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School Supplies for Yarncrafters

“Jackson Magnet smelled just like the first day of school. Pa Lia could smell new shoes, new pencils and clean floors.”

- Pa Lia's First Day, Jackson Friends Series, Michelle Edwards

All month our local newspaper has been bulging with circulars from stores advertising their special stock of essentials for academic success. Shiny and colorful and ever so tempting, they seem to be sending me a personal offer for a fulfilling year ahead.

Every August, it's always the same. Merely by passing a back-to-school display, I'm filled with a deep longing for an odd array of alluring stuff that I don't really need, like a box of 64 color crayons with a built-in sharper. Over the years, to satisfy my cravings, I have tried to find good uses for  assorted supplies. If you are like me, and you can't resist joining in on this seasonal excitement, here's a short list of affordable items that are highly adaptable to a yarncrafter's needs and conveniently sized for a range of project satchels.

Composition Notebooks
My favorites have a hard marbleized cover and are college ruled. Their sturdy binding and ample sheet count make them ideal for jotting down and keeping track of your knitting thoughts, accomplishments, and plans. Like the notebooks I used in grammar school back when paste still came in jars with plastic applicators wands, the inside of the notebook's back cover still sports multiplication tables and conversion of liner measures from metric to inches--handy for pattern ciphering and everyday handwork. If you like designing and mapping out an original pattern, choose the Computation Notebooks with graph paper.

Make notes on your patterns with a wood and graphite beauty like the Dixon Beginner --a robust version of the classic Ticonderoga pencil. With a generous pink eraser on top, the Dixon Beginner acknowledges that mistakes and changes are part of the learning process. And don't forget, in a knitting emergency, wood pencils can be called into service as a spare set of needles. A short pencil stub could pitch in as a cable stitch holder.

Sharpies are perfect for marking, identifying, and organizing your patterns, yarn, and wood needles. These pens are permanent, waterproof, and write well on a variety of surfaces including: plastic containers, Ziploc bags and pencil pouches (see below).  You can find them in a range of wonderful colors and point sizes.

School Scissors
Cute, safe and functional, these scissors work well for yarn snipping and all other basic cutting needs.

Gold Stars
Did you just finish your first pair of socks? Are you now reading with ease the lace chart that you once thought only Mensa members could decipher? Did you contribute to the preemie hat drive? Maybe you mastered steeks? Record your accomplishments in your notebook and proudly award yourself a gold star. You earned it!

Wooden Rulers
Excellent for checking gauge, measuring hats, socks, and other smaller items. Will not stretch, or rust.

Pencil Pouches
Wonderful storage for your double point needles or crochet hooks. Keep a separate one for each needle or hook size. Choose the 11.25 by 6 size in a clear plastic or unadorned versions.

Spiral Bound Index Cards
A dense or complicated pattern becomes easier to follow if you can break it into doable steps. Divide and cut up your pattern according to your personal learning style. Paste it down, page by page into the spiral bound index cards. Leave the backsides blank to add your notes and annotations. Each book can hold several patterns. Assorted sizes are available.  

With a cotton candy pink or a purplicious purple, highlighters switch on color to transform a black and white Norwegian mitten pattern chart into a more readable version. Employ your highlighter to color code and separate out repeats and tricky stitch changes on a long line of a lace pattern.

Simple and basic like our hooks, needles, and yarn, this list presents us endless possibilities to create. So when the school bus comes chugging up your street next week or next month, pull out your project and your new school supplies. Take notes, cut and paste, highlight. Work on, and every now and then, remember to give yourself a gold star.

If you are feeling flush and having fun with your shopping, help stimulate the economy and help others, too. Check with your local schools and area shelters about their school supply wish lists. Offer to fill a backpack with everything a school kid might need. Inspire a young artist and splurge on the box of 64 color crayons with the built in sharpener. Slip in a handmade cap or a pair of mittens. And a chocolate bar for a sweet new school year.

Getting back into the school groove, sitting down to work out a math problem or a clarinet piece can be lonely. Why not craft the scholar in your life a little pom pom study buddy? Maybe on their break, they’d like to make one, too.

Authored by

Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of A KNITTER'S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children's books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, Room for the Baby, will be available from Random House in Fall 2012. Visit Michelle Edwards at her website or on Facebook.
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