Tag: tools

“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!

Buying a Baby Alpaca

Buying a Baby Alpaca

Oh how I wish I was actually buying a live alpaca…unfortunately not…yet.

When I first started knitting, my first focus was different garment types. I learned basic concepts of socks, sweaters, mittens, scarves…and so on…

Then, I transitioned over to learning new stitch patterns. Among my favorites are diagonal basketweave, linen stitch, herringbone stitch, and broken seed stitch.

I also dabbled in a bit of colorwork–changing colors, carrying up yarn, intarsia…

My newest path of exploration is fibres! For a long time I only ever worked with acrylic. It was cheap and accessible, and simply, good enough for me. I didn’t see the need to spend tons of money, and acrylic was always easily accessible in a large variety. Until recently, I was always satisfied with what I was working with.

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I started investigating natural fibres when I established a place in the instagram knitting community. Among the huge selection of natural fibre vendors, We Are Knitters jumped out at me as a well-known, fairly commercial supplier of adorable and squishy yarn balls. WAK had very simple, pure fibres in beautiful contemporary colors, thus I was inclined to place an order with them. Even though their mainstay is sheep’s wool, it was their baby alpaca that really drew my attention. I did some online research about types of wool and from what I pulled apart from the scientific jargon, baby alpaca seems to have one of the lowest micron values, and that makes it softer and less likely to make you itch (hopefully…).

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Before committing to a purchase, I stopped by a LYS called 88 Stitches to see if they had any baby alpaca. They didn’t have anything specifically labelled, but the lady there did point me in the direction of some 100% superfine alpaca (which, if I remember correctly is just a slightly higher micron range). I fell in love with it almost instantly and since I’ve brought it home I haven’t been able to stop touching it. With that, I was ready to take the plunge with the WAK online store. I ordered a set of 10 skeins in 5 different colors.

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They are all so wonderfully squishy and cute! These are all going to be made into hats to sell (though I may snag one for myself), but now that I’ve had a feel of the good stuff, I’ll definitely be saving up to get a large quantity of the same color to make something for myself…a sweater perhaps?

My sister and I have definitely had a few semi-serious conversations about buying a herd of alpacas to raise in the countryside. We both have this desire to get away from the stress of the city and live a simpler life doing what we love. What a dream it would be to raise alpacas, shear them, make my own yarn, and knit with it.

In the mean time I’ll just be here fondling yarn balls…

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?

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!

DIY Yarn Stamps

DIY Yarn Stamps

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I have been making toques to give away to the homeless as part of my charity project, The Sidewalk Sock Project. Since I began, I have branched out to make both socks AND hats because why not stay warm from head to toe?

I had piles of hats waiting to be stitched together and have their ends weaved in, and I finally got around to doing that and getting them washed. The next step was to figure out how to package them. At this point I realized that packaging hats isn’t as straightforward as socks. When you go to buy these kinds of hats at stores, they are always just laid out. I also wanted people to be able to look at the styles and sizes and maybe try them out at shelters. I believe that allowing them to have a choice gives a small sense of control, something they may be lacking in their everyday lives, so being folded and wrapped wasn’t ideal. I decided to design some tags that I could tie onto the hats, which also allowed me to write little messages or sign my name, making each one extra special.

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To do so, I asked my dad to cut me a couple of blocks of wood from his scraps. With one of them, I simply wrapped some yarn around and glued a button on the side. This created a cute yarn stripe pattern and a button stamp in one. I sketched out a ball of yarn with some knitting needles in them, and hot glued pieces of yarn to cover the lines. I glued this to the other block to stamp that design! (I’m particularly proud of that one…)

It took a little bit of trial and error and I’m really not sure how long they will hold up, but I was super happy with the results! From now on packaging will be simple and professional looking. I have made tons of extra tags for now. Guess it’s back to churning out hats!

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!

Crafter’s Toolkit

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In the few years I’ve been doing DIY projects, I’ve accumulated quite a solid set of tools to use–particularly for yarn and needle crafts. Here is a little glimpse into the tools I have on hand at all times:

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Stackable Toolbox:

(A) Holds extra tools not required for current project or not frequently used (ie. knitting needles in EVERY size, material, length…etc…)

(B) 3 stackable and interchangeable layers

(C) Smaller compartments for little things

(D) Convenient carrying handle

Roll-Up Needle Holder:

(A) Slots of a variety of widths and heights for different frequently used (or currently needed) tools

  • Double-pointed needles
  • Circular needles
  • Safety pin
  • Darning needles
  • Crochet hooks
  • Yarn snipper
  • Pen
  • Notepad
  • Stitch holders

(B) Sealed compartment for small, loose objects (ie. stitch markers, seam ripper…)

(C) Folds and ties for easy transportation when you’re doing projects on the go

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Project Bag:

(A) Holds needle holder and all other materials needed for current project

Did I miss anything?