National Craft Month: Luggage Handle

Okay, so updating weekly with sewing updates didn’t go very well. I have a lot of non-sewing stuff I’ve been working on and got sidetracked! But I am now back to tell you about a new project I sewed – a luggage handle!

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Our luggage is black (as you can see) so when we had to get it from the turnstile on our honeymoon, it was an aggravating guessing game. When I found this tutorial (and its simplicity!), I knew it would be great to try out for National Craft Month!

The main change between my version and the tutorial from Little Birdie Secrets is that I didn’t use batting – I just felt no need, and I’m quite the penny pincher. That being said, I didn’t cut the fabric into two pieces – it was unnecessary since I wasn’t using batting. So this is what my supply list looked like:

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And let’s not forget an attention-seeking cat!

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You’re doing something so I have to be all up in your business, since I am a cat.

I also didn’t use straight pins, because I couldn’t locate them at that moment and didn’t really care to, since this wasn’t a garment that needed to be extremely precise. Hence edges that looked like this!
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Besides what I mentioned, I followed the tutorial, and there isn’t a whole lot else to note. We could talk about how I’m lazy (again), and didn’t iron:

Also notice the awesome straight lines! NOT.

Also notice the awesome straight lines! NOT.

Other than my previous notations, I followed the tutorial. It will be so satisfying next time we’re in an airport!

National Craft Month Intro & Set-Up

As some crafters may know, March is National Craft Month. I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks, how I wanted to do something to “celebrate,” but was drawing a blank. Then it hit me – maybe I should unbox the sewing machine I purchased last summer for the first time, and actually use it!

Every week this month, I’m going to write a post about the projects I’m doing with my sewing machine. I am an absolute beginner – that is to say, I haven’t used a sewing machine regularly since home economics class in middle school. I’m very excited to start sewing, and hopefully get to the point I am at with crochet where I can pick up almost anything in the store and say, “I can do that!”

My sister sews on a fairly regular basis (she is basically an apron extraordinaire), so I invited her over one night and we went to the local fabric store for supplies. I got 3 yards of a plain forest green cotton, 1 yard of a decorative blue cotton, matching thread for each, extra needles (for when I surely break mine), and Velcro.

Then it was back to my house to eat dinner and set up the machine. (I felt more comfortable having someone there who was familiar with the hardware – sewing machines have more parts than I am used to with crafting and I was afraid I might break it, regardless of having the instructions.) There’s no point in photographing and explaining how to wind the bobbin, load it, and load the thread and thread the needle, etc. If you are here and having a sewing machine, you likely know how to do it; also sewing machines are slightly different. While setting mine up was MOSTLY the same, my sister came across one or two things that were different from her own machine.

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The first thing I made was a heating pack. You know, the kind you just throw in the microwave for a few minutes and put on your neck if you have a headache or neck-ache. Or are just cold.

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I used the tutorial found here. I didn’t pin anything, because I didn’t really care and couldn’t find my pins at that exact moment. Also I’m pretty lazy, but it was just a heating pad for myself, so I wasn’t particularly concerned. As stuffing, I used some white rice we had in the kitchen. The only thing I wish I’d done differently concerns the stuffing – it is SLIGHTLY overstuffed. I used one of the smaller boxes of Minute Rice and part of a bigger box we had leftover, which was a bit too much. You could probably get away with just one regular box of rice. Remember, you still have to be able to drape it around your neck!

New Year New Knit Update #1

As I had previously stated, I took my own advice and started knitting a scarf last month. I picked a yarn that I knew I had a lot of and decided on a simple knit 3, purl 2 pattern for a ribbed look.

I actually stuck with it! I made it a point to do a little each day, and I have knit and purl stitches down pat. The tension issues I’ve had in the past wasn’t something I had to consider after a while, especially with tips from a knitter at my workplace’s yarn club (I highly suggest finding other yarncrafters at work…it’s awesome).

However, after knitting about a foot of this scarf, I have becoming disenchanted with it. It’s boring, and I’ll never wear a pink and purple scarf, and I have much grander plans for this yarn. The point of this project was to understand the basic stitches (knit and purl), and I absolutely do, so I’m going to think of this project more as a giant swatch of learning than a frogged scarf. I have much bigger, and far too ambitious plans for knitting that will be (hopefully) coming soon!

RIP Ribbed Scarf, 2012-2012

March is National Crafting Month!

Thank you, Blog Entry Subject! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Image from the JoAnn's craft blog

As evidenced by the blog facelift from January, while I still love crocheting and it will probably always be my main source of craftiness, I’m starting to branch out a bit – partially due, no doubt, to the fact that I will have my own crafting area in a few weeks. I’m going to stalk my Pinterest boards to find some crafts with which to celebrate, but in the meantime, here are some places to visit on the Internet and other ideas of what to do!

  • Visit the FaveCrafts blogfor a new craft every day! I followed them last year and there were some great ideas!
  • Go to you local Michael’s, AC Moore, JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, or other craft store for inspiration!
  • Check Pinterest, Craftster, or any other crafting blogs and forums to share ideas with other – you can find a few of my favorites on my blogroll.

