Sometimes the most useful innovations are also the simplest. They're things that, once we see them, prompt us to slap our forehead and exclaim, "D'oh!" Pattern Tamers are just such an innovation.
The notion is extremely simple: Knitters follow patterns. Quite often, these patterns feature pretty detailed line-by-line instructions. If we skip a line by mistake, or repeat a line by mistake, we end up somewhere we didn't necessarily want to go.
So we try to keep track of our place in patterns. We make photocopies and put checkmarks next to each row after we've finished it. We take sticky notes and line them up with the row we're working on. We use colored marking tape, paperclips, rulers with clamps on each end—you name it—we'll try anything if we think it'll help.
Kelly Black was no exception. A working mother of three, she was constantly being interrupted and grew tired of losing her place in her patterns. But checkmarks, sticky notes, and clumsy magnet clipboards didn't suit her. She seized on the magnet concept but took it in a different, decidedly more portable direction.Pattern Tamers are the result of her quest. A Pattern Tamer is made from two lengths of thin magnetic strip applied to a colorful grosgrain ribbon.
You place one side of the magnetic strip on the back of your pattern, and the other side on the front, and the magnets instantly connect. Move the strip up and down the pattern as you work, and you'll always know where you are.
What You Get
Pattern Tamers come in packs of three for $15. Each pack contains three lengths: 5 inches, 9 inches, and 12 inches. Kelly sells them on her Etsy storefront.
The three lengths are designed not only to accommodate different paper shapes but also so that you can use multiple strips on the same pattern—one to mark your horizontal place and two to mark your vertical place in patterns that use lots of columns, such as Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. I found the medium length ideal for tracking charts printed out on plain notebook paper. (Kelly has many more pictures of her Tamers in action on her Etsy store.)
Taming the Tamers
You'll need to make sure you establish a rule about where you leave the Tamer when you've finished a row and put down your work—do you leave it where you stopped, or do you slide it to the next row to indicate where you should begin? I always try to be good about this, and I always end up forgetting.
Also, be mindful of the fact that moving the strip from row to row (or column to column) can be a little more tricky than simply peeling the magnets apart, sliding them to the next row, and sticking them together again. You're lining up a front and a back without necessarily seeing where the back is in relation to your pattern. When you put the top strip back down, it'll go wherever that back strip is—even if it isn't where you wanted to go. I found it easier to gently nudge the whole strip—still stuck together magnetically—from row to row in cases where my rows were short and I didn't want to lose my place while fudging with getting the front and back aligned.
A nice thing about these strips is that they're thin enough to fit within the pages of a book and still allow it to close comfortably. They're a little too substantial for a single sheet of printer paper, but they'll still work for thicker pattern print-outs, patterns in plastic sleeves, or patterns that span multiple pages held together. On two or three sheets of printer paper, I found that the magnetic seal would be disengaged if the pages were bent beyond a certain angle, causing the Tamer to flop off. In cases where you're working with just a few pages, you'll want to be sure and store your pattern relatively flat for safe travel.
The extra do-it-yourself folks among us will probably be inclined to buy a pack of magnetic sheets at their local office-supply store, dig out a roll of ribbon from their stash, and go at it with a tube of Super Glue. This is also an option if you don't happen to like any of the ribbon options she offers—just remember that you don't want such an elaborate ribbon that it actually distracts your eye from the pattern you're following.
As for me, I'm happy to pay the $15 (plus $4.60 shipping, which is the actual USPS Priority shipping rate as of this publication date) and support someone else in her quest to bring order to the larger knitting world.