Craft Rating: Knitting

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Dexterity rating:             &&&

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Difficulty continuing:     &&&

Cost:                               &

 

Energy:

I’ve given knitting a two out of five on my energy usage scale. I started knitting when I had to give up all the other crafty things I use to do, it has a pretty low energy level as you can do it lying back or sitting comfortably. But, it does use more energy than crochet, as you have two large needles (most of the time) to use rather than one small hook. You are moving both arms and holding yarn but you can prop your arms on cushions or pillows to take some of the weight for you. As for concentration, you can create full scarfs using just the one stitch so you never have to concentrate too much if you don’t want to. I’ve made multiple garter stitch scarfs and I love them, especially if you use variegated yarn or self striping yarn to keep it interesting.

 

Dexterity Rating:

For this I was struggling between two or three out of five, but I went with three as it can be a lot more difficult to control than crochet as you have multiple things to work with. And similarly, you can’t just buy needles with larger grips like you can with crochet. You can use larger needles and thicker yarn. but it will affect the projects you will be able to make. However, if knitting is something you want to learn or give a go, you can still make some lovely things using thick yarn and larger needles. My favourite scarf to make is on a pair of 7mm needles with chunky yarn but things like socks which are commonly made using 4 or 5 small needles on pretty thin yarn probably isn’t going to be a good place to start.

 

Difficulty Starting:

I’ve given this a two out of five, which is a lot lower than crochet (I know i’m comparing the two a lot but they are very similar types of crafts). All you really need to know to get started is a cast on and the knit stitch then you can start knitting to your hearts content. There are loads of videos on YouTube explaining and showing step by step how to cast on and how to knit. But there are also loads of written and photographic tutorials online if watching isn’t the way you learn best. Personally, the first time I learnt to knit, I saw my aunt knitting and asked her to show me how to do it. She showed me the knit stitch and within a couple of minutes I was knitting away. Rather badly, but I was doing it, and I got much better with practice.

 

Difficulty Continuing:

There is a LOT to learn in knitting when you want to progress though so I have given this a three out of five to continue. Once you have learnt the basics (a couple cast ons, a cast off, the knit stitch and the purl stitch) there is quite a lot you can do with out having to learn much more. But, there is also a lot of much more advanced things to learn. Increase and decreases, learning to follow patterns, and shaping are all things you need to learn to make more difficult garments. You can try knitting with multiple small double pointed needles, these usually come in packs of 4s or 5s and are used in socks or hats usually when you need to be able to decrease in the round. You can get cable needles to create lovely….cables. There’s lots to learn and people who have been knitting all their lives still learn new things.

Garter stitch scarf by Sapphiresnpurls

Cost:

And finally, like crochet, knitting is really cheap to start learning. One out of five. All you need is a pair of knitting needles and a ball of yarn. To start knitting I recommend you get a fairly thick yarn and reasonably sized needles so that you can tell what you are doing. I started learning on a pair of 5.5mm knitting needles with aran yarn. Knitting needles come in different widths (described in mm), lengths (most commonly 30 or 35cm) and materials. I much prefer using wooden needles when I knit, but these are much more expenisve than their aluminium or plastic counterparts. I recommend picking up either a metal or plastic pair either 30 or 35cm at around 5 or 6mm and picking up a cheap aran yarn. The needles will cost about £2 and the yarn you can pick up for a similar price until you have learnt the basics.

(I will add, while I much prefer aluminium needles to the acrylic plastic ones, some people find the weight and the coldness of the metal uncomfortable and prefer plastic. If you’re not sure you can pick up a pair of both and test them out.)

You don’t need to buy any books to help if you don’t want as everything you need is online but if you prefer to learn out of a book, you can find knitting books for £10 or at your local library.

If you choose to carry on knitting, it can get more expensive but only if you want it to. More luxury yarns can be up to £15 rather than £2, and for large projects like a blanket even relatively cheap yarns can add up by the time you have enough for the whole project. More expensive knitting needles are available, as I mentioned I use wooden needles that can get to about £10 a pair rather than the £2 for the basic ones.

