I finished my Vest-uary vest yesterday, so this weekend I’m going to take some pictures and do a nice FO post. In the meantime, here are some exciting material goods I’ve been drooling over.

  • Knit Picks has just started selling a $20 ball winder! Wow. I think the best deal on new ball winders used to be a free shipping coupon at Joann.com when they were on sale for around $25–that’s how I got mine, and it seemed like a pretty good deal at the time. They’re selling all kinds of other house-brand accessories, now, too, but the ball winder was the thing that stood out the most. I don’t see a swift (yet), but you can make one pretty easily from Tinker Toys or coat hangers. Personally, if I had to choose, I guess I’d rather have my swift than my ball winder, but in reality the pair has been pretty indispensable. I no longer fear the hank.
  • I bought the Knit Picks Options needle set a while back and love love love it (the flexible cables! the shiny nickel coating!) but I have been holding off on getting rid of my other needles because of the Options set’s one fatal flaw (IMHO): its lack of 16-inch cables in the KP set. Then I discovered KnitPro, the European version of KP needles, and their superior product line. You can buy their stuff via European sites like Get Knitted or P2tog UK. I guess the needles are all made by the same manufacturer, as they’re totally interchangeable, but I’m not sure which came first; did Knit Picks invent the interchangeable sets and allow KnitPro to sell the same products in Europe? Or did Knit Picks find the KnitPro products for sale and take on the exclusive licensing rights in the US? Or are they both owned by some sort of shadowy multinational umbrella corporation that specializes in interchangeable knitting needles? I may never know. But in any case, I am now ready to let go of my Denise and Boye sets (leave me a comment if you’re interested in buying them.) Here are some accessories you can get from KnitPro retailers that you can’t get from KnitPicks:
    • the elusive hat-length cable I’ve been longing for! Yes, I could knit my hats Magic Loop with the 40-inch cables, but I really don’t like to. The regular needle tips are too long to create a 16-inch cable–you need to buy a set of shorter needle tips for a real 16-inch cable–but if you buy the short cable and use it on the regular needle tips, it comes out to about 19 inches, which is still a very good length for knitting adult-sized hats.
    • A wider range of interchangeable needle tip sizes: specifically, 3.00 mm (US 2), 3.25 mm (US 3), 7.00 mm (US 10.75, which I’ve never heard of elsewhere) and 15.00 mm (US 19). So you can make the set go down as small as the Boye needles. I didn’t get any of these since I don’t knit often in those sizes, and I already have fixed US 2 and US 3 circs I can use if I need them.
    • Cable connectors, which I guess would be useful if you were knitting a gigantic afghan or something–otherwise, the 60-inch cable seems fine for most large projects.
    • There’s more about all this stuff in the Ravelry forums here. I hope the Knit Picks folks aren’t upset by all these people running out and buying the spare parts internationally; with the addition of a few KnitPro components, the Knit Picks Options needles become the #1 set on the market, in my opinion. (There’s been positive buzz about Addi Clicks
      and KA Switch needles lately, too, but they’re substantially more expensive.)
  • I have been saving up my Amazon credit card rewards gift certificates for a while, so I used them all up and placed a big order:
    • The Yarn Harlot‘s Knitting Rules!, a deceptively slim little volume that I keep getting from the library for its good basic advice about hats and socks and scarves–I decided it would be good to have it on hand permanently for reference
    • In Sheep’s Clothing: A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool: a guide to the properties of various wool breeds, from a spinner’s perspective. Not sure how much I’ll end up using this one overall, but I’d like to read up on the properties of some wools I’ve been holding off on spinning, like CVM and Icelandic, and the Madison public library didn’t have this book.
    • Weekend Sewing: More Than 40 Projects and Ideas for Inspired Stitching: OK, the library does have this one, but it’s on hold for the next 6 months or so and it would be nice to be able to cut out the patterns if I decide to. This has gotten really good reviews on Amazon and the previews on Heather Ross’s blog make it look really nice–based on the line drawings, I would totally make every single bag and article of clothing in this book.
    • Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A Golden Treasury of Classic Treats, Jane Brocket’s latest, and also not in my local public library system. Reading kids’ books and daydreaming about the luscious foods depicted therein has always been a favorite pastime–and for some reason, especially so when it comes to tiny foods eaten by mice: the descriptions of feasts in Redwall or paintings of tiny tea parties in the Brambly Hedge books always seemed immensely appealing.
    • And last but not least, a Singer spool knitting machine/i-cord mill–you know, the little gadgets where you turn a crank and i-cord comes out like magic. Maybe like magic performed by a not very skilled magician who does his tricks really slowly and gets his sleeves caught on his props… but Techknitter recommends it as the best way to make lots of i-cord, and she seems to know just about everything about knitting.