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Monday, April 22, 2013

Back to Basics: Introduction to Knitting

By Kandis Hamrick

Choosing your tools

There are a variety of needle types to choose from in knitting. In addition to having straight sets of needles in varying sizes, there are also double-pointed needles (DPNs) and circular knitting needles. Standard knitting needles are pointed on one end and have a cap of some kind on the other, sometimes flat, sometimes rounded.

DPNs are much shorter than standard knitting needles and (as the name suggests) are pointed at both ends; they are typically used in knitting socks or other small projects that are knit in the round.

Circular knitting needles can vary greatly because in addition to different needle sizes, there are different cable lengths to consider. These needles are used for two reasons: knitting in the round or knitting a much larger project as you can keep more stitches on the cable.

Other factors to consider in choosing your needles is the material they’re made with. Common materials for needles are wood/bamboo, nickel/aluminum, or acrylic. I recommend trying each so you can see what feels right for you; personally, I don’t like the feel of acrylic and I prefer the sound of metal needles as you work, but for some that sound might be annoying. Use whatever feels right for you.

Simple stitches

Cast on
k - knit
p - purl
yo - yarn over
Bind off

Stockinette stitch is among the most recognizable stitches in knitting and is accomplished by alternating a row of knit stitches and a row of purl stitches.

Another common stitch pattern is the ribbed stitch which is accomplished by alternating knit and purl stitches to form vertical rows; this can be a simple k1, p1 pattern or wider ribs can be created by repeating k2, p2 and so on.

Putting it together

Once you’ve cast on using your preferred method, you’ll need to knit your first row. In the first row you’ll need to be careful to maintain the correct tension in your stitches. If your cast-on was loose then you may end up with loose loops in your first row. This is something that may take some practice to get just right, or you may want to try a different method of casting on that you find easier. There’s no right or wrong choice here, it just depends on your preference.

As you work knit stitches, you’ll want to keep your working yarn behind your work; when you work purl stitches, you’ll want to keep your working yarn in front of your work. When you reach the end of a row, you will simply turn your work and start your next row. When your project is the desired length, bind off and weave in the end of your yarn.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wedding Project: Adding some sparkle!

By: Courtney Patach

Ever feel like those heels of yours would be absolutely fabulous with some extra sparkle? Or, that favorite pair of yours that may be too scratched up the back of the stiletto stem to wear out anymore. Well, don’t pass up those pumps or throw away those walking buddies; let em’ shine, let em’ shine, let em’ shine!

In this case, it was my wedding shoes. I knew I needed a low heel to wear all night long but, couldn’t find any that were SUPER cute, like their many 6” stiletto counterparts! And then it hit me, I could just add my own SPARKLE!


  • Blah Heels OR Slightly scratched heels*
  • Paint in desired color
  • Glitter in desired color (Extra Fine)
  • Spray Mod Podge
  • Paint brush
  • Tape & Plastic grocery bag (to catch over spray)
*If using slightly scratched heels, make sure to clean your heels of any dirt or damaged material from the application site.  


First, tape off the parts of the heel you do not wish to be glittered. In this case, I only wanted the outer heel to be glittered so almost the entire shoe was wrapped/covered.

Next start painting the part you want glittered. I found it best to work in small area’s; paint a small area and apply a thin layer of extra fine glitter. Repeat until the entire application site is covered.

Let dry completely.

Repeat application process until desired sparkliness is achieved! Once the level of shine is reached apply a thin layer of sprayable Mod Podge to create a flexible seal.

Note: Post to be updated with wearing “Wedding Day” pic; to be continued 9.14.13

Monday, April 8, 2013

Faux-Bangle Bracelets

By: Kandis Hamrick

I adore bangles, in part because I have a fascination with Indian culture. I bought a few bangles after spending an entire weekend watching Bollywood movies, but it was difficult for me to find bangles that both fit and that I liked. Then I had gone to a thrift store one day and I saw what looked like a set of bangles that I loved. When I picked it up, however, it turned out to be one continuous bracelet made with memory wire so it could coil around your wrist without the need to mangle your hand putting it on. I was inspired so I went to the craft store and got memory wire and an assortment of beads.

The bracelet above was the original which served as our inspiration. I made several bracelets with a dear friend while she was in town and once we had that down, I invited some of the other divine ladies over for a bracelet making party. First we gathered our materials.

Next, cut the wire to the desired length. Memory wire will maintain it's shape, so we judged the length based on how many times it was coiled. If you  want a smaller bracelet that looks like only four bangles, then you'll use four rounds. Next you need to bend one end of the wire to act as your bead stop. In the original bracelet, this was just a loop at the end that also had a bead dangling from the end. We used some small pliers to bend our ends; we used charms at the ends on some, but left others with just the loop as a bead stop.

Once your end is finished, start putting your beads on the other end. You'll want to use your fingers to hold the beads at the top long enough for you to make sure you like the pattern you're creating first. Be careful not to tangle your coiled wire when you push the beads further down the wire.

When you've reached the end of your bracelet, you'll want to leave just enough wire to create a second loop to finish the bracelet, probably 1/4-1/2" of wire depending on how big your loop is. Use wire cutters to trip the excess and you're done!

This is fun and simple project that can be done fairly quickly. These make great gifts and would be fun project for kids too if you used larger beads. Below are the other bracelets we've made so far if you need some more inspiration. Some had a color scheme or theme in mind while others went more for the element of chaos. There's not right or wrong here, so just have fun with it!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Back to Basics: Introduction to Crochet

By Kandis Hamrick

Crochet uses a hook to pull yarn through intertwined loops to create a finished project.  Crocheting will probably immediately bring the Granny Square to mind. Unfortunately crochet is often regarded as the lesser of the two big yarn hobbies. People think of knitting as being for wonderful clothing items like socks and sweaters and resign crochet to the “old lady” niche. Crochet can actually be quite remarkable and for years it was my preferred method as I thought it had more possibilities. [Note: I’m not saying I no longer believe in the beauty of crochet, but that I’ve also grown to appreciate knitting more fully as well.]

Choosing your tools

Crochet hooks come in a variety of sizes. Before you choose your hook, you will want to choose the yarn that you’ll be working with. If you’re not sure how to choose your yarn see our Back to Basics: Choosing Yarn post. Most yarns will list the hook size that they recommend for that weight of yarn. You can also manipulate the final appearance based on the hook size. If you’re using a lighter weight yarn, the recommended hook size will be smaller; however, if you want your final project to have very loose stitches, you can go up in your hook size. My best advice is to practice a couple of rows and see if you like the appearance before beginning your project.

Simple Stitches

Below is a list of basic crochet stitches and their abbreviations. Each is a link to a short video tutorial.

ch - Chain stitch
sc - Single Crochet
dc - Double Crochet
hdc - Half Double Crochet
tc - Triple Crochet

Putting it together

You’ll start by making a slipknot and putting your hook through the loop. Pull the tail to tighten the loop on your hook. Make sure that you don’t pull the loop too tight or it will be difficult for you to get your hook through as you crochet; the loop should be tight enough to stay on the hook but loose enough to slide freely.

Make your chain the desired length. If you’re going to be using single crochet, you’ll go into the second chain from the hook for your first stitch; for double crochet you’ll go into the third chain and so on. The extra chains at the beginning of your first row will count as the first stitch. At the end of each row, you will chain 1 and turn your work. The ch 1 will count as your first stitch in this row.

When your project is complete, you will cut your yarn to leave a tail. Pull the tail through your final stitch and weave it into your work. Note: if your project requires you to stitch pieces together, you can leave the tail long enough to use for the stitching and tie off when your seam is complete.