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Tuesday’s Knitting and Crochet Tip – Using a Salad Spinner

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
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Have you ever held a dripping sweater in your hands and wonder what is the best way to remove the excess water before blocking? Just the right tool may be found in your kitchen.

Use a salad spinner to get out excess water from your knitting or crochet project before blocking.

After I finish knitting or crocheting a project, I like to give it a good soak in some water with wool wash. I’ve tried a number of ways of removing the extra water before pinning it to a blocking board. My favorite and probably the quickest method is to use a salad spinner. It’s a lot more gentle than the spin cycle in my washing machine. I’ve used the towel method, but I don’t love the big pile of wet towels I have at the end. So if the project isn’t too big, I grab my salad spinner.

I’m always impressed by how much excess water I can get out with the salad spinner. (Yay centrifugal force!) A large salad spinner is big enough for many projects such as scarves, shawls, baby garments, lightweight sweaters, and gauge swatches (you do swatch, right?).

What is your favorite method of getting out the water from your project? Leave a note in the comments.

 

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – Start with the Sleeves

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
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You’ll find that many sweater patterns are knit in pieces from the bottom up. Most of these patterns instruct you to start knitting the body first and then move onto the sleeves.

Recently when I cast on for the Playful Stripes Sweater, it wasn’t until I was nearly done with the body that I wished I had started knitting the sleeves first. I was straying from the pattern and trying a different cast on method. It would have been easier to test the cast on with only 38 sleeve stitches compared to the 144 body stitches.

There are a few reasons you might want to start with a smaller number of stitches on a sleeve before knitting the body.

  • Trying out a new stitch pattern or technique
  • Testing color combinations in your multi-color project
  • Straying from the instructions in the pattern and not sure you’ll like the changes
  • Hate swatching so a sleeve essentially becomes your swatch so you know if you’re using the right needle size.

If I was going to start my sweater over, I probably would have done something a little differently on the cuffs and hem. It wasn’t until I was too far into the body that I realized I wanted something different. But I felt I was too far along to make it worth ripping out and starting over. But if I had started with a sleeve first…I wouldn’t have hesitated to start over and get the cuff/hem I really wanted. Live and learn.

Are you a strict pattern follower? Or do like to use a pattern as your guide and change things up a bit?

31 Days to Get Organized: Wrap Up!

Friday, February 1st, 2013
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Wow! What a crazy 31 days of organizing we’ve had. Thanks everyone for following along. I hope you’ve found some of our tips helpful. Also thanks to everyone who left a tip or question in the comments during this series. It helped me to cover some of the organizational issues you’ve been struggling with. And many of you had really useful and creative organizational tips to share.

I’ve compiled a list below of the 31 organizing tasks and tips with quick links to each post. Some of you didn’t have time to join in on the organizing last month. Bookmark the list in your browser or your knitting & crochet Pinterest boards so it’ll be easy to find later when you want to tackle your knitting and crochet organization. Also if your organization falls apart over time, this will be a good list to go through each January to whip things back into shape.

Day 1: 31 Days to Get Your Knitting & Crochet Organized
Day 2: WIPs – Keep or Frog
Day 3: Tips for Your WIPs
Day 4: Storing Your WIPs
Day 5: Keeping Notes about Your WIPs
Day 6: Flash Your Stash!
Day 7: Destashing Your Yarn
Day 8: How to Recycle Yarn
Day 9: Tracking Your Yarn Stash
Day 10: What to Do with Leftover Yarn
Day 11: How to Get Rid of Unwanted Yarn
Day 12: Identifying Mystery Yarn
Day 13: How to Organize Your Yarn
Day 14: How to Keep Moths and Other Critters Away from Your Yarn
Day 15: Organizing Your Craft Books, Magazines, & Pattern Books
Day 16: Organizing Your Single Knitting and Crochet Patterns
Day 17: Using and Reorganizing Your Ravelry Queue
Day 18: Digital Patterns
Day 19: Keeping Track of Your Pattern Library
Day 20: Knitting Needles & Crochet Hooks
Day 21: How to Store Your Needles and Hooks
Day 22: Keeping Track of Your Needles and Hooks
Day 23: Tips for Photographing Your Finished Objects
Day 24: Tool Kit Essentials
Day 25: Knitting and Crochet Tools
Day 26: Storing Your Knitting and Crochet Tools
Day 27: Knitting and Crochet Spaces at Home
Day 28: Out and About with Your Knitting and Crochet
Day 29: Storing Your Finished Projects
Day 30: Maintaining Your Knitting & Crochet Organization
Day 31: Wrap Up!

