Getting to the Point

knit ndl blog 1Knitters can’t do without them, but there are so many types of knitting needles available, how do you choose?  I often tell people it’s a personal thing, but here is some information to help with the choice.


Straight – these are the style that most people think of when you say “knitting needles”.  They are basically a straight stick with one end tapered to a point and a knob on the other end.  Straight needles come in a shorter or longer length, to accommodate fewer or more stitches. I only use shorter straight needles (I’ll explain why in the next section).

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Circular –  these look like they have two straight needles connected by a string.  Actually, they are basically two short, straight needles with a flexible cable (often plastic) joining them. These have become my preferred needles. You can knit flat or in the round and they come in a variety of lengths (use longer ones for bigger projects like sweaters and afghans, shorter ones for hats, scarves and smaller projects).  The biggest reason I like the circular style is because of my hands and wrists and elbows. Circular needles are much easier on your joints (especially if you have arthritis or tendonitis). They are also easier to travel with, since your project can slide down to stay safely on the cable, and they are easier to store (mine are coiled in a tote bag).

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Double Point – these look like straight needles, except that they have tapered points at both ends. Double point needles are most often used for knitting smaller items in the round, such as hats, socks and sleeves of sweaters. I also like to use them in place of straight needles when knitting a small flat piece.  Many people are afraid of double points, but while they do require a bit more attention, and seem a bit awkward, they really aren’t that different.

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Knitting needles are available in a variety of materials too, including metal, wood, plastic and even a few more usual materials like bone or glass.

The Addi Turbo line of needles is one of the best out there, designed for experienced knitters.  I usually don’t recommend them for beginners.  They are a slick coated metal, so the knitting seems to fly, but if you’re not prepared, the knitting can fly right off the needles!

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I used to be a fan of the standard aluminum, but have fallen in love with bamboo.  The smooth texture, the warm feel of wood, and the way the yarn moves across the needles, but still grips is wonderful.  And bamboo is sustainable (one of those important Eco friendly words) because the trees can be harvested and then regrow quickly.  The needles also have a flexibility (which you don’t really notice) that makes them comfortable to use.

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You do have to take into consideration the yarn you’ll be using when  you choose your needles.  Sometimes I have started a project then had to change needles because the yarn didn’t move the way I wanted it to.  Some yarns slide too much on some needles while others won’t slide easily enough.  For example, chenille type yarns do not slide well on bamboo needles. If one thing isn’t working, switch needles so that you’re comfortable working.

One more needle tool you should consider:

Needle Gauge:  I’m on my third needle gauge – I am always loosing them!  They are a little investment (we have a number of options including one that sells for $2.00.) that is so helpful.  My Addi Turbo needles are marked on the cable with the size (of course I don’t keep packaging) but it is so small and partially worn off, that I can’t tell what size the needles really are without the gauge.  Also, I do have a few aluminum double point needles and no idea what sizes they are.  The little ruler on the gauge is also handy for measuring your gauge swatch.

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Go ahead and try a few things and find what works for you!

Happy Knitting!                                 by Cathy Mark

To find an item or event on our web page click on the highlighted words, and when you get to the page, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Put the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.

You can see what’s new at Erica’s almost every day!  Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

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We Wish You a Happy New Year!

We hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday weekend!  We look forward to the next one, when we start a new year.

Things are winding up at the shop and we’re just starting our Year End Sale.  We’re making lots of changes here at the store, after 41 years.  One of them is our sale at the end of the year.

Until this year we’ve started our sale at the beginning of the new year, on New Year’s Day.  This year we’re all taking the day off, so we’ve started the sale early.  Right now is the best time to shop, because it just started yesterday and your selection is great!

Save up to 50% on fabric, yarn, books, patterns and lots more. Shop in our store during regular hours or any time online. The sale will run for a few weeks.

Below are some photos I took this morning before the doors opened:

20151227_111644      Lots of yarn and yarn books- I love that doggie with the neckpiece!

