DIY Circular Needle Storage

Move your needles into your new DIY Circular Needle Storage

I have struggled mightily with how to store my circular knitting needles and I know I’m not alone.

Even with interchangeable sets, we still end up with a lot of fixed circular needles.  They’re floppy and long and unwieldy.  Left to their own devices, they tangle horribly.

What’s a knitter to do?!

There are decent ideas out there.  You can buy beautiful folding fabric storage cases on Etsy — and hope they’re big enough.  You can use a tackle storage binder.  You can decorate your room with a hanging set of storage sleeves.

For many years I was using a beautiful padded batik fabric case that Charlotte made for me.  I loved it, but it became overstuffed and hard to find what I needed without unloading half the needles and putting them through a sizer.

After mulling over this problem for a while, looking online for something that would fit my middling to large circular needle storage needs, I thought of something that just might work.  I built it.  I used it for a year and it works well, so I’m sharing it with you!

This is an inexpensive solution — possibly free, if you have the supplies laying around your house.

Supplies for DIY Circular Needle Storage

The supplies you’ll need

  • a plastic shoe box storage bin
  • ~13 file folders
  • ruler
  • marker
  • X-ACTO knife or scissors
Measure for your DIY Circular Needle Storage

Step 1: Measure!

Stick a folder in the shoe box and see if it fits width-wise. If not, I suggest making a template to help cut down the sides. Measure the height of the box interior, taking into account how the lid fits on top because that will affect the height of the folders.

For the latching Sterlite bin pictured here, I cut the folders to just under 4 inches tall.  I didn’t have to cut the width at all.

Cut down folders for your DIY Circular Needle Storage

Step 2: Cut!

Use your template or measurements to cut down your folders to fit. You will need 13 folders to hold needle sizes 0 through 11. If you have more sizes — or just a lot of needles — use more folders.  You might needle a second bin.

Step 3: Label!

Go crazy with a marker or a label maker. I like to put the US and millimeter sizing on my labels.

Move your needles into your new DIY Circular Needle Storage

Step 4: Move!

Time for your circular knitting needles to go live in their new home. Ah, so roomy!  So easy to browse.  So easy to put needles away! If it’s hard to get needles in or out — or it’s a tight fit and needles are trying to climb out by themselves, then you might want to add a bin.

I highly recommend keeping your needles in their original packaging to contain their wild nature. If the original packaging is lost, try zip top bags.  I even put little stickers on mine with the size and length.

Bag and label your circular needles, for sanity's sake


DIY Circular Knitting Needle Storage


Do you have a circular needle solution that works for you?  Share in the comments!  Or hop on over to my Facebook group, Fiber Arts for Real Folk, and join the conversation.

DIY Circular Knitting Needle Storage

6 Tips for Knitting in the Dark

6 Tips for Knitting in the Dark

Knitting in the dark is not a weird or rare as you might think.  Knitters can be creatures of efficiency and sitting in the dark watching a movie or a concert, or riding home in the passenger seat while you literally do nothing else with your body but age is maddening.

If you are a restless person (like me) or a crafter who likes a challenge (like me), then knitting in the dark is absolutely something you should try.

Choose a simple project for knitting in the dark

Tip #1: Easy Does It

Set yourself up for success by choosing a simple project.  I know you’re the master of colorwork and cables, but this is stockinette-in-the-round time.  Been thinking about making a sweater but cringe at the thought of all that plain knitting?  This is the perfect marriage of entertainment and industry.  My favorite in-the-dark knitting is the leg or foot of a simple sock.

Practice knitting in the dark at home

Tip #2: Practice at Home

Practice at home with the lights on and try not to look while you watch a movie.  Feel the stitches in your hands and really get to know what your stitches feel like when they right and when they are wrong.  Your hands can tell you A LOT.

Then take it up a notch by watching a subtitled movie or turning off the lights.  See how well you do at not looking, at noticing with your hands if there are any mistakes, at enjoying the movie.

Choose your needles wisely (not these!)

sub: Tip #3: Choose Needles Wisely

Leave your long, clicky, shiny aluminum needles at home.  And absolutely no light up needles if you’re at an event — those things are really bright!  Consider using circular needles instead of straights or double pointed needles.  I’m old school and like my DPNs, but I’ve had to put down a project more than once for the remainder of a show because I dropped a needle.

Roll with the mistakes -- you can recover

Tip #4: Roll with the Problems

I hope you’re comfortable fixing your knitting because you will drop stitches occasionally, or mix up your knits and purls if you’ve ignored tip #1 and are doing ribbing.  I’ve made all of these mistakes.  Sometimes it possible to fix them by feel; sometimes you’re only 15 minutes into the movie and you nip out to the hallway to get back on track.  Sometimes you don’t notice until the show is over and the lights come on; sometimes you just tuck the misbehaving wool into your bag and put your head on your neighbor’s shoulder.

