Learning and Inspiration: Top Books
Hello and welcome back to the blog! Today, we will be looking at the best books and authors for learning how to knit and getting craft inspiration.
Knit and Nibble - James McIntosh
Knit and Nibble is a great book for knitters of all abilities. Written by James McIntosh, a chef who discovered knitting after experiencing anxiety, panic attacks and depression, the book explores the benefits of knitting, explains the basics, gives tips, shares patterns and even contains recipes for sweet treats to snack on whilst doing your knitting. It also focuses on male mental health and encourages people of all genders to knit. I am yet to try any of the patterns but I have found the other tips incredibly useful and well-explained. I also made and tried a few of the snacks a couple years ago and they were all amazing, particularly the Marshmallow Delights and the Malteser Squares. Here is a photo of the book.
A Little Course In...
You can buy these books for knitting, crochet, sewing and even non-craft hobbies such as Pilates! Books in the series go through the stages of the hobby step-by-step, explaining the basics and moving on to more advanced aspects. I have not read these books myself but it was a recommendation I got from Sharon. What's more, they are widely available and affordable; you can get many of the books for under £10.00 via Amazon, eBay, The Works and other shops. Here are some photos of the knitting and crochet versions.
Sophie's Universe: Crochet-along by Dedri Strydom Uys
If you crochet and want to learn something a little more advanced, this is a great project for you! The book goes through how to make a specific blanket called Sophie's Universe, which is broken into many stages so you can make something as big or small as you like. Another good thing about it is if you are finding the instructions in the book hard, you can find many guides and videos online which go through parts of the pattern in a more visual way. Whilst it is quite complicated, it is explained in detail so you don't have to know everything about crochet before you start. Even if it is a little too advanced for you at this stage, I would recommend looking it up as the pictures of it are stunning and make me feel really inspired! Here is a photo of the book and some pictures of it made up by Sharon
Maybe these don't quite count as books, but I had to give this a mention as this is where I get a lot of my inspiration from. One of my favourite things to do in my free time is to flick through craft magazines (my favourites being Simply Knitting/Crochet and Knit/Crochet Now), cut and stick patterns onto plain sheets and add them to a folder. I already have a lot of projects on the go at the moment, but it's given me a lot of inspiration; after I've done some projects for this blog (more on that in a few weeks), I may make myself a Pusheen (a famous cartoon cat) jumper from a pattern I found in a Knit Now magazine - it looks so cute!
Craft Murder Mysteries
Yes, you read that right. It doesn't really fall into the category of books for learning or inspiration but I just had to say a bit about them. At the moment, I am reading a book called Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton, which is about a murder that happens in a supernatural town containing a yarn shop, and it's up to the yarn shop owners to resolve the crime. It's the first book in a long franchise and there are many similar series available too. So, if you're looking for an escape from the world and your hands are a little too sore to knit, why not give this genre a go? Here is a photo of the one I am currently reading.
That's all from me for today! Next time, I will be looking at social media sites and accounts that are good for learning and inspiration, but until then, happy crafting!
Learning and Inspiration: Top Websites
Hello! Happy spring and welcome back to the blog. Today, we're going to start a new section of posts, looking at different ways of learning how to craft and getting inspiration. This week, I'll particularly focus on websites that I recommend, though I will be excluding social media sites for now as we're going to look at that more closely later on. For now though, here are a few websites that I recommend.
Learning: This Website
In the past, we have posted a few guides, patterns and knitathons on this site. These are great if you like learning from verbal instructions and pictures, though I wouldn't recommend the patterns until you have a basic grasp of knit and crochet stitches (something that we will cover later in this series of posts). Here are some links to different pages on this website that you can use to learn:
Inspiration: Clothing Shops/Sites
Sometimes, knitted things don't work as well with the rest of my shop-bought clothes in my wardrobe, so I often find that it is good to get inspiration for colours and shapes by looking at non-knitted clothing. By doing this, I can get the styles of popular clothing but I can also add a bit of personality to them and I have more control. For example, here is a photo of a jumper that I made inspired by a non-knitted garment I saw online. Even though I have made mistakes on it, I wear it a lot more than the other jumper I have made as it works really well with other garments I own.
