A Summer Update
Happy August! Today I wanted to give you a brief update of what we have been up to in the shop as well as the crafts that I have done this week.
You may remember that a couple weeks ago, I mentioned a few wools that are on sale. Now, we are starting to add these and other wools to Ebay. So far, we have added a range of yarn brands, including King Cole baby wools and super chunky yarns. We have also added Rico Dream DK and Stylecraft Batik DK to this website. Be sure to click Online Shop and have a look once you have finished reading. Below is my favourite colour in the Stylecraft Batik Elements, called Galium.
I have also started a couple new projects this week. On Thursday, I started making my own face masks. If you have wanted to do this for a while but have found it stressful, confusing or felt generally unmotivated, fear not - they are a lot easier than you would think! For beginners, I recommend buying a kit from us and using instructions from https://www.bigcommunitysew.co.uk/ as this website offers a range of variations for sewers of all abilities. Alternatively, if you have been struggling to find materials, we sell elastic, fabric, pins, needles, sewing thread and other pieces of haberdashery.
As well as this, I have started a long cardigan in one of our new wools, Rico Creative Smile. It is a multi-coloured super chunky yarn, meaning that it will come to great use in the winter months, though I have had to put it on hold for a couple days because of how hot it has been (35°C temperatures and thick wool are a terrible combination!). It costs £4.50 a ball, making it a bit of an indulgence, but an indulgence I would definitely recommend because it is incredibly soft and warm without being bulky.
That's all from me. Next week, I will be focusing on some frequently asked questions, so feel free to leave a comment, contacting us via our social media pages or using the contact us section of this site if there is anything you want me to answer.
Until next time, happy crafting!
How To Get Your Kids Crafting
Parents, I bet you are overjoyed that home-schooling is over. At last, you don't have to try and teach your children things that you barely remember yourself or fathom out digital learning. However, the kids are still with you and, now that the summer holidays are here, schoolwork is not being set to occupy them. That means you have to come up with ideas by yourself for the next six weeks, right? Wrong! Crafting is the perfect way to keep the kids busy. "What about all the mess? Surely, my kids can't craft much without our help but I need to get on with paperwork/do things around the house/knit whilst watching a box set," I hear you cry (and before you start feeling guilty for feeling this way, remember that taking time out does not make you a bad parent). Well, fear not! Below are a few ways to make crafting fun for the kids without the need for any hard work on your part.
Some children, particularly younger ones, are naturally creative. When I was younger, I fell into this category, which was great as it meant I could keep myself occupied for ages. Having said that, it did also mean that my room was loaded with drawings or other crafts that had little purpose and often ended up on the floor or stuffed in drawers and never seen again. There is an easy way of preventing this: convert crafts into hanging ornaments. I would recommend having glue (which you can buy in Avicraft, the shop left of us) and ribbon (which we sell a wide range of, including ribbons with rainbows, Disney characters or plain colours) on hand at all times, so you can quickly hang up anything that your child makes somewhere in the house or even on the Christmas tree if it is a festive craft. Not only will it be out of the way and less likely to get damaged, but your child will also feel immensely proud. Alternatively, you could frame pictures, or stick magnets onto children's crafts and decorate your fridge or freezer with them.
Another way of avoiding mess around the home is by encouraging kids to make or decorate things that are useful, such as mugs, plates, bowls, bags and plain t-shirts. You can find lots of these online. I particularly recommend the website Baker Ross, which sells lots of plain items to decorate as well as other kits and materials. Decorating things may not seem like a great idea at first because it often involves paint and we all know that paint and small children can be a bad combination. Instead, I recommend paint pens, which create only a little more mess than normal felt tips. Below is a mug I decorated when I was younger.
Giving the Kids Freedom
,One of the main reasons why I love craft so much is because of the freedom that comes with it; you can make pretty much anything if you put your mind to it. Why should this be any different for children? Of course, it is important to keep them safe, so it might be a good idea to set rules on scissors and sharpeners for younger children. However, it is so important that you do not stop your child from being creative and even a little chaotic from time to time as it can help them to be more focused and organised when they need to be and ultimately, lets them be themselves, which is important at all ages.