I get so much knitting done in the dark that the mistakes are a negligible issue.

Tip #5: Don’t Overdo It

You probably don’t knit for two hours straight on the regular, so put your project down if your hands start to ache.  I like to take breaks and hold hands with my husband.  Awww!  By the way, this is also a great way to warm up your hands if they’re cold.

Knitting in the car, in the dark!

Tip #6: Know the Venue

Whenever you knit in public, it’s important to consider the venue and other attendees.  In recent months, I’ve knit in the dark during a movie (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), a small folk music concert (dropped a needle right after intermission), and in the car while my husband drove us home from holiday gatherings.  All of these were fairly casual.

At a more formal setting, like going to a theatrical production, I bring my knitting and I might knit before the show starts and during intermission, but not during the show.  A friend told me she doesn’t knit in the car because it’s distracting to her husband.  Tragic!  But these are important considerations.

Do you like to knit in the dark?  Have any funny stories?  Share in the comments!


A Minor Obsession with Subversive Cross Stitch

A Minor Obsession with Subversive Cross Stitch

WARNING: language — but you probably knew that already, you smart cookie.

Last year I found myself pinning cross stitch and embroidery images.  Wildflowers and birds are a favorite, but it didn’t take long for me to discover subversive cross stitch.  I love them.  Their snark speaks to me!  But I’m not really a cross stitcher so I pinned without a plan (as if that’s something strange to do, hah!).

Then it was summer, my husband was gone on a business trip, and I had an impulse to just do it.  I had floss.  I had Aida.  I had needles.  (This is what happens when fiber arts are your jam!)  I printed out a free pattern and was off to the races.

Domestic Cross Stitch in progress

The beauty of it was hearing friends and family reminisce about stitching they’d done and how they’d like to do it again.  And cheers from my cross stitchers.

I Put the Mess in Domestic Cross Stitch

My tasteful, funny declaration worked out just fine!  Cross stitching went faster than I expected — and I anticipate that one could go even faster with experience.

Behold! The Cross Stitch Pattern to Rule Them All!

But this wasn’t really what I wanted to make.  I wanted to justify buying a pattern that I had been eyeing for months.  It wasn’t expensive, but as a knitter I know how slippery the pattern buying slope is and I wanted to make sure cross stitching wasn’t a hateful way to spend my craft time before I committed cash to a project.

Behold the Field cross stitch detail

This one took longer.  I made more mistakes.  But I stuck with it and eventually finished.

Behold the Field cross stitch

This piece speaks the secrets of my soul.  Now you know.

“Where Are You Going to Hang It?”

Many people who saw me working on it thought it was funny.  Several silently nodded and moved on.  People were really curious about what I was planning to do with it.  Were they worried I would give it to them?  Kudos to my sister-in-law Abby, who offered to own it if I didn’t want to keep it.  But no, this beauty is all for me!

Things I Learned Whilst Subversively Stitching

I learned that I don’t want to do larger pieces.

I learned that I love doing letters!

I learned that filling in shapes was boring.

I learned that I am not going to wake up one day and exchange all my yarn for floss.  But I might indulge in a little X-X once or twice a year.

Have you done any subversive stitching?  Got your eye on any patterns?

A Minor Obsession with Subversive Cross Stitch

Handspinning, A Very Useful Skill

my first two-ply

I am a history buff.  I can’t keep my hands out of the pie.  I have done everything from medieval recreation to taking an archaeology-themed vacation.  When I was 16, no less.

The ingenuity of people in the past is endlessly fascinating to me.  I love to discover how similar we still are in all the little ways that matter most.

I am drawn to stories and depictions of how people survived, thrived, lived, loved, and fought from neolithic England to colonial Michigan.

I think my interest in history is entwined with my interest in homesteading skills, like making jam, growing vegetables, sewing, knitting … and spinning wool into yarn.

The funny thing is, I resisted handspinning for more than 10 years.  A friend tried to teach me on a drop spindle, but I didn’t take to it and chose to focus on weaving for a while instead.  As I got deeper and deeper into knitting — and reading blogs about knitting, and looking at pictures of handspun — and began to think I might want to try spinning again.  Maybe I was more of a wheel spinner?

