In the most recent two episodes of YarnCraft — our half-hour audio-podcast — my co-host Liz and I embrace the fall season and the upcoming holiday of Halloween, sharing inspiration and ideas for knitting, crocheting, and crafting with yarn! Join us for laughs, learning, and great yarn talk.
Hot Colors & 5 Top Trends for Flattering Fall Fashions
In episode #25, we focus on taking trends from the runway and turning them into great garments and projects for your everyday life. We also take some of these same styles and influences and show you how to work them into your home decorating. Listen now for more than 15 pattern recommendations — from looks that fit and flatter to great home accessories.
In our regular segment, “Stash This–Ideas for Your Crafting Life,” we share tips on substituting yarn in patterns to get a look that’s all your own. Click here to listen [MP3].
Spookifying Your Home with Your Whole Family!
We get spooky (okay, mostly just kooky) in episode #26 of YarnCraft, sharing creative and quirky tips for decorating your home, entertaining your guests, and getting into the Halloween spirit.
In this episode’s “Stash This” segment, we talk about kid-friendly projects that are great for school Halloween parties. They’re great even as group rojects for adults who are just children at heart! Click here to listen to this episode [MP3].
Liked the episodes above? Want to find the patterns discussed? For more information about either of these great episodes, or to learn more about subscribing to YarnCraft, visit the YarnCraft blog!
Last week we attended an awards luncheon because YarnCraft was nominated for an award for best podcast/videocast, by PR News, the trade publication for the PR industry. It was a real thrill when they announced that we won and we’re especially proud of the two hosts of the show, Liz and Zontee.
If you haven’t had a chance to hear the podcast yet, you can listen to it from our website or download episodes on iTunes. We’ve been broadcasting for almost exactly a year and there are 26 half-hour shows including features on yarn crafting with kids, using looms, holiday gift giving and decorating, and interviews with yarn crafting celebrities and authors including Vanna White.
A little over a year ago, we were contacted by the guys of Krochet Kids International, a group of friends (mostly men!) who have taken their love of crochet and used it to help fight poverty in Uganda.
They teach women in Uganda how to crochet beanies. They then sell the beanies in stores around the U.S. The women make higher wages than they normally can make locally, and are able to support their families. In addition, Stewart Ramsey, executive director of KKI, said:
KKI has recently instituted a micro-finance program for all the ladies that crochet. So while they make money for the hats they produce, they are also learning how to save, invest, and loan the money they are earning. Through this program our ladies have elected to form their own community-based organization and take loans out form one another and other village members. KKI only provides training or the initiative through a micro-finance organization for THEIR ideas. They are learning how to develop themselves and become self-sufficient, rather than KKI handing out money and creating more dependency. This is something we are very excited about.
The guys met in college and were able to combine their crochet hobby with their social conscience, creating an organization that truly touches the lives of people in Uganda. To learn more about KKI, visit their MySpace page or listen to the YarnCraft (our knitting & crochet audio-podcast) episode in which Travis and Ryan of KKI talk more about the organization.
Having a great workspace can make knitting, crocheting, and crafting more enjoyable. In episode 22 of the YarnCraft audio-podcast, we asked listeners to tell us about their crafting spaces and their ideal yarncrafting sanctuary. What is your ideal workspace like?
Here are some tips from the episode, that will help you whip your space into shape:
1. What’s good for your body is good for your creativity. A good workspace has seating that allows you to put your feet flat on the ground and provides good support for your back and arms. Having a table to lean against if you need it, or just to keep your tools on, keeps everything within reach and keeps you from straining your arms.
2. Lighting makes a difference. Finding a sunny perch can brighten your mood. Good lighting can even make it easier to match your yarn colors. If you do a lot of crafting, it’s worthwhile to invest in good lighting that will not strain your eyes — many companies now produce lamps and light-bulbs that produce light more similar to the spectrum of sunlight.
