links, tips, Tips and Tricks

Just a quickie…

I just found the most amazing website!

It’s called Spoonflower, and boy, is it dangerous (especially since the Australian dollar just hit parity with the US dollar). I’ve just spent a good twenty minutes adding wonderful, adorable fabric to my wishlist. Basically, it’s a website where you can upload a design and have it printed on fabric. Or, for those bad at drawing (like myself), you can simply purchase other peoples’ designs! If you’re a designer, you get a discount on what you buy. Go and check it out, it’s super awesome!

I also found Knitmap – a place where you can find yarn stores close to you, and track them, and plan yarn road trips, and all kinds of wonderful things! Plus, they have an iPhone app you can get, and since my Dad just offered me his old iPhone for a mere $150…well,  I think I might be buying quite a bit more yarn in the near future!

Now, I’m about to reformat my computer, since it’s being all unhappy and blue-screening on me, so fingers crossed it all goes well and I’ll be back to post about my latest project! Bye!

accessories, crochet, Hats and other stuff, scarf, tips

Scarf mathematics

Just finished off a scarf for a rather nerdy friend of mine’s birthday! It’s a Fibonacci Scarf! A Fibonacci sequence is a mathematical sequence of numbers that’s special for some reason. No, I don’t know why, and I don’t particularly care. The point is, my nerdy friend will appreciate it. You may have noticed that the pattern I linked to is a knitting one – I don’t know of any crochet versions out there. However, since I am fundamentally incapable of knitting, I just tweaked the pattern and crocheted it instead, entirely in single crochet. I started with a chain of 30, and then just followed the row numbers on the original pattern. I had no idea if it would work or not while I was working on it, but it ended up looking pretty good!

Another thing about my nerdy friend is, he’s a vegan. This meant I had fewer options when it came to yarn selection for this project, and was quite troublesome. I know in theory that there are probably hundreds of various acrylic, bamboo and cotton yarns out there – they’re just not in any of the Spotlights in South Australia 😛 Every time I found a nice, soft acrylic, it was only available in unsuitable, odd colours. I was looking for navy blue and red. These are not unusual colours. I would imagine they are quite popular colours. Apparently, the yarn manufacturers disagree. I saw all manner of oranges, pinks, teals, purples and multicoloured yarns, but the only brand that had both the colours I needed was a brand called Thorobred, which unfortunately is not known for its stellar quality. In fact, when I crocheted the first section of the scarf, I was about ready to throw it in the bin. It felt like a scourer! Luckily, my homies at the crochetcrochet community on Livejournal introduced me to the art of “killing” acrylic. I did try washing it with fabric softener before resorting to murdering it, but all that did was make the scarf smell of apples. Not bad, certainly, but not helpful either.

“Killing” acrylic is basically blocking it, except it’s an irreversible process. There are a couple of methods, I chose to pin it to the ironing board, cover it with a damp cloth and press it with lots of steam, and that worked just fine. It’s really, really soft now, and it grew a bit in length as well, which is always handy! I’m really pleased with how it turned out in the end, it far exceeded any of my expectations.

Now, to make a pi plushie and I’m all set for his birthday!

Amigurumi amp; Plushies, crochet, Hats and other stuff, patterns, scarf, tips

Tea Scarf 2.0

I love the tea scarf pattern on Ravelry – it’s one of the simplest, yet prettiest scarves around. However, it’s quite a small scarf when worked in worsted weight yarn (as it suggests it should be), both in length and width. I don’t know about you, but I like a scarf I can wrap around my neck a couple of times. So, without further ado, here’s how to make a long tea scarf in a dk weight yarn.

I used 2 balls of Moda Vera Wool/Cashmere Blend (which I highly recommend – it’s beautifully soft and has a bit of stretch in it) for this, with a 4mm crochet hook. First, ch 250. I know, I know, it seems like a lot. But it really doesn’t take that long! Then, simply follow the original tea scarf pattern – but double the amount of rows it says to do. At least. Really, you can keep going with the rows as long as you like, depending on how wide you like your scarves. Once you’ve finished adding rows, switch to a 5mm hook and do your edging as per the original pattern. If you want a really pronounced ruffle edging, do 3 dc in each stitch instead of 2. Ta-da! A long, elegant tea scarf is born! You may find it curls a little at the ends when you’ve finished, but that can be cured by blocking it.

