Friday, December 13, 2013

A Life-Saver Yarn 'Notion'?

Okay, maybe life-saver is a bit much.  What I'm talking about is a yarn ball winder.  I bought one several years ago when I attempted to learn how to do regular knitting, which as I've said, didn't work out too well for me.  Anyway, this is a purchase that I look at time and again and think how glad I am that I have it.  When I buy yarn. the first thing I do is wind it on the yarn winder to get it into a nice ball that is workable and convenient in size.  You may get 2 1/2 balls of yarn from, say a Red Heart brand of solid colored regular size skein of yarn.  My yarn winder is a Royal brand.  It mounts onto a table top and tightens with a wing-nut screw underneath.  I put mine on a piece of wood in the back yard from my daughter's climbing toy we took down over a year ago.  I stapled a plastic place mat to it to prevent the yarn from getting dirty and getting scratched by the wood.  Plus, it makes it portable which is nice when you want to sit in front of the TV and mindlessly wind yarn---it's fun!

You can see how nice it winds the yarn into a workable size ball.  I bought mine in a specialty yarn store and really that's the only type of store I've seen them.  You generally wouldn't see ones, I don't believe, in a Jo-Ann or Hobby Lobby store.  It would be great if you did then you can use your handy dandy 40% off coupon!  At the time, I paid about $34 which I thought was pretty high for about 6-7 years ago,  Even now, it seems expensive.  It is so worth your money and time though.  You'll be glad you got one.  Now, there are electric yarn winders.  I saw one reviewed on YouTube and was so NOT impressed.  Trust me, get a manual one.  An electric one does not make it easier.  I've only seen one brand of these so you probably know which one I'm talking about.  Check with your local yarn specialty store.  Be prepared to spend a little, but you'll thank yourself time and again.

Part 2: Loomin' Up A Storm!

I have really gotten caught up in the whole knit looming thing.  It's something you can do watching tv or just relaxing with no sound around at all.  It's a stress releaser like sewing is for me. I started making some hats for the homeless in my hometown.  Below are some items I have made.  I've made several hats, but now need to focus on more scarves.

The hats go pretty quickly in making them.  I don't use much of a pattern The initial stitches are chained on then the first row being stitched as a purl.  Then for another 2 1/2" of length, alternate knit and purl after the initial purl stitch  Then you switch over to all knit stitches for the rest of the hat.  I make them about 12" in length and use the gathered method in binding off and closing the hole at the top.  This is a simple hat and pretty easy to make.  Of course, there are a lot of other hat patterns out there.

Here are some of my loom knitting tools.  My favorite loom hook is the orange thicker-handled one in the front which I have since lost so I gotta replace it.  It makes a big difference in how my hand feels using it.

So, starting on the left, you can see some balls of yarn and a long wooden stick I was using for stuffing 2 strands of yarn (a smaller crochet hook works better I have found out from a friend) into my homemade yarn guide (instructions for making one below) which is so easy to use, especially for long looms depending on the pattern.  In the front are the various loom hooks.  All, but the orange thick one came in the package with whatever looms I bought.  Next in the middle are stitch markers, but I really use them as a place marker between my first and last pegs for my rows.  In the bag is a scarf I have almost completed for the homeless, made on a long Knifty Knitter loom (my favorite).  The white bunch you see are my several yarn guides I've made.  I use about a size I or J crochet hook to chain on stitches to a round loom.  And lastly, the yarn needle in the front right.  This is a must when finishing up your project.  It's used for the gathered binding off method and to weave in yarn strands from your beginning slip knot yarn piece to the yarn that is left (about 18" I leave for weaving it in) once the yarn is all gathered onto the yarn needle.  If you have any questions about this, let me know.  I have to credit YouTube big time in helping me learn various techniques, as well as the awesome loom knitting books I have been accumulating.

What is a yarn guide and how do you make one?  You have to make your own because you can't buy one.  A yarn guide is used to get your yarn between the pegs, keeping the yarn taut throughout, without having to use your fingers to wrap the pegs.  It also keeps your gauge consistent throughout your project.  You put your yarn through it using a small (blue) crochet hook), then tie a slip knot to begin whatever loom project you desire.  To make one (I have made several) is to take a ball point pen (Paper Mate brand works well, or a generic brand of value pack of pens) and using needle nose pliers, take off the round piece at the top of the pen--just grab it lightly, you don't want to damage the edges which would scrape your yarn--and loosen that piece and pull it off.  Do the same with pen piece used for writing at the other end.  Now, you have an empty pen barrel.  I throw away the leftover pen pieces.  It makes looming so much easier, if, for example, you want to do a figure 8 scarf on a long loom like in the picture above.  You can see my yarn guide that's attached to it.

