Category Archives: crochet

NEW Needle Licious Kits

NL07

Needle Licious Crochet Bunny Kit

Crochet your own funny bunny! This is a complete crochet kit including step-by-step instructions. Kit makes 1 toy.

Kit Includes:

  • acrylic yarn
  • felt, safety eyes
  • fiberfill
  • 3mm crochet hook
  • darning needle
  • instruction sheet.

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NL05

Needle Licious Crochet Monkey Kit

Crochet your own funny monkey! This is a complete crochet kit including step-by-step instructions. Kit makes 1 toy.

Kit Includes:

  • acrylic yarn
  • felt, safety eyes
  • fiberfill
  • 3mm crochet hook
  • darning needle
  • instruction sheet

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NL01

Needle Licious Crochet Monster Kit

Crochet your own funny monster! This is a complete crochet kit including step-by-step instructions. Kit makes 1 toy.

Kit Includes:

  • acrylic yarn
  • felt
  • safety eyes
  • fiberfill
  • 3mm crochet hook
  • darning needle
  • instruction sheet

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

 

sewing kit ombo

Needle Licious Coin Purse Sewing Kit

Sew your own adorable monster coin purse! This is a complete kit including step-by-step instructions. Kit makes one 12cm coin purse.

Kit Includes:

  •  Fabric
  • Felt
  • fusible fleece
  • fusible interfacing
  • zipper
  • buttons
  • ribbon
  • embroidery thread
  • instructions

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needle licious kits combo

FINISHED OBJECTS

Weather is a strange thing, our environment has such a strong influence on us, but we rarely feel our relationship with it (spoiler, this might end up being a slightly philosophical update). Spring brings a lot of change and does strange, unpredictable things to my mood. My fibre arts compass goes haywire, I lose my direction and end up working on a bunch of random little projects that don’t really have much to do with selling you stuff. That’s ok, we can both use a break once in a while to charge our creative juices.

The following is a parade of the random projects I’ve accomplished this spring …

handmaiden mohoair tissue box cover

Mohair Tissue Box Cover

A pink, mohair tissue box cover. It isn’t my first tissue box cover, but so part it is my favourite. I made it for my house, but it landed at my parent’s house (cause you know, every mom should receive a pink mohair tissue box cover for mother’s day). I’ll make a second for myself. Why pink mohair? I wanted it to hearken back to an old 1960’s mohair sweater, the colour was perfect – Thank You Fleece Artist-Handmaiden! Why a tissue box cover? They’re ugly, I can’t think of a better object to ear a sweater.

Materials

 

Rowan Denim Tunisian Hand Towel

Tunisian Hand Towel

I sometimes in the warm weather I like to mess around with Tunisian Crochet, and flat, rectangular things are great for that. I took the Rowan Original Denim for a ride, and it was win-win all around! We now have a pretty new table thingy in the store, and I got to rev my spring crochet engine. The denim was lovely and the crochet was fun! If you want to learn how to do Tunisian Crochet (it is very easy) we have an upcoming class on May 28th. If you can’t make that, you can also learn the way I did – on Craftsy! Jennifer Hansen’s Tunisian Crochet class on Craftsy is EXCELLENT, I highly recommend it.

Materials

 

DMC natura XL bowl cozy.jpg

Bowl Cozy

This bowl cozy is another test-drive, playing around with yarn, covering up something unsightly project. Plus, you can never have enough knitted & crochet objects in a yarn store, right? Anyway, I chose the yellow because it matched the other stuff already on the table. The DMC Natura XL crocheted really well, I’m very pleased with it. Just a side note, crocheted bowl don’t seem to stand up all by themselves, unless you make them twice as tall and fold the edge over on the inside of itself, to make a double wall. I opted to stick a regular bowl inside my crocheted bowl to maintain it’s structure. It’s all display, but hey, what isn’t these days?

Materials

 

dmc natura xl lace swatch

Swatch for Dawning

This one is in-progress, but what the hell … I’ve completed swatching for DAWNING, a bulky-weight lace pullover from a back-issue Creative Knitting (I tracked a digital version down through the interweb). I wanted to take the DMC Natura XL out for a real drive, and I always need things to wear around the store. The uninspiring colour matches my summer wardrobe, which is usually a safari-esque palette.

