Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?
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How many times have you been stuck wondering what is the best yarn to use for your next project? There is such a wide variety of yarns available now that it can be a bit overwhelming trying to make a choice. My personal preference tends to be for wool, especially for babies, because it is a natural fibre that “breathes” and is very warm. The modern range of yarns, however, contains an ever expanding number of different fibre types, and also blends of different fibres.

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?
Image courtesy of Flickr

One of the first things to look at on your pattern is whether or not it is written for a particular unique yarn, or is suitable for one of the more general types of yarn like 4ply, 8 ply, 12 ply etc. If the pattern is very yarn specific then you are best to stick with that yarn for your project.

A lot of patterns are still designed for more standard yarn types. Obviously it is safest to use the yarn(s) recommended in the pattern, but if you want to use something different there are several really important things to consider.

Yarn Ply and Needle Size

Always make sure that you get the same ply/weight yarn as that used in the pattern. It is also essential to do a test square to check that your gauge is correct, and alter your needle size accordingly if it is a bit off.

Yarn Length

The composition of yarn can make a huge difference to how far it goes. A ball of acrylic yarn can be up to 30% longer than a ball of wool of the same weight. Cotton can be similar to, or slightly shorter than wool, and blends of acrylic and natural fibres will be different again. Always check the band on a ball or hank of yarn for the length and for the batch number. Make sure you know what the length of a ball is for the yarn used in your pattern and work out from that what you will need in the yarn you are choosing. If you are in any doubt err on the side of caution and get extra.

Karen's Korner

Sunrises, Spring, Kowhai and Tuis

Sunrises, Spring, Kowhai and Tuis

I love sunrises and sunsets, especially the really colourful displays. Although they can have a lot in common, they also have some subtle differences. Whereas a beautiful sunset can be a peaceful, calming end to the day, sunrise can have the opposite effect.

Sunrises, Spring, Kowhai and Tuis Sunrises, Spring, Kowhai and TuisBoth sunrises and sunsets are obviously hugely affected by the weather on the day, but this just adds to the variety of the displays we can experience. What I find special about sunrises is the sense of a fresh start and new opportunities. As the light increases, the world re-emerges from the darkness and there is a feeling of expectation. Where I live the sunrise is accompanied by a “dawn chorus” as the birds joyfully welcome the new day. I really love the singing of the birds, especially our beautiful native Tuis.

Sunrises, Spring, Kowhai and Tuis
Sunrises, Spring, Kowhai and Tuis

In New Zealand we have just entered spring which is also all about fresh starts and new opportunities. This is the season when our native Kowhai trees (pronounced kō-fai) come into flower. This coincides with the mating season for the Tuis, so we are currently being treated to amazing aerial displays as they chase each other around the neighbourhood, as well as their wonderful song.

Spring and sunrises both bring the excitement of new beginnings, which is something I also associate with starting a new hand craft project. Every new beginning holds the promise of many enjoyable hours of crafting, not to mention the final satisfaction of the finished product. I think it is really important to keep looking around us every day for any opportunity, no matter how big or small, to appreciate the expectation and promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. Let’s make sure we enjoy every day to the full.

Sunrises, Spring, Kowhai and Tuis


Enjoying Today’s Many Knitting Patterns

Enjoying Today's Many Knitting Patterns
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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

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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Cross Stitch

Counted Cross Stitch Patterns, A Basis For Stitching Bliss

Counted Cross Stitch Patterns, A Basis For Stitching BlissAnyone who loves to cross stitch knows they need the counted cross stitch patterns if they hope to enjoy their favorite past time. There are a variety of patterns available online, as well as countless companies that produce cross stitch kits. Depending upon what type of themes you like to complete, counted cross stitch patterns abound.

Perhaps you’re just starting down the road to cross stitching bliss. It is helpful to know there are two basic types of cross stitch patterns – counted cross stitch and pre-printed or stamped cross stitch. Both types of patterns have benefits.

Personally I only tackled one stamped cross stitch project before I wanted something more challenging. My tablecloth had blue crosses printed on the fabric and a guide that showed me which color to use for each cross. Other printed cross stitch projects are worked on Aida and have some background areas printed in full color leaving other sections to be stitched.

When trying to develop your stitching skills, counted cross stitch patterns would be a good option to look into. They create more of a challenge than the stamped cross stitch items will. Of course, there is a greater margin for error with these patterns. Mistakes become evident usually after you’ve done several stitches and things don’t line up the way they should. Locating these errors, and then fixing them is often times a stressful problem. However, as frustrating as re-stitching an area may be, it’s a great learning experience. You’ll be able to create a system of checks-and-balances for yourself to avoid a lot of the easier mistakes made in your earlier pieces.

Counted cross stitch patterns do not, however, have to be stitched according to the designers original idea. You may like to change the colors or use areas from various designs in a different project such as a sampler.

Finding just the right cross stitch pattern can also be frustrating; however it doesn’t have to be. Take the opportunity to stop by your local craft store or discount store. Begin by looking to see what kits they have available.

If you don’t find what you like, check out what’s available on the internet. You may be able to find just what you’re looking for. Start by searching for a favorite artist such as Claude Monet or Vince Van Gogh; or, if you prefer modern artists like Thomas Kinkade. Cross stitch patterns are available by these artists and many more.

Entering the magnificent world of cross stitch can be very exciting. Don’t get overwhelmed by the variety and amount of patterns you’ll find online. First, take time to decide what type of pattern you would like to stitch. Then simply do a general Internet search for counted cross stitch patterns pertaining to the subject you chose. You’ll be glad you took this first step!

Julia Wigham is a professional writer and co-founder of Patterns Patch cross stitch forums. An online cross stitch community whose subscribers get free: patterns, articles and tutorials. Visit our lively => cross stitch blogs today!

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