BUTTONS! BUTTONS! BUTTONS!

I’m always looking for unique, handmade buttons to adorn my completed knitting projects. I say “adorn” because the buttons I attach aren’t always functional. They look awesome all by themselves—perched on the brim of a knitted hat or positioned playfully along the edge of a scarf.

Happy Silence skull buttons are fun!

Happy Silence skull buttons are fun!

Check out these fabulous handmade buttons for your knitting and sewing projects!

The owner of Brooklyn Weal fashions his buttons from reclaimed wood. There are two types – toggles or flat buttons. 

One-of-a-kind, gorgeous Brooklyn Weal toggle buttons!  Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Weal

Gorgeous, one-of-a-kind Brooklyn Weal toggle buttons
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Weal

The toggle buttons are made from maple branches or old beams. He collects branches that have naturally been blown out of trees along the streets of Manhattan. As he says, “No trees were harmed in the making of this product!” Then he lovingly crafts these gorgeous buttons, hand-sawing and hand-sanding them to perfection, and uses an all-natural, eco-friendly finish. I LOVE how each toggle button is so unique! As I write this, an order of Brooklyn Weal toggles and flats are headed my way! Can’t wait to get them!

And…I just received my order of incredibly cool clay buttons from Happy Silence! The Day of the Dead inspired skull buttons are artful and fun for lots of projects. Sew one of these on a hat and – BAM! – suddenly it’s obvious your hat was NOT store-bought or knitted by a decrepit aunt. And the assorted buttons are absolutely beautiful!

A colorful assortment of Happy Silence clay buttons!

Colorful Happy Silence clay buttons

As you can see, I received a gorgeous, colorful array in my order. All Happy Silence buttons are handmade from stoneware clay and then glazed and fired for a beautiful finish.

My holiday wish for you:

Peace, Happiness

and

May All Your Knitted Gifts be Completed!

(I’m still knitting like a maniac, trying to get two more scarves done.)

Dani

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And…&!

Shemika & Harry?...who knew?

Shemika & Harry?…who knew?

 

One of my customers had the clever idea of knitting the initials of her son and his betrothed as a wedding gift. But she wanted an ampersand. You know, one of these — & — so she could join the initials together in a loving way. So, at her request, I’ve designed one and it’s now available on both my Etsy and Ravelry sites.

One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, shut the door. After receiving many requests, I’ve been working diligently (okay, maybe semi-diligently…there are so many distractions in the summer) creating patterns for number plushies. Yes!…a set of patterns for number plushies will be available before the year is out.

Happy Knitting!

Dani

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FREE Sample Knitting Pattern

  • UPDATE: This offer is now over, but I wanted to thank  the hundreds of lovely knitters from ALL OVER THE WORLD who participated and became “knit knoodlers.” Isn’t knitting FUN?!
  • You want to knit alphabet plushies to spell your child’s name, but you’re a beginner and not sure how you’ll do with the increases and decreases needed to form the letters.
"T" for Tommy, Teresa, Todd or Trish!

“T” for Tommy, Teresa, Todd or Trish

  • You’re a seasoned knitter and you’ve gotten knitting patterns in the past that were a hassle to decipher, so you’re leery about purchasing an entire book of knitting patterns.
26 alphabet plushies to knit!

A whole book full of knitting fun!

  • You love yarn and you love FREE stuff.

If you fall into any of these categories, you’ll be happy to know that I’m running a special promotion this coming weekend!

For 2 days only – Saturday, January 26th and Sunday, January 27th  – I’m offering 1 FREE LETTER PATTERN per customer through my Ravelry shop.

What a FAB offer!!

What a FAB offer!!

Just choose the letter you’d like to knit, click “Add to Cart” and then use the coupon code ONEFREE during checkout to get it at no cost!

"Pick me! Pick me!"

“Pick me! Pick me!”

(Note: The books and the “I Heart U” knitting pattern do not qualify for this promotion.)

So, stop by my Ravelry design shop this coming weekend for your FREE knitting pattern! Click on one of the links imbedded in this blog or go to: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/dani-church

Happy Knitting!

Dani

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Evaluate Your 2012 Knitting Projects

To me, a New Year means evaluating my knitted projects from the previous year…

  • Was that scarf a success? Nope. It’s tucked away in a drawer, unused, because the yarn is too scratchy for me to wear.
  • Have I ever once worn that cowl in public that looked so chic in the Vogue Knitting magazine? Not after my husband burst out laughing and called me a babushka. (Vogue models can make anything look fabulous…and granted, maybe my yarn was too thick, so instead of languid sexy drape, I got the thick peasant look.)
  • And why am I not wearing that Icelandic sweater that I finished months ago? Besides the fact that I had chosen a rather startling color combination.

The past few weeks have been dedicated to reusing yarn that was knitted into something that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with. The scratchy scarf is still tucked in my drawer, awaiting rebirth.

