It might be too late to start knitting your holiday presents this year, but now is the perfect time to decide on a new hobby or get ready for a project for the new year. In 2019, Matador Network listed some of the most iconic knitting patterns from around the world with some tips on how they are traditionally created, and this year, with the help of knitting expert Romi Hill, we give you the lowdown on all the knitting tools you’ll need to make them. Here is your one-stop shop for all things knitting.

Rosemary (Romi) Hill is a professional knitwear designer with a lifetime of crafting and knitting experience under her belt. Specializing in lace knitting, Romi has self-published over 140 patterns and her work has appeared in Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting, PomPom Quarterly, and Making Magazine among others. She’s written two books about the art of knitting, Elements of Style: Knit and Crochet Jewelry with Wire, Fiber, Felt and Beads (2013) and New Lace Knitting (2015), and has even led knitting cruises! Romi founded her own knitwear company, Designs by Romi, in 2005. You can find Romi’s patterns on Ravelry and her own site, and admire her beautiful work on Instagram.

We hope you love the items we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to purchase some knitting tools. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

Style one: Iceland’s Lopapeysa, the iconic Icelandic sweater


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Une publication partagée par Kelechi Anna Hafstad (@kelechiannaa)

The yarn: Lopapeysa are traditionally made with unspun Icelandic bulky wool called lopi. Lopi is not a cheap yarn to purchase, that said, you can find some reasonably priced lopi in a variety of color on Etsy from Icelandic vendor SAIceland.

Buy lopi now

The needles: Lopapeysa are made in the round, meaning you don’t knit the front and the back of the sweater separately and then sew them together — you knit the whole sweater at once like a tube. You’ll need a large circular needle for the body of the sweater and two smaller circular needles or one set of double-pointed needles for the sleeves. Romi recommends Knitter’s Pride needles, available on Etsy via the Handsome Fibers shop. You’ll also need a tapestry needle to weave the yarn ends in when your sweater is done.

Buy circular needles now

Buy double-pointed needles now

Buy a tapestry needle now

Other knitting tools needed: Beyond the yarn and the needles, you’ll want a knitting thimble to knit a lopapeysa. It’ll help you keep the different strands of yarn apart while you work on the sweater.

Buy a knitting thimble now

When you’re done knitting your Lopapeysa, Romi recommends that you wool wash your piece with Eucalan or Soak. Make sure to rinse them completely! Both wool wash brands are great to clean your knitting and to block your piece, i.e. even out the stitches and set the shape and size of the knitted item.

Buy Eucalan wool wash now

Buy Soak wool wash now

Style two: Scotland’s Fair Isle sweater

Fair Isle is a knitting style specific to the eponymous Scottish Island located in the Shetland archipelago. Fair Isle knitting consists of horizontal bands of geometrical and colorful motifs. You can use an unlimited number of colours when knitting a Fair Isle sweater, but note that no more than two colors are to be used per row — that’s the rule!

The yarn: Fair Isle knitting is done with Shetland wool, which is a yarn that is very sticky (so it does not unravel). Shetland wool can be very expensive, but you can purchase Jamieson’s of Shetland yarn in every shade imaginable on Etsy for a reasonable price. Other brands of Shetland wool include Jamieson and Smith, and Elemental Affects for American-grown Shetland wool. To knit a Fair Isle sweater, you’ll need fingering weight woolen spun yarn.

Buy Jamieson’s of Shetland yarn now

Romi suggests that when you’re working on your Fair Isle project, you keep your wool in a shoebox with a hole for each color yarn to be fed through. That way, you won’t get your yarn tangled up. It’s an inexpensive and expert tip!

The needles: To knit a Fair Isle pullover sweater, you’ll need a large circular needle for the body of the sweater and two smaller circular needles or one set of double-pointed needles for the sleeves. As for the Lopapeysa, you’ll also want a tapestry needle to weave in the yarn ends when it’s all done.

Other knitting tools needed: If you decide to knit a Fair Isle cardigan rather than a pullover sweater, you’ll need to steek your piece once you’re finished knitting it. Steeking is the act of cutting the sweater in the middle of the front where a bridge of extra stitches has been created to open it up into a cardigan. For that you’ll need a pair of sharp scissors.

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Just like with the Lopapeysa, when you’re done with your Fair Isle piece, wool wash it with Eucalan or Soak and rinse it thoroughly. Try a traditional Wooly Board or blocking mats to block your new sweater and even your stitches out.

Buy a blocking mat now

Style three: Canada’s Cowichan sweater


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Une publication partagée par Trashtiques on Etsy (@trashtiques)

To be authentic, Cowichan sweaters must be hand knit in one piece with undyed wool by a Coast Salish artisan, according to traditional methods. Each of the motifs used in a sweater carries a deep meaning and for this reason, you may wish to purchase one knitted by an artisan instead of knitting your own.

The yarn: Cowichan sweaters are knitted with bulky sheep’s wool. Traditionally, only natural colors are used for Cowichan sweaters (white, black, grey, beige, brown). To approximate the style of sweater, Lamb’s Pride bulky wool is a good choice and is widely available on Etsy for cheap, or on their website in just about every color in the rainbow.

Buy lamb’s Pride bulky yarn now

The needles: Cowichan sweaters are usually knitted in the round, but instead of circular needles, the Cowichan people use long double-pointed needles. Shorter double-pointed needles are also used for the sleeves and the shawl collar.

