Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Knitting Needle & Crochet Hook Roll-Up {Tutorial}

Anyone who knits or crochets knows what a mess your tools can get into. Circular needles can get tangled up, double pointed needles get lost, crochet hooks sprinkle onto the floor every time you open your knitting bag. ACK! It makes me feel frazzled just thinking about it! Whether you'd like to organize your collection at home or you prefer to have all the tools on hand when you leave the house, this will definitely help you out!
This would even make an amazing gift for someone else who knits or crochets.

- Fabric, this is tricky because you can make it out of a single meter of fabric, or you can use up to 5 different colours. For this one I used a bunch of pre-cut "fat quarters" which measure 18"x21", so you could use scraps as long as they're big enough or pieced together.
Purple - 2 fat quarters (18"x21")
Teal - 1 piece cut to 10"x18"
Light Green - 1 piece cut to 7.5"x18"
Green - 1 piece cut to 5"x18"
- Ribbon, either 2 lengths of 24" or 4 lengths of 12", (ends melted to prevent fraying)
- Thread, coordinating or contrasting (your choice!)
- Disappearing Ink Pen (optional, but VERY handy) Alternatively = chalk or a pencil.
- Rotary Cutter, Mat & Ruler
- Sewing Machine
- Iron & Ironing Board

Step 1:
Choose your fabric, you can use anything really, I prefer 100% cotton. Prewash if desired (I never do) and iron everything nice and flat. Figure out what order you'd like the colours to be in. If you're using a single meter of fabric, cut 2 pieces to measure 18"x21" and set aside (these represent my purple fabric).

Step 2: 
Cut your first piece of fabric (that will be in the front on the bottom, the shortest pocket) down to 5" x 18" (approximately 1/4 of a pre-cut fat quarter). Fold 1/4" over on one side of the long edge, iron it down. Fold it over again & iron. This is to "finish" the top edge to prevent fraying and to make it sturdy. It should now measure 4.5" tall.
Sew a straight line down the long folded edge, to hold your folds down. Use a nice medium-width stitch, on my machine it's about a 10. Alternatively, you could sew on a length of bias tape, to give it even more strength.

Step 3: 
Repeat the previous step for the second piece of fabric, but it should measure 7.5" x 18". Fold & iron the long edge twice over. Sew edge. Finished size should be 7" x 18" with one of 18" sides folded over & sewn.

Step 4:
Repeat again, this time your third piece of fabric should be cut to 10" x 18" and measure 9.5" tall once folded and sewn.

Step 5:
Lay out one of your "whole" pieces that measure 18"x21", right side up. Layer on your folded-&-sewn-edge pieces by height, the tallest in the back. Line up all the bottom edges together.
I accidentally cut my tallest pocket too short by 1/2", but this is ok because it won't be seen and the bottom edge is actually the manufacturer's edge so it won't fray either.
This is what your project should now look like:

Step 6:
Carefully pin your layers together, making sure not to shift anything or pin it down to your ironing board...
Mark out your columns, but make sure you leave 1/4" on each side for your perimeter seam allowance. I like to make a mark near the top and another near the bottom, then use a straight ruler and a disappearing ink pen to join the 2 marks. A disappearing ink pen is very handy, you just use a sponge or cloth to dab cold water onto the pen mark and it disappears, even after sewing on the marks!

Say "Hello!" to my little friend, he loves to colour.
Make your columns as wide as you want, depending on the size of your tools. For this roll-up I made most of them 1" wide, which holds anything from one crochet hook to a set of four double pointed needles. I also included a few 1.5" wide columns for sets of bigger needles. Here are the increments I used for this one (from right to left):
1.5", 1.5", 1,5", 1 for the rest of the way across.

BUT for the last 6" to the far left side, I did a little something different! I'll explain it in the next 3 steps...

Step 7:
We're about to make it so that the bottom set of pockets are 2" wide on the left side, instead of more 1". These special 2" wide pockets in the bottom row are perfect for circular needles (with a folded connecting cord), scissors, those cute gauge thingers to tell you what size your unmarked needles are... If you don't plan on ever using this for crochet hooks, it could be a good idea to make these 2"wide columns all the way across the bottom.
Anyway, unpin the front (shortest) piece of fabric on the left side, and lift the last 6"-7" up like a flap. Continue to draw your lines down the second piece of fabric.

Step 8: 
At the sewing machine, start on the left bottom corner of your project. Your first piece of fabric should be folded back like a 6" flap, so that you see those long lines you drew on your second piece of fabric. Adjust your stitch length to be a little tighter, on my machine it's a 12. Sew through the 3 layers (on mine they are purple, teal and light green, NOT the dark green) at the first 1" mark. When you sew your columns, "back stitch" at each edge that you folded, ironed & sewed earlier (in steps 2, 3 & 4), your machine should have a lever or button that makes it sew backwards when you hold it. This will reinforce the tops of each column in the different heights. Continue sewing the lines from what is actually the bottom left corner of your project but on your machine it will look like the top right corner: skip the second 1" mark, sew the 3rd, skip the 4th, sew the 5th.

Step 9:
Erase your pen marks on the lines you've sewn, follow the direction on the pen package. Fold your flap back down so your project looks normal again, pin in place.

