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April 18, 2018
The internet is awesome. No really, it's the literal definition of "awesome". It endlessly provides us ways to connect, learn, stay informed, be entertained, work and even shop! It amplifies our humanness. And even though it seems to be constantly pushing us forward into the future, it has managed to reinvigorate some of my favourite things from my past.
Let's talk about snail mail. The post. The old pen-and-paper letter. I remember when email first came along, futurists loudly proclaimed "the death of the post office". Fast forward a couple of decades and the post office is busier than ever. Why? Packages. People LOVE to get packages in the mail. And now thanks to online shopping we can send ourselves wonderful things even if no one else is!
Here's another neat thing about online shopping: it opens up shopping experiences and access to items that we might never have come across in our little corners of the world. It gives us the opportunity to purchase items directly from the person who made them! We can pop into a shop on the other side of the planet, say hi to the owner, purchase something we adore and all without leaving our homes! I love it!
I just recently ordered a few new crochet tools and they appeared a couple of days later, all neatly boxed up, in the arms of our local smiling post lady. What's great about this scenario is a few-fold:
1. I got a package in the mail. I got to enjoy the experience of delayed gratification, the anticipation of my package arriving, and the excitement of opening it up and unpacking it.
2. I was able to purchase items that I can't find locally. In fact, if it weren't for the internet, I'd have never even seen them!
3. It was convenient! Let's face it, we're busy. Shopping can be a lot of fun, especially if you're out looking at things for your favourite hobby, but unless you live next door to the craft store, hobby shopping can really eat into your time (and travel budget!).
I'll be sharing my new tools with you soon, which is another great thing about the internet! If you stumble across something that you enjoy, makes your life easier, find fun or think might help someone else, you can share it with all your friends :)
Take care everyone, and we'll see you Friday!
We've been delighted with the outpouring of wonderful, personal and sometimes outright funny stories that you've all shared with us about how you learned to crochet over on our YouTube channel! I found it particularly interesting that so many of you showed an interest to learn at a really early age (especially us older types who were around before the internet!) but often came up against the issue of not having anyone around who was either able or willing to teach you.
Many of us were introduced to it through family members, sometimes a loving neighbour or a friend who was already capable of working out a few basic stitches. Some of us took a break from it for a few year and still others never put their hooks down!
A lot of you, like me, learned to knit first. I was taught by some very patient (and goofy) ladies through my local 4-H Club of Canada when I was 11. I didn't really take to it right away, but picked it up again in my mid teens, which was about the same time I started to get interested in other handicrafts, like crochet.
I'm largely self-taught. No one ever told me there was a right or wrong way to hold my hook, feed my yarn or that there were varying levels of difficulty when it came to working through a pattern. I learned to read patterns through trial and error. Once again, it was helpful that I had some knitting experience to fall back on. It wasn't really until my friend Teresa showed me how to make a granny square, however, that the lights all went on full blast and from that point on, I never put down my hook again!
I love crochet. I love knitting. These two skills have kept me company through good times and bad, allowed me to make beautiful gifts, given me opportunities to meet and teach people, and have provided endless hours of amusement.
Thank you, everyone, for sharing your stories with us, they serve as a cozy reminder of how much we all have in common. We are united through our love of yarn and creativity; one big, happy, crafty family!
Until we hook again...stay safe and stay crafty!
January 25, 2018
2018 is the year in which I have challenged myself to bust through my stash of yarn! I sought out all the little hiding spaces around our home in which I had previously "organized" my yarn and pulled it all out into the daylight. My husband and I rearranged the craft room, added some shelves and I put all that yarn in places where I can see it. This accomplishes a few things for me:
1. I am inspired and happy when I see all that lovely yarn
2. I know what I have at a glance, no more guess work or completely forgetting about some of it.
3. Every time I feel like heading to the craft store, I head into the craft room instead and "shop" there first.
I realized recently that I wasn't spending very much time (if any at all) enjoying what I already had. I was getting so carried away in the short-lived excitement that purchasing some new yarn brings, that I was not bothering to find any enjoyment in the yarn (and other craft supplies) that was already in the house!
Every couple of years I admonish myself and my yarn-buying habits and resolve to not spend any more money on craft supplies until I've used up what I have. This sound reasoning lasts about as long as it takes for me to stumble over a sale at Fabricland. This year feels different and it's because I can see what I have. Having all my yarn out "in my face" where I can't ignore it reminds me every time I go into that craft space how lucky I am and that I should not only make use of what I've already purchased (or been given) but ENJOY IT!
My craft supplies, ironically, are much more organized now than they were when I kept them all "organized" in labeled totes tucked away in closets and the basement. This is not to say that keeping your yarn and other craft supplies in labeled totes isn't a good idea, in fact, it's excellent, but if you're like me and you forget what you have...then best keep those totes somewhere you regularly look!
I love looking at my stash as an actual collection of something I appreciate and enjoy rather than just treating it like a bunch of "supplies" I have on hand...I also have lots of cleaning supplies but they don't give me nearly as much joy as my yarn!!
Whether you're new to a craft or an old hand at it like me, I recommend you reconnect with all the little goodies you've picked up over the years, or even last week! Take them out and look at them, restack them, order them by colour or size, feel them, envision them built into something uniquely yours! It's nearly as much fun as doing the craft itself ;)
Enjoy the video below,
November 30, 2017
It's nearly December and the final countdown to finishing all our handmade gifts is on! If you're the type to leave things to the last minute, then you might want to pull out a calendar page of December and start scheduling in your work time :)
If you're new to making gifts for everyone on your list and you haven't yet started, we have a handy Gift List Schedule tool over on our TOOLS page, be sure to check it out and download the PDF. Making lists are a really good idea this time of year, besides, Santa does it and we can just imagine how incredible organized one would have to be in order to make all those deliveries in one night!!
I often get asked about what sorts of gifts to make for people and I have a few helpful tips for that too:
1. Who is the gift for? Think about who they are, what they like and what their lifestyle is. If he or she is the type of person who loves to cook, then crochet for the kitchen is a great idea! If they're a kid and they love little toys, then a tiny crochet plushy is a super choice :)
2. How much time do you have? If you know they'd love a blanket, but you only have 1 week until you see them for the holidays and you're not the fastest crocheter, then you might want to consider something else! Remember, the days leading up to the holidays are increasingly busy and full of other appointments and errands, so don't cut yourself short on time!
3. Are they fiber sensitive? Consider the fiber sensitivity of the people you're making things for too! Wool can be itchy, so it's not the best choice for babies and small children, but it could make a fabulous set of socks for an adult who doesn't find wool to be a problem.
4. Will they appreciate it? This can be the hardest question of all to answer. Not everyone out there can appreciate the time and effort that goes into making gifts, so if you're not sure that all the hard work and effort will be appreciated, but you're still determined to make everyone on your list a gift, that's fine! Just remember my motto: S.U.S.!!! Simple (like dishcloths), Useful (like slippers) or Silly (like a keychain). It won't take up too much of your time and resources, but will still be a fun little something to unwrap :)
And that's it! Keeping our sanity over the holiday season is helped along by staying as organized and time conscious as possible, so keep that list handy and consult it often!
October 23, 2017
Ok, it's been awhile since I wrote anything down here and that's likely because I have been spending every last shred of time that I could outside, enjoying the last strains of warm sunshine and gentle breezes! The fall is fully upon us now; the trees are a riot of colour, leaves tumble past me anywhere I walk, the chipmunks and squirrels are frantically racing everywhere and our summer birds are starting to leave.
October is my favourite month of the year. We have thanksgiving, Halloween, gorgeous colour changes and the days are still sunny and beautiful. It's the perfect time to get out there and hike about in your brand new crocheted hat, scarf or fingerless gloves!
Having said that, we also get some cold, rainy days in the fall and those days are PERFECT for snuggling up in the craft nook and either doing a little seasonal decorating or starting to make a dint in the crochet gift list!
Rainy days are great for "me time". If you don't have to go out, then it's great to stay in and spend a little time making your home feel, well, more homey! I do a little cleaning, change around my pillows, maybe even move some furniture. Switch my summer shoes and coats into storage for my fall/winter ones and put on a big pot of stew! Nothing makes a rainy day outside more delightful and cozy than the smell of dinner on the stove and knowing that I cleaned and sorted my way through the front hall closet! Plus once I've made supper, done some cleaning and redecorating, I relish sitting down to my basket of crochet and listening to the rain fall outside.
However you spend your sunny or rainy Autumn days, I hope you always find time for yourself and your favourite hobbies!
See you Friday :)
August 31, 2017
Ahhh, the end of summer. I always greet it with mixed emotions. I love the warm weather and being able to step outside without having to put on an endless amount of clothing and boots, but on the other hand, the Autumn is my favourite time of year! The leaves have already begun to change and the scent of fall wild flowers are everywhere.
It's also the time when our thoughts turn towards gift-making, new decor and possibly even new clothes for the cooler seasons ahead. This week on the show I shared some of what is in my "Make Ahead Stash" and how I use it in conjunction with my gift and project planning and today I thought I'd take a moment to outline how I build up what's in it.
1. Winter Blues: the holiday season is over and the cold, dark winter really starts to set in. If I'm not already working on a giant blanket project just to keep warm, then this is a great time for mittens, hats, slippers, socks, scarves and even sweater patterns that I've been meaning to try. Anything warm and woolly that I'm not going to use immediately goes right into the stash!
2. Spring Awakening: Wow, those first few whiffs of spring air pull me right outside...until I realize it's still fairly chilly out! But the sun has shifted positions and the rays are warmer and sitting in my favourite window and crocheting while I watch the grass turn green is so cheering! Out come the shawls, fingerless gloves, breezy cowls, new pillow covers and throw patterns all with a lighter weight yarn and a little added 'spring' in my step ;) The scraps get wound into pom poms and tassels and whatever doesn't get into my closet or family room heads right into the stash!
3. Summer Love: Endless hours of sunlight, cool breezes, bird song, trips to the beach...not exactly sweater weather! I grab my cotton yarns and start making dishcloths, soap scrubbies, buntings, cool little swimsuit cover ups and if I run out of cotton, I grab the scrap bag and make up tons of toys and appliques! These are small, cool little projects to keep my fingers busy on those gorgeous, long, hot days and pretty soon a few new totes are needed to contain the growing stash!
4: Autumn Glory: This is it. My favourite time of year! I really crochet with a purpose now! I have a clear list building of who's getting what made for this season and I'm busy at it! I dive into the stash looking for pre-made pom poms, tassels, appliques and smaller projects that might just need a little personalizing, perfect for whoever's on the list. While I'm at it, I'm gathering more ideas and patterns that I want to try out just as soon as the winter hits again!
And that's the life cycle of my Make Ahead Stash! It's also nice to just pull it out once in a while and look through it to admire all the lovely little things you've made, especially when you need a little cheering ;)
See you Friday!
August 10, 2017
This week we uploaded a video on some of the weird balls of yarn that I've collected over the years. I've come up with some fun and interesting ways to use bits of these odd balls on various projects but some of them still eluded me!
Many of you chimed in with some great suggestions and I thought I'd put them all together in a tidy little list here in case you're wondering what to do with your strange yarn!
- Take your big fluffy odd yarn and make a dusting cloth! My mother in law has made a few of these for her mops and she loves them!
- Pom Pom yarn makes great trim, a cute "carry along yarn" (for use in blankets and such) or on it's own it's a cute swag garland in a baby's room :)
- Eyelash, Fun Fur and Boa yarn can be used to make little stuffed toys or can be used as "carry along yarn" for other projects (including granny squares, which I've done and it adds really interesting texture!)
- Many of these fluffy yarns make really nice edges for hats, gloves, mittens, socks, Christmas Stockings, or blankets :)
- Consider using bits of it for accents in a scrapbook!
- Any fancy, sparkly or really bright coloured yarns can be turned into a quick Christmas Tree garland!
- Use a foam wreath base and wrap all that crazy yarn around it, secure with some glue and you've got a fun new wreath for the front door!
- All of these crazy yarns can be used in home decor projects like little rugs, small blankets or pillow cover, or just edging for existing pieces
- If all else fails and you just can't bring yourself to use your crazy yarn in a project that you'll enjoy, then you might consider using it as stuffing for small toys or pillows OR, donating it to a local programs for school-aged children!
