Friday, November 30, 2012

How to do the russian join

I recently learned how to do a Russian join and wanted to share how I did it. I had been shown this technique before but everyone that showed it to me went way too fast and by the time I got home and tried to remember how it was done, I could not do it.

First, you need a needle and the two yarns that you want to connect:

 These are a sample of needles in my case. I prefer to use the first one because the point is sharper and it is not as long. 

Thread the needle through the first yarn. It doesn't matter which goes first. 
I like to leave the tail piece 1 inch long.

 Take the needle and begin threading it through the center of yarn you are holding.

 Keep threading it through until you have about the length of your needle. 

 Next, you will simply pull the needle and tail through the part you just bunched up on the needle. It looks funny like this because I haven't pulled the tail piece out yet. 

 This is what it looks like after the tail piece is pulled out. Usually the hole is more visible, but this time it looks smaller. I actually prefer it this way. 

 Now, you take the other yarn that you want to connect to, and pull it through the hole as shown above. Sometimes the hole is big enough to just poke the yarn through, but in this case, I had to thread it through to fit. The big needle is not used in this rest of the steps. (just to get the yarn through)

Okay, now that the yarn is through the hole, take the needle off the blue yarn and 

Thread it onto the grey so you can repeat the step.

Keep threading it and bunching it until it's the length of the needle and pull it all the way through including the tail end like before. 

When you pull the needle off the thread, it should look like this. See how the hole is bigger with the grey yarn than the blue? 

 To fix that, simply pull on the grey tail end to tighten up the hole. 

Then, I pull on the main piece of the yarn where my hand is, and also on the blue side and pull both ends which makes it smooth.

 The tail ends need to be snipped off now.

 Snipping off ends. 

 And there you have it! A Russian join. When you are knitting with it, it can be slightly bulgy, but not enough to notice when it's worked up especially if you have the same color for both yarns.

This is the yarn I joined for the actual project I was doing. See, how hard it is to see the join?

Until next time!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to sew a fabric balloon ball

Awhile back, I posted some pictures of the fabric balloon ball I had made and said I would make a tutorial of how I did it.

Here's what I did:

I used the gore pattern from Mad Quilter's website. I purchased two colors of fleece material. I like fleece because it doesn't fray. Shown here is 1/2 yard of each color. Total cost of material $2.94
Bag of balloons $.97 for 25 balloons. They are 9 inch or 22.5 cm.

The material is folded so it cuts two. As you can see you can get a lot from 1/2 yard of material. Save yourself the time of pinning by cutting out your first gore and then laying it on the fleece. It won't go anywhere!

You'll need 6 total. I chose to do half of each color. As you can see, I need my scissors sharpened. 

Now, it's time to put the pieces together. I still love my sewing machine that I got last year. 

Starting from one point and going to the next point. I like to use the foot of my sewing machine as a guide. The fleece does have a tendency to stretch so try not to stretch it while sewing or else your points won't line up. 

Line up the points as best as you can and continue sewing as you did for the others. Make sure you are sewing them with right sides together. If you're using solid color fleece like mine, there is no "right" or "wrong" sides. Though you do want to make sure your seams are on the outside. Don't make the mistake like I did and sew one half with the seams on the inside! It's no fun to have to use your seam ripper and re-do it! 

 This picture is just showing lining up the points. But see, how the yellow matches the other yellow? You'll want to flip it over so the blue is touching the yellow so the colors will contrast not match.

For the first balloon ball I made, I left about an inch for turning inside out, but found it a bit too tight, so I would suggest 1 1/2 inches instead. This hole left by the turning is where you insert the balloon into. You can put it in the middle of your ball or at the top or bottom. Where ever you choose!

You can see I still need to practice making my points line up, but I can assure you if you're making these for a gift for kids, they won't be concerned that the points don't line up! :-) Also, I found that if you don't blow the balloon up all the way, it will look bunched. 

That is the first balloon ball I made this morning. I also sewed another one to try a different technique.  I cut a slit in one of the gores like this.

Then, I sewed up the gores as before, leaving a 1 1/2 inch hole for turning inside out. After that I sewed up the opening. You can sew it by machine or by hand. I did by machine.

Happy Sewing! 

