Sunday, January 10, 2010

About finishing

You probably remember the moment when you grew up. That significant lesson the world taught you and after what you entered adulthood. I remember mine very well. It was painful but oh! so unavoidable and necessary.

But now I am thinking of another kind of awakening. I am referring to a moment that changed me radically as a knitter and needle worker in general. I had been knitting and sewing for years, I was well over 30 when this happened and I am sort of ashamed of me getting to know this so late in my career. It was early 1990's, I was taking courses in doll making and at that time making tiny leather shoes for the dolls, doing fine embroidery on them. I was showing the shoes to my Mom and complaining of how difficult it was to sew on the leather - and then she asked me: "What kind of a needle you are using?"

I proudly showed her the tiny quilting needles I was using, I was sure she had never seen so small needles. All the leather needles I had were clumsy and large, impossible to use on the tiny shoes. My Mom, crafter, went into her craft room and brought me back two tiny leather needles and told me to try them. Their eyes were so tiny I could hardly see them and the point was shaped the way leather needles are. She told me that she had only few and to take good care of the needles. I don't know just where Mom had bought them. After sewing with them, I never looked back. I made a pincushion that was devoted to these two beauties and never mixed them with the ordinary needles. I still have one of the two sitting on that said pin cushion. And the lesson was, no matter how good equipment you are using, it just does not do the job if it is not the right equipment for the job. (The second lesson was to listen to Mom. She was then and is always right.)

Ever since I have collected needles. Whenever I am in a shop that sells needles I will go and check their inventory and buy if I see there something interesting. Before you came across good needles very seldom and had to seize the moment but lately buying has become easier, mainly thanks to the internet. But I can't get over the old habit and that has resulted in a big selection of different types to different jobs.

Finishing is the part of the project that can really make a difference in the result. One has to use judgment and be willing to try several approaches before really making the final decisions. I still don't like doing seams in knits, I mean sewing the seams when grafting is not possible and will try my best to avoid seams but I don't detest all finishing. Quite the opposite, I don't mind picking up stitches and grafting and blocking and crocheting some. (I know how to seam, I just don't appreciate the bulk and I feel very strongly about this. Just personal opinion!)
Part of the finishing is gathering the right tools.

Needles are important: sharps and blunts in various sizes. I keep them in separate places to locate the right ones at once. I usually try to pick the smallest needle that can handle the job, because the smaller the needle the smaller the outcome. Sharp scissors of course, it is easier to thread a needle if the yarn/thread 's cut is clean.

Tweezers because very seldom it works out the first time, most likely third time is a charm and when picking up tiny bits of yarn/thread with tweezers it makes the whole procedure sophisticated - almost makes you want to pick up some more.

Tiny knitting needles are necessary when picking up stitches from waste yarn or when extra accuracy is needed. Locking stitch markers for marking special places or catching running stitches. I usually have note pad and pencil nearby to write down if I need to remember something in the future or if I should be aware of something later on. My memory can carry just so far. Tape measure and a crochet hook are almost always needed, crochet hooks preferably in different sizes.

When I knitted lots of socks and used to graft the toes, I made myself a note that I kept with the finishing tools that just told the order of the stitches. I keep also Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook close but I really like a lot of the other book called Simply Fabulous Knitting.
Those above are almost always used in all the projects. Anyway I will not set myself to work without collecting the tools first. It makes the finishing so much more enjoyable.

I had all these spread on the table because I just finished this. I know it is just a peek and I will tell you all about it later.

All the best wool for you for the next week!



  1. tweezers! genius! can't wait to see the entire project :). p.s. I love your blog - I live in very ordinary New Jersey, USA and I think your life is so, well, exotic!

  2. Lovely organization of your needles and finishing tools. Do they all fit into the box in the photo?
    Whatever your newly finished project, the colours are lovely as are all those garter stitches :^D
    My only resolution this year, not to trust my memory, I now need to write it all down, sigh.