I’d love to get some feedback from you. Either share the tip you found most useful from the organizing series, or ask any organizational question you didn’t get answered. Thanks again everyone for following along. This has been a ton of fun.

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: Maintaining Your Knitting & Crochet Organization

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
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If you’ve been following along with our 31 Days to Get Organized blog series, your knitting and crochet life probably looks a little more organized than it did a month ago. But many of you have found that you can put in a lot of time and effort getting organized, but it all falls apart after awhile. The last key part of any organizational system you create is maintaining the organization. Today’s task is to look back at how your craft organization has fallen apart in the past and how you will be able to carve out time to maintain your knitting and crochet organization going forward.

A couple of things to think about as you come up with your new maintenance plan…

  • Find a home for new yarn, patterns, and tools as they come into your home. We all have busy lives and would rather be spending more of our time knitting and crochet. But I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to stay on top of a newly organized system is to find a place to store everything as it comes into your life. Decide where the new yarn will live. Put away patterns, magazines, and books with the rest of your collection. That means digital patterns too – move the file to the correct place on your computer where you can find it easily later. Dealing with the new items right away keeps them from piling up and getting overwhelming.
  • If you like to keep track of what’s in your yarn stash, pattern library, and needle and hook inventory, enter your new items into your tracking systems before you put each item away in their new homes.
  • The last part of finishing a project shouldn’t be weaving in your ends or blocking it. Document all of your hard work. Take pictures of your finished project including close up shots of details. And type up notes about your project right after finishing when it’s still fresh in your brain. What changes did you make to the pattern? How much yarn did you use? What needle or hook sizes did you use? Who did you make it for?
  • Schedule tune-ups for your organizing system. Depending on how quickly yarn and patterns come in and out of your house, schedule regular tune-ups where you go through your yarn, patterns, and tools and clean them up, getting rid of the stuff you no longer want, and re-organizing if necessary. This may need to be a monthly, seasonal, or yearly task for you. I find that if I put these tune-ups on my calendar, they’re more likely to get done.
  • I also like to make a list of priority projects that I want to knit and crochet. This includes making gifts for birthdays, holidays, new babies, etc. I’ll take a look at my calendar and schedule them throughout the year so I can stay on top of these time-sensitive projects. Writing down all of these projects also helps me look at if my expectations for what I want to do are actually realistic. Often I want to make a lot more things than I really have time to do.
  • If you’re having a hard time fitting in enough knitting and crochet time, think about how you can use the wasted bits of time during a week. You can find that knitting and crocheting on the go may add up to a lot of time by the end of the week. Also, if you have some projects coming up that you need to finish, think about scheduling a knitting and crochet vacation for yourself. Carve out an afternoon or a weekend at home (or away) where you can focus your time on your project.

Do you find it difficult to keep up your knitting and crochet organization once it’s in place? How do you fit in all of the knitting and crochet time you want?

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: Storing Your Finished Projects

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
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If you’ve been knitting and crocheting for more than a few years, you might have a quite a collection of finished projects by now. Some of you have asked for help on how to store your finished projects, especially if you have big collections of sweaters, accessories, and such. In today’s 31 Days to Get Organized post, we’ll be talking about caring for your handmade garments, tips on how to organize and store them, and how to reduce your collection.