20151227_111751There are patterns for almost anything you’d like to make…

20151227_111543And fabric to make it with!

20151227_111832There are models available if you don’t have time to make something.. I have my eye on that beautiful chenille baby blanket.

Don’t take too long!  Come into the store or check things out online.

Another change here is that I’m not doing a paper newsletter in 2016. Doing just one is allowing me to be a little more creative with the one you’ll read online. I’ve made some changes to the format. Our newsletter won’t include “New & Noteworthy” any more. Since I only wrote one 4 times a year, much of what I put in the newsletter wasn’t really new anymore. So my daughter(s) Cathy & (her assistant,) Cathy Mark, decided to let you know each week about what came in during the week, or special things we want to highlight. I think they’ve done a great job with it. My “other daughter” Cathy has taken charge and I eagerly anticipate her email every week, around mid-week. You can sign up for them here.

My same “other daughter” Cathy has kept you more up to date on our Facebook page, too. Her creativity is showing, and it’s fun to see each day. Be sure to “like” us there, and comment regularly. We appreciate our “regulars” and hope you’ll join them.

The newsletter I’m working on now will be ready in just a few weeks and you’ll get notice of it if you’re signed up to receive our weekly emails.

Meanwhile, come on into the store, or check out our sale online.  Get 50% off our newest sale fabrics and choose from even more 50% off fabrics here, plus get 50% off sale items from nearly every department.

And, a little early, “Happy New Year.”

Cagney and Lacy will undoubtedly sleep right through it!

Stow It! Stow It in Style!

Small zippered pouches are SO popular! They are fast and fun to make (even with a zipper – more about that later). Make them for yourself, choosing your favorite colors and fabrics, or make a batch of them for gifts. I’m a fan of Atkinson Designs, and love their new pattern “Stowaways” (A29869). Besides offering six sizes in one pattern, Terry Atkinson always makes it easy to put in a a zipper. Really! I had hesitated doing anything with a zipper, until I discovered her wonderful methods. I chose two zippers for my first projects.  Then I chose three fat quarters from the Cotton & Steel line – I love their unusual colors and interesting prints- and interesting prints.stowaway blog 1The pattern tells you how to cut your fabrics, and calls for a fusible fleece for the body of the pouch. I used Dreamy Fusible Fleece (902553). The pattern says that two fat quarters will give you two or three pouches (depending on the sizes you make). I mixed my fabrics, and got enough prepared fabric to make four pouches – two larger, and two smaller. If you use a directional fabric, be sure to watch how you cut it so the design runs the direction you want. Terry offers little tips throughout the pattern to make the sewing process go even more smoothly. She also mentions Wonder Clips (A28989) to hold fabrics in place while sewing, and I really recommend them too!stowaway blog 2Now comes the zipper. At first glance, it looks a bit intimidating because you start by sewing the zipper to the wrong side of your quilted piece, but it ends up on the right side. Do not panic! Simply follow the directions, and it all goes together so easily you’ll be amazed! The pattern calls for top stitching to finish off the zipper portion, but if you’re not very confident in your top stitching abilities, you can hand stitch the zipper facing, just like sewing binding onto a quilt.stowaway blog 3I finished the two larger pouches, and the smaller are waiting for me. I need to pick up two more zippers ( 14” Atkinson zippers which work perfectly because you can trim them to size) and get those finished. This set is for me, but since I’m now comfortable with the pattern, friends will be getting sets for Christmas!stowaway blog 4By the way, if you need a larger storage solution, be sure to check out our By Annie patterns. We offer a variety, as well as Soft & Stable stabilizer. These projects are perfect for casserole dishes, power cords, electronic devices, and everything else you might need to carry or store.

So now, what do you think about sewing zippers?

This post was written by our Cathy Mark.  Thank you, Cathy.

(To find an item or event on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F. Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.) You can see what’s new at Erica’s almost every day!  Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “What’s New” in purple, and click to find out.  

