Hand-knit and hand-crocheted items make great gifts to be treasured and loved. Make them even more special by making them unique. Pick colors special to you or your recipient and you’re sure to please, says Jackie Smyth, our technical editor. We asked Jackie to recommend readers three patterns that feature color as the main attraction. (This column originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.)
|Knit Slip Stitch Pom Hat||Crochet Sante Fe Throw||Crochet Little Princess Throw|
LBY Newsletter: Knitting and crocheting are great for handmade gifts that really reflect the giver or the recipient. What’s a simple recommendation about how to customize a project?
Jackie: One word—COLOR. The great thing about patterns is that it’s easy to choose other colors in the same yarns and get a totally different look. To make a pattern really personal, choose colors that you like or that have representative meanings to the recipient. Perhaps they love autumn colors or spring colors. The right colors can add a lot of depth to a project.
LBY Newsletter: What if you are nervous about choosing colors that will go together?
Jackie: Going with a yarn that has a great color range is often a good place to start. The Lion Brand Design team works to create yarn collections that are designed that coordinate beautifully.
LBY Newsletter: What’s a yarn you might recommend for someone looking for easy-to-match yarns?
Jackie: Vanna’s Choice® is a great yarn for mixing and matching colors. All 23 of the solid colors in this collection are designed to match and coordinate. You could use three colors in one family—say, Dusty Rose, Rose, and Antique Rose—to get a light-to-dark effect, or you could pick a few contrasting colors like Purple, Chocolate, Pea Green, and Rust that will really pop against each other.
It’s good to look for inspiration from the things around you. The garden is one place to find unexpectedly beautiful contrasting colors. Fashion and architecture are other places to draw inspiration.
LBY Newsletter: Would you recommend a few colorful patterns for our readers?
Jackie: For a simple project, I like the Slip Stitch Pom Hat pattern. We’ve carefully plotted the colors for each pattern stripto create a bold statement piece, but I would encourage you to experiment with your own color combinations. You could draw from the current fashion concept of Normcore and create a more traditionally color hat.
Next, I like the Santa Fe Throw. In colors to match the recipient’s home décor, it but would make a truly fabulous house warming gift.
My third recommendation, the Little Princess Throw, of the impact of color in your project. Tailor your color choice to the baby to create an heirloom – or have fun with gender neutral brights–have fun!
Don’t be afraid to change the colors in a pattern to suit you better. That’s the great thing about knitting and crocheting; you can really make every item your own.
LBY Newsletter: Thank you for your recommendations, Jackie. We look forward to speaking with you again next month.
For more pattern ideas, click to visit our Pattern Finder.
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Knitting in the round can seem daunting, but with a bit of practice, it’s no more difficult than knitting on straight needles. Here are some tips that I hope will make it a bit easier!
The appropriate circular needle length is the same size or slightly shorter than the circumference of the piece you are knitting. If it’s too short you’ll have trouble keeping all the stitches on the needle; if it’s too long, the fabric will be stretched too taut (this is why you need to switch to double points when decreasing the crown of a hat).
For some people, the usual way of knitting the first stitch of the round can be loose and therefore sloppy. You can tighten it up with the tail when weaving in the end later.
A better way to join it the round can be to cast on one extra stitch. Slip this stitch to the left (the first needle if casting on to double points); this is the beginning of the round and next to the first stitch you cast on. Then knit the two stitches together.
Still better, slip the first stitch you cast on to the right, next to the last cast on stitch. Pass the last cast on stitch (which is now the second stitch on the right) over the slipped stitch, give the yarn a tug and begin your round.
Aluminum needles can be slippery and your stitches will always want to slide off. Try bamboo or plastic.
Double points come in different lengths. Longer ones can be a bit more awkward but for larger number of stitches, you’ll need them so your stitches don’t fall off.
They come in sets of 4 or 5. If you have the option, always buy 5; then you’ll have it if you need it (and if one disappears you’ll have a spare!).
An increase adds stitches and creates shaping as a general rule. Lace patterns will use increases to balance decreases and you usually end the row with the same number of stitches you started with.
Many times, the pattern will tell you which specific increase to use; this is especially true with lace patterns. If the pattern tells you to simply increase, use the default increase: knit in the front and back of the same stitch (usually abbreviated kfb).
When working an increase in shaping, such as making sleeves wider, work them at least one stitch in from the edge. This makes seaming much easier.
Let’s take a look at some various ways to increase (click on any highlighted text to see diagrams:
As mentioned earlier, this is the default increase. It’s sometimes called a bar increase as it leaves a noticeable “bar” of yarn from the original stitch as it’s manipulated twice. It does not distort and it’s a perfectly fine increase except for the bar. If you don’t look closely, it will not be noticed.
Re-visit the Victorian era with one of our most popular crochet patterns, the Charlotte Brontë Cape, made with Homespun® Thick & Quick®. This informative two-part video series, hosted by Yolanda Soto-Lopez of “All Crafts Channel”, offers detailed instructions for making this piece, from start to finish!
Join Yolanda as she walks you through each and every step of this easy project that’s perfect for beginners.
Charlotte Brontë Cape — Part One
Charlotte Brontë Cape — Part Two
“I’m just going to crochet because I cannot help it.”
Knitting needles and crochet hooks are as varied as the crafters who utilize them. There is no right or wrong when you select a one. Needles and hooks have specific attributes based on the material they are made from and the manufacturers specifications. Only you can decide what type of needle or hook you like best and you may find that, depending upon the yarn you are using, you’ll reach for a different type than you used for your last project.
If you can afford it, buy several different types so that you can experiment and find your favorite.
