I expect, like me, these past 2 years have disappeared into a vacuum of timelessness for you. When I talk about doing things in the past I have to remember to add on the extra 2 years when nothing happened; making everything seem so much longer ago.
My 3 great passions are yarn, dance and musical theatre so it's been a struggle to sit indoors on days that I'd booked theatre trips on.
Thankfully these are now starting to happen and last weekend Caitiknits and I saw the incredible "Burn The Floor" at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley and this weekend we are going to The Strictly Live Tour.
Many of you will know that I'm one of those irritating Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people who had to isolate for, what seemed like, 2 years. Being immunosuppressed due to my Lupus medication it's been a scary time (and still is) and I have been so grateful to all my lovely customers who have worn their masks and used the hand sanitiser when they've come in the shop,
Of course we were closed for a year and spent the time listing our older stock on eBay; we have sold a lot of wool and so have been able to survive the worst of it.
I'm asked weekly about starting classes and groups up again but, being totally honest, I'm too scared to have that close contact with people. It will take a bit of time to get used to people again. I do hope that, after Easter, we can start up a Knit and Natter in the garden like we did last year.
So, I hope that you and yours have kept safe and healthy over the past 2 years.
I read a terrific tweet from @chrischirp (Professor Christina Pagel) today about getting back to "normal" and how that "normal" must be different from pre pandemic days, If you're looking for pure science based info then you could do worse than to head to Independent SAGE, Christina Pagel, Dr Dan Goyal, Kit Yates and Professor Alice Roberts on Twitter.
To all of you who have struggled with the past 2 years, and all those still suffering I offer you my love and best wishes. I hope you have found something to distract you be it Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Apple TV or Sky (that tells you what I've been up to) or a creative past time (I will show some of my Lockdown makes another time).
Until next time
Lots of Love
Hello and welcome to the final post in this blog series! Now, this is not to say that I will be leaving the blog completely; however, I won't be posting quite as frequently anymore as for me, exam season is coming, so I'll be starting to revise for mock exams very soon.
Before then though, I wanted to look at one final craft, although it perhaps does not fit into the category of "less well-known." In fact, I would argue that sewing is one of the most popular crafts, but I wanted to look into it anyway as I (along with many others) got particularly into it last year by making face masks. Today, I'll be reviewing both hand and machine sewing.
What do you need?
With hand sewing, all you need are a needle, thread, pins, fabric scissors and your material, all of which we stock. With machine sewing, you also need your sewing machine (you can find many good sewing machines online or in sewing shops) along with the appropriate equipment for each part (e.g. bobbin, thread and sewing machine needle). Usually, a sewing machine will come with all the parts, instructions, and some threads, but it's likely that you will have to re-order some parts separately later if they break or run out.
Is it difficult?
Hand sewing is often taught in primary schools because it is quite an easy and repetitive craft. However, you are only taught a couple different types of stitch at first, so you can learn more stitches and make it more advanced as you go along. Also, whilst it is easy to learn the basics of hand sewing, it can be hard to master it and make you stitches even. However, many people like this as it means they have to focus on it, which can be very relaxing.
On the other hand, I didn't learn machine sewing until I started secondary school (though it was offered as an optional club for older students at my primary school) as it is a little harder and faster. Threading the machine up can also be difficult, though this depends on both the machine you have and the clarity of your instructions. Similarly to hand sewing, machine sewing is very versatile in the way that it can be used to make a variety of different things and can vary in difficulty depending on what you are trying to do.
Is it expensive?
Hand sewing is probably one of the cheapest crafts, as you can buy material relatively cheaply (or even upcycle clothes) and not a lot of extra equipment is needed. With machine sewing, buying the machine can be expensive but many people have sewing machines at home that have been passed down through the generations, so if you are one of those people, learning to sew on that would not be much more expensive than sewing by hand.
How did you learn?
So, as I mentioned earlier, I learnt the basics of both hand and machine sewing at school and also at home. However, recently, I learnt how to machine sew through online guides. When it comes to making the masks, the website I used was The Big Community Sew. I loved that this site had a range of both written instructions and video tutorials.
