Tool School, Straight Pins with Instructor Steve Butler


What is it? – In some of the oldest archeological digs around the world you can find ancient straight pins. They’ve been around that long and probably always will be. There are so many uses for them and in many cases there really is no substitute. We use them to hold patterns in place on our fabric, bind fabric pieces, tailor fabric to our bodies, hold seams together, anchor trims, beads or other embellishments in place and even block knitted products. Because of this wide variety of uses for straight pins we’ve developed a wide variety of pin designs to satisfy any specific requirements. Sewing, knitting and crafts all present unique demands. For each of these applications there is a “best” straight pin design that should be used. Taking the time to identify that pin is well worth the effort and will improve your sewing experience.

What does it do? – The design features of each style straight pin make one more suitable for any particular application than any other style pin. Clover provides straight pin essentials as follows:

Flower Head Pins – The defining feature is a large flat head. That makes it both easy to see and manipulate. It is especially well suited for pinning lace, eyelets or loose woven embellishments to fabric because the head will not slip through enlarged openings. You can also lay rulers flat on them when marking or cutting. The heads are not iron proof so keep them away from the heat. These pins come in three different diameters to provide strength without stressing your fabric.

  • Extra fine – Very fine shaft and acute point for delicate fabrics
  • Fine – Thin shaft and acute point for fine fabrics like silk or satin
  • Regular – Same acute point but a little stronger and longer shaft for multiple layers of heavier fabrics. Great for quilting.

Appliqué Pins – These little gems are perfect for applying appliqués, trims, beads, or sequins to your project. The sharp, tapered point prevents damage to your fabric. The small 3/4″ size allows detailed work when many pins are required and space is limited.

Quilting Pins – Quilting pins have a fine point and a smooth shaft to make them fabric friendly. They are longer than many straight pins so they can penetrate several layers of fabric and stay in place. Clover quilting needles are available in two shaft sizes, fine for more delicate fabrics and regular for heavier fabrics. They have glass heads so they can be ironed.

Patchwork Pins – Patchwork pins have very fine points for use on the most delicate fabrics like silks and satins. Two sizes are available, fine and extra fine. They have glass heads so they can be ironed.

Silk Pins – Silk pins have very fine points and a shorter length for use on fine fabrics. Glass heads so iron safe.

Fork Pins – Fork pins have two shafts connected by a turned up end. This allows you to pin fabrics without lifting them. Perfect for securing hard to handle or slippery lining materials. They are great for positioning stripe or plaid fabric pattern alignment prior to sewing in place. They’ve also found a new home in creative contemporary quilting where matching unique shapes is required. Blocking knitted garments? No problem.

Tool School with Steve Butler “Takumi” Bamboo Knitting Needles

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What is it? – Takumi, Stradivarius, Cartier. Their legendary quality of performance defies all attempts of description. The name alone is iconic and imbues a sense artistry. Pretenders and imitators come and go but never stay. Clover has long prided itself in the production of Takumi premium bamboo knitting needles. Production quantity has always been secondary to production quality. Only the finest raw materials have ever been used and manufacturing has always been accomplished to the absolute highest, most exacting standards. But just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, couldn’t be improved upon, Clover has done just that. As knitting mediums and techniques have evolved to support unprecedented stretches in creativity, so has Clover. Close personal association with those who push this “creative envelope” has allowed Clover to redesign their bamboo knitting needles to meet these emerging needs. We have even developed an entire new line of manufacturing machinery to make these new bamboo knitting needles worthy of the Takumi name. As a result, when lesser knitting needles are cold, bent, chipped, scratched, warped, split, broken and eventually discarded, your Takumi knitting needles will have become treasured heirlooms that continue to enhance your creative aspirations.

What does it do? – Quite simply Takumi knitting needles knit. But they do so with unparalleled ease and function.

  • Shape – To enhance knitting fine fibers or lace knitting all of the Takumi knitting needle points have been redesigned. The new, acute points allow them to easily pick up of even the finest loops.
  • Materials – Bamboo knitting needles have a warm, organic feel to them with just the right amount of flex to make them comfortable. The unique bamboo surface allows smooth, fast knitting but is not so “slick” that you have to fight to keep your stitches in place.
  • Chords – The chords of Takumi circular knitting needles have been enhanced. Newly developed chording materials ensure that the updated connecting chords are both strong and soft. Knitted fabrics now lie smoothly between the knitting needles while you work.

Sustainability – Bamboo is one of the most renewable resources on earth. Technically a “grass” it grows almost anywhere. It is relatively fast growing so harvested regions easily and quickly replace themselves. Most importantly the harmful byproducts usually associated with the manufacture of other similar non bamboo products are virtually nonexistent.

Watch Tool School Here!!!

View or video on how Takumi Bamboo Needles are made here!!

Egg Pompom + Clover News by Vickie Howell

Clover VH_BLOG_BANNERFor years now (seriously, over a decade), I’ve used Clover brand tools more than any other for my knitting, crochet, and general notions needs. Their bamboo, Takumi needles are a staple item in my studio (I love the way wool sliding off bamboo feels), and 9 times out of 10 if I need a large-eyed yarn needle or a stitch holder, Clover’s going to be the name on the one I grab from the shelves. That said, I’m thrilled to announce that I am now their, Yarn Arts Ambassador! In conjunction with my role as the International Spokesperson for Yarnspirations (in which I get to share all kinds of yarn-y goodness with knitter’s and crocheters), I’m excited to provide scoop on new products, as well as create new projects using Clover tools –or sometimes, just share a new way to use a notion that’s been around for awhile; like the one I’m showing today. Let’s dig in!

