Every once in a while, we like to give you tips and tricks for designing your own knit and crochet projects. Whether you want to design your own garment or play around with colors, here are our favorite posts on the subject.
Baby blankets are a fun and easy way to play with different techniques and constructions. Here are four basic baby blankets that anyone can knit or crochet. Click on the images to go to the patterns.
|Knit Sunny Diagonal Blankie
Knit from corner to corner, all you need to learn to make this blanket is yarn-over and knit 2 together.
|Crochet V-Stitch Baby Throw
An easy all-over v-stitch pattern gets a beautiful finishing touch with a picot border. Even if you’ve never done these handy stitches, they are easy to learn by following the directions in the pattern.
|Crochet Baby Throw
A single oversized granny square works up quickly in a super-bulky yarn. Try Wool-Ease Thick & Quick or Hometown USA for this dramatic throw.
|Knit Princess Basketweave Throw
For a timeless design, go with a basketweave stitch. In bulky cotton-acrylic blend Baby’s First, this simple design will be super-soft and work up quickly.
As with all projects, the yarn you use makes a big difference. A diagonal baby blanket can be a simple solid or incorporate stunning stripes. You can use a cool cotton or warm wool. Click here to read Ilana’s post on our favorite baby yarns.
It’s finally warming up here in New York, and I’m ready to start working on projects that are appropriate for the warmer days ahead. Cotton is a great fiber to wear in warm weather because it’s cool and breathable. It’s also ideal for market bags, accessories, and washcloths. But, with so many cottons out there, it can be hard to pick the right one for a project. To help you decide which cotton to use for different projects, I thought I’d give you a rundown of my five favorite cotton yarns.
Cotton-Ease is a worsted weight cotton-acrylic blend. It combines the absorbency of the cotton and the lightness of acrylic. It’s machine washable, so whether you make a sweater or a washcloth, you can easily clean any project made with Cotton-Ease.
Baby’s First is a cotton-acrylic blend like Cotton-Ease, but it is a chunky weight. It is constructed of many thin plies, so it is soft and cushy with wonderful stitch definition. Ideal for fast-finish projects, you don’t have to limit yourself to baby items. See Zontee’s adorable cardi (below), which she made by substituting Baby’s First for the required Cotton-Ease in the Bebop Cardi.
Recycled Cotton is possibly our most unique cotton-acrylic blend. Like Cotton-Ease, it is a worsted weight, but this yarn is made of cotton fabric clippings that would get wasted in the tee-shirt manufacturing process. The material is sorted by color so that minimal dying is required. Before it’s dyed, it’s spun with acrylic and the result is a beautiful heathered yarn. Make your market bags even more green, or make a cozy cardi for your little one like the Eyelet Remix Cardi (below).
Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton is organically grown and dyed according to the Global Organic Textile Standard by the Institute of Marketecology. This super-soft 100% cotton is worsted weight, and I like to use it for things that will be close to my skin, such as shawl, scarves, and hats. The construction of this yarn is ideal for simple stitches in knit or crochet.
LB Collection Cotton Bamboo, our most luxurious cotton, combines all the wonderful qualities of cotton with the beautiful drape and sheen of rayon from bamboo! Bamboo is used to make rayon because it is a renewable resource. The result is an affordable little luxury that can be used on garments and baby projects.
What do you like to make with cotton?
After a long time contemplating weaving (and even giving a back-strap loom a few passes of the shuttle), I finally took the time to set up and get going on a Cricket Loom. I thought I’d share a few pictures and tips from my first attempts at weaving.
1. Set up with a friend. It really helps to have an extra hand when putting the Cricket Loom together. It was pretty simple, but I was happy to have the help. Also, as someone who is relatively unfamiliar with weaving terms (I know they are all related to weaving, but I can never remember which word means what), it was helpful to read the directions for setting up the warp out loud and decipher it together. Plus, it’s just more fun with a friend.
2. Plan your project width. Learn from my mistakes. I thought we’d start the warp all the way at the end of the heddle and just go as wide as we wanted, but this caused our warp to be off center and the weaving to get a little funky. You don’t need to know the exact length of your final project. Overestimate the length to ensure that your warp will be long enough.
3. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Even though I made plenty of mistakes, I had a lot of fun. When we were setting up the warp, I accidentally skipped the sixth hole in the heddle. I decided I’d just skip every sixth, and I think it made for an interesting effect. We made plenty of other mistakes, but instead of getting the perfect project, I’m learning a lot about weaving and all that you can do with it.
4. Play with color and texture. I played with fun color and texture combos. I used Sock-Ease in Green Apple for the warp. I started weaving with Cotton-Ease in Golden Glow and I liked how the two colors worked up together. When the first shuttle started running low, I decided to try something else, Fishermen’s Wool in the new Birch Tweed. I loved the way it worked up! Even though it’s a neutral color, the texture and flecks of color made it exciting to work with. Working with beautiful yarns is great motivation for finishing a project.
Overall, I really enjoyed learning to weave! The Cricket Loom was easy to understand and the directions were pretty straight forward. It was also nice and light so I could move it around as needed. For my next project, I think I’d like to try the Boyfriend Scarf. I love the design and think I’m ready to try following a pattern.