As for hand sewing, I recommend getting kits to learn how to make things such as small toys, as these often use clear, visual instructions and are quick and easy to make. We stock a range of small sewing kits here. Also, whilst we don't currently offer sewing lessons, there may be more classes available when lockdown restrictions end, so it may be a good idea to try one of those too.
Which is better, hand or machine sewing?
For me, this question is really hard to answer as it's down to personal preference; however, I think that I would have to say that my favourite is hand sewing. I like the fact that it's relatively slow and simple and I can pick a project up easily with little setup. It's nowhere near as loud as machine sewing either, which is a bonus!
However, I do love sewing with a machine as it's a lot more versatile and useful. With a sewing machine, you can make something very quickly too. So, if you prioritise speed and versatility, sewing by machine is probably better for you.
If you're not so sure which category you fall into, why not give both a try and see which you prefer?
Would I recommend sewing?
Without a shadow of a doubt, I would recommend sewing, as sewing is so versatile and varied that there is something for everyone, whether you are someone who wants a quick hobby or something slow and relaxing to wind down to. It's also such a useful skill - I'm sure we've all had buttons fall off our clothes and stitches coming loose before, so knowing how to sew can be very handy in those moments.
That's all from me for a little while, though I'll still be updating you all with current projects and what's going on at Avicraft Wool. If you want more updates from Sharon too, why not follow @avicraftwool on Instagram or Facebook?
Until next time, happy crafting!
Hello and welcome back to the blog! In our last post, we looked at macramé, going through some frequently asked questions about it and some of the things that macramé can be used to make. Today, we are going to do something similar to explore needle felting. I haven't done needle felting in a little while but I really love it and want to go back to it soon, so I thought that it would be a good craft to look at.
What is it?
Needle felting is a craft technique where you use a barbed needle to thicken wool roving into a stiff felt texture. In the process, you can shape it to form different ornaments and decorations in cute shapes such in the shapes of animals and people. Here is a photo of a needle felted rabbit.
What do you need?
All you need is a barbed felting needle, wool roving (light, unspun wool) and a felting mat or piece of foam to place your work on. However, you may also want to use other materials such as stencils depending on what the pattern/instructions say you need. We stock all of these apart from pieces of foam, which you can buy at Avicraft model shop next door to us. Here is a photo of some of the materials that we stock.
Is it difficult?
Personally, I don't think needle felting is too difficult as it's a repetitive action - I first learnt when I was about 10 years old. However, like with macramé, it requires a lot of patience. Also, it's important to pay close attention to ensure that you are not felting it too much or too little and making it uneven. This part can be particularly tricky!
Is it expensive?
Overall, it's very cheap in comparison to other crafts. What's more, you don't need a lot of space to do it either, so there's no need to buy an extra large table and do a major clear out before you start. However, the needles can break very easily, particularly when you are new to the craft, so it can be a little expensive at first.
Is it dangerous?
Another thing to note about needle felting is the fact the the needles have to be barbed, meaning that it is pretty sharp and painful if you accidently scratch or stab your fingers with it. Therefore, it really is important to work slowly, particularly when you first learn. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend needle felting to young children. However, you can buy leather thimbles, which you put on your thumb and index finder to protect them.
How did you learn?
I learnt how to needle felt quite a while ago through face-to-face classes. I would recommend going to a group class when the lockdown ends if you can as this is a great way to learn tricks of the trade and make like-minded friends. Alternatively, there are many kits available and video tutorials online to help you if you want to learn at home. One YouTube channel that I would recommend is Felts by Philippa. Many people, myself included, love the way she talks through instructions and enjoy the variety of videos available on her channel, including how-tos, reviews and time lapses (sped-up videos of a project being made).
Would I recommend needle felting?
I absolutely would recommend needle felting to anyone with spare time and patience as it is a very affordable craft and is simple and soothing to do. Next time, I'll be exploring sewing, both by hand and machine. But, until then, happy crafting!
Hello and welcome back to the blog. It's crazy to think that we've nearly finished this craft and mental health blog series! Over the course of around six months, we've looked at styles and inspiration and focused in on knitting and crochet, but now, I thought that it was time to take a deeper delve into the lesser known crafts. As part of my Duke of Edinburgh award, I decided to learn macramé, so today I thought I would give an overview of the craft and answer some frequently asked questions.