So far, I’ve made 4 swatches, and one arm (presently blocking). I usually try to start a sweater with the arm – if things start going sideways with the tension I can find out much faster than if I’d started with the back. Cotton has a tendency to stretch, as does lace, so thorough swatching was important to make sure I won’t end up with a sweater-a-saurus. I was also curious to see how the yarn worked-up on different size needles; it seems to be fairly flexible and does well on a 7mm/US10.75 to 9mm/US13 needles, but if you use the larger sizes expect your garment to stretch in the wash.

Materials

 

Noro Silk Garden Wood Fungus Tea Cozy.jpeg

Quirky Tea Cozy

Yes, I made a tea cozy that looks like it crawled off the page of a Dr Seuss book. And I LOVE it! It was a birthday gift for my mother, who can’t stand receiving gifts unless they are something she has been coveting or are hand knit. And yes, I went out and bought a teapot to go with it – it was necessary to try on the cozy as I worked. And let’s face it, this one is ALL display. It is currently hanging out with the Mohair Tissue Box Cover (above). The pattern is by Loani Prior, Tea Cozy GENIUS. The yarn is Noro Silk Garden, and full disclosure, I used an extra skein and played around with the colour distribution A LOT. What you see in the finished product is extensive editing.

Materials


 

Well, there you have it, a bunch of weird stuff. If there is a theme, I guess it would be “don’t be afraid to try new things”. You never know what you’ll like, or even fall in love with. Spring & Summer are great low-pressure seasons when you can play around and try new things, and I am all for taking advantage if that.

On my to-do list is a larger project using Rowan Original Denim – I’m thinking a knit wrap of some kind? Something that really exploits the denim texture and indigo colour.

 

NEW DMC Natura XL

DMC Natura XL DISPLAY

DMC Natura XL

Buying yarn is a bit like grocery shopping for a large family – you look for products that suit the whole family. When I came across DMC Natura XL I was super excited because it ticked A LOT of boxes ….

First, it’s a super bulky weight cotton. Yup, really thick cottons are really hard to come by, especially yarns that look and act like regular, real yarn. Seriously, it calls for 8mm/US11 to 9mm/US13 needles! Second, it’s 100% cotton, all natural, so perfect for vegans, sensitives, and babies. Third, it’s soft and machine washable – which is essential around here, so many baby & kid knits start with us (see the baby blanket pattern below). Fourth, it has good yardage. So many times you find a yarn but one ball isn’t long enough to do much of anything. Fifth, it comes in lots of NICE colours …. it drives me batty when the yarn base is lovely but the colours are acrid. Sixth, it isn’t made in China, nobody was exploited in the manufacture of this yarn. Seventh and actually much higher on my list of priorities is the price, which is very reasonable – only $8.97 for a 100g ball.

DMC Natura XL is especially great for baby & kid projects, blankets pillows and afghans, as well as crocheted baskets and other home decor projects.

  • Super Bulky
  • 8mm/US11 to 9mm/US13 needles
  • 6mm/J to 7mm hook
  • 100% cotton
  • soft & comfortable
  • machine washable
  • 100g – 75m(82yds)
  • 30 colours
  • Made in the EU
  • $8.97/ball
  • See patterns for DMC Natural XL

DMC Natural XL COMBO

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Instagram_medium

Photo: Yarnplaza

DMC Natura XL Baby Blanket

 

 

 

Crochet Baskets & Stool Cover

I think I need to get myself a stool so I can crochet it a sweater …. These two crochet patterns both use DMC Natura XL and work up in a jiff! The patterns are published in Women’s Weekly Knitting & Crochet June 2015, which is available for free through our public library as a digital download (if you live outside of Toronto you should check your local library to see if they offer this service). Alternately, you can also pay to download the patterns from the magazine’s parent company:

 

natural xl cmobo

Photos: Yarnplaza, DMC

 

A Tale of 1.25 Blankets – Stash-Busting Sock (Part 5)

 

Granny Stripe Blanket Aug 2, 2017.png

Left: the first version of the blanket. Right: the second incarnation.

 

For all the posts in this series, you can go HERE!

This post isn’t really a Hack post, it’s more about sharing insights – OK, it’s really just a project update. I’m not usually into sharing the ins and outs and ups and downs of making things, but this particular project involves my ‘creative process’, and I know that some people find it a slightly mysterious state that they’d like some insight into, and I’m happy to share.

I think when we last left off ,I was rolling along and had figured out how many rows I needed to work each day to get the blanket done by the end of the summer. I also had an idea about my colour distribution, and basically, I thought I was off to the races. Hahahahahaha! The best laid plans … after working about twelve inches I found, despite all my planning, I didn’t like my blanket.

