’s into ink, too, and may want to see the latest acquisitions.

Tools 15

Clay tools.

Tools 4

I’m finding my clay mojo again, and since all my old tools vanished in the House That Ate Things, I’m acquiring new ones.

I love my tools.  Every single one of them.  But what I’m really working up to here are these.

Tools 5

I’m surprised — and annoyed — everytime I see a post on Ravelry which goes something like this:  I want to knit a pattern that calls for size seven needles and I don’t have any.  Do you think I could maybe use tens instead, because I have tens and I don’t want to pay all that money for sevens?

See, hobbies aren’t about money.  (Even though you can certainly spend a great deal of money on them, and even though I’ve been known to do that.)  Hobbies are about what you love to do.  Love to do.  If you need size seven needles, find a way to get some.  There are thrift stores and garage sales and friends who might be willing to loan out their needles, and knitting moms and grandmas who’d love to share.  Actually, a decent pair of needles doesn’t cost all that much more than a cappuccino at Starbucks, and I rarely hear people complaining they can’t afford that.

The way I see it, if you don’t want to invest in tools for your hobby, then you don’t really love it.  Because people who really love something always find a way, even if they have absolutely no money.  Click here, scroll down to the January 9th post and read about the woman who wanted to crochet a baby blanket but didn’t have a crochet hook, so she made one herself.  You won’t believe what she used.  This is why I say that if you claim you can’t afford needles, maybe you don’t really love knitting and just want to do it because everybody else is doing it.  So don’t knit.  Go do something you really love.  It’s okay.

Well.  Now that I’m finished with my little tool rant for the morning, would you like to see some needles?  I’ve started collecting them, and I’m finding that to be a good thing, because it seems that no matter how many pairs of size nines or sevens or whatever I have, I’m always one short when I need one.

My mom is knitting again after a long hiatus, but decided she had too many needles and only wanted to keep one pair in each size.  Go figure.  So she gave me a big bag of them at Easter, knowing I’d give them a good home.

Wooden ones.

Tools 11

Plastic and plastic-coated metal ones.

Tools 9

Vintage metal.

Tools 10

Wonderful stuff.  And yes, I will use them all.  (Just not all at once.)  Thanks, Mom!  Mom doesn’t read this blog.  Or any blog.  But I’m sending thank you vibes out in the air.

I get asked now and then–usually at my knitting group, where, for awhile, the same woman was asking me a variation on this same question every week and it’s a damn good thing she stopped because I was ready to brain her–if I only use straight needles.  No.  Or only use circular needles.  No.

I like straight, circular, dpns…each kind suits a different purpose, and I have lots of each of them.  (I should–I’ve been accumulating them since at least the early 1980’s.)

Tools 14

Tools 13

Tools 12

Some projects just feel better with certain needles.  Same thing goes for material.  I like wood, plastic, metal, bamboo, depending on the yarn I’m using, the kinds of stitches I’m doing, and the gauge.  I hate bamboo for lace.  I love it for slippery ribbon.  In other words, you can’t pin me down about needles.

I just love knitting needles.  All knitting needles.  Can’t get enough of them.  I respect them as tools for my favorite hobby, and love the charm and aesthetic and history of them.

Some eye candy now, since you’ve been so kind as to read all this (or at least skim it):

Vintage needles from Australia, many of them made by Patons.

Tools 8

Tools 7

Tools 6

They have a fabulous feel to work with, but the sizing is different from U.S. sizing, so I tend to use them for things where gauge isn’t an issue.  I’m keeping my eyes open for more.  And I do think I probably need a few more pink vases now, too…


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  1. * Jeanice says:

    Excellent post. I, too, appreciate the value of quality tools. Someday I will show you all of my quilting paraphernalia. As my husband, the master carpenter and woodworker says…”One can never have too many clamps.”

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  2. * kmkat says:

    Good tools can make a chore into a pleasure, although good tools will not make a bad knitter into a good one. I especially love the wooden needles from your mom and the tortoise-shell ones. What kind are the interchangeables in the fifth photo from the end — I don’t recognize them. I love interchangeables — have three different sets and am working up my courage (and budget) to get the Addi set.

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  3. * cursingmama says:

    About 2 years ago there was a call for knitting needles from the school – they wanted to start a charity knitting group – so I gathered all of the needles I had tried but didn’t like along with a load of yarn I had acquired before a really good yarn shop (okay, double ewe) opened close to my commute.
    Now I kinda miss all those needles….heck, I miss the needles I still have.

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  4. * terri says:

    now i do not feel so bad about my two drawers worth of needles

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  5. * bezzie says:

    I love those tortiseshell needles. And I love your brushes!

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  6. * Guinifer says:

    Ooooooh. Those vases!
    Also? I lurve those pink/black needles. Those are so fantastic!

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  7. * deb says:

    Wonderful! I could post about all the things I’ve used “in a pinch” when I couldn’t find a knitting needle. Tooth pick, chop stick, tooth brush, pencil, stick, bent paper clip, Chibi holder ….

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  8. * JulieT says:

    Ooooo. Pens. And ink. And knitting needles. And wire clippers. Ooooo.
    Please do post more about the bonsai. It’s something I’ve studied but never done and would love to hear more from someone who does it.
    I also believe in good tools; you should see my kitchen.

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  9. * Lorette says:

    OMG I love your needle collection! I have several similar vases full of vintage needles. Are you sure that you and I aren’t sisters??

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago

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