What is it?
Macramé is a type of craft which originates from traditional Arabic culture but has recently become popular across the world. It involves weaving and knotting cords or ropes to form patterns which can be made into items such as bags, belts, wall hangings, plant pot holders, jewellery and many other garments.
What do you need?
The type of equipment you will need will depend on what you are doing, but you will always need cord (we sell both cotton and thicker macramé cord) and something to hold it on e.g. a wooden dowel or D ring, both of which we have in stock at the moment. Also, you may want a flat clipboard-like surface such as piece of wood to peg it on to and foldback clips to help with tension, which you can get from many places including Avicraft next door to us. Arguably though, the most essential thing for macramé is instructions; whilst it is totally possible to make up your own pattern, it is very useful to have instructions as these can show you how to do a wider range of knots and will also tell you what other specific equipment you need.
Is it difficult?
Personally, I do think that macramé is a little difficult, but not a difficult as some people may think. The only thing about it that is challenging is getting the tension of your knots right, so that they are not too big and loose or tight and small. However, the actual knots themselves are not difficult. Therefore, whilst it may be a while before you end up making perfectly intricate garments, it will be no time at all before you are able to make something.
On the other hand, macramé is a long process. As it is quite small and intricate, it does take a long time to make something and it requires some patience. Therefore, if you are looking for a quick hobby, perhaps this isn't the one for you.
Is it expensive?
Macramé is a little more expensive than some other crafts because along with the yarn (which you need very large amounts of in order to do the knots), you may also need different equipment in order to improve tension and make it look neat as well as to make it a little easier. For example, I also bought cord holders, which allowed me to wind up all the cord at the bottom that I wasn't using so that it didn't get knotted up. Having said that, I didn't make many other extra purchases and whilst I think I may have been able to make it a little neater had I more money and space, I don't think that it would have had that great of an impact.
How did you learn?
Because of the lockdowns and the fact that nobody else in my family does macramé, I decided to teach myself it. I used a combination of YouTube videos, websites with images and books with diagrams in order to learn and once I had found the right ones with the clearest images and explanations, it wasn't too hard.
What did you make?
Over the course of three months, I made two garments: a small belt (which was very messy as I struggled to maintain the right tension at first) and a plant pot wall hanging. Here are photos of them.
Would I recommend macramé?
If you not looking for a new hobby to jump into and focus on at the moment, I perhaps wouldn't recommend starting macramé but apart from that, I really recommend it! I loved having something to focus on and it was really satisfying to teach myself and watch my progress. I also love how macramé looks as well - the texture of it is so intricate and pretty!
Next time, I'm going to look at needle felting, another less well known-craft. Until then, happy crafting!
Casting Off: Knitting vs Crochet
Hello and welcome back to the blog! I would wish you a happy summer, but the weather is pretty miserable at the moment. Then again, it's perfect weather for cosying up with a project. But which type is better: knitting or crochet? It's virtually impossible to come up with one definitive answer, but today I'll look at different aspects of both knitting and crochet and see which do better for each.
Easier to Start: Knitting
A lot of people argue that knitting is easier to start, as all it involves is putting your needle into a stitch which is already on a needle, looping around that and pulling that through. With crochet, the motion of putting the hook into the stitch can be a lot more fiddly at first.
Easier to Master: Crochet
Having said that, with knitting, there are many more techniques to learn afterwards in order to be able to make something, including purl stitch, casting on and off and increasing and decreasing. With crochet, there are a few similar things to learn but most of these use movements which aren't too different to the main crochet stitch.
Amount of Yarn: Knitting
Of course, this varies; if you are going to be making a crochet lace garment, you will end up using far less and if you are making your knitting extra bulky, you will use more. However, as a general rule of thumb, crochet uses a third more yarn than knitting does. So, if you are looking for a slightly cheaper craft, knitting may be your best option.