My new hat knitted from my babushka cowl yarn.

My NEW hat knitted from my babushka cowl yarn.

But the cowl has been re-knitted into a lovely cabled hat that doesn’t make me look like I should be hauling firewood across the steppes on my back. I no longer have one of my best props to make my husband chuckle. But I have a new, warm winter hat.

And the Icelandic sweater?

The original Lopapeysa sweater.

The original Lopapeysa sweater.

I wasn’t happy with it. I didn’t like the added color along the bottom—it always reminded me of Charlie Brown’s sweater—and the hem was ribbed. Ribbed hems gather around my hips and balloon out the rest of the sweater.

So I ripped out the bottom color work, and did a simple loose bind-off. The sweater is still plenty long enough and now I actually wear it!

NEW Lopapeysa sweater without bottom color and ribbing.

REVISED Lopapeysa sweater without bottom color and ribbing.

How to Shorten (or Lengthen) a Sweater

Tearing apart a finished knitted project is a scary prospect after all the time put into knitting it. But it’s actually pretty easy to do. To shorten or lengthen a sweater, simply:

  • Decide what row will be your cutoff point.
  • Snip a thread.
  • Insert your knitting needle into the first open loop.
  • Continue picking up each loop along that row while carefully pulling out the previously knitted yarn.
Carefully pick up each stitch.

Carefully pick up each stitch.

NOTE: Don’t keep snipping the yarn if you want to re-use it…keep it intact as you unravel it, then roll it back up into a small ball for re-knitting.

  • Once you have the sweater on your needle, do the bind-off of your choice using the ripped-out yarn OR grab some new yarn (the same or a complementary color), and add a new bottom section.

The only issue I ran into was making sure I was picking up loops from the same row. Once in a while, I would wander off-row. It’s obvious when you do, because suddenly you can no longer pull the previously knitted yarn out of the garment. If that happens, just back up a stitch or two and get back on track.

So, take some time to evaluate your finished knitting projects from 2012. If you’re anything like me, they’re made from yarns that are too precious to pitch into the giveaway pile. That lovely alpaca or hand-dyed wool deserves a place in your wardrobe. Take the time to make it happen. You’ll be glad you did!

Happy knitting!

Dani

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Learn to Knit Something New

I was looking for something different to knit. I’ve knitted scarves, hats, gloves, sweaters, cowls and pillows. I’ve done cables, laces, color work and Fair Isle. I’ve knitted with every size and type of needle. I wracked my brain. What was something new, something I hadn’t tried before?

It finally dawned on me….SOCKS! 

Why hadn’t I knitted any socks? Two reasons. First, I was busy doing all that other stuff. Second, it just looked complicated. I didn’t have the gumption to try it on my own. And because of various family obligations, I was unable to take a knitting class at one of my local yarn shops.

But, lo and behold, one day I was browsing Craftsy’s online knitting class offerings. They have a wide variety of classes, but one really caught my eye: a toe-up Knit Sock Workshop with Donna Druchunas. In this class, she shows you how to make two sock patterns, one lace and one color work design. The ladies’ lace sock is simply gorgeous! They had my attention.

I had never taken an online knitting class before, although I’ve found various You-Tube stitch tutorials helpful over the years. Was this going to work for me? I browsed the benefits associated with Craftsy’s knitting class. A message board to ask the instructor questions. Printable instructions and sizing charts. I watched a sample video of the class. The knitting instructor went at a comfortable pace, was easy to understand and easy to watch. Plus, I could go back and watch a section again, to make sure I got it right.

So I dove into it! What a great experience. I purchased the Knit Sock Workshop and then something came up that kept me away from my knitting for several weeks. No problem. Once purchased, the class was there for me to go to when I did have the time.

Image

My first lace sock!

Online knitting classes should never totally replace the social interaction you get at your local yarn shop classes. But they are an excellent solution if you either: a) can’t leave the house or aren’t as mobile as you’d like to be; or b) have personal obligations that keep you from a regularly scheduled class at your local yarn shop.

I highly recommend trying a Craftsy class. Once you sign up to get their emails, you’ll receive notices when the classes are on sale, as well.

I just wanted to share the great experience I’m having with my Knit Sock Workshop. I’m thrilled with how my sock is coming along!

Happy Knitting!

Dani

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To Embellish or Not to Embellish

 
Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Knitter’s Almanac”

Last weekend, I visited the book sale at the local Senior Center and dug up an absolute treasure—Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Knitter’s Almanac.” What a find! I love her prose and her clean, lovely designs…one for each month of the year.

On a related (believe it or not) note, I finished my lopapeysa sweater. I’m pleased with how it turned out. It was a wonderful pattern to work with and I highly recommend that you visit Knitting Iceland to pick up the pattern and look at their gorgeous yarns. 

 

Love the design of this sweater!

