Holiday Gifts

I can’t make all the holiday gifts that I want to give this season. Well, maybe I could if I didn’t wait until the last minute… and I can’t talk about or share pictures of gifts I’m working on during this time either, so what to do? Well, at the bottom of the post I’ll add some links to sites with great sales going on this week since I love to shop online. Of course I solicit local businesses, craft fairs and etsy.com – but traveling to the mall this time of year is out of the question for me.

In the meantime, I can still share my “other” projects here since I usually have a knit or crochet project that I carry around in my purse. These are always quick, repetitive patterns to keep me busy during long waits/car rides since the gift knitting that I’m working on is too complicated to carry around. Here’s my latest on-the-go project:

Tamdoll's Crazy Yarn Hat #1 2016 Tamdoll's Crazy Yarn Hat #1 2016

I’m so pleased with the way this came out. I bought this “Crazy Yarn” while I was on a short trip to Cape Cod recently and fell in love with the color changes. Details can also be found on my Ravelry project page, but here’s how I made this:

Patterns used from “The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary” by Wendy Bernard*- Farrow Rib, page 66 & Double Eyelet Rib, page 77.

Cast on 102, join and work in the round in Farrow Rib stitch about 1.5”. In last row of rib, add 3 stitches evenly spaced around to have 105 stitches. Work Double Eyelet Rib pattern, bottom-up in the round for about 6.5”.

How I worked decreases, keeping in rib pattern as best as possible – I decreased every other row & worked 1 regular row in between decrease rows:
Beginning 1st decrease row with a “Round 1″ of rib pattern –
decrease 1 – *P2, K1, K2tog, YO, SSK*
decrease 2 – *P2tog, K4*
decrease 3 – *P2tog, K2tog, YO, K1*
decrease 4 – *P2tog, K2*
when there was supposed to be decrease 5, I didn’t, did this instead – *P2tog, YO, K1* & decreased in next row –
decrease 5 – *P1, K2tog*
decrease 6, 7, ….. K2tog around until only a few stitches left,
draw thread through remaining stitches & that’s it.

*Affiliate link to pattern book on amazon.com – http://amzn.to/2gKNEN1.

I really like this book because for every stitch pattern given, there are 4 variations – how to knit it flat, top down or bottom up, and in the round, top down or bottom up. This makes it pretty versatile and I can’t wait to use more of the designs. I actually won a copy of this book and am so fortunate; it would make a great gift for a knitter. Here’s a picture of the book and yarn I won during a Twitter giveaway from Blue Sky Fibers.

Ideas for Holiday Gifts with The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary book by Wendy Bernard

I can’t wait to work up the Woven Taffy Toque from the book along with the Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes, it is a luxuriously soft blend of royal alpaca and merino wool.

Because I can’t make everything for everyone – here are some of the websites where I’ve been shopping online & their weekend promotions:

  • Amazon.com* – I buy books on amazon.com year-round, and lately have found some great deals on clothes and craft related tools. Through 11/28, save $10 off book purchases over $25 with code HOLIDAYBOOK. See website for details.
  • Desigual.com – There’s a 40% off sale going on through 11/27… I was too late for the purse I wanted, it was sold out – but the selection was still very good last time I checked.
  • Emily McDowell Studio is having a 25% off sale with promo code FOODCOMA16 through 11/28. Quirky cards and some great pins make this a unique place to shop.
  • Fabric.com*-  is another site with 30% promotions this weekend. I’ll be picking up some cotton gauze for infinity scarves and a scarf/crochet project that has been simmering for too long that I’ll blog about in the future.
  • Joann.com* – always has great sales along with “doorbusters” this weekend, and only $4.99 shipping (much cheaper than the gas & stress it would take for me to drive 30 minutes to my nearest store). A good place to get fleece to sew super-quick laptop covers and winter hats for babies/kids. Also, nice cottons to make some project bags – I’ll be blogging about those one of these days.
  • Leanna Lin’s Wonderland – 20% off through 11/28 with code SHOPSMALL20.
  • Modcloth – 40% off I think that may be ending 11/27.
  • [un]possible cuts – 25% sale with promo code BFF2016 through 11/28.

*Affiliate links.

What are you making? or are you shopping? Have a link or your own shop/promo to share?

 

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Crafting Cycles

I’m not talking about trends, but personal crafting cycles: switching from projects and mediums as passions arise, working on some during stressful times, and working on others just for fun. Does anyone else jump from craft to craft throughout the year? For over a month now I’ve been working with yarn, and I have a number of knit and crochet projects going at once.

One of these projects included figuring out how to get this Pink Camo yarn to form an argyle pattern that I’d seen on Instagram. I’m used to sock yarns working into intricate patterns, but not Red Heart Super Saver multi-colored yarn, this was really surprising! I finally got it to work after many, many, evenings of crochet:

Tamdoll tries Planned Pooling with crochet and Red Heart Yarn in Pink Camo.