If you're looking for a quick project, crochet may be more for you as it is generally the quicker option. However. this speed comes from experience and practice, so people who do more knitting often find that they get pretty quick at it. In general though, crochet grows that little bit quicker, not only because the technique makes it bigger but also because it's less fiddly once you've got the hang of it, so you're not slowed down by that.
With both knitting and crochet, it is relatively easy to add some stripes. However, with knitting, you can do fair isle very easily, whereas with crochet it is a little harder because the stitches lean slightly. Below is a photo of some colourwork I have done with knitting recently (though I had a bit of an issue with the lighting so it's not the best of photos). Whilst I have a basic idea of how I would crochet it, I feel that it is much easier to knit.
In general, portability is more based on size; however, if you take your knitting project out, you run the risk of dropping stitches, which can be very fiddly to pick up. With crochet, you hook may come out and a little may come undone but this is much easier to rectify.
From this point on, I'm not going to declare a winner for each categories as these ones are more down to personal preference. The texture of knitting is much more uniform and smooth and it drapes very well, so if that's what you prefer, knitting is the best choice. However, if you would like something a little more dense and textured, crochet is for you.
With knitting, the direction is very logical - you just continuously go back and forth or occasionally in the round. Some people find this soothing, but for others this can be a little boring. On the other hand, crochet can be back and forth, in the round, in a 2d shape or in a range of other dimensions which can be used to make more 3d shapes.
As I said earlier, it's hard to come to a definitive answer, but personally I do prefer knitting. I started when I was young and then learnt the more complicated stitches over time, so I've got very familiar with knitting and have got pretty quick at it too from the experience. I also like the fact that it uses a bit less yarn as I like to make my projects oversized but don't have enough money or yarn to crochet tons of extra-large jumpers! I also love the texture and logical direction of knitting. Having said that, I really love the range of shapes that can be made when crocheting and the fact that mistakes are easier to rectify. If you are not sure which appeals more to you personally, I would recommend giving both knitting and crochet a try as different people gravitate to different types of craft for a range of reasons.
In our final section in this series of blog posts, I will be looking at some types of craft which are talked about less, but until next time, happy crafting!
Hello and welcome back to the blog! Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I am a huge fan of European culture, and the concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-guh or hue-gah for those who are wondering) is something that I absolutely love. Hygge is a Scandinavian concept which means "cosiness." It focuses on finding the perfect environment for comfort and serenity and is quite similar to mindfulness, although it is a little more sociable and does not involve any specific exercises or tasks. Think of Christmas, when you are sat with loved ones enjoying quality time, perhaps with candles, hearty food or a warm blanket; this is the perfect example of hygge, and people in countries such as Denmark and Norway will try and have moments like this as often as they can. Personally, I think it links really well to crochet as craft is often associated with warmth and can be easily done both alone and with others. Today, we will look at a few of the key aspects of hygge and how this can link to crafting.
Whilst you don't want to be in the dark, I personally believe that low lighting is much more serene. You may want to use scented candles or possibly a fireplace, though if you do, please make sure that you keep your yarn well away from the fire! If that sounds a little too risky, it may be better to install some less bright lights instead. In this weather, you could even knit outside in the evening - there is often a stereotype that hygge is only for the winter but the sunsets and warmth of summer can also be incredibly good for hygge too.
Your Hygge Space
Your hygge space is very important. Often, hygge will be done in a small area of the house (called a hyggekrog) containing many cushions, blankets and a variety of comforting textures. It doesn't matter exactly where this is - it could be near a window, by the TV or even in the kitchen - so long as it is comfortable to sit in. As mentioned earlier, if you have a fireplace, that's a bonus, and wooden furniture is also very popular for hygge but it's totally up to you - whatever makes you feel calm and cosy.
Food and Drink
Hygge is all about comfort and this includes comfort food. For many Scandinavian people, this will be native food, such as Danish smørrebrød (open-faced rye sandwiches) or Swedish meatballs but hygge food is any sort of treat, so long as it isn't too fancy. For example, a slice of cake or a bar of chocolate can be incredibly soothing. When it comes to savoury options, try something warm and rich, such as stew with homemade bread. Pair that with a coffee, tea or hot chocolate for ultimate hygge.