If this is clear as mud, then let me know and I can answer your questions.  There are some good videos on YouTube for the figure 8 long loom scarf.  Have I won you over enough in your curiosity to take up this fun hobby?  I am definitely hooked ;-))

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Part 1: Where Have I Been?

Wow--to be totally honest, I have gone off the deep-end...............with knitting looms!  No kidding, visit my board on Pinterest.  I have gone loopy or loomy for knitting looms!  A friend mentioned it to me back in March (the last time I posted here) or in April.  I was trying to learn how to do regular knitting...again for the second time in my life.  Just so you know that didn't go so great....again.  So, back at that time, I decided to do some research on these knitting looms my friend mentioned.  Well, I bought a set of Knifty Knitter looms from Ebay--3 round ones and a small rectangle long loom.  I made a baby's hat, put it on my cat and took a picture...

How cute is that?!  This is my second oldest or youngest furry baby-Dewey.  He's been on the web site as you've seen.  Then I started a double color striped hat (no pics of that) of purple and green.  And for some reason I lost interest or life just happened and I put it away for a while.  Plus, people were telling me I needed to learn to knit the 'real' way.  Well, since then I chucked that up to be pretty much knit snobbery.  Just being honest, just sayin'......I don't like snobbery of any kind.  It's important to do what is FUN and ENJOYABLE for yourself....YOU; no one else.  Once it becomes frustrating and hard and no fun----is the time to move on or take a break.

Almost 2 months ago, I found a renewed interest in these looms again...You can see several in the photo below--my whole current inventory.  I say current cause I have my eye on the kb 'S' loom for making afghans that are 60" in length!  My looms include the brands, starting from the left side--Martha Stewart Loom & Weave Kit (bought from Amazon; also available at Walmart and craft stores) in 3 configurations shown--1 being the square for weaving (other pieces in the kit are not shown).  YouTube has videos on this product if you want to check it out.  The next set which are the 4 round looms (reddish/pink, orange, blue and green) and the reddish/fuchsia  long loom behind those are Boye products I got from Walmart in a set.  Then the biggest set that I have which include the 2 blue, green, yellow, off-pink long looms and round looms (green with a project on it, orange and yellow) are the Knifty Knitters which are my favorite!  And lastly, in the forefront are the kb sock looms.  I have yet to use those.

My full loom inventory as of this writing.

I got onto YouTube and blasted away trying to find any and all videos I could on how to knit loom using various looms in various methods.  Here is my favorite channel for learning about loom knitting.  Check it out here.

Good Knit Kisses has the BEST videos out there on the subject.  So to save any interested knit loomers out there some time---look at her videos on various methods to loom, plus she has videos that are product reviews....those are good too.  Check out this video:

Kristen, of Good Knit Kisses, also teaches regular knitting and crochet, as well.  You can check out those videos too.

I've got several pics to show you of my supplies and projects I am working on and one for charity.  Til' the next post--have a great loom-filled day :-)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

It's Costume Time Again

Working on costumes again for the upcoming production of The Lamb-A Passover Perspective of the Last Supper.  Our church performs this production every year--now the third year.  It really is an educational, as well as spiritual performance to see.  Hopefully, I will be able to get a link afterward for you to view the performance.  I have 2 costumes to make--each totally different.  One is the overcoat worn by 'Jesus' and the other is a more dressy costume for one of the daughters of the Host Family--the main focus aside from the disciples and Jesus in the 'Upper Room'.

Aside from all this, I have started taking lessons to learn how to knit.  I tried several years ago--got discouraged and packed it all away.  Recently, a friend introduced me to loom knitting which is pretty cool.  But it also got me thinking that maybe I should try again--with one-on-one lessons to learn how to knit.  I always viewed it as an unattainable craft to learn, as I once did for sewing.  But when it came to finally taking lessons to sew about 4 years ago--I jumped in whole-heartedly.  So, I plan to do the same with knitting.  I am still working on what I learned in the first lesson which is casting on and the knit stitch.  Of course, I make lots of mistakes and don't know how to correct them, but just keep on plodding along just to get more comfortable holding the needles and making the stitches without looking like a stiff robot!  Here's the place where I am taking lessons, in case you want to check it out yourself-It is called True Blewe Yarns & More.  If you have any knitting tips for a beginner, I would be happy to learn them!