Category: DIY

Poke…Poke…Poke…AAGGHH • Felted Alpaca

Every so often I like to take a break from knitting to try a new craft. A lot of the time I struggle to really get into it the way I do with knitting. The jury is still out with needle felting though. On the one hand, I bled at least 3 separate times doing this project. On the other, the process and final results are incredibly intriguing! After learning the techniques from the kid’s felting kit last time, I was ready to level up with a llama/alpaca kit. And thus, I made a felted alpaca.

It didn’t seem as easy this time around for some reason. I felt powerful with each poke the last time I did it. Some of my pieces this time just didn’t seem to felt. It required a lot of extra work, hence, the bleeding. At one point I received a raspy, “What ARE you DOING?!” from my mom. I suppose all she could hear from the other room was -poke poke poke poke POKE POKE AAAGGHH-. Is it the wool? Do felting needles get dull and need to be changed? Without the very specific guidelines of the instruction book, trying to achieve the right proportions for each piece was a struggle as well. It took a lot of effort to make each leg the same length, and I’m finding some to be squishier than others…

Right here is where I stopped the first time because I was too scared to keep poking or add a face. Usually this is where I mess up and ruin entire projects. What I have learned with felting is that more time and finessing tends to make projects turn out better. I sucked it up and refined a little more, and now he’s a little more alpaca-like!

This guy’s a little fragile, but still pretty cute! He’s Paul’s new pet. Next time I think I’m going to try to make something a little more useful. Maybe some stitch markers…? Stay tuned. For now, the team’s got a new felted alpaca pet. Name suggestions, anyone?

“This is the kind of thing you only see in fairy tales!” • DIY Yarn Swift

Just two months in and the dad of the year award goes to…

For Christmas I requested a ball winder, which I received from my mom. It does wonders, and I have spent hours re-caking floppy cakes. But, with the lack of yarn swift, winding new hanks was still quite the task. I found ways to do it, with upside down chairs and lazy susans, but obviously, it wasn’t ideal. My dad, who knows absolutely nothing about knitting saw my struggle, and took it upon himself to resolve the problem. That’s what dads do isn’t it?

One day, I came home from work and he said, “I made you a swift“. We both looked at each other for a moment- me, not fully grasping the idea that my dad knew what a swift was, and him wondering if he had called it the right thing. Turns out, he really did construct a fully-functioning yarn swift!

When I was little, I had a toy ironing board made of wood. Looking back, it was quite the gendered toy for a little girl to have, but I loved it. I had a wooden iron and would flatten out little handkerchiefs for my bears. Last summer, we did a massive house purge, and all the stashed childhood toys came out. While the rest of us were ready to be rid of the past, I think my dad struggled to let go of the memories of his little girls. He ended up hoarding some of the possessions we threw out, including the aforementioned ironing board.

As it turns out, ironing boards can be easily reconstructed into yarn swifts! What I love most is that what was once something I loved has now grown with me. I’m glad we didn’t throw it away. There are still a few minor kinks to work out, but aside from that, it does the trick! Any chance to make it yourself, upcycle, and save some money is awesome to me. One night, a friend visiting from Singapore commented, “This is the kind of thing you only see in fairy tales!”. Either yarn swifts aren’t as common as I think, or maybe my life is like a fairy tale. Either way, I’m not sorry!

You’re always my dad of the year, but this is pretty neat. Thanks, papa. <3

DIY Letterboard

I am the proud owner of a letterboard! Am I cool yet?

I have been totally envious of people I’ve seen who have felt letterboards or cinema marquees. They’re just so incredibly neat! However, as a maker who is just starting to make her mark in the online world, these are a luxury I can’t justify having.

On the flip side, as a maker, I have the tools and ability to create my own budget-friendly version! It took me a few failures and adjustments before I was able to come up with something functional, but that’s part of the crafting fun, right?

I started off following instructions I found online for a felt letterboard using dowels wrapped in felt, but I just couldn’t achieve an even layout that kept my letters attached securely. As frustrating as this was, I wasn’t ready to surrender just yet. I set it aside to return to another day. It was actually my also-crafty mother who brought a photo on Pinterest to my attention. Her idea was for a DIY ring holder/display using sponge or foam, but the concept inspired a whole new thought process.