Personally, I have not used WikiHow to learn a lot of things; however, I have read some of the guides on this website and I recommend it because I find that they are really clear, using a range of photos, drawings and videos to explain. Some of the guides on this site also quiz you throughout, which can be a little cheesy but it very useful as crafters have a language of their own, so it is good to learn what we are talking about! These don't get in the way, so you can still enjoy the website even if you don't want to use this part. The only problem with it is a lot of the terms they use are American (such as "single crochet" which we would call a double crochet, or "binding off" which we would call casting off), so it may be good to find something online that shows the meanings of American and British craft terms before starting!
When it comes to Ravelry, I am not writing from experience as I do not have an account but I know that many crafters love it. With Ravelry, you can find both free and paid patterns and yarn as well as digital tools that allow you to organise the projects that you have on the go. Also, you can socialise with other like-minded crafters by reading and writing reviews of yarns and patterns, connecting via the blog or messaging on the chat section. It's a great way of getting not just inspiration but also motivation to start crafting or organising.
Learning and Inspiration: Attic24
If you want to learn to crochet, Attic24 is a great way to get into it. This website has a range of blog posts and guides, going through both the key, basic skills of crochet and some intricate patterns designed by the author of the site herself. Not only is this website good for learning but it is also great for getting inspiration because she uses many photos and in my opinion, all of them are incredibly colourful and beautiful, making me feel really inspired to craft and be creative!
There we have it - 5 websites or types of site that I recommend using when learning how to craft. Next week, I'll be looking at books and authors that we recommend, but until then, happy crafting!
Casting Off and FAQs
Hello! Today's post is our last post about shopping before we start looking at ways of learning and getting inspiration, so I thought a good way to end would be by looking at the questions we often get about yarn shopping.
Q: "Do you sell pure wool?"
A: We do, particularly on our eBay sites. One that we recommend is Adriafil Regina, which we stock in a wide range of colours. You can order this via eBay, by telephone (leaving an answerphone message) or by emailing us (firstname.lastname@example.org). Here are some photos of a few of the colours in this range that I love. They aren't the clearest photos as I was trying to take them from a distance, but I do love the colours so much.
Q: "What can you use if you have sensitive skin or allergies?"
A: Some people are allergic to pure wool, or find acrylic uncomfortable to wear (myself included - my skin is very sensitive!). If you are one of these people, I would recommend bamboo or cotton. Almost all of the clothes I own are cotton, which is great because they are both affordable and really comfortable. However, bamboo is more environmentally friendly and whilst I don't have many things made of bamboo, it is becoming more widely available and more popular. It's also super light, making it perfect for summer in a few months time!
Q: "Do you sell gifts or kits?"
A: We do! We have a wide range of kits, particularly sewing kits, for all ages and abilities. We can also make up presents containing a pattern, the wool required and needles or hook in the appropriate size. Just email us or leave an answerphone message to tell us what colours, thicknesses, yarn fibres and types of garment you think the person would like as well as a few measurements if appropriate. With this, we can make up packages for a range of budgets depending on the yarn you want.
Q: "What is the cheapest wool you stock?"
A: This varies, as sometimes we will put things on clearance or have oddments of yarn on offer for reduced prices. However, as a general rule of thumb, acrylic is the cheapest. One budget option I recommend is Stylecraft Special DK, which we stock in over a hundred colours for £2.20 per ball. There are other thickness in this range as well, which are of similar prices. In addition, I recommend checking out our eBay sites to find cheaper alternatives. To learn how to do this, click here and scroll down to our post about ways of shopping with us.
Q: "Can I machine wash this?"
A: To find out whether or not something can be machine washed or tumble dried, look at the ball band as this will show you a range of symbols. Then, look up different machine washing symbols to find out the washing instructions. This post from August last year gives an overview of common washing symbols - click on the link and scroll down to the post with the title "A Guide to Ball Bands."
Q: "Do you sell stuffing?"
