Author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting Barbara Breiter joins us for her monthly column on techniques that people frequently ask about.
Have you ever thrown a wool sweater into the wash by accident and ended up with a matted, miniature version? That’s called felting. Ordinarily you don’t want to shrink your handmade creations, but sometimes we do it on purpose to create a dense, strong fabric.
|Unfelted Knit Branching Out Bag||Felted Branching Out Bag|
Animal hair fibers felt because there are microscopic scales on them. The scales open up when exposed to hot water and detergent; friction or agitation tangles up these scales, resulting in felt. The result is thick and sturdy, making it ideal for purses and other projects.
Only yarn that is spun from animals or is protein-based will felt such as wool, alpaca, and mohair. Superwash wool won’t felt because, after all, the point is that it’s treated to safely throw it in the washer; the treatment either mattes down the scales or removes them so that they cannot lock together. Man-made fibers like acrylic won’t felt and neither will yarn that is spun from plants such as cotton or hemp.
Today, you can felt in the washer; historically people would first place it in boiling water (hence the term “boiled wool”) and then create friction with an old fashioned wash board or even rocks.
Super Bowl XLVII is this coming Sunday, have you gotten your craft supplies ready? A great way to support your favorite team is by sporting accessories or clothing with the team’s colors; it’s even better when the item is handmade.
There are 3 days left to make an item to show your team pride on Sunday, but you still have some time! All you need is a super bulky yarn like Hometown USA, or, a small project with a worsted weight yarn like Vanna’s Choice. Besides, if you don’t get to finish it in time, you can always use it for the next football season (or wear the item on Monday!). You can knit or crochet something as easy as a cozy for your canned beverages, or a simple hat or scarf to show your team spirit.
I thought it would be fun to share a few easy patterns that could be completed in time for the game, and colors in Hometown USA and Vanna’s Choice that match the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens colors – check them out below!
4 easy knit & crochet patterns to show your pride:
Crochet School Colors Hat
and Scarf Set
Knit Hat and Scarf Set
Knit Geaux Tigers Hat
Crochet Can Cozy
|These tips will come in especially handy when doing a stranded knitting project like this Fair Isle Capelet! You can see the pattern here.|
Once in a while I will search the social media universe to find out what yarncrafting techniques our customers could use help with. During my search I came across this suggestion on Twitter:
Kelly Black @ShortysSutures: Best ways to join yarn when knitting would be helpful. I don’t use a lot of wool, felted join is my fave but not always an option.
I thought this would be a great idea for a blog post and wanted to include tips for crocheters as well. My personal preference when joining yarn for knit and crochet is just to pick up the new strand if yarn. I like to do it this way because I don’t have to wait until I get to the end of a row and it’s optimal for when I am working in the round. Now the question is, “What do I do with those yarn tails and how do I keep my tension even?”. Well there are a couple tricks:
Jessica, one of our sales support associates in our NJ office, worked on a Tweed Stripes cowl for her cousin at the recent Craft & Hobby Association trade show, where Lion Brand exhibited earlier this month. She shared her inspiration for the cowl. As told to Zontee.
When I was home during Hurricane Sandy, I had made myself an infinity scarf, a long scarf that you can double around your neck, for myself out of the Mixed Berries color of Tweed Stripes. It’s very warm and I get compliments (or requests!) every time I wear mine. In fact, it was so popular that all of my family members asked me to make them scarves too–I’ve already made seven, but the most requested color has been Mixed Berries.
It’s double-crocheted long-ways back and forth through the back loop only, which creates a ridged look. It only takes about a ball-and-a-half of yarn to make. Then at the end, I seam up the two shorter ends to create the cowl.
It’s a really easy project, and it doesn’t take much time to finish. I finished this one here at the trade show over 3 days! I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a quick gift to make. I can’t wait to give it to my cousin!
Editor’s Note: If you want to make your own version of Jessica’s cowl, chain about 180 with a K hook (adjust larger or smaller depending on how tight or loose a crocheter you are), double-crochet into the 3rd crochet from your hook and into each stitch thereafter, chain 3 and turn. In each of the subsequent rows, crochet into the back loops only, chain 3 and turn. Work about 6 rows (more or less depending on your preference for width). Seam the ends together. Voilà cowl!
Today I want to share a great DIY craft with you by Randi from the blog Dukes and Duchesses; a bright, sparkly white wreath inspired by the beauty that comes with snow and winter.