I hope you've found some fun ideas in our list of "What To Do With Weird Yarn", assembled from the Big, Crafty InStitches Family :)
Stay Crafty and we'll see you Friday!
July 27, 2017
I've been making BIG, Fluffy Star and Heart-shaped Pillows here in the workshop over the past week and simply loving the results! They're so quick and fun to make, not to mention cozy to use, that I'm going to put them in every room in the house :) We uploaded two different videos on these pillows over on our YouTube channel (in case you missed them!) and I used Bernat Baby Blanket yarn for both pillows. It's considered super bulky yarn (or a size 6) and it's nice and soft and has a little stretch to it, so it's really great material for making pillows out of.
Bernat also makes an entire line of the same yarn called simply "Bernat Blanket". It's the same, super bulky, soft, chenille-like stuff and it comes in bright and bold colours as opposed to the gentle tones of the baby line. I'll definitely be trying some of these different colours out on more pillows! If you can't find it at a craft store near you, then you can head over to Amazon and find all sorts of it here:
If you still can't get your hands on it, then you can still make up the Big, Fluffy Star and Heart Pillows using 2 or 3 strands of your favourite soft worsted weight or DK weight yarn held together and a size 10.00 mm crochet hook!
Pillows are a fun, inexpensive, easy way to decorate your space. They can be switched out for other pillows to go along with a theme, holiday or even if you're just looking to change up the colours in your room. Making your own pillows is also easy and fun and the possibilities are literally endless!!
So grab your big hook and your super bulky yarn and redecorate your favourite space today... and we'll see you Friday for more fun!
July 20, 2017
This week we tackled how I deal with Crochet Cramp on our YouTube channel :) Many of you have mentioned in the comments where and how often you suffer from some aches and pains owing to the practice of your favourite crafts and since I do too, I wanted to share the little exercise routine I use to try and loosen up if I've been at it for too long.
The older we get, the more we tend to think about our health, especially if we have aches and pains reminding us of our physical limitations! I've always been interested in health and wellness and through lots of research and occasional necessity, I have come up with three gentle tips for a little healthy maintenance of our bodies while we indulge in our favourite pastimes!
1. Stop every so often and stretch! This is especially important if you feel tenseness, aches, pains or numbness. Repetitive stress and use of small motor muscles can lead to strain and even complications down the road, so be nice to yourself! Pause, take a few minutes to stand up, stretch, roll your eyes around, breath and shake out the tightness!
2. Stay hydrated! Our bodies need a lot of water to function well and we often don't think to have a glass of water until we're thirsty. By this point, we're already experiencing some dehydration! Keep a glass of water nearby to remind you to have a sip now and then. When it's empty, go refill it!
3. Go for a walk! It doesn't have to be long, intense or fast, just go walking :) It works your big motor muscles, helps your circulation, encourages you to breath, clears your mind and gives your smaller muscles a break!
I try to keep a simple, healthy little routine in my life every day :) It's not a workout, just a gentle way to help keep my body functioning as best it can, so I can keep on crocheting!!
Stay safe, healthy and crafty and I'll see you all Friday!
July 13, 2017
We posted a video this week highlighting 12 fun projects that we've done on the show that make beautiful baby shower gifts. I was off to a baby shower this week and we thought everyone could benefit from a few extra ideas! I am very happy to report that my girlfriend loved her blanket and bootie set and as I was leaving the party, her sister pulled me aside and asked if I could make another one for her!
Homemade gifts are timeless and wonderful, no mater what they are. They tell the recipient that they are special, so special, that the maker took the time out of his or her busy life to make something just for them! I was lucky enough to receive many homemade, hand-crafted gifts growing up and I still have nearly all of them...some of them literally fell apart from being loved so much :)
I asked everyone in that video what they like to bring to baby showers and some really fun ideas and conversation came out of it. It was wonderful to see how many people had stories about blankets that they had made years and years ago still being loved today!
If you have the time and inclination, definitely make a little something for that upcoming baby shower. It doesn't have to be big, it can be small, it can even be in addition to something else, but I encourage you to try if you've never done it before! Homemade gifts are literally full of love and it's one of the sweetest things you can give a new mom-to-be :)
See you all Friday!
June 17, 2017
The wonderful, warm summer weather has finally arrived here in southern Ontario and my head is positively spinning with happiness! There are so many wonderful things to do out doors this time of year, from festivals and markets, trips to the beach, picnics, hikes in the woods, boat rides and one of my favourites, camping and bonfires! I take my crochet everywhere with me because I like to use up my idle minutes and I never know when inspiration might strike :)
I also love to make crocheted clothing and accessories for use in the warmer weather. We often think of woolly wear as "wintry" or cold-weather clothing, but there are plenty of things we can make to adorn ourselves in the hot and humid weather too! So if you're looking for something to crochet that you don't have to wait until the cold weather to rock, check out this fun little list!
Summer Love Poncho - Lightweight, breezy and glorious all in white, wrap yourself up in beauty at your next festival or bonfire! https://youtu.be/ED-wbhrdvJ4
Barefoot Sandals - Play by the pool or look stylish on the patio wearing a pair of dainty bits of foot jewelry :) https://youtu.be/aJaFzgVHWVM
Granny Square Vest - Feeling a little "Boho"? This nod to the Summer of Love helps you get your groove on and stay cool! https://youtu.be/yg8rE_caz8w
Bracelets with Beads - Have some extra crochet thread lying around? Try an armful of these sweet and simple bracelets! https://youtu.be/1Dn1jB9ap5U
Crochet doesn't have to be hot! These projects are all fun, light and perfect for adding a little something special to your Summer 2017 memories :)
See you Friday!
May 18, 2017
We're heading into the first long weekend of our summery weather here in Canada and I couldn't be more happy or excited! Traditionally, our favourite beach and parks open this weekend and it's the first REAL weekend for serious outdoor work in the gardens, and boy, do they need some TLC after the winter we had! Of course, it's also tradition that we get hammered with some enormous thunderstorm (in fact, it sounds like it's blowing itself together out there right now!). So if you're out camping this weekend, be sure to bring along something to occupy your time in case of rain!
I love to travel with my crochet. I will take it everywhere, including camping! If you're headed out this weekend to picnic, camp, hike or even hit the beach, then I have a few fun tips for keeping your crochet clean, DRY and untangled.
1. This weekend, forgo the crochet bag for a tight-sealing plastic container instead. You can keep everything in here, your paper pattern, your yarn, tools and of course, your project! The plastic container will keep out the rain, humidity, sand, dirt, bugs and will remind you to wash your hands before you handle your beautiful work :)
2. Things jostle around when we travel, and even if you've left your hook in your project, it might fall out during transport. Save yourself some grief (and lost stitches!) and take the loop off your hook and pin a safety pin around it. Then tug the yarn back down until the pin touches your work. Then, when you're ready to crochet again, you can just tug up on the pin, remove it, insert your hook and away you go!
3. Don't forget the baby wipes. What?! Yup! A package of these comes in mighty handy! When we're out playing, we don't always have access to a hand-washing station, and if you've gone to all the trouble of keeping your work in a tight-sealing container, you don't want to sully it with dirty hands! Keep a package of baby wipes nearby and towel off your pinkies before you handle your stitching :)
That said, get out there! Have a great long weekend and Happy Crafting!
May 4, 2017
Happy May! May is one of my favourite months. The rain from April has made everything a hundred shades of lush green, early flowers are beginning to bloom, the cheerful dandelions are out and the air is full of bird song :) There's nothing like some fresh, spring weather to fill me with inspiration...well that and a trip to the yarn store!
I recently discovered some super chunky, 100% cotton yarn that I had never come across before, so I had to pick up a few skeins of that for experimentation. Cotton is a great product for use around the home. It washes well, is hard-wearing and comes in enough colours that I can always find something that fits with my decor. I got really excited about the extra thick cotton yarn however, because the recent rugs I've crocheted for around our house were made using double strands of cotton yarn. This method is just fine, but it does require one to keep track of two bouncing skeins of yarn! I aim for durability with things like rugs and chair covers, which is another good reason to use double stranding (not to mention it works up quicker than a single strand!) so I'm eagerly looking forward to spending some time with this thick cotton, I'll let you all know what I come up with!
Until then, I've piled up all my new yarn in the workshop, right where I can gaze at it adoringly a little while longer ;)
See you all Friday!
April 24, 2017
It's just been a whirlwind of crochet around here lately! There's nothing like the pretty pastel colours of April to keep me busy hooking...well ok, that and ALL the new babies on the way! There are lots of new people making their super cute debut shortly, and I'm going to make sure they all have warm feet :)
This past Friday we uploaded a Classic Wrap-Style pair of Baby Slippers, it's the sort of pattern you absolutely MUST have in your go-to library. They're quick, easy and oh-so-cute, especially when you finish them off with some big, fluffy pom poms! You can whip up a pair last minute, or make up several pairs in different colours and keep them in your "gift stash" just in case one of the girls at work announces she's expecting! These slippers are also a great charity item, so if you're looking to keep some tiny, less-well-off feet warm this year, then this is your pattern.
You'll find our FREE Classic Wrap-Style Baby Slippers pattern on the Pattern Workshop page, so print it off and get it into your project journal! And don't forget to check out the video tutorial that goes along with it on our YouTube channel :)
See you Friday!
March 23, 2017
Happy Spring :) It feels so good to say that knowing we've passed the Equinox and now the days are finally going to outpace the nights. The sun is bright and higher in the sky and casts a warmer shade of yellow. The chipmunks have begun their annual spring insanity and the birds are beginning to wake me up in the mornings before the sun rays do :) It's about now that I turn to my stash of yarn and start to 'shop' through it looking for colours and textures that better reflect the coming warmer weather!
The longer days and warmer breezes encourage me to open the windows, do some serious cleaning and even finish some of the projects that have been piling up around the InStitches household. That includes our 2016 Calendar Blanket! I finally settled on a colour and stitch for the border, tune in tomorrow and try out a nifty new stitch with me :)
I've also had several questions over on our YouTube channel recently about other tutorials we've made in the past and I wanted to share a neat search tool with you all! If you go to our YouTube channel homepage, you will find a Search Icon (a small magnifying glass) next to the different tabs (Home, Videos, Playlists, etc) near the top of the homepage. If you click on this Icon, it will open a small search box. This will allow you to search our entire channel's collection of videos! Enter any word or phrase you're looking for (for example, Bunny, Easter, Hat, etc) and you will get a list of all our relevant tutorials!
I hope warm, sunny weather finds you wherever you are this weekend :)
March 17, 2017
Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone!
As a special Thank You to all of our wonderful YouTube subscribers this week's Springtime Shawl tutorial has been posted as a free written pattern over on our Pattern Workshop page :) I've used cheerful, self-striping yarn (in this case, 2 skeins of Caron Cakes Rainbow Sherbet) so all I had to do was keep crocheting, no need to stop and change colour!
If you're looking to restock your craft supplies, Amazon is celebrating National Craft Month and has lots of fun deals on craft supplies of all sorts! You can pop over to our Shop page and use the links to get you there.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend, be sure to make time for your creativity :)
February 23, 2017
Recently we've had a blast of spring-like weather and it's done wonders for the spirit! Long dark days can bring you down, so if you're looking for a pick-me-up, I have a couple of fun tips to try this weekend:
1. Wrap up a ball of yarn and surprise a crafty friend with it. A friend of mine walked into my office the other day and just handed a beautiful, great, big skein of yarn to me and off-handedly said "I thought you might like this?" It literally made my week.
2. Organize a yarn exchange with your crafty friends. Got some odd balls, left over skeins or too much of a colour you're not too fond of anymore? Organize a yarn party! Tell all your crafty friends to bring a basket full of odd balls over for a woolly tea party, have everyone arrange the yarn like you'd find it in a store, and then everyone SHOP (all for FREE of course!) If you've got extra hooks or needles of the same size you can bring those too!
3. Make a Friendship Blanket. Hands down one of my favourites, get a few friends together, make sure everyone has the same hook and yarn size and each of you make a granny square while you enjoy each other's company and maybe a few nibbles! The more friends, the more squares! You can sew them all together and take turns adding border rows and before you know it, you'll have a beautiful scrap blanket. Then you can either donate it or give it to someone you know needs a pick-me-up :)
Crafting with friends is a great way to brighten up the winter and chase the blues away. It cheers me up every time!
See you Friday!