It is up to you as to whether to be hygge by yourself or with others. Often, hygge is done with just a few others such as immediate family and friends, meaning that it could be good to do with people in your household during lockdown. However, unity and equality are key aspects of hygge, so it's important to share tasks and ensure that no one person dominates the conversation. And whatever you do, don't take your "hygge" time as time to talk about Brexit or Coronavirus!
Your Crochet Project
Knitting and crochet can both be hygge; however, the reason why I think that crochet is a little more hygge is because crochet is often bulkier, meaning that it is incredibly warm and comforting. Personally, I think that when it comes to choosing a hygge project, chunkier is better; any super chunky yarn such as "Creative Smile, " "Lazy Days" and "Stylecraft Special XL" or anything soft is perfect. As for what to make, I have been looking at hygge crafts on Pinterest and some of the main suggestions are blankets, cardigans and wide scarves, though making socks and hats can also be pretty hygge. In order for it to be hygge, you will probably want to pick something relatively simple and familiar to avoid any frustration from mistakes. There are even some knitting and crochet pattern books specifically for hygge projects - here are just a few examples.
That's all from me for now. Next time, I will be rounding off by looking at both knitting and crochet and decide which is better once and for all. Until then, happy crafting!
Crochet: What Next?
Hello and welcome back to the blog! Last week, we looked at how to make crochet tension squares as well as a few of the things that you can use tension squares for. Whilst these can be fun, they can also be a little tedious at times and also, chances are, if you are making a tension square, you probably planning on making something else once you know your tension, so today I'll be looking at just a few of the projects you may want to try next.
1. Granny Square Blankets
I know what you're thinking - after talking about moving away from squares, why have I suggested making squares as a more advanced project? Well, classic granny squares are very different; you start with a circle then do clusters of treble stitches with chains in between in a specific pattern to make sides and corners, meaning it is a little more challenging but still very therapeutic. Also, because it starts in the middle, you can make it whatever size you like and use just one square rather than multiple to make your blanket. Last week, I finished one that I had started using Stylecraft Dreamcatcher in Tree of Life. Unfortunately we are out of stock in this colour but we stock many of their other shades and a variety of other colourful yarn cakes, which are super fun for making granny squares out of. Here is a photo.
2: Cases and Bags
Many beginner crocheters next move onto making phone cases and tote bags, make out of rectangles which are folded in half then crocheted together at the sides. Again, these are very simple but are a great way to learn new stitches and are also very practical. Then, you can also start to learn shaping from making bags with rounded bases. As crochet is often a little more bulky, I would definitely recommend crochet bags over knitted bags as when done in the right yarn, they are very good at holding their shape.
3: Shawls and Cowls
Because of the structure of crochet, crocheted fabrics can be very warm, making them perfect for things such as scarves and cowls. Alternatively, if you want to do something a little more challenging or are looking for something summery, you could try lace crochet techniques and make a light shawl. Once you get into the world of crochet blankets and shawls, you then may want to start a crochet-a-long, which is a pattern released (often on social media) in stages for you to do at the same time as many other fellow crocheters. People will often share their versions of the garment along the way and it can be a great way to learn new skills, get inspiration and connect with the community of crafters.
Personally, one of the first things that I think of when I think of crochet is toys, particularly with the rising popularity of amigurumi, the Japanese art of knitting and crocheting small toys such as animals or sometimes cartoon characters. These not only look adorable but are also pretty quick to make, and you can find many patterns and online guides for a range of skill levels. We stock many amigurumi pattern books from Rico along with the recommended wool, so if toy-making is your thing, I would definitely recommend checking these out. Below is a photo of some of our amigurumi books.
You may think that it is much better to knit jumpers and cardigans than to crochet them but that's not necessarily the case. Whilst I don't have much experience with crochet jumpers, I do know that there are many patterns for them available online as well as for lace tops, dresses and even bikinis. These use a wide range of techniques and you can find so many different styles of pattern and garment, so there is something for everyone.
