holiday gifts 2022

The Best Gifts for Knitters, According to Knitters

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If you don’t knit, you might think the best gift for knitters is some yarn or some needles. And though those are perfectly fine to give — we have a few of each in this gift guide — it’s not really as simple as picking up the first ball of yarn and pair of sticks that you find. So to help you find something that the knitter in your life will appreciate and use, we spoke to a bunch of experienced knitters about what would actually be useful to receive as a gift (and what wouldn’t be), from the smallest gadgets to premade patterns to foolproof, crafter-approved online-store recommendations for when you’d rather play it safe and purchase a voucher. Because many of these crafting supplies are sold by small businesses, a fair few won’t arrive before Christmas at this late stage. So I’ve added and made note of some more foolproof options, including products that’ll still ship in time from Amazon and Walmart, as well as subscriptions and vouchers that’ll arrive in your giftee’s inbox immediately. For more gift ideas for different kinds of people in your life (from birders to hikers to Formula 1 fans), find all of our curated picks here.

Best under-$25 gifts

Marcy Handler, an advanced knitter and former Strategist staff writer Chloe Anello’s mother, recommends a row counter for a small gift. “You just want to get into the rhythm of knitting and don’t want to worry about counting rows and tallying them up on paper,” she says. “You don’t have to think with a row counter.” Every time you finish a row, you press the top down, and it counts the row for you. It only goes up to 99, but Handler says that’s more than enough, unless you’re making a blanket — which usually doesn’t require much row counting anyway, unlike a sweater.

For beginner knitters who might not have accrued all their basic crafting supplies yet, Strategist senior manager of audience development (and knitter) Mia Leimkuhler says that this little tape measure came in very handy when knitting her first sweater from the Wool and the Gang pattern recommended below. If you don’t dillydally, this one will still arrive on time for Christmas if you choose the fastest shipping option.

Leimkuhler also likes these rather attractive metallic needles that will help your knitter handle any chunky, annoying-to-thread yarn. “The flexible wire eyes can expand and widen when you gently squeeze them,” she says. If you order quickly, these needles will still arrive on time for Christmas if you choose the fastest shipping option.

“Stitch markers are essential for every knitter,” says Laurel Taylor, owner and knitter behind Alabaster Purl. And Atiya Jones, an advanced knitter, agrees: “Whether you’re gifting a novice or seasoned knitter, they’ll need stitch markers.” Exactly as the name implies, these little rings mark the number of stitches you have within the row so you don’t have to count them, and Handler also finds them particularly useful when knitting cables.

Handler and Jones prefer something a bit more colorful, like these ones from Cocoknits, because they’re easier to keep track of and they look nice. “This set from Cocoknits features five styles for varying needle sizes and projects,” says Jones. And because they’re “easy to lose,” according to Jones, these come with little cases for you to plop them in when you’re done using them.

Handler also likes this skein from Simply Socks Yarn because the yarn itself is dyed to make a pattern — mostly just stripes — when knit up, so it’s a “fun surprise” when you see the final design. And it makes the socks look like they took more work than they actually did.

Since we recommended a lot of sock yarn, gifting a new set of needles would be a nice treat to accompany all that wool. Handler recommends Crystal Palace Bamboo needles because, when knitting socks, you don’t want the needle to be too pointed because when using four needles, they’re harder to manipulate and will get stuck. These slide well, aren’t too heavy, and feel nice to hold.

For the knitter who is already set on tools and supplies, tickets to a virtual or physical knitting event might be right up their alley. “Knitters love knitting together and learning from each other,” says Mara Licole, knitwear designer for Mara Licole Knits. Vogue Knitting has different packages (prices are on its website) where you can get anything from its smallest package of just a single one-hour lecture to its largest package of nine two-hour classes and two lectures. Tickets do sell out, so you have to act quickly. And these are another great last-minute gift if you’re running out of pre-Christmas shipping time.

Because picking out a pattern or yarn for an experienced knitter can be a little “iffy,” Peters recommends playing it safe with a Bare Naked Wools gift card. The U.S.-based brand is known for its all-natural artisanal yarns that are dyed without harmful chemicals — these skeins are so luxurious that they were once gifted to a stranger by Bill Gates during the annual Reddit Secret Santa. Peters knit their favorite sweater using Bare Naked yarn and one of the brand’s patterns, which they say are among the very best. Best of all, this digital gift card will definitely arrive on time for Christmas.

Best under-$50 gifts

Chances are the knitter in your life already has a ruler for their projects, but advanced knitter Kris Ray says this wrist ruler is one of their favorite tools, and it’s a bit more special than buying someone a tape ruler. “Not only is it supercute, but it is truly a useful tool to measure the length of a project when knitting on the go,” Ray says.

Knitting designer and teacher Xandy Peters, co-founder of the (also very giftable) enamel-pin brand Shiny Crafty People, counts these bendy needles among their favorite tools. They highly recommend them for knitters with arthritis or mobility issues who want to knit something circular, like socks. “I have tendonitis from using those straight needles that don’t bend, and these are a lot more comfortable,” they say. “They’re also a little bit pricey and a little fancier than what people buy for their regular crafting, which makes them a great gift.”