A safe and fun way of letting kids be creative is collage. With collage, there is very little setup and you probably will not need to buy anything new - all you need are some old magazines/books, paper to stick things onto, scissors and a glue stick. You can also use felt tips, stickers, pieces of fabric, buttons, spare yarn or anything other craft materials that your child wishes to use. With collage, kids can be as neat or as wild as they like and you can also adapt it for the child's needs by cutting pictures out for them the night before or getting scissors that are less sharp or spring assisted. As a child, I used to spend hours making collages, though collage can also be enjoyable for adults too. Below is one I started recently. It looks a bit bare at the moment but I plan on adding a few picture of things I have knitted over the years.
Keeping Kids Interested
Most of these tips so far have been aimed at children who have a natural creative flair. However, some children do not and that's okay! Whilst I was imaginative as a child, I was very literal too and loved structure (and, to be fair, that has not changed). Below are a few suggestions to give you child next time they ask what they should do:
A Final Piece of Advice
All children are different, so keep trying with craft until you find what works for them. If these tips don't help or you need something more specific, you can find instructions for lots of crafts online (both in written form or as videos). At the same time, don't feel pressured to be productive every day - all that matters right now is that you and your child are safe and happy, whether that means getting creative or relaxing in front of the TV! Just keep enjoying yourself - you've got this!
Hello again! Apologies - I have been offline for so long because of my studies, but with the summer holidays underway, I hope to start posting much more regularly again.
For today's post, I have some good news: the shop is now open! We have had to make a few adjustments to the layout of the shop and the overall experience; however, if you can come down, I definitely recommend that you do. Today was my first day back and I felt that the day was both enjoyable and incredibly safe.
The first change you need to know about is our opening times. Instead of being open from 10am until 4pm, we now close at 1:30pm so that we can clean the shop at the end of the day. When you come in, you will be asked to wear a mask and sanitise your hands. You will only be able to stand in a small area of the shop that has been blocked off with screens, which means that you will be able see and to buy anything in our stock but browsing and handling wool is restricted for the time being. Therefore, I would recommend having a basic idea as to what you want before you come in. If you want to buy some new wool but you are unsure of what you want, below are a few of my recommendations. All of the yarns below are on discount.
Another important thing to note is distancing from others in and out of the shop. Only one person/family is allowed in the shop at a time, so if you see someone in the shop when you arrive, please queue outside on the markings so that you are socially distanced from others that join the queue.
We are doing are best to make your experience as enjoyable as possible but in order to benefit everyone, we have to prioritise safety too. For the safety of yourself, us and our other customers, please stick to these and the Government's guidelines.
Until next time, happy crafting and happy shopping,
When It Feels Like All Has Failed...
Crafters, I'm quite sure you all know how it can feel when a project goes wrong. A forgotten increase, a purl where there should be a knit or even a dropped stitch can make you feel down in the dumps for the rest of the day if you let it. However, there are ways that we can make things a little bit better when they do go wrong. For today's post, I have compiled just a few of these.
Starting Something New
Starting a new project might seem like the last thing you would want to after something has just gone wrong. You may be worried that the new project will go wrong too and that they will pile up or alternatively, you may just not feel up for it. However, if you do something simple and quick it can take your mind off of the mistake. Also, you may feel more motivated if you make something for a friend or family member. Here's a present I made for a friend recently. It was relatively simple, but making it felt really good and my friend liked it too. It was made using a kit from a company called Diamond Dotz.
Organise and Bag Up Your Crafts
Unless you are naturally organised, this may not be a great one to do straight after a craft has gone wrong. However, every once in a while, you may make a mistake on a long-term project, which may make you feel down in the dumps and not in the crafting spirit for a few weeks. This is when organising your crafts can be a perfect way to spend the time and possible persuade yourself to fall back in love with your project. Organisation means different things for different people but personally, I like to have projects that I take out of the house in knitting bags (ideally ones that have compartments for the other things I need) and projects that don't leave the house on shelves, in cardboard boxes, etc. Though, to be honest, I am not the best and getting round to organising them!
