6 Tools That Make a Knitter’s Life Easier!

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6 ToolsYou already love it: choosing your favorite fiber in colors that speak to you; deciding on a project that expresses your vision; casting on a string of possibilities; working individual stitches which ultimately become something beautiful. If you read this blog, then chances are that knitting is your passion. That doesn’t mean, however that it’s not work. It is, and arguably the best kind. Even so, though we knitter’s can occasionally use a helping hand (or two) in the form of tools which make the intricacies of our craft a little less, fussy — handy little items, that add even more “happy” to our hand-making. Here are six of my favorites that I use on a daily basis. They make my knitting life easier, and they will yours, too!

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1. Wonder ClipsI don’t know what I did before I discovered these little… well, wonders! Using them is like have extra sets of tiny hands to hold pieces in place. They worked perfectly for me the the other day while I was grafting two, knit pieces together — easily grasping the fabric while arching over the needle cords at the same time!



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2. Latch Hook Darning Needle.  Bulky yarns are fun to knit with, but can be persnickety when it comes to weaving in the ends of projects made out of them. Shoving a super-plush fiber through a needle-eye is often frustrating, which leads to a bad, project experience. We don’t want that! Replace the eye with a latch hook however, and your yarn will slide in seamlessly– brilliant!

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3. Double Ended Stitch HolderThis tool is my favorite of the sort because unlike their latching counterparts, you don’t have to worry about which end you “load” the stitches on; you can work off of either end. They’re also a great alternative to waste yarn, because you can knit right off of them, versus needing to place your stitches back on a needle before working with them again. It may only save you a minute but hey, that’s an extra minute you get to be knitting!

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4. Double-Pointed Needle Protectors.  I’m a big proponent of taking your knitting time when you can get it, which often means on-the-go. Who wants to spend those precious, few stitching moments snuck while waiting in line at the grocery store, digging around the bottom of your bag-abyss looking for that loose dpn? Or even worse, trying to salvage the dropped-stitch mess you pull out of your purse? Not me. Get yourself a set of these. You’ll thank me later.

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5. Pattern Chart Marker. Perhaps your eagle-eye sight is such that you can glance back and forth from your work to tiny, explanatory symbols with great precision. If you’re like me, though nothing will drive you to drink quicker, than following a lace chart without marking it as you go along. Clover’s Pattern Chart Marker does the trick with it’s flexible construction (so it easily curves over book pages) and magnetic backing!

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6. Pom-Pom MakersIn a pinch, a piece of cardboard, a fork, or even your fingers can whip up a pom-pom with relative ease. More than likely, though the result will be a wee bit scraggly (not that there’s anything wrong with that.) If pom-pom perfection is something you strive for — which may be the case if you’re working on a project that requires more than one, so you’d want them to be uniform — then, a pom-pom maker is a yarny’s best friend. In just a few simple steps, you can make picture-perfect poms for that knit pillow, scarf or garland!

What are the tools that make your knitting life easier? We’d love to hear about them!

xx,
Vickie
@VickieHowell

Love at First Press and a Giveaway by Joan Hawley of Lazy Girl Designs

Have you ever had a tool or notion that was so essential you couldn’t imagine going without it? I can think of plenty in my tool box that fit that bill. Today I want to tell you about the 2×4 Mighty Mini Board and a giveaway!

Small Size, Big Features

The 2×4 Mighty Mini Board is chock full of features and design considerations. Want to know what I told Clover when we talked about creating a small board? I said I want it all. After having owned a number of small boards that all left me aggravated, I had a pretty stern checklist of features, size, shape, etc. Clover delivered on every single item!

Mighty Mini Diagram

What You Don’t See

You can see that the Mighty Mini is loaded with features. But what you can’t fully appreciate until you try it is the ‘oh my gosh’ factor.

Here’s what I mean. Do you ever find yourself bending over your regular ironing board to get a closer look at your work? Do you wish you had an extra hand to help control a project while pressing? Hate wrestling with a project to get it flat on the board? Have you ever struggled to wrangle something onto your regular board? Solving these problems are the oh my gosh moments where you’ll thank yourself for having this tool at your fingertips.

I Can See!

One of the biggest things I like about the Mighty Mini is purely basic. By using it on top of my regular board, it raises my project up and brings it closer to me. I can see what I’m doing and isolate part of the project.

An Extra Hand?