A: We do not sell stuffing, but what we recommend is that you buy a plain pillow for a cheap price (you can usually find them online for about £1) then cut into it to get the stuffing inside. Stuffing from pillows has to meet certain legal standards regardless of the price, meaning that it is very high quality and great for toys for children. Also, not only do you then get stuffing but you also get a reusable case to keep it in!
Q: "Do you do click and collect?"
A: At the moment, we can! To do this, just send us an email, voice message to our telephone or message via the "Contact Us" section of this website, telling us what you want and giving us your number if you have called us. Then, we will get in touch with you to arrange payment and collection.
That's all from me for now so until next time, happy crafting!
More that Wool
Hello again! Isn't it strange to think that it's March already? For the past couple of months we have focused a lot on wool and buying it. However, there is more to being a crafter than just wool - if you want to be a knitter (or crocheter, if that is a word!), there are also a few pieces of haberdashery that I would definitely recommend getting before you start a new project, and today I will be ranking my personal top ten items.
10: A Pattern
If you already know your knit and purl stitches or your crochet stitches, getting a pattern to make a jumper or cardigan is a great next step as it allows you to learn different ways to use these stitches as well as how to do shaping. However, I would argue that a pattern is not essential, particularly not if you are knitting for the first time. Instead, once you know how to cast on and do the basic knit stitch, it is easy to make something such as a scarf without a pattern. Also, there are many other ways of learning apart from patterns, which is something that I will be looking at later in this series of posts.
9, 8 and 7: Pins, Foam Mats and Wool Wash
You may be wondering why I have grouped these three. Mainly, I did it so that it made more sense, as they are all used for a technique known as blocking, where you wash wool in warm water and wool wash (a type of soap for wool), pin it out on foam to the shape that you want and leave it to dry overnight. It is very effective but only necessary for some projects, such as lace projects so that they curl less.
6: A Sewing Up Needle
This piece is absolutely essential; the only reason I put it quite this low down on the list was because very few crafters enjoy sewing up their ends at the end of a project! Also, before you get one, I recommend finding a safe place to put your needles so you don't end up losing them and later finding them as they prick you when you least expect!
5. Fabric Scissors
As I mentioned earlier, very few people enjoy sewing in ends, so scissors often come in handy if you have a long end. This means that instead of having to weave the whole end in, you can weave it a little, double knot it and then chop the rest off. Also, you need scissors when casting off your projects, or else you will end up having all your projects still attached to the rest of the ball!
4: A Row Counter
Row counters are always great fun, because whilst you can tally the amount of rows you do, it is much more fun to twist a knob or click a button and see the number change as you finish a row. You can also get row counter apps, which are very satisfying as some tell you how many stitches you have done in your time using that app.
3. A Project Bag
I have to say, considering that I have put this in my top three, I really don't use project bags enough! So many of my projects are chaotically shoved on shelves, in baskets and across the floor. However, the projects that I do put in bags are so much more organised, meaning I don't end up losing or breaking things. It also makes it more portable - whenever I go on holiday I always have a project bag full to the brim, even if I'm only going away for a couple days!
2: A Tape Measure
Having a tape measure is vital - it's important to to measure yourself up, measure your knitting up and make slipknots in your tape measure when you're too tired to knit (or maybe that's just me). Make sure you put it in your project bag though, because despite the size, they are quite easy to lose!
1. A Notebook
The project notebook had to come out on top. They are so useful - you can write down measurements and numbers of rows as well as to-do lists and deadlines if you are crafting a gift. If you keep your notebook for a long time, it can also be something for you to look back at when you are older with pride and happy memories.
You can buy all of of these things from us apart from foam mats, which you can easily get online (just search for "play mats for children" and you should find packs of foam blocks that look a little like puzzle pieces).
That's all for today! Next week, I'll be rounding off this section and doing a Q&A on yarn shopping and shopping with us, so do send your questions in either as a comment or an email to email@example.com. Until then, happy crafting!
My name is Sharon the Sheep, the owner of Avicraft Wool Shop in Bromley Kent..