February 10, 2017
I get a lot of questions about washing and care for crochet and knit items and I thought today I'd mention a few good "rules of thumb" that I like to follow:
1. Hand Washing is Grand Washing! - If you hand wash an item, you can be more delicate than a machine, and you can better moderate the temperature of the water you are using. Water temperature should always be on the cool to cold side. If you absolutely must use a washing machine, then use the GENTLE cycle with COLD water - regardless of the fibers you have used.
2. When Drying - Air is Fair! - Err on the safe side with your knit and crochet items and let them lie flat to dry on a towel or drying surface. If you have a larger item like a blanket, you can use the "Air" setting on your dryer for a little while, and then lay it flat to finish drying in the open. Hot air in a dryer can shrink your fibers, felt your wool, even melt some delicate synthetics. And if you've added product to your project (like sticky feet on a rug or slippers) then especially AVOID the dryer, because you could end up with a ruined project and a real mess inside your machine!
Other things to avoid:
Bleach and harsh chemical cleaners. Not only can it ruin the colours of your project, but they can eat holes in delicate fibers (especially the natural ones).
Ironing: You can use your iron to gently steam block a project back into shape (like a baby blanket or maybe a stubborn sweater) but do NOT press your iron to your project! At the least you will flatten the fibers which will make your work look flat and possibly shiny and at the very worst, you could melt or burn your work even damage your iron!
This Valentine's Day, remember to LOVE your work! Treat it sweet and it will continue to love you back all year :)
See you Friday!
February 2, 2017
It's Groundhog Day and from all accounts the local celebrity rodents have been unable to agree on whether it will be an early spring or not. Something tells me we have a lot more winter ahead, so cozy up to your favourite hot beverage and grab your yarn, we've got some cold days to get through yet!
If you're snow bound, you can always do a little online shopping. We like shopping on Amazon; We like the prices and the free delivery! No need to head out to the stores, and if you have trouble finding the supplies you like near where you live, you might have better luck online. A little shopping from the couch definitely helps chase away the cold, dark winter blahs :) If you want to check out Amazon, head to our Shop page and follow the links - if you find something you like, make a purchase, you'll be helping support us too!
Another thing I like to do to chase away the wintery blahs is have a hot bath. If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine I'm in a resort somewhere! Last week we posted a tutorial on making an Area Rug and I've got mine parked beside the bathtub. I've got matching soap-saver scrubbies so I'm all ready for a nice, long soak. If you've made our area rug and are worried about it cruising around the tiles when you try to step on it, you can always add little sticky grips to the bottom of your rugs (or even socks!) by adding dobs of hot glue with your glue gun. Just make sure they dry completely before putting your rug back down on the floor!
See you Friday!
January 19, 2017
January can be a little on the grey and boring side. With all the fuss and excitement over the holidays in December, poor January shows up late to the party bringing crumby weather and a lot of long, dark nights. It's easy to fall into a bit of a slump, so here's what I like to do to ward off the January blues:
Get out that bin of old yarn. Yup, most of us have one. It's that catch-all that has odd balls, unfinished projects and even other craft supplies tossed in for lack of place to keep them! I dump the whole thing out, re-roll the balls and if I'm not going to finish those projects, I break them down and 'cannibalize' them for other work! In fact, that bin of old yarn is just begging to be turned into a scrapghan! Use it all up in one, simple project, and then you have an excuse to go get NEW yarn.
Reorganize your craft space! Are you making the best use of your light? What about your supplies, are they organized, easy to lay your hands on...do you even know where they all are? Pulling everything out and doing an inventory might seem like work, but these are CRAFT supplies we're talking about, so pretend you're shopping in your own space! Chances are you'll find something that you forgot you had :)
Make yourself something. Yes. You! We just went through the craziest gift-giving/gift-making time of the year. Our minds were on everyone but ourselves and I bet at least at some point in the last 2 months you were wishing you had some time to yourself! Take some now :) Make yourself a new hat, a pair of mittens, maybe a nice scarf or something for the kitchen. Investing a little time in something for yourself does wonders to perk up your mood!
And if you can't quite get a handle on any of the first three options, take yourself out for a nice walk. The cool, fresh air will do you some good and once you're back inside and toasty again, maybe then you'll hear the siren sound of the yarn calling your name :)
Stay crafty and I'll see you Friday!
January 12, 2017
Happy Crafty New Year Everyone!
I hope you all had a safe and enjoyable holiday full of lots of time for being creative :) In our house, we have an annual new year tradition we affectionately refer to as "The Big Clear". This involves cleaning, sorting, tossing, re-purposing and generally unloading anything that has ceased to have a use. I love it! We throw open the windows and fill the house with clean, fresh air; get into all the cracks and crevices that we ignore all year long and clean up the house so we can face the new year feeling refreshed. Then we sort! We usually start with the closets, especially where we keep our clothes...and that brings me to this New Year's post!
This year, my husband rolled up his sleeves and threw himself into the clothes closet with the full intensity of a hurricane. A mountain of old shirts, pants, thread-bare t-shirts, old sweaters, items he was generally sick and tired of, piled up on the bedroom floor. In turn, I sorted through everything and made four piles; Destination Thrift Store, Re-purpose, Stuffing, Rags. Everything headed to the thrift store, my fabric pile and the cutting board got a good wash. Next, I grabbed my cutting boards and my rotary cutter and went to town! In about 2 hours I had turned several shirts and t-shirts into a lovely new pile of rags, a neat and orderly pile of good, reusable fabric and three bags of stuffing. I sorted the stuffing by colour, 1 bag of white, 1 bag of dark and 1 bag of lighter hues - all ready for a new year of little pillows and stuffed toys!
Now, I walk into our closet and gloat a little. Not only does everything look neat, tidy and dare I say, spacious, but I feel good about donating our good, unwanted clothes and turning the rest into something I can really use!
January is a great excuse to clean, sort and organize. Not only does it make your living space feel better, but it makes your thinking space feel better too!
And now....2017! May this year be full of potential and creativity for us all :)
See you Friday!
December 1, 2016
Hi Everyone, Happy December!
It's the home stretch, if you haven't started making your Christmas gifts and decor yet, it's time to get a move on! If you're looking for a little inspiration to get you through to the weekend, be sure to check out our Pattern Workshop page, we have some fun Christmas Stocking patterns and other free, quick and easy projects to get you into the spirit :)
If you're looking for some visual cues, we've put together a handy list of Christmas crochet tutorials you might want to check out:
Snowman Plush: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl1G6Pi2cnk
Tree Plush: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_0BSKbqGjQ
Tree Applique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKG36M29JXs
Granny Tree Ornament: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jQuyD3FqO4
Granny Star Ornament: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zS5fSGxOMAc
*Star Applique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpRWo3brvU4 *The free pattern is also here on our website!
Snowflake Applique/Ornament: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5mFIm3SLKU
Granny Square Christmas Stocking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6n-4qjL75M
I hope some, if not all of those can help get you into the spirit and get a jump start on your holiday decorating!
See you Friday :)
November 17, 2016
Choosing the right yarn for your project is important. A rich, silk yarn can turn the humblest of stitch patterns into the most luxurious-looking scarf. A simple ball of cotton can become a hard-working, easily washed dishcloth. Wool can keep you warm...but watch out how you wash it!
I often get asked if different yarn types can be substituted in for whatever was recommend in a particular project. The short, howbeit tentative, answer to this question is, "Yes!" But be forewarned, the final results can (and frequently will) differ greatly from the expected outcome. In addition to washing instructions varying between fibre types, the overall look and feel of the project might be completely different too. Having said that, sometimes these results can be amazing (for example, the silk scarf example above).
The reason I bring this up today is simple; we're heading fast into gift-giving season and many of us have already started working on our lists! It's easy to get excited, even carried away with the beautiful array of yarns and colours available to us and we want so much to make things for the loved ones on our lists that they will love (as much as we did making it) that we can often forget that not too long after the wrapping paper and gift boxes have been disposed of, said gift will be put to the dual test of use and washing.
So, if you're working from patterns, it's a really good idea to follow the suggested yarn type, especially if you want to achieve the final look that is advertised. If you're swooning over a gorgeous skein that screams "SCARF" then just remember, when giving it as a gift later, make sure you include a tag with the washing instructions that are indicated on the yarn label.
And one more thing! There are many different fibres available to us in the woolly world of yarn. They all have their advantages and disadvantages (washing, colour retention, shrinkage, feel, durability, possible allergens) so before you launch into a project, think carefully about who it's going to as well as the final use :)
See you Friday!
November 10, 2016
Ever feel like you have so many things to think about that your brain is literally full? You sit down and try to relax or meditate and you just can't turn your thoughts off. When that happens to me, I like to do the following:
1. Turn off all devices: the tv, computer, tablet, phone...I don't want to hear a single notification!
2. Close my eyes and take 3 long, deep breaths in slow succession.
3. Go make myself a hot cup of tea.
4. Pick up my hook, some cotton yarn and make simple single crochet dishcloths.
The repetition of a single, basic stitch goes a long way towards calming my overworked brain. I sit there until I've finished at least one dishcloth, take a few more deep breaths, polish off my cup of tea, and then jump back into the fray!
With holiday season just around the corner, the tendency to feel overwhelmed is stronger than ever, so remind yourself to take a little break each day to find some calm and quiet...your sanity will thank you!
See you Friday!
October 27, 2016
Well, it's happened. The snow has arrived here in Southern Ontario! Not that I mind too much, I was more than happy to break out my brand new knit cowl :) Wearing it simply convinced me that everyone on my gift list this year needs to have one and the pile of lovely, rich cowls has started!
Of course this does raise the question, what sort of weather can we expect for Halloween? Usually, we get a cold, wet evening for everyone to run around after dark in. I can remember it not bothering me much at all when I was a child, but with age comes wisdom...and thinner skin apparently! If you're out this Halloween, whether you're collecting candy or accompanying smaller ghouls, make sure you put together a costume that's easy to walk in and is temperature appropriate! I'll be headed to the office (we always have a pretty great costume contest!) and then I'll be answering the door that evening - and you can bet my costume will include crocheted accents to keep my hands and ears warm :)
I'll be posting my costume pic on Instagram this year, so if you're wondering what the rest of my office had to stare at all day, feel free to check it out!
Whatever you're up to this week, stay warm and crafty...and I'll see you Friday!
October 20, 2016
That's the term I use to describe the organic process that frequently happens around our home when I get busy making a series of things...and leaving them around the house. This most recent installment of Accidental Decorating began when we started moving furniture around and cleaning out cabinets and when the dust had finally settled, I had one large, white, ceramic platter with no home. I plunked it down on the coffee table, reasoning to myself that since it had a huge turkey in relief on it, it was appropriate for the season and that I'd worry about finding it a new storage space in January. That was a couple weekends ago. Then I got busy crocheting (imagine that) and spooky, little Amigurumi have been my project of choice. With nowhere else to put them, they've been piling up on top of the turkey platter. There is now a creepy-cute community of odd critters living on top of the coffee table, displayed rather tastefully on a turkey platter, sitting across from my Candy Corn throw cushion. The entire family room has taken on a delightfully Halloween-y look and I love it!
... of course, come November 1st I'm going to have to find storage for all the Amigurumi....
See you Friday!
October 3, 2016
Happy October Everyone!
This just might be my favourite month of the year :) I love the cooler temperatures, I love Thanksgiving and Halloween, I love the changing colours and it all conspires to inspire!
At the top of my crochet list are hats, ear warmers and fingerless gloves with matching scarves. Heading into the autumn with a few new external pieces to add to my wardrobe always cheers me up, especially when getting ready in the morning is more and more frequently done in the dark!
If you caught our Scrap-Busting Blanket tutorial, you might consider using the 2-strand technique to make yourself a fabulous new scarf! These projects work up really quickly (on account of the two strands and big hook) and make delightfully colourful and warm attire! If you want to up your game, use the same method for a matching hat! Both our Quick and Easy Scarf and Customizeable Slouchy Beanie tutorials (found on our YouTube channel) can easily be adapted for use with this fun, colourful and quick technique!
And don't forget Halloween is coming (I certainly haven't!!) If you live in a cooler climate like we do (we've been known to go trick or treating in the SNOW here!) then consider crocheting some warmer costume pieces for your little ghosts and ghouls! This is a great time to start planning and crocheting your costumes so that you're not scampering around at the last minute!