Prepare Your Finished Project Before You Store It

  • The first thing you want to do is make sure your handmade creation is clean before you put it away for an extended time. Dirt will attract critters, so you’ll want to make sure your handknit sweater or crocheted blanket is clean. Follow the care instructions for the yarn you used. Eucalan Wool Wash is great for natural fibers, and some scents have natural moth and flea inhibiting properties.
  • Remove pills that may have developed. Using a tool like a sweater comb or the Gleener Ultimate Fuzz Remover will make quick work of this task.
  • Also repair any holes, seams, or loose ends showing on the right side of your fabric. This may take a little more time, but you’ll be thankful when you pull it out to use the next time.

Storage Tips for Your Sweaters

  • Don’t hang your sweaters. This will cause them to stretch out and get hanger marks over time. It’s better to fold or roll your sweaters and store in drawers or on shelves.
  • If you store your sweaters in drawers, rather than folding and stacking them, roll them after folding in the sleeves. All of your sweaters will be more visible and not hide in the bottom of the drawer.
  • If you have wide shelves, use shelf dividers to separate your piles of sweaters so they stay neater and don’t fall over.
  • Keep similar gauge sweaters together. Don’t stack heavier or bulky sweaters on top of fine-gauge sweaters.

Storage Tips for Your Accessories

  • If you have a lot of hats, mittens, scarves, and other accessories, sort them into individual containers to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. A basket of scarves, bucket of hats, and box of mittens can save you time when you’re rushing to get out the door in the morning. Clear plastic drawers that sit below coats in a closet is a good use of space.
  • Use a storage solution where you can easily see your collection. Shallow boxes on a shelf, a shoe organizer with clear pockets on the back of a coat closet door, or open wire baskets attached to the wall can make finding things easier.
  • Some of your storage can also be a way to display your knitting and crochet work. Show off your felted bag collection on wall hooks, or hang your favorite shawls and scarves on a towel rack for all to see.
  • Check out our Craft Spaces Pinterest board for more storage ideas.

Keep Your Favorites and Find New Homes for the Rest

  • What if your collection has gotten too big for your space? Rotate through your garments, keeping some in deeper storage and the rest more accesible.
  • Weed out the items you no longer wear or use. Find another home for them or put them in your giveaway pile. But take pictures first of your work if you haven’t done so already.
  • Sometimes when you finish a project, it doesn’t turn out like you wanted it to. Don’t get frustrated. Save it for your next yarn swap and include a finished project swap too!

Do you have any other tips for storing and organizing your finished work?

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: Knitting and Crochet Spaces at Home

Monday, January 28th, 2013
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If you’ve been following along with our 31 Days to Get Organized series, today’s task may be a nice change of pace. We’re going to spruce up our primary knitting and crochet spaces at home.

One of the beauties of knitting and crochet is that you can do it anywhere. It’s a wonderfully portable activity. Despite that, many of us do most of our knitting and crochet at home. And you probably have only one or two main places that you do the bulk of your work. Maybe it’s a favorite chair in your living room, knitting or crocheting while you watch t.v. Or you might have a corner in a sunny part of the house with great light. Or you may be fortunate enough to have a whole room just for your crafts where you can really spread out.

Step back a take a look at your knitting and crochet spot with fresh eyes. Note the things that have been bugging you. Some things to think about:

- Do you have adequate light to see your work easily?
- Do you have enough nearby storage for the things you use frequently?
- Is it a comfortable place to sit for an extended time?
- Do you have enough horizontal space to spread out if necessary?
- When you look at the space, how does it make you feel? Happy, overwhelmed, excited?
- Do you prefer to work away from the everyday hubbub, or do you like to be in the middle of the action?

Ideally, you want to create a workspace that is comfortable and inviting. To improve your space you might need to change it’s location, rearrange some furniture, or simply get a brighter lightbulb.

If you’ve been watching our organizing thread on Ravelry, you’ll have seen jbtraveler‘s before and after photos of her knitting space. She didn’t make drastic changes to her space, but enough small changes that makes it more functional and enjoyable place to work. I love seeing everyone’s progress.

