Crafting in all its different forms has become a popular pastime in the last few years – especially over lockdown! We’re talking about the art of making things from mostly natural materials- for example, knitting, crocheting, sewing, stained glass creations, scrapbooking – to name a few!
However, crafting has been around a lot longer than this century. The word “craft” originates from an Old English word “craft,” which in turn comes from an old German word “kraft.” Its meaning came to represent “strength” or “skill” and referred to creating objects that took talent to make.
Crafting meant different things to different ancient civilizations—for example, ceramics in ancient Greece, metallurgy in ancient Egypt, and textiles in ancient Mesopotamia.
Fast forward to the 19th century, and the advent of the Arts and Crafts Movement in the UK dawned. This largely came about as a response to industrialization, which sought to promote artists craftspeople’s importance.
So, if you’re already a keen crafter or eager to get started using your hands and your head to create beautiful things, keep reading. We’re going to walk through some of the best crafting tools to use for various crafts, including knitting, crocheting, painting, sewing, and stained glass crafting.
We’ll also cover their:
Lastly, we’ll offer a few of our top recommendations for our favorite crafting tools. If you’re not careful, crafting can become a costly hobby. So it’s wise to do some research before diving in and parting with your hard-earned cash.
That said, continue reading to do precisely that…
The art of knitting has undoubtedly moved on since many of us remember our mothers and grandmothers knitting clothes for the latest addition to the family.
Today, there are knitting circles and clubs across the world. There’s even an activist Revolutionary Knitting Circle that seeks to challenge social division through creating textiles. That said, while traditional knitting needles still exist, there are other, more advanced tools available:
Circular Knitting Needles
If you’re keen to knit different items, you’ll quickly realize you’ll need different sized needles for various projects. That’s where circular knitting needles come in. They’re an interchangeable set of circular needles that come with cables and different attachable tips.
However, using circular knitting needles comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
- You have all the knitting tools you need in one handy set
- You can knit things without seams
- They can be found in all US knitting needle sizes (up to size 15)
- They’re (usually) more expensive than straight-up traditional knitting needles
- Many knitting patterns assume you know how to use them, which is hard for beginners
We like the Circular Knitting Needles 16-Inch Set Round Metal Kit Size 15, 11, 9, 7, 5, 2 for $13.99 on Amazon.
A Knitting Machine
For the more ambitious, higher volume, and experienced knitter, a knitting machine is a worthy investment. Knitting machines can be used both at home and in business settings.
Typically, there are two types to choose from: circular or flat.
Before you invest, it’s worth doing some research first. For example, if you have a tight budget and you’re a beginner, consider a used machine or one aimed at beginners. In contrast, if you’re more experienced, then a professional machine may be the right fit for you. Either way, some background reading is the way to go before leaping in.
There are several pros and cons to investing in a knitting machine.
- It’s easier to knit patterns using different colored wools
- If you go with a straightforward design, you’ll have your end result way faster
- If you make a mistake, it’s simple to take out the offending rows
- Maintaining the right tension is more straightforward with a knitting machine than with traditional knitting needles
- They’re pretty expensive
- You’ll need to boast a certain skill level to use one
- You have to regularly maintain your machine
- Having a narrower machine may mean you have to sew sections together
Since there are so many variants involved, we’re going to recommend a flat and a circular machine as well as some reading materials to help get you on the right track!
Reading: Head over to Machine Knit. This is a free online community (you have to join) offering advice, help, and support on all things knitting.
Circular Machine: The Addi Express King Size Knitting Machine is German-made and very popular with knitters. It retails at around $299 on Fiber To Yarn, however, it can be found for much cheaper on non-US Amazon sites.
Flat Machine: Angelika’s Yarn Store has a variety of professional flat machines for the experienced knitter. The machines come in a variety of gauges: standard, mid and bulky. Prices start around $440 for the Silver Reed LK150 Mid-Gauge.
According to The Crochet Guild of America, no one is quite sure where crochet originates from. However, it’s fair to say that it’s been around for many centuries, with researchers debating its origins – including 16th century France and England, 15th century Italy, or way earlier in China, South America, and Arabia.
