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Tips & How To

  • Learn to Crochet With Me in 2017

    When we asked about your crafting resolutions earlier this week, I admitted something: I can't really crochet. So my plan for 2017 was to learn how.


    When I say I want to learn how to crochet, I don't mean that I want to just learn a few stitches and never think about it again. I mean I want to be a functional crocheter who can read patterns and make nice garments. Ultimately, I'd like to be as skilled at crochet as I am at knitting, but I have a head start of several years, so that might take awhile.

    The Plan

    For this series, we're going to alternate learning new skills with projects that use them. That way, you get to see how these stitches and techniques work in the context of a pattern, and you get to practice them over and over. Instead of just repeating the stitches you learn on scrap yarn, you'll end up with finished garments you can actually wear.

    Continue reading

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  • Start a Temperature Blanket in the New Year

    Temperature blankets are a hot trend (no pun intended) in the crafting world, and the start of a new year is the perfect time to begin yours! It's a fun, year-long project.

    To make one, work a row for each day in a color that corresponds to that day's temperature. You can knit or crochet them, it doesn't matter. If you stick to a simple pattern for either craft you will end up with a beautiful finished project. No need to be fancy because the colors are what matter here.

    See the sample color chart below. You can alter it to suit your own preferences if you want. In New York City, we see temperatures from frigid to sweltering at different times of the year. If your climate is vastly different, you may not need all of these categories. This was made for Vanna's Choice® yarn, and you can always substitute other colors.


    Of course, you don't have to make this for the upcoming year. Use this handy website to create a pattern for any year and location. This is great for commemorating a big life event. For example, make one for the year and location a couple was married as an anniversary gift, or the first year of a new baby's life.

    If you want to make it for yourself, try the year you were born. It's also fun to compare years. I generated one for my birth year and place as an example, and another in the same zip code for 2015. There are actually a lot of differences.

    Temperature Patterns

    You definitely want to keep the pattern itself basic and simple. You may not even want to work from a pattern, and just do plain garter stitch or single crochet. A simple chevron can add a little interest without distracting from the colors, too.

    If you'd rather have a set pattern to work from, these are good choices:

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  • Stress-Free Travel Tips for Knitters and Crocheters

    With the holidays looming ever closer, many of us are planning to travel. That can lead to tons of stress. You probably want to take a knitting or crochet project along with you so that you can unwind a little. Of course, the logistics of doing that can be even more nerve-wracking! But we have some tips for you, whether you're traveling by air or land.

    Use a dedicated project bag for easy travel crafting.


    Air Travel


    This is probably the most panic-inducing method of travel. Overzealous security agents, tiny seats, crowded airports, all of them add up to a lot of worry. But with a few tricks and some knowledge of the rules, it doesn't have to be a nightmare.

    • *Knitting needles and crochet hooks ARE ALLOWED by the TSA for flights within the US. They are also allowed on board in the UK. The rules are on your side here. That said, screening can be subjective, so experienced vary between airports and even individual agents.
    • *To avoid hassle, leave your scissors, even small fold-up ones at home or in your checked bag. If you need to cut yarn there are ways to improvise (keys can be good for this).
    • *Opt for wood or plastic needles and hooks that are less likely to appear weapon-like on a scanner, and keep circular knitting needles short. You may also want to put caps on the tips. This will both prevent your project from sliding off and be less likely to appear dangerous to security.
    • *You may also want to put a lifeline in the last row of your work, so that if security confiscates your needles, at least you won’t lose progress. You can buy some cheap ones at your destination or when you get home.
    • *If you have expensive needles or hooks, you could carry a self-addressed envelope with enough postage so you can mail them to your home instead of throwing them away in the (unlikely) event of a problem.
    • *Or better yet, leave the expensive needles at home and use something you won't miss if you lose it for any reason.
    • *Opt for smaller projects, since space is limited once you are in your seat.  Hats, cowls, and scarves are all good choices whether you knit or crochet, though make sure the ends of the scarf aren't invading your neighbor's seat.
    • *For knitters, circular needles tend to be less intrusive, even if you’re not working in the round.
    • *This is not the time to try out new skills. Keep it simple. If you want a more complex or larger project for your trip, put it in your checked luggage to work on at your destination.


    Travel by Land


    • *You may not have the security concerns, but on buses, trains, or any other public transportation, you will still have limited space. Keep your projects small and simple, and don’t elbow anyone.
    • *In a car, you will have more space, but may also have the added distraction of being with friends or family. It’s alright to bring along slightly larger projects, but it’s still a good idea to keep things simple. Chatting can lead to distraction, which can spell doom for complicated stitch patterns.
    • *If you are one of the unlucky ones (which I am) who gets sick when reading in the car, you will definitely want a very basic pattern. Think stockinette and garter stitch, or single crochet. That way, you can look up and out the windows more and hopefully stave off that headache. (Fun fact: this happens because your vision senses that you're still while your inner ear senses that you're moving, and that disagreement makes your body think it's being poisoned).

    More Tips


    • *Whatever method of travel you will be taking, one thing is for sure: keep your project in its own separate little bag. Keep that bag at the top of your carry-on or purse so you can get to it easily.
    • *Make sure you have everything you need, including the pattern. Have an offline way to access the pattern. Print it or save it to your tablet or phone (screen shots are a great way to do this). You may not always have reliable WiFi in a hotel or at a remote location.
    • *If you have little kids, you might have to keep your crafting limited to nap time. But if they're older, they can join in on the fun.
    • *Bring along a skein of some yarn in fun colors, like  Vanna’s Choice® or Color Waves®, and some plastic needles or hooks in an appropriate (or slightly larger) size. Teach them a basic knit or crochet stitch. Before long  they’ll probably have a headband or even a little scarf they made all by themselves.
    • *Pack a backup project in your checked luggage. That way, if the one you're working on doesn't pan out, or if you finish it quicker than expected, you aren't left with nothing to make.


    Crafting when you travel can be a great way to pass the time and relax a little. You just need to keep a few things in mind and it will be a breeze.

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