Other knitting tools needed: Cowichan sweaters are most often cardigans with zippers or buttons in the front; therefore, you’ll need to steek your piece once you’re finished knitting it in the round. Just like with the Fair Isle cardigan, you’ll want a pair of sharp scissors to do so.

When you’re done knitting your Cowichan sweater, wool wash it with Eucalan or Soak, rinse well, and lay flat to dry. Since this sweater is so bulky, a sweater drying rack can help speed the process.

Style four: Norway’s Lusekofte sweater

The yarn: Only two colors are used in the making of a Lusekofte, usually white and a darker color, so you’ll need regular or superwash Norwegian sheep’s wool in the two colors of your choice. Norwegian wool is tricky to find on Etsy, but you can substitute it with any sport or light worsted sheep wool. The hand dyed light worsted wool from Black Sheep on Etsy is pricey, but a beautiful option. Superwash wool is a type of wool that has been treated so that it does not felt when washed.

Buy hand dyed superwash light worsted wool now

The needles: To knit a Lusekofte sweater, you’ll need a large circular needle for the body of the sweater and two smaller circular needles or a set of double-pointed needles for the sleeves and neckline. You’ll also need a tapestry needle to weave the yarn ends in when it’s all done.

Other knitting tools needed: To keep the two strands of yarn apart while knitting, you’ll want a knitting thimble/yarn guide.

Buy a yarn guide now

Lusekofte can take different styles — they can be crew neck, open collar, or cardigans. If you decide to knit an open-collar or cardigan Lusekofte, you’ll need to steek your piece and use a pair of sharp scissors for that purpose. Note that if you steek, non-superwash wool is best.

Knitting an open-collar or cardigan Lusekofte also means you’ll want to purchase Norwegian trim for the edges of the opening in the front and the sleeves, as well as Scandinavian clasps. Norwegian trim can be sewn by hand or with a sewing machine, while the clasps will be hand-sewn.

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Buy Scandinavian clasps now

Style five: Ireland’s famous Aran sweater

The yarn: To knit an Aran sweater, you’ll need Aran weight sheep’s wool in any color of your choice. Aran sweaters are usually natural colored, but there’s no rule against using your favourite hue.

Buy Aran wool now

The needles: Aran sweaters can be knitted in the round with a large circular needle for the body of the sweater and two smaller circular needles or one set of double-pointed needles for the sleeves and the neckline. If you prefer to knit your Aran sweater flat and seam the pieces together later, you’ll need a pair of regular straight needles for the body and sleeves, with double-pointed needles for the neckline. You’ll also need a tapestry needle to weave the yarn ends in when it’s all done.

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Other knitting tools needed: What makes Aran sweaters special are the beautiful stitches that adorn them: cables in honeycomb, diamond, and other patterns. To create those special stitches on your own creation, you’ll need a cable needle.

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When you’re done knitting your Aran sweater, wool wash it with Eucalan or Soak, rinse, well, and dry it on a sweater rack.

Other knitting tools you’ll need, no matter the project

unfinished knitting project

Photo: Shine Caramia/Shutterstock

  • A pattern: The best place to find patterns for the styles listed above is Ravelry. Ravelry is a free website for yarn lovers where there are free patterns, a forum for crafters to chat, and a yarn review section. All you need to access Ravelry is to create a login. The pattern you choose will indicate what size needles you need, how much yarn is required, etc.
  • A project bag: To keep all your yarn and knitting tools for one project in one place, Romi recommends having a project bag. There are plenty of cool project bags available on Etsy at a variety of prices, but we love the bucket-style project bags from Grannys on the Go on Etsy.
  • Point protectors: If you don’t want your knitting to slide off your needles while in your project bag, you must use point protectors (also called needle stoppers.) The ones by Tesla Baby on Etsy are cheap and super fun.
  • Stitch markers: Stitch markers are indispensable whatever project you’re working on. By sliding them on to your needle in between stitches or around a specific stitch, they help mark an important spot in your knitting. We recommend that you purchase a couple of dozen stitch markers and that you choose very colorful ones so they stand out. You can get 30 locking stitch markers at Yarnshop4U on Etsy for just $1.90.
  • Crochet hooks: Crochet hooks in a variety of sizes are must-haves in your knitting toolkit. They are used to pick up stitches if you drop some while knitting, and they’ll help you fix mistakes in your knitting without having to unravel several rows. You can purchase six different-size crochet hooks for just $2.75 at Yarnshop4U on Etsy.
  • Try-it-on tubing: Like the name indicates, try-it-on tubing is flexible plastic tubing that fits at the end of your knitting needles and on which you can slide your stitches. The goal is for you to be able to try on your knitting and check for size while your project is still unfinished. Try-it-on tubing is available on Etsy for less than $6.
  • A ball winder and swift or a nostepinne: A lot of the yarn out there is sold in skeins or hanks which need to be turned into a ball before usage. To wind a skein or hank into a ball you need a swift and a winder. The swift holds the yarn in place while you turn it into a ball with the winder. Alternatively, you can do it by hand by using a nostepinne. Check out these tutorials on how to use a swift and ball winder, and how to use a nostepinne.
  • A row counter: To keep track of the numbers of rows you’re knitting, use a row counter.

Tips from the expert to knit for less

person purchasing yarn for a knitting project

Photo: Usacheva Ekaterina/Shutterstock

Yarn is expensive and if you can’t afford to spend all your money on wool, Romi has you covered. There are some great swap groups on Facebook and Ravelry, and you can often find yarn at estate sales and thrift stores. If that’s not your cup of tea, below are several websites where you can get great deals on yarn: