Calling all crafters

I want to feature some more guest posts on my blog from other chronically ill crafters. I’ve already done a few in the craft interviews section (which you should definitely check out) and I would like some more people to do this as well. But I would also like to find some people who do crafts that I can’t/don’t do to help me post some more craft ratings post. Things like glass beading, pyrography, metal work anything that’s a bit more out of the ordinary or needs more specialist equipment.

You can check out some of the craft ratings I’ve done on my blog as well as the craft interviews. If you are interested in doing either, or know anyone who might be interested, please do get in touch and share this with anyone you might know who would be. If you want more information let me know, there wouldn’t be any time limits or anything like that, you could do it whenever you were up for it. I’d be more than happy to share any blogs/shops that you have in the post to get you more readers/customers.

You can contact me here, on twitter or by email at: everthecrafter@gmail.com

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Craft Rating: Cross Stitch

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Energy:

I’ve given this a rating of 1 out of 5 because out of all the crafts that I have tried this was the least taxing on me. If i was feeling okay then it didn’t use up much energy at all. Of course this depends on how/where you craft. I do cross stitch lying down in bed with my work on top of me. If you’re planning on sitting up propped on cushions or at a desk you will be using more energy as sitting upright hunched over work gets tiring very quickly. How much mental energy this takes depends on what you are planning to stitch, if its a simple idea or pattern then you don’t have to use much, especially if you end up just filling in larger areas or straight lines as you don’t have to think about that much.

Dexterity:

I’ve given this a higher dexterity rating of 3 out of 5 as you are using needles and they are very small, you have to be able to hold on to them for a long time and threading needles when you change colour and such could be really difficult (you can get threaders that help you with this though). The repetitive nature of this added with the small needle could be difficult or painful for some and there isn’t really anything you can do about the small needle like you can with other crafts like crochet or needle felting.

Difficulty Starting:

I’ve given this a 1 out of 5 as you really don’t need to know much technique to get started. It can be pretty confusing if you are buying all your supplies separately, but if you buy a cross stitch kit then all your supplies are….supplied, and all you have to do is get started. You may want to look up how to secure a thread when you start using it and when you’re finishing with it but that’s all you need to know to get started. This website has thousands of great cross stitch kits from just a few pounds for the small ones, if you’re just starting then go for a simpler one (not the massive pictures with loads of colours!) and you’ll be stitching away in no time.

Difficulty Continuing:

I’ve given this a 3 out of 5 rating because although there aren’t many new stitches or techniques that you need to learn there are other things that can get difficult or confusing. Like I mentioned in the last part, the supplies and equipment you need is quite difficult to get your head round. If you’re looking online at all the different types and sizes of needles and fabrics its easy to get confused. But once you’ve found a starting point (kits are good for this) its a bit easier to expand your knowledge step by small step. For example, 14 count Aida fabric is where you should be starting from, this is whats supplied in most kits you buy. But as you get better you can get smaller count fabric which means the ‘squares’ are smaller and more intricate and you can also transfer to any fabric once you’ve got confident. Patterns also get bigger and more complex, spanning many pages and many colours but you can progress as you want to, there are loads of brilliant things to make without getting to advanced.

Cost:

I’ve given this a 2 out of 5 for cost. Most of the things you need are relatively inexpensive but the cost can add up. You can get lovely kits that are pretty big for around £20, though there are loads of smaller ones you can pick up for much less. If you are buying supplies separately, then you will need to buy the thread colours that you want (DMC is the most commonly used brand and they cost 69p each from sewandso), Aida fabric to work on (depending on the size you buy, this starts from £5.75 but you could buy a larger amount and cut it down to size), and a pack of needles which only cost a couple quid and should last you a while. Optional accessories include an embroidery hoop to hold your work on, I use one as I find it easier to work with the fabric but you may prefer not to, scissors, storage for threads and other aids such as a lamp and magnifying glass or aids that hold the work for you. These can all add up but the initial outlay to give it a go to see if you like it isn’t that much. If you decide you like the craft then you can buy patterns that you want to make, design your own or there are free resources online too.

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Craft Rating: Knitting

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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.

Craft Rating: Needle Felting

 

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Energy:

This is a very high score at four out of five, I refrained from giving it five as I took things like the fact you can do this from a bed/sofa, and you can get multiple needle tools to help out a bit. But the repetitive nature of the stabbing to felt your work, though cathartic, is quite tiring.

Dexterity:

I’ve given this a three out of five as it can be very difficult to hold the needle felting tools but you can get larger multi needle tools which would help, but again the repetitive nature of the felting can be painful for joints/muscles.

Difficulty Starting:

I’ve given this just one out of five as it really is quite easy to get started. All you need to do is lay out the roving in the shape you want and start stabbing. (Okay so maybe a bit more technical but this is the general gist.) There are lots of videos on YouTube explaining the basics and showing you how to make simple projects. The above image is from a tutorial over at The Magic Onions for felting hearts just in time for valentines day.

Difficulty Continuing:

This is also just one out of five. I’m not saying that you can pick the most complicated idea possible and just do it, but there are lots of easy projects at each stage of learning to keep you moving forward, once you’ve got the general idea down you don’t really have much more to learn. Just practice.

