Tag: technique

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!

Judy’s Magic Cast On

Judy’s Magic Cast On

Gone are the days of seaming sock toes!

Some techniques I’ve learned were used for one project and then lost in the chaos that is my mind. Judy’s Magic Cast On (JMCO) is not one of them. It had such a great impact on me, and I’ve used it so many times on multiple projects. It is most well-known for toe-up sock knitting, but comes in handy for any edge being knit in the round that is meant to be closed shut.

The concept behind it is to be able to cast on a foundation row of stitches and work outwards on both sides (in the round) instead of leaving two edges that need to be stitched shut later on. It leaves a seamless edge (or lack of edge altogether, really), giving your project a neater look both inside and out.

As I have delved into the world of pattern designing and this is a common technique I use, I wanted to write out a step by step set of instructions with clear pictures to use for reference. I have seen a lot of video tutorials that demonstrate the cast on incredibly well, but I realize there are times when you are not in a position to watch a video, and looking at pictures is your only option. I’d also like to note that there are variations on this technique, and this is just the method I have found to be the easiest and best looking.

Here we go!

Set up:

*Note: I am using circular needles and the magic loop method of knitting in the round. If you prefer to use DPNs, you may do so and redistribute the stitches onto 3 needles when knitting the first round.

Step 1: Hold two needles next to each other with your right hand so you have a ‘front needle’ and a ‘back needle’.

Step 2: Place your yarn over the back needle so the tail end is closer to you, between the two needles (make sure the tail is the right length for half of the circumference of what you are casting on).

Step 3: Bring the tail end towards the back, counterclockwise behind the end that is attached to the skein, causing the yarn to form a twist around the needle.

Step 4: Tighten the twist around the needle by holding the yarn with your index finger and thumb with your palm facing downwards towards the table/ground. The tail end should be resting on your index finger, and the skein end resting on your thumb (opposite from long tail cast on).

Casting On:

Step 5: Using your index finger, bring the yarn to the front of both needles from the bottom and carry it over the front needle and down between the two needles. That creates one stitch on the front needle. You now have one stitch on each needle (including the twist made when setting up).

Step 7: Repeat step 5. You should now have 2 stitches per needle.

Repeat this process until you have casted on the appropriate number of stitches needed for your pattern, alternating between using your thumb to make a stitch on the back needle, and your index to make a stitch on the front needle. End with a stitch on the front needle. This should result in an equal number of stitches per needle.

For visitors who are here looking for help on one of my patterns (Winter’s Weather Knits), “JMCO” stops at this point, and you can start the first step of the pattern instructions. If you need help with knitting the first round, continue reading below.

Knitting the First Round:

Step 8: Hold both needles with your left hand such that the front needle with the tail end is now in the back. Hold the tail down towards the back.

Step 9: You are now ready to start knitting the first round by inserting your needle into the first stitch that is now on the back needle (the tail end you are holding down). If using circular needles, pull the front needle through to knit with. If you are using DPNs, use a third needle for the first half of the row, and a fourth needle for the remainder (distributing your stitches across 3 needles). Knit across the row.

Step 10: Rotate your work to continue knitting in the round on the other side. If using circular needles, slide the stitches on the wire onto the free needle, and pull the other one through to use to knit. Knit across the row.

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Your finished cast on should look like two rows of stitches between two rows of live stitches. As you continue to knit in the round, it will look less flat, and a tube will form as if you had been knitting in the round and sewed the cast on edge flat.

Please let me know if you are confused at all and I will clarify and provide updates to these instructions!

Good luck with your projects (:

The Stitch Marker Deliberation

The Stitch Marker Deliberation

Since very early on in my knitting career, I have been debating whether or not to buy stitch markers. I like to consider myself a bit of a thrifty knitter…surely I don’t need to fork out cash for little plastic rings…right?

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Fancy stitch markers in the store always seem like frivolous luxuries you don’t really need until you’re in the middle of a project trying to keep count. It’s then that the utility of stitch markers becomes apparent. I have tried to be creative, using things like rubber bands, safety pins, scrap pieces of yarn tied into loops, and little plastic rings from some toy machine I got when I was little (you know…those tempting ones that stole all your toonies). Each of these came with its own problem, and it was becoming increasingly clear that stitch markers are an essential tool every serious knitter/crocheter should have. That is, until I finally found a household object that actually worked!

…paper clips! Colourful ones, in particular. Here’s why: Coloured paper clips have a plastic layer around them as opposed to regular paper clips. This makes them slide smoother through the stitches. They can also be bent to whatever shape you find easiest to slip on and off, and they can hang on loosely, or be looped through so there’s no way they are coming off! My preferred method is just to open the first prong a little to hook on to stitches and leave the rest as is. I have also found the different colours great for colour coding if you are using more than one on a project.

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Turns out it wasn’t about being cheap and not wanting to pay for the real deal, it was just about finding the right tool. I don’t know why I didn’t think of them sooner. They’ve worked wonders for me, particularly since I started doing crochet in the round.

I still think fancy store-bought stitch markers are a luxury, however definitely not so frivolous. Some day I may treat myself and get some cute ones, but in the mean time, my dish of paper clips is working just fine!

