Novice Mittens Crochet Along – Just add ruffles

I’m excited to announce that I’m almost finished with my Novice Mittens! In fact, if I were going for plain mittens, I’d be finished already.

It only took me one crafting session to finish the thumb gusset and hand of my second mitten. Working in double crochet, this fun project goes fast!

After that, I joined a new strand yarn to the opening and (working clockwise!) crocheted the thumb. I wove in most of my ends at this point, but I didn’t worry about the tails from my starting chains because I plan on crocheting over them when I create the ruffled cuffs. I’m a fan of any technique that saves me some finishing work.

Novice 2 finished mittens 300x168 Novice Mittens Crochet Along   Just add ruffles

All they need is the ruffle!

The cuffs will be quick and easy, so I’m looking forward to wearing my mittens very soon. Have you ordered your Novice Mittens kit yet? The yarn in the kits is irresistible, and I can’t stop touching it! These mittens are going to be a real treat.

How are your mittens coming along? We’d love to see pictures or hear updates, so leave a comment here or on Facebook to keep us posted on your progress!

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Knitting Webinar – Unlocking Pattern Secrets

While I’m always trying new knitting techniques and adding to my skills, there are a few pattern phrases that continue to stump me. It sometimes seems I have all the skills necessary to knit a particular pattern, but certain words and sentences throw a wrench into my plans.

For example, I recently simplified an adorable sweater pattern because I could not for the life of me figure out how to work the increases and incorporate the ribbing at the same time. That phrase always gets me! Another phrase that can make a knitter’s head hurt is shaping and staying in pattern. How do you shape your work and maintain the stitch pattern to get a gorgeous, professional finish?

Unlocking Pattern Secrets 300x298 Knitting Webinar   Unlocking Pattern SecretsIf you find that short instructions like these are holding you back from knitting the inspiring garments and accessories you know you can, Patty Lyon’s Unlocking Pattern Secrets Webinar can help you take your knitting to the next level. Even if you’re an experienced knitter who is ready to take control of your knitting or start making garments, this live webinar will have tons of valuable information for you.

 

 

With this webinar, you’ll

  • Explore different sweater constructions
  • Discover how to find the right size to knit
  • Learn to decode pattern schematics and unlock hidden measurements schematics don’t show you
  • Understand stitch multiples and balancing stitches
  • Master simple (but important!) knitting math

If you’ve ever been frustrated with a knitting pattern, let Patty Lyons, a well-known knitting teacher, sweater designer, and fiber guru, show you the tricks of the trade. Armed with this new knitting knowledge, you’ll have a better understanding of patterns and the confidence to conquer that tricky design in your queue!

The live event is Wednesday, January 28th at 1:00 pm, but don’t worry if you can’t make it because you’ll also get an archived recording of the web seminar and copies of the handouts with your registration.

Join me on the 28th, and let’s demystify these pattern instructions together!

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Charity Spotlight – Binky Patrol

Binky Patrol is a fantastic charity for crafty afghan aficionados who want to make a difference in the life of a child. Whether you make sewn quilts, tie blankets, or knit or crocheted throws, you can donate your handiwork to this inspiring cause.

Binky Patrol 300x122 Charity Spotlight   Binky Patrol

Binky Patrol has donated handmade blankets to the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation, children’s hospitals, preemies, and children of soldiers serving in the military. However, this amazing organization donates these thoughtful items to many other children who can use some warmth and comfort. Their main goal is to give binkies to children who are ill, abused, in shelters, or homeless – those who may feel they are invisible or forgotten. They want them to know through the gift of a handmade blanket that they are loved and that they matter. It is this far-reaching approach that makes Binky Patrol so unique.

Binky Patrol2 300x300 Charity Spotlight   Binky PatrolIf you would like to donate a handmade blanket, go to their website to find a chapter near you or mail your donation directly to them. Some chapters also accept donations of yarn. Whatever you choose to donate, this incredible charity is a wonderful way to let your skills and creativity bring joy to those who need it most.

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Magazine GIVEAWAY – Win the debut issue of Artists & Makers

If you’ve ever dreamed of turning your knitting or crochet hobby into a business, Artists & Makers magazine will be an inspiring resource to help you capitalize on your creativity. Their debut issue was just released, and we happen to have two copies to share with you!

Artists Makers Winter 2015 magazine jacket art 221x300 Magazine GIVEAWAY   Win the debut issue of Artists & Makers

Artists & Makers Winter 2015
Interweave/F+W; $9.99

This publication is written by artists, for artists, and features information for anyone from aspiring entrepreneurs to savvy small business owners. Some highlights of the debut issue include:

  • Artist features – Meet makers specializing in a variety of areas, and learn how they built their business and what worked for them.
  • Tips for making social media work for your business and valuable information on gauging the results of your social media promotions.
  • Different ways to fund your business endeavors to get the jump start you need.
  • Valuable advice on how to get your name and identity as an artist out there.

