tuesday's needles are in a case

Geek Week, Day Two: Nail Needle File

I don't know if you're like me, Gentle Knitter, but if you are, you own more knitting needles than you ever thought possible -- and yet, the next project you start will require a needle you don't own.

Aha - but do you not own it, or can you not find the three you really do own but they're embedded in projects you haven't finished? (I thought so.)

[A personal story that fully demonstrates how bad I am with this: My First Husband (father of cute baby George born in October), was moving his stuff out of a storage unit one fall. He stumbled across some things of mine which had moved with him to Portland accidentally, so he called me to ask if I'd like to come get them. This was two years after our split - and he asked, gently, "I've got a whole case of your knitting needles here. Haven't you missed them?"] Sigh.

When I reintegrated my needles into my newly-accumulated stash of replacement needles, the embarrasment of riches ended up as a gigantic tangle. The hatbox I had stored them in wasn't big enough to hold everything, and it took an hour just to sort through them to find that one 16" 3mm needle I needed.

Then dawned the era of the Accordion File.
1499159-1195395-thumbnail.jpgThese come from the stationery store, and often have 12 pockets -- nominally one per month, for receipts and things, but conveniently the right number for the range of needle sizes (0-11 plus 13) that a knitter is likely to have in their stash.

 We used this system for stashing our staff-use needles at Churchmouse, and it worked very well for us for years.
These cases don't take up a lot of room, and are also sort of portable (if you're heading to a conference or workshop where you might need all your needles). The downside to this system is that the dividers on most of these files don't attach to the bottom of the file itself -- this allows for expansion and contraction, and helps it stand up well, but alas, double-pointed and straight needles are thus allowed to fall to the bottom and roll into another division -- meaning it's all too easy to grab the wrong size needle from the right slot.

Plus, mine were so full of circulars and double-points that I needed 2 of them just to keep everything in there--when full, they looked like a pair of pregnant elephants.

Back to the drawing board. Or, to be more precise, back to Ikea.
Behold -- I give you The Needle Tower.
(Not an ivory tower, but an ebony and rosewood and turbo tower, to be sure!)

Not a staged photo: that's Louise the Mannequin wearing Rosemarkie at left, and my blocking board tucked behind the studio door to the right, and Fred the Light-Up Buddha Lamp sitting on top. (When you're trying to get gauge, you want all the help you can get. Fred always says 'Namaste.')

I don't think Ikea sells this little gem anymore - but for those of you looking, it was from the 'Sture' line. Little wooden flat drawers, and a drawer for every size under the sun, from 0 to 15 and 17 and even one drawer left over at the bottom for my Denise needle set(s) - Yep, I've got those, too!

1499159-1195454-thumbnail.jpgI've screwed cup hooks into the top at one side to hang my measuring and blocking tools, like a needle gauger and tape measure and blocking wires...

Very handy. 



 This system has worked brilliantly for me for years. Someday I'll get creative with paints and stencil the needle sizes onto the fronts of the drawers, but for right now it's just a little game I play with myself to remember which drawer holds the needle size I need. (There's a cheat: the drawers get deeper halfway down the cabinet, and that first deep drawer holds my US8/5.0mms ... I think.)

But of course I wouldn't be a good Daughter-of-a-Librarian if I were just satisfied with a good system. Let's try to make it better, shall we? We still have the problem of the mysteriously disappearing needles ... since I still have the problem of too many UFOs all at once.

What's a girl to do? Harken back to those youthful days, standing on tiptoe at the public library counter, breathlessly waiting for the librarian to finish stamping the checkout card for the next Nancy Drew. (Later, this turned to shrugging off the protestations of the librarians as I stacked 12 novels on top of a stack of LPs - and carrying the whole stack by the sides of the LPs, bending them mercilessly. But I digress.)

Most of you, Gentle Knitters, are of an age to remember libraries before computers. Remember card catalogs and rubber stamps with the dates on 'em?
They're going to help us with the whole missing-needle-in-the-UFO thing.

Tomorrow on Geek Week : Wednesday's needles? In a UFO