Trying weaving? Tell us about it by leaving a comment!
The fun thing about simple patterns is that there is a lot you can do to add flair. I like to add a splash of color or maybe pin a flower to something I knit or crochet to make it my own. I recently came across a blog post where blogger Emily added dino spikes to a simple hat for a fabulous, funky toddler topper.
What have you done to customize a pattern? Share in the comment below or add pictures to our Customer Gallery.
Last week, Zontee shared yarn-covered chairs. The chair above isn’t just covered with yarn, but it’s actually made with yarn! Asa Karner of Alvi Designs recently unveiled this awesome loom-inspired chair in Stockholm. The futuristic design celebrates Sweden’s crafty-past with silk threaded through its oak base.
Andrea Larson, the winner of the 2010 Vanna’s Choice Contest got to meet Vanna White last week! We caught up with her and asked a few questions.
What kind of yarncrafter are you? What are your favorite types of projects?
I have tried out almost all yarn crafts out there, but my favorite is knitting. I usually have several projects on the go at any one time and usually have something small like socks or mittens in my purse for waiting in lines or at my kids’ gymnastics lessons. My favorite projects are baby hats and sweaters. They knit up so fast and are adorable.
What inspired you to make your winning entry for the Vanna’s Choice Contest?
I love entering contests and challenging myself so a knitting contest sounded like fun. I wanted to make something that was totally different and that my kids could play with afterward, so I decided that a play-mat village would be a neat way to use all my yarn crafting skills in one project.
What was it like meeting Vanna White in person?
I was really exciting and kind of surreal. It didn’t feel real until I was actually there at the Wheel of Fortune set meeting her in her dressing room. She is so friendly and nice, I just wish I could have spent more time getting to know her.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on a few things. I have a double nine-patch quilt, a silk shawl, a pair of children’s socks and a sweater on the needles at the moment and I just finished a knitted anatomical model of the heart that I made for an art contest at school (it came in second).
Check out Andrea’s winning contest entry here.
A couple weeks ago, I posted about self-striping yarns. Another fun way to play with colors is using “multis”, where each strand contains multiple colors. Whereas self-striping yarns change gradually, multis have either short bursts of color change or different colors plied together. You can see how the Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in Wildflowers (left) has short color changes that won’t create stripes when worked up. Hometown USA multis (shown in Mardi Gras, right) have contrasting colors spun together; it’s as if you were holding a strand of each color and working them at once.
Here’s a project in each of these yarns so you can see how these fun colorways work up (click on the image for the pattern):
What’s your favorite project to spruce up with a multi-colored yarn?
Unlike the mood rings of our childhoods, color changing yarns don’t actually change color according to a change in their environment. These are yarns that have multiple colors spun together in unique ways for different effects. “Self-striping” and “painterly” colors gradually change color as you knit or crochet to create stripes of color. The color changes can be subtle or bold, but they are fun to play with either way. Of course, different stitches and patterns are going to make the colorways work up differently. For example, you can see the difference between garter stitch (left) and double crochet (right) in the scarves below, both of which are made using Amazing in Vineyard. Click here to see all the colorways of Amazing. You can also click on the images below to see each of the patterns.
Some of our other fabulous yarns with self striping or painterly colors include Sock-Ease, which has bursts of contrasting colors, Homespun, which subtly transitions from one color to the another, and Tweed Stripes, a traditionally spun yarn with color unique color blends. I love the way that color changing yarns can turn a simple project into a stunning one. Two of my favorite patterns (Sunny Diagonal Blankie and Rose Lichen Cardigan, below) cleverly use self-striping colors of Baby Wool to highlight unique construction.
What’s your favorite thing to make with self-striping yarns?
I first started knitting with LB Collection Superwash Merino because it was the perfect yarn for a sweater I wanted to make. It was a DK weight, it knit to gauge, and I loved the Wild Berry color. So I bought my yarn, making sure I had enough for whatever size I would end up needing, and got started on my Rusted Root (pattern available from Zephyr Style).
Upon finishing this sweater (my first finished sweater, in fact), I realized I had purchased too much yarn. I loved working with it so much that instead of returning it, I promptly starting making a hat. I had been planning on making a Rose Red (pattern available from Ysolda) for my sister’s birthday, and the LB Collection Superwash Merino was the perfect yarn: soft, warm, and great stitch definition! My sister was hesitant about me using wool, but I assured her that it would be super soft (and it was)!
After I finally used up all my Wild Berry, I had another pattern that happened to be perfectly suited to the Superwash Merino: the Marigold Sweater from Interweave Knits, Summer 2010. Because I wouldn’t be finishing it in time for summer, I wanted a yarn that could keep me warm into the fall. This time I chose Dijon for my perfect fall cardigan.
On my last trip to visit my family, my sister fell in love with the Rusted Root sweater and the Dijon color. So my most recent project in my new favorite yarn is a Dijon Rusted Root for her.
Quick tip for working with the LB Collection Superwash Merino: Block your gauge swatch! All of my projects have looked like new after being machine washed and dried, but I was surprised by how much my projects grew after getting wet. For more information about superwash wool, check out Jess’s blog post “What is Superwash Wool?“
What is your go-to yarn? Post in the comments below.