 

This concrete, easy-to-follow information can help you turn your daydream into a day job, so crafty entrepreneurs will definitely want to check out Artists & Makers magazine. To enter to win your own copy, all you have to do is:

  • Follow Love of Knitting or Love of Crochet on Facebook
  • Leave a comment under our Facebook giveaway post telling us why you want to start your own creative business OR tagging a friend who is also an artist or maker.

We’ll randomly select one knitter and one crocheter as our winners on Friday, January 23rd. Until then, keep on crafting!

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Novice Mittens Crochet Along – One mitten down!

LOCW NoviceMittens 200 Novice Mittens Crochet Along   One mitten down!I didn’t get in as much crochet time as I hoped during this past week (do we ever?), but I was able to finish one of my Novice Mittens and begin the second one. Actually, my first mitten is not exactly finished because I decided to save the ruffles for the end and do the trim on both mittens at the same time. There wasn’t any rhyme or reason to this decision, but it felt right at the time.

 

 

Novice hand and thumb done1 300x168 Novice Mittens Crochet Along   One mitten down!

One mitten down!

On my first mitten, after working even in double crochet for a bit, I followed the quick instructions to shape the top of the hand. This section is only 3 rounds, so it went by in a heartbeat. Then, I joined my yarn to the thumb opening and worked a round of double crochet.

 

 

After working a couple rounds of my thumb, I noticed the thumb stitches didn’t quite look like the stitches on the hand. I realized that this was because the wrong side (WS) of my thumb stitches were facing the right side (RS) of my mitten. The difference was subtle but easily fixed, so I ripped back and started my thumb again. To be sure the right side (RS) of your thumb stitches will be showing, stitch clockwise around your thumb opening.

 

Novice second mitten 300x168 Novice Mittens Crochet Along   One mitten down!

My stitch marker shows me where to work the second thumb gusset.

My thumb section went quickly after that, and I moved on to my second mitten. I’m now ready to begin shaping the thumb gusset, and I can tell this second mitten is going to fly off my hook. The only difference between the two mittens is where you work the thumb gusset.

 

 

I’m looking forward to finishing mitten #2 this week! How are your Novice Mittens progressing? If you haven’t started yet, you still have time to get your Novice Mittens kit and join in on the fun. The slightly fuzzy Rimu DK yarn looks and feels warm and cozy and gives this project the perfect finish. I can’t wait to wear them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beating Afghan Fatigue – How to keep up your crafting stamina during large projects

I love making an afghan every now and again. While I usually knit or crochet accessories and other small projects, something about spending weeks or months with the same project appeals to me. I love getting to know the ins and outs of the stitch pattern so I don’t have to think (or worry about shaping) during my crafting sessions, and my hands know exactly what to do. Also, since I typically make afghans as gifts, I like picturing the recipient enjoying the blanket I made them on a chilly day. As a bonus, if I’m knitting or crocheting an afghan in the winter, I get to stay warm and cozy under it as I work.

yarn clock Beating Afghan Fatigue   How to keep up your crafting stamina during large projects

Some knitting or crochet projects take extra time – and that’s why we love them.

 

As much as I relish a good afghan pattern, it can sometimes be difficult to muster up the level of commitment a handmade blanket can require. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few methods that help me keep my stamina up during these marathon crafting projects.

 

 

 

  • Remember, it’s not a race (even though I just used a racing metaphor). Whether you finish a month from now or a year from now, you win – and the amazing handmade blanket you created is your prize! If I don’t feel like working on my afghan for a while, I allow myself to set it aside. Then, I start to miss it, and I’m more energized than ever when I return to it.
  • Stop to weave in your ends occasionally. If you need a break from actually knitting or crocheting, weaving in your ends allows you to make progress on your project while doing something a little bit different. Plus, after doing this, you can truly admire your work-in-progress because you’ll get a glimpse of what the finished blanket will look like and save yourself some finishing work at the end. There is nothing more motivating than a taste of success!
  • Finally, take breaks… by working on smaller projects. Don’t feel guilty for getting momentarily distracted by a quick toy or cowl. My busy hands want to stitch, even though my mind may need a break from a repetitive blanket pattern. Stopping to whip up a hat or pair of mitts isn’t “cheating” on your afghan, and it can actually be a welcome intermission that will leave you feeling ready to dive into your blanket pattern once again.

