Archive for the ‘Tuesday Tip’ Category

Tuesday Tip: Great Gift Ideas & Free Patterns

November 10, 2009

Okay, so while racking my brain to come up with some good tips to share today, I decided that, like me, some of you will be planning on good gifts to make for the holidays. Since I have been doing some definite research on that subject recently, please let me show you some of my finds:

I only found this blog on sunday but its great! Rachel Klein of One Pretty Thing creates “roundups” of craft projects that she finds online. She also has a Handmade Gift Guide. There are both knitting and crochet projects, but this site tempted me to try different crafts in a way that hasn’t been done it years.

The Crochet Pattern Directory, not only has its own huge list of free patterns, but it also has a Christmas section with Angels, Snowflakes, Ornaments and even a Miscellaneous Christmas sub-topic.

The Knitting Pattern Directory has its own Christmas section, with some real gems.

Knitting Daily has a beautiful Poinsettia Ornament, a Snowflake, and a Cabled Globe.

I also found this great independent site with a huge list of Crochet Christmas Ornaments.


Tuesday Tip: I bet you thought I forgot

November 3, 2009

Okay, for this tuesday I wanted to help everyone with some sizing info for Holiday gifts.

I know how hard it is to size everything right when you have gift recipients willing to try things on, and it’s that much harder when you’re working from sight or from “Men’s Large.” Just what is men’s large anyway?

Here are some sizing charts:

Women’s Sizing Chart: (convenient to remember)

Here’s some charts for standard sizing for the whole family:

Women’s Inches to Shoe Size Conversion Chart:

Women’s International Shoe Size Chart (for easy conversion):

Women’s Shoe Size/ Width Chart (a must have for socks!):

Men’s Inches to Shoe Size Conversion:

Men’s International Shoe Size Chart:

Men’s Shoe Size Width Chart:

Always remember: if you use the exact measurement, expect to have very form-fitting clothes. Add 1 inch for ‘form fitting’, 2 inches for ‘regular’ fit and 3 or more inches for ‘loose’ clothing. (think sweaters and other outerwear)

Tuesday Tips: The New Guard

August 4, 2009

Okay, so I figured I’d write this little post to let you know that I am changing the look of the “Tuesday Tips.”

From now on (for as long as I can handle it at least) I will post lessons instead of tips. There will only be one lesson a week, switching from crochet to knitting on alternate weeks. Because of this, each type of lesson will be up every 2 weeks, so the lessons themselves will be in 2 parts, giving you the choice whether to follow the entire lesson or part one, then part two on separate occasions.

Also in the vein of trying to offer more choices, I will post both pictures and videos so you have the option of using either or both.

Here’s the schedule for the next month:

8/11- Anatomy of a chain stitch/ crocheting into a chain (creating a dishcloth)

8/18- Long tail cast on/ the knit stitch ( garter dishcloth)

8/25- half double crochet and applied chain stitch (eyelet kitchen towel)

9/1- cable cast on/ the purl stitch (stockinette dishcloth)

Tuesday Tips: Household Helpers

July 28, 2009

Today I would like to show you a few things that I use around the house when I either:

a.)discover I need something at 10pm Sunday night


b.) would rather spend the money on yarn.

I don’t know if this happens to everyone, but it’s almost a certainty that if something’s going to go missing on me, it will go missing at the one time that I can’t replace it. So, for all your crochet and knitting emergencies, here are my household helpers.

floss threaderDental Floss Threader-

Used normally for flossing with braces, it can also be used to pull thick yarn though either beads or eyes of small needles.

Replaces: Big eye needle and needle threader



Rubber Bands

These inexpensive little guys are great for keeping projects on the needles (or tunisian crochet hook) and keeping all your supplies together.

Replaces: knitting needle coil wraps, needle point protectors



This is great not just for usual measurements and checking gauge, but it also works great as a ‘wpi’ or wraps per inch tool (and keeping the other knitters in line at knit night 😉 )


Gallon sized zip-bags (brand name not withstanding) are great work-in-progress bags. You can see what’s inside them, they’re less permeable than a stitched bag, and the smooth inside keeps yarn from getting caught or tangled. Best of all, they’re disposable.

