Tools for Taming Yarn: The Knitters Friend Stitch Holders
You're knee deep in an afghan when you look down and notice a goof several inches down in your work. What do you do?
a) Pretend it was intentional, and try to repeat it at regular intervals throughout the rest of your work.
b) Navigate to that section of your work and let one or two stitches unravel downwards until you reach and can fix the mistake, then use a crochet hook to work back up to your needles.
c) Completely unravel your work back to the affected row.
If you chose B or C, you'll have to decide what to do with all the other stitches while you're fixing the goof.
You can keep them on the needles securing either end with rubber bands to keep the work from sliding off. But you may need those needles to fix the mistake, in which case you can put the rest of your stitches on stitch holders.
The longest easily available holder from Clover or Susan Bates measures a little over 6 inches. If you're working a large shawl or blanket, this could mean piecing together every holder in the house, and then some, perhaps grabbing a spare chopstick and more rubber bands if you're truly desperate.
You could use a duplicate needle from your stash, rubber-banding the ends for security. If you have a needle handy, that is. (No matter how hard I try, my extra needles always end up in Clara's Retirement Home for Unfinished Projects.)
Necessity is the Mother of All Invention
When faced with this same problem, Trina Webb called her handy husband Robert for help. He took his wire cutters to a steel coat hanger and created an enormous stitch holder.
Word spread, and soon all of Trina's knitting friends wanted one. Those friends turned into knitting stores, and soon a new business was born.
Robert refined his original invention, using a stronger lightweight stainless steel wire and giving it smoother curves and a traditional stitch-holder clasp.
Introducing the Knitters Friend
These giant stitch holders on steroids are sold as the Knitters Friend in packs of two, with a large 16-inch holder and companion 8-inch holder.
It is actually more than 32 inches of wire if you count both sides of the loop. Likewise, the 8-inch holder will fit approximately 16 inches of stitches when wrapped all the way around the holder.
These tools are sturdy and well-made. They feel rather like you'd imagine a coat hanger-turned-stitch-holder to feel, although the ends have all been tapered and sanded perfectly smooth.
You may not have seen these in your LYS, but my guess is that by the end of this year you will.
You can buy the Knitters Friend directly from the Webbs for $10 per set, plus $4.95 shipping and handling. This is far less than you'll pay if you buy the set from a yarn store, even with the shipping.
The Webbs are currently in the final stages of building their Web site, so place your order via email (don't give your credit card information via email—confirm this later in writing or via telephone) or telephone at (206) 930-3136.
It took me a while to see the value of such gargantuan stitch holders, especially the larger one. I haven't gotten into a big enough project pickle to need such a huge stitch holder. Yet. (She pauses to knock on wood.)
I do see a frequent use for the 8-inch holder, especially for neckline and shoulder stitches on sweaters. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing extras of those sold separately.
As long as I'm making a wish list, I'd also love to see a Knitters Friend threesome with a 12-inch holder thrown in for good luck.
In the meantime, you should consider adding this new gadget to your arsenal. Or, if you're a budget-conscious do-it-yourselfer, you could follow Robert's lead and take a pair of wire cutters to the coat hangers in your closet.
If you're one of those knitters who likes to have a fully stocked toolkit at your disposal and doesn't mind paying someone else to do the work, you'll want to get at least one pair of these holders. You never know when you may need them.