Knitters, if all this talk about afghans has gotten you in the mood to make one, check out the Stash-Busting Throw, Blanket Buddy, and Scottish Glen Blanket! Crocheters, take a look at the Mondrian Throw, Yuletide Throw, and Frozen Falls Throw.

How do you make an afghan? Do you break up the process by working on other projects intermittently or give the blanket your full attention? We’d love to hear the methods that work for you, so leave us a comment here or on Facebook to let us know!

 

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Back Issue Blowout – Up to 75% off Love of Knitting and Love of Crochet magazines

We have good news for crafty procrastinators – select back issues of Love of Knitting and Love of Crochet are now up to 75% off! If you’ve bookmarked a few patterns from these issues but haven’t gotten around to purchasing them yet, now is the time to get an entire issue for less than the price of a single pattern.

Here are some memorable patterns from past issues that are as stylish now as when they were originally published. Remember to get the complete issue for mega-savings!

Blue Spruce Back Issue Blowout   Up to 75% off Love of Knitting and Love of Crochet magazinesKnitters, the Blue Spruce Hat from the Holiday 2013 Issue of Love of Knitting is one of those patterns that will keep haunting you until you knit it. I’ve been eyeing this one for a while now, and every now and again I’ll find myself daydreaming of the sophisticated cabled brim and I-cord trim. These details give it a professional look that will have everyone gasping in surprise when you tell them you made it! This design looks fantastic with any coat or jacket, and it’s a trendy way to stay warm this winter.

 

 

Lace Leaf Edge Back Issue Blowout   Up to 75% off Love of Knitting and Love of Crochet magazines

If you’ve been craving a new shawl, the Lace Leaf Edge from the Knit Accessories 2014┬áIssue will hit the spot! The simple stockinette body is balanced by the gorgeous lace edging for an accessory that works in any season. The border is added at the end, so the majority of the pattern is relaxed and leisurely knitting, perfect for those times when you want to let your mind wander instead of concentrating on every stitch. I’d wrap this shawl around my neck like a scarf to make it extra cozy.

 

 

Crossed stitch cowl Back Issue Blowout   Up to 75% off Love of Knitting and Love of Crochet magazinesCrocheters, the Crossed Stitch Cowl from the Fall 2013 Issue of Love of Crochet is basically my dream pattern. First of all, I’m a cowl-aholic. These quick, fashionable accessories are a great option for keeping toasty without adding a lot of bulk to your cold-weather gear. Also, I’m a big fan of crossed stitches, or any crochet technique that utilizes simple stitches in creative ways.

 

 

 

If you’re in the mood to crochet a lacy top to layer over Blackberry Lace 199x300 Back Issue Blowout   Up to 75% off Love of Knitting and Love of Crochet magazinesyour favorite shirts, the Blackberry Lace tunic from the Weekend Crochet 2013 Issue has you covered. I would wear this beauty over a long-sleeved crew neck during this time of year, then swap that for a tank or camisole when the weather warms up. The clever belt gives it a fun yet put-together look that makes it a great choice for work or play.

 

 

 

These are just a sample of the phenomenal patterns you can get by taking advantage of this incredible deal. Stock up on any issues you missed over the years and get these knitting and crochet patterns at an amazing discount!

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Intarsia knitting for beginners

I have a running list of knitting skills and techniques I want to try. I crossed quite a few of those techniques off in 2014, but intarsia (adding different colors to your knitting in distinct, separate sections) was one skill that continued to elude me… until now. I am happy to announce that this is the first item I’ve crossed off my knitting bucket list this year!

 

Intarsia Set 200 Intarsia knitting for beginnersLuckily, I already had the perfect beginner intarsia pattern in mind, the Intro to Intarsia placemats and coasters from the Fall 2014 Issue of Love of Knitting. I had been eyeing this set for a while, but a few other projects in my knitting queue kept distracting me from actually starting (sound familiar?). Finally, I decided to take the plunge – and I’m glad I did.

I started with the coaster because its small size makes it less intimidating. I’m a really big fan of coasters as practice projects. They are a quick and inviting way to dip your toes into a new technique, and my coaster taught me a few important things about intarsia.

Intarsia 300x168 Intarsia knitting for beginners

Here is what I learned during my intarsia adventure.