Click here for more pictures and instructions to make the wreath!
We’ve seen a lot of different creative wreaths lately, made in various styles; have you been inspired to make a yarn wreath? Share with us in the comments!
One thing I love about a nice, deep knitted or crocheted hat is that you can wear it more than one way. Roll up the brim for a close-fitting beanie, or wear it unfurled for a slouchy effect. Get some ideas with this new video from our YouTube channel:
Want to make a jaunty beret but need ideas for how to wear it? Here’s a video just for berets:
Superbowl Sunday is just around the corner! I’m usually more excited about the snacks at the Superbowl parties than I am about the actual game. About 20 minutes in my attention starts to drift and I find my fingers sneaking towards my newest yarncraft project. Although I am rarely paying attention (and probably wouldn’t understand what was happening if I was), I still have a great time spending time with loved ones and sharing in the excitement!
The Superbowl is a great excuse for crafters to have fun whether you are a sport fan or not. Patty was telling me about how Franklin Habit has a favorite sports bar that he frequents. They know him so well that they give him a resounding greeting when he walks through the door and have a lamp just for him so he can see his knitting!
Here are three ways that you can celebrate this Superbowl Sunday with yarncrafting:
In the LionBrand.com Learning Center, we recommend the knitted cast-on as a good basic cast-on for beginners to learn (because the motions are very similar to making the knit stitch). Other common cast-ons that are used by knitters are the long-tail cast-on and—for additional stitches needed for sections like sleeves—the backwards loop cast-on.
But there are many, many more cast-ons out there in the world, and in fact, there are many books and resources about them. In a December episode of YarnCraft (the Lion Brand podcast that I co-host), we talk about many of the different ways to cast on and bind off your project.
I often use a new project as an opportunity to practice a new skill. In the past, I’ve practiced the Old Norwegian Cast-On while making a cowl as a gift—I chose it because it’s extra stretchy, perfect for a cowl being slipped over the head. Currently, I’m working on a new project, and I decided to try Judy’s Magic Cast-On, pictured right (often used for seamless sock-toes, but in my case, I’m using it to create a seamless bottom to a tote bag knit in the round).
I love that even after years of knitting and crocheting, I can still learn new skills to add to my repertoire. Each new cast-on serves a different purpose and will give you a new way of looking at the beginning of your project.
Author, knitting teacher, and erstwhile crochet-along/knit-along host Heather Lodinsky joins us for an article on cables.
This season, style sections of newspapers and magazines are once again telling us that cables are a hot trend in fashion, showing up in all sorts of knitwear for women, men and children. In knitting, there are those trends that appear again and again, such as lace, fair-isle knitting and cables. It is safe to say that if you have never tried to knit a cable before…now is a great time to learn!
Cables in knitting look much more difficult than they really are. I remember as a girl, looking at a cardigan my mother had knit with cables. I was positive that she must have cut her knitting, and then twisted it to form the “ropes” in her knitting. Well, I had half of the technique right, as cables are made by twisting or moving your stitches as you knit, but no cutting of those stitches is necessary.
In addition to the knitting needles you need to knit your project, you will also want to find the right cable needle for your project. Cable needles come in various shapes and sizes, but the one thing that they all have in common is that they have two points like a double-pointed needle. Some knitters do use a double-point needles as a cable needle, but there is a very good reason why cable needles are shaped the way they are. Some cable needles are shaped as hooks, or simply have a bend in the middle of the needle. But both work the same with the stitches being “moved” held on the bent part of the needle.
Frequently cable needles come in a package with 2 or 3 sizes. It is best to use a cable needle close to the size of the needle you are using to knit your project. If a needle is too thin, the stitches may slide off as you are working your cable. Alternately, if the cable needle is too thick, then your stitches will be stretched as you try to slip them on. Choosing the right size cable needle will make your cable knitting a fun and rewarding experience.
So you’ve spent the last few days, weeks, or even months working on that sweater, or crocheting a bunch of granny squares; you’re almost there, but you know that you’re still not done. Whether it’s seaming, blocking or weaving in ends, those final steps sometimes cause crafters to prolong completing their piece.
Finishing doesn’t have to seem like such a task, there are many tips and tricks to help you with the process. I’ve actually included a round up of some articles that should be helpful in finishing your work more effectively; check them out below!
What are some methods you use for finishing your work? Share with us in the comments!