Whatever you're up to this week, stay safe and stay crafty....and I'll see you Friday!
September 15, 2016
I love crocheting sets of things. I don't just mean socks or mittens, I'm talking entire collections of things! Pocket Pets, pencils, candy corns, mice, stockings, dishcloths, bows, butterflies... Sometimes I get sort of addicted to the repetition of a pattern and I before I know it, an entire collection is sitting in front of me on the table. This is great when it's something like a granny square, but I've often found myself wondering what to do with 20 crochet candy corns or a dozen crochet pencils! (in this case, they went out the door at Halloween!)
It's not really surprising, crochet provides the mental peacefulness of pattern repetition and counting. It's easy to let other things that might be nagging you, slip away to work themselves out in the back of your brain as your mind focuses in on keeping track of what stitch and row you're on.
So, need a break? Crochet! Trying to work out a nagging problem? Crochet! Need a pile of dishcloths? Crochet! * giggle * Crochet is probably my answer to nearly everything :)
See you Friday!
September 1, 2016
I have one pair of 5.5 mm knitting needles. It's the first pair of needles I was ever given. Their stoppers are yellowing with age, the tips are a little dinged and I can't hold them without a few slightly frustrating memories of my first few attempts to knit flooding into my brain. They're really long, they're solid metal and they clink loudly, especially when I'm casting on. But I love them. To me they are a powerful symbol of creative freedom, because when 11-year-old me got through her first 4 rows of knit stitch, a fiery, wildly-exciting love affair with the Needle Arts began.
Now, decades later, I am seldom found without hooks, needles, yarn and various sewing accoutrements attached to my person. And like any great love affair, the feelings only intensify!
If you're new to crochet or knitting, and you're hoping to spend a little time this weekend working up some samplers, I heartily recommend you make your first hook or pair of needles a size 5.5 mm. My 11-year-old hands found them to be a comfortable size to deal with, and my somewhat larger adult hands still reach for them first when I'm trying out something new.
Of course, as you progress on your own woolly adventure, you'll acquire different sized hooks and needles to accommodate your growing list of projects and like any great collection, you'll appreciate them all!
But that first hook. That first pair of needles. It's magic. And may you feel a little thrill, every time you pick them up :)
See you Friday!
August 18, 2016
As we head towards the end of August, Back-To-School is on the minds of millions of children and parents all around the world. That may be so for many of us crocheters too, but late August ALSO means it's time to plan our Homemade Gift Lists!
I know. The Cicadas are still singing and the trees haven't started to change yet, and sleigh bells are the furthest thing from your mind BUT the holiday season will be here faster than you know... especially if you have kids in school!
And if you're like me, every year you say to yourself, "I will PLAN, I will PREPARE and I will NOT be hastily stitching up seams at 11:00 pm on December 24th"...and every year you find yourself finger-cramped and hooked up to a coffee IV Christmas morning! Oh and don't forget those three or four adorable little crafts you never had time to make for yourself! With that in mind, let's get started!
1. Make a list of all the people you want to make things for (include charities, gift exchanges, and yourself on this list!)
2. Make a list of all the projects you want to make.
3. Next to each project, mark down how long it's going to take you (and add a couple extra hours to each estimate!!)
4. Now get your calendar, make note of who you're going to see and when.
5. Being the projects for the people you're going to see first!
6. Tally up all the time it's going to take you to complete your projects and compare it against the amount of time you have left between now and when you see them!
7. Write down your deadlines! If you have to have a project done by September 14th so you can begin a second blanket for someone else, write it down on your calendar. Giving ourselves deadlines often helps keep us motivated and on track :)
8. Enjoy the process! Making things for the people in our lives is a beautiful experience and above all, we should have fun doing it!
Happy Crafting :)
August 4, 2016
It might be hot out there but we crocheters soldier on despite the blazing sun! If you're having trouble keeping the yarn flowing because the heat is making your hands a little moist, then try this tip:
Lightly dust your hands with a little talcum power and carry on! This has the dual effect of keeping the yarn flowing freely while also infusing your work with the light and lovely scent of baby power :)
Phew! Keep cool, my crafty friends, and I'll see you Friday!
July 14, 2016
It's been super hot here in Ontario. The sort of hot that wakes you up in the middle of the night and suggests a cold shower with an ice cream chaser...and who am I to argue?! One thing's for sure, it's got me thinking about the beach, vacations, summer dresses and pretty anklets - to the point of distraction! In heat like this, it's difficult to do much except leap into a pool and sip a cool drink. Sorry work!
Despite the heat, I'm still making time for my favourite craft. This week, I have the perfect accent for your beach or pool party - and it's the sort of thing you'll be happy to work on outside!
Until Friday, my Crafty Friends, stay cool!
July 7, 2016
For many, the summer vacation season has finally arrived and with it, MORE TIME TO CRAFT! With that in mind, we've added a Stitchy Surprise somewhere here on the website, so if you're in the mood for some fun, I invite you to go looking for it!
As I write this, it's stiflingly hot outside. How hot is it? Well, It poured rain just as I was heading out to run an errand (which was nice as we haven't had much rain lately) and it was finished by the time I parked the car. The sun was out in full as I danced my sandal-clad feet around the puddles all over the parking lot, and as some were unavoidable, splashed through a few that felt about as hot as the cup of coffee I'd had this morning! Really!
Here in Southern Ontario we specialize in mega-humidity. I've often said it feels like someone took the Great Lakes and just inverted them on top of us. Phew! And while this sort of weather doesn't inspire blanket-hooking, it DOES inspire evenings on the patio with a hook and a cool drink in hand... so tune in tomorrow to see what cute little delight we have to pair up with your patio experience!
See you Friday!
June 30, 2016
It's a long weekend here in North America!! It's Canada Day this Friday and Independence Day this coming Monday. Which got me thinking, maybe if we all put our minds to it, we could petition our governments to make one, big, joint four-day-long weekend! I love having an extra day to busy myself around the house (read, craft...) but TWO extra days would be glorious!
You still have a few days left before all the BBQs and pool parties start! So here are a few suggestions of cute decor to crochet up for your backyard or someone else's:
- Cotton Drink Coasters in Red, White and/or Blue!
- A Granny Triangle Bunting in beautiful, repeating patriotic colours!
- Dishcloths make great hostess gifts - try our Moss Stitch Dishcloth in solid colours or stripes! (see the Pattern Workshop page)
- A Granny Star Bunting would be especially appropriate for our neighbours to the south!
- Mini Granny Square bracelets would be fun to hand out to everyone at the party too!
Whatever you're up to this weekend, have fun, stay safe...and I'll see you Friday!
June 23, 2016
I thought I'd take a moment this week to talk about hooks and yarn sizes and how they match up. The general rule of thumb is:
Chunky, Bulky Yarn - (size 5 & 6) - Hook Sizes 5.5mm - BIG
Baby, Sport, Worsted, DK Yarn - (Size 3 & 4) - Hook Sizes 3.5mm - 5.5mm
Fingering weight - (Sizes 1 & 2) - Hook Sizes 2.5mm - 3.5mm
Crochet Thread - (Sizes 10 - 1) - Steel Hooks 0.25mm - 2.00mm
Having said that, the pairing of hooks and yarn can vary owing to individual tastes, project and desired gauge. When making stuffed toys with worsted weight or chunky yarn, I prefer to use a 4.25mm because I want my stitches to be tight and close together. When working with the same yarn and making a blanket, I want it to drape, so I'll often use a larger hook - my favourite blanket hook is a 7.00mm!
Many patterns will include a gauge and recommend that you work the suggested swatch and check your measurements before you launch into making the entire project. This is so you avoid getting halfway through something like a sweater and realizing that it's either going to fit an elephant or an ant when it's supposed to fit a 5 year old! Speaking from MANY YEARS of painful experiences, I highly recommend you take the time to make the swatch!!
Whatever you're planning on stitching up this weekend, make sure you take the time to pair up the right hook with your chosen yarn... you'll be happy you did :)
Stay Crafty and I'll see you Friday!
June 9, 2016
Crochet - in fact any creative pursuit - comes to us in waves. You might find the weeks passing, and your hook and yarn has been the furthest thing from your mind, at other times, you can't put them down! With the temperatures heating up, you might want to set aside that huge blanket you've been working on and opt instead for some light projects made in cotton. If you're looking for a little quick and easy inspiration for the weekend, consider plunking yourself down in your favorite garden chair, grabbing your hook and crafter cotton, and sinking your fingers into one of these projects:
- Some new coasters for the patio table
- A celebratory swag or bunting for the front porch
- A new chew toy for the puppy
- A couple of little charm bags for the kids
- A few new dishcloths for the upcoming BBQ
OR, if you're ready to get your "Cotton Groove On" make sure you tune in tomorrow to see what we're stitching up! Fun in the sun ahead :)
Stay Crafty Everyone!
May 27, 2016
So. You promised yourself you would tidy up the craft room and with the recent warm weather, you threw open the window and got down to it. You're zipping along, making great headway, when BOOM; you come across THAT box. You know the one I mean. The one that's full of all that yarn that looked pretty but is a pain to work with; or is experimental and you just aren't interested in yet another wacky scarf; or a friend gave you but frankly, you think is ugly; or is totally knotted and you can't yet be bothered to untangle it all.... but you JUST CAN'T BRING YOURSELF TO THROW IT OUT. Yup, we all have a collection of yarn like that. Luckily, there are plenty of reasons to hang on to it!
- Use it as stuffing for other little projects
- Practice your stitches
- Give it to the cat
- If it's pretty but awkward to work with, tie up your gifts with it
- Keep it for use in other crafts
- Toss a ball in the kitchen junk drawer for when you need some string
- If the kids are looking for a pile of craft supplies to get messy with, toss a skein (or two) their way!
Before you know it, you'll be finished the box! I especially find using it as stuffing for my little Amigurumi projects to be a great way to use it up and it makes me feel good that I'm not being wasteful :)
Stay crafty Everyone, and I'll see you Friday!
May 18, 2016
Gardening season has finally arrived in all it's earthy splendour and I have been busy designing crochet decorations for the garden. Last week I showed you the Granny Triangle Bunting that I put together for the bird feeding area and after several excited comments from many of you suggesting patriotic-inspired colours. I'm working on one to hang up on the front porch for Canada Day!, and I know some of you will be making red, white and blue ones for July 4th! Great idea!
We have a long weekend approaching, the Victoria Day weekend, May 24 (or "May two-four" as it's lovingly called) and my list of things to do outside is nearly as long as my arm! I've got planting, decorating, tidying and building to do and I can hardly wait! The trees have exploded into a glowing, fresh green, the grass is thick and glossy already, the fields of Dandelions are buzzing with bees and the birds...the birds! The yard is a cacophony of twittering and singing complimented by the wildest displays of feathers and flying! Everywhere I look there is inspiration a-plenty for my next crochet project!
The Calendar Blanket is also several months in and the change to spring temperatures is beautifully reflected in the transitioning pattern of colours :) It's not too often that you begin a project and don't have an exact idea of how it will look when you're finished, so this crafty journey has been a total delight with each passing week!
Weeeellll, I'm off to add a few more things to my to-do list, so until Friday, stay safe, stay crafty, and I'll see you just in time for the Long Weekend!
April 21, 2016
What to do if you forget your crochet hooks at home:
1. Panic briefly. Stomp feet and resist the urge to cry.
2. Contemplate a trip to the local department store for a brand new one.
3. Consider your local thrift store for a second hand one.
4. Tape some pencils together and make yourself an emergency knitting loom (put up with strange looks from your coworkers during lunch - discover they're trying it behind your back later that afternoon).
5. Dig through purse looking for child's discarded Rainbow Loom hook.
6. Grab desk scissors and carve a hook out of a pencil.
7. Make note to keep an emergency hook in the glove compartment.
8. Check glove compartment in case you've already thought of #7.
9. Swing by In-Laws at lunch and casually rifle through mom's knitting basket.
10. Attempt finger looming (more strange stares from the coworkers - find yourself lending them yarn 10 minutes later)
11. Knit with mechanical pencils.
12. Race home, grab hooks and hug them reassuringly.
:) Ever have a day like that? * giggle * Well in case you do, with any luck you'll find one of the above suggestions helpful!
Have a crafty day Everyone, and I'll see you Friday!
