Friday, April 14, 2006

Cheap alternatives to loom essentials

Did I say cheap? I meant to say "frugal." Because I live in a very small town, which offers nothing for loomers, knitters, or crafters, or they have a very limited and/or costly selection, I must seek other alternatives. And that may be just what I have on hand.

To keep my yarn clean I use a plastic coffee can with a snip cut out of the side of the lid. I tried the centre hole but have you ever had a tangle and tried to undo it with a coffee lid between your work and the ball? Not fun. Yesterday I wasn't using it, I know bad, bad, and a coffee was spilled, all over my very light blue, baby wool sock still on the loom as well as all over the ball. At the table I had one of those "magic cloths" I grabbed it and I couldn't believe it, it took that coffee and sucked it right off, barely leaving a mark, I didn't rub, just blotted. Of course I had just finished my last row so I figured I'd have to let it sit for a day to dry before I could remove it from the loom, nope, I was able to get it off in less than half an hour. I think I'll be tucking one of those into my knitting bag.
For my fine gauge looms I found no stitch marker that would I used a coloured band from extras off my Oral-B toothbrushes, that tip came from my sister Biffy.
I also tape the side of the loom with masking tape so I can mark my purls or special stitches without permanently marking my looms. I've tried scotch tape and it's hell to get off, I'm hoping the masking tape is better. In cases where I do want to mark permanently, such as my blue Knifty Knitter, I use a Sharpie metallic silver pen I picked up at Michaels, a double pack; now if I could just get my husband to leave them alone.
I just discovered this one; I needed another yarn guide and had only one, which was in use, so I grabbed a bic pen and it works great. The tapered end fits nicely between the out all the bic pens in the house!
I have a row counter I really like, but it's usually in use on another I use my knitting needle counters. I tie it to my tail in case I put the project down for a long time, it always stays put, and I know what row I'm on whether I pick it up in an hour or a week later (sometimes more).

By the way my fav counter came from my Dad who got it when he was loading gravel trucks, my husband says you can pick them up for next to nothing in a...well I really don't know what to call it...we have a store where they sell logging/forestry supplies, lawnmowers, propane, etc. Anyway this one-handed click, metal counter is much cheaper than the counter I saw at a craft store and it was all plastic. It's sitting on one of those cloths I talked about earlier :)

So you see it didn't cost me much for any of these items, except for the Sharpie pens, which should last for quite awhile as long as I hide them :)

If you have any tips leave them in the comment section, and if you don't want to leave your tip in the comment section you can email it to me: Thanks. I'll make a list in a later post if I get enough.

*Purchase teeny hair elastics at the Dollar Store, great stitch markers.
*Scour second-hand stores or sales at Wal-Mart, etc. for cheapy purses, cut off the handles and use them on your bags.
*Quoted from a faithful reader: When I am knitting I get distracted and forget which stitch I am supposed to be doing. I am working on a poncho that has purl 4 stitches, knit 20, purl 4. Next row knit all, then repeat. So to remind me I place 2 ribbons with holes cut in them on a peg wrong sides together one on top of the other. One color I write Purl on and the other Knit on and it reminds me ok this row is all knit and this row I have to purl (partly). As soon as I finish a row I turn over the ribbons and then if I get pulled from my loom I come back and know exactly what to do next :)
*From "celticdragonlady2002" To remove residue from Scotch tape: try peanut butter on the residue...smear some on the area, let it set for a few minutes, then wipe off. The sticky residue SHOULD wipe right off as well. The peanut butter oil has solvent properties that breakdown the residue.


Anonymous said...

I use my daughters tiny hair rubber bands. They are the no pull type and come in bright colors as a marker on my loom. I just wrap them tight and push them low down on the peg. Sometimes when I am doing a flat pc on a round loom I accidentally go one past where I was supposed to stop, so I also (now lol) place a different color elastic at the beginning & end of flat pcs to remind me to stop. I think it's rather frugal since the dollar store here has them for $1 for 400. I grew up in a small town and I know exactly what you're facing! One grocery store, one pharmacy (closed @ 4pm & on sundays), etc.

I have one more, but I don't know if this will help anyone else... When I am knitting I get distracted and forget which stitch I am supposed to be doing. I am working on a poncho that has purl 4 stitches, knit 20 purl 4. Next row knit all, then repeat. So to remind me I place 2 ribbons with holes cut in them on a peg wrong sides together one on top of the other. One color I write Purl on and the other Knit on and it reminds me ok this row is all knit and this row I have to purl (partly). As soon as I finish a row I turn over the ribbons and then if I get pulled from my loom I come back and know exactly what to do next :)

I'm sure it can be done with plastic flat pcs too.


I haven't seen anyone else talk about frugal knitting helps and I will definitely be checking back for more ideas.

bethalice said...

Considering I am new to knitting, I don't have any tips except one. Use those teeny tiny plastic/rubber bands used in girls' hair to mark your pegs, or to remind you what stitch is next (similar to your idea above). Use the different colors of the bands - one color could be for purl, another for e-wrap, & so on.

BTW, I LOVE your ideas! Now I have a use for all of our dried up bic pens!

Tracey Carsto said...

I have been using rubber bands for braces as markers on my looms. For instance I was doing a ribbing stitch of K2P2, so I put the rubber bands on all the P2 pegs so I'd know when to purl. They are free, aren't permanent and work great. :)

Brenda said...

I noticed you use a straw to wind your yarn onto the pegs. Here is what the hubby did for me. One of those plastic pens, Papermate in this case, gut it by pulling out the ink cartridge, then cut off the back end, and sand the rough edge. It is nice and sturdy, cheep and wow, it works great. A small guage crochet hook pulls the yarn right through. Also, as a writer I am PDA dependent. I found out that if I put all my patterns on my PDA, I can keep track of which row I'm on, and I always have my pattern with me.