Today, crochet fans know it’s possible to crochet with multiple materials, including wool, synthetic yarn, copper wire, plastic, fabric, and so on.
You may also know that a quick Google search provides contradictory information about whether or not crochet machines exist.
Some experts say that because crochet stitches, unlike knitting ones, aren’t flat, they’re too hard to replicate on a machine. That said, if you search for “crochet machine,” you’ll see tons of links. Still, they’ll eventually lead you to knitting machines (like the ones discussed above.
So, we’ll save you some time and dive right into the advantages and disadvantages of using more traditional crochet tools instead. As with knitting, there are a few must-haves for getting started:
Typically, crochet hooks come in plastic, aluminum, or steel and can be found in 25+ sizes. They’re available at multiple outlets, online and offline. You may even see them at your go-to supermarket if it has a crafting section!
These are actually used by knitters, but there’s no reason why you can’t use them for crochet too. They do exactly what it says on the tin: mark your stitches. These come in especially useful at the start of projects for marking the first stitch on each row.
A Crafting Lamp
While by no means essential, if you’re working on detailed crochet stitches, a crafting lamp is a great aid – especially if you’re working with finer yarns or materials.
- The basics such as hooks are cheap to buy
- You can find them at multiple retail outlets.
- They come in a variety of materials.
- It can be confusing knowing which tools to start with
One popular choice is the lightweight, inexpensive Susan Bates Silvalume Crochet Hook Sets, with prices starting at $14.95 on Amazon.
We also like this Ottlite folding crafting desk lamp. It’s handy for anyone who enjoys different types of detailed crafting. Although it retails at $59.99, the store also has cheaper options.
Remember, at school, sticking pictures, photos, and materials into an empty paper book? That’s scrapbooking in a nutshell.
Today, it’s developed into both a childhood and adult crafting activity for telling stories and keeping memories alive. Scrapbooking is a creative way of sparking our imaginations, keeping our hands busy, and calming our active minds.
Interestingly, scrapbooking, as a hobby, isn’t new. For centuries, people have used scrapbooks to keep photos, greetings cards, baseball cards, recipes, letters, and so on. The beauty of scrapbooking is that it’s an inexpensive hobby that can pretty much be anything you want it to be.
With that said, let’s look at some scrapbooking tools you can use:
Scrapbooks come in different shapes and sizes, so it’s wise to consider the type of scrapbooking project you’re going for before buying your paper product.
For instance, do you want a scrapbook that you can add extra pages to if your project expands? Do you want to store it on a particular bookshelf? What theme do you want your scrapbook to have? Etc.
Pro Tip: Be mindful of the color of the scrapbook’s pages, especially if you intend to write on them.
A good pair of scissors for cutting even the most delicate materials is a must-have for any keen scrapbooker. It may be worth investing in more than one pair—for example, a fine-tipped pair and a thicker pair for heavier materials like fabrics.
If you’re a stationery fan, you may well already have a lovely selection of pens. If not, then for scrapbooking, find some fine-tipped, permanent pens that are acid-free (so the ink doesn’t fade).
These are ideal for writing in your scrapbook. However, you may also want to find thicker tipped pens for highlighting, drawing outlines, and so on.
Suppose you’re happy to add technology to your list of tools. In that case, you can use your computer and printer to download free scrapbooking albums to get started. You could go entirely digital and create an online scrapbook instead. It’s more environmentally friendly and mess-free!
As with most things, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider when purchasing these scrapbooking tools…
- Scrapbooking tools and supplies are inexpensive(especially if you’re happy to use what you already have in the house)
- Scrapbooking tools are easy to source
- Digital downloads can save you time and money
- Digital scrapbooks are easy to share
- If you become super-enthusiastic, you could end up with masses of supplies…so you’ll need to think of some creative storage solutions!
- Making a scrapbook can take lots of time and effort.
- Scrapbooking is a detail-oriented hobby, so if you’re not that way inclined, it may not be for you.
We’re going to go old-school here and opt for a physical scrapbook. We like this American Crafts album that’s completely customizable and currently on sale for $16.14.