Knitted cambridge watch cap

Yesterday, I finished knitting my sixth Cambridge Watch cap as well as a 9 month old size hat of a different design. The original pattern is found here with my changes below. I will post pictures of both hats next week after the recipient receives them.

For the 9 month old size hat, I used Cascade 220 superwash. I had received it as a RAK gift and I like how soft and squishy it feels. Thank you, spinkluddite for sharing it with me!

I knit it on size 10 needles double stranded with a cast on of 48 sts. I tried it with a single strand of yarn but it was too holey for me. Even though it is a worsted weight yarn, I found it thinner than others.

I did a knit 1, purl 1 ribbing for 4 rows then switched to stockinette stitching until a total of 7 1/4 inches was reached. Then, I decreased it: K2 together across, Purl across, K2 together across, Purl across, K2 together (you will have 6 sts left). I cut the yarn 18 inches and pulled through remaining stitches and used the mattress seam to sew up the sides.

Until next time!

Monday, November 26, 2012

How to cut t-shirt yarn into one long continuous strip

Recently I learned how to cut t-shirt yarn so that you get one long continuous strip instead of having to connect each loop together. I had read in the past about how to cut one long spiral strip, but never could quite figure it out until now. I suggest practicing with a grocery bag instead of wasting a t-shirt. (like I did until I got the hang of it!)

I'm getting ready to make another rag rug though I haven't decided how I want to make it yet. Will I sew one? Crochet one? Knit one? Stay tuned because I will be talking about this later. I probably won't start it until the new year since I've got too many unfinished projects laying around. 

Anyways, here's how to do it:

Take your t-shirt and cut off the top under the arms and the edging on the bottom. I gave away those extra pieces to a friend who is making a rug herself and doesn't mind the connecting of strips. Now that I know how to do this, I wanted minimal knots in my rug. Obviously, I will still have to connect each color together (if I crochet or knit the rug) but 10 or so knots is better than 50! lol!

Now fold it so that the fold is at the bottom. But don't let the top touch each other. Leave about a 1 1/2 inch space like this:

It will look like this when you are done:

Now, I unfold the strips so it looks like this:

Next, slip your arm into the loops like this:

As it hangs on your arm, you'll see the gap left from where you folded it. Follow the dotted lines for cutting. See how you cut it at an angle? If you cut it straight up and down you will just have loops. Cutting it at an angle creates the long continuous strip. The last one that you cut will just be cut off the edge of the material.

Until next time!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nick's hat.

I finished Nick's hat the other day along with two others just like it for a friend's 15 year old twin sons.

He wasn't sure what to think at first of the way it had to be folded up to fit, which made me wonder if I shouldn't make it so long. But, I think that's why it fits as good as it does. The yarn I used is from Brown Sheep Nature spun.Worsted weight. The felted pouches I also made were from this yarn and it hand felted so nice and quick! And best of all, made in the USA!

I tried and failed to make the "Top Down hat recipe" for a friend's son.  (one of these days I'll learn to make a gauge swatch first!) It was my first time making a hat "top down" style. It went fairly quick.  I started out knitting it on my size 8 double points, but switched over to my size 7 circular needles in the 16 inch length.  I was a bit worried that the hat would come out too small, but when I switched it over, I noticed my tension went from very tight to normal.

The hat turned out great, except it came out way too big. It was supposed to fit a teen and it covers my eyes! Oops!! So, back to the drawing board.

Speaking of the Cambridge watchcap hats, the first wool one I made I used size 6 needles the whole time (which is what the pattern called for). The second hat, I made with a size 6 but for the decrease I used a size 7. Mainly because I had borrowed a size 6 dpn before and couldn't for one reason or another borrow them again. And also, because I wanted to be sure it fit Nick's larger head. Well, it was still tight fitting, so I gave it to a friend of his and it fit perfect.

Then the third and fourth hats I made I used size 6 with a 7 dpn decrease for the guy's sons. They had all tried on the second hat and liked how it fit, so I kept up with the revised way.

Now this last hat I'm making I was asked to make it the same way as before, so I guess the size 6 dpn's I just bought will never get used! lol Before I bought them, I was constantly finding patterns I wanted to make that called for them, and now I can't remember what they were. The brand of these needles are Brittany's and I really like them a lot! They are made in the USA and have a 5 year replacement guarantee.