  3. Your blog is always such a joy to read, whatever you are writing about...For regular sewing I use tiny quiliting needles (everything else just feels too big), for seaming knits, bigger, blunt needles (I think intented for cross stitch)...
    Can't wait to see what is that finished item there.

  4. How lovely – and true! Your posts are always inspirational, full of beauty that clearly is attainable, because you've made it. Even if I can't make what you make (my sewing is atrocious), I can strive to make other things as beautiful as yours :-)

  5. Hello - it's always nice to se such postst. Very educational :-, I'll add tweezers to my bow now.
    I noticed your tapemeasure (målband) is metric. I found a tapemeasure that is metric on one side and has inches on the other, that's very handy now that so many of us knit patterns found on the internet. Saves me from doing a lot of calculations.

  6. I have a feeling your seamed items look a lot better than mine! I still cannot get the hang of mattress stitch seaming and my whip stitch seams always look bulky and unprofessional. In fact, I have had a finished (except for the seaming) sweater laying around here for weeks, and I just can't force myself to put it together -- silly, I know! Must finish what I started, right?!

  7. I know it's just a peek

    you are such a tease!

    no matter how good equipment you are using, it just does not do the job if it is not the right equipment for the job.

    exactly! same thing is true of kitchen gagets (which i have loads). you bet a man will go to the hardware store to buy the exact tool or 3 for every project!

    (The second lesson was to listen to Mom. She was then and is always right.)

    that's what i keep telling my kids! '->

  8. Very inspirational post. Makes me want to go back to working with leather! Moms are so often right and it takes us 'til late in life to re-realize it. I didn't start knitting until I was in my 40's - I was sure I couldn't read patterns. Finally took a class (what a concept, eh?) and it changed my life! I too use lots of different needled but have been jumbling them together instead of giving them their own p-cushion - doh!!!!

  9. Wow! You said it very nicely. I love the way you write this article very creative. I’d love to look at your finish work.

  10. Oh, what an inspirational post! And I'm looking forward to seeing the whole project...

  11. Anonymous18:07

    I couldn't agree more! The correct tools make a job so much easier.

  12. I love this post. Such an important lesson to learn and it makes all the difference in the world.

    I loved the pictures of the needles, such simple instruments that can do so much.

    I once was able to hold a set of needles my friend Judith MacKenzie has; they were from the bronze age or something like that. They usually would be seen in a museum but the person who gave them to her said the people who use these should be able to see and feel them. She had 2 of them and they were very dark with uneven looking holes and they really felt incredible. It was as though you could feel the spirit of whoever had made them and used them. Its one of my favorite memories so I thought you might like to hear about it.


  13. Suzy20:38

    Thank you, a wonderful post. I have always felt that the best tools and books are an essential part of the creative process,plus they make you look like you have the greatest intentions to create a masterpiece! Suzy

  14. Today I saw your Rivulet socks in ravelry. I love them!- Could you tell me if the red stripe on them is "twined knitting" or how you made it? It looks fantastic and is exactly the detail which makes the socks outstanding...

  15. Just to let you know that you are mentioned in the UK's Let's Knit magazine. My little blog has a mention too. If you would like to have a look here is the link to my blog:

    I have enjoyed reading your blog for some time now and admire your knitting and embroidery skills.

  16. Anonymous04:00

    Those needles are precious. The museum where I work has evidence of possibly prehistoric needles.
    come visit my blog for some textile history!

  17. Deb In Wisconsin15:59

    You have inspired me to make some needle books and small pincushions! A perfect project for some beloved yarn ends and fabric scraps.

    My favorite gadget is a little needle with a crochet hook on one end and a knitting tip on the other. I spend pennies on it and it does so many useful things. I guard it as I do my grandmothers embroidery scissors!

  18. Lessons for us all to remember. Thanks.

  19. So interesting! And I can't wait to see what you've knitted!

  20. Anonymous04:43

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