I try really hard to be sure that you don’t need anything too weird for my patterns. But some of these little things really do benefit from having a bit of structure imposed on them. And for that, you sometimes need some unexpected things.
If you need something unusual, I’ll always tell you in the pattern description. In the pattern itself, I’ll always do my best to tell you both what I actually used, what function those things are serving, and what other things you can use instead. So I might say ‘I used the cap from a shampoo bottle, but you can use anything that’s cylindrical and waterproof, like an empty jar or the lid from a can of cooking spray.’
You’ll pretty much always have lots of options, and the vast majority of the stuff I use is things you probably already have in your kitchen, bathroom, or recycling bin. But every now and then you may have to buy something. I’ve made notes below about some of the things I’ve used and of some of the things I just sort of happen to keep on hand because they’re useful if you knit a lot of tiny nonsense!
I’ve put rather a lot of random things in my knitting over the years. I’m usually using them to give the fabric shape and structure. You pretty much never need to have the exact same thing I used, you just need to have something that does the same job.
For example, Unspooled needs two flat round things to make the top and bottom of the spool, and something narrower and cylindrical to go inside. And Bookmarked needs a tin or a drawer-style box plus a bit of cardboard or plastic you can cut to size.
I didn’t buy the things I used in there, I went on a scavanger hunt.
For Unspooled, I used lids from canning jars, jelly jars, and chip containers for the top and bottom of the spools. And I used empty lip balm containers, shampoo bottle lids, empty thread spools, empty hand lotion containers, and cap from a spray can for the center part. For Bookmarked, I used empty tins and boxes and pieces of cardboard from old packages. Those are all things I had sitting around, and most of them would have ended up in the trash if I hadn’t used them here. Seriously, rummage through your junk drawer, I’d be shocked if you didn’t have something that would work!
There’s an awful lot to say about stuffing, so there’s a whole post just on that right over here.
Eyes and Noses
Eyes and noses can add a lot of personality to your projects. I used them on Tufted.
If you’re giving something to young children or pets, the safest choice is to leave the eyes off or embroider them, either with yarn or embroidery floss. The next safest choice is safety eyes. You can find those online or at big craft stores. Be sure to read and follow the directions that come with your safety eyes. If you’re making something for adults, you can use fancy, glue in eyes. These are completely unsuitable for children or pets and also completely gorgeous. I get my eyes and noses on etsy from a seller called The Eye Lady. There are less fancy versions available on amazon if you’re so inclined (the variety packs can be really nice for figuring out which size you like best before you buy the fancy ones). You’ll need a tiny dab of a strong glue to hold them in place.
Wire or pipe cleaners
Wire or pipe cleaners can give you shape your knitting. I used them on Ensorcellment to give the brim structure and to make the tip of the hat curl.
Once again, if you’re giving something to young children or pets, you should not use wire or pipe cleaners. If you’re making something for adults, jewelry wire is great because it comes in several different colors and is easy to bend. I like this set because it came with five colors and included pliers for cutting the wire. Pipe cleaners also come in handy. They come in lots of colors, and you can match them to your yarn if you want, but I find it works fine to just have a light set and a dark set and not worry about it too much.
Blocks are very handy for tucking inside little projects, especially if you want something that will stand up on its own or have consistent shape. I used them on Chimney.
Pretty much any blocks will work (and I highly recommend raiding your kid’s toy chest or looking at the thrift shop), but if you want to get the exact ones I used, they’re right here.
I used magnets to make Unspooled into a pin tray and to hold the tins or boxes to the covers in Bookmarked.
Once again, if you’re giving something to young children or pets, you should not use magnets. They are very dangerous if swallowed. If you’re making something for adults, magnets are basically magic. I like the super strong neodymium ones (the black ones you get at the craft store are not usually strong enough), because I usually don’t have much space, and they exert a shocking amount of force for something so small. I just got a multi pack with several different sizes and pick the one that fits best in the space I have.
I used glue to hold things together in Bookmarked.
I recommend looking for a strong, quick-drying cyanoacrylate glue (brand names include Super Glue or Krazy Glue), and I like to get a multi pack of tiny tubes because it lessens the chance that half the bottle will dry up before I finish using it. Be sure to read and follow all the instructions that come with your glue.
I promise, I won’t ask you to find anything too hard! You’ll always need yarn. Most of the tiny things require a bit of stuffing. Every now and then, some of them may use a little something else to give themselves a bit of extra shape or structure. But I’ll always tell you ahead of time if you do, and those things are almost always shockingly easy to find if you look around your house.
If you happen to find yourself knitting a lot of tiny nonsense, you may even find that you start saving the occasional nicely shaped bit of detritus to have handy for the next project. I’ve found myself building a small collection of lids and condiment cups and empty floss containers and lotion bottles and lip balm tubes. They come in handy, and I’d rather use them than throw them in a landfill if I have the option!
P.S. You’ll see I’ve occasionally linked to specific products on amazon. Full disclosure, amazon is garbage. We all know that. But it is also convenient and makes life easier for a lot of folks. So, amazon links are affiliate links, because if I’m going to send traffic their way, I’m damn sure going to get back the couple of cents they’ll give me for doing that.
If you don’t want to buy stuff on amazon, that’s great! I encourage you to search out similar things from your local stores. But it’s the best way I’ve found to get the most information to the most people in as convenient a way as possible. So I’m going to include them. But I am always in favor of finding an alternative if that’s an option for you.