One thing that is really important to remember when learning a craft is that you are doing it for you. Even if you are crafting for someone else, it is meant to be for your enjoyment; so, if you see something you like, give it a try! Chances are, you are more likely to get it right if it is something you want to do, so if you really want to make a jumper or a toy, as long as you find instructions that make sense for you there is no need to make a ton of shawls and bags that you won't enjoy beforehand. Making mistakes is inevitable in your project but you will probably be able to push through them a lot better if you are making something you want to make. For example, I recently had to undo something that I had nearly finished and start over again because I didn't have enough yarn and had made it way too big. At first, I was very frustrated because of how close I had been to finishing but now that I have started again, I'm actually enjoying making it because I picked a pattern that I was really drawn to.
Next time, we will be looking at a Scandinavian concept linked to mindfulness that I really love called hygge and how crochet can be linked to this. But until then, happy crafting!
Crochet: Basics and Tension Squares
Hello and welcome back to the blog! Now, you may be thinking that the title of this post looks familiar; that's because I did something very similar just over a month ago on how to knit tension squares. Today, I will be looking at exactly the same, but for crochet (apologies if this is a little basic for any crocheters reading this!) and I will also be showing you some of the things that you do with tension squares instead of just undoing them or throwing them away.
Step One: Setting Up
As I mentioned in my last post, the things you need for crochet are not that different to your knitting equipment, but here is a list of what you will need as a reminder:
Reading a tension square is the exact same in knitting as it is in crochet. Below is a picture of the ball band I will be using (in my demonstration I am using Stylecraft Special Chunky in Saffron). This tells me that I will need a 6mm hook and will do 20 rows containing 14 stitches in order to create a 10cm by 10cm square, though yours may require to use a smaller hook and do more stitches and rows or a larger hook with fewer stitches and rows. First, I will be creating a chain of 14 "stitches."
Step Two: The First Chain
Just like in knitting, the first stitch in crochet is made by creating a slip knot. To do this, create a loop about 15-30cm away from the end of the yarn. Then, pull a loop through this and keep pulling until the knot is secure. Finally, place it on the hook and pull the two strands so that the loop fits around the hook securely but not too tightly.
Then, to create the next stitch in your chain, hold the hook in your dominant hand (for me, this is my right), wrap a loop of yarn around it and pull the loop through your first stitch, allowing it to come off the hook and leaving just one new stitch on. Do this repeatedly until you have reach the number on the bottom of the tension square diagram of your ball band - in my case, that means repeating it 14 times in total. Once you have done that, you are ready to move on to the main rows.
Step Three: The Main Rows
Unlike in a knitted tension square, you only do one type of row, so once you have done this section once, go back to this heading and repeat again until you reach the number on the side of your tension square diagram (for me, that is 20 rows).
First, do one extra chain. Then, put your hook through the chain closest to the hook (this can be a little fiddly at first and was very difficult to photograph but you should be going through two loops that are touching and that look a little bit like a section of a plait). Then, wrap a loop around the hook and pull this through the two loops you have just put on, leaving two stitches on your hook. After that, wrap another loop around your hook and pull it through the remaining two stitches. You should now just have one stitch on your hook again. Repeat this until you have got to the opposite end of the row, then turn it around, ready to repeat and start your next row.
You may notice that at first, it is difficult as your chain my be curling quite a bit. This is normal but it should eventually straighten out a little after you have done a few more rows.
Step Four: Measuring
Measuring your crochet tension square works in the exact same way as measuring your knitted tension square; the measurements you need are the height and width.
If both the height and width of the square are smaller than 10cm by about the same amount, it means your tension is tight. Experiment by making tension squares with a larger hook. Alternatively, having both measurements over 10cm by about the same amount indicates you have a loose tension, which can be resolved by reducing the hook size. However, it can sometimes be a little more complicated. If your width is fine but the height is too short or long, you may want to do more or less rows when you do the pattern. If the width is the problem, you could do a longer chain if it is too narrow or a shorter chain if it is too wide. In my case, both the measurements are too large but it is less wide than it is tall, so I would experiment by decreasing my hook size and possibly doing fewer rows.
It is quite easy to make the mistake of thinking that tension squares are too small to be of any use; however, you can make some great things out of the tension squares that you make across your projects. As almost all tension squares are 10cm by 10cm, they are very versatile and can be used to make a range of things including:
Next time, I'll be going through some of the things you can learn to crochet once you get bored of joining squares - don't get me wrong, I absolutely love knitting and crochet but when you make things out of squares, you do end up sewing in a few billion ends!