(Side note: I also have a daughter named, Clover. No relation. Just coincidence. It may get confusing. ;-))


I don’t know about you, but I’m perpetually decorating for holidays at the 11th hour. A lot of that has to do with being a working mom of 3, and juggling career, home, and family. Some of it, though truly happens because I love crafting in theme of whatever day it is on or around the actual day it’s happening. I’m one to cast-on for a red knitting project on Valentine’s Day, or start a little crocheted, Fall-colored something on Thanksgiving. It’s part of the way I celebrate!

Well, folks here we are just a couple days away from Easter which means time to craft in a water colored palette — and since I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to pom-poms, I decided this was the route I’d go. What’s cuter than pastel pom-poms, you ask? Egg-shaped versions, of course! They’re easy to shape as long as you have a firm, evenly-wound pom foundation to start with. To get this, I highly recommend forgoing the fork, hand, or cardboard method. Instead, opt for a pom-pom maker (trust me, I tried without one and my finished, trimmed, egg-pom looked more like a sad, under-watered topiary.)

Make one for fun or to hang from the kidlet’s basket, or more to make a garland. Here’s how!

Bernat Sheep(ish) Stripes by Vickie Howell, in color: Homme(ish)Large, Clover Pom-pom Maker




Once you’ve followed the above steps, it’s time to give your pom an eggcut! The trick is to trim in arcs. As long as you cut more of on the ends than you do in the middle, you’ll be golden (like a gold egg for Easter!)

Here’s a quickie, time-lapse video to show what I did.


Simple, fast, and frankly, smile-inducing. Grab your Clover Pom-pom Maker, and get eggy with it this weekend!

Happy Easter, Ostara, Bunny Day, Spring, or whatever!



Tool School with Steve Butler “Quick” Yo-Yo Maker

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What is it? – Chances are either you or someone you know has a box full of fabric yo-yo’s under the bed or in a closet. And chances are either you made them or they were given to you by your grandmother or an aunt. It’s surprising how many people tell the same story. But why do so many people make fabric yo-yo’s? The answer is actually very simple. It’s FUN! Sit down in a comfy chair, grab a handful of fabric scraps and get your creativity flowing. Colors, patterns, shapes, textures, it’s all up to you. And you end up with a bunch of gorgeous little fabric medallions that can be formed into any number of accessories for home or wardrobe. But how do you make them? Old school uses the lid of an oatmeal container or an orange juice can as a template. The more modern, technologically enhanced method uses a discarded CD as a template. Either way, templates make sure the yo-yo’s are consistent in size and shape. But it’s not just the size and shape that matters. The stitches around the edge of your fabric must be consistent too. If the seam allowance varies, so will the shape. Also, too many small stitches and your yo-yo’s won’t close properly. What to do? Always the creative companion, Clover has developed Quick Yo-Yo templates that will enable you to create with reckless abandon.

What does it do? – Creativity happens at the speed of thought. Consistently spacing stitches a quarter inch apart with a quarter inch seam allowance is a little more tedious. Clover’s Quick Yo-Yo templates take away all of the guess work. Perfect yo-yo’s every time.

  • Quick Yo-Yo makers are sturdy, two-piece plastic templates. Simply capture the fabric between the two discs and trim the excess. Take a threaded needle sequentially through the perforations in the template to produce evenly spaced stitches at an exact seam allowance for perfect gathers.
  • Quick Yo-Yo makers are provided in several cools shapes and sizes. The more traditional round yo-yo’s come in five sizes from extra small to jumbo. Hearts and flowers come in two sizes each. There are also two sizes each in both butterflies and shamrocks. Lots of shapes and lots of sizes. Up to you how you put them together.

Watch Tool School here!!

Tool School Kanzashi Flower Maker with Steve Butler

8487 L Kanzashi Orchid Petal (IP)

What is it? – How do you make a Kanzashi flower? Place a piece of fabric in the template, fold it closed, trim around the edges, take a threaded needle through the holes in numerical order, open the template and pull the thread tight. Petal complete. Repeat four more times and your flower is done. Could not be easier and no heavy equipment required. With all of the different sizes and shapes of Kanzashi Flower Maker templates and the vast and always changing selection of fabric patterns, colors and textures available to you, your creative potential is virtually unlimited.

What does it do? – Clover’s Kanzashi Flower Maker templates take all of the guesswork and tedious technique out of the equation. Each flower is completed easily, precisely and quickly and that allows you to concentrate all of your effort on the creative process.

•Size – Kanzashi Flower Maker templates come in three sizes. Large flowers are approximately 3 inches across, small flowers are approximately 2 inches across and extra small flowers are about 1 1/2 inches across. Select whichever size meets your requirements or combine them for something truly unique.

•Shape – Kanzashi Flower Maker templates come in five distinct petal shapes. Round, pointed, gathered, daisy and orchid. You can select the flower shape or type to fit your fabric design or project shape. The possibilities are endless.

Visit our Facebook page under the tab Giveaways! to learn how to win a Kanzashi Flower Maker!!

Learn how to make a Kanzashi flower by watching this video