By using the Mighty Mini on top of your regular board or other surface, the board isolates and controls part of your project and forces the rest to relax nearby, no longer pulling and in charge.

Getting Flat

Things are easier to press when they are flat. By raising the pressing surface a few inches, a shirt collar obeys the Mighty Mini Board and the rest of the shirt hangs out on the regular board, waiting its turn.

A small board offers great control!

   A small board offers great control!

A Good Fit

Lots of big projects have small parts, nooks, crannies, etc. They don’t all fit on the regular ironing board. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an ironing board that fit those tough challenges? Use the Mighty Mini to press the small stuff and the regular board for the rest.

Isolate a seam without pressing creases nearby

Isolate a seam without pressing creases nearby

So, if you are like me, you know a good tool when it crosses your path you can tell that it was designed by someone who uses it in real life and it solves problems.

What’s New and a Giveaway

The 2×4 Mighty Mini Board is part of my Press Perfect line of notions from Clover Needlecraft. The newest member of this line is the Iron Shine Cleaning Pen. Watch the video below for a quick demo. Your iron benefits from a regular cleaning.

We’ll choose three lucky people to win a Press Perfect item featured in this post. Click the link to find out how!

Press Perfect Items Giveaway

Kids Camp: Crocheted T-shirt Pot Holder

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It’s official: school’s out for Summer. For those of us with kids, that means a loooong few months of taxiing, playdating, and otherwise looking for something, anything to keep our offspring occupied. Well, my parental friends, there’s no time like the present to get them crafting — and what says, “Summer Camp crafts” more than making a pot holder? Well, perhaps a lanyard, but humor me.

This week I thought I’d post a project that had a little something for most ages of children. Thrifting for t-shirts can be done with baby in-tow. Optional coloring on tees, is great for the toddler and pre-schooler set. Cutting the t-shirts and winding into yarn, is great for the kinder and early elementary schoolers. Finally, crocheting that t-shirt yarn into a pot holder will keep a tween and teen busy for a day. You’re welcome.

So grab your jumbo, Amour hook and get ready to think outside the yarn-box, because today kids, we’re crocheting with clothing. Enjoy! — Vickie

Make T-shirt Yarn
Gather 2-3, old t-shirts. I found these at a Goodwill for around $2 each. If you want to add a little flair, use fabric paints and markers to give color to the shirts. This is a great time to get younger kids involved spraying and splattering!

Tip: These Fabric Spray Paints work great!

How To T-shirt Yarn

1. Fold t-shirt in half length-wise, leaving about an 1″-2″/2.5 cm-5 cm between folded edges. Cut off hem.

2. Cut approx 1″ (doesn’t need to be perfect) strips, STOPPING after the first folded edge (leaving the second uncut.) Cut off sleeve & shoulder section.

3. You’ll now have what looks like ribs. Cut first strip from top right to bottom left of first strip. Disregard excess piece.

4. From here, you’ll cut each rib at a diagonal. See the dotted lines in Image 4 as a guide.  You’ll end up with a long strip.

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5. 
Gently pull on strip to create rolled “yarn”.

6. Knot strips together from subsequent t-shirt strips.

Wind t-shirt yarn into ball.

Crochet Pot Holder

SUPPLIES
T-shirt Yarn (Approx. 4 oz., or 2, XL Men’s shirt’s worth)
Size US N/P (10 mm) Clover Amour Hook
Tapestry Needle

FINISHED SIZE
9 1/2″/24 cm square

GAUGE
7 sts x 8 rows = 4″/10 cm in single crochet

DIRECTIONS

Ch 17.

Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, and every ch to end. Turn. — 16 sts.

Row 2: Ch 1, sc in each st to end.

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Repeat Row 2 until piece measures 9 1/2″ / 24 cm. Do not Fasten off.

Hanging loop:
Ch 10, sl st in base of first ch.

Fasten off.

FINISHING
Weave in ends, including those from knotted areas.

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Tool School with Steve Butler, Iron Shine Cleaning Pen



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What is it? – By a show of hands how many of you really like to iron? Exactly, not many hands. We usually iron what we have to iron and not until we have to. The unfortunate fallout is that because of this our irons often become the most neglected tools in our sewing arsenal. Through the process of creating our masterpieces our irons pick up deposits from the materials we use. Sizing, fusibles, spray adhesives and sticky back stabilizers are some of the villains. It’s unavoidable. Take a look at your iron. When is the last time it looked new? In spite of all of this; however, our irons are an absolutely essential part of many sewing and crafting projects. So how do we get that new look and performance out of our old irons again? Yes, there are cleaners available but for the most part the cure is often worse than the disease and we usually end up having to clean up the clean up. What is the solution to these solutions? Working in collaboration with Joan Hawley, Clover has developed a revolutionary new iron cleaning tool, the Iron Shine Cleaning Pen. Now we have a pen style iron cleaning tool that is portable, clean and truly effective.

