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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Quick Tip!

I wanted to reuse this purple elastic with a new clasp. 1b The first one broke and the new one came with white elastic.  I couldn’t use that!  Anyway, I learned some time ago that I’d been using my seam ripper wrong, ever since I learned to use it in grade school!  I saw a video by Pam Damour, the Decorating Diva, and it changed my ripping life!

First you need to be sure you have a good, sharp seam ripper.  My favorite has always been this one (29273)5b 

I have one at my sewing machine, one at my Handi Quilter, and one at my computer desk.  That makes it sound like I’m ripping all the time, but I just like to know one’s handy whenever I might need it.

Take out a few 2bstitches first, and put the small end with the red ball inside the seam.   Then slowly move forward.

The inside leaves cut threads, and the other side has just a single thread.

The red ball keeps the ripper from making a hole in the fabric.  If you’ve been using your seam ripper backwards, too, try it a few times with some scraps, and you’ll get the hang of it.    It’s amazing!  Let me know how you like it by commenting below.


(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.

Let’s Color!

As a child, almost nothing made me happier than a new box of crayons and a coloring book or blank paper. The ladies at Crabapple Hill Designs must have felt the same way because many of their recent patterns include coloring. And yes, they use crayons!  I also enjoy handwork, so these patterns are a “win-win” project for me. Never mind how charming Crabapple Hill patterns are in general. Here are some tips for enjoying coloring once again, while creating and embroidered project.

Use Crayola Crayons. They may cost a bit more, but they’re worth it because they have more pigment, (the stuff that gives the crayon its color,) and give smoother results. This especially matters when you’re coloring fabric rather than paper. You want a crayon that puts the color down smoothly, providing better coverage.

Trace your pattern onto your background fabric first. You can use a light box and which ever type of fabric pencil, pen or marker you like.crayon blog 1

Be sure your fabric is smooth and sitting on a hard surface, like a table top.

Begin by coloring white all the areas that will have color. Using the white “preps” the fabric, filling in the fibers, making the surface more even and smoother.crayon blog 2crayon blog 3Then add whatever color you need to the appropriate areas. The amount of pressure you use helps determine how strong the color appears, but you can also work in layers until the color is as dark as you want it.crayon blog 6Heat set your colors by ironing. Place a piece of clean paper or a plain paper towel on top of your colored fabric, and gently press. The heat bonds the color to the fabric and melts the wax. The paper towel absorbs the excess wax, leaving the color behind, fused into the fabric. The crayon can add a stiff feel to the fabric once you’ve colored it, so melting the wax away will also make the fabric softer.

crayon blog 5After white and one layer of color, then ironing:crayon blog 6After one more layer of color, and one more ironing:crayon blog 7Now you can add the stitching to your project and finish it! The crayon color adds a wonderful richness to your project, adding another dimension to your piece.

Coloring is still fun! Who knew as adults we’d once again enjoy coloring with crayons? Enjoy!

Credit for some of the above information goes to the Crabapple Hill Designs.

Thanks to Cathy Mark for this post.


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!