There are many different tools you can use to measure your gauge as well as your final (or developing) crochet project.
Tailors tape has the advantage of being fairly portable and also quite long. This allows you to do a gauge measurement but also to measure the length of that scarf you are working on. The downside is that tailors tape generally stretches over time (especially when you keep it rolled up), so your measurements lose some accuracy. This isn’t a problem when you are measuring the length of your scarf (who really cares if it is 60 or 60-1/4 inches long?), but stretching can be a big deal if you are using the tape to measure gauge. Having 3 stitches in an inch rather than 4 can make an enormous difference if you are following a fitted garment pattern, for example. I tend to avoid tailors tape for gauge but I carry it in my kit for large measurements.
A simple ruler, like the custom laser engraved one above (ordered from Precision Engraving a few years back), works really well for gauge. A clear ruler is great because you can put it on top of your stitches and count them accurately. If you do have a solid colored ruler, many people use the trick of putting some pins at the points where you are measuring so that you accurately count the stitches in between the pins. I find that a 7 or 8 inch ruler is ideal for my crochet kit. I use it for gauge and to measure the diameter of the crown of hats I crochet in the round.
Many beginners avoid checking gauge (or doing measurement of any kind!). Often when crocheters complain that they can “never understand patterns” or that their projects “never come out like the pattern,” it is because they did not check their gauge before starting the project. Even if you faithfully follow the pattern instructions, starting out with a different gauge than the pattern designer will lead you to a different final result. So please, add a measurement tool to your crochet kit!
Today we cut to the heart of the matter (bad pun intended) – the scissors. No crochet kit would be complete without them. But which ones do you truly need?
Most people, from beginners up through intermediate or even advanced crocheters, will be just fine with a pair of children’s safety scissors like these. Safety scissors are portable and I’ve never had a problem bringing blunt-tip scissors on a plane. (And what better time to crochet than during a long flight?) For the most part, the short tips will allow you to cut your yarn close enough to avoid frays but gently enough to keep your finished piece intact.
If you are selling your finished crochet work or using highly textured yarns, you may find that safety scissors don’t cut sharply enough. To prevent little frayed edges, you may need to upgrade. I was lucky enough to get a pair of these Omnigrip thread snips as a gift a few years ago. The tips are extremely sharp and they cut very cleanly. The thread snips are still small enough to be portable. They can be pretty dangerous though – you can cut yourself or your crochet work if you aren’t careful. If you do upgrade, get a set like mine with a protective plastic cover so you don’t poke yourself inadvertently.
If you don’t want to buy a new pair of scissors just for crocheting, most all purpose scissors are effective. These scissors are generally larger than what you will need. You may be able to use embroidery scissors as well – some are not strong enough to cut through thick yarns, so you will have to experiment.
Since everyone would just expect me to start with hooks, I decided to leave those for last :) I’m starting with the two least obvious supplies for the essential crochet kit (just because I like to be a contrarian): manicure tools and pens/pencils.
You may think manicure tools aren’t a required component of your crochet kit. But you would be wrong – dead wrong. If you have ever snagged yarn on a hang nail (ouch!), or worse, had your beautiful stitches ripped by a jagged fingernail (d’oh!), you know that these little tools can be pretty important. I like to travel light, so I keep it simple with just a nail file and fingernail clippers.
Nail file I personally prefer the glass files. Mine isn’t as classy as this one from Sephora, but it does the job. There’s a little more filing involved than with the metal files, but the glass is gentler on your nails. I’ve also used a metal file, like this Revlon emeryl file. In a pinch, I will even go to my classic old school emery board from the dollar store. Emery boards tend to be larger and leave a lot more dust, so I don’t find them ideal for crocheting on the go.
Fingernail clipper Here I go bargain. I only really use these for an emergency hang nail crisis, so as long as the clipper can actually cut your nail, you are good to go.
Pen/Pencil Now what about writing? I used to work in health care and still have plenty of swag from the pharmaceutical companies. My personal favorite promo item for crocheting is a tiny spiral bound notebook. I just add a clip-on pen into the spiral and I have my own personal crochet diary. Here I can write down any changes to a pattern I’m reading, or document my own pattern in the making. Alternatively, I use a piece of upcycled paper (just the clean back side of a discarded piece of junk mail will do) and a pen or pencil. I don’t have any specific preferences on my crochet writing tools, but I will say that I don’t crochet without one. How else will I remember what I was doing when I pick up my project later?
But which hook, yarn marker, etc. should you pick? Each day this week, I’ll go through one of these essential tools in more detail, walking though which supplies are “must haves” for the beginner and what can wait until you are more advanced.
You may be wondering, “What about the yarn?” Well, that’s a whole ‘nother story – subject for many future posts, I’m sure.
My name is Marie Segares and I’ve been crafty for a long time. My maternal grandmother taught me most of the needlearts at a young age, but the only one I’ve done continuously since childhood is crochet. As an adult, I picked up (again) sewing, quilting, embroidery, and knitting. My parents were also big creative influences, especially my dad, who is a fine artist. He had a kind of creativity “boot camp” program in place after school, on weekends, and in the summer time. (He was the Drill Sergeant, and I was the new recruit, in case you were wondering.)
I live and work in New York City and am currently on the endangered species list as a Native New Yorker. By day, I work in higher education administration/college access. By night (and weekend) I make cool creative stuff and teach people to do the same.
You can get more information about upcoming classes, my publications, etc. on my website. You can also friend me on Ravelry, where I’m known as MarieInNYC. And while we’re at it, I wouldn’t mind if you liked my page on Facebook.
I’ve finally decided to start a blog after many years of having secret blogs (visible only to myself) and blogs with no posts on them (which I thought were visible only to myself but are apparently out there for the world to see – d’oh!).
Mostly I’ll be talking about needlecrafts – my favorites being crochet, embroidery, knitting, sewing, quilting (in alphabetical order to prevent favoritism) – and handmade, creative stuff. But I’m pretty sure I may mention pets, living in New York City, and other things, at least on occassion.
Thanks for reading!
Needlecrafts, handmade creativity, and other good stuff