1. Too Wide

I had overestimated the size I really wanted, it was working up to be about a queen size, and I just wanted a throw. Also, the rows were taking FOREVER! Part of the problem might have been the fabric’s natural stretchiness once was worked up on a larger scale (the stitch is very stretchy in the fingering weight merino wool), but I think I just chose the wrong finished size.

So I started again, from scratch. This time I chained 242 stitches to make a blanket narrower, it is working up to about 51″ wide.  To get an accurate dimension you need to measure it on a flat, hard surface, like a table or the floor. You won’t get an accurate measurement on a bed or sofa. I guess I did have a HACK for you, after all!

2. Hated the Colour

Everyone else liked it, and the colours looked gorgeous together, but I didn’t dig it. My rainbow system (above left) was VERY rainbowy, and the prospect of that much rainbow in a blanket was a bit too rainbow-brite for me. The prospect of a queen sized rainbow blanket was too much for my delicate aesthetic sensibilities. It was also kind of boring for me to work, it was very predictable, andthe harmony and redundancy weren’t working for me.

My new ‘system’ is simpler but subjective. I’m alternating warm (red, orange, yellow) and cool (green, blue, purple) colours. I’m also alternating light and dark colours, bright and muted colours – basically trying to create a contrast between colours. I like to create a tension between colours. Do you remember the Kandinsky painting at the start of the movie Six Degrees of Separation? It was a double sided painting; one side was an expressive, chaotic style, and the other more controlled. Well, I’ve always appreciated a graphic, controlled design aesthetic, but my soul as an artist is in the chaos camp.

People often ask me if I like their colour choice, and I always answer “What I like doesn’t matter.” This isn’t just a tactful way to respond to a colour combination that turns my stomach, it’s the truth, my preference is completely irrelevant. I don’t have to work with your colours, and I don’t have to live with them. My job isn’t to tell you what I like, my job is to help you find what YOU enjoy, what looks good on you, and which colours are complimentary and work well with your project. That said, if you like what I like, I’m more than happy to share!

Oh, BTW, I don’t weave in the ends until the end, because as you can see, it ain’t done until it’s DONE, and trying to rip back work when you’ve woven in the ends is a special kind of hell. Another Mini-Hack!

Conclusion

So I’m back on track …. sort of. My ‘schedule’ was totally shot to hell, but I’m really enjoying the project now, so I’m happy. As for the creative process, it’s kind of a misnomer. It’s really more of a progression, an evolution with fits and starts, giant strides and dead ends. Setbacks aren’t failures, just diversions, and sometimes they can be extremely fruitful and get you where you need to go.

 

 

Granny Stripe Blanket Aug 3 COMBO

FREEBIE Moorland Inspiration

Cascade Ultra Pima Moorland Palette.jpg

Today I’m feeling inspired by Attic24’s Moorland Blanket … pictured above is Cascade Ultra Pima (on SALE until the end of July) in the following colours:

  • Upper Row, left to right: 3716, 3809, 3766, 3762, 37613746, 3734, 3774
  • Lower Row, left to right: 3733, 3732, 3725, 3726, 3772, 3777, 3708, 3709

I should warn you, the colours aren’t exact pairings with the original pattern, I’m not canonical about these things (and I like the blues more than the greens, they’re better at binding together the palette). That said, you could use this palette to make any of Attic24’s Blanket patterns, they’d all look great, I think the Hydrangea Stripe would look amazing. 16 skeins of Cascade Ultra Pima is enough to make a large throw blanket (I’d normally use about 10 to make a lap blanket).

 

KNIT HACK Stash-Busting Sock (Part 3)

 

Crochet Blanket Swatch BLOG.jpg

For all the posts in this series, you can go HERE!

Swatching

Before you start your project I urge you to swatch, especially to find the right needle or hook size. For crochet, holding one strand of sock weight yarn, a 3.5/E hook is generally good (if you are a tight crocheter, if you are loose go down). For knitting, holding 2 strands of sock weight yarn together, 4.5mm/US7 or 5mm/US8 needles should be good. Everyone’s tension is different, so play around to find the size that you are comfortable with.

I always keep track of my choices in my Ravelry Projects, it’s a great place to keep your notes because they never get lost and you can look info up from your smartphone.

