Going for knIT!

I knew there had to be a pun in that title somewhere, but I obviously couldn’t find it and that’s the best I could do.

I have a new goal. I am going to learn how to knit!

As you might recall from my Crafty Apples post and several posts after that, I already know how to crochet. I learned to crochet when I was in the middle of moving from Champaign to Chicago and was going to be spending a lot of time in the car and wanted a hobby. I had heard that knitting was harder than crocheting, which was why I opted for the single hook craft instead of the double needles. I ran a quick google search, watched one video and next thing I knew, I had a scarf.

I still love to crochet, and I know I haven’t even come close to mastering it, but I’ve moved on to a new phase of yarn crafting: knitting.

Why? Well …

My friend asked me if I could knit a blanket for her sister. I was pretty ambitious and thought, I could totally learn! I later found a similar pattern and realized that I would need knitting needles longer than I am tall to complete that project. I was probably more disappointed than she was. Then she asked if I could manage a chunky scarf. I knew I could manage to pull that off. So I went to Hobby Lobby, picked out some bright red yarn and grabbed a pair of knitting needles, picking the size randomly from an entire wall full of them.

I learned to crochet in the car, so I figured I could learn to knit on the train. So while I was on the train to Springfield, I typed “How to Knit” into YouTube and I was on my way. Or so I thought. I had to watch almost 10 different videos and read four website tutorials before I could figure out the basic knit stitch! I was so frustrated! However, I finally figured it out. By the time I got to Springfield, I had this: (!!!)

Once I actually figured out the stitch, it really was not that hard. So maybe I was watching the wrong videos. (Can anyone suggest any good knitting tutorials?I learned to cast on, knit stitch and purl stitch. Casting on is how you get the yard on the needle to begin your work, knit stitch is the basic stitch and purl stitch is essentially a backwards knit stitch. I learned that knitting patterns are made by different repetitions and patterns of purl and knit stitches.

I figured I’d start small. I found a beginner knit scarf pattern to start with. I want to get the hang of this stuff before I commit to making something for someone else to wear in public. (Which let’s be honest, might not be for a while.) I’m going to make this scarf as my first knit project and see how it goes. This is how far I’ve gotten:

I know it’s not much, but I just wanted to share it with you. I haven’t been crafting enough lately, so I’m trying to get back in the swing of it. I wanted to be sure I keep blogging about crafts, even if I’m not quite finishing them. Maybe you can help keep me motivated! Does anyone else out there knit? Any suggestions? Websites to check out?



Crochet Shamrock

I wanted to share a fun little crochet project I just learned. It’s a cute little shamrock that’s pretty simple to make. I have shared crochet projects before, which I’m sure you know I love, but I feel like my instructions are hard when they’re typed out instead of demonstrated. So I built a little makeshift camera rig and got to work. I’ve never made a crochet video before, so I’m sorry if I got out of the shot sometimes. I tried really hard I promise! I hope you guys find this helpful!

I got the idea from Pinterest and the directions from Skip to my Lou. I plan to stitch my into garland like this.

If you are familiar with crochet instructions, here are the steps:

Chain 4. Join with slip stitch to make a ring.

Petals: Chain 3, tc, dc, tc, ch 3, slip stitch in ring. (Repeat 3x)

Stem: Chain 6, skip 1, sc into remaining 4.

Cozy Up

Let’s be honest, the best part of being cold is being able to warm up in wool coats, cozy scarfs and fuzzy hats. Bundling up for the first snowfall, walking down the twinkling light-lined streets and collecting snowflakes on your eyelashes is what winter is all about. 

Unfortunately, the sparkle of the first snow fades into January and the pretty snow gets dirty, slushy and in the way. You stop caring about looking cute in the snow and start worrying about your ears actually getting frostbite. 

So warm up with this craft and have your cake and eat it too. This is a super easy, crochet hat. I know that no one thinks that crocheting is cool other than me, but I like to think (or at least hope) that I can convince you that crocheting something practical (and not just apple coasters) might actually inspire you to give it go. 

I’ve been meaning to start making crochet hats for some time now, but it wasn’t until my boss from my volunteering gig at DSC requested that I make a hat for her baby boy that was I actually inspired to learn how to do it. And guess what? I wasn’t hard! In fact, it turned out to be ridiculously easy! 

