Saturday, April 29, 2017

PB&J Granola

My crafting is moving at a snail's pace, so I've decided to roll with an idea I've been chewing on for a few months. I'm going to start writing blogs for KatKnap Cooks as well as KatKnap Crafts. So we're going to see how this evolves, both in post content and how it  changes the look of the blog.... later... you know, sometime in the future when I look back on this post and say, "Damn, I still haven't done that."

The first KatKnap Cooks post is going to be about an ongoing obsession I have had for the past few weeks. Granola! Specifically, it's about  my recent reinventing of a kid's classic.

PB&J Granola

A Peanut Butter And Jelly Snack They Can Eat In The Car


I stood in my kitchen, refrigerator open (Don't tell my kids... or my husband. Ya know, just keep that between us ;) ), and I was looking at a container of yogurt, thinking about how delicious a yogurt and granola parfait would be for lunch. Then it occurred to me: I have everything I need to make granola! I did a quick Google search and found this basic recipe from Chowhound. It's so simple to follow. I have it bookmarked for quick reference!

After about my fourth run through of the recipe, I started really thinking about the ingredients I was using as mix-ins. Dried fruit can cut into a food budget like a machete, and nuts aren't any cheaper. Sunflower seeds are too small, fall to the bottom of the bag, and never make it into the handfuls spoonfuls of granola. Also, granola would be a fun new food for the baby to try, but it has honey in it. Not to mention, the brown sugar, even though a small amount, was something I wanted to sneak out of the recipe because my kids love this stuff as much as I do!


Stevia is almost always my answer to reinventing things as "sugar-free". To substitute the honey, I used molasses in a 1:1, boom! Baby safe! We arent worried about peanut allergies here. The beauty of granola is it is so customizable! Bonus: this is gluten free!!

Finally, the cost. I'm a Kroger shopper myself, but I'd encourage you to price check your favorite grocery store prices if this cost is a consideration you. What I found is that peanuts and raisins are the most affordable. With that, PB&J Granola was created!



Peanut Butter and Jelly GranolaRevamped from ChowHound's Basic Granola recipe
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups ROLLED oats
  • 3 tablespoons stevia
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried raisins
  • 1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 300°


With a wooden spoon, stir oats with Stevia, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl until it's nicely blended together.

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk molasses, vanilla, and vegetable oil until it's well mixed. This takes a little work, but it is possible.

Pour molasses mixture over the oats and mix with a wooden spoon until the oats are well coated.

Spread the coated oats onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Trust me, you want the parchment paper! It's going to keep your baking sheet clean for minimal cleanup, keep your granola from sticking to your baking sheet like crazy, and double as a nifty funnel to help pack it all away!

Bake for 15 minutes, stir, then bake another 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, stir in peanuts and raisins. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently to keep it from clumping together.

Now, use the parchment paper and a spatula (or your hands) to get it all into a gallon baggie or plastic container. Make sure it is COMPLETELY cooled before storing. Remaining heat will cause moisture build up, soggy, stale granola, and shorter shelf life.

Enjoy!


May muses whisper to you always,
Kat
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

KatKnap (Finally) Color Pools!

KatKnap (Finally) Color Pools!

And She Broke Some Rules Along The Way



Graphghans are my absolute passion in the realm of crochet. I love making a tapestry picture with the loops I weave around my hook and watching the picture come to life. When "color pooling" hit the lime light in crochet trends, it was like meeting graph crochet all over again. I have so many variegated yarns that it was almost too difficult to figure out which one to try first. After months of deliberation, I decided on my Red Heart Super Saver Blacklight, and I made this.



It's worth mention that when I selected this yarn it was because I came across some awesome pictures in some of my crochet groups on Facebook where some ladies cranked out sheer beauty with Red Heart's color "Neon". I tried countless times to get it to pool without much luck, and it turned out that I was having zero luck because I was using Red Heart "Blacklight". After searching for the magic number for Blacklight, it became very apparent that there wasn't one, that the color was temperamental to get to pool, and that masterpieces like this one from Crochet Dynamite are hard to finagle. 