We’re also big fans of this pen selection, where you can choose from multiple types of pens, including glitter sets at $16.09, fine-point writers from $1.59, and a 48-pack of gel pens for $34.12.
Sewing and Quilting
Sewing is back in vogue. A quick tour of popular streaming networks reveals a host of sewing related programs. Most famously, Project Runway, Sewing with Nancy, The Great British Sewing Bee, and Its Sew Easy – that’s just for starters!
Sewing and quilting are multigenerational hobbies and skills that can be passed from generation to generation. For example, you can sew a quilt using clothes that no longer fit or fabrics from sentimental items.
That said, let’s explore some of the must-have sewing and quilting tools:
A Sewing Machine
There are tons of sewing machines on the market. So, at first glance, it can seem pretty confusing to an absolute beginner.
But, what we can say is that you don’t really need lots of experience to use one, and you’ll quickly find plenty of online guides and videos to help get you started. However, some machines are fancier than others, especially computerized machines, so be sure to do your research first before taking the plunge!
Like knitting needles, the type of sewing needles you buy depends on the project you’re undertaking – i.e., the thicker the fabric, the thicker the needle.
The ideal starting point for any beginner is a pack of needles boasting different sizes with varying needle eye sizes that suit your thread type. What you don’t want is a needle where your thread keeps falling out.
A good pair of fabric scissors are a must for any dedicated sewing and quilting fan. Household scissors from your kitchen drawer just won’t cut it (pardon the pun). In contrast, fabric scissors will cut through any fabric type in one go, reducing the likelihood of you making an error.
Ideally, look for scissors with curved handles to give you better precision when cutting.
Top Tip: Only use your fabric scissors for cutting fabric. Otherwise, you risk blunting your blades.
Buying fabric is an enjoyable experience, especially if you can physically see and feel the material before buying it. As fabrics come in different weights and are made from either natural or manmade fibers, it’s wise to consider what you’re planning to make before choosing your material.
Namely, because some fabrics just aren’t suitable for some projects. For example, if you plan on sewing a summer garment, you want something breathable.
A Tape Measure
If you need to measure fabric, this tool is a must. Ideally, choose a tape measure with both metric and imperial measures that can be laid flat onto surfaces. This helps to ensure you can take all the measurements you need using one tool!
But what are the advantages and disadvantages of using these sewing and quilting crafting tools? Here’s both:
- You can have endless fun creating garments and quilts for all the family
- Quilts can be passed down from generation to generation
- Quilting can be a way of telling a story/keeping history alive
- It’s possible to enjoy both sewing and quilting with little expense if you upcycle your fabric
- Sewing machines and fabrics can be expensive
- You have to maintain your sewing machine and pay for repairs
- Fabric scissor blades will blunt if you use them to cut anything else
Your basic fabric scissors can be bought from many places. We like these scissors from Fiskar, starting at $9.99, and suggest you go for a pair with a minimum of 8” in length for easier cutting and grip.
We’re staying traditional with our choice of a sewing machine and opting for this Singer Confidence 7363. It’s the perfect choice for beginners retailing at $189.99.
Although candle making is great fun, it’s a hobby that requires a certain level of science and artistic talent. Imagine baking something following a recipe.
Candle making is no different. You select the right ingredients and follow a recipe. As you gain more experience, you can start experimenting with different smells and ingredients.
The nice part of candle making is that you can pop your candles into all types of items. From vintage teacups from flea markets to glass jars, small metal buckets, pottery bowls…you get the idea. You can really get creative here to make your candles that little bit more unique and special.
There are quite a few ingredients you could use to make candles, so we’ve just listed the basic ingredients for getting started:
Candle Wax and Wicks
For this hobby, candle making wax and a set of large candle wicks are your go-to essentials. Depending on the kind of candles you want to make, you may want to invest in different wax types. Typically, the most popular wax type is soy. This kind of wax can easily be poured into your container. However, if you want to make stand-alone candles, you’ll need harder wax such as pillar wax.
The best advice for researching candle-making tools is: don’t fall into the trap of purchasing the cheapest products – especially if you want to sell them.