April 14, 2016
As the last few stubborn piles of ice and snow slowly disappear and that marvelous scent of rich earth fills the air, thoughts of flowers begin to fill my mind. From my window I imagine great, overflowing gardens, bursting with every colour imaginable, winding through my back yard and around the house. The brilliant sunshine beckons, so, full of gusto, I throw on my gardening clothes and head outside to get started...only to feel the chill of Old Winter still lurking in the shadow of the house. It would seem gardening time isn't quite here yet!
But I can Crochet! If it's flowers I want, then I can have them any time, no matter what the weather :) Spring fever has hit the Workshop this week and I invite you to tune in this Friday to see what I've been 'growing' in my woolly garden!
It's also a good time of year to do a little cleaning around the house - but... well... Crochet!! So this weekend, I'm going to ferret out all of the little scrap balls of yarn that have hidden themselves around the house, assemble and sort them into like fabric piles (acrylic, cotton, etc) and start busting through that scrap stash! Baby Booties, Granny Squares and Pocket Pets are among my favourite stash-busting projects and they're delightfully portable, which is great, because nice weather means more outings to the local parks!
So grab your hooks, scraps and a great lungful of that marvelous fresh air and I'll see you Friday!
April 7, 2016
New craft tools are exciting:) Glittering knitting needles, hand-carved crochet hooks, oddly-shaped looms, second hand crafting books, vintage flower looms, beaded stitch markers, charming little measuring tapes, even an old card weaving loom I built myself are all part of my ever-growing collection of craft tools. I am fascinated by our collective ability to imagine, invent, build and use tools, and have been since I was a very little girl.
The very first crochet hook I ever got my hands on was one I found at a church bazaar. It was sitting on a table all alone and I picked it up because I didn't know what it was, but I was fascinated by it. It was 5 cents and I was 5 years old and somehow that all made perfect sense in my small brain. It spent years surfing around my toy box, then found a home in my sewing kit and eventually wound up in my knitting bag, but I always knew where it was. It waited patiently for me to get the crochet bug, and once I did, that hook seldom left my backpack. I still have that hook today, it's an unassuming, plastic, 5.50 mm hook but I like to imagine it's the reigning monarch of my crochet tool kit and when I'm not around, that hook keeps everything else in order for me!
Our tools are little gateways into other worlds. With them we can create things that previously only existed in our minds.
And with that in mind, I'm going to go play some more with my new Pom Pom Makers!! I'll see you all Friday :)
March 29, 2016
Wow, what a weekend! We had an incredible ice storm come through our little part of the universe on Thursday last week and it knocked out our power for nearly 50 hours! 2 full days and nights without electricity, heat, internet or digital entertainment of any sort can put a real cramp in your dinner plans ... but it DOES provide you with the perfect excuse to crochet without any interruptions :)
I managed to check a few things off my project check list (you know that list of projects that are unfinished and stuffed into nooks and crannies all over your house?), brought my Calendar Blanket up to date AND got to fiddle around with some new toys (more on those later!).
It's easy to get distressed when your plans are interrupted, and certainly, losing power in a massive ice storm can bring some very real concerns with it, not to mention worrying about the trees and poles that are clattering down around you, but I made a point to stop and remind myself to appreciate all the modern conveniences I have in my life... and how wonderful a hot cup of tea is! (Seriously, that first cup at the 40 hour mark was MAGIC!)
So this week, I am extra grateful and appreciative for all that I have, and that includes all of you!
Stay crafty Everyone, and I'll see you Friday! (you know, barring any more massive storms...)
March 17, 2016
The Easter Bunny hops into town next weekend and it's not too late to flesh out what he brings with some sweet little scrap projects! We've got plenty of cute little projects you can still squeeze into your upcoming week:
- Over on our YouTube Channel we've got an Easter Goodies Playlist, just click on the Playlist tab at the top of our YouTube Channel home page to find it!
- We've just added the Sunburst Drink Coaster (Round Motif) free written pattern to our Pattern Workshop page here on the website - whip up a set for someone special!
- And if you have kids, friends and family who love video games or cute stuffed toys, I've just added my Cutie Cookie and Pig patterns to our Etsy shop!
And in keeping with everyone's busy schedules, I've got a fast project and fun tutorial for you this Friday (hint - it's perfect for the teen girls in your life!)
Stay crafty and safe, Everyone, and I'll see you Friday!
March 10, 2016
How many of you like to put on some tunes when you crochet? I must admit, a lot of my crochet happens while other things are going on: The TV is on, I'm sitting at the lunch table at work, or I'm busily working out a pattern and I'm concentrating alone in the quiet of my workshop. BUT! Every so often I like to make an event of it. I head into the craft room, turn on the stereo and stand there at the craft table, bobbing and weaving to my favourite tunes while I hook my way through a familiar pattern. It's blissful! It's fun! And BOY can I crochet FAST! But... ahem... not always with the utmost accuracy LOL.
So this week, if you're looking for a fun personal challenge, try this: Time yourself crocheting a granny square in the peace and quiet. Then, turn on your current favourite song and time yourself making a second granny square. Compare the times!
On average, I crochet about 1/3 faster than normal if I have upbeat, stimulating music playing while I work!
Speed in crochet is not a necessity, but it can be a great skill to develop if you're the type that loves to make 'last minute' gifts or if you have a brain that likes to leap ahead to the next project :)
I'll see you Friday!
March 03, 2016
We've been getting walloped by the snow here lately, and while I love the white stuff (not so much driving in it) the sheer amount that fell this week has got me thinking about warmer climates and spring-time weather! So, I pulled out my bright, hot cotton colours and with little else to do but watch the snow fall, I put myself in a sunnier place :)
Colour is very powerful. After an hour of working with all these lovely bright colours, I was humming a tune and found myself hankering for a frosty, fruity drink! A little while ago I wrote about giving our work spaces a little makeover: a little cleaning, pitching, sorting and decorating. With at least another month of wintry weather headed my way, I've decided to add some bright and cheerful bits of needlework to my work space too!
If you're looking for a quick, fun and colourful way to add a little spring to your work space, be sure to tune into the show tomorrow night (wink wink)!!
Stay crafty Everybody, and I'll see you Friday!
February 27, 2016
Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying "You should do one thing every day that scares you". I'd like to think that my drive home this week in a pretty nasty winter storm counts, but what Mrs. Roosevelt was really getting at is the need for stimulating personal growth!
Sometimes, doing something that scares us can be as small as starting a new project. If it scares you because you're afraid it might not work out then that's your sign to try it!
Every time we try, we're telling ourselves that we're worth the risk. Absolutely nothing was ever created, gained or discovered without an enormous momentum of multiple risks and failures along the way. Growth isn't easy, but it can be very satisfying!
If you're trying something new this week that scares you a little, remember: Safety First! Be Patient With Yourself! and don't get discourage if it doesn't work out, because NOW you have a better blue print to follow for your next attempt!
Stay Crafty Everyone!
February 18, 2016
Is your office space or maybe your locker in need of a perk up? Let's face it, we spend a LOT of time each week staring into these small corners of the universe and especially around this time of year, things begin to get a little... well... BORING. We need to redecorate! I'm not talking paint and new furniture, although that would be awesome (especially awesome if you could fit furniture into your locker), but I DO mean freshening up the 'accents' that you might have pinned, taped or perched around your little space.
1. Tidy up! We tend to accumulate all sorts of detritus: paper, notes, dried up pens, broken pencils, food wrappers, coffee mugs, packaging, napkins, etc. Go through your space, a few square inches at a time, and throw out or put away anything that doesn't belong out in the open!
2. Wipe it down! After you get everything tossed out and put away, grab some damp paper towels or little those handy little anti-bacteria wipes and wipe down every surface you can see and reach. 'Tis the season for bad cold germs, so get rid of them! Plus getting rid of all that dust will make your space look shiny and new!
3. CRAFT! YOU HAVE THE SKILLS!! Do you have a bulletin board? Pin up a few little crocheted appliques, a 6" square bit of scrapbooking, your Calendar Blanket Colour Chart, a new pattern or graph you're contemplating, pictures of projects you want to try AND, if you've had this stuff up on your board before - change it out for new stuff! This all works well taped up on the inside of a locker too!
4. Did you crochet up a toy that you just adore but can't justify having around your house? Sit it on your desk. It will make you smile ALL day and you can keep a tally of how many times your coworkers come over and pick it up! (They can't help themselves, I swear!)
5. Make a note in your agenda to change it all up again in a couple of months, just in time for spring!
Make this week your Work Space Makeover Week! Have fun and STAY CRAFTY :)
February 12, 2016
We're heading into a long, howbeit cold, weekend here in southern Ontario as Jack Frost decided to give us all a polar vortex for Valentine's day! It still makes me laugh every time I hear a weather forecast that reports a high of -5 degrees and then with a dramatic pause adds, "-25 with the windchill". MINUS 25? Why not just tell us that first? Why bait us with the promise of a bearable temperature only to smack us in the nose with something as eye-drying as a negative double digit?!
On days such as this, I'm quite happy to leave Mr. Frost cackling on the front porch and head instead to the craft table. What's more, I have the perfect excuse to get crafty! It's Valentine's day this weekend and I have plenty of dear people in my life that could use a little pick-me-up. Valentine's don't have to be big, expensive, or time-consuming. They can be as small as a hand-written note, as inexpensive as a handcrafted yarn scrap project or as quick as putting your favourite movie on the tv!
I've always felt that Valentine's day was more about being aware and appreciative of the moments of joy we have been lucky to share with those few special people in our lives. Love is enormous and multi-faceted. It's complicated and beautiful. It's never the same thing twice and it's worth celebrating!
Share a craft with your loved ones this weekend, and have fun!
February 3, 2016
Oooooh what a spring-like winter we've been having so far here in Southern Ontario! When I started my Calendar Blanket, I rather expected January to be mainly blues and purples but there are several light green squares in there signifying that we've hit the plus 5 degree mark many times! And today, TODAY, I will be adding a DARK GREEN square!! It's 10 degrees above 0 here today and I can't believe it! I just might head out for a walk at lunch :) In years to come, I'll gaze at my pretty little Calendar blanket and giggle over the "Winter That Wasn't"!
Family Day and Valentine's Day are both fast approaching too which fills my head full of cinnamon-scented gifts and doily-wrapped treats. I like to leave little goodies on the desks of my co-workers and listen to them all giggling as they arrive for the day :) I have always enjoyed the tradition of giving Valentines to my friends, it's a fun, creative way to remind them how much I appreciate their friendship!
Valentine's Day is a great excuse to get crafty! Pull out your scrap yarn and whip up some crochet hearts: Tie it on to a little card, or around a chocolate bar! Hang them on your friends' lockers! Tuck them into the kids' lunches! Or just hand them out at the office! A little crochet heart, a chocolate kiss and a post-it note with a smiley face will brighten anyone's day ;)
Aaaaand I guess I just discovered what I'm making at lunch! I wonder if I can walk and crochet at the same time?!
Stay Crafty Everyone!
January 21, 2016
A massive, potentially "crippling" winter storm is gathering itself over the Northeastern US today; expected closures, alternative travel plans and the purchase of new snow shovels is top of many minds! Sounds like the perfect excuse to stay off the roads, tuck yourself up inside and work on your latest crochet project. And don't forget a nice big pot of soup!
If you're NOT in for a long weekend of looking skyward and shaking your fist, then you might want to check out your local yarn store - I've been seeing flyers and notices all week for some crazy good yarn buys! In particular, all the holiday yarn is on sale. This is a great time of year to stock up on the red, green, white and silver holiday yarns either for use next year, or even for getting a head start right now! I've been whipping up dishcloths in a delightful "Peppermint" pattern and I can't stop!
Whatever you're up to this weekend, stay warm, stay safe and stay crafty!
See you Friday night!
January 15, 2016
As the brand new year wobbles about, still finding it's feet, various projects vie for my attention, each claiming it's own importance!
- I have a friend getting married at the end of the month and I'm frantically knitting bridal party shawls and crocheting fingerless gloves.
- a lovely skein of cotton grabbed my attention yesterday and demanded that I make some new dishcloths for the kitchen.
- new Mitred Granny Squares litter my work desk all excitedly murmuring amongst themselves in anticipation of what project they will eventually be assembled into.
- and then of course, there's snow beginning to accumulate and I HAVE to have a new hat....
Despite it's darkness and cold temperatures, a tiny piece of me loves January. Newness abounds: There is hope for a brilliant year, the promise of new projects, the excitement of discovery and the astonishing beauty of witnessing the seasons change all over again.
