Tag Archives: knitting

5 Tips for Holiday Crafting Success

Right now, many crocheters and knitters are revving up for the holiday crafting season. Unfortunately, this time of year can be filled with late nights, repetitive stress injuries, and disappointment. In the hopes of sparing you these dramas, I’m sharing my 5 tips for holiday crafting success.

5 Tips for Holiday Crafting Success by Underground Crafter

1) Create gifts only for those who are “worthy”

It can be tempting to make handmade gifts for everyone on your holiday gift list. If you love your craft and are skilled, often the fruits of your labor are more valuable than any gift you can afford to buy. But there are two realities you should consider before trying to crochet or knit gifts for everyone on your life.

  1. You are only one person with a finite amount of time.
  2. Not everyone is truly crochet- or knit-worthy.

By knocking the non-worthy off your list, you can manage your holiday crafting time more realistically, and increase the odds that the gift will actually be appreciated. When your gifts are appreciated, neither you nor the recipient is disappointed, so everyone wins!

What are some signs of a knit- or crochet-worthy recipient?

  • S/he has enjoyed and used previous handmade items you’ve gifted, or
  • S/he is also a crafter, and appreciates the skill and labor that goes into a handmade gift, or
  • S/he has complemented your work and seems to grasp that handmade gifts are difficult to produce!

2) Make a list – and check it (at least) twice

I usually start with 3 lists for holiday crafting: the must-makes, the maybe-makes, and the if-I-have-extra-timers.

The must-makes are the gifts at the top of my production schedule. The recipients are the most “worthy,” I have a clear idea of the project I plan to make, and the yarn is already in my stash or readily available. These are the projects I start right away.

The maybe-makes are the next tier of gifts. Perhaps the recipient is not as “worthy,” or I’m not quite sure what to crochet or knit, or I don’t have a suitable yarn, or, the recipient is really looking forward to another (non-handcrafted) gift. These are the projects I may (or may not) start once the must-makes are finished.

The if-I-have-extra-timers are the last tier of gifts. These include projects for people I don’t always exchange gifts with and quick and easy projects that can be used as gift wrap or embellishment. For instance, if I have the time, I may crochet a set of washcloths to go with a luxury bath kit, or coasters to go with a set of gourmet jams.

The lists keep me on track throughout the holiday crafting season, and I frequently make adjustments. I may find a perfect gift for someone while shopping, and decide to take them off the must-makes list, for example. Then, I may move up a project from the maybe-makes list.

And, of course, it helps to be realistic about your lists. Think about how much time is left before the holidays and what else is going on in your life during this time of year before even adding projects or recipients to the lists.

3) Remember the recipient

This tip may seem simple but it can be a difficult one to keep at the forefront of your mind, particularly if you spot a project that you’d love to create. The best handmade gifts are the ones that are enjoyed by the recipients, so taking some time to consider his/her needs, interests, and preferences before picking up the hook or needles can really make the holiday crafting season go much smoother and spare you (and the recipient) some hurt feelings down the line.

The key things to consider are project type, color, fiber, and care instructions. Your cousin who doesn’t wear jewelry will probably not love those crocheted earrings, even if they are lovely. Your friend with a very specific color scheme in her apartment will probably never display that stunning blanket (in a clashing color) that you labored over for weeks. Your uncle that is allergic to wool (or *thinks* he’s allergic to wool) will tuck that wool scarf in the back of the closet (even if it’s Merino!). And, your son who can barely do his own laundry will not be hand washing anything in the near future, so please use machine washable yarns.

4) Take breaks

Especially if your lists are long, it can be tempting to crochet or knit during every spare hour of every day through the holidays. But remember to be kind to your body. Repetitive stress injuries can make it impossible for you to enjoy your favorite craft again, so to avoid them be sure to take frequent breaks from your crafting (at least every half hour). Stretching, especially your neck and hands, can also keep you flexible and comfortable.

5) Add in something fun!

I frequently hear from crafters who dread this time of year. Gift making becomes an albatross around the neck, or a hated obligation. If you feel this way, drop as many projects from your lists as you need to and remember, you don’t owe anyone a handmade gift. Make some fun projects – for yourself, for gifts, or for charity – so you can remember why you love to crochet or knit in the first place.

NaBloPoMo

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

Unexpected treat

I traveled up to Saratoga Springs for a few days for a work-related project. I knew I’d have plenty of down time, so I packed enough yarn for 3 projects. Except, I packed the yarn before leaving in the morning. Early in the morning.

