Posts Tagged 'crafts'

Expand Your Knitting Horizons (My First Giveaway!)

Okay, so you’ve picked up your Knitting Stitches Dictionary and you’ve mastered the basics: You can cast on, you can knit, and you can purl. You can even combine knit stitches and purl stitches in different ways and get really cool results. What now?

Well, it’s time to practice some more. Do you want to try some color work? Some cabling? How about knitting on four needles? I have just the book you need: Learn to Knit by Sue Whiting.

Learn to Knit on Amazon.comThis is a great book for the Intermediate or Advanced knitter. The introduction is full of reminders of the basics, from fixing common mistakes to shaping and finishing your work. The book has clear diagrams and photographs throughout, including 20 “simple” projects. Just a note: the first project, a pot holder rated at one star (least difficult) is worked in three colors with slip stitching. Other projects include sweaters, gloves, and even a pair of boot socks.

I’m giving away one copy of this little book on Sunday, April 4th 2010. There are three ways to enter:

1. Subscribe to this blog by clicking on “Subscribe in a Reader” on the right-hand side. (Or Subscribe to The Landlocked Sailor by Email)
2. Follow @landlockedsailr (note spelling) on Twitter–you can use the Twitter button on the right, too.
3. Fan The Landlocked Sailor on Facebook
The next step is very important: Comment on this blog post and tell me how you entered. Each person can enter up to three times, once per method (subscribe, follow, or fan). Also leave contact info (Your Twitter @name at least) so I can notify you if you win!

One winner will be chosen at random on Sunday, 4 April 2010. Winner will be announced via Twitter and http://www.thelandlockedsailor.com on Monday, the 5th. If prize is not claimed within 48 hours, another name will be drawn. Happy knitting!

Sarita Li
aka The Landlocked Sailor

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Knitting Without Patterns

So… you knit. It’s fun, right? It’s relaxing, it’s rewarding… and sometimes it’s frustrating.

When I first started knitting, I just knit a row, purl a row, knit a row, purl a row. It’s called the Stockinette Stitch, and it makes a smooth side (covered in V’s) and a bumpy side. It also curls up on the edges, so I had a lot of scarves that wanted to twist themselves into tubes. I liked them.

Red Baby Bibs in Two Different Styles

Red Baby Bibs in Two Different Styles

After getting a lot of practice with the basic stitches, making scarves and potholders and wash cloths, you’ll probably want to branch out into something new. You head to the yarn store, and start browsing their shelves for wonderful, beautiful, complex knitting patterns. This can be overwhelming and, in the end, discouraging. I propose an intermediate step, which will not only lessen your frustration level, but also make you a stronger knitter in the long run.

Instead of a pattern book, find yourself a Stitch Dictionary. There’s even a Field Guide to Knitting, which helps you identify stitches you find out in nature (I mean.. uh… all around you).

Now, instead of jumping into some complex project that you’re never going to finish, try your old standards: a washcloth, a scarf, a baby blanket, in different stitches that you find in your Stitch Dictionary. You’ll learn that a knit done in garter stitch is reversible and doesn’t curl up on the edges, but maybe you won’t like the way it looks (both sides are the “bumpy” side). Find another reversible stitch, and try it. Keep going until you find some that your really like. Mark the pages. Take notes. Practice increases and decreases. Practice casting on at the beginning and at the end of a row.

As you work through different stitch methods, you’ll learn the texture and behavior of each one. Later, when you go to make your first pair of arm/wrist warmers, you might run across a simple pattern that has a stretchy ribbing at the cuff. Not only will you understand why ribbing is used, you’ll be able to modify the pattern if you want to, knowing that you’ll have to substitute a different rib stitch instead of a non-elastic decorative stitch. If you want to make the item longer, you’ll know how to adapt the increases and decreases to fit your own arm.

Once you understand and have a feel for the different textures and behaviors of different knit stitches, you’ll be on your way designing your own knits!

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At Last!

Instruments of the Art
I have always wanted to sew.

When I was little, my mom had this great sewing machine that was hardly ever used. Well, I don’t know if it was actually great, but I thought it was AWESOME because it would *pop* right out of the sewing table and be ready to use. I sold that sewing machine at a garage sale to raise money for a preaching expedition when I was 16 or so, having never learned to use it.

In my early 20s, I got on a sewing kick and learned how to read patterns. I got busy sewing (by hand!) a simple dress for a little girl I knew, but my stitches seemed like they’d unravel if you just looked at them too intensely. I gave up.

Now, 13 years after selling that crazy pop-up contraption, I finally have my very own Pfaff 296, which I hear is a great machine. I can’t wait to start playing with it. I’ve always had this fear that if I used a sewing machine, I’d sew right through my fingers. I’m determined to get over that terror.

Ironing is another thing that has always been a mystery to me. My mother never let my sisters and me buy any clothes that would need ironing. The only way we knew to get wrinkles out was to spray the item down with water, and throw it in the dryer. The end. Wrinkles magically disappeared. Unfortunately, as a knitter, I need to block my knits, which often requires ironing. (I have also been terrified of irons– I always thought they would burn me and stick to my skin and I would die.)

Last week I did all my blocking on the floor, on top of a thick towel. Imagine me there with my head on the floor trying to make sure not to touch the knit fabric as I steamed it. Hmmm… I thought. So this is why people have ironing boards! If blocking didn’t take so long to dry, I’d use my kitchen table. But, come to think of it, it’s already covered with random things including a rigid heddle loom.

It’s going to be difficult to complete sewing projects without an iron. So last night, I was at Jo-Ann Crafts and I saw the COOLEST ironing board cover! It’s marked up with a sewing guide– 1″ grid, bias lines, measuring tape… It’s wonderful! I bought it, and then decided I’d better go get an ironing board.

So, here I am, all ready to go. I’ve got my sewing machine, my tomato full of pins, an iron, an ironing board, some fabric remnants that struck my fancy, and no idea how to operate my sewing machine.

One step at a time.