Some needles have very blunt tips while others have sharper tips. Some hooks have rounded heads and others have pointier heads. The shank (the smaller part of the needle or hook prior to where the sized portion begins) varies in length. You may never find these factors of much importance, or you may find it’s the difference between a tool that allows you to work swiftly and one that just seems to hang you up.
Tip: If you find your yarn to be “splitty” with a hook or needles that have sharper tips, try tools with more blunt tips.
These tools are made in a wide variety of materials. You’ll find them available in plastic, aluminum, bamboo, rosewood, ebony, and much more. When selecting the tools for a project, you should consider three factors based on materials: weight, temperature, and how slippery they are.
Plastic and bamboo is lighter while aluminum is heavier. This is more of a factor in knitting than crocheting because you have two needles you are using and they are longer than hooks. You might prefer aluminum overall, and if you are knitting something light such as booties, the weight of the needles will probably be of little or no consequence. However, with a larger project, you may choose to use a different set of needles.
Bamboo and wood remain at a fairly constant temperature. They will not feel cold to the touch on a cold winter night. Aluminum conducts heat and cold so they might feel hot if you are knitting in the sun or cold if it’s cool wherever you may be knitting.
Yarns can vary in terms of how “sticky” or “slippery” they are. You may find your slippery yarn sliding right off aluminum needles, which tend to be quite slick. Bamboo, which has more grip, would be a better choice here. On the other hand, if you are knitting with a yarn that tends to stick, you might want to use a more slippery needle. Tip: If your needles or hook is too sticky and you don’t have others to select from, rub some wax paper over it and the yarn will glide much easier.
In addition to the above, circular needles and some Tunisian hooks (also called Afghan hooks) may pose yet another factor to consider. The joins, where the needles or hook meet the cable, are different depending upon the brand. Some may catch the yarn while others are much smoother. Some swivel, making the tool more flexible.
Tip: To straighten the cables, put them in hot water for a minute. The kinks will come out of the cable.
Editor’s Note: If you’re finding that you’re having trouble achieving the gauge in a pattern and you’re between hook or needle sizes, try a hook/needles made of a different material, as the “stickiness” or “slipperiness” may affect how tightly or loosely you knit or crochet. Remember, an accurate gauge is the key to getting an accurately sized garment!
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Although there are many lovely scarf patterns available, a scarf is relatively simple to design, and it’s a great way to venture into your very first custom design. By understanding a five simple concepts, you’ll be able to design and knit or crochet beautiful scarves on your own.
While most basic crochet fabrics are relatively flat, many knitters venture into their own scarf pattern by simply working in stockinette stitch, and then they see it rolls and have knit what amounts to a big tube. Stockinette rolls. You can’t stop it. It’s the nature of the fabric that is produced when you knit one row and purl the next. What you can do is work the first and last 3 or 4 rows in garter stitch or seed stitch as well as the first and last 3 or 4 stitches in each row. This will usually keep a stockinette scarf from rolling.
Rainbow Ridge Scarf
Angora Lace Scarf
One of our most popular patterns, the Simple Shrug, is an easy project that’s perfect for beginners. Many of you have requested that we provide Spanish language support for our patterns, so we are very pleased to bring you this great tutorial by Yolanda Soto-Lopez, now with added Spanish subtitles!
Spanish readers, here are Yolanda’s instructions on how to begin:
En este video aprendera hacer esta linda prenda de dama. Esta prenda es un nivel facil. El patron escrito esta disponible gratis en ingles solamente en el website de lionbrand.com Yo estare traduciendo las instrucciones en los Subtitulos en Español. Necesita bajar el patron numero: 90689D Necesita 4 madejas de estambre de LionBrand Homespun color: Manzana adulzada, un gancho N/13 (9mm) un avuja para estambre. Yo tambien use clips para detener mi prenda para coser los lados. Los materiales estan disponibles en tiendas como Joanne’s, Michael’s, y otras tiendas de lanas/estambres.
Check out the new video with Yolanda Soto-Lopez of “All Crafts Channel”, now with Spanish subtitles!
Fringe can be added to just about any project: afghans, scarves, shawls, even the bottom of a sweater.
There are countless variations. It can be long or short. You can add just a few strands or a thick bundle. Fringe sections can be spaced close together or far apart. Use the same yarn you used in the project or a contrasting color; you can use an entirely different yarn as well. Or you can combine different yarns within the same section. Strands can be even or you can make them differing lengths, either within the same fringe section or alternating sections. Experiment and have fun!
Here are some examples of projects using fringe:
Croak Skull Illusion Scarf
Knit Fringe Poncho
Cabled and Fringe Hat
Some yarn frays quickly at the end when it’s cut; some people like how this looks and others don’t. Eventually all fringe will fray at the ends with wear to some degree. If you would like to minimize this, you can either knot the ends of your fringe or apply a fabric glue or seam sealer, such as Fray Check (a liquid seam sealer used in sewing). Keep in mind that while this will minimize fraying, there will be this glue-like substance on the ends.
Here’s how to make and attach fringe:
Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares tips for keeping your yarn organized and accessible even when you’re living/ working in a small space. Read Kathryn’s previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
It’s always a challenge for crafters to keep their yarn organized. If you’re working with limited space, the challenge gets even tougher. Tough, but certainly not impossible. With a little bit of creativity, your yarn stash can be easily organized and accessible even in a small home or studio.
Make sure that all of the yarn you have in your home is worth keeping. Much like when you organize your clothes closet, go through your yarn stash and ask yourself the following questions:
Take any yarn that didn’t get a yes to at least one of those questions and de-stash it. You can donate it to charity, send it to an artist who needs yarn, sell it online or host a swap party to exchange it for yarn that you will use.
If you enjoyed Audra’s tutorial, check out her YouTube channel, The Kurtz Corner!