Are You On Track For Christmas?

Are You On Track For Christmas?
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Are You On Track For Christmas?

Wow! October is nearly gone already! I don’t know whether it’s because I’m getting older (I turned 60 recently) or whether it’s just a sign of our society today, but the years seem to go by so quickly now. Ideally I should have started on Christmas projects in early September, or at least have some projects organised, but I’m afraid I’m running a bit behind.

I recently received my second Christmas catalogue from “Fox Collection” and am having as much fun browsing through it as I did going through the first one, which arrived in September. I am not in a position to buy much from the catalogue, but it is really interesting going through and getting ideas. They have kitset projects for a number of different craft areas, plus some gift ideas.

A number of my affiliate sites have Christmas hand craft kits available. You might like to check out Leisure Arts, Craftsy, Annie’s, Knit Picks, LoveKnitting, Creative Bug and Connecting Threads. If you enter “Christmas” in the site search bar of any of these sites you will be shown great selections of kits, patterns and products. Again, even if you don’t end up buying the actual kits, it is a great way to get ideas and inspiration. That being said, I would also recommend kits as a convenient and cost effective way to get all the materials you need for a project when you do decide on something.

I have also been looking through a number of my own pattern books which have Christmas themed projects in them. Several of them I hadn’t looked at for some time, and it has been good to find some patterns for projects that I had forgotten I had. I will go through my books and post some photos of interesting ideas for projects in different categories soon.

Enjoy your Christmas preparations. I would love to hear of interesting ideas you may have come across for decorations or gifts.

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Homeless Knitting

Homeless Knitting

Homeless Knitting

A couple of months ago, in my post “Another Octopus and Some Scarves”, I was interested in trying to get some knitting done to donate to local homeless people. Unfortunately I was a bit late to get myself organised for this winter, but I am working on getting some significant supplies ready for next year. We are officially into spring in New Zealand now, although the weather has been a bit slow to get the memo so far.

Homeless KnittingI have been going through my “stash” and experimenting with different ideas to knit items that might be useful to donate. The first scarf I made was a simple garter stitch one that used up a number of leftover partial balls from previous garments. I had planned to use only double knit (8 ply) yarn, but I think I accidentally included some cream yarn of a heavier gauge. When using this weight of yarn I suggest using 4mm (UK size 8) needles and at least 40 stitches. I like to make scarves at least 140cm long, but this is a matter of personal preference.

Homeless Knitting Homeless KnittingThe stitch I chose for the second scarf was broken double rib. I used 10 ply yarn and 4.5mm (UK size 7) needles for this one. This stitch is most easily knitted using multiples of four stitches plus three stitches at the end. For my scarf I used 51 stitches (48 stitches plus 3 = 51). For 8 ply yarn I would suggest at least 59 stitches and 4mm needles.

 

Broken double rib pattern using this guide for stitch numbers:

  [knit 2, purl 2] to last 3 stitches; knit 2, purl 1.

Repeat this row until required length is reached. Cast off and sew in the ends.

 

Homeless KnittingAnother experiment I have tried is a double rib hat which I made in 8 ply yarn, using 4mm needles. I have made the pattern I developed for this available as a PDF on my Downloads page. I plan to do more experimenting with different yarns, stitches and patterns, and will share them with you as I go. I hope you will consider joining me by making things to donate to people in your own local area.

See also: “Handcrafting to Support Charities

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My Crocheted Knockers

My Crocheted Knockers

My Crocheted KnockersMy recent post about “Knitted Knockers” mentioned that there was a crochet pattern available as well as the knitting patterns. A couple of weeks ago I went away for a few days, and I decided to trial the crocheted knockers pattern. The materials required for crochet are slightly more portable than those required for knitting.

This turned out to be a very good decision. I ended up spending eleven hours at the airport as a result of cancelled and then delayed flights. The crochet pattern was in US terms, rather than the UK terms I prefer, so I had plenty of time to work my way through it. (See “The Minefield of Crochet Terminology”.) Once I had my head around how the pattern worked, I managed to start moving ahead quite quickly.

I decided I would try to make several different sizes of the pattern. During my five days away I made one each of a size A, B and C cup knocker. I did find a couple of things in the pattern that I had to be a bit careful with, but by the time I was doing the third one it was becoming more straight forward.

My Crocheted KnockersThe photos I have included show the difference in size between the three unfilled knockers: A is dark pink, B is light pink, C is white. Unfortunately I only had enough filling for one knocker, so I have filled the middle one, the size B. You can see how the stuffing fills out the shape of the knocker. I have also taken photos of the back of them as well to show how the back is left open a bit so the amount of filling can be adjusted as required.