Trying something new is what it's all about. You just don't know what strong and beautiful stuff you are made of unless you TRY something new! It can be anything! A new path to walk, a new craft to attempt, a new tool to try out, or even a new country to visit.
As January rounds the corner and February is in our sights, I invite you all to try something different - anything at all! You might really love the results :)
See you Friday!
January 6, 2016
Happy New Year Everyone!
I hope everyone made it through the holidays unscathed and are safely back to school and work!
The New Year starts the same in the InStitches household every year: A BIG CLEAN! Sometimes the dawn of a new year makes everything a little clearer: Why am I holding on to these scraps of papers and notes? Am I actually going to finish this project or should I take it apart and put it away? Am I ever going to fit into these jeans again? How long has this dust bunny been living under my yarn cabinet?! Out with ALL of it. Once everything is cleaned, bagged up and reorganized, my favorite thing to do is stand in the middle of each room and enjoy that sense of calm and order that descends...
Until ten seconds later when everything's a disaster again!!
That said, there is something oddly reassuring about everything returning to normal. The crisp, cold winter air drives the rest of the candy cane and gingerbread scented thoughts out of my head and leaves space for new ideas, new projects and new plans.
So whether you're back to work, back to school or just going backwards, here's to us! May 2016 be full of good health, funny moments and great inspiration!
December 22, 2015
Happy Winter Everyone!
Winter is, at least in this hemisphere, the best time for yarn crafting! You can really dig into that giant blanket project (and stay warm underneath it at the same time), you can pull out the chunky, fluffy, super bulky and ultra cozy yarns and go nuts without feeling too hot or too itchy :) And when it gets really blowy and snowy out, you have every excuse imaginable to just stay in, make a cup of tea and reach for your hooks!
For me, the holidays really kick off the winter crocheting season. I have a few days to slow down, regroup and plan out what I want to focus on making in the year to come. The cold days and nights stretch out ahead of me and my thoughts turn to ski hats and mittens, new decor for the house and trying out some of the new designs I've had spinning around in my head! There is never a shortage of things to make, new crafts to try or new techniques to master! The Winter is my favorite crafting time of year :)
Work is winding down for a few days and everyone is busily scurrying around trying to cram in last minute reports, tally up the year end numbers and of course, share their holiday plans with each other! My plans are to hug as many of my favorite people as I can, eat as much of my favorite food as possible and crochet until I pass out!
Whatever your plans for the holiday, we can all look forward to a lovely long winter full of crochet and new inspiration as 2016 soars into view!
Our very best wishes to you and your loved ones!
~Jayda & the InStitches Family
December 10, 2015
The craft bug really hit me this week. In fact, I think I had a Craft Attack! It was so strong it forced me to set aside the other projects that I absolutely MUST finish before the 24th! Has this ever happened to you?
Here's how I deal with a serious case of Craft Attack: I give in.
Deep down, I know that I can finish the projects that I've committed to in the allotted time and most of all, I don't want these projects to become onerous, or dare I say it, boring. I want to enjoy the process. But sometimes, SOMETIMES you are just not in the mood to make one more pair of baby shoes, or to finish off that blanket... And I strongly believe that what you're feeling translates into your crochet, so the last thing you want to do is give a gift that you had to drag yourself around to finish.
And isn't this the exact timing that we stumble across a super adorable new craft to try? So, take a break from that project you HAVE to finish and dip into that new craft! It will fire up your inspiration and renew your energy and once you've gotten the new craft completed, you'll be ready to re-tackle that list of "must finishes"!
So what is it that got me so distracted this week? CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS! A friend asked me if I could make her one with mouse ears, so I tried...and got totally excited in the process! In fact, I was so delighted with the way it turned out, I wrote up the pattern and am sharing it with all of you! Check it out on the Workshop page and give it a try :)
Have a wonderful, crafty week everyone!
December 3, 2015
Do you work or go to school with someone who's having a rough year? Maybe they've been caring for a sick family member, had a string of rotten luck or are going through some other personal devastation that they've been quietly suffering through? I bet you answered yes! And the helplessness you feel is exacerbated by the complete lack of helpful words.
Then, may I humbly suggest a friendly yarn bomb.
A what now? A Yarn Bomb! Yarn bombing can take many forms, from the very big political protest, to the small and goofy sweaters knit for statues - but my favorite yarn bombing is the beautiful, random show of love for someone that needs a little lift.
Hang some crocheted stars and snow flakes on someone's monitor, or tape them to their locker. Crochet them a tiny desk tree and decorate it for the holidays! Are they coffee drinkers? How about a mug cozy! Do they love little toys? Then nothing says a friendly "hello I LOVE you!" like a little stuffed amigurumi... and if they're a really dear friend, drape a crochet throw over their chair :)
I like to think when we make things, they are imbued with a caring spirit and little dashes of love. It's a tangible, joyful thing that reminds the people we care for that we are thinking about them and wishing them well. And best of all, no words are needed!
Have a loving week everyone, and I'll see you Friday!
November 26, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American Friends. It's a regular work week up here in Canada but several of my colleges are taking the day off tomorrow to try and capitalize on Black Friday deals that are slowly creeping up north of the border. All week long, they've been passing around flyers, discussing strategies at the lunch table and checking and rechecking shopping apps on their phones.
I must admit, it's a little intoxicating! The lure to pop out on my lunch break and check out the local department store craft sections is pretty strong. Here at work, we're also collecting personal hygiene products for the local community support centers and their annual holiday food and goods drive, so I'll take a cruise through that section as well!
And that brings me to this week's 'feel good' moment. If you're crocheting up a storm this holiday and find yourself with a few extra warm hats, scarves or even a small stuffed toy, consider making a donation to your local food bank, toy and clothing drive, women's shelter or even the local hospital. A homemade gift warms more than just the body :)
Have a wonderful holiday and share the crafty love everyone!
November 20, 2015
My mother-in-law once famously said (after a strong cup of highly caffeinated coffee), "Everywhere I look, all I can see are question marks!" Ever have a week like that?
As the year zooms to an end (and it does feel like that, doesn't it!?) the question marks seem to be everywhere, even without the coffee. Work is heavy with year-end deadlines, entire weekends are spoken for before they arrive, the to-do list has suddenly tripled and on top of all of it, the daylight has fled leaving us with short days and lots of driving in the dark!
Demands on our time never seem to feel as great as they do at the end of the year. Last week, I touched on scheduling our crafting time as efficiently as possible and this week, I want to remind all of you to schedule in some time for yourself!
Even our favorite hobbies can start to feel onerous if we've piled too many demands on ourselves. We want to make every deadline, finish every gift and reply 'yes' for every invitation but we run the risk of burning out and getting sick...just in time for the holidays!
So this week, I invite you to schedule yourself an hour to do...nothing. At this busy time of year, doing nothing for a whole hour sounds downright wasteful and completely indulgent, doesn't it! Of course, when I say nothing, I mean, take yourself away from all the things that might tempt you into doing something productive. Brew yourself a warm, non-caffeinated cup of something, grab that book you've been meaning to start (or finish) and just take an hour to escape the deadlines and demands. You'll thank yourself!
Have a healthy week everyone!
November 12, 2015
The edge effects of a monster storm are blowing through Southern Ontario today and with every gust and whistle in the eaves, I feel more and more encouraged to stay in and crochet!
The list of homemade gifts is growing with every moment that passes so I thought I would talk about how to best budget our time for ensuring all those lovely things on the list get made!
First of all, if you've been doing this for a few years (or more) you'll know the best thing to do is to start as early in the year as possible! Traditionally, I begin my gift building in August. Yes, August! If it's too hot, I start with all the small things on my list. Every year I like to have a new little gift topper, something that everyone gets (in his or her own special colour) and the small, quick little projects are perfect for toting to the beach or just tucking into your purse when you're off to work!
But if you're just getting your list going now, here are a few neat tips:
1. Bring the tiny things with you! Gift toppers, right up to something the size of a Granny Square; these tuck in your purse (or backpack) easily, so keep them close along with a traveling crochet kit! (I don't go ANYWHERE without mine!)
2. Prioritize! Who are you going to see first? Make sure those are the gifts that get bumped to the top of the list. If you're not seeing great Aunt Maud until mid January, than her soap saver scrubbies can wait until Boxing Day to make!
3. Stuff You Have To Hide: Do you have sneaky, sleuthing, little monkeys at home? Then these are also projects that are handy to keep with you. If it's something way too big, like a Pixel Video Game Character blanket, then if possible, keep it in uninteresting pieces in a few different places and no one will figure it out!! Also, these are good projects to pull out and work on after 'bedtime' or if you have mild insomnia!
4. Be Honest With Yourself. Can you really get that entire filet crochet tablecloth made within the next 6 weeks? Probably not! Best to put that one away and start it in January for NEXT December :)
Have a wonderful week everyone :)
November 7, 2015
We've been enjoying an unseasonably warm week here in southern Ontario. I've been out for a walk on my lunch break each day, and while that does cut into my craft time, it certainly feels good to work my big muscles for a change!
As creative people, we might be prone to being a little more sedentary than our sportier friends. I love walking. Around the block, through the woods, on a track, around the mall...whatever! I know you've all heard the statistics: walking is good for your heart, it exercises all your muscles, it helps clear your head and it even helps with digestion.
But did you know that it's good for your creativity too? All those healthy side effects from walking increase blood flow to your brain and even the tips of your fingers. If you find yourself crocheting for a long time, you might find some of your muscles getting stiff: Your neck, your shoulders, maybe even some of the tendons in your arms or your hands. When you start to feel "Crochet Cramp" it's a good time to get up, do some stretching and if possible, go for a walk! Your body and your brain will thank you and your project will be waiting for you when you get back :)
Have a crafty, healthy week everyone!
October 29, 2015
We've made a change in our YouTube schedule! Instead of uploading our videos for Sunday morning, we are now aiming to have them uploaded for Friday afternoons - just in time for the weekend :)
If you're like me, you LOVE the prospect of a weekend craft project ahead of you, and after a particularly trying week, it can be exactly what you need to unwind. So now, if you're crocheting along with me, you can put your feet up and spend the whole weekend with me in the craft room!
Halloween is nearly upon us, do you have your costume figured out yet? I'll be heading into work tomorrow all dolled up...check out my Instagram account later on for a picture! And just in case you're looking for a last minute costume yourself, be sure to check out the Crochet Costume Tutorial Playlist over on our YouTube channel :)
Have a safe and spooky Halloween and I'll see you Friday!
October 19, 2015
Friday night I pulled out of the parking lot at work and headed homewards. The leaves whirled and twisted around the car, chasing each other across the road and occasionally lodging into the windshield wipers. Overhead, the clouds knit themselves together with all the grey foreboding of a winter sky.
Gratitude gushed out of me as I turned into my driveway and parked for the night. I threw open the car door and the incredible smell of wood smoke on sharp, cold air hit my nostrils. I stood for a moment and looked up and down the street. Trees swayed, shedding their leaves with each whoosh of wind. On a street normally busy with children and dogs, it was ominously devoid of activity.
The next morning my entire world was covered in snow. The wind had stopped and in it's place, enormous, fluffy flakes drifted lazily around the house. Every fall colour was sharply contrasted by bright white! Patches of emerald green grass appeared like little islands under the big evergreen trees; the Maple tree scattered it's brilliant red leaves across a fresh white carpet; the deep orange bushes in the front garden caught and held the flakes on their tiny leaves, wiggling under the new weight. Autumn and Winter had collided in a glorious art project!
While I will admit that the middle of October is far too early for snow, I certainly can't deny the big dose of inspiration it handed me! All that rich fall colour and crisp, white snow had me thinking of blankets and scarves and hats and all things wonderful and warm...and propelled me into gift-making mode!
So even if you weren't visited by Jack Frost this past weekend, if you're planning on making gifts for your loved ones this Holiday Season, it's a great time to get busy!
Have a Crafty Week, Everyone!
October 13, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian Friends! This is such a great time of year to have a long weekend and it's always nice to have an excuse to visit with friends and family, cook up a really nice meal and get outside to enjoy the turning colours of Autumn.
This year we dedicated some of that extra time to rearranging furniture and doing a BIG cleaning! It really is the little things that make a huge difference: changing around a room, shuffling your bookshelves, throwing open the windows and cleaning EVERYTHING in a space... suddenly, all of your stuff looks new again!