Watch a Craft TV Show
Right now, there are loads of TV shows about craft at the moment, with The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC1, Wednesdays, 9:00pm or on iPlayer), The Repair Shop (BBC iPlayer) and Grayson's Art Club (Channel 4, Mondays, 8:00pm or on All 4) amongst them. Notice that, with the competitive craft shows, almost everyone makes a mistake at some point - it's completely normal, even if you are an expert! You may be tempted to watch the show thinking that they are only making mistakes because of the pressure and that you have no excuse for your flaws. Instead, think about what you are going through - perhaps you are feeling a lot of pressure yourself at the moment, particularly with the lockdown. Even if it is a different type of pressure to competitive pressure, it will still impact you in a similar way.
Alternatively, if you were not feeling pressure until before the mistake, it is not your fault either! Mistakes are healthy - if you did not make them, you would make no progress. Often, the competitors that make mistakes are able to turn them around or if not, it is usually due to a lack of time. In real life, their are a lot less time constraints, so that is less of a worry
On the contrast, when watching craft shows of any kind, pay attention to the amazing things that can be created through crafts. The possibilities are endless; you can be as colourful or as plain as you like, it can be as quick or as slow as you like, and you can use pretty much anything.
Surround Yourself With Friends
If the other tips do not work for you, this one should. Talking about how you feel is great and if you have any friends that love craft, then that's a bonus. If not, don't worry. If you explain to your friend why you are frustrated, they will probably be able to empathise; we all know how it feels to work on something for a long time, put lots of effort and energy into it, then notice that we have made a mistake. Your friends can uplift you by reminding you that things will get better soon and can distract you in the meantime.
A Final Word...
Of course, different things will work for different people, so be not be disheartened if not all this advice works for you. However, I hope that trying some of the tips or even just reading this and knowing that you are not alone helps. Also, perhaps this doesn't just apply to craft. Right now, it can be hard to feel motivated to do a lot of everyday things. Therefore it is important that we care for ourselves. Hope that you had a good mental health awareness week and are feeling OK at the moment.
A couple weeks ago, I talked a little bit about upcycling and its importance. You can make almost anything using old clothes, plastic rubbish and even furniture, and by doing so you are helping to improve the environment and also your mood! Today I will go into a bit more detail about it, giving a few ideas of things you can make in the comfort of your own home.
Do any of you have lots of spare buttons around the house? I know I certainly do - I was doing a small clear out a little while ago and found loads of them. If you are a particularly avid crafter, chances are you come across buttons every day and sometimes in the weirdest of places! So, if you are looking for something to do with surplus buttons, then look no further. Here are the instructions for how to make some button bracelets and necklaces. This craft is perfect for all ages and abilities.
You Will Need:
I made this phone sock out of an old glove. This craft is a little more complicated than the previous one, but it still is relatively quick and straightforward.
You Will Need:
Here are a few other ideas of things you can make through upcycling:
That's all from me today. I hope you have fun trying a few of these.
Until next time, happy crafting!
How To Make Mini Yarn Stars
Happy Saturday and happy Yarn Shop Day! It is a shame that we cannot have the shops open to celebrate, but it is so important that we keep social distancing. Also, if you need any wool, you can order some by clicking "contact us" on this website.
I don't know about you but whilst on walks, I have seen lots of rainbows in people's windows. Perhaps you have one in your window yourself? If not and if you are unable to go out, you can find loads online by searching "NHS rainbows in windows." I also decided to make my own rainbows with a difference: they are made of wool and lolly sticks.
Here are the instructions for how to make your own.
You Will Need:
To start, tie a knot around one of the lolly sticks with the violet wool. Double knot it for extra security then trim the short end.
Then hold the stick with the knot vertically and put a second stick in the middle of it, leaving the loop at the top. After you have done that, wrap the wool round the stick on the right, turn the sticks anticlockwise then do it again. Do this until you have one loop on each part of the cross.
To fill the middle and secure it, loop diagonally between the two sticks a few times.
Then, go back to looping round as you were before until each stick has three or four loops. It should look something like this.
To change colour, tie the next colour around the first one.
Then tie the short end of the new colour, which in this picture is on the left, to the first colour, which is on the right, and trim the two ends (but don't trim the end you are about to use!). Then continue to loop and change colours until you have done the last loop of the final colour, which should be no closer to the end of the sticks than 1cm.
Once you have finished the loops, cut the ball off, leaving an end which is a similar length to the lolly stick. Thread this through the back of the star, where the knots from other colour changes should be, and double knot it. This is what the back should look like.