Until then, happy crafting!
Crochet: What's New?
Hello and welcome back to the blog! Today we are going to be starting our new section all about crochet. I know that crochet is on the rise right now - many of my friends are learning or want to learn how to crochet. However, there can be some misconceptions about it as sometimes, people get crochet and knitting confused - after all, both of them are yarn crafts with similar benefits and techniques. However, there are some key differences can help you differentiate between the two and deciding which one you prefer. So, I thought that I would start this section by looking at some of the key differences between knitting and crochet.
1: The Appearance
Sometimes, people may look at something that I have knitted and call it crochet or vice versa. For some more experienced knitters and crocheters, the difference between knitting and crochet is very obvious, but for someone who has never done it before or is new to it, it can be a lot harder to tell. However, with crochet, there are usually more holes than in knitting. If you look at a crochet tension square, you will see lines of raised stitches with thin dips between each row, whereas with a knitted tension square, you will either see one side that is smooth and has a fishtail pattern and one side that is more bumpy (stocking stitch) or lines of flatter stitches with thinner lines of bumps in between (garter stitch). Here are a couple photos - the left photo is crochet and the right photo is knitted stocking stitch.
2: The Equipment
Most of the time, the equipment used for crochet is very similar to what you use for knitting; for example, you will always need yarn, scissors and a tape measure. However, instead of using two needles in both hands, you will need just one crochet hook, which you will hold in your dominant hand. The same sizing applies to hooks as to needles (apart from the fact that your natural crochet tension may be different to your knitting tension, meaning that you may have to increase or decrease your hook size slightly) and just like with knitting needles, you can also get crochet hooks in a range of materials.
3: The Number of Stitches
If you read the post explaining how to knit or you are a knitter, you will know that you keep all the stitches on the needle at all times and do not cast off a stitch until you have finished with it (most commonly at the end of a project. However, with crochet, you will only have one stitch (or two at most) on your hook at a time. Then you work with that stitch (I'll explain in more detail how to do this in the next post) and move on the next one. The action creates something that is a lot like casting off in knitting, but in crochet, you will keep going back into the stitch, working on it, moving on and "casting off" in every single row, not just the last row.
Knitting is always either back and forth (doing a row then turning the work to do another row) or in the round (using circular or double pointed needles to keep knitting without turning the work and going in another direction, forming a tube). In crochet, you can do both of these but in addition, you can go around edges of the project to form a bigger square, a 2D circle or other cool shapes which are much more difficult in knitting. I have also seen crocheted 3D mathematical models which I think are super cool - if you want to take a look, just search up "crochet curvature" online and look up images. For this reason, some people find that crochet is more versatile and therefore is better for them.
There are many exceptions and overlaps with this point but more often than not, crochet is more delicate and stiff, meaning that it is great for toys and blankets but because of its bulkiness, it isn't often used in jumpers or tops, particularly not ones that are meant to drape. Having said this, as more stitches and combinations of stitches have been discovered, there has been a rise in things such as crochet sock patterns (of which there never used to be any of before) and there are plenty of patterns for knitted toys on the market too. In my opinion, it is good to play around with both knitting and crochet to help you get an idea of texture, technique and personal preference.
That's all from me for today. Next time, I'm going to be explaining how to crochet a tension square and show you some of the ways to you can work old tension squares and scraps of yarn into projects. Until then, happy crafting!
Casting Off: Final Knitting Tips
Hello and welcome back! Today is the last post on the knitting section of this blog series, so I thought I would share a few final tips on knitting as a little summary. Here are my top ten tips.
10: Rewind Your Yarn
This one may sound a little strange but I often find that certain types of balls of wool come apart really easily then end up forming knots. So, I almost always rewind yarn before I start it. You can get yarn winders, which are essential for rewinding skeins, but as I don't use skeins a lot, hand winding works well enough for me.