Replaces: any small WIP bag

yarn ballpretty

Extra Yarn

The best thing about this is that you should have it everywhere! I know I do. I love using extra yarn as stitch markers on both my crochet and knitting or as a stitch holder on my knitting or tunisian crochet.

Replaces: stich markers (knit+crohcet) and stitch holders

Total Cost: $8.33 (I didn’t add anything for extra yarn, hopefully you have some on hand 🙂 )

Buying the specialty items they replaced: $47.52

Having the extra money to get another skein of Malabrigo: Priceless

(I’m sorry! I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Tuesday Tips: Stitching in Public

July 21, 2009

Although I know that Knitting in Public day has passed, I would like to talk about this for the other people, like myself, who like to bring a WIP along when they go out.  Recently I’ve been seen crocheting in a theater and knitting at the beach. I have come across a few problems and so I would like to share some tips I’ve learned the hard way:

1.) When planning to stitch in a theater, start the work ahead of time. I realized that a starting chain is easy to do in the dark, but crocheting into the chain, not so much. So, get a couple of rows done beforehand to make it easy on yourself. 🙂

2.)It gets windy at the beach, so you probably don’t want to be starting works there either and it is probably a good idea to keep the slippery yarn at home. I was knitting with rayon on aluminum needles, and believe me, it wasn’t pretty.

3. A small WIP bag or basket is always a help. Something that allows you options is great, you just want it to hold your skein, not tangle or grab your working yarn, and balance happily anywhere, no matter how precariously you place it.

Has anyone else had any trials and tribulations knitting in public? I’d love to hear what you’ve learned, or any fun stories you’ve acquired.

Tuesday Tip: Gauge Swatches (knitting)

July 14, 2009

Now I know that every knitter reading this is thinking, ugh, gauge swatches again? I know, unlike in most crochet patterns and books the gauge (or tension) is heavily stressed in knitting. I do have a few bones to pick and a few tips to make though.

First of all, if you are making your own pattern (or seriously altering one.) You will make a swatch not to match someone else’s but to see what yours is. The good news is that you can’t be wrong, and the bad news is that you have to make this swatch ‘count.’

What I mean is that I strongly suggest that if you will be knitting lace, doing the lace pattern in the swatch, and if you’re knitting in the round, work the swatch in the round. In cases such as socks, I’ve found that my gauge is so different from straight knitting to the round, I just go ahead and start the sock, then double check my work after the fact. (I figure I’ve got a 50% chance of not having to rip anything)

Likewise, if you are knitting someone else’s pattern and the gauge is given in stockinette despite the fact that the pattern is in lace or cables or another complicated stitch, I would beware of the gauge, and stop periodically through the project to check that your gauge is correct.

Those are the main tips that I have learned about gauge swatches. (Keep an eye out, in about a week I will be posting a pattern for a swatch bag.

P.S. Last chance to vote

Tuesday Tips: Gauge Swatches Crochet

July 14, 2009

The knitting part of Tuesday tips will be going live this evening, because the post, by the time I finished both explanations, was huge.

Okay, so RavenM asked me to talk about how crochet designers figure out how many chain stitches you need to create when starting a new pattern. The quick answer is the gauge swatch.

**If you are an international reader, you may want to replace ‘tension’ for ‘gauge’ and ‘centimeters’ for ‘inches’.

From what I have see, gauge swatches are spoken about more in knitting than crochet, and I have not yet seen a crochet gauge tool, only the knitting variety. However, in my opinion, gauge is just as important in crochet as it is in knitting.

My guess on why gauge isn’t pushed so much with crochet and why they have cute little knitting gauge tools, but none (that I can find) for crochet is that  a lot of the time with crochet you are making accessories or non-wearables, whereas with knitting you usually are making wearables.

gauge-tool-300x225 Knitting gauge tool (Rulers and tape measures work just as well ;))

A gauge swatch is simply a small sample of whatever you are planning to do. The best plan is always to work the same stitch/pattern you will be doing in the project. Please, please, please do not work a swatch of double crochet when you are planning on working a v-stitch or some other patterned stitch.

To go back to the original question, if you are planning to make something, lets say for the sake of argument, a sweater, and you know the general measurements you want it to be, and you know what you want it to look like, your next stop is to make a swatch.

This is important because not only does it give you a good idea of what the measurement of each stitch will be, but it will tell you what your chosen stitch pattern will look like.

