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  • Tips for Making Your First Sewing Kit: A Video Tutorial

    September is National Sewing Month!  Hooray!

    I don't sew as much as I used to, mostly because I like to keep all of my tools out until I finish a project.  There's a lot of ironing, cutting, pinning, sewing, ironing, cutting some more, pinning again...you get the idea.  With a small apartment, a busy schedule, and a very curious daughter, I just don't think this is my season for big quilt projects.  That doesn't stop me from lusting after books like 50 States Quilt Blocks, though.  GO LOOK AT THOSE BLOCKS RIGHT NOW! READ THAT DESCRIPTION!!!  OH MAN! I'm sorry for the caps but OH MAN! So awesome.

    Ahem.

    But anyway!  Whether you're one of those super involved quilters with a whole room of the house devoted to your craft, someone who can replace a button or re-hem some pants, or one of those somewhere-in-between sewers, you're going to need a sewing kit.

    Enter Martha with her Tip-See Tuesday videos!  Have you subscribed to the Leisure Arts YouTube channel?  You should do that!  There are tutorials and friendly people giving bits of advice just like this one:

      

    Please note: Martha is not drunk, or even a little tipsy, in these videos.  I just wanted to mention that in case you have objections to that sort of thing.  But she has lots of tips!  And I thought her recommendations for putting together a sewing kit were spot on.  I especially loved the idea of using a travel soap dish to hold together some of your smaller items.

    I've had a sewing kit for forever, and I've been using this box since sometime before college. 

    A lot of my sewing supplies have gotten a little scattered over time, and I usually wind up tearing up the house looking for a simple tool here or there.  After I thought about the essentials listed in this video, I realized I really need to get my stuff together.  This was a great reminder!

    If I could add anything to my kit not mentioned in the video I would have to include a magnet.  They're essential.  You should definitely always keep your pins in a container or a pin cushion, but something's going to fall out sooner or later.  And when it does, you do not want to find something sharp and pointy with your bare hands--or worse, with your bare feet a few hours later.  Drag a magnet over your workspace after you've done a quick sewing project and you'll pull up any pins or needles that might have rolled away from you.

    People are commenting on the video with their own sewing kit essentials and it's great!  Feel free to chime in with your own ideas about what a sewing kit does or doesn't need.  I'll just be over here thinking about quilts.

    Happy sewing!  (This month and always.)

  • Tutorial Tuesday: Get an Arm Knitting Tip

    Hey there, hi there, ho there.  Would you like an arm knitting tip?  Because I watched this video and I think it's a great tip.  I really could have used this the first time I tried to arm knit a cowl pattern from Learn to Arm Knit.  I obviously couldn't take pictures of myself when both of my arms were covered in yarn, so I asked my husband to help me out.  But then I realized I needed to change some settings on my camera, and once that happened I realized I should have changed clothes (ugh, I still wish I had worn a different shirt for that post's pictures) and, of course, any time is a good time to run to the bathroom when your hands are occupied.....but there I was, trapped.

     

    Things could have been different for me!  Look at this!

      

    The video can also be found here, and the Leisure Arts YouTube channel is full of great tutorials.  Head on over there to get to know Martha a little bit better.  And go ahead and subscribe while you're at it!

    Okay, back to knitting talk.  Stitch holders for 'regular' knitting are fairly commonplace.

    Sometimes you need them to hold your stitches until you should pick them up again--like for sleeves on a sweater.  And sometimes, you just need your needles for another project and you feel like letting your knitting sit for a while.  Then, ta da!  You just slide those live stitches back on and get to work!  But arm knitting patterns call for bulky and super bulky weight yarn held double.  Or triple! Or even more.

    That's a loooooot of big, fluffy yarn to try to cram onto a stitch holder. 

    Especially if your largest ones are already occupied.

    I thought this tip was a super clever DIY. It's incredibly improvisational and I don't even want to think about what a bulky weight stitch holder would cost, assuming you could find one.  This way seems pretty great to me.  It feels a little too hot right now to literally cover myself up in a yarny project, but I'm definitely going to remember this tip for if I need to take a break from my next project.

  • Learn to Crochet: Whipstitch Inside Loops (Left Handed Video Tutorial)

     Let's talk about seaming, okay?  It's important!  It's simple!  If I didn't do it, I would just have a pile of squares instead of a halfway-done project from Baby Afghans!  It can even be done by left-handed people, but you can probably still get the idea by watching this video even if you're right-dominant.
      

    I typically seam my work together by facing the right sides together.  I'm not really sure why, other than I might be thinking about sewing with fabric.  But! There's no raw edge with crochet, so why do something that makes your squares (or strips or hexagons or whatever else you want to join together) bend and warp?

    Stitching inside the loops even seems to make a tiny bit of difference in how large my squares appear.  Or so I think.  It's all very, very gray.  I had originally planned to alternate gray squares with yellow ones, but then I changed my mind.  So now I need to make 13 more gray squares with yellow centers.

     

    As for those yellow squares with gray centers I already crocheted?

    Well, I'm just going to crochet 12 more of those at a later date.  For now, I'm focused on the gray blanket because that's the one I plan to give as a gift at a baby shower I'm attending.  On Friday.