When I opened my suitcase in Saratoga, it turned out that one of the yarns I brought with me was already assigned to another project. In the dark, it looked just like this yarn (even though in the light of day, there is no resemblance between the two).

Luckily, there happened to be a local yarn shop literally around the corner from the hotel. My colleague agreed to make a stop over there before we set up to for the day.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

 

 

Common Thread turned out to be a delightful local yarn shop.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

In addition to the welcoming staff, they have a great yarn selection.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

The shop organizes the yarn by weight, so medium and bulky was in the second room and the lighter weight yarns are closer to the front door.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

They had a great selection of madelinetosh (one of my favorites) and some fun looking kits.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

They even convinced my colleague, who hasn’t knit since she was in college in the 1970s, to buy some yarn and needles for a one-skein cowl (the Quick Slip Cowl by Andra Asars) for her daughter.

The highlight for me, though, was the wall of local yarns.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

There’s something really special about visiting a yarn shop and finding some yarns that you can’t pick up at home. There was a great selection of undyed wool and alpaca from regional farms, as well as some great hand dyed yarn.

I ended up picking up a skein of Stillwater Island Alpacas called Melanie and a skein of FlockSock from Holiday Yarns by Jennifer Vancalcar in Wolverine.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

And, a few notions, too. I had been looking at the Knitter’s Pride Symfonie Dreamz cable needles for a while, and I couldn’t just let my colleague knit in the round for the first time in 30+ years without a stitch marker.

This turned out to be a fun diversion. If you’re ever in Saratoga, I suggest you check out Common Thread!

NaBloPoMo

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

Indie Design Gift-a-Long Launch!

It’s that time of year again! I hope you’re as excited about the Indie Design Gift-a-Long as I am!

The Indie Design Gift-a-Long is an annual Ravelry extravaganza celebrating knitting and crochet. It kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern and runs through December 31, 2014 and includes about 6 weeks of crochet- and knit-a-long fun with fantastic prizes! Oh, and the sale.

From November 13 through November 21, 2014, over 3,800 patterns by nearly 300 designers will be on sale for 25% off using the promotion code giftalong2014.

I’m a participating designer again this year, and I have 15 crochet patterns and 5 knitting patterns on sale. You can find links to each sale pattern in this bundle.

Indie Design Gift-a-Long 2014, patterns for sale by Underground CrafterAlthough this event is definitely more fun if you’re on Ravelry, you don’t have to be a member to enjoy the sales, or to spread the word on social media with the #giftalong2014 hashtag.

If you’d like more details about the origin of the Gift-a-Long and all the ways to get involved, check out my interview with the organizers here. I look forward to seeing you in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long Group on Ravelry.

You can also find out more in this constantly updating infographic about the Gift-a-Long (also known as the GAL). Enjoy!

New knitting pattern: Pretty in Pink Shawlette

I’m continuing my series of posts sharing my pattern releases today with a new knitting pattern, the Pretty in Pink Shawlette.

Pretty in Pink Shawlette, knitting pattern by Marie Segares/Underground Crafter

This triangular shawl is knit from the top down in Galler Yarns Flore II. The pattern uses a combination of stockinette and drop stitches to create the appearance of stripes.

Pretty in Pink Shawlette, knitting pattern by Marie Segares/Underground Crafter

It also features a two stitch center spine, and an attractive border. The subtle stitch pattern really lets the mohair blend yarn shine. The pattern is now available for sale on Ravelry here.

NaBloPoMo

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

Almost finished

I’m almost finished with the temperature scarf I started for my mom last week.

Originally, I planned on making it a cowl.

Temperature scarf for mom, knitting project on Underground Crafter.

On the needles last week.

But after finishing the first group of temperatures, it was too short to be a cowl, and after repeating the set again, it was too long for a cowl.

Temperature scarf for mom, knitting project on Underground Crafter.

I decided to finish it off at 132 rows. It’s a bit short, but it gives me the opportunity to include a shawl pin with the gift.

Temperature scarf for mom, knitting project on Underground Crafter.

 

My mom loves cables, so I choose an alternating cable pattern. Now all that’s left is to weave in the (many, many) ends, and to block it.

I’m excited to have my first bit of holiday crafting finished. (I’m less excited about the holiday crafting that remains to be done!)

NaBloPoMo

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.