I looked into taking classes.  The Spinning Loft was still located in Michigan then, but I had very young children at home and it seemed impossible at that time to get to a class that was 40 minutes away.  I went to check out a local fiber guild, Spinner’s Flock, where they plopped me in front of a Louet S10 and gave me a quick lesson.  My friends and I practiced treadling and drafting, and we spun some spectacularly chunky, uneven “art” yarn.  I went home with a fire in my head and practiced spinning on a drop spindle.  It wasn’t so bad after all!

my first handspun

At next month’s meeting, I signed up to be a member, paid for a wheel rental, and took home the Louet where I promptly spun up some lovely singles — then accidentally plied in the same direction and got some super twisted funky art yarn that is pretty much unusable.  I suppose now I know how to fix it.  But it’s nice to see where we’ve come from, eh?

crazy orange art yarn

Renting a wheel every month wasn’t feasible for me because I couldn’t go to every guild meeting (those darn kids!). I resolved to spend more time with my drop spindle, which although slower production-wise, was making me MUCH better at drafting.  Ultimately I was getting more yarn for my wool by slowing down.

At a Spinner’s Flock Fleece Fair sale, I bought myself a colorful braid of hand-dyed combed top and spun it up on my drop spindle.  Determined to try plying again, I wound my first two cops off onto toilet paper tubes.  I then turned a shoebox, a couple of 14″ knitting needles, and the cardboard tube bobbins into a rustic, homemade lazy kate and plied off onto my spindle.  It was so exciting.  I felt like I was finally, really making my own yarn.

my first two-ply

And I had no idea what to do with my new handspun!  I could only guess at the gauge and it was obvious that I didn’t have much yardage.  Excited to keep playing with spinning, I shrugged this problem off.  I would figure it out later. (And I did.  Am.)

I eventually borrowed a wheel (an Ashford Traveller), gave it back, borrowed another wheel (the Majacraft Suzie Pro that I am still using), and was gifted a broken wheel that I quickly got repaired (the Louet S15 that I still use).

my spinning wheels

I spin on my wheels more than I spindle, but I have great respect for the power of the spindle.  For thousands of years, people made clothing by hand — starting with fiber and a spindle.

ancient spindle whorl

Today I know spindlers who can really cruise and it’s not always an obvious equation that wheel spinning is faster than drop spinning.  For those of us who don’t do this for a living, production has a lot more to do with how much time you spend at spinning than how quickly you can crank out the twists per inch.



Great Lakes Fiber News for February & March 2018

Great Lakes Fiber Arts News - February and March 2018

Here are the fiber events happening in the Great Lakes region in February and March.  This is not an exhaustive list!  If you have a fiber event in the Great Lakes region that you’d like to share, click here to tell me about it.

Woolfolk Wool Elements Trunk Show at Spun

Friday February 2 – Sunday February 11, 2018

407 N. Fifth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Wool Elements showcases an sophisticated palette of natural wool colors in easy to knit and infinitely wearable accessories.  Happy hour reception on Friday February 9th from 4-6pm.

Sauder Village Fiber Fest

Sauder Village Knitting and Fiber Arts Retreat

Friday February 9 – Sunday February 11, 2018

The Sauder Heritage Inn is a cozy environment for a fiber retreat.  There’s plenty of space, a great breakfast, a hot tub to soak in, and Sauder Village right next door for a ramble through living history of the area. Registration is available for 2 or 3 day attendance.

Sweet Georgia Yarns Tough Love Sock Trunk Show at the Michigan Fibre Studio

Saturday February 10 – Saturday February 24, 2018

1503 Lake Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI
Come check out the beautiful range of colors available on Sweet Georgia’s most popular base yarn, Tough Love Sock.  Four samples from Sweet Georgia’s studio in Vancouver, BC, will be available for fondling!  Michigan Fibre Studio is open until midnight on February 23rd.

InterKnit Machine Knitter’s Guild

Saturday February 10, 2018, 10am-12pm

College of DuPage
SRC 1005, 425 Fawell Blvd, Glen Ellyn, IL
“The Interknit Machine Knitting Guild was founded in the fall of 1995 and established for the support, education, and fellowship of machine knitters of all experience and expertise levels, regardless of the make or model of machine used.”

Spinner’s Flock February Guild Meeting

Saturday February 10, 2018, 10am-1pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
Spinner’s Flock monthly guild meetings are a great way to connect with area spinners, weavers, needlefelters, and shepherds.  There is a learner’s circle for spinners every month with wheels provided by the guild. Guests and new members are always welcome!

alpaca shearing

Buckeye Alpaca Show

Saturday February 10 – Sunday February 11, 2018

Arena Complex
Summit County Fairgrounds, Tallmadge, OH
The Buckeye Alpaca Show celebrates all that is camelid with a fleece competition, live auctions, and — or course — vendors.

Northern Fiber Arts Retreat

Wednesday February 14 – Sunday February 18, 2018

This cozy retreat on the shore of Lake Superior features more than two dozen classes about spinning, knitting, felting, sewing, and more.  As of early February, there were still many classes with space available.