What are YOU doing this month for National Craft Month? Comment below with your ideas!

New Year, New Knit

For someone who doesn’t knit, I sure do have a lot of knitting needles (at least seven pairs). Problem is, I’m an awful knitter and have grown to resent it, as I may have mentioned before. But I see so many neat knitting patterns, I’ve decided to push myself and give it another try. It’s a new year, and I’ll be a new knitter.

My biggest problem in the past with knitting has been tension. I make stitches so tight that I can’t get the needle through to pick up the next stitch…I broke an acrylic needle from all the pressure I was putting on it. This is something I’m going to have to consciously think about for my first few projects (I’m going to hope it won’t have to be a conscious thought forever). I’m also hoping this will improve my patience level, because my other big problem with knitting is that I can’t knit as fast as I can crochet. Which, you know, makes sense, since I learned to crochet when I was about 12 from my grandmother, and tried to teach myself knitting three years ago using a book and YouTube (and have only attempted 2 projects total…if you needed insight as to how low my patience level really is).

I took my own advice for beginning crocheters and settled on knitting a scarf as my first project. I’ll post an update when I’ve completed it (or if I run into a massive problem). Here’s to hoping that’s not the case!

Beginner Crochet: Tips and Tricks to Start

I learned to crochet from my grandmother when I was probably about 12 years old. Not long after learning, I made her a granny square lapghan (which can still be found in the living room) as thanks (and probably for Christmas or something), and proceeded to not crochet for far too many years. I didn’t pick it back up as a regular hobby until some time after high school – I would say around 2006, if I had to estimate. However long, it was long enough for me to forget a lot of what I had learned and struggle with finding projects that were suited to my level (who doesn’t want to do all the fancy [and usually complicated] things immediately?). It’s safe to say it was a struggle, and resulted in some pretty special projects. Specifically, I recall one of the first projects being a hat made with Lion Brand Homespun (WORST BEGINNER YARN EVERY) and an H hook (TERRIBLE HOOK TO USED WITH HOMESPUN BECAUSE IT IS 12 PLY). My cousin complemented on it and so I gave it to her, poor thing. She also has said she doesn’t like hats, so I’m sure it’s gone by now (and part of me hopes this is true).

But, now that I have been crocheting regularly for a number of years, I like to think I know enough about the craft to be able to help others. So, when my boyfriend found someone looking for crochet help in a not-crochet-related online community he’s part of, I jumped at the chance to help her out. (Also, I like making yarn friends, because I have none IRL.) I used all the brains I had to come up with what I feel like are some excellent tips and patterns for beginners.

Materials
Really, you just need a hook and some yarn. You can pick up both of these at any craft store – they aren’t very exotic supplies that you should have to go somewhere fancy. (You can get any cheap yarn to learn on, but if you keep with the craft, you come to appreciate nice fancy yarns and will probably wind up seeking out the closest local yarn shop to you!) Stitch markers are also pretty handy, and they are only about $4 for a pack of 20, but I have been known to use paper clips to keep track of stitches, so it’s not absolutely necessary. I do, however, highly recommend picking up a tapestry needle. They come in packs of at least two usually, which is convenient because I always wind up misplacing one and having to use the other until I come across the first one. Tapestry needles are used to weave in the ends of yarn so you don’t have bits of fiber sticking out anywhere; it makes for a much cleaner look.

Stitches
The very least you will need to know to create anything is how to make a chain, and the single crochet stitch. To learn these and any other stitches, I would recommend searching the stitch name on YouTube and watching a video on how to do it (this is how I learned knit stitches and tunisian crochet stitches). I’m not going to recommend a specific account, because there is only one way to do each stitch so it doesn’t really matter which one you watch. After you feel you have managed mastering the art of the chain and single crochet, I recommend learning half-double crochet and double crochet stitches – they’re pretty easy once you understand single crochet.

Scarves
A scarf is absolutely the best I’ve-never-picked-up-a-crochet-hook project, simply because it’s a giant rectangle. There’s no shaping to be done, and as long as you make sure each row has the same number of stitches as the previous row (something I didn’t bother to do with my first ever scarf), it’s pretty much impossible to wind up with a scarf that doesn’t do what it’s intended to do, or “doesn’t fit.” As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you need only know the chain stitch and single crochet, and you can make a scarf! If you think you’ll get bored making an entire scarf with one stitch (you probably will), this scarf pattern is an excellent one for learning the most used stitches.

Hats
Hats seem like they should be kind of difficult because they’re round, but it’s really not so hard as long as you follow the directions closely the first few times you make them. They’re basically created by making a flat circle, then you stop expanding on that circle at a point and work the hat even, which is how you get the shape. That might make no sense, so I direct you here for a simple hat made in half-double crochet.

Don’t want to do hats or scarves? If I were you, I’d register for a Ravelry account ASAP! Ravelry has a huge database of patterns, free or paid for, and you can filter by just about anything – yarn type, craft type, project category, and of course difficulty level. I think it might be my favorite social networking site on the web: it’s social networking, but you can actually learn things! Don’t forget to friend me while you’re there!