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  • Summer Yarn: Finger Crochet a Scarf or Necklace in Cotton

    I do love scarves as a great embellishment to most outfits. They can be fun and funky, or sleek and classic; chunky for coats, silky for dresses. Now that summer temperatures and humidity are looming, I don't want anything heavy, bulky or scratchy around my neck.  But I do want to wear a little extra color and pizzazz to more casual outfits. The perfect solution is a light-weight, airy Finger Crochet Scarf or Necklace in cotton yarn!

    After choosing my yarn colors, I was off making chain after chain. I did hold my yarn a little differently than demonstrated in Leisure Arts' Finger Crochet video, (this video is found as an additional video listed with the, "Learn to Arm Knit" video. Scroll down below the initial viewing window and select the Finger Crochet video). Once I got comfortable with how I was finger crocheting, I easily fell into a rythym.

    Make chain stitches one after another creating a long chain for your Finger Crochet Scarf or Necklace. Make crochet chain stitches one after another creating a long chain for your Finger Crochet Scarf or Necklace.

    I knew Leisure Arts had both a video tutorial and pattern associated with finger crocheting, so all I had to do was to rummage through my cotton yarn stash and choose some colors. When I learned how to arm knit, I remember seeing a bonus finger crochet pattern shown in the leaflet, 75517 - Learn How to Arm Knit. If you don't have a stash of yarn but are quite intrigued by arm knitting and finger crocheting, you might consider purchasing a kit that has all needed supplies included! The kit's contents found in 47134 - Learn to Arm Knit includes yarn, an instruction booklet with a finger crochet scarf pattern and tassel/pom-pom making techniques.

    My Finger Crochet Scarf or Necklace is growing. Finger Crochet is described in several Leisure Arts' items: 47134 - Learn to Arm Knit Kit and 75517 - Learn How to Arm Knit. My Finger Crochet Scarf or Necklace is growing. Finger Crochet is described in Leisure Arts' items 47134 - Learn to Arm Knit Kit and 75517 - Learn How to Arm Knit.

    I chose colors that were definitely summery that elicited thoughts of beach breezes, mild winds, shoreline discoveries, porch swings, bare feet...relaxed fun. Trying to look fresh and cool during the summer can sometimes be difficult. In order to remain comfortable while adding some relaxed embellishment to my outfits, I wanted to use cotton yarn. It is light-weight and breathable. Both of these characteristics were necessities for my scarf or necklace that I planned to drape around my neck during the summer!

    Lily Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn in colors Cornflower Blue and Cool Breeze Ombre. The Learn to Arm Knit booklet that is included in the kit; note the Bonus items listed on the front cover. Lily Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn in colors Cornflower Blue and Cool Breeze Ombre. The Learn to Arm Knit booklet standing next to the box is included in the KIT; note the Bonus items listed on the front cover.

    I knew I had to have a very long chain to loop multiple times around my head in order to drape properly. I just kept in the zone of chaining; it was much easier to keep going once I started rather than breaking my time up into crocheting segments. I never did measure my final length of chain; I can only guess how long it was if the inside loop measures 27" in diameter when I laid it on the table.

    Close-up of the length of chain looped around and around trying to determine the final appearance of the scarf or necklace. Close-up of the length of chain looped around and around trying to determine the final appearance of the Finger Crochet Scarf or Necklace.
    Finger crochet chain - chain - chain to whatever length you desire! The inside circle loop measures 27". Finger crochet: chain - chain - chain to whatever length you desire! The inside circle loop measures 27" inches in diameter.

    As I was crocheting, I thought of adding a little something more to finish the scarf a little differently than the examples that I had seen showing bulky yarns. I did not want to add weight to my project because that would defeat the purpose of the scarf or necklace being light-weight. I returned to my stash and found a solution!

    Other supplies used: 7-9mm Freshwater Pearls, Stretch Magic bead and jewelry cord (0.7 mm / 0.28 in), and a wooden button (1.5" in diameter). Other supplies used: 7-9mm Freshwater Pearls, Stretch Magic Bead and Jewelry Cord (0.7 mm / 0.28 in), and a wooden button (1.5" in diameter).

    I strung some Freshwater Pearls onto Stretch Magic Bead and Jewelry Cord before weaving into one section of my project.

    Fresh water pearls strung on the Stretch Magic cord to add a little glimmer to the chain. Freshwater Pearls strung on the Stretch Magic Bead and Jewelry Cord to add a little glimmer to the chain.

    I attached the scarf or necklace together as described in leaflet 75517 - Learn to Arm Knit or instruction booklet contained in the 47134 - Learn to Arm Knit KIT. Then, I added a wooden button as my signature - I love buttons, too!

    The final Finger Crochet Scarf / Necklace has seven loops, not six as pictured when the innermost loop measured 27" inches in diameter. The final Finger Crochet Scarf or Necklace has seven loops, not six as pictured when the innermost loop measured 27" inches in diameter.

