Friday, September 1, 2017

Wearables: Tips For Knitting Scarves

The great thing about knitting a scarf is that it can be done in just a short amount of time.  It is the ideal first project as you only need to cast on a dozen or so stitches (possibly less depending on needle size) and you can start actually making something immediately.  Best of all, because knitting a scarf does not require a pattern and gauge is not a factor, even a beginning knitter can create a one in a matter of hours the very first day with a little guidance.
Much like crochet, the knitting of a textile is accomplished by creating a series of loops and linking them together in rows.  Unlike crochet, knitting is done with two longish needles instead of a single short hook and the loops are held onto the needle as you go along (Tunisian crochet is the exception to this).  Because a scarf is somewhat narrow, the loops will not bunch up too much as you work and the textile won’t easily lose its shape.  (Another reason knitting scarves is appealing to the beginner.)
Normally when creating a knitted textile from a pattern a sample swatch would be created to check the gauge of the knitting.  Gauge is the number of stitches per inch and is used to help the knitter determine what needles are best for the yarn being used.  Thinner needles create a tighter “weave” and larger ones create a more loose one.  Knitting a basic scarf requires neither pattern nor gauge; only the ability to manipulate yarn on the needles.
There are two stitches used in knitting, knits and purls, but a person need master only one of them (knits) to create a scarf.  To begin to knit any type of item whether it be a garment, home décor item or toy, you begin by what is known as casting on.  A textile that is made up of all knits and no purls is basically repeating the same process used for casing on but transferring the knitting stitches back and forth from needle to needle.  It is a lot simpler than it sounds or even looks to the novice at first glance and is quite easy once you get the hang of it.
Knitting generally takes a long time to create something larger than a square for a blanket or dish towel.  This is the reason many beginning knitters often get frustrated with the process and quit before finishing that awesome sweater they thought it was going to be so great to make.  Making squares to be connected for a blanket not only takes a lot of time, it can get a little boring in the repetitiveness of it.  Knitting a scarf though can be done in one sitting, especially if large sized needles are used.
For a beginning knitter, just like with crochet, creating scarves is one of the quickest and most satisfying projects that can be undertaken.  Whether the scarf is intended for personal use or to be given as a gift, completing it brings a sense of accomplishment and the instant gratification that will motivate the person to keep going with more and more knitting projects.  (From scarves one can move on to shawls, stoles and other wraps.)
Knitting requires a significant amount of yarn and choosing the right texture of yarn for a scarf is extremely important for novices.  Like sewing, the prettiest materials and garments are not necessarily the easiest to make/work with.   Fluffy yarns such as eyelash and wavy yarns such as bouclé are not always the best for beginners. 
Where a hat or scarf could be made with just one skein of some yarns in crochet, knitting can require double that amount or more.  It is always a good idea to purchase a couple of extra skeins just in case as some yarns have a dye lot and color matching may be difficult if the purchase of more is required to complete a project.
By knitting a scarf on large needles using all knits and no purls the result is a stretchy fabric in what is known as garter stitch that is simple and attractive, particularly when using a variegated (multicolored) yarn.  Also, the larger the needle the more “lacy” a knitted item will appear.
Things to keep in mind about knitting scarves:
-Using large needles reduces knitting time from several hours or even days to a matter of hours.
-Knitting requires a significant amount of yarn.
-Beginners should use the largest (thickest needles) they can find.
-Choose yarn carefully.
Knitting a scarf is a practical and satisfying activity that is a great way to relax and the end result is a beautiful and unique hand made item that can bring many hours of enjoyment long after it is completed.

Sewing Crafts: How to Make Your Own Wristlet Purse

Purses are an essential part of every female's existence. From young girls to seasoned senior ladies, we have to have someplace to keep all our stuff. Once upon a time even men carried purses, though they weren't like the saddlebags women tote around today. 

When you're headed out on the town and you don't need anything more than your phone, ID, and a card/some cash, a wristlet is the ideal choice. 

Originally published December 2010.

How to Make a Wristlet Purse

There are many occasions on which a woman may only need a purse large enough to carry her keys, identification, a little money, and/or a credit card and perhaps a lipstick. On these occasions a large handbag, such as the type generally carried day to day to hold everything, is just too cumbersome.
While the clutch purse is an attractive option, it has no strap like a shoulder bag, which means a woman has to hold it in her hand the entire evening. This may not be an issue at the theater, but at a party it means she only has one free hand with which to eat, drink and greet.
This is where the wristlet comes in handy. It is small and practical like a clutch, but has a short strap that allows it to be worn at the end of the arm like a bracelet. The strap can be attached as a zipper pull or sewn onto one of the side seams of the purse. The wristlet bag can be made from almost any material that you can put a needle through and sew. Even if you don’t have sewing skills you can adapt a small cosmetic bag or a change purse to function as a wristlet.
To make an unlined wristlet purse you will need a pattern, square of fabric, needle and thread, (or a sewing machine) straight pins, a zipper or Velcro, (or other fastener appropriate for your design) and the material for your strap such as a piece of ribbon or leather. Your square of fabric should large enough that when folded in half you have ample room for the items you plan to carry in it. If you want to eliminate the need for a zipper, you’ll want to use a rectangle of fabric that will allow you to fold the fabric three times (like a brochure) in order to create a flap to close the purse.
To begin, place the fabric flat on a clean work surface with the right side facing upward. Lay the zipper against one edge and pin it to the fabric, placing the pins close to the edge. Turn the fabric to the wrong side and fold down the edge with the zipper approximately one-eighth of an inch and press. Stitch the zipper to the fabric square.
Fold down one-eighth of an inch from the opposite edge of the square and attach it to the other side of the zipper. You should now have a fabric tube.  If attaching the strap to the side seam, turn the tube inside out and attach the strap to the end where the zipper closes. (If not attaching this way skip to the next paragraph.) Depending on the width of the strap you can attach it on the outside over the ends of the fabric or hide it inside by turning under the fabric edges and sewing through the layers of fabric and the strap to close up the side of the purse.
Unzip the zipper and turn the tube inside out again. Sew the open side according to the method you chose for the side with the strap. If you are attaching the strap to the zipper pull, close up the side seams leaving a one-eighth inch seam allowance. Turn the bag right side out again and sew the strap to the zipper pull. 
Once you’ve made one wristlet purse you can make dozens more. Experiment with shapes and materials to create your own unique designs to match your entire party wardrobe.