9: Ensure You Have Everything
When I was new to knitting, I would often start things without any pattern, equipment or even a basic idea as to what I was doing. This wasn't a major problem but I did sometimes end up wasting wool that I could have used for something far better. That isn't to say that I don't experiment or make things up anymore but I recommend trying to get basic knowledge and quality equipment before starting any hobby.
8: Sew Ends In As You Go
Most knitters hate sewing ends in with a passion, but I'm afraid it does have to be done. To make it a bit easier and less of an annoyance, it may be a good idea to sew in a loose end as soon as you create one, and alternate between sewing ends and knitting regularly. Also, if you have lots of long ends, they can get tied together and muddled, which is very confusing. It may not always be possible to sew in ends as you go with a jumper as you may want to leave some ends to sew the pieces together, but I would recommend sewing in any ends that are too short to come to any use later.
7: Leave Long Enough Ends to Sew
This links to my last point. It's not only a good idea to sew ends in immediately but it's very important to have a long enough end to sew in as if you don't, your project could become unravelled! The length you want to leave will vary depending on the thickness of the yarn but 20cm is a good length in most cases.
6: Knit Regularly(ish)
This is not to say that you need to knit every single day - after all, knitting is meant to be a hobby, not a chore - but if you start a project, it is best to do it on a regular basis and avoid leaving it for a long period of time as it can be easy to get out of rhythm and lose track on it. If you are actively avoiding a project, the chances are that leaving it and doing it months later will make you like it less, not more (trust me, I have tried that more than once). Alternatively, if you are busy, it might be good to work through smaller and easier projects at that time as things that are harder will only add to your stress.
5: Connect with Others
There have been plenty of times where I have had a pattern and had no idea what to do or I have made a mistake somewhere and can't work out why. In times of doubt, it can be great to talk to a fellow knitter - for example, I always go straight to my mum if I am confused or need help with a project. Connecting online can be a good way to learn but if possible, it is good to have a few people who you know personally to help you too ,as they will know the best way to explain something to you. Be warned though, once you become a part of the knitter community, you may have to do this for many, many knitters in return!
4: Listen to Your Body
I feel as if the title of this point makes it sound a little more deep and profound than it actually is, so apologies if this tip is a little anti-climatic! However, it's good to know how you are feeling when you knit as your emotions, your energy levels and other factors of your life can impact your abilities and may lead to you making mistakes. For example, I sometimes try to knit in the evening to wind down before bed, but if it is too late and I am too tired, I will find myself making tons of mistakes! If you don't realise you are tired or stressed and you make mistakes it can be incredibly frustrating, so do your best to listen to yourself when you are knitting.
3: Find Homes for Your Projects
I don't know if I really should be saying this as I currently have projects and yarn all across my floor, but personally, I find the few projects that I do have organised easier and more enjoyable to work with. The projects that I currently working on will have their own little box, bag or shelf and that way, it is always on hand and I can take it wherever I need. I would really recommend doing this even it you only do it for one project.
2: Read Carefully
As I said earlier, it is very easy to get confused by or make mistakes with patterns, so always read them carefully! One thing that I was recommended by Sharon is that whenever you have a series of complicated rows, such as increase rows, you should write out all of them and what you do on each one. For example, I may write all the numbers from 1 to 50 if I have to do 50 rows and write increase rows in a separate colour so I know when they are. This is very useful and allows me to make sure I fully know what I am doing!
1: Enjoy It!
You have chosen to do knitting, so make sure it always feels like a choice and a fun thing to do. If you aren't enjoying a project, stop and start something you will enjoy as there is no point in spending your free time in a way that will make you feel miserable! For example, I learnt how to knit socks a little while back. I thought that I would love it but in all honesty, it wasn't my thing at all, so I haven't made any since. If I get the urge to retry in the future, I may but until then, I will be sticking to my chunky cardigans! Don't feel pressured to move onto a new project for a challenge, as not everything you do in life has to make you learn or grow - you can just enjoy things too!
Next week, I will be starting the crochet section. I am super excited for this one as whilst I am more experienced in knitting, I have got into crochet more over the lockdown and really love it. But until then, happy crafting!
My name is Sharon the Sheep, the owner of Avicraft Wool Shop in Bromley Kent..