I plan to make another sweater from this pattern, but this time will use the authentic Iceland wool and choose different colors. Something that doesn’t look so much like school colors, something a bit more subdued. As nice as it looks paired with blue jeans, I still feel a bit clownish in it. I’ll save it to wear on days when I don’t mind standing out in a crowd. : )

Now, to get back around to my point. I had a skein of Cascade Soft yellow wool left over from the lopapeysa project. So I decided to make a pair of Mitered Mittens from my new book.

Mitered Mittens from “Knitter’s Almanac”

I love how they turned out! They were a FUN knit, they fit really well and are oh so soft.

The big question is…to embellish or not to embellish? And, if I do chose to embellish, should I keep it simple or go wild?

Should I add a simple blue felt flower?
Or perhaps a multicolored patch of posies?

Please tell me what you think… I could use some thoughts on this.

Happy Knitting!

~dani

PS – I’m working on a new pattern. Hopefully it’ll be ready to unveil in the next week or so…  ; )

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Make Your Own Blocking Board

I finished knitting the first front half of my “Sanderling” lacy summer vest designed by Asami Kawa!

Photo © Asami Kawa

It was time to block this thin, lacy knitted piece and check my workmanship and fit. Time to pin my pieces to the padded top of my annoyingly wobbly, narrow ironing board. Oh. Yay.

I’ve been asked not to set up a makeshift blocking station on the ping pong table again. The last time I did that, the steam permeated the blanket and sheet I had carefully arranged as my blocking surface and marred the table top. I really couldn’t see how my stain was any worse than any of the others left from old beer pong matches or from my husband using it as a work station to paint his Day of the Dead dioramas. But, being the sort to not make waves, I figured maybe it was time to invest in a blocking board.

I started shopping around. There are some really nice blocking boards out there. But to get a good, sturdy one with handy 1” square measurements, I would’ve had to drop around $100. I like to spend my money on yarn and patterns and other cool knitting stuff. In my opinion, a board isn’t cool knitting stuff.

Hmmm. My brain started churning…it couldn’t be that difficult to make my own. Turns out it’s easy-peasy. I found a very helpful blog post by FlowerGirlKnits.  I really liked her idea of a LIGHT blocking board made out of inexpensive materials. So, I made a few little adjustments to her instructions. I made one big blocking board instead of two smaller ones and added padding. And voila! For about $27 in supplies and about 15 minutes spent carefully taping some stuff together, I now have a great blocking board!

My Homemade 30" x 40" Blocking Board

My Homemade 30" x 40" Blocking Board

Supplies needed:

  • Two 20” x 30” foam boards, ½” thick – any color ($10 each at A.C. Moore…less if you have a coupon)
  • Two yards checkered fabric, 1” checks (just under $7)
  • Wide clear packing tape or duct tape (which I already had in abundance)
  • One old beach towel

1.)    Collect your supplies. Pick up the foam boards at your local craft store. Make sure they are ½” thick and not the thinner version, so you have lots of good stuff to stick your pins into. Then stop at a fabric shop and get 2 yards of checkered fabric, where the checks are 1” squares. This makes it really, really easy to measure your knitted piece as you’re stretching it to size. Grab some wide tape. I used clear packing tape. Duct tape would work fine, also. And dig out an old beach towel that has seen better days. This will be the under layer to provide a softer surface and to absorb some of the dampness.

2.)    Wash and dry the fabric. This removes any formaldehyde or other yucky stuff they sometimes use on new fabrics. It also protects you from possible dye transfer or shrinkage.

3.)    Tape the two foam boards together so they measure 40” x 30”. Run the tape the whole way around the seam, back and front. If you get the two pieces of foam board really snug up against one another, the two pieces won’t wobble at all. I originally thought I might need to put them on some sort of larger cardboard base or something, but that wasn’t the case.

4.)    Attach the beach towel to the foam board. My towel happened to be exactly 30” wide, so I laid it on the foam board and taped those edges to the foam board edges. The towel was longer than 40”, so I had extra to pull around the back and tape. Make sure all the towel edges are taped down securely.

5.)    Attach the fabric to the beach towel-covered foam board. The natural width of the fabric is what…36”? So you have an extra 3” on each side across the 30” width of your foam board. Cut the fabric to fit the 40” length of the foam board with about 4” or so extra at each end. Then,  wrap the fabric around one edge of the foam board, being careful to keep your checks in a nice, even line, and tape securely to the back of the board. Do the opposite side, pulling the fabric snug but not so tight that you’re stretching the checks out of shape. Then wrap the material around the remaining ends, neatly folding your corners under and taping securely.

It’s that easy! The foam board is nice and light to pick up and move anywhere for your blocking project. And, when not in use, it easily stashes behind a bureau, under a bed, or other hidey-spot.

Pins, pins and more pins!! LOVE my new mat!

Thank you FlowerGirlKnits for your guidance on this project!

Happy Knitting!

dani

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