And here is what the front should look like.
You may have noticed that in the first photo of the post, not all of the stars look the same. This is because I varied them in a range of ways. Here are just a few ideas of how to make it look a bit different.
If you can, display them in your window or post them on social media (don't forget to tag @avicraftwool on Instagram and FaceBook!).
Hope you enjoyed this post and happy crafting!
Top New Crafts To Try
Being in lockdown can make us feel a range of emotions: sadness, anxiety, boredom but their can still be positive moments as well. One thing that I would recommend is starting a new craft. It may seem a bit daunting to introduce something new into this already uncertain time. However, not only does it make you feel less bored but it can help you to relax and give yourself a sense of achievement. Here are my top five crafts for you to try.
If you need to buy any materials, contact us by clicking on the "Contact Us" button on the top of this website.
At number one is upcycling! Pretty much anyone can upcycle; all you need is something old and unwanted, such as old clothes, and anything you can use to convert it into something useful, such as glue, scissors and/or sewing equipment. Another added bonus to upcycling is that it is good for the environment - with climate change and pollution on the rise, it is so important that we use energy and resources wisely!
Macramé is also becoming popular. It involves weaving or tying threads together to make patterns and decorations. We do stock kits, though they are running low. If we stock up, you can also use wool and follow instructions online. I would recommend that you find a tutorial that you like before buying though as certain patterns work best with certain thicknesses of wool or thread.
3: Tunisian Crochet
Tunisian crochet can sort of be described as a mix of knitting and crochet as it uses a hook and the method is similar; however, the hook is longer as it holds more than one stitch as once. As with macramé, there are lots of tutorials available online. Here is a photo of a cushion cover made by Sharon using Tunisian crochet.
4: Needle Felting
Needle felting is when a barbed wire is repeatedly stabbed into a light, fluffy piece of wool to turn it into a felt-like consistency. We sell the wool and needles so you can follow online instructions or alternatively we have moulds, which you fill with the wool and hold in place while you felt so it forms to the specific shape. Once you master the skill you can make a range of figures. Here are a couple that Sharon and I made.
5: Pompom Making
If long projects are not your thing, pompom making is perfect for you. All you need is some wool and stiff cardboard or a pompom maker (I recommend pompom makers, which you can buy through us, as I personally find them a lot easier to work with). If you buy a maker, it has instructions on the back; otherwise, as with the other crafts, tutorials are available online.
Hope this helps and makes time indoors more enjoyable.
Until next time, happy crafting!
Is it just me, or has anyone else got stuck into a load of brand new box sets to pass the time? One of my favourites right now is Fame - I have started to fall in love with everything about the eighties and have even started a jumper inspired by the decade!
For those of you that are new to knitting, making a jumper is not nearly as daunting as it sounds - it very similar to the flat mitten in the sense that you do the same types of stitch and structure. It is just on a larger scale and consists of more parts. Below are the colours I am using for the jumper
The yarn is Number One DK. You dont have to wait until lockdown is over as we can send out, drop off or you can collect from the shop 7 days a week. Use the contact us form to tell us what you would like.
I recommend you get some. It is super soft, easy to work with and there are 20+ colours available, all of which we stock. My jumper consists of a variety of thick and thin stripes of colour, white ribs and a white collar. For those of you that are experienced knitters, it is dropped sleeve (keeping true to the decade!) and may be twisted at the back, though I have not decided quite yet. When it is finished, I'll let you know and upload a few photos.
Can't wait to write again, but until next time, happy knitting!
A Variation To the Mitten Pattern (Part Two)
Today will be the last day of the mitten knit-along (and this time I really mean it). We will start by looking at stocking stitch before casting it off and sewing it up.
Final Bits of Knitting.
Once you have completed the rib, you do the main part of the mitten in a stitch called stocking stitch. This is relatively straightforward as it uses stitches which we have looked at before, but a slightly different arrangement - instead of alternating between one knit stitch and one purl stitch across the row, you do a whole row of knit stitches for your first row and every other odd numbered row and a whole row of purl stitches for your second row and every other even numbered row. This creates the pattern shown below:
You can do as many rows of this as you like, so long as you keep track of it. I did fifty-eight rows. Once you have done this, do a short rib to finish.