The main reason I was able to find in comments on the projects and, eventually, through my own implementation, is this little bugger here. 


That little strip of pink was a thorn in the ribs! It never wanted to pool properly, and its length varied from row to row. Talk about a color poolers nightmare!

If I had to take an educated guess, every dye lot on this yarn is going to have slight variations that won't work in your favor as far as color pooling is concerned. So I'd recommend making sure that all of your skiens are from the same lot. That being said, this project only took:

  • 1 skien of Red Heart Super Saver Blacklight
  • A small amount of Red Heart Black
  • 3.75mm (F) crochet hook
  • Jewelry clasp (kind of optional)
  • Scissors
  • Yarn for weaving in the ends

The first thing that might look fishy about this (and the first rule that I broke) is the additional yarn color. Well, long story short, my husband is a genius. When I was going with the classic methodology of color pooling that Marly Bird lays out beautifully, I was on my fourth time trying to chain through and then single crochet through every color in this yarn. Guys, this yarn's pattern is insane. Orange, Green, Orange, Yellow, Orange, Pink, Yellow, Misbehaving Pink, Orange, Green, Blue, Yellow, Green, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Green, Yellow, Pink, Orange, Blue, Pink, Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, Pink, Blue Green, Pink, repeat. WHAT?!?! 



My husband pipes in and says, "Why don't you just chain like 300 in black, and then crochet through your colors? That way you aren't off-set from the start." Did cherubs just start singing?

The first thing I did was chain 300 in the black. Then I single crocheted through the color pattern ending up at 240 stitches total. To get the colors to lay on top of one another the way that I wanted, I immediately began crocheting in the round. I always made sure to end on black (which is roughly two stitches long between colors). I also used only single crochets for this project. Perhaps that's bending a rule and not breaking it, but typically a moss stitch is used for an argyle effect. After a while of tugging and redoing and frogging and redoing and cursing huffing and redoing, I resigned to see how the project turned out if I allowed the black stitches to line up within two stitches of one another. Clear as mud? Let's explain it this way:

The biggest exclamation point surrounding color pooling is the need to keep "even tension". Guess which rule I broke? Yup. This tension is not even! Now, I want to point out, that if I had been making something to be worn like a scarf or a hat, this wouldn't have worked, but because I was making a pillow, it didn't effect the final project in a negative way. It's also important to note how tension exactly effects a color pool. The plain and simple of it is this: when you pull up a loop on your hook (to get two loops for your single crochet stitch) those two loops are the body of your stitch. You know, that little "V" we use to count our stitches. When you pull the yarn through the two loops on your hook, that is the top of your stitch. Every. Single. Time. Maybe this is elementary to a lot of you crocheters, but it's crucial knowledge to get the black lines to "line" up properly. If my black stitches weren't touching black to black on either the top or the body, I knew my alignment was off, and I undid the last 30 stitches or so, adjusted my tension, gasp! and moved right along. The bonus to doing it this way, is that you notice any alignment issue right away, so the frogging is minimal. At least, it's minimal for a color pooling project.

After several times of crocheting single crochets around and around and around, I finally ran out of my Blacklight yarn, I did another row of single crochet in black, then I sewed up both of the black ends with black yarn and stuffed along the way. The final quirk is the clasp.



 I used a necklace clasp to attach the two ends together so that it could be a neck rest pillow. Hooray jewelry making!



If something about this project isn't clear or if you have any questions, please, comment below or contact me at one of the places in my signature. What color pooling projects have you embarked on lately? What is your favorite yarn to color pool?

May muses whisper to you always,
Kat
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Monday, March 6, 2017

3-D Printer, Meet Sewing Machine

3-D Printer, Meet Sewing Machine

How I Got The Singer 66 To Power On



This post contains affiliate links.

In a post last week about how much fun I had making Half-Square Triangles for the Growing Up QAL, I mentioned that my husband bought me a Singer sewing table. At the time, that was pretty much all I knew about it. Upon further inspection, I think it might actually be a Singer sewing machine in a different sewing table. That's based solely on the fact that the table isn't branded, and I don't think that Singer would have that! I also found this awesome Singer serial number database 
where I was able to determine that this particular machine is a Singer 66 which means it hails from around the 1950's. I geeked a little bit.