Although yarn seems like an obvious gift to give a knitter, it’s a tough gift to buy without a specific project in mind, and if you don’t know much about knitting, you might end up with something that’s difficult to work with. But Handler says if you really want to buy a knitter yarn, stick to sock yarn because most patterns only require one skein (or about 400 yards), so you won’t have to worry about buying too much (or not enough). Neighborhood Fiber Co. is a Black-owned business, recommended by Leimkuhler, and it has a wonderful array of colors to choose from. (Also: Anello bought this yarn for her mother for her birthday, and she loved it.)

“Mini skein kits are better than a box of chocolates for knitters,” says Lisa K. Ross of Paper Daisy Creations. “You get a variety of colorful yarns that can make any project sing.” Ross enjoys yarn from Leading Men Fiber Arts because they’re “full of rainbow goodness.” And you can easily “find the colors that best suit your loved one.”

If your knitter often makes sweaters (or anything that needs to be sewed together), a blocking mat, which can stretch designs out and make sure that all pieces are the right size, would be helpful. (Anello and her sister purchased one for their mom for Hanukkah a few years ago, and it was much appreciated.)

But if your knitter already owns a blocking mat, Handler recommends getting them knit-blocker needles. That way, instead of dealing with individual pins, which can be a “pain,” as she explains, you can just stick the needles in all at once, and they’re more sturdy than traditional pins. If you act quickly, these should still arrive on time for Christmas.

Instead of leaving your yarn, tools, and whatnot loose around the house (or shoved into a bag), Taylor recommends displaying it. “These beautiful yarn bowls can be used, of course, to hold yarn, but they can also be a catchall for your stitch markers, scissors, darning needles,” says Taylor. A yarn bowl will keep your knitter organized and look nice sitting on a coffee table, so if you live with said knitter, it might even be a gift for you, too.

Leimkuhler and Ross also say that having a great bag to transport your project to, say, the park or even around different rooms of your house is a necessary gift for knitters. Leimkuhler bought this Baggu pouch set because “the different sizes are perfect: The smallest size holds little tools like a tape measure or scissors; the medium size holds a hat; and the largest size can fit an in-progress sweater.” She then tosses all three of them in a larger tote “without worrying about the other junk in my bag messing up my yarn or project.” These, too, should still arrive on time for Christmas if you choose the fastest shipping option.

Best splurge-worthy gifts

Lots of our knitters recommended gifting interchangeable needles. Leimkuhler says they’re actually the tool she uses most for her projects. “They’re so absolutely necessary,” she says. “It saves you from buying different needles for every project.” And Jones says they’ll “keep a knitter prepared for most projects.” Both use sets from brand Lykke because, as Jones explains, they’re “produced out of reclaimed driftwood and have just the right amount of slip, lightly gripping yarn where aluminum needles won’t.” She adds that they’re a “solid gift for an experienced knitter with an environmental flair.”

Or take some advice from Alanna Okun, who wrote an entire book on knitting, and get these interchangeable needles. As she tells us, she “would trade all of the needles currently scattered around my home office” for just one set of these needles because they’re convenient, high quality, and come in a handy case, so you’ll never lose them.

Three of our experts said that an enjoyable yet completely useful gift is a ball winder and swift. “What a game changer,” says Jones, who calls this one from the Woolery “wonderful for anyone enthusiastic about efficiency and the transformative aspects of knitting.” Leimkuhler also thinks it’s “so delightful” to use. “Who knew turning a little crank and winding up yarn into a ball was so pleasing, but really it is. It’s very soothing.” She and Ray got their winder and swift from Knit Picks, which is similar to the Woolery option, except they’re sold separately — so if your knitter owns a winder but not a swift, you could just buy one part. But regardless, Ray says it’s just as efficient as any winder can be. “After years of haphazardly winding my yarn by hand, I got myself a ball winder and swift combo from Knit Picks. Now, an hour of winding yarn turns into a two-to-three-minute task.” And if you’re buying all your yarn online and don’t want to go into a store to have it wound, like Leimkuhler, it’s a good thing to have on hand because having your yarn pre-wound sometimes costs extra, yet you can’t really knit without it wound into a ball.

If you have a beginner on your hands — someone who wants to knit but doesn’t really know how to get started — these two kits come recommended to us by Leimkuhler and Kerri Kenney-Silver (who taught the singer P!nk how to knit with the Loopy Mango kit). They’re a great way to kickstart the hobby.

Strategist senior editor and longtime knitter Winnie Yang says that British knitting-and-crochet magazine Pompom would make a lovely gift for anyone curious about new patterns and trends. Subscriptions are available for both digital and print versions of the magazine, with the former making for a savvy last-minute gift.

For an even broader range of options that’ll give both experienced and beginner knitters plenty of choices, a Purl Soho gift card is foolproof. Leimkuhler has ordered from this Soho-based store in the past and says the yarn is high quality your knitter is guaranteed to find something they like.

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The Best Gifts for Knitters, According to Knitters