Due to my lack of a tripod, I couldn’t make a video of myself crocheting the hat. So instead, I provided step-by-step directions with links to the sites that helped me learn. This pattern was inspired by this blog if you would like to read the original directions.

Cozy Crochet Hat

yarn – whatever kind you want!
crochet hook – the yarn you pick will tell you what size hook you need

Part A: Make a circle the width of your head
1. Chain stich four.
2. Use a slip stich to connect the first and fourth stich to make a circle.
3. Chain stich three, and then double crochet into the center of the circle. Do this nine times total.
4. Slip stitch the 9th double crochet stitch into the third chain stitch to complete the circle. 
5.  Chain stitch out three, and then double crochet stitch back into the slip stitch. Double crochet two stitches into each stitch of the circle to make the second row. When you get back to the beginning, slip stitch into the third chain stitch to complete the circle.
6. Repeat step five, except alternate between two double crochets per stitch and one double crochet per stitch. So you will do two double crochets in the first stitch, then one double crochet in the next, and follow this 1,2 pattern.
7. Repeat step five, except follow a 2,1,1 pattern.
8. Repeat step five, except follow a 2, 1,1,1 pattern. Get the idea? Continue this pattern until you have made seven rows of a circles. 

Part B: Make a tube the desired length
1. Once your base circle is the desired width (about seven rows, but more or less depending on the size of your head), you can stop adding an extra single stitch between every double stitch. 
2. Chain stitch out three, and then double crochet once in every stitch, following a 1:1 pattern all the way around. 
3. Repeat step two until you have made enough rows to have a hat that covers your ears.

And poof! You have a hat!

This one’s for baby, which actually gets even cuter but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the lucky little boy who hasn’t gotten it yet. I’m sorry if this doesn’t make sense and that I don’t have very many pictures! Let me know if you have questions, and I can totally explain better.

Crafty Apples

I’m a firm believer that there are very few things short of chemical engineering that I can’t learn with a few free hours, YouTube and a decent internet connection. There’s no better testament to this than my recent adventures in being 80 years old — i.e. my love of crocheting. I had attempted to crochet once a few years back, but ended up with nothing but a half-finished scarf that was starting to look more like a really tall acute triangle than a rectangular scarf. I decided to pick up crocheting again a few weeks ago while I was in the process of moving from Champaign, IL to Chicago. With at least five round trips slated in a one-week period, I figured I’d try to keep myself busy. I ended up with this: my first scarf. 

By the time I finished my scarf, I started to realize that there was probably nothing made of fabric that I couldn’t crochet, given the time and right color of yarn. My first plan was to try my hand at placemats…which inevitably led to matching coasters and napkin rings. Next, I branched out to cozy cups (I think that’s what they’re called —those things that keep cans of beer cold), which I personally thought were pretty darn cool! After that, I kind of went on a coaster kick — I made circles, I made squares, I made pumpkins, I made snowmen, I made country flags, and of course, I made my fall favorite: apple coasters.

In the spirit of my favorite season, I want to share with you my favorite craft. It’s possible that I’ll share my snowmen come December and something bright and colorful by May, but let’s focus on the present for now. I started taking pictures and video of myself as I made my autumn table gear, but decided I should probably leave that in the hands of the teachers that taught me. So follow my step-by-step guide, complete with links to the tutorials I used. 

You will need:
White/off-white yarn
Red, green or yellow yarn
Brown embroidery floss
5.5 MM crochet hook 
Brown pipe cleaner 

1. Using the white yarn, crochet a spiral out to 3 complete rings. Follow this step by step guide here. I found it incredibly easy to follow — easier than most videos on crocheting a spiral. There are just a couple terms you’ll need to know. Chainslip stitchdouble crochet (dc) and half double crochet. They’re super easy if you watch these short videos.

2. Pick any stitch of the circle as a starting point. Use your red, yellow or green yard now and half double crochet around the whole circle following the pattern of 2 half double crochets in every fourth double crochet stitch. When you get two stitches away from your starting point, do one last half double stitch, followed by a slip stitch as a final stitch.

3. Finish your project. I follow this video, but use my hook instead of the needle. 

4. Cut 6 pieces of brown embroidery floss about 6 inches long. Tie a double knot in the middle of each strand. Tie each on onto the yarn with the double knot in the front. Trim ends on the back.  

5. Cut a piece of pipe cleaner about 2 inches. Bend a little at the top and twist around the yard to make a stem. 

And you’re done!