If you’re looking for more inspiration for your knitting and crochet spaces at home, check out our Craft Spaces Pinterest board for more ideas.

Where is your favorite place to knit and crochet at home?

31 Days to Get Organized: Storing Your Knitting and Crochet Tools

Sunday, January 27th, 2013
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Now that we’ve collected all of our knitting and crochet tools, it’s time to put them away in a way that’s easy for us to find later. Many of you already have a way that you store your tools that’s working well for you. But if you’re still looking for a solution, here are some ideas how others store their knitting and crochet tools.

  • Put your most essential tools into small cases that you can easily fit in a project bag or carry with you. Last Friday, we showed several examples of knitting and crochet tool kits.
  • Create a few mini tool kits so you can keep one with each project you’re working on.
  • Store small items like darning needles and stitch markers in small containers like an Altoids tin, Lantern Moon Mort Ort Bin, or the Namaste Buddy Case.
  • Clear pouches or zipper cases are a favorite way to store tools since you can see what you have, making finding something easier. For an inexpensive version try pencil cases, or if you’re looking for something a little cuter, check out the Chic.a Clear Front Zipper Pouches available in small and large sizes, or the Namaste Oh Snap! Pouches.
  • If you like the idea of clear storage, but need something a little bigger with more compartments, the Knit Happy Fold ‘n Go Notions Box may be just right for all your tools and gadgets.

  • For the crafter who likes to be uber-organized, try looking at non-conventional storage solutions such as a hanging jewelry organizer with pockets, a fishing tackle bag, or a tool box. They have lots of compartments and ways to sort your tools.
  • If you have a drawer available for storage, use modular drawer trays to keep all of your gadgets sorted and easier to find.
  • Avoid deep boxes and storage where smaller items can sift to the bottom and get lost.
  • Do you find that you’re continually hunting for certain tools. Keep a decorative bowl or open container near where you knit or crochet as easily accessible storage for tools that you use frequently.
  • Also if find that you’re not very good at putting away your tools on a regular basis, consider keeping a bowl or open box near where you store your tools as a an intermediate place to collect them until you have time to put them away.

How do you like to store your knitting and crochet tools? I especially love to hear about your unconventional storage solutions.

- Dena

31 Day to Get Organized: Knitting and Crochet Tools

Saturday, January 26th, 2013
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Welcome to the last week of our 31 Days to Get Organized blog series. We’ve all put in a lot of work to get our knitting and crochet yarn, patterns, needles, and hooks organized. We’re in the home stretch now though.

Yesterday we gave you a look inside our knitting and crochet tool kits. Today’s organizing task is a simple one. Collect all of the knitting and crochet tools you can find. Gather all of your stitch markers, cable needles, stitch holders, tape measures, needle and hook gauges, darning needles, craft scissors – all those little tools that we use to help us with our knitting and crochet projects. This might require you to dig through your project bags, sofa cushions, junk drawer, car glove box…all those places these little things start to collect and hide. Of course grab your tool kits too.

Now that you’ve collected all of your tools in one place, spread them out and sort them. You’ll start to notice duplicate items and maybe some things you never use. This is a good time to weed out any of the tools you don’t want or need. Add them to your giveaway pile of yarn and patterns if you haven’t gotten rid of them yet.

Tomorrow we’ll be talking about different ways to organize and store your knitting and crochet tools.

Since we’ll be wrapping up organizing our knitting and crochet this next week, what organizing questions or dilemas do you still have that we haven’t covered already? Leave your question in the comments so we can address as many as we can before wrapping up the series on Friday.

31 Days to Get Organized: Knitting Needles & Crochet Hooks

Monday, January 21st, 2013
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You’ve gone through your yarn stash. You’ve sorted through all your patterns. You knew today was coming. It’s time to collect all of your knitting needles and crochet hooks. If you already removed a lot of your needles and hooks from your WIPs, you’re ahead of the game today. So grab as many of your knitting needles and crochet hooks that you can. Some are in active projects, and they can stay there.