3. When everything’s easy to find, you get more done. Plastic bins or rolling drawers can help you stay organized. Creating a system, even one as simple as putting yarn into zipper bags and labeling them, can make you feel less stressed when you’re working on a project. Don’t forget to keep your hooks, needles, stitch markers, and other tools organized — office organizers or jewelry trays often do the trick nicely.
4. Keep on-the-go projects by the door. Are you one of the hundreds of thousands of yarncrafters who likes to knit or crochet on the go? Keep your travel projects (along with an extra copy of the pattern, as well as any extra tools you might need) in dedicated tote bags that are right near your door, so you can just grab it and go. When you get home, put it back in its place, ready to be taken with you the next time.
5. Treat your space like a sanctuary. In this episode, we talk about how to make your crafting space an creative sanctuary, whether that’s by using inspiration boards or if it’s overlooking a lake. Add a little beauty to your space by creating yarn vignettes — I have vases of various shapes and sizes, some filled with balls of leftover yarn, others with hooks and needles.
To hear more tips, ideas, and stories, listen to this episode by clicking here [MP3].
Many knitters and crocheters come up with their own designs. In episode #21 of our half-hour radio show, YarnCraft, we talked about sharing your patterns with others, whether online or in print. Here are five tips from the show:
1. Self-publishing online: If you’ve shared a pattern on your blog or website, it’s “published” and protected by standard copyright law. If you want to share it with a broader audience than just the visitors to your site, link to it on communities like Ravelry.com and Crochetville.org so that more knitters and crocheters can find out about it. You can also share your pattern directly on Ravelry.com, where you can create a pattern page and post the pattern as a PDF. It also allows you to share it with a bigger audience than you might otherwise be able to. Ravelry and other web communities are also a great place to engage other people and encourage them to check out your designs. You can also publicize it by sharing it with the groups you belong to or by submitting it to sites like Craftzine.com that feature projects from all over the internet.
2. Submit your pattern to web sites like crochet.about.com and knitting.about.com, which list free patterns on the site. Or submit your pattern for a chance to be included in the knitting and crochet Calendar-a-Day collections. These are great opportunities to put your patterns out there.
3. Sell your pattern on websites like Etsy. You can offer more original or complex patterns for sale by either e-mailing the pattern to customers once they’ve paid you or sending them pre-printed designs in the mail. If you build a following for your patterns, you could also go to local yarn shops and see if they will carry your pattern in their stores. Even the Lion Design catalog features some paid patterns from designers.
4. Submit your pattern to magazines & online magazines. Each online magazine has its own guidelines and deadlines, so make sure your timing is right and that the project you are submitting fits the needs of the magazine. Many magazines work months ahead of the season, so if you submit a Halloween pattern in October, it’s too late. Also, make sure your work fits the style of the magazine. A pattern that might work for one magazine might not be right for another one. Don’t forget online magazines like Knitty.com and LoomKnittersCircle.com, which also take submissions.
5. If you’re submitting your pattern, try to standardize the way you write your patterns according to the style of the publication. This will make it easier for the publication to use your pattern. Use standard abbreviations and check out the Craft Yarn Council’s yarn standards for sizing and other information guidelines.
YarnCraft is our 30-minute downloadable radio-show on all things yarn-related. To find out more about the show or to listen to episodes, visit the YarnCraft blog.
In episode 19, Working with Looms and More, we discussed loom-knitting and spool-knitting, and the benefits of these crafts. They’re great for people with joint pain, for whom knitting and crocheting might be too painful. They’re great for beginners who may find knitting and crocheting tough to get started on. They’re especially great for children, as an introduction to all the possibilities of yarn. Here are 5 kid-friendly patterns for various looms and spool-knitters:
For more on knitting without needles and more, listen to the podcast [MP3].