This small change in your immediate environment can create a huge shift in your perspective! Cleaning and organizing ALWAYS pays off, and I can't count how often I've come across something I completely forgot I owned and got excited about it all over again :)
This year, as I count my blessings and am thankful for all that I have, I include all of YOU, My Big Crafty Family :)
Stay crafty and be well, Everyone!
September 29, 2015
As I write this, the early autumn rains are tapping politely at my window as though to direct my attention to the trees outside who, like a tuning orchestra, are preparing for their annual colour parade.
I often feel like I am part of an enormous stage play and every few months, there is a scene change. The invisible stage hands dash about adjusting lights, changing props and resetting for the next piece of drama to unfold.
In this huge theatre, I work in the costume and props department. Taking my cues from the changing scenes, I redesign and redress my home and wardrobe to suit the flavor of the moment. Great acts of comedy and discourse play out around me while I scamper around finding fabrics and accoutrements that appropriately reflect the grand direction. I love my job!
This week, the Acorn takes centre stage. Each of these humble little nuts holds the enormity of an entire tree in its tiny heart. I love the potential audience of an Acorn! As it grows, what great acts will it witness?
Acorns are also a lovely reminder of the potential in us all. From something so small, often entirely missed underfoot, grows one of the strongest hardwoods in the world, The Mighty Oak!
Until next week my friends, Be an Acorn!
September 14, 2015
I love creating my own Fairy Tales…
My wardrobe has an ever-growing collection of outfits that I like to wander through the woods in, and most recently added is my new Shawl in lacy treble crochet. The woods are beautiful any time of the year, but there is something exceptionally magical about them in the fall. Drying leaves rustle crisply, squirrels charge up and down trees nattering as they go, pine needles underfoot soften your steps, and the sun-cooked scent of incoming harvest is everywhere. I imagine equal amounts of rabbits and pixies around every bend in the trail.
Sweeping through the heavily-treed paths in a long skirt and a graceful shawl, the breeze whispering in my ears and my presence loudly announced by shrieking Blue Jays – I imagine a mysterious little cottage around the next bend, with a tiny old woman in a rocking chair…and she’s wearing my shawl!
Just then, a squirrel confronts me, shaking his tiny fist, a stream of staccato notes rattling out of him and I’m shaken back to the present. I adjust my shawl around my shoulders and stride deeper into the woods….
When I wear a handmade garment, life just seems to get a little more mystical! This week, I hope you all can find a moment or two to fall into the wonderful worlds of your own imaginations… a feat made a little easier with a new shawl ;)
Stay Crafty Everyone!
September 4, 2015
As I write this, the last long weekend of the summer stretches out before me in all it's warm, breezy colourful glory!
School starts next week and it has me thinking about lessons, practice, homework and cool mornings. I figured it was time to head back to the Basics and add "Double Crochet" to the Basics Playlist! This is such an important stitch! It shows up in the traditional Granny Square, Lace Stitches and tons of other crochet patterns. Working a sampler is a great way to practice evening your stitch tension and getting so comfortable with a stitch that it becomes second nature.
So much of learning to crochet is in the easing of the physical manipulation of the hook and yarn. This is something that becomes easier with time...but like anything in life, you have to practice! I love learning new things, but every so often I go back to basic stitches and patterns and work them all over again. It keeps your fingers limber, your mind calm and improves your speed and agility. I can crochet a scarf in nice simple Double Crochet in a fraction of the time it used to take me when I first learned.
This weekend, treat yourself to a sampler! And hey, if you get carried away, you'll have a lovely new scarf to wear when things turn cool :)
Stay Crafty Everyone!
August 25, 2015
This past weekend's tutorial was the beautiful African Flower Hexagon motif. I love motifs but I don't always have a blanket in mind when I start making them. This time around, I wanted to focus on using up yarn that I had on hand, in a colour-way that I really liked and see how many I could make before I ran out of yarn! I've used up the pink, and now i have the lilac, yellow, mint and white left.
With every new motif I manage to finish, the possible projects I can work them into continues to grow. I'm planning on something small, but the possibilities stretch from something wearable like a scarf to to something three-dimensional like a stuffed toy!
That's one of the magical thing about motifs. You can work them up to use up scraps, experiment with patterns and stitches and you don't always have to have a larger project in mind. Eventually, you'll find you have a great collection of building blocks and then a whole new dimension of project building begins!
Lay them out, rediscover their patterns, texture and colour and start arranging them! You might easily put together a new blanket, something amazing and completely unique. Maybe you'll have enough to make a big sweater, new pillow covers for some tired throw cushions, a wall hanging, a shoe organizer...the possibilities are endless!
Motifs are little samplers. They're a great way to practice stitches, corners, math and complicated little hook tricks, and you'll always have something pretty and useful at the end!
Stay Crafty Everyone!
August 20, 2015
If you're wondering what happened to the Jayda InStitches Facebook page....it's gone squirrelly! I have been unable to log in for a few weeks now, and there doesn't appear to be a fix in near sight. So! If you're interested in sharing pictures and little crafty bits of inspiration with me, you can always pop into Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy.
Despite the recent heat wave, visions of scarves and hats and sweaters have been dancing through my head! It must be all the chatter about back to school, it never fails to inspire new projects and this fall finds me still working away at my little personal challenge of improving or reinventing the clothing I already have. I've been designing cute little appliques, trims and even my sewing machine has been whirring away!
We recently posted the Crochet Cherries Applique pattern on the Workshop page so make sure you print that out and add it to your project journal! I love crochet appliques, they're fast and fun projects that make cute little accents for favorite clothes or bags. I like to include them in posted letters and scrapbook projects too - and don't forget about back to school projects! If you're kids have binders or backpacks to decorate, whip them up a few little appliques for their own crafty adventures :)
And speaking of adventures...it's the middle of the week, it's a hot, steamy day and inspiration is just around the next corner...and I'm off to find it, hook in hand!
Stay Crafty Everyone!
August 6, 2015
Ever get attacked by the "Spring Cleaning Bug" in the middle of summer? I had a different sort of inspiration strike me this week and I found myself stealing away to my craft room, not to make something new, but to sort out everything I already had! With a light breeze blowing in the window, carrying with it the sounds of happy neighbours, I busied myself sorting half finished projects; rolling floppy half-used skeins into balls; rearranging décor and I even cleaned off my craft table! The sense of peace and contentment was palatable and now every morning this week before leaving for work, I've stolen a quick glance into my creative space to just drink in the organization and new arrangements.
I speak about it frequently, but I can't stress (especially to myself!) enough how important organization is to the creative process. Obviously, when the bug strikes, we don't want any obstacles between ourselves and our creating, and cleaning up after a project - or worse, half way through one - can be draining! You might remind yourself of a petulant child who's just been asked to clean up his or her room *giggle*. BUT! Taking time once every so often (and I do mean 'often') to sort and tidy and organize will actually help inspire your creativity in the long run. Given the right mood, it might even be pleasurable ;)
Here are some great ways to remain organized:
1. Keep a project journal! 2. Sort your yarn by colour, type, material OR remnants 3. Keep complete projects that you're especially proud of out in view 4. Keep your work space clear of anything that doesn't pertain to the immediate project at hand 5. Fold or roll up any fabric you no longer need and store it away as soon as you're done with it (fabric can take up a lot of space when it's just lying around) 6. Vacuum! 7. If a scrap is no good for stuffing and it's really too small to keep, toss it! 8. Keep a few clear mason jars for odds and ends that have no home of their own 9. If you've got materials that are still good (yarn, beads, fabric, thread etc.) but you're tired of it and it doesn't inspire you, bundle it all up and have a materials swap with your crafty friends! It's like free shopping :) 10. Donate, gift or sell any finished projects that you're fine parting with to make room for new ones!
If you've hit a creative wall and you feel like your inspiration has left you, I recommend a big cleaning of your work space. It will look like a big, beautiful, blank canvas and that inspiration will come flooding back in no time!
Until next time, Stay Crafty!
July 22, 2015
T'is the season for vacation and everyone and everything seems to be taking some. As many of you know, the video camera we use belongs to my dear mother-in-law and she went off on an awesome summer adventure with it, so the Jayda InStitches Show took this opportunity for a short break too! (we're also currently camera shopping ;) but a break is always a good thing! :)
So this week I'm off in search of more inspiration. We're surrounded with tremendous excitement with the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games currently in full swing; our forests are out in full summer lushness; the fabulous Great Lakes are warming up; the camping gear is calling and the smell of bonfires is in the air. Everything from a road trip to a patio get together is on deck!
Wherever you find yourself, look for the beautiful details. These are the seeds of inspiration! How do you up your crochet game? Don't be afraid to get adventurous! Is that a strange new ball of yarn?, try something with it! Ever tried crocheting with common string!? What about plastic shopping bags!? If you're out and about and inspiration strikes, write down your ideas, you never know when they'll come in handy ;)
So while I look forward to tales of my mother-in-laws big adventure, I'm going to head out and find one of my own :) To everyone in the big crafty family, stay safe, have fun and be creative!
July 12, 2015
Have you ever come across a road, possibly one in your own backyard, that you swear you'd never really seen before? How many times do you actually take it? That's what we did this weekend when our trip to the beach didn't quite work out as planned! Instead, we found a near-magical hideaway in the woods on the very same lake as the beach we'd tried to visit. There were long stretches of wooden boardwalks, huge shady trees, tiny intimate little sandy beaches, perfectly placed picnic tables and a fantastic cacophony of singing birds, frogs and chipmunks! We made the decision to explore and it really paid off (to watch the whole story unfold, check out the Adventure & Tutorial on my YouTube channel!)
Of course, part of enjoying an unexpected adventure is having a collection of useful little tools with you. I'm not usually found without my hooks and some yarn, so whipping up a few All Purpose Utility Straps was easily done on the fly! We suddenly found ourselves hiking trails instead of lounging on the beach, and that means carrying some extra things along with you. The Straps free up your hands to hang things off your backpacks or bags, roll up and compress extra clothes, even hang up a pair of damp shoes and let them dry a bit before heading out again. The best part of exploring is being aware of what's around you, and not so much what you're carrying :)
Wherever you find yourself wandering (even if it's your own backyard), have a few Utility Straps on hand and enjoy the ease of exploring!
Stay Crafty Everyone!
July 2, 2015
Yesterday was Canada Day, probably one of my favorite holidays of the year. Nearly everyone has the day off, there are fire works, bonfires, trips to the beach, BBQs and time to do what you want to. I spent much of the day doing what I love most: CREATING!
I recently issued a challenge to myself to make 5 new pieces of clothing from materials I source in my own home. This means I can't go out and buy anything; I have to use what I already have! I got busy chopping up an old pair of my hubby's jeans, pulled out all my cotton fabric and then dug up all my cotton yarn - it's summer after all, and cotton is the way to go!
I also pulled all my old clothing out that I either can't wear, don't wear or is worn out and sorted them into piles. One pile went for donation, the stuff that was worn out got cut up for zippers, buttons, closures, patches and stuffing and the rest of it is going to be transformed! For fun, I'm going to document what I do and compile them into little visual tutorials so you can give them a try too! Upcycling is fun and a great way to refresh your wardrobe without spending any money. To check out my first tutorial, head over to the InStitchables page and check out the cute little jogging skirt I made out of a pair of ill-fitting jogging pants!
And of course, I didn't leave out my feet! I put together a simple, nifty crochet slipper sock tutorial which we put up on YouTube on the weekend and I used t-shirt yarn for this project. I love the feel and comfort of these slippers and I hope you will too!
Have fun and Stay Crafty!
June 24, 2015
Wednesdays at work can feel like a long climb up a steep mountain. You look back and half the week is behind you, you look forward and half the week is still ahead of you! What's the best way to dig down and find the strength to go on? Do a little Office Yarn Bombing!
There are a few ways you can do this (and I've tried them all out)
1. Whip up something small (like a daisy or a small toy) and leave it on someone's desk to brighten their day.
- this is especially amusing if you've made a toy and it's busy answering their phone when they return.
- I once rigged up a stuffed crocheted turkey to look as though he were repelling down my friend's computer monitor to collect the open pack of sunflower seeds he'd left on his desk...
2. If you have a collection of sweet little things you've made and no idea what to do with them, put them all in a basket, pick a charity and raffle off the entire collection for a good cause - email everyone in your office!