    I might have finished a little sooner if I hadn't been distracted by other cute square projects, but oh well.  This is my second time making the pattern, and it's a pretty quick project even if you're not familiar with it.  I'm still going to make an extra strip so that the blanket will be a square, and I'm going to continue to be pleased with stitching the inside loops.  I'm halfway there!

  • Learn to Knit: Changing Double Point Needles

    I've been thinking about making another pair of socks.  I really like the Basic Sock pattern from I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks, and it seems like now is a good time to talk about knitting on double pointed needles. 

    Here is a video to show you what knitting with double pointed needles looks like!

       

    Ta da!

    I know that tutorial is for when you switch from circular knitting needles to double pointed ones, and that's a little different from when you knit on double pointed needles from start to finish.  Actually, no.  It's pretty much the same.  It may not feel like it when you get started, but it is.  Knitting in the round is moving your stitches around and around. 

    Knitting in the round on double pointed needles is moving your stitches around and around, and from needle to needle.  I promise that it's not a big deal.  When you're knitting a hat and move to double pointed needles because you've decreased to the point where you have too few stitches to knit on a circular needle, you'll probably divide your stitches onto three needles.  I'm not sure why, but that's just how it works out with your stitches and decrease points.  Your pattern will probably tell you. 

    I think I prefer to knit on four needles, just because.  I found out that I have an easier time hanging on to four than three.  Maybe I just like it because it makes a square.  In fact, I like it so much that I'd tell you that if your hat pattern doesn't specifically say "You need to divide your stitches evenly over three needles," then you should divide them evenly over four needles.  You just should.

    You should try all kinds of things.  If you haven't knitted with double pointed needles before, a baby hat might be the best starter project.  Or you should just throw yourself into sock knitting with wild abandon because there's no reason not to!  Have fun!

  • Learn to Knit: Knit 1 In Row Below

     

    Before knitting the Bee Stitch dishcloth pattern from Kitchen Bright Dishcloths, I don't think I'd ever heard of the bee stitch.  But the the dishcloth's pretty patterning is the result of mixing knit stitches with the technique of knitting into the stitch below and I love it. 

     

    Knitting into the stitch below is fairly simple, once I got over the part where I would hold my breath because I felt like I was going to somehow unravel all my knitting when I would move the new loop off the needle.  It just felt a little scary even though I read the explanation of the stitch in the book several times and watched this video at least twice.  Actually, it might have been more.  I might have even done it when I was more than halfway through the project because I suddenly panicked and was convinced I had forgotten how to knit into the stitch below.

    Sometimes it's a little scary to learn new things and try them out, over and over in a new pattern!  But doing that new thing over and over is probably the best way to learn it.  Now that I'm familiar with the stitch, I catch myself checking out similar-looking stitches in pictures for patterns and wondering if that's what it is.

    Who wouldn't want to see this in more patterns!?
    The video tutorial for this stitch was fantastic, and really helped me calm down a bit.  You should see me when I try something new and can't find a video tutorial, or at least a simple line drawing illustration!
    Actually, you shouldn't.  No one should see that.  I love it when someone can show me a new knitting technique.  Even when that person is just on a screen.  That might even be my favorite way to learn new stitches because I can replay this as many times as I want and that calm voice and competent hands never get impatient.  It's the best!

  • Learn to Crochet: Placing A Marker For Continuous Rounds

    Remember when I started crocheting the Sunflower potholder pattern from Towel Toppers and Potholders?

    Somewhere in all my chattering about grandmas and kitchens, I forgot to mention that these round pieces are worked in rows of continuous rounds.  Continuous rounds are pretty lovely for round crochet projects because the rows are, well, continuous.  The beginnings and endings of your rows blend together smoothly and you can avoid any bumps in your work.  Continuous rounds are common in amigurumi and they're also showing up in my potholder pattern.

    However, it can be kind of easy to lose your place in your work because the rounds all kind of blend together.  If you want to crochet the correct number of rows and/or keep your increase and decrease rows in order, you're going to need to place a stitch marker in your work to keep track of the begining of your rows.

        

    At first I wondered about writing this post.  Placing a marker?  Wasn't that kind of obvious?  Surely people can figure that out on their own, right?

    Welllllll.

    Let's just get this out of the way: I totally learned something new with this.  Of course, of course.  I have to admit that I was a little confused about where the marker should go and when you knew your row was stopping and how am I able to tie my own shoes?

    You know, I'm wondering if I'm even doing that correctly now.  Dang, video tutorials.  They make me question everything!

    If you didn't need this video, then congratulations!  But if you did need this video, we don't have to talk about it.  Either way, isn't it lovely that we have them? 

    Happy crafting!

  • Purl 2 Stitches Together: A Knitting Tutorial

    Hey, remember when I knitted the Casual Comfort beanie from Celebrity Beanies for the Family and it was all textured and kind of old-fashioned looking and absolutely delightful?

    Good times.

    I really love that pattern, and I think I should make it again for myself in either a really neutral color or a super vibrant one.  Anyway, until then I thought this would be a fun time to talk about decrease stitches.  I know.  I party hard.