Self Haircut

Self Haircut

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I’ve been cutting my own hair for a few years now. I don’t claim to be an expert at all and there’s definitely technique issues with how I get my cut, however I’m usually pretty happy with the final look and that’s all that matters, really.

When I was a kid, my mom used to cut my hair–and I hated it! Whenever it came time to trim the ends she would have to bribe me with toys. Lucky for her, I was very easily enticed by a new stuffed animal or game. I always ended up with some kind of china doll bowl cut, or a super boxy blunt edge which at the time, was super uncool (oh, the struggles of being 6). She always said she would only trim the ends yet somehow I always ended up with short hair I didn’t want!

In later years, I started experimenting with more expensive salon cuts. I was convinced that I could fork out a ton of money for a trendy professional to properly style my hair. This didn’t exactly work out in my favor either. I was able to find pictures of what I considered to be “beautiful” online, but those cuts were never transferable to my face shape or hair texture. Stylists would try, but I was never satisfied enough for it to justify the high cost. I was also unable to put to words how I wanted my hair to look, nor was I brave enough to let a stylist know I didn’t like what she was doing.

After that I decided that if I would be just as unsatisfied with an expensive cut, I might as well just go for a cheap cut when my ends were looking particularly nasty and just bear with hating it for a few weeks until it grew out. My mom had a few friends in the neighborhood that did hair, so I would stop in for a snip. This sufficed for a little while, until they all moved away, leaving me abandoned.

At this point I started watching youtube videos on hair cutting. As someone who loves to learn techniques and understand concepts, this really gave me hope. Of course, trying to translate a video of someone cutting another person’s hair to doing it on your own head is very difficult! I would explain these concepts to my mom and ask her to help me out in the back (micromanaging every snip from the chair). This worked for awhile too, but took way longer than a haircut should.

Finally I really got committed to figuring it out for myself. My go-to haircut really isn’t that difficult. Cut a straight line, layer, texturize… I did everything I could to make the process easier. I pulled chip clips from the pantry to help hold the hair straight and bring it to the front of my face to cut. I used string to tie a mirror to the towel rack so I could see the back of my head and use both hands to cut.

It’s not perfect, but it works. It’s convenient, it’s free, and if something goes wrong, I only have myself to blame so there is zero resentment towards anyone else. And most importantly, I do feel good about myself after I’ve showered and can see my new cut all done up.

The ability to clean up the ends whenever I feel they are getting wild is such a blessing. It just leaves my hair feeling so healthy and fresh. I do a clean up every month or so, so it’s nice to be able to do it from home in between my list of other chores to get done and not have to pay for it every time.

Meeting of the Crafts

Meeting of the Crafts

Each member of my immediate family has some kind of crafty talent. Dad’s a graphic designer and product photographer, big sis is a wedding and portrait photographer/videographer, and momma, well, she’s a potter!

She has been doing pottery for about 7 years now, growing her repertoire and experimenting with designs and techniques, much like myself. Her current theme is imprinting. She has some store-bought floral doilies that she rolls into her clay to create patterns that she then glazes over. She and I began collaborating  on projects using each of our talents. I learned how to crochet and join motifs that she could use.

The end result was awesome! She has managed to take the swatches I made for her and use them to design clay pots, teapots, and cups. It’s cool to see how the two of us can produce something together that neither of us would do on our own.

I have been teaching her to crochet designs herself (since I have so many other projects I’d like pursue) so soon I will become obsolete to her (haha) but it’s nice to know that there will be a few pieces out there that have a little touch from the both of us.

As a little side note, it’s funny how at one point she was the one who taught me to crochet many moons ago, but now she’s given that up and needs me to teach her. Makes me wonder if some day in the future I will give up knitting and crochet and move on to something new!

The Perfect Pair of Socks

The Perfect Pair of Socks

dsc01909I must have made over 200 socks by now for my charity project, all with heel flaps. This was the way I learned to knit socks, and it just stuck with me. Until recently, I never entertained the thought of using a different method.

Not too long ago, I crossed paths with a lady who’s a pretty big deal in the knitting world–the knitting world I really wasn’t aware was out there. For the most part, knitting has been a solitary affair for me; a hobby that I didn’t really talk about or share with many people. Over time, this has changed, and meeting this lady opened me up to the interactional aspect of my craft and exchanging ideas with other designers. The internet is a great tool for getting ideas and feedback. Whereas a few years back I would have to join craft groups and physically meet up with people, social media now allows me to connect with other knitters without ever leaving my workshop. She posted a photo on instagram of a pair of socks she made, citing a particular sock heel method, the Fish Lips Kiss method. Eager to try it out, I bought the pattern and my life has changed!

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Included in the pattern is not only the details on how to knit this sock heel, but also a lengthy explanation of proper fit and how to achieve it, as well as directions to create cardboard foot stencils so you can fit your socks according to a particular person’s foot without having to have them constantly try them on! Trying on my own socks while making them isn’t exactly difficult, but the convenience of this is a luxury I will never give up from now on.

16601633_1290027787757151_8259131619220168726_oOver some fruit tea and pop punk, I finished up a pair of two-colored Loops & Threads Woolike socks for myself. They actually do fit perfectly!