The YarnCraft podcast is a half-hour radio show in which my co-host Liz and I share pattern recommendations, crafting ideas, stories, and interviews on all things knitting, crocheting, loom-knitting, crafting and more. Every two weeks, we come to you from the Lion Brand Design Center in New York with a new episode, but you can download and listen to each episode anytime you want from the YarnCraft blog.
In episode #18, “Knitting & Crocheting on the Go”, our Stash This: Ideas for Your Crafting Life segment concentrated on washcloths and dishcloths–those easy-to-make, travel-friendly projects that never go out of style. Listen to the episode [mp3] for pattern recommendations, and in the meantime, here are just a few tips:
If you’re a yarncrafter and you’re on the internet, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of people like to make socks. And if you listen to our YarnCraft podcast, you’ve heard me talk about socks an awful lot!
I mostly taught myself to knit while I was in design school. I wanted to take hand-knitting as an elective, but I was at the maximum number of allowed credits, so I grabbed a book and some needles and settled down to teach myself. For the first few months, I made a variety of scarves, but I was very eager to be a ‘real’ knitter–and to me, real knitting meant socks. All that shaping–and what was this business about turning the heel?
I made my first pair with leftover fingering-weight yarn from my mother-in-law, and I really haven’t stopped since! There are so many different ways to make socks, you can keep yourself endlessly entertained with new styles and techniques. And there are all sorts of other reasons why socks are so popular – they are fast to finish, they are portable projects, they make great gifts, and they are comfortable and cozy. But personally, I think it’s all about the sock yarn.
Sock-Ease, our newest yarn, is soft, colorful, and you only need one ball to make a pair of socks! It comes in 7 fun, multi-hue colorways. The design department has had a blast experimenting with Sock-Ease –- and not just for socks. Because of the way the random striping has been designed, you can get totally different stripe and color-block patterns by changing your gauge, stitch pattern or project. Try crocheting a granny square or floral motif, and watch how the colors rotate and swirl. Try a chevron or shell stitch to get wavy bands of color. Need a drawstring? Whip up some I-cord, or use a spool knitter, to make a cord with bold stripes. Add bright, multi-hue pompoms to embellish any project.
Sock-Ease is also great held together with another yarn. In a narrow piece like a scarf or amigurumi, it will make subtle stripes. Used in a wider piece like a sweater, you’ll get a great tweed effect. We are all loving baby and kid sweaters that mix Sock-Ease with Vanna’s Choice, Vanna’s Choice Baby, or Cotton-Ease.
Even more than the soft feel or fun colors, my favorite thing about Sock-Ease is its flexibility. It’s much more than a great sock yarn -– it’s a tool you can use to explore your own creativity in knitting and crochet.
In YarnCraft episode #16, we shared interviews from the Maker Faire, an INCREDIBLE event featuring all sorts of handmade things and the amazing people behind them. It was even featured in the New York Times.
Our episode features interviews with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the popular knitter/author/blogger also known as the Yarn Harlot), Becky and Natalie of the always interesting Craft Magazine, Corey Feldman (a performance artist who knits and drums at the same time!), Kathy Murillo-the Crafty Chica, and more. It was a lot of fun being at the event, and I’m glad that my co-host Liz and I could bring the event to you.
Not only did we teach over 200 people to knit and crochet over the course of the two-day event, we also showcased a selection of our adorable amigurumi animals.
Everyone who walked by our booth stopped to see them, touch them, and pick them up. The animals were SO popular that someone actually took our poor octopus home with them! Maybe we should make a “Missing Octopus” sign to distribute among knitters and crocheters…
You can find all of our amigurumi patterns on the Pattern Finder, but here are my top five picks (a tough feat, considering that they’re all so cute):
For this and more YarnCraft episodes, visit the YarnCraft blog. New podcasts come out every other Tuesday and you can find how to subscribe on our blog.
Back in January, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with author and knitter, Kate Jacobs, and interview her about her New York Times bestseller, The Friday Night Knitting Club. It’s a book about the lives of a group of women, who bond at a New York yarn shop. Kate has a new book called Comfort Food that just came out and she was kind enough to do a quick interview with us between book tours.