Now, everyone emphasises how important swatching is for the success of your final project, and I can’t *make* you swatch, but I think I can motivate you to swatch. I made a small swatch and am glad I did, as I found out several VERY useful things …

I made a smallish swatch (see picture above), about the size of a blanket for a doll, and am glad I did, as I found out several VERY useful things … knowledge is power! 

Hook Size

I preferred a 3.25mm crochet hook since my crochet tension is on the loose side. I also found out that I have two D hooks made by the same company (in different styles) that are actually different sizes: one is 3mm and the other is 3.25mm. 

Project Changes

I wasn’t loving my yarn worked up in a log cabin style, it didn’t suit the predominantly smooth texture and mostly variegated colour ways. I am changing to a granny stripe blanket .

Enjoyment

I found the granny stripe blanket quite easy and simple. I thought I might find it a bit boring, but I think it’s actually kind of zen, and frees up my mind to play with colour.

Accurate Measurements

I now have a more concrete tension measurement. The pattern is a multiple of 3 plus 2, so I swatched with a chain of 41 stitches, which measured approximately 8.5″ (I laid it flat on a table and measured with a ruler. I did not get around to blocking, but for a true gauge measurement you really should, as textiles can loosen up). Your tension will not be the same as mine, you need to check yours for an accurate measurement.

Project Size

I have a lot of yarn, but I’d like to finish this project this summer, so I’ll make it a lap blanket size, approximately 6 feet or 1.8m (182cm) wide should be sufficient. A chain of about 348 should be right. The pattern is a multiple of 3 plus 2, so 347 would be the right number.

Alternate Techniques

I followed the pattern and did not enjoy the long chain that you start with (the prospect of 347 wobbly chains doesn’t appeal), or how you have to enter the stitches in the first row. I’m not a novice, so I’m going to try starting with a “foundation since crochet” (FSC) chain. I like the idea of starting with an FSC because it gives me a good idea of how wide my work will actually be (unlike a regular chain, which really isn’t helpful in that department), and it will be easier to work the first granny Row into. I’ll swatch this first to make sure I like the look and the technique works for me (no point in making 340 stitches and finishing out I don’t like it). Before I start the real project I’ll also have to decide if this is the colour I want the first border to be. And of course, I have to practise the FSC, it’s been a while since I’ve done it and I need to consult a tutorial for a refresher (The best instructions I’ve ever come across is in Jennifer Hansen’s Broomstick Lace Craftsy Class, but Purl Soho has a decent tutorial on their blog).

NOTE: after a practice go I also found that the FSC was tight on a small hook and should be worked on a slightly larger hook, I’ll try a 3.25mm or 3.5mm next time. Oh, and if you go with the FSC, most tutorials will tell you to put a pin in at a specific point -DO THIS, especially if you put your work down in the middle (otherwise you’ll never find where you are supposed to pick-up).

Colour Choices

I’ve been sorting out my approach to colour and experimenting as I swatch ….

1. The first aesthetic choice was to evict all of the muted colours. They weren’t making me happy blended in with the more saturated colours, so they are outie and can emerge at a later date in another project. The second colour issue I found was that I am very uncomfortable with the random look.

2.  I found that I am very uncomfortable with the random look.

3. The granny stripe pattern works with two rows per colour, but I like one row, it looks scrappier.

4. I like the occasional row of semi-solid colour, I have a lot of  yarn with complex colouration and the solids seem to break up the business of the variegated colours.

5. I like alternating between a dark/muted colour and a light/bright colour.

6. I think I will cycle through a row of each type of colour: red, orange/peach, yellow/gold, warm green, cool green, turquoise/aqua/teal, blue, cool purple warm purple, light pink/dark pink.

Fibre Choices

I’m enjoying the multi-ply yarns more than the single ply yarns. I don’t think I want this particular project to be a melange of different textures and just kind of stick to playing with colour.

 

Choosing a Colour Palette

If you are NOT artsy

If you are bad with colour and not very artsy, the most expedient choice would be to work with an ombre or a gradation. This means working through your colours in the order of the rainbow or something similar (see the colour wheel below for an idea) and within each colour group from light to dark. I like the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Sister! Another approach is to browse through other people’s projects on Ravelry.com, Pinterest, or instagram and find something that you enjoy – there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel, right? 