3. If you have a small office and only one little crocheted article, take the number of colleagues (say 30) and write the numbers 1 - 30 down on a sheet of paper, repeat it on the other side. Cut up the numbers, keeping one full half for yourself. Wander around the office handing a number out to everyone and tell them you're having a draw later. Pull a number out of your hat and announce the winning number over the PA system (or just in the lunch room if that works!) and then you can have your colleague come collect their winnings!
4. If you've got a colleague who's just returning from sick leave or vacation, "Woolify" their work station before they get back!
I've had so much fun with this in the past, sometimes I play games with myself at lunch to see just how many desks I can sneak things onto, unseen, before everyone gets back :) And miraculously, everyone's grinning and giggling for the rest of the day...
So grab your hooks, yarn and a little imagination and brighten up your Wednesday... and everyone else's at the same time!
Have fun, and Stay Crafty, my friends :)
June 15, 2015
There's something magical about waking up on June Sunday morning and hearing the rain drumming a gentle tune into the downspout. Perched in front of the open sliding door with a hot mug of tea in my hands, the day seems infinite with creative possibility. A quick jaunt around the house with the vacuum, a little dusting, dishes washed, everything's in it's place for the coming week and I hear the rain again, singing it's siren song;
"Jaaaaayda", it's watery syllables ring off the eaves, "There are heaps of yarn, and piles of cotton! Buttons a-plenty and beads you've forgotten! The house is clean and the dishes are done! Head to your craft room and have a little fun!"
And who's going to argue with that sort of suggestion? **giggle**
So my friends, the next time you wake up and the rain has possibly doused your plans for playing outdoors, take my advice:
Make yourself a hot mug of something, pull a chair up to the window and listen...chances are, the rain is singing your song ;)
June 2, 2015
Happy June Everyone!
Even though May has 31 days in it, it feels like it really flew past! This past month we've expanded our website to get you more crochet tools, crafting tips and free patterns. Among other things, we've added a new Tools page!
1. We've moved our Crochet Hook Conversion Chart to this page.
- If you have a pattern that calls for a hook you are not familiar with, possibly have under a different name, or don't have altogether, then this handy little chart can help!
2. We added a Stitch Translator between American Terminology and British Terminology
- Crochet written and taught in the English language generally uses either American or British terminology and the two sound the same but mean different stitches! - all Jayda InStitches patterns and tutorials are written and taught using American Terminology - if you're familiar with British Terminology, this could help you figure out what I'm prattling on about! - if you're familiar with American Terminology, now you can follow British tutorials and patterns and get the same results!
3. And also added a Stitch Short Hand Terminology
- most patterns use short hand in the directions to shorten up the length of the written pattern - short hand can be a little confusing since many stitches have similar names - I've included short hand terminology for American and British stitch names as they appear in most of the patterns and books I've encountered over the years.
And there is much more to come! I got some big new balls of yarn for my birthday and the idea machine is really revving up, who says Summer isn't a great time to crochet?!? Speaking of summery things, BUZZ BUZZ! I love chubby, sweet little Bumblebees (many of you might have seen my blog-style tutorial on him from last spring) and I'm happy to report that we've just added the Amigurumi Bumblebee as a FREE pattern on the Workshop page!
OH! And, just in case you can't get enough Jayda InStitches, you can now download some of our musical themes as ring tones on your iPhone! Search Jayda InStitches in the iTunes Ringtones Store through your iPhone :)
Before I go, I'd like to give a BIG Thank You to all of you that have left a tip in our Tip Jar, and supported me in my Etsy Shop. Thank you so much!
Please pop in regularly to see what we're up to here, and until next time my friends, STAY CRAFTY!
May 22, 2015
Hello Crafty Family!
May marked a great leap forward for Jayda InStitches and our awesome subscribers! Thanks to your support and donations, we were able to upgrade our website and get MORE space with which to bring you even more Free Patterns, FAQs, Tips, Photos...and well, just more of everything that we love! We are currently working hard to expand the site with all these goodies, so be sure to check back often and watch the transformation unfold!
Just in time for Mother's Day this spring, I designed a cute and simple little Tea Towel holder in Moss Stitch, which we did a tutorial on. I mentioned in the tutorial that the Moss Stitch was one of my favorite patterns because of it's simplicity and it's nifty texture. I got busy making new dishcloths in Moss Stitch that weekend and liked them so much, I wrote down the pattern and it's now the latest Free Pattern on our Workshop Page! Definitely download it and give it a try - I find the Moss Stitch dishcloth lathers and scrubs even better that the plain single crochet stitch!
Over in our Etsy shop we've been busy too! I've added two new costume piece patterns; The Bear Ears Headpiece and The Bunny Ears Headpiece, both sure to top off a costume or a sweet little Lolita outfit in the fuzziest way possible! A sweet new Baby Sun Hat pattern with our signature Sunshine Applique and an adorable little Kawaii Bunny toy pattern. If you're looking for something unique and fun to make then please check them out in our store!
Thank you, every one of you, who continue to watch our tutorials, visit our website, patronize our Etsy shop, donate and hang out with me on Facebook and Instagram! I love being creative with all of you :)
And now, it's Friday...the afternoon is stretching out, my crochet hooks are rattling about in my bag and I can feel that familiar tug of the Stitch Bug at the back of my brain.
Have a wonderful, safe and crafty weekend everyone!
May 8, 2015
Well spring landed with gusto here in Ontario, it's been unseasonably warm and we've already made a trip to the beach! Of course, warm weather means more outings which also means, more Crochet-On-The-Run :)
I've been on the hunt for different kinds of yarn lately, because I always feel that the warmer months are great for experimenting. I picked up a ball of Red Heart "Gumdrop" in Lemon, having fallen in love with it's cheerful colorway and realized that it made great baby socks and booties! You can head over to my YouTube channel to check out the tutorial I posted on that :)
One of my favorite activities is Craft Hunting in all the little villages and towns I come across during my warm weather ramblings. I love ferreting out tiny little shops and general stores that carry a smattering of yarn, frequently it's locally spun alpaca or wool, and sometimes I'll really score and find a collection of discontinued skeins! Then there are the little artists markets that spring up along beaches, main streets and in the fair grounds of small-town Ontario. I look for hand-carved buttons and beads, home-spun yarn and anything else that catches my eye... not only do I come home with beautiful, unique treasures, but I love the feeling I get when I help support local artists!
This past month we added 2 more free patterns to our website, Pixel The Toddler Toy (perfect for following along with our tutorial!) and Lacy Fan Stitch Fingerless Gloves! This is a fun and mildly challenging pattern to anyone who enjoyed our Lacy Fan Stitch Baby Blanket as it uses the same stitch pattern, but this time, in the round instead of back and forth! Thank you so much for stopping by and spending some creative time with me,
Stay Crafty Everyone!
Hello Crafty Family! If I am not mistaken, there's the sweet smell of earth and running sap in the air! It makes me want to pull out all my spring clothes and feel the sun on my face :) - which means I'll be grabbing my hooks and heading out soon for more On The Run fun! Stay tuned for more crochet on the road...
This week we're hosting a Sale in our Etsy shop, until April 6th, you can use the coupon code 2015ANNIVERSARYSALE upon check out and save 15% on everything you purchase. It's our big Thank You to all of you who continue to support us and make it possible for us to keep bringing you fun tutorials and patterns!
This past month we added another free pattern to our growing list on our website here by creating the Enderman from Minecraft. We were so excited about this because we're huge fans of the game and we know our Craft Family has many members who are big fans too! I've been getting lots of positive feed back about the patterns going hand in hand with the tutorials so I'm making plans to add several more!
We've also updated the FAQ section on our website to include a little more Granny Square talk since I get a lot of questions about putting together blankets and what sorts of materials to use. This section will continue to grow and will probably wind up with different areas as the questions continue to pour in through Facebook and YouTube! I love it when you ask questions because chances are, if you're wondering...so are a lot of other people!
A long weekend beckons as I write this, for me that means yummy food, fun with my family and LOTS of crochet! I wish all of you the same wonderful warmth and creative fun for this weekend and the rest of April as we collectively move into the warmer months ahead!
March 21, 2015
Hi there Crafty Family,
We hit 10,000 subscribers today on our YouTube channel and we couldn't be more excited! Thank you so much to all of you who have helped make this happen by sharing our video tutorials, spreading the word on social media and tuning in every week to see what were up to here at the Jayda InStitches Show!
As a special thank you for 10,000 subs, we have designed and created the Minecraft Enderman Plush Toy Crochet pattern and video tutorial. The pattern is available for free here on our website and the tutorial can be found on our YouTube channel. Please feel free to download the pattern and follow along with me in the tutorial, we'll stitch one up together! :) Thank you so very much.
And the fun doesn't stop there! For the week leading up to Easter, we are having a special anniversary event in our Etsy shop. Visit our Etsy shop between March 27, 2015 and April 6, 2015 and find a special coupon good for everything in the store all week long!
I also want to thank everyone who has donated to our tip jar here on our website. Your support means everything to us!
So here we go, spring has arrived and there is lots more fun ahead. If you haven't already joined our awesome, creative and supportive community on Facebook, what are you waiting for!!! :) We have a lot of fun there and it's a great environment.
ok, I'm heading back to the Workshop now, see you there! :)
Hi there Crafting Family!
WOW! Was February ever COLD! We broke record after record here in Ontario this past month and did our best to stay warm by keeping busy in the craft room :) For Valentine's Day this year I stitched up a sweet little crocheted envelope and a ribbon bound card to go with it! We found out that a new Minion movie was coming out this summer and I just had to design a little mini Minion to play with while we wait for opening night :) And thanks to several requests for another crochet Granny shape, I dipped into my personal bag of projects and came out with the Granny Hexagon, a really nifty building block based on the simple shell pattern. Our February Quick Tips covered "Tying in a new skein", "Yarn Hunting" and "Ripping out your work", something we all end up doing now and then!
March stretches ahead of us with the faint promise of spring near it's end. While we probably won't see any green grass any time soon, I did here a bird this morning, singing something sweet in the trees...of course, I don't speak much bird, so he or she might have been complaining bitterly about the cold! And with all this cold still hanging around for a while, you can stay tuned to Jayda InStitches for more cozy crochet, more handy quick tips, more cute little critters to play with and of course, visits from the ever-troublesome Chibis!
Thank you so much for dropping by, visiting me on Facebook, posting your pictures, supporting our Etsy store and of course, stitching up some fun with us over on our YouTube channel!
So until next time, stay warm, stay safe and Happy Crafting!
Brrr! February blew in with a LOT of snow here at Jayda InStitches and we've been busy keeping warm by making mittens and other cozy gear - check out our YouTube channel for the latest toasty tutorials! You can also check out our ever-expanding play list of Quick Tips for short, simple little craft hacks that will help you get even more enjoyment out of your favorite hobbies!
In order to combat the chill of February, sweethearts are encouraged to display their affection for each other by gifting little trinkets and sweets on the 14th and in keeping with this tradition, we have a dear little project in store - so stay tuned!
And finally, I want to send out a special thank you to everyone who has been helping to support our creative ventures here at Jayda InStitches by visiting our Etsy shop and picking up a pattern or two! It's been a total joy to share my love of crochet with all of you and with your support we'll be able to bring you much, MUCH more! Stay cozy and Happy Crafting!
There's some crazy winter weather blowing into the east coast of the Americas tonight! Sounds like the perfect excuse to stay home and crochet up some warm winter woollies! A matching Slouch Hat and Scarf sound great ;) (click the video icons below to view the YouTube Tutorials!) And while we're on the subject of warm things - we've just posted our simple little Heart Applique pattern on the workshop page! Free, fun and easy, and the perfect little detail to finish off that warm hat and scarf (hint hint! LOL) Stay safe and be warm!
Happy Crafting :)
Hi Everyone! 2014 was a busy year for us here at Jayda InStitches, and 2015 is promising to be just as wild and wooly :)
Welcome to our Website! This cozy little work space was made with all of you in mind :) Here is where you can come to find helpful information about crochet hook sizes, best yarn choices for individual projects, FAQs and other supportive information that tie into our YouTube tutorials and our Etsy shop!
We'll also post workshop and project updates, little sneak peaks at upcoming patterns and plenty of other fun little surprises along the way.
Thank you so much for visiting and come back soon!