My Crocheted Knockers My Crocheted KnockersI am even more convinced now of the importance of this programme and I will definitely be making more. My next project will be to trial several of the different knitted knocker patterns.

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Knitted Knockers

Knitted Knockers
Image courtesy of Ravelry.com

Knitted Knockers

Several months ago I came across a wonderful initiative called “Knitted Knockers”. As the name suggests, knitted knockers are handmade prosthetics for women who have had to undergo a mastectomy. They are soft, light-weight, fully adjustable, and can be made in a huge range of colours.

Knitted Knockers.org was founded by an amazing lady named Barbara as a result of her own experience with breast cancer. Complications with her initial surgery meant that she couldn’t follow her original treatment plan for immediate reconstruction, which meant she needed to look for an alternative interim solution.

Her doctor showed her a picture of a knitted knocker, and provided her with a pattern. A special friend was able to make one for her quite quickly (she actually made her two) and this is what she says on her website:

“It was FABULOUS! It was light, pretty, soft and fit in my own bra perfectly. I took off my jacket and knew right then that I wanted to make these available to other women going through the same situation. I thought, “what if my doctor had real knitted knockers to give to women rather than only having a photocopied picture on a sheet of paper to show them?””

Knitted Knockers
Image courtesy of Ravelry.com
Knitted Knockers
Image courtesy of Ravelry.com

I highly recommend that you visit Knitted Knockers.org and read Barbara’s story in full on the site. There is also a lovely video you can watch. Barbara has taken her idea and run with it. She is now trying to make knitted knockers available to any women who need them. Through her site she is connecting people in need with people who can donate. There are also a number of patterns available on the site, including crochet as well as knitting, which you can download.

Knitted Knockers
Image courtesy of Ravelry.com
Knitted Knockers
Image courtesy of Craftsy.com

While Barbara began her initiative in the United States, there are knitted knocker groups in many different countries. A quick internet search will allow you to find the group or organisation closest to you. I encourage you to get behind this wonderful movement and become part of an outreach which is making such a meaningful difference in the lives of so many women who are going through such a traumatic time in their lives.

 

See also: “Handcrafting To Support Charities“, “Octopuses (Octopi?) For Premature Babies“, “Two Jumpers and an Octopus“, and “Another Octopus and Some Scarves“.

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Enjoying Today’s Many Knitting Patterns

Enjoying Today’s Many Knitting Patterns

Enjoying Today's Many Knitting Patterns
Image courtesy of AllFreeKnitting.com

Knitting patterns are one of the things that makes knitting such an exciting activity for so many people. Once you master the basic skills of knitting, you have the ability to make countless projects come to life. Knitting patterns are like recipes that can be followed to recreate your favorite dish.

Knitting is more than merely a hobby for many people. Knitting is a way to spend time with others in a relaxing fashion. Many people enjoy getting together to work on their respective knitting projects while enjoying great conversation. Knitting is not only relaxing, but it allows a person to create many essential items. You can create new clothing for yourself or your family or friends. Finding exciting knitting patterns to create items of interest for others is a great way to make it through your Christmas list! Whatever it is you want to knit, there are usually many knitting patterns available to guide you.

If you are a new knitter, then you will pleased to learn that there are literally thousands and thousands of knitting patterns available. Once you have mastered the basics of knitting, you have the ability to create nearly anything. Searching through various knitting patterns can be almost as exciting as knitting itself. You get to see all the potential items you could make, pick out the perfect one, and then get to work bringing it to life.

Once you start looking at knitting patterns, you will discover they exist for virtually everything you could possibly want to create. You will find patterns for purses and bags. You’ll find patterns for cardigans, pants, and sweaters. Hats and scarfs are some of the most common patterns. There are even patterns for creating a wide array of stuffed animals.

 

Enjoying Today's Many Knitting Patterns
Image courtesy of Craftsy.com

Knitting patterns are relatively easy to find. Most fabric stores have an ample supply of knitting patterns. Sometimes these knitting patterns are fairly generic, but once you get a little experience it should be no problem to add on or modify them to create your own unique creation. (See “Using Patterns as a Guide“) The Internet is also an outstanding resource for knitters. There are thousands of free knitting patterns available. Many knitter enjoy sharing their newest pattern with the world. Additionally, there are many quality patterns for sale online at affordable prices.

There are countless  sites with great patterns. Just perform a few searches on whatever knitting patterns you are after and you will see lots of great sites to look through. Two sites I would highly recommend are “Ravelry” and”LoveKnitting“. You could also check out “Annies“, “Knit Picks“,”Craftsy“, or “Leisure Arts“.

