Today’s thesis: it’s amazing how many hair products are also useful in knitting. No seriously, hear me out.
I posted a tip on Instagram about using elasticated hairbands to secure your circular needles when your knitting is squished into the bottom of your handbag. As your knit-in-progress languishes down there in the dark, stitches slip from the needles amongst the till receipts, samples of oolitic limestone, and tulip bulbs. (What? Why are you looking at me like that?!)
I bought a couple of tools that semi-solved the problem, but they were a minor faff to use. Also, I had to remember to carry them with me, and my ability to remember stuff is… imperfect.
Then one day I realized that an easy, reliable solution was quite literally within my grasp. Elasticated hairbands. If I’m not wearing one, there’s one around my wrist, or in my bag. To secure circular needles, wrap a hairband around the two cables just below where they join the needles, make a loop and pull through tightly. Ta-da! It really works, although some types of hairband are better than others. So now my hair is a mess, but my knitting is tidy.
Actually, most of the quick knitting hints I’ve shared over the years have been hair-product-related. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising: these things are designed to tame, restrain, shape, and manage unruly hair – it makes sense that they also have their uses with unruly yarn.
So in addition to the above, here are five more yarny tips that use products more usually seen in your hair. If you know me in real life (hi Mum), you may say, “I’m not taking advice from someone whose hair looks like a musk ox that’s been back-combed” and I can’t deny that you might have a point, but these tips are very much for your knitting and other yarnery:-
2. Claw-grips as mini yarn-ball holders. As someone whose hair is reliably unreliable, I have a lot of these:-
They’re reasonably useful for hair, but they’re extremely useful for managing a gazillion small balls of yarn in intarsia.
They can grip whichever balls of yarn you’re not currently using, and if you’re struggling with all 80 bobbins tangling, they can even grip small balls of yarn directly to your knitting.
The above two tips are my own invention, but the next two ideas have come from other people.
3. Hairspray. You know that feeling when you’re due to attend a yarny event in about half an hour’s time, but you haven’t quite finished knitting the Fair Isle skirt that you designed for the occasion? Yeah, me too my friend, me too.
Even if you get to the point of casting off, that leaves eleventy million ends that you haven’t woven in. When this happened to me, I was with Sarah Neal (editor of Let’s Knit magazine), and she told me that hairspraying the ends will keep them in place for the short term. She wasn’t wrong. Five years later, and I still wear the skirt, and I still haven’t woven in the ends. (Oops, did I just confess that out loud?)
4. Another one that’s not mine. Have you ever knitted/crocheted a garment of exquisite beauty but struggled to wear it because *whispers* the yarn is a bit too scratchy? It’s OK, you’re amongst friends, you can be honest here. It’s probably happened to most of us at some point. Please don’t give up on this gorgeous-yet-uncomfortable object. Simply wash in water with a little hair conditioner, and your yarn will soften. Easy!
5. Stitch markers. We all need them. We all fail to have them to hand at the right moment. After plenty of years of experience, I can confirm that kirby grips (for knitting and crochet) and elastic hairbands (for knitting) work just perfectly.
6. Whilst we’re discussing hair products, we may as well include things designed to remove excess hair. If you’ve knitted something in yarn prone to pilling, use a razor to remove those little felty blobs of yuck.
(This is a camera strap. Free pattern is right here.)
Those are the main ones that come to mind. Perhaps you have others?
This blog post is only here because of the efforts of my friend, the Webscape Gardener, who stepped in to help when this whole site mysteriously imploded yesterday. Thank you Alice – you’re above-averagely awesome.