As for your candle wick, this can be tricky. You need to ensure you use the right size wick and that it’s made out of natural fibers and coated in wax. It’s the wax that keeps your wick from drooping when the candle’s burning. Something else to consider is the impact your fragrance may have on the wick, as the fragrance’s acidity may affect how your wick burns.
Choosing the fragrances to add to your candle wax is one of the best bits about candle making!
You can add natural products such as a sprig of lavender or small rose petals for an extra special touch. That said, fragrance oils are usually the best way to go. These can easily be bought online (see our recommendation below)
Other candle making tools you may want to look into, include:
- A heatproof container such as a large saucepan
- A spatula
- Scales to measure your wax
- A double-boiler (this can be a saucepan half full of boiling water and a bowl where you place your candle wax to melt)
There are several advantages and disadvantages to consider when investing in candle making. Let’s look at both now:
- You can have lots of fun experimenting with different types of wax and fragrances.
- It’s possible to make some money from selling your products (see our FAQ for more on this!)
- Candle making tools can be found cheaply – you may already have some of the items you need in your kitchen.
- It can be messy
- Accidents do happen, so carefully follow the safety precautions when heating wax. You don’t want to burn yourself, and you’ll want to ensure your candle molds, especially glass ones, are heatproof.
One of our favorite choices was this fragrance oil set for $16.95. It’s ideal because if you intend to create the next crafting item on our list (soap!), you can also use this set to make those too!
Since you’re not going to get anywhere without your two staples, our other recommendations are candle wax and wicks. Prices for these vary greatly, so we won’t list them all here. However, if you’re just starting out, Amazon has a wide choice of candle making kits to get you on the right path. Prices start at $27.99 for a starter kit.
Making soap is a fun and relatively inexpensive hobby. However, you’ll need a few soap crafting tools to hit the ground running. The beauty of soap making is that you can be as creative as you like, using different colors, scents, and natural ingredients. Plus, like candles, they make great gifts for friends and family!
To help steer you in the right direction, we’ve listed some of the best tools for baking soap below:
Although not technically a crafting tool, we’re including it here because nothing will happen without it.
For you to have lye that produces soap, ensure it’s 95%+ sodium hydroxide. Lye is an alkaline product, so it has a very high pH level, making it extremely caustic. As such, careful handling is of great importance.
You may find this crafting ingredient in your local hardware store. Otherwise, there are plenty of online outlets that sell it. Lye isn’t just used to make soap. You can also use it to craft candles, clean out drains, cure food, and clean out old beehives!
You’re going to need to put your raw soap into a mold so that it has some sort of shape when it sets. You can either use items you already have around the house (yogurt pots, a Tupperware container, and so on ) or buy a commercial soap mold.
These come in all manner of:
So, there’s tons of choice out there!
Different soap recipes require different temperatures. You have to heat your lye and natural oils when making soap, which is why a thermometer is an excellent investment for any budding soap maker. You can either go all out and buy an expensive laser thermometer or use one you already have in your kitchen. It’s up to you how much you spend.
Other tools you’re going to need (that you may already have in your kitchen) include:
- A stick blender
- Containers to measure and mix lye
- A silicone spatula
- Gloves and goggles
- Essential oils (which you may already have if you’re also making candles)
There are several advantages and disadvantages when considering the best tools for soap making. Let’s kick off with the pros:
- You’ll have fun choosing different fragrances!
- Some ingredients you can source for free (such as natural materials like flower petals, lavender, and herb springs)
- You can be as creative as you like when putting together soap recipes.
- Lye is caustic, so you need to be careful not to burn or scald yourself when handling it (hence the goggles and gloves!)
- Soap cutting machines can be expensive.
- Investing in all the tools can be pricey if you’re on a low budget and don’t have lots of items already in your kitchen.
Our favorite budget-friendly thermometer is the Taylor Precision Products Classic Line Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer for $5.95 from Amazon.
Or, if you prefer your thermometers to be more high tech, then try the Etekcity Infrared Thermometer 1022 for $32.99 and also from Amazon.
We’re also including lye in our recommendation list. Essential Depot’s Lye comes in safety proof plastic containers that are child-proof. Prices start at $21.76.
