A Hack for a Swift

SwiftHack2

I’m a big believer that you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, in the case of ballwinders and swifts, you always end up spending a good amount, even for the ones on the low end of the cost spectrum. I will be nice and not name the company I bought my swift and ballwinder from, but let’s just say it’s one of the inexpensive ones, relatively speaking, and sure enough, I’ve had tons of problems. Usually when I want to wind my yarn, I just take it up to the shop, which defeats the purpose of having the equipment at my house. The main problem with my swift is that the screw you use to hold it in place after you expand it to the size of your skein has never worked. It seems like the company never made it properly, and it has never held the swift up. The company even sent me a replacement, which didn’t work any better than the first one!

A closeup so you can see just how simple this hack is!

A closeup so you can see just how simple this hack is!

Then the other day, my husband dug around on a shelf and came up with what you see in the photos. It works like a charm, and I can’t believe it took us this long to figure out such a simple hack! But then that’s the thing about hacks – they are genius, yet simple at the same time.


Crochet and Knitting Trivia

I recently finished reading The Glitter Plan, which is the story in their own words of how the two founders of Juicy Couture built the company out of basically nothing. I am a sucker for American Dream stories where someone has a few dollars and through their own hard work and creativity, turn it into a multi-million dollar company. I was very pleasantly surprised to read that Gela Nash-Taylor (half of the Juicy Couture founding team) is a knitter and, like me, sits up at night and knits to relieve stress. I’ve periodically seen a photo here or there of other more famous celebrities who knit and crochet. Just for fun, I thought I’d see if I could find a list. Here is what I came up with, although I’m sure this is by no means comprehensive. I’m not sure why I enjoy yarny trivia so much, but I hope you all enjoy browsing these as much as I did!

Those who knit might surprise you. By the way, to add to the trivia fun, I am told a certain Desperate Housewife in this list used to come in our shop all the time. I just wish I’d been working there at the time!

Those who crochet might surprise you even more!

And, if like me, you still love a good track suit, this book will tell you the story behind how it all started.


A Few of My Favorite Things

Who needs Coach when you can carry a bag that was designed to carry yarn?!

Who needs Coach when you can carry a bag that was designed to carry yarn?!

I love it when people give you something that has special meaning, but can be incorporated into your daily living. Apparently, I’ve been knitting and crocheting just long enough to have developed a reputation with my family and friends. Lately, come every birthday or holiday, a new crafty-related item appears somewhere in our house. These are my top three favorites – deserving of their priority because I use them ALL the time.

First is my Namaste Poppins bag. This was meant to be my master project bag, I swear. But it’s turned into the handbag I carry everywhere, all the time, and just happen to throw projects and notions into when I need to transport them with me. I can’t count the number of compliments I’ve received on this bag, and take it from me, raspberry is the new black. Somehow, magically, this bag just goes with everything! For those of you who may not like the fact it’s $89, let me wish you the best of luck in finding a Dooney & Bourke bag for anywhere near that cost!

The first knitting-related item my husband gave me

The first knitting-related item my husband gave me

I will be so heartbroken if anything happens to this mug! It was a very thoughtful gift from my husband a few Christmas’s ago, and the only days I’m not drinking my morning coffee out of it are the days it’s sitting in the sink waiting to be washed. He gave it to me right around the time it became apparent that knitting was not a passing hobby, and our house would be keeping a yarn stash on a permanent basis.

Look closely!

Look closely!

The most recent yarn-y related gift – earrings for my birthday. These earrings have received so many compliments, and I wear them all the time. I like them better than studs, but they’re small and tasteful enough they go with everything, and if I fall asleep in them, they’re not bothering me all night long. My husband said they weren’t expensive, but they are precious to me because I thought it was such a thoughtful gift.

If you have favorite craft-related items you use in your daily life, I would love to see.


Crafty Bombings

Over the weekend, I was working on a design and hitting a creative block. After ripping it out for about the tenth time and changing stitch patterns multiple times, I decided it was time to take a break. As I was doing research, I kept coming across all kinds of beautiful yarn bombings. There are the standard cozies on a light pole of course, but I love it when the artists and craftspeople execute a concept so artfully and beautifully and completely that it takes your breath away and kind of makes you not care too much about whether it was actually legal. I hope you will enjoy these!

It doesn’t always have to be yarn!

If you’re going to yarn bomb a tree, do it right!

There’s a piano, and then there’s the Piano Dentelle!

A little something special for Star Wars fans.

MUST SCROLL DOWN. The Helsinki, Finland stairs are worth seeing, but so is everything else you’re scrolling through!

And in honor of my home city Pittsburgh


Gifts to Make

I like to do a little holiday crafting for my closest loved ones. I learned the hard way to be selective so I don’t overwhelm myself and turn something that should be fun and loving into added holiday stress. I’ve moved away from seeing how many gifts I can crank out toward picking one or two stunning projects to give to the most special people in my life. But however you like to plan out your gifting, a word to the wise: START NOW!

Aside from the giving, the most fun part (in my opinion) is figuring out what to make! So for all of you who support me and read my blog, here is my little holiday gift to you! A list of the coolest patterns I’ve been bookmarking all year! I hope you enjoy browsing the list, and if you make any of these, please share your photos of the finished pieces because I would love to see!