I tend to make generously large gauge swatches (about 6″ or bigger- just guesstimate) without breaking the yarn, and measure them all out, then rip them and rescue the yarn. Most will tell you to make the swatch, break the yarn, then block the swatch to see how it works. If  you’re making something very structured or fitted where an inch or 2 will make a big difference, then please follow those steps.

If, however you are making a looser garment, where an inch either way won’t be a huge deal, or you are working with acrylic (which doesn’t change size much when blocked), I wouldn’t worry about following all the steps. Normally with crochet I get a feel for what the fabric will do by, well, terrorizing it.

I squeeze it, pull it as far as it can go, swing it about and look at it from a million different angles. Now to measure. The basic formula is stitches and rows per inch.  So, simply place your ruler or tape measure perpendicular (across) the stitches and count how many per inch, if you find yourself with a fraction, see if it’s any better art 2, 3, or 4 inches.  Then do the same with rows. Now you have a basic formula for figuring out how many chains you will need to do.

A quick example: you want to make a cardigan for someone with a 32″ waist and 36″ hip circumference. Your stitches are 5 st/ in and 2 rows/inch. You will want to chain at least 180 for the circumference then about an extra 10 for the button band; and don’t forget your turning chain.  Then you can use the row height to figure out that you have to decrease about 20 stitches in 16 rows (if the person is 8″ from waist to hip.)

**Quick disclaimer- I don’t recommend starting any cardigan at the widest part of the hip, it makes a person look bigger, I suggest moving the hem up just an inch and it really helps.

It’s a lot of math, and even with the best gauge swatch, sometimes things don’t work out according to plan, and I’m sure that more experienced, professional designers out there do things differently, but this is how I figure things out.

Thanks for the question RavenM!

Tuesday Tip of the Week (storage tips)

July 7, 2009

A quick tip on knitting storage that saved me having to pick up an untold number of stitches is keeping a small stash of rubber bands in my project bag. The needle tip covers are cute, but they get lost so easy, so a bunch of rubber bands (I like the multi- colored ones!) can not only keep the knitting on the needles, but also keep the needles together. And you get a pack of 200 for the same price a pair of tip holders will run you.

As for crochet storage, instead of using a closeable stitch marker or coil-less safety pin (which, due to my small object problem, I can never find) I pull the working loop large and wrap it multiple times around the hook. This keeps the work from ripping and keeps the hook attached.

Tuesday Tip of the Week

July 7, 2009

First for crochet:

I was just finishing a  really intricate motif pattern the other day to look down and realized that I had skipped 2 rounds in the middle of the pattern. I ripped, of course. Then I went back through the pattern and took out a pencil and drew myself a stitch diagram.

Now I could follow the diagram and tell by looking at the diagram and back at my work if I was doing it right! This was so much easier that I felt like an idiot for not doing it in the first place. For those of you who have some trouble with stitch diagrams, I have provided a small chart below of the basic symbols.

Stitch Diagram Tutorial

(click to enlarge)


Now for the knitting tip:

I first found out about life lines about a month ago. I was working on this graphic lace item and been having such problems that I had put the project aside to focus on a more productive one. I just could not pick up the yarn overs, and hated ripping the entire thing out again! Then someone at my Thursday night Knitting (I forget who) told me to use life lines.

Life lines are long pieces of waste yarn that you pull through all the loops on your needle periodically so if you do notice a mistake you can rip back to the appropriate life line and pick back up from there.

It didn’t take long at all, and I ended up putting a life line in every 5 rows so that not only was it a safety precaution, but it made row counting so much easier! I just threaded a yarn needle and ran it underneath the needle through all the loops then pulled the yarn needle off the waste yarn. Ta-da! A life line.

Finished the project (an original lace design) decided it was ugly and frogged it. 😉

Tuesday Evening Tip (knitting)

June 30, 2009

This is a less involved tip, but something that saved me untold hassel when learning to knit on circulars (especially magic loop two-at-a-time style.)

When joining the cast on to begin working in the round, make sure the ‘bottom’ of the cast on is all pointing inward at itself. This is an easy way to ensure no twisting, especially if you are starting with a knit stitch, because pulling up the working yarn will pull that part of the cast on up to face the middle!