Step 10:
Now sew the rest of your columns, but be careful not to re-sew the ones from step 8 (skip the first, 3rd and 5th 1" marks). Remember to back stitch at each folded edge (you'll be doing this 3 times per line). Try to follow the lines, but don't stress yourself out about it too much.
This is what the front should look like once you're done all of your columns:

Sorry about the contrast, I seize the sunlight every time I sees it (ha, get it?) Here's another photo with flash:
And here is the back of this project so far:
Congratulations! The main part of the project is done! Erase all your lines and iron it out nice and flat.

For this particular roll, I've decided to make an extra pocket on the outside. The person this roll-up is for can both knit and crochet, so I wanted to provide the most room for the crochet hooks (which only fit in the bottom row). Here is a picture of a previous roll-up I've done with a pocket on the inside:
This pocket holds stitch markers, cable needles, stitch holders, bits of yarn, or anything else that is too small for the columns. If you want this pocket on the inside, simply adjust one of the 2" columns width to create a pocket as wide as you'd like, the one pictured above is 3" wide. Then create a little flap (that I will explain in steps 12-15) and attach it to your second piece of fabric before you make any columns.

Here are the steps to create this pocket on the outside of the roll:

Step 11:
Cut your pocket out of scraps, here mine is 5"x5". Fold over the top edge twice and sew like you did in step 2. Fold over the left side edge twice and iron, then line up the pocket in the bottom right corner of your BACK PANEL. This is the fat quarter (or piece that is 18"x21") that you have not sewn anything to yet.
Pin & sew down your folded left edge of the pocket.

Step 12:
Now create your pocket flap. Cut a piece of scrap so it is as wide as your pocket, plus 1/4" seam allowance and about 3-4" long. Fold it in half right-sides together, then sew each 1.5"-2" side closed.

Turn it right-side out and iron nice and flat, poking out the corners (I use a chop stick to get in there).

Step 13:
Trim your pocket flap to be as long as you want it, plus 1/4" to attach it. Serge or zigzag over the edge so it doesn't fray. Pin your flap down to the large back panel, sew it down. I like to sew mine down twice, once at the 1/4" mark, and once near the very edge.

Step 14:
Create the button hole, make sure the opening is as long as your button's diameter.
Most machines have a setting that looks like this:

Step 15: 
Fold down your flap as if your pocket is closed, iron flat, then mark the center through your button slot where the button should be attached on the pocket.

Attach your button either by hand or by machine, going over it many times to make sure it's secure.
Button your flap closed, and pin the right edge and bottom of your pocket down to the back panel.
Please note that the pocket flap doesn't measure all the way to the right side of the fabric. Make sure you leave room here for the seam allowance around the perimeter!

Step 16:
Now we're going to "cover up the ugly". Place the first half of your project down, right-side UP with all the columns facing towards you as if it's complete. Then place your back panel on, right-side DOWN, if you added the outer pocket it should be on the left bottom corner. Pin all layers together about every 2"-3" around the outside edges.

Step 17:
Adjust your stitch length again, even smaller now, to about a 12. Sew the right edge and top edge, leaving at least 1/4" seam allowance, but only 1/2" at most. Trim the edge as neccesary to make it all straight and clean. Serge or zigzag the two edges.

Step 18:
Fold your 24" ribbon in half (or lay the two 12" pieces together) and insert them into your project. I like to put them at about 5.5" and 10.5" (from the bottom), this will seem uneven, but remember that the top of your roll folds down quite a bit.

The folded end should stick out of the edge little bit (so you can see it when you're sewing) and pin in place. You might want to pin the ends down flat inside so it doesn't curl up into your sewing path.

Sew the left edge just as you did in step 17, but make sure to back stitch over the ribbons to make them extra secure. Trim & serge/zigzag.

Remove all your pins and turn your whole project out, it should now be like a pillow case. Poke out the top corners, push everything flat and iron it all down nicely.
This last seam is the trickiest. Fold your raw edges in, try to make it an even 1/4", but you can take up to 1" if you need to. Iron & pin it down. When your satisifed with the edges lining up, take your project to the machine.
Adjust your stitch length to how it was in step 8, a nice medium stitch that is both decorative and strong. Stitch as straight as you can along the bottom edge of your project, as close to the edge as you can. You could stitch it a second time at 1/4" inwards, or you could zigzag this. Whatever esthetically pleases you!

Step 21:
Cut all loose threads, iron nice and smooth, fill with needles & hooks, fold the top flap down (this is to prevent them from siding out the top!), roll it up from right to left, seperate the two strands of each set of ribbons and tie closed!
Open Measurements: 17"wide x 20.5"tall
Rolled Measurements: 14.5"long x 7"circumference.

Now unroll it and start working on a yarn project!

If you use this tutorial to create your own, please let us see your version! :)


  1. I think this is a great tutorial! Thanks! :) I'm making one of these for a swap and will be done this weekend. I'll let you know when mine is finished and on my blog so you can see it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Wonderful! I love that there are places for circular needles and such. Found your tutorial through another post where someone made it:

  3. Here's one I made...
    Thanks for the tutorial!

  4. Hi! First of all, thanks SO MUCH for this tutorial! My roll is coming along beautifully! I wanted to ask about the brown trim on the project you feature at the end of Step 10. I would love to add trim to my pockets, can you tell me how you did it and what material you used?


  5. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! I'm going to organize my knitting supplies and this is just what I need!

  6. Wow. It has been a long time since I've wanted to do a tutorial as much as I want to do this. I recently realized that my current needle storage is inefficient, and this has everything. I will make this and I will certainly show the results when I am done. Cheers!