  1. Being the art lover that I am, and Op Art being one of my favorite movements, this blanket speaks to me even though I don’t currently have anyone to make a baby blanket for! But I’m thinking it could also be a pretty awesome throw. Check out the pattern on Ravelry to see what other people came up with in color combos!
  2. This sweater is something a teenager with a forward fashion sense would enjoy. Big prints and images on sweaters and sweatshirts are very popular, so if you are looking for something for the hard-to-please teen category, this is definitely NOT grandma’s knitting!
  3. A classic go-to gift, fingerless mitts with a twist!
  4. Socks are so much work, but such a lovely gift for someone truly dear to you who is worth all the knitting time! For an extra-special pair for your extra-special someone, I recommend anything from Ravelry’s Tour De Sock, but I especially love Fields of Flowers.
  5. Technically, Minion things would be listed as children’s gifts, but I know plenty of adults who would enjoy having these too. Crocheted items usually work up quickly, so if you need a gift in a hurry, or a fun gag gift for a white elephant party, Minions are a fun option.
  6. I’ve never done Tunisian entrelac, so I have no idea how complicated (or not) this project would be, but it is so fantastic, I had to include it! Plus, I would love to learn how to do this, so I consider it a gift to myself AND the person who gets the FO. However, just given the size, I would recommend starting this gift this year in preparation for gifting next year.
  7. A tote is always useful! I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t have a use for this bag!
  8. Shawls are always a lovely gift, and this designer has a beautiful variety.
  9. And last, but not least, the classic holiday gift: a scarf. But not just any scarf – why do boring rib when you could explore the magic of illusion knitting?

I hope you enjoy the ideas I found. I tried to link to the original source of each pattern, but if you would like to see color ideas or projects other people have completed, these can all be looked up on Ravelry. Happy holiday gifting!


Crocheters’ Turn

When I decided to do this post, I wasn’t entirely sure of who I wanted to list aside from the big names of Lily Chin and Doris Chan. But the more I dug around looking for what’s new and cool in the crochet world, the more fun I had finding all the designers who are doing exciting stuff with it!

Even though I have not yet made patterns from these designers, I was very happy to find this list!

Pattern by DarnCat Crochet

Pattern by DarnCat Crochet

There’s nothing cuter than crocheted animals, and having done animals and toys both in knitting and crochet, take it from me: crocheting them is alot more fun, and SOOOO much quicker! The nature of crochet is that the fabric you’re stitching is thicker, which lends itself nicely to creating fabric for an animal or toy which will be stuffed. I made the bunny above several years ago, and couldn’t find much from this artist to share, so I recommend Joyce Overheul’s designs at Flying DutchmanDesigns as an excellent alternative.

Laura Lynn Hanks' Chromium Star

Laura Lynn Hanks’ Chromium Star

Props to any designer who can come up with a pattern that becomes this popular, looks this cool, and is so easy to do! Considering that I had to clear my entire living room floor just to be able to spread this throw out in all its glory for this shot, it didn’t take me long at all to crochet this huge piece. And when I went to her blog, I found a wealth of talent! Visit when you have time to read and browse!

Another designer whose patterns I’m excited to try is Heidi Bears, designer of the adorable Happypotamus and numerous other equally adorable and gorgeous animals. Her stuff is so adorable and beautiful I don’t even want to have it open on my computer screen when my daughter is around until I’m ready to make it, because I know my little girl will drive me crazy begging for it. And to be honest, I sort of just want to make one for myself!

Not to be forgotten, there is also Tunisian crochet, which I have only sampled, and would love to continue exploring. Sharon Silverman is an excellent writer and designer of Tunisian.

Sasha Kagan is a knitwear designer who took the time to explore crochet and write an extremely inspirational book. I love the fact that such an accomplished knitwear designer took time out to explore crochet and elevate it to an art form. I would encourage any crocheter in need of inspiration to read her book, as it is truly one of the best out there.

There is a whole other world of crochet that fascinates me that originates in Japan. It is hard for Americans to know how to work these patterns unless they’ve been taught to simply read the charts visually. But the designer Kazuko Ryokai is the author of Crochet With Color, and gives us an excellent (and fun!) place to start.

I hope you enjoy what I came up with! Please share your favorites with me, as I am always happy to add to my list.


Perfect Match

A beautiful display of umbrellas.

A beautiful display of umbrellas.

Yes this is Asian yarn, although it is Japanese, not Chinese, like the photo that inspired the pairing.

Yes this is Asian yarn, although it is Japanese, not Chinese, like the photo that inspired the pairing.

I just finished a big project for a friend over the weekend, plus a sock. My reward to myself was to go through my yarn, magazines, photos, etc., and find inspiration for a new design. I didn’t have to look very long or hard before I realized that I just posted LA County Fair inspiration a few days ago, and have yarn that relates perfectly to one of my favorite photos from the fair. What better day to begin work on a new design project than Monday!

By the way, if you find yourself in the same position of finishing up projects and not quite sure what to work on next, I highly recommend taking a few hours to pull out your stash, look at photos or magazines, and see if you find yourself making a match you might not have thought of otherwise! Just make sure you are in a relaxed state of mind and give yourself a little time to play. Have fun!


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