    The Finger Crochet Scarf or Necklace is in summer colors and is a free-flowing pattern of loops. it is light-weight even with its added Freshwater Pearls and wooden button, and will feel cool hanging around my neck since it is made using cotton yarn.

    A snapshot at the end of the day; the necklace is a good length. A snapshot at the end of the day; the necklace is a good length.

    This is a great way to end a few long, hot days -- and summer hasn't officially begun! Until next time, stay cool!

    Martha

  • 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.

  • Knooks, Videos, and Tangents

     

    A few months ago, my husband thought he would try to help me out with some of the craft projects I do for this blog.  He didn't think he was up to crocheting, so he went for the Knook.  The plan was that he would try it out while I was away at work, and then I could help him with any confusion.  We were pretty certain that he would get pretty confused and I would probably have a post's worth of humor and silliness.

    When I came home that evening, he told me he didn't get as far as he had hoped.  "I ran out of string" he said.

    Oh.

    Let me be clear: I had left him with several Knook pattern books, all of which have detailed explanations on how to use the Knook.  These explanations all have pictures.  When I made him a pile of Knook-related materials next to some yarn and Knooks, I was very careful to place Learn to Knook on the very top.

    Let me be extra clear (in case you have never used a Knook, or you are just trying to give this poor man the benefit of a doubt): the string to which he referred was, in fact, the string attached to the end of the Knook.  The string you use to hold your active stitches.

    For the record, here's what you do with the string:

    And here's how you get started:

    I was never quite able to figure out what he had tried to do with the Knook and the string, but I did manage to explain to him what it was for.  He then decided that Knooking was not for him because I was making things too complicated.

     

    Whatever, it's his loss.  I'm not sure why I was thinking about that lately, but I was. And even though my husband didn't appreciate me bringing it up, I got a few laughs out of the memory.

    But to be fair, any kind of craft can be hard to understand at first--both in terms of technique and motivation.  But for people who enjoy making things, learning something new is definitely worth the initial confusion and frustration.  It's still interesting and satisfying to try out something different, even when some attempts don't work as well as others (looking at you, Tunisian crochet).

    Knooking will probably never be as fun for me as knitting and crochet are, but it's okay to have favorites and it was super fascinating to learn how to do it.   Other people love their Knooks and it always makes me happy to see Ravelry users or bloggers freaking out over how much they like Knooking and showing pictures of their projects.

    Once you get the hang of it, you can adapt any knitting pattern to your Knooking.  And then I guess you can take over the world!  There are several video tutorials on the Leisure Arts YouTube channel, and even more (in HD!) on their video page.   It's a fun thing to try out, if you haven't already.  The weekend looms large and is full of promise.  I say go for it.

    I mean, I don't say that to my husband but hey.  Give something new a try!  Anything!  And have fun.

     

     

  • 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!

  • Binding Off In Knit: A Video Tutorial

     When I was knitting the St. Patrick's Day pattern from Holiday Knit Dishcloths last week, I noticed the bind off instructions.

    And it got me thinking.  When I first started trying more crochet patterns, I used to panic at the phrase "finish off" because it just seemed like I should be doing so much more than pulling my hook out of its singular loop and tying a knot.  "Finish off" sounded like a huge task I should perform with some ceremony.  Or maybe a weapon.  But nope.

    Remove the hook from your work:

    Tie a knot:

    Ta da! You have finished off a crochet project.  (You monster.)

    Binding off, however, is different.  You're still knitting a row.

    You need to have plenty of yarn still on hand.

    And sometimes, you have to do it in a knit.

    Okay, I shouldn't be dramatic.  Binding off all stitches ("stitches" = "sts" in patterns, by the way) in a knit usually just means that if you're working knit stitches, you'll keep working in knit stitches as you're binding off.  If you were purling, your instructions could tell you to "bind off on the purl side" or something similar.  Some patterns just say "Bind off in pattern."
    But binding off in knit stitches is its own special lesson, and that's what we're talking about today.  So here's the video tutorial:

       

    There, see?  Nothing too crazy at all!  It's like one long row of decreasing, or passing a stitch over the stitch just worked.  Honestly, you could bind off every knitting project you ever made just like this for the rest of your very long life and very few people--if anyone--would look at your bind-off edge and know that you worked your bind off in knit stitches and not whatever other technique the pattern called for.  And if they did, who cares?  Who inspects bind-off edges?

    (Do you do that?  Please let me know if you do.  I'm very curious as to why, out of all the quirks most of us have, checking bind-off edges is yours.)

    So!If you don't know how to bind off, now you do.  Obviously, learning tons of different ways to do something is always ideal.  But binding off all stitches in knit is a really great way to simply finish off a project and now you can do it!

  • 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.

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