We asked our shop knitting experts this question: "What is your knitting Secret Weapon?" and got some interesting replies. (Well, first we got blank looks, then we got interesting replies.)
Shop owner Karen always carries a supply of locking stitch markers that look like plastic safety pins. "You can place them and move them with ease, and they're great for rescuing a dropped stitch" (you clip them onto the loose loop end to prevent the stitch from unraveling further while you're preparing to rescue it). Clip one to the face of your knitting to remind you which side is the right side.
Jeannie has an even simpler approach to stitch marking. She wears a couple of plain rings on her left hand, and when she needs a marker in a hurry, rather than rummage through her knitting bag she pops off a ring and slides it on the needle. It's fast and convenient and she swears she hasn't lost a ring yet.
An analog knitter in a digital world, Sherry disdains fancier technology in favor of simple paper-and-pencil tally sheets to keep track of her rows. She always counts her rows, using basic hash marks, which pays off in many situations, not least when she has to put a project aside for a while. When it's time to pick it up again, the slip of paper tucked in with the needles and yarn lets her know exactly where she stopped.
Barbara keeps a large supply of size 1 & 2 circular needles on 32-inch cables handy to serve as stitch holders. It's easy to slide the stitches on, they don't bunch up -- so you can lay your knitting flat to measure -- and when it's time to do a three-needle bind off the stitches don't need to be transferred to a needle. "I find it much more convenient than a conventional stitch holder" she says.
Amanda's secret weapon is wet-blocking combined with simple mesh sweater dryer from Target, like the one pictured below. Her blocked items can be pinned into shape using safety pins attached to the mesh; and the fabric dries evenly on both sides. "I once rescued some overly-tight ribbing that I thought I was going to have to tear out, by wetting it, stretching the ribbing wide, and pinning it. I'm still wearing that sweater."
Helen doesn't know if she has a secret weapon, but she does have three knitting essentials: crochet hook, post-it notes and chocolate. The crochet hook is in case she drops a stitch. Post it notes allow her to write down all the changes she makes in the pattern as she goes along (for knitting the other side, or for the next time she picks up the pattern). And chocolate -- well, do we really need to explain that?
What's your Secret Weapon? Let us know in the comments!