First play with fuse beads

I had a play with my new fuse beads a few weeks ago, using some ideas that I had saved to my Pinterest board and others that I made up as I had a mess around. Its really easy to make up ideas and just have a good play without using much energy. So its great for when you want something to do on low spoons.

You can see what I made below. I decided to use a square peg board a it seemed to be the one that had the most designs on pinterest and a hexagon peg board because I really wanted to do that cute little turtle design.

I had other peg boards as well but decided on just these two as I didn’t want to push myself too much.

WP_20150227_21_00_53_ProI used my laptop table to hold the peg boards while I had a play, and it worked out really well as it has a little lip at the bottom to hold them in place and it meant I could do it lying down in bed and save as much energy as possibly.

After I had decided on all the ideas I moved the peg boards into the other room until the next time my mum had the iron out. I wasn’t going to be doing it and its great that you can just leave them somewhere until it’s convenient to heat them.

When my mum eventually did get round to ironing them she had a bit of trouble, she’d never done it before but also we found out that it wasn’t a good idea to put so many small designs next to each other on the peg boards as every time she moved the iron the beads jumped around a bit. Poor mum got rather frustrated!

But lesson learned and the ones that she did manage to do came out great.

IMG_3914I used a pattern for the turtle as I mentioned before and I think that came out great (But boy  did it swallow beads!) and I got the idea for the presents on pinterest too. But the blue ribbon, the heart and the balloon were things that I made by just playing with the beads on the peg boards to see what I could make. I’m planning on gluing the individual presents and the heart on to small cards, I think they would make lovely simple birthday or occasion cards. The balloon will go that way too but i’m planning on threading a piece of string through the bottom part to make it look like a balloon on a string.

I’m pretty happy about how they turned out for a first attempt even though we couldn’t manage all of them and they aren’t very evenly fused but we live and learn. And next time will be better.

What do you think I should make next time?

 

 

Guest Interview 2: Beading by Ri

Hello, tell us who you are and what your craft is?

Hi, my name is Ri (rhymes with tree and known as ‘Mouse’ to my friends) and my craft is making jewellery and other articles using beads and different wires/threads. Unfortunately, I do not run a blog or a specific Facebook page to sell my crafts, as I am too ill to make a big batch of things at once, but I do have a small amount of pieces listed at Make ME Crafts, which is a website where people with ME and or Fibromyalgia and other related illnesses can sell their craft items, whilst earning Invest In ME (IIME) money to fund biomedical research.

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My craft items on this site can be found under the name of Foggy Creations (or just click on the link and it will take you straight there). Only a few items are listed at the moment, but if you see anything you like pictured in this article, please speak to Jessica and she will pass a message onto me. 🙂

So, how did my crafting all come about?

Well, I have been ill since 2003 and have been very limited in what I could achieve, being so, so weak, but over the years, as I have learned to pace a little better, I felt I wanted to do something creative again, energy, pain levels and other symptoms permitting. Initially I decided to slowwwwwwwwly create some items for ME/Fibromyalgia/Lupus Awareness Day, 2013, taking my time throughout the days I was awake for any length of time, to craft a bracelet and a key-ring for my closest Meeps (a term I call my friends with M.E., Fibromyalgia etc). I started in November of the previous year and by the end of April had made 50 each of the following:

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My First Beading Projects using Awareness Ribbon beads & Charm and blue for M.E./purple for Fibromyalgia

As I had some left over I used Make Me Crafts to sell the remainder and raise funds for IIME as previously mentioned and slowly I began to add other items.

What illness/es do you have?

I have Severe ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and am mostly bedbound/housebound.  I also have Fibromyalgia, Peripheral Neuropathy, Hyperasthesia, Pernicious Anaemia,  Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction, Hypotension, Major Depressive Disorder, Non Epileptic Seizure Disorder, Cervical Ankylosing Spondylits and panniculitis.  All of these illnesses are long standing (12 years or longer as I am writing this in March 2015) and have no cure.  My prognosis is very poor and it often takes me all of my time to see the light behind the clouds.