To cast off, you start by doing the first two stiches of the row in the knit pattern.
Then, pull the stitch on the right needle (or left needle if you are left handed) that is furthest from the end of the needle over the other stitch and off.
After you have done that, knit the next stitch and repeat the last step. Keep doing this until you have just one stitch left in your writing hand.
Now, cut the ball of wool off, leaving an end that a couple inches longer than the mitten. Take the final stitch off of the needle and thread this end through it tightly, forming a small knot.
All that's left to do now is to sew it up!
We will be using the end that you left from casting off to sew it up. To start, hold the knitting as shown below and put the yarn through one stitch on the other side and pull it tight.
This causes it to fold with the back on the outside
To secure it, go over it again. This is called a double stitch.
Then, sew below as normal. Keep doing this until the seam is a similar length to the seam in the image below.
*Do not worry if your seam looks chunky or wonky. Mine certainly did! Fortunately, you will be turning it in the other way later and people will not be able to see it.
When you get to this point, weave the yarn through on one side until the length of the weaved section is just a little more than the thickness of your thumb.
Once you have done that, continue sewing as you did before with a double stitch to start.
When you get to the end, pull the needle through the final stitch to form a knot.
For extra security, do a double knot with the two ends before trimming them.
Finally, turn it in the other way and voilà! You have a mitten. Everyone's will vary, but here is mine for guidance. Don't worry if your stitches aren't quite perfect or if you can see the seam in places - that is completely normal! Practice makes perfect.
How do yours look? Don't forget to post your knitting on social media and tag us @avicraftwool on FaceBook or Instagram.
Until next time...
… Happy knitting!
A Variation to the Mitten Pattern (Part One)
Happy Easter! I hope you are all enjoying yourselves. It may be a very different Easter, but I hope you still do get to talk to friends and family, albeit digitally, and that you are able to have a bit of a sense of "normal" where possible, whatever that means to you.
A little while ago, I promised to do a knit along for those who do not own circular needles. Well, today, I will explain how to do the last knit along on straight needles. A lot of the steps are very similar; however, I will explain them again for those of you who could not do the last knit-along.
To cast on, you start by making the first stitch as a slipknot. Firstly, make a loop around 30cm away from the beginning of the ball.
Then, pull the strand that is not attached to the ball through it in a looped shape. This is your first stitch. Now, put this on the needle an pull the two ends to secure it tightly on the needle (but not too tightly - make sure it can move along the needle).
Then, put the needle with the stitch on into your left hand (or right hand if you are left handed) and the other needle in the other hand. Put this needle into the back of the stitch and make a loop around the back needle using the end of the wool that is attached to the ball. Then put the needle and the loop through the stitch, bringing the back needle to the front. Finally, put what is on the front needle onto the back needle, where the other stitch is.
Repeat this until you have enough stitches to go around your wrist. I cast on 52, but you can have any even number, depending on the size of your hand.
Rib stitch consists of alternating knit and purl stitches. To do this, as with casting on, you hold the needle which does not have any stitches in your writing hand, and the one with the stitches on in the other. Similarly to casting on, you start the knit stitch by putting the needle without stitches into the back of the first stitch, winding the yarn that it attached to the ball around the back needle and pulling the loop and needle through the stitch and round to the front
However, instead of putting what is on the front needle onto the back needle, you slide the first stitch on the back needle off.
Next, to purl, you put the yarn round to the front instead of the back. You then put the needle that is in your writing hand into the front of the stitch, wrap the yarn around this front needle, pull the needle and the loop through the stitch and to the back, and slide the stitch off of the other needle.
Keep alternating the knit and purl stitches until you reach the end of the row. You should have ended on a purl stitch with the stitches on your writing hand. Then put the needles into the opposite hands and repeat. Do as many rows of rib as you like, but you do not need to do a lot as it is not going to make up the whole mitten. I recommend doing 8-10 rows, but it does not matter what amount you do, so long as you write it down somewhere so that you can make both mittens even. The rib pattern should look something like this.
That's it for today. Remember, if you are having any problems, feel free to leave a comment. Also, there are loads of websites and YouTube videos out there if that is more suited to you.
Otherwise, happy knitting!
My name is Sharon the Sheep, the owner of Avicraft Wool Shop in Bromley Kent..