Tools for Taming Needles:
StitchKeepers by Rollie

StitchKeepers by Rollie

Anyone who's knit socks on DPNs will know how perilous they can be during their off-work hours. Just moving them from one place to another is a challenge. You have three or four needles all suspended within the work, plus an unattached working needle—and they all need to stay right where they are.

For years I've tempted fate, rolling the sock around its needles, stabbing it shut with the loose working needle (bad luck according to knitting folklore!), putting it in a plastic bag, and crossing my fingers it won't come apart until I've reached my destination. Sometimes it makes it, sometimes it doesn't. But when the destination is a lengthy plane ride, discovering a broken or missing sock needle can be devastating.

Far more devastating, however, is the risk off-duty socks on DPNs pose to our bodies. I've dubbed it SLOCO syndrome (short for "Sock Left On Couch... Ouch!"). In their natural state, sock-laden DPNs don't want to lie flat. At least one needle will stick out at an odd angle that will be extremely painful against the foot or derrière.

What's the solution? StitchKeepers by Rollie. I've known about them for quite some time, but I resisted trying them because I thought they were just another overhyped gadget we don't really need. But after only five minutes of use, I've become a convert. Since this review was first published in 2006, many similar products have entered the market, but these remain my most simple, basic, helpful go-to tool for sock knitting.

StitchKeepers in actionWhat They Are
The notion behind StitchKeepers is extremely simple: you have two small rubber cups that are connected by a narrow strand of elastic. That's it!

You simply arrange your sock so the needles are all aligned, then slip the rubber cup over each end of the needles. The elastic automatically holds the rubber cups together and keeps your needles (and the knitting on them) right where they are.

The caps are shaped to fit different sizes and lengths of needles so that you'll have a nice snug fit no matter what's on your DPNs. StitchKeepers creator Rollie Abkowitz (hence "by Rollie") was given the idea by sock maven Nancy Bush, who wanted something to secure her socks-in-progress. Rollie also uses them to hold extra DPNs and to hold stitches on DPNs when picking up stitches around sleeves and neck edges.

Vital Stats
StitchKeepers by Rollie are available in three different needle size groups: size US 0-3, US 3-5, and US 5-9. (The caps vary in circumference to accommodate the larger or smaller needles.) Within these groups, you can get them in lengths of 4", 5", 6", and 8", and 10".

When I first reviewed the StitchKeepers in 2006, they retailed for $6 per set (a set meaning two caps connected by elastic). Six years later, the suggested retail price has increased to just $6.50. They are now available at most major retailers including WEBS. If you own a shop and are interested in carrying StitchKeepers, you can contact StitchKeepers by Rollie directly.

Worth It?
My answer is a resounding yes. If you love to knit socks on DPNs and have $6.50 to spare, give these a try. With one of these gadgets you really can toss your sock project in a bag and go without any worries. I know that's hard to believe, but it's true. (The only possible exception I can imagine is if you're using tiny wood or bamboo DPNs, in which case you'll still want to be careful.) The price is low enough that you can build a collection and keep all your unfinished projects safely tucked away.

As with many of the simpler knitting accessories, I suppose you could make something similar to these yourself. But at $6.50 a pair, I much prefer to let someone else do the work and take the credit for a job well done.

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Review first published June 2006, updated May 2012. Sample StitchKeepers were provided by the manufacturer.