Cost:

I’ve only given this a two out of five here as you can get everything you need to start a project for less than £25. In fact, you could give this a go for even less by improvising some elements; you can use a washing up sponge to begin with rather than buying a needle felting mat for example. But assuming you want to buy the necessary tools to start with you would want a needle felting tool (You can get ones with multiple needles to fasten the process/save energy for £10), a needle felting mat (again about £10, you can use other things such as sponges or foam but these will wear out quickly) and the actual wool roving you will be using to create (Hobbycraft do small packs for £4 which might be a good place to start).

Craft Rating: Polymer Clay

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Energy:

I’ve given this a 4 out of 5 as this can be quite a physical craft. You need to be able to condition your clay. It starts off quite hard and stiff and you’ll need to keep manipulating it in your hands to get it soft enough to work with. There are softer clays (such as fimo soft) but even these will need to be conditioned. If you have a family member, friend or carer with you to condition the clay then this can be a way around it and you can save most of your energy for actually making.

Dexterity rating:

I’ve given this a 3 out of 5 for a lot of the same reasons as the high energy rating. If you struggle with pain then the repetitiveness and pressure you need to condition the clay and get it ready for using will be a problem. But, as above, if you have someone to do this for you then there are lots of things you can make that aren’t too fiddly.

Difficulty starting:

Polymer clay is extremely easy to start. You don’t need any experience or know how to be able to make something nice. If you have a shape cutter then you can mass produce charms to use in jewelry, bag charms, phone charms, necklaces, earrings or bookmarks straight away. Just get yourself some clay and start.

Difficulty continuing:

I’ve given this a 3 out of 5, but the difficulty will change in stages depending on what you want to make. If you plan to make 3D models with multiple colours and different parts you will need to practice lots. Don’t expect to be able to make a perfect model at the start. Other things such as canes (see picture) are a great way of making more complicated 2D pieces. There are lots of tutorials online for making different images in canes and once you have made the cane you get lots of use out of them by cutting slices. The image above was my first attempt at making a cane.

Cost:

I’ve given this a 3 out of 5 but this really depends what you want to do with it. The clay itself can be relatively inexpensive to have a go with as you can get a pack for less than £2.50 but then cutters, shappers, rollers and other little bits can add up. To start with you’ll need to get a cutting blade and possibly a roller as well which can be quite expensive for what they are (about £10 each). A pack of cutting shapes would be a good investment for beginners as you can make charms very quickly and easily and it will give you a feel for the clay. You can also get a pasta maker/roller for about £30 to help you condition and flatten out the clay evenly but this is optional.

 

Do you have any questions or tips to share about using polymer clay? I’d love to hear from you.

Craft Rating: Crochet

A craft I do the most nowadays is crochet. So I thought I’d kick off the craft ratings on my blog with it.

 

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Energy:

I’ve listed this as a 1 out of 5. Out of all the crafts I’ve tried so far this has been the least taxing on me. The fact you only have one small hook and yarn to work with, and the process of actually crocheting means you are only moving a very small amount compared to similar yarn crafts such as knitting. You can do this sitting comfortably on the sofa, propped up in bed or even lying down (which is how I do it). You don’t have many things to keep track of so it can be quite simple getting it out and putting away as well. Or even leaving out, as a small ball of yarn on a side table isn’t too much clutter.

 

Dexterity rating: 

I’ve given this a dexterity rating of 2 out of 5. This can be a craft that is extremely difficult if your condition is a diagnoses such as arthritis that limits movement or causes pain. But its not as fiddly as other crafts such as some of the more intricate paper crafts or embroidery/cross stitch. And there are things that can help. Using hooks with much thicker handles can help. Obviously these will bring the initial cost up but these hooks can still be very reasonably priced. These Fusion hooks from Amazon would be a good place to start if you do have a problem with dexterity, they’re still relatively cheap but offer a more comfortable grip than the standard hooks. You can always buy even more comfortable hooks for you when you get hooked.

Difficulty starting:

I’ve known many people who have attempted crochet and put it down and said it was way too complicated. In fact, I did too to start with. The terminology can be confusing, and figuring out where to stick the hook can be down right frustrating. But, if you find the right explanation for you and persevere, once you have learnt the basics it can get very simple. Its just getting the concept through and once you have your away.

Difficulty continuing:

I’ve given this a 2 out of 5. But really there is so much you can make with just one basic stitch that I could give it a 1. I find crochet a lot more free-form than knitting and its easier to create shapes and undo mistakes than its two needled counterpart as well.  There is a lot more to learn though, from different stitches to pattern reading and Tunisian crochet as well as the constant confusion between American and English terms, that it can get more complicated.

Cost:

And finally, and rather importantly cost. Now, I’ve given this a 1 out of 5. Based on the fact you can pick up a basic set of crochet hooks from anywhere you like for less than £3. (Amazon search crochet hooks and pick any of the multicoloured aluminium hook sets). And a decent ball of yarn for less than £2. I would recommend Stylecrafts Special Aran as a good cheap yarn to get you started, pick a light colour so you can see what you are doing.

However, if you need specialised hooks, (starting from £8), fancy treating yourself with some fancy hooks or you get a bit addicted to expensive yarn, then this, like most things can climb.