Crafting helps me a lot. I have mentioned before that I am mostly housebound. I can venture out for short periods to various hospitals for various appointments, but these are usually spaced out in order to help me to pace, which is imperative with my illnesses.  I can be housebound for several weeks and rely on a wheelchair when I do venture out with someone and use sticks, stairlift and walking frame, to name but a few items, whilst indoors, managing only to walk a few steps. The illnesses themselves have many symptoms, and beading means that I can tentatively manage to do something calming, whilst resting a lot in between.  The fibromyalgia, however, means that my fingers seize up often, and so it does take me a while to complete an item, but the pain and energy expelled is so worth it when I see the finished product that I have created for friends or loved ones or for ‘Make Me Crafts’.  I am also able to bead on my bed so can take regular naps to see me through the day 🙂

 

What are your favourite pieces of craft equipment?

It’s difficult to say what is my favourite piece of equipment as all are necessary. At the moment, I think my favourite piece is the Kumihimo Disk I am using to make the bracelets for M.E./Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. I have had this disk and a kit for over a year but had felt too ‘bleuurghh’ to concentrate on trying it. But now I have, I love it.  It’s so relaxing to do, once the beads are on, which does take me a long time as I have to keep stopping when my hands seize up. The photographs below are the bracelets I am making with it just now. As mentioned before, they do take a while, usually about 3 days per bracelet, but I like the end result.

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Blue ME; Purple Fibromyalgia/Lupus; Blue & Purple ME & Fibromyalgia/Lupus

I have a huge supply of beads in all different colours and sizes because once you decide on a project it’s cheaper to buy in bulk.  I buy all my beads and supplies from ebay or Amazon and they currently take up the space of many bead boxes and two underbed drawers!  The photograph below only shows the top layer of three.  Be warned, collecting beads can become addictive!!!

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I occasionally buy the magazine Make and Sell Jewellery, and I use YouTube to help me when I have an idea on something I want to make or to see how to finish off a project etc.  There are some really good videos on ‘how to’ in both of these and especially in the early days I found these so helpful.

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Making Kumihimo bracelets at my ‘work station’, i.e. on my bed 🙂

I also like my ‘Wubbers’, which are a type of looping plier to assist with forming  an ‘eye’ in wire.  The ones I use look like this and they take a lot of work out of forming loops, for example when making earrings.

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Why did you start crafting?

I was always creative … I would draw and paint, and knit until my fingers were sore from knit 1, purl 1!  Then, in 2003 my world was turned upside down. One day my body just gave up.  Life would never be the same again, after working in Mental Health and Private Counselling for several years, and retraining as a Holistic Therapist, I was about to start my own business merging the two – a career pathway I was relishing – it took many years of being bedbound, and not being able to do more than listen to an audio book for a few minutes before I could even contemplate attempting anything else. I began beading after browsing through a jewellery making magazine, and deciding ‘I could do that’!  Raising money for IIME was an added bonus that came out of doing so! 🙂

There was also an element of having to regain at least a little bit of my former self.  I was finding it, and still do, extremely difficult to read a book. I get to the end of a sentence and I have completely forgotten what I have read, and after several attempts at re-reading I give up – frustrated! Being a former prolific reader there has been a huge loss in my life.  So. that was books out of the question. I tried drawing again but I’ve lost my passion for it. And then beading came along, and so far, has tentatively stayed with me 🙂

 

What adaptations or changes have you had to make to craft because of your illness(es)?

It isn’t so much a change or adaptation that I’ve had to make but I do have to be aware that my beading can bring on a lot of pain if I do it for too long. Also, my fingers swell up and become ‘claw like’ from the Fibromyalgia if I bead for too long, and I have to spend a while with my TENS gloves on to ease them. Also, I tend to sit cross legged in bed whilst I bead, and because I can only manage this for 10 minutes or so before my legs start to paralyse I have to make sure I don’t have lots of beads/materials on my lap or very close by so I can change position. I do often wear my TENS arm and knee pads as they help with the pain a little.  As with everything in my life now, I have to be hyper aware of pacing whilst I’m beading, as too much and I’m fit for nothing for days.