Last but not least is felting. This 2,000-year-old crafting tradition involves wool fibers matted together to make an unwoven textile. Felt can be made in a few ways: needle felting, wet felting, and Nuno felting.
Needle felting entails stabbing and tangling wool fibers together using barbed needles. Whereas wet felting involves compacting and interlocking wool fibers using soap, water, and brisk agitation of the wet fibers. Nuno felting is when you connect wool fibers to thinner fabrics such as silk, creating a lightweight felted fabric.
If you’re put off by that notion, you can simply buy felt fabric cheaply and use your sewing machine to create bags, clothes, and all manner of potential gift items.
Let’s take a look at some of the best tools for your new felting hobby:
A Single Felting Needle
Welcome to your number one best tool for your felting hobby. These are not to be confused with sewing needles or knitting needles. The felting needle’s barbs tear the wool when you poke it. They also make tangles in your wool. As you get more knots, your felting needle helps you to flatten or press your loose wool into felt.
A Needle Felting Pen
Experienced felters will tell you that a felting pen will quickly become your new best crafting friend. Why? Because it speeds up the felting process no end.
There are different types of felting pens, from a single needle to double and triple pointed ones. Ideally, look for needle felting pens that come with replacement needles. These come in handy if your needles break or become blunt over time.
A Felting Mat
A felting mat makes it easier to protect whatever surface you’re working on from the needle’s tip. In turn, it also protects the needles from hard surfaces too, so you’re less likely to break your needles.
There are a few advantages and disadvantages to consider when purchasing your felting tools. Here they are:
- Felting tools are inexpensive and easy to find, especially if you’re after starter kits.
- Felting is detailed work and can take lots of time.
The Clover Pen Style Needle Felting Pen retails at $14.95 and is best for medium and thick wool.
We also like these felting kits found on Amazon. Some kits come with felting mats and others without, so it’s worth checking exactly what you get for your money. Prices vary. But, we plumped for one of the most sought after ones from Mayboos, costing $28.99.
Question: Which of the crafting ideas listed here will make me the most money?
Answer: Of all the crafting hobbies, typically speaking, candles, soap, and bath bombs are your best bet if you want to transform your hobby into a profit-making sideline. That said, if your knitting abilities rise, making bespoke sweaters and throws could also earn you money.
As for soap/candle/bath bomb-making, the first rule of thumb is not to compare what you do to what you see in the stores and supermarkets. Mass-produced items are cheap.
Suppose you market your products as bespoke, hand made items made from natural higher-end ingredients. In that case, you’re reaching a different kind of audience. Your material costs are way lower than some of the other more expensive crafting hobbies such as sewing or glass making. This provides a bit of a leg up when it comes to turning a profit.
Question: Do I have to spend a lot of money on crafting tools?
Answer: It’s possible to start your new crafting hobby with very little equipment, especially if you’re just dipping your toe in the water. It’s also worth doing your research before diving in and spending tons of money. Why not buy a budget set of tools to get started and then upgrade as you improve? This is usually the best way to go about starting any new venture!
Question: Do I need a dedicated crafting room for my crafting hobbies?
Answer: Dedicated crafters with lots of room are likely to have their own creative space in their home or a summer house at the bottom of their garden.
However, it’s still possible to have a crafting hobby without these luxuries. Ideally, you can store all your crafting items in sealable plastic containers to keep them safe, dry, and dust-free. Choose clear storage boxes of different sizes that you can label, so it’s easy to reach all the tools you need with just a glance.
Question: Is crafting good for my mental health?
Answer: Much is written about this topic online, so here are just a few pieces of information to get you thinking. A study of 3,500 knitting fans found 81% of depressed people who knit believed that knitting made them feel happier. Elsewhere, a survey of people with depression and chronic fatigue syndrome reported increased self-esteem and engagement levels when participating in textile crafts like quilting and other arts and crafts.
Are you ready to start your crafting hobby? Hopefully, our guide to the best crafting tools will help you navigate your way towards an enriching way to spend your leisure time. Let us know how you get on the comments box below; we’d love to hear from you!