All I had to do was fit a piece of flat sponge/foam batting inside a box frame and slice some lines about halfway deep running across the sponge. I centred the sponge on the back board of the frame and glued it down. I did have to order the letters online, but it worked out perfectly and is super customizable! The pegs on the letters fit inside the slits and can be changed just like a felt letterboard. Aside from the letters, everything I used to make this project could be found in the home and reused, or bought for cheap.

I will totally be using this all the time. Feeling excited to step up my Instagram game, starting with a SALE announcement! I recently hit 200 followers on Instagram, and I’m all about celebrating the little things, so I’m offering 20% off everything in the WWK Shop for the next 2 weeks. Just use the coupon code “hooray200” at checkout! I have also added a few new items which are also included in the sale. Head on over to check it out!

Hello? Everyone Still Here?

Happy New Year!

I’m back! Website-ing is hard, and it took me longer than I anticipated to get everything set up. I like to think I’m pretty good at technology but this is a whole new level of skill. So many times I just wished I could go back to simply knitting.

BUT, all the hard work has paid off! I’m ready to start 2018 off with a shop launch and new crafting goals. This website is full of new features beyond the blog now. I encourage you to click around on all the new tabs and links. The WWK shop is officially open with a few cozy knitted items available for purchase. 3 styles, 3 colours, only one of each! Treat yourself to something nice to start off the year, why don’cha?

I’ve also converted what was formerly known as The Sidewalk Sock Project into Winter’s Weather Knits Gives Back, in order to encompass more knitted gifts and incorporate my charity work into my sales. You can read about that on the WWKGB tab.

Other fun plans for the year include:

  • Tons of new pattern ideas waiting to be shared.
  • Fun new fibres to play with.
  • Collaborations with new maker friends.
  • More blog posts, including what you’ve missed over the last few months of 2017!

Social media links are at the bottom of all the pages so you can keep up with everything that’s in store for this year!

2018. Let’s go.

We’re Moving!

We’re Moving!

Sneaking in an extra post this week to share some exciting news…we’re moving!–to a new domain that is. Winter’s Weather Knits is taking the plunge to become a self-hosted official website. While wordpress has been a wonderful platform for weekly blogging, it’s time to pursue some greater things. Keep reading to the bottom to make sure you’re in the loop about what’s going to happen because we want you to come along!

For years I have considered making a business out of my craft but never seriously committed to it. Just the sound of calling it a business makes me uncomfortable because that’s not what I want it to be. I just want to share my craft with the world, and make things that people will love. Part of being able to do that is putting more time and effort into my craft, and updating my website so it’s easily accessible by everyone who wants to join the family. I want to sell my handmade items so people can have WWK in their homes to keep them warm, while providing me with the funds to make this possible.

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This is the farthest I have ever gotten in my attempt to branch out. I have invested a fair sum of my own income into materials to produce items to sell, including custom made fabric labels to attach onto my final products. This doesn’t even take into account the amount of my personal time I have spent trying to get this project up and running. The next step for me is to set up shop online, which means converting my little weekly blog into a full-fledged website.

That being said, the main reason for this post is to let my small but loyal following know I will be converting my wordpress blog into a self-hosted website in the upcoming weeks! I want to send a special bit of love out to everyone who has been reading, whether you’ve made it known to me or not. I am not particularly tech-savvy, and I’m finding this process incredibly overwhelming, but I’m optimistic that we’ll all come out on the other side of this bigger, better, and ready to handle the treacherous winter we’re supposed to have this year. Here’s what you need to know:

  • This site will be moving to a new domain name and getting a few new features including an online shop link
  • We may be offline for a little while, but rest assured we will be back and hopefully on a regular weekly posting schedule again soon
  • I’m going to try to bring those of you who are following my blog over with me, but we may get lost along the way. I would suggest you keep an eye on my Instagram page (@wintersweatherknits) for updates so we can stay connected (also for quality content haha)

See you on the flip side!

Knitting in the Wild

Knitting in the Wild

I’ve started using the term “Knitting in the Wild” to refer to the times I knit outside of my workshop. I frequently bring my knitting and crochet projects around with me so that whenever I have some down time I can pull them out and stitch a couple of rows. In the past I have stuffed my skein, needles, and attached project into whatever bag I’m carrying amongst the smorgasbord of other items floating around. As I began to do this more and more, the need for a proper bag to contain my yarn became apparent.