Dora Renee Wilkerson said...

I love your BLOG!
Where do I start. The hats are both wonderful (I have never made or seen a 4 colored one. Well unless my yarn was made that way but not like what you did. I love it)

Now, the Coffee can.. That's a great idea! I will be doing this today.

Thanks so much,

Dora Renee' Wilkerson

Heather said...

Instead of using masking tape, use electrical tape. It comes in a variety of colors, and leaves no residue behind. Masking tape works too, but if left too long gets brittle. Electrical tape is easy on and easy off, I love it! :-)

Anonymous said...

What a great Blog! I've bookmarked it for further reference. Great ideas and projects!

Martinez, CA

Anonymous said...

Any tips for yarn that twists together? I made a hat for my son and it took so long because I had to constantly stop to let the 2 strands of yarn "spin" apart from each other! I have never had that happen before.

Awesome site by the way! I love all your tips and hints.


KansasA said...

Hi Susan
Depending on how you are making the hat; if you are using two strands of coloured yarn and using them as one it doesn't matter that it twists going onto the loom but...if you are treating the colours as separate then what I do is wrap clockwise and when I push my loops down I do it counter-clockwise so it untwists. Another thing you could do is set the balls of yarn on each side of you. Lately what I've been doing if I am using two colours as one is taking my wool winder and winding up both balls together so they pull out of the skein together...just make sure to have an even tension on both when winding up. HTH, Kansas

Anonymous said...

Great site!! Can you tell me exactly what the yarn guide/big pen thingie is for? Also, you can find those metal "counters" at most office supply stores. My kids have some to count Christmas lites, red cars, or whatever on long car trips.

KansasA said...

Thanks stankle, the yarn guide is for wrapping the pegs, especially when you have a small gauge infinity loom with a LOT of pegs :) It's much quicker, and the tension stays even throughout. Thanks for the tip on the counter!

Susan J Barker said...

Just discovered your blog this morning and I hope you don't mind but I have created a link to your plastic bag tote pattern for some of my readers on Miss Snips Notebook which is mostly about quilts but we have been talking about recycling plastic recently. You have some really great tips and I especially like the coffee can with the snip out of the side!

Come visit Miss Snips at

Anonymous said...

Hi Kansas - I have a "technical" question about the looms. I've been using mine and fiddling around with the Knitting Loom website, as well as just using the little booklet that comes with the Looms. Can you tell me what the purpose of all the different "cast ons" are?? I've used several of them and I don't really see why one is better than another - but I'm sure it is because I have no clue about these things! LOL! I've figured out how to knit and purl on my loom, but I'm still confused as to why there are such complicated cast-ons and why the standard cast on that is explained in the book that comes with the loom is not used all the time.


manx_pooka said...


I don't know if there is much difference between the different cast on methods that use a crochet hook, but between casting on with a crochet hook and e-wrap cast on, there is a treriffic difference. E-wrap cast on is great when you want to double over your knitting to make a hat brim, slipper top, etc. But if you want the bottom of your knitting to be tighter, use a cast on like this one.

This is a great article with good information but the knit or flat-knit) stitch can be done more easily by simly wraping the the working yarn above the loop on the peg, and a littl back towards the previous stich (but not looping it completely around the peg, as with the twisted knit or e-wrap knit.) Then lift off the bottom loop ove rthe top loop, tighten the working yarn a bit and wrap the next peg.

using an equal number of knits (either the flat or e-wrap knit) and purls is supposet to me good for tops, bottoms, sides - anywhere you don't want to curl. I find it works well.

best wishes!

manx_pooka said...

Oh sorry, Kansas! In my previous comment I also meant to say I like your blog and want to use your heels without holes method soon. Thanks for a fun blog.

Pooka in Texas

Anonymous said...

On your string feed it said that I was from Wasilla, I am not, I am from Palmer, Sara Palin is from Wasilla.

KansasA said...

Hi Anonymous, I think the internet companies are responsible for this. I've seen my ip come up as Bethlehem Pennsylvania as well as Kleena Kleene on Vancouver Island and even Seton Portage in BC, a very small community not too far from me. Maybe it's my satellite connection but it does more travelling than I do! :)

Phante Girl said...


I am new to looming, just ordered the Knifty Knitter circle looms, and the long ones as well from I have been doing a lot of reading on the internet, and am thinking I would like one of the wooden knitting boards, and an infinity loom to make larger things.... My question is about infinity looms. Everything I am seeing posted says how hard to use the serenity loom is, but I notice that doesn't seem to be the case so much for the wooden ones.

Is the wooden type easier to use? or as a beginner, should I not jump in so fast, and stick to the smaller looms? Sure would appreciate your imput.

Love you tips, as I too am in a very small town, and in Zambia where we don't have any Walmarts, etc., or any other way to get knitting supplies. mails internatonally, so it is my only source for supplies.


KansasA said...

Hi Phante Girl,
I like the wooden ones because the wool slides so nice... and also I've never had a peg pop out either. The plastic ones are famous for that and it's frustrating when a peg gets lost.
Try the plastics for awhile and then if you like looming go for the wooden ones. I really like the adjustable ones because I can loom up all different sizes and only pack one loom around.
Let me know how you do. :)

Anonymous said...

I found that a great yarn guide can be made from brass tubing. I cut to about a 3 to 4 inch length, smooth out and polish the ends with steel wool, add a pencil gel clip to improve the grip, and have a great smooth guide. I use tubing of various diameter(1/8 to 3/8 inch) and have the perfect guide for any size yarn. Aluminium tubing will also work, but it is not anywhere near as smooth as the brass. You can find small tubing at a hardware store or hobby shop.

KansasA said...

The brass tubing sounds great! Thanks for sharing. :)