  • Use a different length of yarn for each section of color across the row. For this coaster, that means during the intarsia section I used a pink length of yarn, a blue one, and then a separate pink one. You can wind these lengths of yarn onto bobbins to avoid tangles or use three separate skeins – whichever is easier for you. Since this project is so small and I only had one skein of each color, I simply cut a length of pink yarn off of the skein for one section.
  • Speaking of tangles, watch out for them! With so many lengths of yarn working at once, it’s important to maintain order. Since I didn’t have any bobbins handy, I worked directly from the skeins (except for my second pink section) and rearranged them during every color change to keep everything neat and manageable.
  • Twist the different colors of yarn at each color change to avoid holes where the two colors meet. You won’t be able to do this when you are first introducing a new section of yarn in a different color (in your first row of intarsia) because your yarn tail is loose and unattached to your work. However, you’ll twist the yarns on the wrong side of every subsequent color change.
  • Twisting the yarns on the wrong side (WS) is important! I’m making this a separate bullet point because it tripped me up as I was learning. The pattern specifically explains this, but I didn’t read carefully enough at first. During my first few rows of intarsia, I was twisting the yarns at the back of my work instead of always on the wrong side. When you are knitting a WS row, you will twist the yarns in the front of your work. You can see three wonky pink and blue strands at the bottom of my blue square. That’s where I twisted the yarns on the right side (RS, not the correct side) of my work by mistake.

All in all, I found intarsia to be really interesting, and it’s a useful technique for adding color without leaving floats of yarn like Fair Isle does. It’s best suited for relatively large sections of color, as opposed to intermittent color changes.

 

heart to heart web bonus 200 300x156 Intarsia knitting for beginners

After I finish my placemats and coasters, I may even try the free Heart to Heart Sweater pattern to help me master my new skill.

 

 

Have you crossed intarsia off of your knitting bucket list? If not, the Intro to Intarsia set is the ideal pattern to help you get started. We’d love to hear about your experiences with intarsia, so leave us a comment below or visit us on Facebook. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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Takumi Bamboo Knitting Needles

I don’t discriminate when it comes to knitting needles. I knit with metal, plastic, and bamboo – you name it, I’ll knit with it. However, Takumi bamboo needles take the cake for me when it comes to certain yarns and stitches.

Bamboo swatch 300x168 Takumi Bamboo Knitting Needles

Swatching up Block 1 from the 2015 Year of Yarn with some Takumi DPNs

These needles grip the yarn a bit, so they’ve saved me from countless dropped stitches. If you’re working with a slippery silk or lace weight yarn, this ever-so-slight grip will give you more control over your work so your stitches don’t get away from you. Also, if you’re knitting cables and transferring stitches frequently, this subtle grip can mean the difference between a collapsed cable and beautiful braid or twist. Bamboo is also great for new knitters who are still getting used to the process.

Takumi1 92x300 Takumi Bamboo Knitting Needles

 

Whether you’re just starting out or you are exploring new techniques, Takumi bamboo knitting needles will save you a lot of heartache. They come in both double points and circulars, so you can knit up almost project. The double points are only 5″ long, so they won’t get in the way when you’re trying to close up a hat or finish a sleeve, and the circulars come in the most popular sizes. Get yours at the Crochet and Knit Shop and see what a difference they make in your next project!

 

Pure wool K2 Takumi Bamboo Knitting Needles

Free pattern alert!

 

Also, if you love leafy designs as much as I do, be sure to check out Block 1 of our 2015 Year of Yarn for a gorgeous free pattern. The leaf pattern in the actual square is repeated throughout the block, so it looks even more beautiful and prominent. I couldn’t resist trying it out!

 

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Novice Mittens Crochet Along – Thumb gusset

LOCW NoviceMittens 200 Novice Mittens Crochet Along   Thumb gusset

After finding a hook size that gave me the correct gauge, I spent some time over the past weekend working on my Novice Mittens. To begin, I worked my starting chain with a hook one size larger because the pattern specifies that the beginning chain should be loose. Otherwise, the opening might be a bit snug. For 2″, I worked even in double crochet, and this section went by in a flash.

 

 

Novice gusset 300x168 Novice Mittens Crochet Along   Thumb gussetThe main thing I accomplished over the weekend was the thumb gusset. Using a stitch marker made this section a breeze, and before I knew it, I had completed all of the necessary increases.

 

 

Novice done with gusset try on 300x168 Novice Mittens Crochet Along   Thumb gussetThen, I worked a short chain and skipped a few stitches to create the thumb opening. Afterwards, there are 3 decrease rows before you get to the hand section. I stopped here to try on my half-mitten, and it fit like a glove (erm, mitten)!

 

How are your Novice Mittens coming along? Have you finished the thumb gusset yet? If you haven’t started, you still have time to get your Novice Mittens kit and join in on the fun! I’ve fallen in love with this merino and possum yarn, and I’ve been singing its praises to all of my crafty friends. I had never worked with possum before, but I see many more possum projects in my future!

Let us know how your project is coming here or on Facebook. We’re always happy to help and we love seeing photos or updates on your progress, so visit soon!

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