Saturday, February 12, 2011

We can knit if we want to

Alternate title: notion tins and why they are a good idea

I like modularity. I always strive for organization, though I rarely achieve it. I have perhaps twenty WIPs, in various stages of completion. Some of them are in nice, cute zipper bags (most of them are in less cute ziploc bags, but I'm slowly growing my collection). While I like to always have one or two with me, I also like to not have to worry about things like 'Do I have everything I need for this project?' I like to be able to grab their project bags and go. But if I'm not careful, I can leave home with a project, and while I'm working on it realize that I REALLY NEED a certain tool - and not have one anywhere in sight. This is dangerous business.

This drove me crazy, until I came up with a solution. Now I forget where I first read this tip, but it has served me well - to make an emergency tin with a few notions in it, and take it everywhere you go - and I must point out that that particular concept has been mentioned all over the place. It's certainly not my idea. But I have adapted this to work with my 'system' (does it make it more organized if I call it a system?) of WIP storage, basically by making a crapload of tins with inexpensive supplies.

I collect candy tins. Altoids one are perfect, although there are plenty of others that will also work. Anything that is small and closes securely is a good candidate for this. Then, I just fill each tin with a set of useful supplies:

-Stitch markers - I make these myself so I have as many as I need, but there are lots of inexpensive substitutions. Small 'ouchless' plastic hair elastics work great, and you don't have to care if you lose them.
-A finishing needle, usually threaded on a several-inch piece of yarn so I won't lose it easily. I normally use large sewing needles instead of dull tapestry needles for this - I like to be able to split the plies sometimes when working ends in, and I also like having a needle that can double as a cable key for my knitpicks interchangeables.
-A small measuring tape
-Some kind of cutter. I have several pairs of cuticle scissors that became too dull for cuticle use, but make excellent yarn snippers, and fit in the tins.
-A few bobby pins - these make good impromptu stitch holders, and they will not fall out of your work. I imagine you could even cable off them, although I usually just cable without using a needle these days.
-A few feet of some smooth fingering weight yarn to use for holding larger sets of stitches
-Rubber bands - these make cheap and good point protectors

Keeping one of these in each project bag is a great way to ensure I will always have the notions I need. I'll admit that I do not have as many tins as I do WIPs, only the more portable ones, which I might actually take somewhere with me, usually get tins. If you have a more reasonable number, then this is even easier to do. So if you happen to know any men without hats, and you feel the altruistic urge to make them one, now you can do it in safety, anywhere.

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