Until next time!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Homemade chili in a crockpot

2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained
2 16 ounce cans red kidney beans, drained
2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained (I drain the juice and add it back in later)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 Tablespoons chili powder 
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. black pepper (this was too spicy for us, so I just use 1/8 tsp.)
1 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. 

Notes: Use leftovers over lettuce and other fresh garden vegetables to make a taco  salad. For more flavor, add cayenne pepper or a jalapeno pepper before cooking. You can also add 1 cup chopped green peppers before cooking.

-this recipe is from my "Fix it and Forget it" Crock pot cookbook. Recipe submitted by Wanda S. Curtin and Ann Sunday McDowell.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Crockpot roast recipe

Loaded up the crock pot this morning with this delicious sounding recipe. I've made it before, but this is the "official" recipe with my directions below recipe.

Delicious Easy Chuck Roast

2-4 pound chuck roast
salt to taste
 pepper to taste
1 onion, sliced
10 3/4 ounce can cream of mushroom soup

Season roast with salt and pepper and place in slow cooker. Add onion. Pour soup over all. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or on high for 6 hours.

My directions:

I sliced two small onions and placed in the bottom of the crock pot. This keeps the meat from sticking. Place roast on top. Season with salt and pepper. Open up can of cream of mushroom soup (Campbell's makes the best taste) and pour on top. Cover. Cook on low. I do this around 8 in the morning. Then at noon, I add sliced carrots and potatoes and cook until 5 in the evening.

I like to make my favorite Egg roll recipe with this dish. The house is starting to smell yummy! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Crocheted pot scrubbers- how long they last?

Some of you were asking me what my pot scrubbers looked like after a couple months of usage.

The purple one is the scrubber that is almost ready to retire to the bathroom for use in scrubbing the tub and sink. Even though it is flat, it still scrubs really good. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fingerless gloves Fingerless mitts

I'm not sure what the difference between the two things are: Fingerless gloves or fingerless mitts. But this week I was trying to find a suitable pattern for the two pairs I need to make this month! I was limited to viewing the patterns on my phone and was having a really hard time finding something that I liked. The pattern names were great and catchy, but did not tell me much about the pattern. Whether or not it was a skill I had learned or if I had the right size needles for the project.

 I had looked at several patterns on Ravelry while at a friend's house, but not having internet access at home, I had no way to print off copies to view later. 

I noticed that all the patterns I looked at either had a seperate thumb section or a seam that you would sew up the side and simply leave a gap. I was hoping to find a pattern I liked for the latter because I thought it would be easier. I found several great sounding patterns from "Knitting Pattern Central" but with titles such as, "Fantastic fingerless mitts" I had no way of knowing how easy the pattern would be. I was just trying to find a very basic plain "boring" pattern! lol And to find one that was easy too. 

I was just about to give up all hope when I came across this pattern after months of searching for "the" pattern. I looked over the pattern and wrote down the pattern so I could have something to go by later when my phone was off. I saw that it was the type of pattern that had a seperate thumb part but it didn't look that difficult. Sure enough, it wasn't. I was shocked at just how easy it was. I just took it step by step. Line upon line and before I knew it, I had knit this up:

The only problem is that I didn't do a gauge. (mainly b/c I didn't notice the pattern even had a gauge it until I was done) I counted 16 stitches instead of the 20 it called for. I thought it was looking quite large and sure enough it was too big. The thumb part was too tight as well. So, I plan on trying the pattern again (to practice my thumb gussets and use a size 6 needle. I think that should give me the correct gauge. I'm glad I just knit it up anyways, because I wanted to be able to practice this new technique.

The only thing is that I don't have any size 6 dpn's yet. Hopefully that will change Monday when I stop by the yarn store. I'm especially hoping I will have enough money to buy a size 6 16 inch length circular needle to make two hat orders go quickly. The cast on is almost 100 and doesn't fit very well on just the dpn's. 

Anyways, back to my fingerless mittens story. After I knit up this pink one, I found this other pattern and it was for the type I had been searching for. I really don't like to sew seams but since I use such large needles for these, they don't take long to make. So, sewing up a few seams is no big deal. 

Finished the second half and just need to sew up the seams and I'm done!

Cell phone zippered pouches

Last week a friend asked me to sew her a cell phone holder that she wanted to give to a friend. So I took out my supplies and started to d...