Spinner's Flock Fleece Fair

Winter Fleece Fair

Saturday February 17, 2018, 10am-4pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
I’ve been going to this sale for 20 years and it doesn’t get more local than this.  The Fleece Fair is a GREAT place to buy fleece (raw and washed), roving, combed top, fiber tools of all kids, and books from local makers and shepherds. That room full of color and wool in the middle a Michigan winter is a truly a balm for the soul.  The prices are really good too.

fingerless mitts for beginning knitters

Beginning Knitting Class — taught by me!

Thursdays February 22 & March 3, 2018 11am-1pm

407 N. Fifth Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
I love to teach beginning knitters. There’s nothing like that moment when everything clicks together!  In this class, taught over two sessions, I guide you through the basics of how to knit and we work on making a simple pair of fingerless mitts that incorporates these essentials skills.

Roving Indiana: Yarn Crawl

Friday February 23 – Sunday March 11, 2018

Encompassing 13 yarn shops in 10 cities, the Roving Indiana Yarn Crawl is 17-day celebration of all things woolly!  Check out the website for special events, limited edition yarn for the crawl, project ideas, and a pattern to knit your own passport holder.

Creative Spirit Fiber Festival

Friday February 23 – Saturday February 24, 2018

Calvary Lutheran Church
2508 Washington Ave SE, Bemidji, MN
“Come celebrate the best in fiber arts! Friday: in-depth classes taught by experienced instructors (pre-registration required). Saturday: Just $10 admission gets attendees into a vendor market filled with fiber-related items, free mini classes, trunk shows, demos, coffee and homemade treats, door prizes and more.”

Duluth Fiber Handcrafters Guild Meeting

Monday March 5, 2018, 6:30-8:30pm

Ruth Maney Room, Duluth Depot
506 W Michigan St, Duluth, MN
Guest speaking Anita Stech of Cut Loose Creations will talk to the guild about the environmental impact of clothing disposal and how artists are upcycling discarded items and working to reduce clothing pollution.

Jay County Fiber Arts Festival

Friday March 9 – Saturday March 10, 2018

Jay Community Center
115 E. Water St., Portland, IN
Two days of sheep, classes, shopping, art, and storytelling — what’s not to love?  Better yet, author, teacher, and fiber artist Kate Larson is giving a free lecture at 6pm Friday evening.  Not to be missed if you can get there!

machine knitting

InterKnit Machine Knitter’s Guild

Saturday March 10, 2018, 10am-12pm

College of DuPage
SRC 1005, 425 Fawell Blvd, Glen Ellyn, IL
“The Interknit Machine Knitting Guild was founded in the fall of 1995 and established for the support, education, and fellowship of machine knitters of all experience and expertise levels, regardless of the make or model of machine used.”

Spinner’s Flock March Guild Meeting

Saturday March 10, 2018, 10am-1pm

Beach Middle School
445 Mayer Dr, Chelsea, MI 48118
Spinner’s Flock monthly guild meetings are a great way to connect with area spinners, weavers, needlefelters, and shepherds.  There is a learner’s circle for spinners every month with wheels provided by the guild. Guests and new members are always welcome!

Cedarburg Spur Fiber Arts Trail

Friday March 16 – Saturday March 17, 2018

Cedarburg, Grafton, and Thiensville, WI
This festival “celebrates the opening of ‘Commemorating His Purple Reign: A Textural Tribute to Prince’ exhibit at Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Art. Free Admission on Friday and Saturday. Tour local maker spaces and galleries. Shop local makers and businesses. Drop-in make and take sessions. Full-day and half-day textile workshops. See the 1860s carding mill in action at the Cedarburg Woolen Mill.”

Madison Knitters Guild Knit-In

Friday March 16 – Sunday March 18, 2018

Alliant Energy Center
1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison, WI
Classes with nationally recognized teachers Susan B. Anderson, Kate Larson, Laura Linneman, Patty Lyons, and Laura Nelkin.  Plus demos, knit-alongs, luncheons, mini skein exchange, stitch marker swap, evening games, and 30 fabulous vendors.

For the Love of Fiber

Saturday March 17, 2018, 10am-5pm

Ramada Inn and Conference Center
1450 S Atherton St, State College, PA
This one-day event celebrates all things woolly with a finished object fashion show, classes, and vendors.

Threaded Streams Fiber Arts Trail Creativity Weekend

Friday March 22 – Sunday March 24, 2018

Baraboo, Portage, Prairie du Sac, and Lodi, WI
Discover maker stories, local textile history, classes, workshops, and demonstrations in this multi-destinaton getaway.

Black Swamp Spinner’s Guild Market Day and Fiber Fair

Saturday March 24, 2018, 9am-4pm

Junior Fair Building, Wood County Fairgrounds
13800 W Poe Rd, Bowling Green, OH
Market Day is a friendly show bringing together wonderful vendors from around the Great Lakes region.  Highly recommended!

Got a tip on a fiber event in the Great Lakes region that you’d like to share? Drop me a note using this contact form.