If you are KIND OF artsy

You have a choice to make: do you prefer chaos or control? Do you want your colours to complement each other and be harmonious and designy, or do you want them to clash and look random and scrappy?

colour wheel 1

Harmonious

If you want it harmonious consider placing cool colours (green, blue, purple) next to each other and warm colours (red, orange, yellow, pink) next to each other. Hold colours next to each other and squint your eyes (or remove your glasses) to get a better idea of whether they blend or clash.

Above is a colour wheel, which is kind of mysterious to people who have not been to art school or taken art classes. The colours opposite each other in the circle are a VERY high contrast and make each other ‘pop’ (it’s a bit of a harsh combination to my taste, I don’t really like them together). Colours next to each other in the circle are blendy. The colour next to the one at the opposite end of the circle often look nice

Clashy

If you like it clashy, combine colours that are opposites. Put bright or light colours next to dark or muddy colours. Place warm colours (red, orange, yellow) next to cool colours (green, blue, purple). Use a random number generator app (available free in your phone or tablet app store) to help choose the next colour group.

Personally, I like a controlled chaos. I’ll use a random number generator, but if I don’t like the choice I’ll run it again (and again, and again) until I come upon a colour combination I like.

If you ARE Artsy

You don’t need my help, you’ve already got it goin’ on.

KNIT HACK Stash-Busting Sock (Part 2)

For all the posts in this series, you can go HERE!

On Tuesday I talked about blanket projects that are perfect for sock weight stash-busting. Today I’m going to help you make your blanket look GREAT!  In 2014 I ploughed through my stash of bulky weight yarn and made my parents a magnificent house-warming blanket, and I’ll share my system with you.

NOTE: If you don’t have suitable stash yarn but want to make a Granny Stripe or Corner to Corner blanket (or something along those lines, I suggest using Cascade Ultra Pima and a 4mm hook (you’ll need at least 10 skeins for a lap blanket)

What You’ll Need

  • Large table or flat surface to work on
  • Large Ziploc bags, about 10 to 20
  • Masking tape & permanent marker
  • Digital kitchen scale (optional)

blog scrappy blanket 4.jpg

Preparation

1. On a large table or flat surface lay out your stash and group yarns by colour: pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, purple, brown, cream, grey. Personally, I have broken my stash down into subsets: light pink, dark pink, red, orange, peach, yellow, warm green, cool green, green-blue, turquoise & teal, blue, cool purple, warm purple, brown, cream, light grey, dark grey.

2. If you have variegated colours that you don’t know where to put them, hold them next to each colour group and choose the one it blends with. If it doesn’t match anything (I had one odd-ball), you can either keep it as a wildcard or leave it out of the project.

 

blog scrappy blanket 3.jpg

3a. Bag your colour piles. Each subset gets it’s own bag.

 

blog scrappy blanket 2

3b. If your project is going to be a gradient or ombre, label each bag with it’s order of sequence (1, 2, 3, 4, … etc) with masking and a sharpie, and leave space on the label to write the weight later.

Blog scrappy blanket 1

4a. Weigh each bag and write down the weight on the bag. I recommend using metric measurements (grams) if your sale allows, it is precise (you can always convert to imperial measurements afterwards) and I round down.

4b. Add up the total weight of your yarn, and subtract about 50 to 100g for good measure. My total is around 3800g, which is probably enough to make a Queen sized bedspread. This doesn’t mean I *will* make a queen sized bedspread, I may not use ALL of my yarn, I might get bored with some colours, or only want to use a portion of them because I have so much (I’m heavy on the greens). About 1000g is ok for a lap blanket.

5. Evaluate your spectrum for gaps. You may or may not have noticed that I have next to no red in my stash, so I’ve bought myself a skein of red Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Ruby. I don’t have much yellow, but that’s ok, it’s kind of an accent colour, so I won’t use a ton. I also don’t have much in terms of a medium ‘pinky’ pink, just light and dark pinks, but I think I can live with that (if it starts to bother me I’ll buy some).

6. Wind up skeined yarn, but keep the label with them. If you don’t end up using that skein you’ll want to know what it is and how much of it you have.

7. Choose a project and/or method, for example:

Crochet

Knit

OK, I think we’ve done enough work for a day, in upcoming posts I’ll discuss strategies for combining colours and swatching. I know, swatching is a total turn-off, but my suggestions are sincere and come from my own, actual experience – it’ll be fun and EXTREMELY helpful. Seriously, I promise, it’s so, so, so useful. So good.

 

Blog scrappy blanket COMBO