What does it do? – Until now cleaning our irons has been pure drudgery. It becomes an event in and of itself requiring time and effort with questionable results. The Iron Shine Cleaning Pen has changed all of that.

Portable – Resembling a large felt tip pen, the Iron Shine can go everywhere with you, even sewing classes or quilting retreats. When you have the need to clean your iron just pull the Iron Shine out of your bag, remove the cap and you’re good to go!  Keep one at your ironing station at home and one in your travel bag.

•Clean – Because of the “scrubby tip” you only apply enough of the water based cleaning solution that is needed and no more. When you’ve cleaned the area in question, or even the entire iron, just wipe it dry with a clean cloth. Put the cap back on the pen and you’re done. No muss no fuss.

•Effective – Because of the large rectangular shape of the scrubbing tip you can clean both broad open areas of the plate with the wide side or reach into the steam holes or plate crevices with the narrow edge. The solution in the pen dissolves unwanted deposits on contact. For the more stubborn stains just warm the iron up on minimum heat for a minute and they’ll come right off. The Iron Shine Cleaning Pen works on all irons with both bare metal or coated surfaces.

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After using Iron Shine Cleaning Pen by Joan Hawley

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Highlights-The Iron Shine Cleaning Pen is innovative across the board. The pen-style applicator, scrubby tip and water-based cleaning fluid are a new approach to easily maintaining a clean iron with no mess or harsh fumes. The Iron Shine allows you to control the clean – see what you are doing, clean the whole iron or spot clean, safely work with the iron off or warm. Safe for metal or coated soleplates, good for multiple cleanings.

-Joan Hawley Lazy Girl Designs

Watch Tool School Here!!!

Father’s Day Gift Personalized Nancy Zieman E-Tablet Keeper

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This Father’s Day make it personal!!  Try our Nancy Zieman Trace ‘n Create E-Tablet Keeper.

Materials needed:

Nancy Zieman E-Tablet Template 

Nancy Zieman Fuse ‘n Bind

Nancy Zieman Create-a-Strap in both 5/8″ and 1.25″

Nancy Zieman Pre-Cut Tablet Keeper Shapers

Ultra Firm Interfacing

D-Ring (optional)

Elastic

Velcro

Fabric (Fat Quarter Bundles work great for this project)

*Please note you have the options of making an E-Tablet Keeper in small, medium, or large. The instructions included in the package will give you the necessary measurements for each size.

Instructions may also be found on Nancy Zieman’s blog.

Step 1:

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Choose two contrasting colors, in this instance I chose a Star Wars print for the lucky guy and I used a black fat quarter. Fold the outer fabric and trace out using the Nancy Zieman Template and trace the outer edges using your marking pencil. Keep in mind all the measuring has been done for you so no additional hem is needed. Add your interfacing to the wrong side of each fabric and add one layer of the ultra firm interfacing.

Step 2: Using the Nancy Zieman Create-a-Strap in both the 5/8″ and 1.25″ prepare the strap and the spine for your tablet keeper by simply pressing to the wrong side of your fabric. The template will mark exactly where to place your Velcro. (If you are adding a D-ring this is the step where you would loop the ring in your strap before sewing it to your tablet).

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Photo from Nancy Zieman video on the Clover YouTube channel

-Place the template over your tablet keeper and mark the bottom of where the strap is labeled. Now simply align your strap and sew.

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Step 3: Layer the inner fabric on top of your tablet keeper and mark the elastic edges using the template.

Image from Nancy Zieman video located on Clover YouTube channel

Image from Nancy Zieman video located on Clover YouTube channel

Step 4: Sew three edges of the the tablet keeper, keeping all the elastic in place and sew the spine down the middle in the inner portion of your keeper. Insert Pre-Cut Tablet Keeper Shaper in each slot. 

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Step 5: Add your binding and you’re done!!!

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Watch Nancy Zieman herself create an E-Tablet Keeper here!!!