Are there certain things you consider a must have for your creative passion, job or business? I'd love to hear about them!
6 Tools I am Glad I Don't Have to Do Without (in no particular order)
I realize this may cause some controversy, so I'm getting it out of the way early. Yes, I use a knitting machine. And yes, I still consider my work handcrafted. The LK150 is a very basic home knitter. About as basic as you can get. I hand manipulate all stitch changes. I run the shuttle back and forth. There are NO computers and NO electric parts in this machine. It is a tool. Let's face it. Knitting with needles takes a long time. Knitting a bag with needles at 2-3 times the finished size and then shrinking down the piece to it's final shape and size takes even more. I love knitting with needles, but a mid size, cross body bag would take about 2 weeks of full time knitting and sewing , 8-10 hours a day, to finish. And I'm not a slow knitter. In order to cover my time, I would have to charge a minimum of $6000 for a bag, and that's just time, not to mention materials. Raise your hand if you would? Any takers? The machine allows me to knit a bag body in an hour or two (then there's the felting, blocking, lining, strapping, etc.). I can complete a bag in a much shorter time of 4-6 hours (not including drying time). The stitches are consistent and the result is a very solid bag. The bag would be solid if knit entirely with needles, but by using the machine, you are able to get a quality bag at a much lower price of $235 - $275.
I broke the shuttle on this recently, and let me tell you, it was nearly impossible to find a dealer who sold just that part. I finally did, but wasn't able to get one for 3 months. I limped along with the broken one (it worked o.k., but made things a little unsteady and unpredictable).
The LK150 Silver Reed Knitting Machine runs around $450.
Yes, I still use knitting needles! There is a lot of finish work involved in my designs. My hats, for example, are knit 50% on the machine and 50% on the needles. Sometimes the edging on a bag is knit. My little silk pouches are entirely knit with needles.
I love the wooden needles because they are not as slippery as the metal. The yarn doesn't slide off as I'm knitting. I love how the wood warms us as I use them, and the softer sound as the needle click against each other.
I also tend to do a lot of my finish work while watching movies, going on trips in the car, or having a conversion/coffee with friends. It's a much quieter affair to knit with the wooden needles.
They run anywhere from $7 - $15 a set/pair.
This funny contraption looks a bit like an umbrella frame. It holds a skien of yarn and spins around while the other end gets spun into a ball or a center pull ball. I used to have my hubby or kids hold the skien while I wound it, but their not always here. So, I'd balance it on my knees while winding the other end. It was a pain. I'd end up with big knots, and lots of frustration. And the time it took was unbelievable!
Price for these varies greatly, depending on material and size. You can find them anywhere from $35 - $70+.
Along with the Yarn Swift, I use Boyle's electric ball winder. It's not the best one on the market, and the little suction cup on the bottom doesn't work (I have to duct tape the sides down), but this little think is such a great tool! It makes the nice little center pull balls of yarn - a must for the knitting machine. Sometimes the skeins of yarn are too large to fit on the swift, so I'm able to hold it while the winder does it's job. I can also put the yarn on the swift and winder and work on something else at the same time. I recently burnt up the motor on my first one, and was out of one for about 3 weeks. I was not loving life.
The Boyle Electric Ball Winder runs from $50 - $90.
A quality sewing machine is a must. Having to constantly fiddle with a machine that is not consistent and doesn't run well, really puts a hold on projects. Especially bag and blanket making.
I love this little machine. It is the simplest of Husqvarna's Scandinavia Series, and it's perfect for utility sewing and every day use. There aren't a lot of fancy stitches, but I don't need that. I need a workhorse. I've had this machine for 10 years now, and have had it tuned up twice. Once after a move. Once after I bought a bag of bobbins that was not as labeled (they were the wrong size and caused an unbelievable amount of trouble, but a simple tune up fixed the problems). Eventually I may upgrade to an industrial machine, but right now, this one is just fine.
The Husqvarna Viking Sewing Machine, Scandinavia 100 is no longer made, but bobbins, needles, repair, etc. is still available.
I cut a lot of heavy duty fabric. Felted wool is thick and you need a pair of sturdy scissors to cut it with. I received these tailor's scissors from my grandmother. She was a sewer and her father was a tailor. These were his scissors. Not only are they a joy to use, but I feel a personal connection ever time I pull them out. They have been well loved and cared for for a long time, and I hope to some day pass them on to one of my kids.
Heirloom Tailor's Scissors: Priceless.