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Monthly Archives: January 2013

  • Back to Basics: Fun with Felting

    Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Knitting & Crocheting Barbara Breiter joins us for her monthly column on techniques that people frequently ask about. 

    Have you ever thrown a wool sweater into the wash by accident and ended up with a matted, miniature version? That’s called felting. Ordinarily you don’t want to shrink your handmade creations, but sometimes we do it on purpose to create a dense, strong fabric.

    Unfelted Knit Branching Out Bag Felted Branching Out Bag

    Why Does Wool (and Other Animal Fibers) Felt?

    Animal hair fibers felt because there are microscopic scales on them. The scales open up when exposed to hot water and detergent; friction or agitation tangles up these scales, resulting in felt. The result is thick and sturdy, making it ideal for purses and other projects.

    Only yarn that is spun from animals or is protein-based will felt such as wool, alpaca, and mohair. Superwash wool won’t felt because, after all, the point is that it's treated to safely throw it in the washer; the treatment either mattes down the scales or removes them so that they cannot lock together. Man-made fibers like acrylic won’t felt and neither will yarn that is spun from plants such as cotton or hemp.

    How Do You Felt?

    Today, you can felt in the washer; historically people would first place it in boiling water (hence the term "boiled wool") and then create friction with an old fashioned wash board or even rocks.

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  • Knit and Crochet Patterns & Yarn Color Recommendations for Super Bowl Sunday XLVII 2013!

    Super Bowl XLVII is this coming Sunday, have you gotten your craft supplies ready? A great way to support your favorite team is by sporting accessories or clothing with the team's colors; it's even better when the item is handmade.

    There are 3 days left to make an item to show your team pride on Sunday, but you still have some time! All you need is a super bulky yarn like Hometown USA, or, a small project with a worsted weight yarn like Vanna's Choice. Besides, if you don't get to finish it in time, you can always use it for the next football season (or wear the item on Monday!).  You can knit or crochet something as easy as a cozy for your canned beverages, or a simple hat or scarf to show your team spirit.

    I thought it would be fun to share a few easy patterns that could be completed in time for the game, and colors in Hometown USA and Vanna's Choice that match the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens colors - check them out below!

    4 easy knit & crochet patterns to show your pride:

    Crochet School Colors Hat
    and Scarf Set
    Hometown USA

    Knit Hat and Scarf Set
    Hometown USA

    Knit Geaux Tigers Hat
    Vanna's Choice

    Crochet Can Cozy
    Vanna's Choice

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  • The Best Ways to Join Yarn for Knit and Crochet

    Fair Isle Capelet
    These tips will come in especially handy when doing a stranded knitting project like this Fair Isle Capelet! You can see the pattern here.

    Once in a while I will search the social media universe to find out what yarncrafting techniques our customers could use help with. During my search I came across this suggestion on Twitter:

    Kelly Black @ShortysSutures: Best ways to join yarn when knitting would be helpful. I don't use a lot of wool, felted join is my fave but not always an option.

    I thought this would be a great idea for a blog post and wanted to include tips for crocheters as well. My personal preference when joining yarn for knit and crochet is just to pick up the new strand if yarn. I like to do it this way because I don't have to wait until I get to the end of a row and it's optimal for when I am working in the round. Now the question is, "What do I do with those yarn tails and how do I keep my tension even?". Well there are a couple tricks:
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