I picked up a roll of cheap fabric and thought I would do up a simple bag to get me by. I hadn’t sewn in ages, and it definitely isn’t my strong-suit, but I wanted to give it a go anyway.

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A few seams, unpicked seams, and re-seamed seams later…I have a pouch! I’m super happy with the overall look and feel of it. There are many flaws in the detailing, and the finish isn’t quite as refined as I would have liked, but to any non-sewer who isn’t looking out for mistakes, it looks pretty decent. More importantly, it gets the job done.

Whether I’m sitting on the beach, or standing at the bus stop, the bag works like a dream.

Fast forward to last week, I opened the mailbox to discover a package with my name on it. Inside was this GORGEOUS, beautifully-made zippered pouch by a knitting guru and friend, Jenni (aka Lone Larch Designs)!

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She and I met over a year ago through completely unrelated circumstances, almost as if it was fated. Now, she’s somewhat of a knitting fairy godmother to me. She also makes these lovely project bags that roll over into baskets and zip up for travel. They are essentially the same bag that I made, but a million times better! We got to talking back at Knit City and she very briefly mentioned that she would send me one. After all the excitement of that weekend, I went back to my daily grind, and she went home to Alberta. Apparently back home, she sneakily got my address and surprised me with this bag I’ve been eyeing for months!

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The craftsmanship of this bag is incredible. The quality and thoughtfulness puts my bag to shame. I am very happy to now own two bags however, so I don’t have to continuously swap out WIPs when I pack to leave the house. Hers is also a fair bit larger, so I’ll be able to work on bigger projects, even on the go.

Every time I use this bag, it reminds me of how fortunate I feel to be part of this amazingly supportive community of crafters. I often encounter people eager to chat with me about my craft, and who want to share their experiences with their own hobbies. It makes the world seem far more friendly.

In true fairy godmother fashion, Jenni was actually the one who coaxed me out of my workshop and into the world of makers. And now, here I am–standing on the side of the road, bag slung around my wrist, knitting in the wild.

You can find more Lone Larch Designs here:

https://www.instagram.com/lonelarchdesigns/

https://www.ravelry.com/designers/lone-larch-designs

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/lonelarchdesigns?ref=pr_shop_more

The Stitch Marker Revelation

The Stitch Marker Revelation

In my previous post about stitch markers, I thought I was so smart using paperclips to  mark my stitches. I was so genuinely happy with them. I didn’t know what it was like to have any better, so I was satisfied…until NOW.

First, I saw that other people had taken the colored paper clips and bent them into cool shapes that made them more user-friendly. This took me through a Pinterest wormhole of other hand-made stitch markers and I was blown away at how simple they were!

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I definitely had all the tools to make them, and it would only take a few minutes to put some together. I don’t know how I managed to overlook this concept before. With just a few jewelry tools and pendants, I have made new, super cute stitch markers that clip on or loop around the needles. They are so much more refined and leave minimal disruption when knitting or crocheting.

The clip-ons are just little hooks from charm bracelets or necklaces–these are perfect for crochet projects where you need to be able to open and close the marker, and for marking the front/back of a project piece (which I have just realized is incredibly helpful). The circular loops are made from earring hooks wrapped around a large knitting needle. These slip on and off when knitting rows/rounds, but I left the ends open in case I ever did need to pull it out in a pinch. To see if it would make a difference, I put hot glue at the tips of a couple of them thinking it might protect my knitting from sharp edges, though the other ones work fine without it.

I have since gone from being someone who prefers to count stitches and rows than to work around stitch markers, to someone who marks everything she possibly can! Based on my experience with them so far, here’s my verdict:

Pros:
  • Loops are nice and skinny, so they don’t interfere with the tension when knitting
  • Loops also fit in a nice range of needle sizes (up to ~6-7mm)
  • Leaving the loops open allow you to take them out at any time, but the gap is small enough that they won’t fall off
  • No problem with sharp edges getting caught in yarn
  • The clips are more refined-looking, with an easy to use mechanism
  • The clips are also really convenient to attach to bags…etc…until you need them if you’re knitting on the go
  • SO CUTE.
Cons:
  • The clips definitely look better than the loops, which look more “DIY”–if I really wanted to make them nice, I would have bought some actual circular loops instead of trying to curl them myself
  • Some of the smaller clips are difficult to hook on
  • Some of the clips may not fit around bulkier yarn (bigger ones are needed)
  • Heavier charms tend to tug on the stitches a bit, but nothing so severe it doesn’t work itself out when the marker is removed
  • HOW DO I CHOOSE WHICH ONE TO USE?
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The little stego is my favorite!

