Cocoknits Leather Cord and Needle Stitch Holder Kit

Julie Weisenberger has a history of making tools that elevate your experience of a task. The Knitter’s Block frees us from the
cumbersome, monolithic blocking board. The Knitter’s Keep helps us keep our favorite tools at hand. And the Sweater Care Kit made even the most curmudgeonly knitter smile at the thought of washing a garment.

Now, Julie takes aim at another process we often take for granted: setting stitches aside.

Hold It

We use stitch holders when we need to hit “pause” on a certain number of stitches and continue working on the rest. When knitting a mitten, we need to set aside a few stitches for the thumb, which we return to later. When working a sweater from the top down, we set aside more stitches on either side of the body, which we return to later when we’re ready for the sleeves.

Tailored top-down sweater construction forms the basis of Julie’s Cocoknits Method, which she teaches in her new book Cocoknits Sweater Workshop—and which may be why she wanted to improve the way in which you hold those stitches.

The Way We’ve Held

Most yarn stores stock metal stitch holders, which are either formed like large safety pins or with an elastic arm to secure both ends of the metal holder. While they work, they do have a tendency to stick out like oars, stressing the end stitches and annoying us in the process.

Our home-brewed workaround has been to thread a darning needle with some waste yarn and pull that needle through the stitches to be held. This works except when you snag only part of a strand by mistake. Undoing that can be a mess.

Waste yarn can also be too thin and flimsy for any kind of stitch support. Your held stitches start to slip into the row below. By the time you get back to them, you have to perform an archaeological dig to retrieve the buried stitches.

Hold On

If only we could improve upon that home-brewed technique with, say, a more knitting needle-like tool for capturing each stitch and a sturdier yet flexible cord onto which they can go.

Which is, in a nutshell, the Leather Cord and Needle Stitch Holder Kit from Cocoknits. In this case it isn’t a nutshell, but a sturdy little box with a ribbon-pulled drawer in which the tools rest snugly on a bed of wool felt. Because that’s how Julie does things.

The kit retails for $24 and contains three lengths of leather cord: two 29.5-inch (75cm)  cords for sleeves, and one 59-inch (150cm) cord for a sweater body. In addition, it has two nickel-plated steel needles (very reminiscent of an interchangeable needle, only shorter) with a threaded interior at the base.

I urge you to read the instructions before you begin. There is a way to use these, and it isn’t how I did it the first time. Don’t jam the cord into the hole and expect it to stay put. The more you jam, the wobblier and more frayed the cord end becomes. Trust me on this. (Fortunately, you can snip the frayed end with a sharp razor blade and try again, as I did.)

Here’s the proper way to make the tool work: Holding the cord in your left hand and the needle in your right, place the cord onto the hole of the needle and begin slowly turning the needle while pushing the cord into it. There’s no jamming, you’re engaging the threads with the leather until they are holding it snug. After that, the needle stayed put.

Close-up of the threaded needle opening where the cord goes.

 

Once screwed in, the cord should hold reasonably snug.

 

Slip the needle through the first of your stitches.

 

Continue until you have all the stitches you need to hold.

 

When you’ve selected all the stitches you need to hold, pull the cord through, unscrew the needle, and tie your cord closed. Presto!

When it’s time to put those stitches back on a live needle, simply untie the cord, screw in the needle end, slide the stitches over to the needle, and then knit them off that needle and onto your working needle. Your stitch gauge will be fine. It’s the working needle that dictates stitch size, not the needle currently holding the stitches.

Just One Snag

The leather cord does have a bit of a texture to it. While being pulled through the delicate cashmere fibers of my sweater, it dragged and pulled at the yarn. I’m confident the cord will grow smoother over time (or you could further condition it with an oil). But in the short-term, if you’re working with an extremely silky smooth material, you might want to go to your hardware store and get your hands on some 1.5mm nylon cord instead—which Julie tells me will also fit snugly into the needle’s threaded base.

Getting some extra nylon cord (or extra 1.5mm leather cord if you can find it) will be a good idea if you’re the kind of knitter who has multiple projects going at once. The more cords you have, the more stitches you can hold. As it is, the three cords in this kit could get lost in the UFO pile pretty quickly.

This simple toolkit is an elegant upgrade to a very basic task. It also makes the perfect gift for the knitter who thought she had everything.

Buy the kit from Cocoknits

 

Source of review kit: Cocoknits

 

 

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I thought ok, leather instead of yarn for holding stitches, but then I got to this: “simply untie the cord, screw in the needle end, slide the stitches over to the needle, and then knit them off that needle and onto your working needle.” OMG I love that! Brilliant! Picking the stitches back up off the string or waste yarn or whatever is the worst part and now I don’t have to, Thanks, Julie for inventing this and Clara for telling us about it.

This is a great idea. Not having to pick up the stitches off the waste yarn and being able to knit them up off the cord is genius. Thanks!

This is brilliantly fantastic! I don’t mind moving stitches to waste yarn, but I loathe picking them back up. You’re right about having to dig them out as they slip below. This is such a smart & beautiful fix.

This is a great idea! Not having to pick up stitches from the waste yarn and just knitting them off is brilliant. Thanks!

Great info. Thanks, Clara!

Really like your blog format but wondering if the light-colored type bothers anyone
else besides myself. I bumped up the font size but, still, the light color seems hard to
read on screen. (Meant as helpful feedback.)

Hi Linda! This is super helpful feedback, thank you. Nobody else has brought this up, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been noticed I’m guessing. It’s an easy style fix I’ll put on the list for our next tweak. Again, I really appreciate the feedback.

I would enthusiastically second that suggestion!

I would echo the same.

Done!

Too True: old eyes + light gray or pale blue type = really hard to read even after cataract surgery!

Thanks!
B-R

Done! How’s it look to you now?

Hi Linda! I have adjusted the font to a darker color. Could you take a look and let me know what you think?

If you don’t have time to get the kit, a spare 16″ circular needle also works. I put rubber bands on the ends to prevent the stitches from slipping.

Clover makes a circular stitch holder (http://a.co/4gUysho) that’s very similar and works pretty well (and, it must be said, costs a lot less), but only has a needle at one end of the cord. That means you have to do some careful thinking when putting stitches onto the holder so that the end with the needle will be where you want it to be when you go to take them off. I like the clever modularity of the Cocoknits holder, and it’s lovely to look at! Another solution: I used to keep some Denise interchangeable needles and cords for just… Read more »

Great idea. Not having to pick up all those stitches off the waste yarn and just knitting them with the needle is brilliant

This may be an elegant solution to the problem, but for any number of years, I’ve simply used an extra cord from a set of interchangeable needles – you can put a stopper at each end of the cord and still have your needle tips for another use. When you want to knit the held stitches, you simply reattach a needle tip (or two) of the proper size and you’re off and running. Doesn’t cost $24, either, especially if you get your interchangeables from a source where you can get extra cords and/or tips.

I like the spin type cables from Chiaogoo – translucent highly flexible, strong, in lots of sizes, very smooth, and I just knit the stitches off the spin cable onto whatever interchangeable setup I am using If not Chiaogoo).

Or just use an interchangeable circular needle cord with end stoppers. No extra purchases necessary.

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