Favourite project:

It’s quite difficult to choose a favourite project, as whatever I am working on at the time seems to be my favourite,  but I’ve taken a look through my beading project photographs and have come up with the following:

A Chakra bracelet I made for my ex Physiotherapist/Acupuncturist. This was a total pleasure to make as I concentrated on each of the chakras as I worked with them, so it was very relaxing.

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These boy and girl pram charms that were commissioned. I had never made one before but relished the challenge and thankfully they turned out lovely and this set of Rosary Beads, with a Sterling Silver Crucifix and Our Lady Centre, made with little beads with a rose embossed in them. Beautiful!

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How expensive is your craft?

Beading can be as cheap or as expensive as you wish it to be. I started from scratch, and the initial outlay was pretty expensive as I had to buy the tools etc that I needed.  If you are lucky enough to be able to go outdoors to a beading shop you will be able to pick up beads and other bits and pieces cheaper than the way I source things, but this is simply because I cannot get out to browse a shop.

Once you have the essentials – tools, findings (clasps, chain, wire, jump rings etc) beads, bead board, etc., you can make a bracelet or necklace quite cheaply, and keep going until all your beads have gone. But it also depends on the project. As I have mentioned, I am making bracelets for several friends for ME/Fibromyalgia/Lupus etc Awareness Day, alongside regular orders for these bracelets, the outlay has been quite high. Sourceing beads etc the way I do, inevitably means I end up with a lot of different colours/sizes of beads, and this is why I have 2 drawers full of them. 🙂 An example of how much it costs online (Ebay) is 99p for 50g of seed beads. Now this may sound cheap, but when you need several grams of bead, different colours, awareness ribbons, clasps, thread, etc., the project can become expensive. I try to recoup some of my outlay by selling items now and again, but this is a nominal fee as profits go towards the biomedical research I have previously spoken about. I am forever starting a new project and so begins another outlay 🙂

What I will say, however, is that you do not need every tool that is advertised, but you do need several. I made the mistake of buying the tool before I’d even decided what I was going to make, and after 2 years I still haven’t used 1 of them, and it cost me about £30+. Look up tutorials on YouTube when you’ve decided what to make, and see which tools are needed, but to give you an example, you will generally require:

Round Nose Pliers, Flat Nose Pliers, Cutters and Crimpers.  These are shown in the first photograph below and are the tools I use ALL the time, especially the Flat Nose and Round Nose Pliers. In the second photograph are some other tools I have bought along the way to help me out with tricky things, such as opening jump rings (the ones in blue), cutting off eye/head pins (top in black) and my Wubbers (green) which help to wind around wire.

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Don’t be charmed into buying a kit with all the same colour pliers in just because they look pretty. Some are very cheap, but that will inevitably mean purchasing again at some point.

Do you have any advice for someone with a chronic illness starting off in your craft?

Start off with an easy project, say a pair of earrings, which are fairly simple. Or watch a few tutorials on YouTube to for things like how to master finishing off the clasp of a bracelet, as this is the part that I found the most difficult to learn when I was beginning. THEN decide on your project, and go gently. Don’t become frustrated that your efforts aren’t amounting to much in the early days. It will take time to adjust to perhaps doing the first thing you’ve attempted in many years. Being chronically ill means that you MUST learn to listen to your body, especially if you are crafting. Beading can become addictive, but you still need to learn when enough is enough – for as long as it takes for your body/mind to recuperate. Listen to the pain, the fatigue, when your cognitive abilities are fading … and STOP.  With this in mind, rest at a point in your project where you can go and pick it back up and restart it without any problem. You’ll find ways to help you with this as you go along!

Happy Beading!!

Ri xx

More than I can chew

I have always struggled with pacing. I just get really excited about things and then pacing myself goes out the window. Even when I’m really trying and think I still am pacing, i’m really not.

So, it turns out that blogging about all the crafts that I do/have done just encourages me to do more. And, well, that is a very bad idea.

At one point over the last couple of weeks I think I had 4 things on the go. After a year of slowly crocheting squares of my blanket my creativity has been let loose and I keep finding myself in minus spoons.

I have limited myself to two things. My cross stitch and sewing my blanket. (Well actually my mums been sewing my blanket up more than me but we had a mini TA DA moment this week more about that later.)