Lion Brand: Your first novel, The Friday Night Knitting Club was a huge success and is even being made into a movie with Julia Roberts. Why do you think this story rings true with knitters and crocheters?
Kate Jacobs: I think the story appeals to women in a general way because it’s all about the importance of our female friendships. But I think the descriptions of knitting, of how it feels to numb your brain and get that kind of buzz from making stitch after stitch, hits home. And this idea of knitting being a metaphor for life –- the characters in FNKC certainly wish they could rip out some of the stitches in their life and start again, that’s for sure.
LB: What has the reaction been from the knitting and crocheting community to you and your book?
KJ: I’ve been to knitting shops all over the country and everyone has been universally warm and welcoming. Exactly as you’d imagine them to be!
LB: In an interview on our podcast, you talk about how it’s wonderful to be able to write about the knitting and crocheting community. What’s the most important lessons you’ve learned from this community?
KJ: You’ve got too much wool when your stash takes up an entire room! No, seriously, the most important take-away is that anyone can be creative, that they can take basic things and combine them to make something beautiful and satisfying. Or, in the case of cooking, make something delicious! You know, I’m just a hobby knitter, and I’m not naturally gifted with my hands in the way that my grandmother was. All I can do well is type. But that’s okay. I don’t have to be granny-good when it comes to knitting. And I don’t have to be a chef in the kitchen. That’s one of the things that the characters come to realize in my new novel, Comfort Food, and it’s something that took me awhile to figure out about my own culinary exploits. It’s about the process as much as the final product. Writing is like that in a way as well.
LB: Your new novel, Comfort Food, is about Augusta “Gus” Simpson, an on-air food personality who is hosting a new show, teaching real food made by real people. Do you think there’s a connection between the process and joy of cooking and the process of knitting and crocheting? Why do you think there is a resurgence of these past-times that are traditionally thought of as “domestic”?
KJ: What’s going on, in my opinion, is that we live in troubled times, and are looking for activities that reconnect us with an image of the good old days, that make us feel nurtured and comforted. At the same time, we’re getting close — I hope! — to moving past this either/or approach about women, this idea of having to choose between domestic arts and the so-called working world. When I was a teen I was so adamant about not learning anything my mother had to teach me about cooking, for example. I just thought that having these kinds of housewifely skills would ruin my chances for professional success. In retrospect, I can see that there are holes in that logic and what I ended up doing, for a long time, was hamper my self-sufficiency because I couldn’t even make myself a proper dinner. Thank God my husband could cook! That said, I’m not sure a person can “have it all” in the sense of being equally good at all things. But why should that be the expectation? I don’t think that’s what we should be aiming to achieve. I think it’s more about balance. And about embracing the right to define for yourself what you want your life to be. This isn’t easy. And often these things change with time and circumstances. I am very focused, and happily, on my writing and my career and I definitely enjoy creating characters whose skills are far beyond my own. And when I’m not working, I also enjoy being a little bit homey — even though I will never be a domestic goddess! And that’s fine.
LB: What are you currently working on (both in terms of writing and knitting)?
KJ: I’m at work on my third novel. But I’m always careful not to talk too much about what I’m writing early on because things change in the manuscript. Generally, though, my interest is in relationships and connections. I try to write books that are fun to read and that have characters we can relate to in one way or another. In terms of knitting, I am drowning under a mountain of yarn…and absolutely no time to knit. I had wanted to make an afghan for my bed by now and I haven’t even started! I have been so focused on promoting my novels, making myself available to telephone book clubs and join in their discussions, and working on my new book that I am busier than I’ve ever been in my life. It’s all good, of course, and I’m so grateful at how much support my novels are receiving. But it’s not leaving me much time to knit anything up!
For more with Kate Jacobs, listen to my interview with her on YarnCraft.