Anyone who wants a pair of handmade socks now will get them in exchange for a properly sketched outline of their foot. Ha.

Two-at-a-Time Socks Give Me Anxiety

Two-at-a-Time Socks Give Me Anxiety

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My double-pointed needles were giving me grief and I was just about ready to snap them and throw them across the room!

But instead I set them aside and pulled out my circular needles and decided to give two-at-a-time socks a try. I have been researching sock patterns in attempt to find the optimal method and design for my sock charity. I already changed from top down to toe up socks, as well as the method in which I do the heel from heel flaps to the fish lips kiss heel. During that transition of incorporating new techniques, I found that my work started laddering, which is something I haven’t struggled with for a long time. Trying out circular needles was my last option, though I wasn’t particularly hopeful that with only 2 gaps (instead of 4) my laddering problem would be solved. If anything, I just wanted there to be fewer ladders I needed to sort out later on.

The entire time from start to finish, I felt this sense of stress wondering if it would work. Was I pulling tight enough at the ends? Was I pulling TOO tight? Would the first sock end up slightly different than the second sock? There’s double the amount of loss if this doesn’t work out compared to trying a technique out on just one sock. I’m also going to point out at this point that I had casted on two different colored socks so I could tell which was the first and which was the second, which completely defeats the purpose of two-at-a-time socks!

By the end, I was quite pleased with the final product. No ladders, no holes, just two socks. My next set is obviously going to be two different colors again to finish off these pairs, but after that I think I’ll have had enough practice to do one pair at a time!

Oh Deer, Is Christmas Over Already?

Oh Deer, Is Christmas Over Already?

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We have officially taken down our Christmas tree, and even though Christmas day is already just a faint memory, it still makes me a little sad!

I’ve never been a huge fan of Christmas ornaments. What I mean by that is I like the tree to be properly decorated with sets of baubles–maybe 2 or 3 varieties, and some lights and tinsel. To have a tree completely cluttered with ornaments that came from here and there is too much for my OCD brain to handle! I mean, clearly you’ll have favourites and some will inevitably be shoved to the back of the tree. And those that are super cute on their own end up clashing with all the other super cute ornaments, just fighting for attention. This year however, the family that I work with in my day job had a beautifully decorated house that I was lucky enough to get to visit for a few hours most days. On any regular day, their interior design is #goals, but when Christmas season rolled around, boy, did it become like a movie set. They had a chubby tree completely littered with all sorts of ornaments…and it looked good!

So against my better judgment, I decided to crochet Christmas ornaments. Even though ornaments people gift to me often just end up in a box somewhere, I could feel that they would fully appreciate and make use of them. I wanted to make something that the kiddos would enjoy, and upon browsing a tiny amigurumi book (book on tiny amigurumi…the book itself was actually quite large), I settled on making little reindeer ornaments.

I learned 2 very cool things from this book:

  1. You can crochet an i-cord.
  2. When making tiny amigurumi limbs/antlers, you don’t have to darn each one on to the body (which I hate), you just have to leave openings to pull the entire tube through! (ie. Instead of making 2 front legs, you make 1 piece that is equivalent of both legs plus a little, and leave holes when making your body so this long piece can be pulled right through. It requires a little bit more planning, but totally worth it in my opinion.)

So, as we start a new year and wait for Christmas season to roll around again, I can only hope these little fellas get to come out again next year!

Grafting with Knitting Needles

A knitting technique I feel is underrated is grafting.

Many patterns I have seen tell you to make pieces separately and then use a darning needle to mattress stitch pieces together. While this works well, I love grafting pieces together where possible, as I think it leaves a cleaner finish.

Grafting is a technique whereby pieces are joined with a row of knit stitches, so you cannot really tell where the join is. I use this technique to close off the toes of my socks, and it works wonders.

To take this one step further, most of the instructions I have seen online teach you how to graft using a darning needle, but I prefer doing so with knitting needles! When I am knitting socks in the round, I have my double pointed needles with me, though I don’t always have my darning needle handy. I’d like to share with you the step by step instructions on how to graft using only knitting needles.

Set up:

Step 1: cut yarn leaving a long tail and line up pieces with purl sides facing together (equal number of stitches on front and back needle)

Step 2: in front needle, insert another needle as if to knit; yarn over and pull through

Step 3: in back needle, insert needle as if to purl; yarn over and pull through

Begin grafting:

Step 4: in front needle, insert needle as if to purl; yarn over and pull through; slip the stitch off the needle

Step 5: in front needle, insert needle as if to knit; yarn over and pull through

Step 6: in back needle, insert needle as if to knit; yarn over and pull through; slip the stitch off the needle

Step 7: in back needle, insert needle as if to purl; yarn over and pull through

Repeat steps 4-7 until only one stitch remains on the front and back needles.

Finishing:

When you reach the last stitch on each needle, you will have just finished purling into the stitch on the back needle. Insert needle into front stitch as if to purl, yarn over and pull through. Slip the stitches on both the front and back needle off. Pull tight and tie off.

I learned this technique by watching this video. If you need additional instruction, check it out!