Nitty grittiness aside, I love them. They do the job, they look better than the paperclips I was using, and I didn’t have to spend a dime. All the materials came from old costume jewelry from when I was a tween, and my jewelry toolbox full of materials I would have used to make myself costume jewelry as a tween (but didn’t).

I was also going to try my hand at using air dry clay to make some charms, but that’s another project for another day. I definitely have more stitch markers than I need right now. Guess this means I either need to start more projects or one big complicated project. New sweater for winter maybe?

Fading into Fall

Fading into Fall

My last round of tie dye turned out so well I received a request for more! Mama bear came home with 4 new shirts and a couple of packs of dye, eager to see new colors and new designs.

This time, we had more autumnal colors–forest green, and scarlet red (mixed with black to make a deep magenta/maroon color). I was braver this time, mixing the dye quickly and dunking in the whole piece instead of carefully swishing it around.

When I opened them up to rinse, I was SO impressed with the designs, and particularly, the colors! They were deep and unique, unlike any box set of dye I’ve ever seen before.

I call that last one “I Killed a Man”. It cracks me up! All the others came out super peaceful looking, but the red bled out of it like a tragic murder scene.

Sadly, after it came out from the wash the colors had faded quite a bit. I’m a huge fan of deep colors, but the shades remained true, so it’s not too disappointing. The fade also helped mellow out the red so it’s less shocking.

With the little bit of green dye I had left over, I also decided to go back in with a second round of dye on that skein of cotton yarn I had from before and I am in LOVE with how it looks now. The subtle shades of green totally makes it look unique. Haven’t been able to decide what to make, but I’m super curious to see how it would knit up.

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With all my new knitted projects I’ve been unable to wear because of the heat, it’s nice to have some summer-y projects that I can wear into fall. The colors make them perfect for the summer-fall transition. Although the weather around here seems to have taken a sudden turn towards cold and rainy. Has summer suddenly ended?

Tie Dye Summers

Tie Dye Summers

In true crafter’s fashion, I have gotten distracted from all the plans I had and started a bunch of new projects. More on this to come, but first, the activity of the day is tie dye!

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I did my first tie dye project back in high school. Whilst perusing Pinterest I stumbled upon a neat glue-resist dying trick where you use white glue to draw out a design onto your shirt, then dye it and wash the glue off, leaving a design un-colored. I was excited to see that I actually managed to re-create the Pinterest idea, but I found tie dye far too unpredictable for my ocd-mind.

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Last summer, tie dye seemed to be the trend, so I hopped on the bandwagon again and did a few more tie dye projects with the fam.

This summer, it still seems quite fashionable, though I will admit as I get older I do feel more out of touch with today’s “youth”. I still wear my tie dye tops, and if someone decides I am “so last year”, I’d prefer to think that maybe I am just too cool to follow mainstream trends I wore tie dye after it was cool. I mean…as a knitter in her 20s I’m already pretty used to being an oddball in my generation.

I didn’t actually make more shirts for myself this year though. I had unfulfilled plans to tie dye some bedsheets, but in the mean time, mama bear needed some exercise shirts and the white ones she got were too transparent, so the only logical solution was to dye them! I used some darker colors and went for more simple designs, but it did give me an opportunity to try some sweet techniques other than the classic spiral.

The colors looked super vibrant while it was still wet and before it went through the machine wash cycle, but the final product still looks pretty cool! Will wait to see if we receive compliments from anyone in the neighborhood who spots her on her morning walk.

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With some of the extra dye I had, I also thought I’d see if I could die a skein of cotton yarn I had lying around. I think it worked! The color contrast didn’t quite come out the way it looked before rinsing, but it still looks pretty cool–kind of like acid wash denim. The true test will be when I actually knit it up into something.

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Please Stand By…

Please Stand By…

After some concerning creative blocks, I am back at it with designing and pattern-making! I’m on a short summer break from work and have been hit by a wave of motivation to design. This is a long and detailed process though, so I appreciate your patience while I collect my notes and attempt to combine them into a sensible pattern.

I likely will not be posting on a regular schedule over the next little while, but please enjoy these little sneak peeks of what’s to come.