With your whole collection of knitting needles and hooks in front of you, start sorting them by type. Maybe you’ll have piles for your hooks, afghan hooks, tunisian hooks, double pointed needles, straight needles, fixed circular needles, and interchangeable needles and hooks. As you’re sorting your collection into piles, notice which needles and hooks you never use. Maybe they’re too blunt or too sharp. Do you hate the join of a particular circular knitting needle? Maybe you don’t like the shape of a certain type of hook. Since part of the reason you knit and crochet is probably for enjoyment, if a certain needle or hook bugs you, get rid of it. There are so many options out there; find the tool you like to use. It’s worth it in the long run.

Grab all of the needles and hooks you don’t want to keep, stick them in a bag, and bring them to your next yarn swap. You won’t miss them. Trust me.

Look at the piles that remains. Now that you’ve rounded up all of your hooks and needles, do you notice a lot of duplicates? It’s ok to have duplicates, especially with knitting needles. There are some techniques such as three needle bind-off, a provisional cast-on, or knitting socks on two circular needles where you need multiple needles of the same size. And you might love knitting with worsted weight yarn and find that you have multiple projects going at the same time using the same needle size. Then it’s great to have multiple needles of the same size. But if you see that you have five 24″ US 7 knitting needles, you might start to ask yourself if you need so many duplicates.

Tomorrow, Grace will be showing us different tips on how to store our knitting needles and crochet hooks. Stay tuned!

What’s the current state of your needle and hook collection? Do you need a little help?

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: Keeping Track of Your Pattern Library

Sunday, January 20th, 2013
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Many of you have discovered that Ravelry works really well for keeping track of your pattern library. This is especially true if most of the books, magazines, and patterns that you have in your library are from the recent past. Patterns are added to Ravelry by members. There are almost 340,000 individual knitting and crochet patterns on Ravelry! And over time, more and more older patterns are being added to Ravelry in addition to most new ones.

But what if you don’t use Ravelry or have A LOT of older patterns in your library that don’t exist on Ravelry yet. You may be looking for an alternate solution for keeping track of what you have in your library.

During this blog series, people have been raving about Evernote in the comments. It sounds like it’s an easy way to keep track of all of your knitting and crochet life, including what patterns you own. Because there are Evernote apps available for you mobile device, you can have access to it anywhere. If you’re interested in learning more about Evernote, check out this blog post, Evernote for Knitting: How Jennifer Lathrop Keeps Her Patterns and Needles Organized. Don’t worry, it applies to crocheting too.

I used to use Delicious Library to catalog our music and books. This allows you to upload your media to your library by scanning the barcodes. It’s easy to use, and may be a good option if you just want a list of all of your knitting and crochet books, but it won’t let you organize the individual patterns from the books.

One question to ask yourself is WHY you want to keep track of all of your patterns. Do you get frustrated looking for just the right pattern, or find it takes a long time to find the specific pattern you’re looking for? Then coming up with some kind of tracking system might make sense for you. Maybe you mostly find that you’re always searching for a new baby project, but not much else. It’s perfectly reasonable to go through your collection and just catalog the baby patterns you have in your library. This may be a good tip for someone who is overwhelmed by the size of their library, and can’t imagine cataloging everything, thus keeping them from even starting.

No matter what way you use to keep track of your pattern library, don’t feel compelled to enter every pattern you own. I’m a type ‘A’ person, so sometimes I want to track everything, even though I don’t need to track it all. I would recommend tracking only the patterns you actually want to make someday. Don’t feel compelled to list every pattern from a book or magazine. That takes a lot of time. And wouldn’t you rather be spending some of that time knitting and crocheting?

So, do you prefer to flip through your books and magazines to find your next pattern to knit or crochet? Or do you prefer to catalog every pattern and have access to your whole library when you’re out shopping at your local yarn store?