Happy 2015 and More Staff Favorites

melodyedrakeMelodye is one of the smiling faces you see behind our counter and helping people throughout the store. She’s also one of the most enthusiastic students I’ve ever had in my classes. Melodye just loves the TrueGrips!  She uses them on all her rulers, even ones that already have non-slip features.60954bkarengoodnoughKaren is another of our smiley faces. She had a hard time deciding which tool she’d call her favorite. However, after careful consideration, she had to say that the 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″  Erica’s Ruler.’ is “the one that makes me smile. It is so handy in so many ways (I think I own at least 4 of them) & I have them in various places in the house.”

45153bBut she couldn’t stop there.
“I would have to say the ‘Purple Thang‘ is right up at the top of my list, also.”

89838bThat Purple Thang has been a favorite of many people over the years. In fact, it’s been around since before I became “the purple lady,” and I can’t even remember when that was any more!

Note: comments in purple are my editorializing.  (Erica)

We wish you a happy and healthy 2015, and thank you for reading our blog posts!

And Here Are Some More of Our Favorite Things…

Cathy and Shirley are important “behind the scenes” ladies, although you’ll see them in the main areas of the store, too. cathymark

Cathy does email newsletters, decorates windows, makes vendor appointments, books shows, goes to Quilt Market, and a whole lot more. She loves knitting (and does Knitters Notes for our quarterly newsletter,) and is our wool expert.takumi

  Cathy’s favorite knitting needles are the Takumi bamboo needles, especially the circular ones. “I love the feel of the wood and it grips nicely and warms with touch. I use circulars because I have tendonitis in my wrist & elbow and the circulars are better for that. They also allow me to work larger projects with less arm strain.”

For quilting, “ I love my little Erica’s Ruler.’  I prefer small projects, 45153band collect charm packs and min-charm packs, so the 2-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ is perfect for everything I do!  shirleyfinley

Shirley calls in orders, helps Dick in the office, takes care of our internet clubs, works some of our quilt shows, helps in the cutting department, and all kinds of odds and ends! Shirley’s a quilter, like many of us.

Shirley’s favorite tool is the Gypsy Gripper.   “It helps me 30158bcut accurately. I’m short, and it allows me to put even pressure across the fabric. Without it, my ruler slips while I’m cutting.”

Staff Picks ~ A Few of our Favorite Things

This is the beginning of the series I promised, with our staff’s favorite tools.  So, without further ado, and in no particular order…kimkimbrell

We’ll start with Kim K. We call her that because when she started, we already had a Kim and a Kimmy! Kim K. works in our cutting department and makes many of the fabric packs we have available to you for various patterns.

She uses a rotary tool in her job, but her favorite tool is the 4″ Perfect Scissors. She’d used them here at Erica’s and thought they were fabulous!!! She now has her own, and says she loves them because they’re so light and easy to hold and use.  You can see a video by Karen Kay Buckley, the designer of the Perfect Scissors line, on our website by clicking herePicture0004

Since the video was made, Karen has added two more to her line and you can find them on this scissors page, part way down.  (A12671) There is a 6” version, and a small curved version.  (A19042)kimmyclear

Speaking of our “Kims,” Kimmy in our Sewing Machine Repair Department, also chose the 4” Perfect Scissors as her favorite.

She tells us, “I got them almost four years ago, and I still think they live up to their name! They’re great for detailed cutting, like appliqué. In fact, I like them so much I picked 20141025_190857up the 7 1/2″ Perfect Scissors this spring, and I love how they grip the fabric. Cutting has always been my least favorite part of sewing, and these scissors have greatly improved the experience.” These are both shown in the video.

Kimmy also recommends the Tatting Shuttle (A20828) and  The Complete Book of Tatting (A21072): “my own copy is quite “tattered” these days because I’ve used it so much!” A20828bA21072

Read Kimmy’s tips on repair in a previous blog post.

See more Staff Picks in my next post.

(To find an item or event on our web page after clicking on the underlined words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F. Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

You can see what’s new at Erica’s almost every day!  Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “What’s New” in purple, and click to find out.