Here’s an update on how far i’ve got on my cross stitch, I’ve got a little bit further than the photograph I posted on Twitter, it now reads ‘UNBR’.

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The second of the four things was playing with my knitting looms. I have now hidden them from view as they caused me to have a crash last week. I was trying out different weight yarns to see which would work best, none of them did, I’m going to need to buy a stock of super chunky when I get round to them again.

The third thing was playing with my new fuse beads (Hama/Perler beads) but I left the ironing part to mum and she hasn’t gotten round to it. But expect a post about them soonish.

And the final thing, and most importantly (here comes the mini Ta Da moment), we finished sewing together all the horizontal seams on my tunisian crochet blanket. Its actually in ONE PIECE now. It still has a lot of holes in (the vertical sides all need to be sewn up) but i can hold it up and it doesn’t have to be laid out on the floor when not working on it.

TA DA: what do you think?
WP_20150313_21_23_38_ProI’m working on a rating for cross stitch and also another chronic crafters interview with someone who does lots of jewelry, these should both be up within the next couple weeks. If anyone would like to take part in my chronic crafters interview you can get in touch with me anytime.

 

EDIT: I thought I’d add another update on my cross stitch as I’ve done more since I queued this post. 

I keep thinking it says umbro and that I’ve done it wrong but it’s right. 



Terrys Quotes

So yesterday I saw the very sad news that one of my favourite authors died. I’m sure Sir Terry Pratchett met Death as an old friend and they had a nice chat as they passed through.

But it left me looking over a list of some of my favourite quotes from his books, he really was a genius and I thought I would share some of them.

Most of them are things that I have thought about crafting in one way or the other, either by cross stitch or drawn on to tote bags and some of them are just brilliant quotes I had to save.

Many people could say things in a cutting way, Nanny knew. But Granny Weatherwax could listen in a cutting way. She could make something sound stupid just by hearing it.

“There’s a door.”
“Where does it go?”
“It stays where it is, I think.”

Nanny Ogg knew how to start spelling ‘banana’, but didn’t know how you stopped.

“It’s daft, locking us up,” said Nanny. “I’d have had us killed.”
“That’s because you’re basically good,” said Magrat. “The good are innocent and create justice. The bad are guilty, which is why they invent mercy.”

You know, you’re rather amusingly wrong.

Susan says, don’t get afraid, get angry.

“-Oh yes? Can you identify yourself?
-Certainly. I’d know me anywhere.”

But what should we do when the highborn and wealthy take to crime? Indeed, if a poor man will spend a year in prison for stealing out of hunger, how high would the gallows need to be to hang the rich man who breaks the law out of greed?

See a pin and pick it up, and, all day long, you’ll have a pin.

“Listen, three eyes,” he said, “don’t you try to outweird me, I get stranger things than you free with my breakfast cereal.”

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
Elves are bad.

These are just a selection, as i’m sure that if i started reading through more quotes this post would be as long as his books. Do you have a favourite Terry Pratchett quote? I would love to hear more.

How do you store your thread?

So, I’ve recently taken up cross stitch and the handful of coloured threads I have are starting to get really messy.

What have you found to be the best way to store them? round bobbins, cardboard bobbins, flat plastic bobbins, wooden pegs? And what do you store them in?

I don’t really want another separate thing to store them in as my craft room is completely stuffed with furniture but the furniture isn’t stuffed so there’s room in cupboards and shelves but store it in what?

Any and all ideas please as I really don’t know where to start looking!

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Crochet hook help?

I have been desperately trying to find a 7mm double ended Tunisian crochet hook that isn’t made of plastic. I can’t find one anywhere, the metal or wood ones only seem to go up to 6mm and I really dont like working with plastic hooks or needles.

I really want to make a cowl out of some aran yarn I have that was suppose to be a blanket that will never become a blanket. Its suggested 5mm and I normally go up 2 sizes for Tunisian crochet as I don’t want it to be too stiff.

But I cant find one anywhere?!!?!?

Help? Anyone know where I can find one?

I would love you forever ❤