    Since seed stitch is just a bunch of knit and purl stitches, one of the decrease methods for the Casual Comfort hat is to purl two stitches together.  And how do you purl two stitches together?

     Like this:

     

    It seems simple enough: act like you're going to purl a stitch and then purl two of them as one.  But the first time I read a description of how to do it, it sounded ridiculously tricky and I don't know why.  Maybe sometimes simple actions are difficult to describe.  But believe me, this is as simple as the reassuring voice and professional hands in the video says it is.

    Purling two stitches together is a common technique when you're making decreases in the purled fabric between cables, ribbed knitting, or seed stitch.  Man, I love seed stitch.  And I love knowing lots of decrease stitches.  Purl decreases are fanfreakingtastic, and I hope you have a pattern to try them out super soon.

    Obviously I'm recommending this one.

  • Picking Up Stitches At End Of Rows: A Knitting Tutorial


     

    I was thinking about picking up stitches the other day, because sometimes I think about those things.  I had thought it would be terrifying and ridiculous, but when I worked my first heel on my first pair of socks, it wasn't a big deal.  Maybe the instructions in I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks were incredibly clear.  Maybe I'm just a natural when it comes to knitting socks.  Maybe you can do anything if you have a good tutorial. 

    Maybe it's a mix of those things, minus the joke about my preternatural sock skills.  I do not have sock skills.  But I'd like to make another pair soon, and I'm going to make sure I have this video playing when it time for me to pick up the stitches on my heel flap. 

        

        

    Because I totally did it wrong last time!  Of course.  Like I said, I was joking about having sock skills.  

    Obviously.

    But I did enjoy the Basic Sock Pattern and I love self-striping yarn and I would like to try more patterns from I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks.  And now I know some more things about picking up stitches!   And I think I'll use a crochet hook, too.  Leaps and bounds with this sock-knitting business!  And I had fun the last time I made socks.  I'll have even more fun when I've got a better understanding of how to work on those tricky heels.

    Having some warm socks and having the slightest inkling about how to make them well?!  I really can't think of anything more fun than that.

  • Learn to Crochet: Single Crochet 2 Stitches Together (Left-Handed)

    Well.  We knew this was bound to happen.  After getting all nostalgic about how much fun I had  crocheting a Baby Surprise Jacket, I decided to make another one.

    And this time I thought I'd take a picture of the decrease rows so you can get a better idea about single crocheting two stitches together at the same point on each row:

    Single crocheting two stitches together is what happens when you insert your hook through a stitch and draw up the yarn.  Instead of pulling your yarnover through your two loops, you insert your hook into the next stitch and pull your yarnover through all three of your loops.

    One of the commenters on the right-handed tutorial post said I didn't describe it well, so I thought I'd give it a better shot this time. 

    I still stand by my original statement that words are hard, and pictures are better.  By the way, this is what happens after you single crochet two stitches together:

    If you look closely you can see how the fabric is starting to pull a bit.  Eventually, it will turn like a corner on the bottom portion of the jacket and be completely adorable!

    And, in case you would like to see this demonstrated for a left-handed hooker by an actual demonstrating professional (sorry, not that kind of professional), here's a video!

           

    I'm telling you, video tutorials are my favorite way to learn new techniques.  I'm not a shy person, but I start to feel embarrassed if I have to ask someone to show me how to do something 3 or 4 or 10 times because I'm just not getting it, or because I wanted to be super sure of something.  But a video?  I can watch that all day!

    Or at least as many times as I need to in order to try out a new technique.  And this little sweater is the perfect practice!

  • Learn to Crochet: Single Crochet Two Stitches Together

    Hey, do y'all remember that time I crocheted a Baby Surprise Jacket?  That was awesome. 

     

    Or at least it felt pretty awesome to me.

    If you're unimpressed, click here to see some of the amazing color choices and pattern variations other crocheters have done.  Super impressive stuff!

    But I loved my first attempt at this sweet little pattern, in part because of its plain simplicity.  My favorite part of this, though, is that it's one piece! 

    The two front parts of the jacket that look like the rows are turning corners* is made by single crocheting two stitches together.  It's completely different from simply skipping a stitch, which creates a little gap in your work.  And because you single crochet two stitches together (sc2tog) at the same point on every row, the points begins to pull the fabric upwards to create a corner.

    This:

    is what happens when you do this:

         

    Crocheting two stitches together can feel weird at first, but making a whole sweater that calls for them is a great way to get in the swing of things.

    And actually, I say that because I'm kind of feeling the itch to make another one of these.  I don't remember the last one taking very long, and the pattern is sized for babies 6 months, 18 months, and 2 years.  Like I've mentioned before, I really want to make my daughter and my nephew matching sweaters.  I may not be able to wait until this fall.

    And now that I've had a little refresher course in how to single crochet two stitches together, maybe it's time for me to get to work on some Easter sweaters......

     *That's the only way I can think to describe it, anyway.  And now you know why I show you video tutorials instead of trying to write out instructions and tips myself.  Words are hard!

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