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

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The Origin And Popularity Of Amigurumi Crochet

The Origin And Popularity Of Amigurumi Crochet

There has been a literal explosion of amigurumi crochet all over the Internet. This is an explosion of extreme cuteness because amigurumi are miniature animals or dolls that are made with yarn and stuffed. They were first made in Japan but now are made just about everywhere. Just check online craft stores and you will see all kinds of cute little animals crocheted from yarn. In Japanese ami means things made from yarn and nuigurumi is the name of a specific doll that has no arms and legs, just a large head and torso. The first amigurumi are patterned after these dolls. These are probably the easiest things to make and are appropriate for a beginner to try.

You may wonder how crochet animals came from Japan when the art of crocheting was not done prior to around the nineteen fifties. In fact, the only Japanese people that actually knew how to knit were the Samurai warriors who made their own socks with toes in order to be able to get a better range of movement. Because they did not have patterns that came from their ancestors they made up their own unique techniques. They would make charts to crochet instead of writing the method out and used symbols and calligraphy to explain what stitches to make. The charts are so beautiful they can almost be framed to hang on the wall.

Amigurumi were first made when it was culturally acceptable for things to be cute during the fifties. During this time Hello Kitty, the white large headed cat with pink bows, made its debut in Japan. In the sixties Hello Kitty was even more popular. She was mass produced along with other sweet little cartoonish animals. At this point in time the office revolution was happening in Japan. Many families were moving to the big cities and children did not see their parents often because they were dedicated to work rather than family. Kitty and other cartoon characters were a way to keep that element of cuteness in life. The crochet animals were made and used like greeting cards to lift the spirits.

To make some of these cute little animals you use a smaller crochet hook than you would normally use for the size of yarn. The whole pattern is made in a spiral that never connects which entails marking the first stitch of each row so you do not get lost in the pattern. The Japanese charts are very hard for some to read because of the characters. It should be noted that the charts are merely a suggestion of how to make the animals. It is expected that once you understand how they are made you deviate from the pattern to make your own creation.

Patterns can be found that are totally written out instead of using charts, which is what most Western countries use in order to make yarn arts. The method is simple because you generally only use single crochet stitches (US – this is double crochet in UK terminology) and chains. Rows decrease or increase in number of stitches in order to make the animal round and make the shape.

The best thing about making the crochet animals is that any yarn left over from a project can be used. They do not take much and certainly not an entire hank of yarn. Some put beads and sequins on their creations. They are usually stuffed with poly fiberfill but old torn stockings can also be used. Many times they are filled with pellets or dry beans to make them more of a bean bag consistency. Patterns for cupcakes, lions, kittens, birds, and human like dolls in different professions can be found on line with a simple search. If you can crochet you will have no trouble trying to make one. And if you do be careful, they get very addictive and you will not be able to stop.

Want to find out more about Amigurumi Crochet, then visit our site on how to choose the best crochet patterns for your needs.

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Learn Why Knitting Patterns Depend On Gauge

Learn Why Knitting Patterns Depend On Gauge

Even though you may want to jump right in there and start using knitting patterns it is definitely a good idea to make a knitting gauge swatch. You don’t want skip this step, it’s not worth it. (See “I Should Know Better By Now!“) A single stitch in one inch can end up really making a big difference to the eventual size of an item from all knitting patterns. It seems like a chore but you need to just learn that you will be thankful in the end. Always knit the swatch in the stitch that you will use.

Obviously different knitting patterns end up with different sizes so this matters. I always try to make my swatch big enough to make it a good test. I usually go for at least 4″ x 4”. Surround the swatch with a few rows of seed stitch knitting (knit or purl the opposite stitch of what you see facing you on odd number rows). Begin and end each row with four seed stitches as well. This stitch lies very flat and will help you measure accurately.

Feel The Tension!

It may surprise you to know that the needle size is much less important than your particular tension with knitting patterns. Some people are loose with their knitting while others are tight. This can also vary from day to day with some people. You can deliberately adapt your tension to create different looks from the same knitting patterns. Loose knitting for a light open feel and tighter knitting for a warmer feel. Remember also that you will get a softer feel from a loose knit and a stiffer feel from a tight knit.

When you have finished the swatch let it sit for awhile. The yarn needs to relax and even out any tight spots. Now count the stitches and measure the rows per inch of knitting. Remember to try a measurement in a few different places. Another way is to just calculate how big the total knitting pattern swatch should be. If 16 stitches were cast on and the gauge in the knitting pattern is 4st=1″ then the swatch should measure 4″ The part you measure should not include the seed stitches. Think about the size and adjust the needle size. For instance, if you are too small, try larger needles and vice versa. Now you have finished you can start using your knitting patterns with confidence knowing that the product of your labors will actually fit you!

Louise Nova loves knitting and teaching people how to knit. She also loves to blog. Knitting for 30 years, she has taught many young family members how knitting is fun and easy.

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