Blocking is when you dampen your scarf (or other project), pin it out on a surface and wait for it to dry. That’s a very simple explanation, by the way, there are a few different types of blocking that can be used for different yarn types. For instance, when I made my first tea scarf, I made it in Noro Silk Garden yarn, which is worsted weight, and I put that in the washing machine on the wool cycle (without detergent), then pinned it out on a towel on a futon and left it overnight. For the wool/cashmere one, because it was a more delicate yarn, I pinned it out on an ironing board and steamed it with an iron – being very careful not to let the iron touch the yarn! Blocking a project just gives it a bit more of a professional look, in my opinion, so it’s something I’ll be doing from now on.

I gave the above-mentioned scarf to my mother-in-law for Mother’s Day, incidentally, and she loved it! I used a cream coloured yarn for the main body of the scarf, and black for the edging. I almost wished I could keep it for myself! For my mother, I made her a Japanese kokeshi doll trinket box that I found a pattern for on Ebay. One day I hope to have the time to come up with my own patterns for this stuff – maybe after the craft fair is over!

Kokeshi Doll

sewing, tips, Tips and Tricks

Svenska sömnad

Yesterday I popped into one of my favourite places to shop – IKEA! I had heard that they had fabric there, and I was getting a little tired of seeing the same old stuff at Spotlight, so I decided to go and check their range out. Oh, and pick my brother up some chest of drawers, but that’s not important.

As it happened, IKEA had an awesome range of adorable fabric, and I ended up buying three different prints, with which I plan to make utterly fantastic bags. But as wonderful as the fabric is, that’s not the reason why I’m making this post. I’m making this post because while I was there, I happened to see a brilliant little sewing kit, and I just had to buy it. It’s called a beginner’s sewing kit, and it is terrific value.

Sewing Kit

Contained within this magnificent kit were the following:

– A pair of dressmaking scissors

– A packet of various-sized needles, at least twenty of them (not pictured)

– A tape measure

– A little tub of pins with a pincushion on top

– 1000 metres of black and white sewing thread

– A seam unpicker

All of that, and the little box it came in, cost a grand total of $9.95. The scissors feel really good, and I’ve already tested them out! They’re quite weighty and definitely feel like quality scissors. It really is excellent value – just a seam unpicker alone at my Spotlight cost $7.95! I highly recommend anyone who has just started sewing and doesn’t yet have all the basics go along to their IKEA and pick one up 🙂 I also grabbed a packet of 4 different colours of sewing thread (red, green, blue and yellow) for $2. Ah, I love IKEA.

tips, Tips and Tricks

Marking Stitches

I may not have been crocheting very long, but there is one thing I have learned very quickly – to be good at making amigurumi, you either need to be good at counting, or have a stitch marker on hand.

Until recently, I’ve been doing it the hardcore way – counting. Counting is all well and good until you get distracted by something shiny, lose count and have to rip the whole thing apart because you have no idea where you began your last round. And let me tell you, that gets old fast. So, I decided I would bite the bullet and get a stitch marker. At least, that was the plan until I saw how much those things cost! The only ones I could find were decorated with glamourous, Czech glass beads and the like, and were at least $10. Admittedly it wasn’t an exhaustive search, but I’d seen enough. My local Spotlight doesn’t have them, but I’m not discounting the possibility that other, better-stocked and better-organised Spotlights might. I have found several tutorials to make my own which I may end up doing one day, but until then, I’ve been experimenting with makeshift stitch markers around my home.

1. A small safety pin. Worked extremely well, except I lost it because it was, well, small.

2. A bobby pin. This is probably my favourite, as I have a metric shitload of them so if I lose one, it’s not a worry. The only problem is, sometimes they can have a little bit of grime caught in them and it can mark your yarn, so it’s best to use ones you know haven’t been near hair or anything else.

3. An earring. You know, one of those fishhook shaped ones. It worked ok for the most part, but had an annoying tendency to fall out at inopportune moments.

I imagine a paperclip would work wonders, but I haven’t tried one yet as I don’t own any. I have heard people say good things about bits of contrasting yarn, and one book I have recommends contrasting felt, but I feel that would be too fiddly for me to bother with.

Anyway, those are my handy dandy tips for using household objects as stitch markers, and if anyone knows of a good, cheap source for stitch markers, hit me up!