Variegated yarns often “pool”, but some creative folks have come up with methods to get designs like this to develop with “planned pooling”. I finally saw a pattern emerge once I used a formula provided by someone in the Facebook group “Planned Pooling with Crochet”. Here’s a link with how-to help, and a list of yarns that “work” – not every variegated yarn does.

Above, I used Pink Camo and Clover Soft Touch Crochet Hook Size H (5.0mm).

My first attempts, below, didn’t go so well until I realized that maybe the color patterning was too subtle for a beginner to attempt this with. It is interesting to see in the two pieces, that with just a few tweaks of my initial chain count – the results were very different.

Tamdoll's first try at Planned Pooling with crochet and Red Heart Yarn.

I’ve seen the argyle patterning worked into blankets, hats, scarves, vests and more. Right now I’m not going to continue with the color pooling experiment, I’m just satisfied that I was able to learn the technique -it’s sort of been like working on a puzzle and since I’ve figured it out I’m done with it for now.

Next – I have gift knit and crochet projects to work on, with Christmas and Chanukah only being a month away, I have to devote most of my free time to working on those. This time of year it’s not unusual to focus on gift crafting – but crafting cycles is something that I experience all the time.

I don’t know what it is, and I know I’m not the only one – but it may be weeks, months, or even years where I’ll focus on mostly one type of craft – then, for no reason that I can figure out – I’m off in another direction. I don’t want to give up any of my hobbies, so here I am, shifting from one to another.

Half my workspace is covered in magazine clippings and paint – the result of paper and color passions fueled by The Artstronauts Club and Ever After 2016 that occupied my spring and summer. I haven’t touched any of this in weeks. This place is a mess. And now with all my yarn projects going on, I have an urge to sew some project bags with zippers and little grommets to thread yarn through. But I can’t see a spot on my desk where to put the sewing machine at the moment. I definitely see a sewing cycle coming up. After a cleaning cycle…

Are you multi-craftual? Ever experience crafting cycles?

 

Shop for Yarn at Joann.com.

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Teach and Learn Something New

When you teach any subject, it can open your eyes to new perspectives and experiences. For years I taught knit and crochet classes at my local yarn shop, meeting hundreds of wonderful people of all ages, teaching them the basics and exploring lots of yarn projects. Sadly, the yarn shop closed earlier this summer … things haven’t been the same since then. It’s made me think a lot about the experience of teaching and what I’ve learned along the way.

A Good Teacher is Always Learning

In crafts, there will always be new skills, techniques, methods, etc… but there are people skills, and teaching skills to be cultivated also. There is always something new to learn, no matter how much of an “expert” you are. Sometimes what you learn from students has nothing to do with the topic you’re trying to instruct them in. Things that I’ve learned in classes –

  • patience,
  • to listen,
  • new perspectives,
  • and renewed excitement.

Being patient, not rushing, and knowing that every student has their own way of learning is pretty important, too.

Teach

In a knit or crochet setting, I use a lot of  verbal directions – I’ve found that often, if a student sees my hands, they get stuck on wanting to hold things exactly the same way. But in my opinion, how the needles or yarn is held is a personal preference, and honed over time. When a natural inclination lends itself, I do encourage continental knitting with left-hand yarn & holding crochet hooks overhand… but it’s ultimately not up to me.

As a teacher, being calm and reassuring is crucial, as is not being afraid to repeat yourself.

Some knit or crochet teaching methods:

  • verbally explain step-by-step instructions,
  • sing stitching rhymes,
  • use mnemonic strategies,
  • demonstrate the skill,
  • write out and draw instructions,
  • teach in groups, or one-on-one.

If a student doesn’t specifically request a particular learning style, it’s important to try many ways with them until you find what “clicks”. When you think you’re done – ask them to show you what they’ve learned – reinforcing your efforts.

There is something to learn from every person you meet.

Learn

For the most part, our daily lives don’t involve our fingers doing precise, coordinated work for extended periods … look at this from the perspective of the newcomer. Learning to knit or crochet involves using their hands in ways they’re probably not used to. Getting comfortable holding a hook or two needles, AND controlling yarn at the same time isn’t that easy, especially when combining it with memorizing the steps necessary to create various stitches.

Both teachers and students need Patience and Practice.

Keep in Mind

“Mistakes” when beginning are simply learning experiences – you don’t have to rip them out. Save your trial pieces as mementos to show how far you’ve come when you look back at them in a few weeks; use them as bookmarks; or toss them in the trash and forget about them – it doesn’t really matter. Don’t take things so seriously.

Earlier, in the springtime I started photographing / documenting the hands of the folks I’d been working with, I wish I had started sooner!

teach and learn something new tamdoll student hands see tamdollsmo on Instagram

Picture collages from tamdollsmo on Instagram.

teach and learn something new tamdoll student hands see tamdollsmo on Instagram

I thought it would be beautiful to see all these hands in different ways learning the same things. Maybe I’ll continue… we’ll see. Locals interested in a class should email [email protected].

At the end of a session, the most important thing I tell everyone is – to Practice. There’s no other way to become proficient at something, or to have your muscles learn a new skill. It works.

What have you taught? What have you learned?

 

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