Now, this machine didn't have a power cord which totally explained the $35 price tag. As I began the hunt for this cord, my husband wanted to play with his new toy, a MonoPrice Select Mini. He started measuring and working his handy-man skills and was able to actually make the power cord! I have very little understanding of the process, but essentially, he broke down a computer power cord, was able to determine what little prongs on the machine did what, hook everything up appropriately, and voila, working power cord. He then used the 3-D printer to make a little cap to make sure all of the shocky bits stayed away from curious fingers.



So if you know someone with a 3-D printer and some electrical know-how, you can use this to print up your own power cord cover.

If you need to buy one, this one from Amazon is supposed to work for the same model.



This refurbish project isn't exactly exciting yet, but I said I was going to show how I got this old baby up and running, so here we are, at the start of it all!



What kind of funky cross-over crafts do you have going on? Beading and crocheting? Or maybe quilting and embroidering?


May muses whisper to you always,
Kat
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Traditional Piecing - Half-Square Triangle (HST)

Traditional Piecing - Half-Square Triangle (HST)

I Loved and Learned


I wanted to take this blog post and use it to talk about how much fun I'm really having with this QAL by TweloQ. The January block was an applique block, which I also posted about, so pop on over there, if you're interested. 


The February block was a traditional piecing exercise centered around the Half-Square Triangle. Let me just start off by saying, triangles are my favorite shape. I know, I'm seriously weird, but one of my favorite classes in high school was Trigonometry because we got to do so much with triangles. They're the funnest shape to do math with, hands down, and quilting with them was equally as satisfying. 


My edges are still really off, and apparently I can't measure for crap. Overall, though, I'm super happy with how this turned out! It's inspired a few quilting related purchases like a mini iron that will help me (hopefully) with my persistent iron-laziness. I think my biggest reservation is that it's huge and in the garage... I'm getting a little Clover mini-iron that I'm going to keep in my sewing table and will be able to use in the same room that I do my sewing. 

Speaking of my new sewing table, look at this beauty!


I was extremely excited when my husband bought this for me at a second-hand store. $35! The first thing we noticed is that it was missing a power cord. My handy partner is going to be helping me write my next post in which we'll spell out how we fixed that little issue. Then there will be more talking about the rest of the refurbishment. 

What's your favorite quilt block? How did you find your favorite sewing machine? And how do you keep your crafting space practical for you?


May muses whisper to you always,
Kat
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Friday, February 17, 2017

Tips and Tricks from Beginner to Beginner: My First Applique Quilt Block

Tips and Tricks from Beginner to Beginner

My First Applique Quilt Block

I'm actually going to start this post by chastising myself for not posting last week, and then following that up with my excuse. My computer and I got into a had a falling out last week. He blue-screened, I said some hurtful things... but it's all better now. We went to a professional (*cough* my husband *cough*), he has a new operating system, and now it's like he's a completely different computer. I think we're going to be able to make this work, guys.

Moving right along -- check this out!


This is my first ever quilt block, and I am proud of this sucker! It's chock full of beginner mistakes, and I wanted to write a post to other quilt-curious-crafters to share what I did wrong (and will now do better).

Disclaimers:

  • Since I have small children, I did parts of this with kids attached, juggling naps, and in general, I'm always in a hurry, so there may be things in later quilt locks that I still screw up because of all of the above. I love my stinkers more than my crafting, no shame ;)
  • This post contains affiliate links
  • This is a block that I did two weeks ago, so literally, I'm fumbling my way through this and letting you know shortly after how it went. In no way at all am I claiming to be a professional at this, nor am I trying to be. This is aspiring hobbyist to aspiring hobbyist. 
  • This is NOT MY DESIGN.
I am making this block along with several more as a part of the 2017 Growing Up QAL (Quilt-A-Long) being done by Alida TweloQ Designs.

She has done a marvelous job putting together different blocks that will help beginner quilters (hello) to develop the necessary basic skills to create their own quilts. I'm having a lot of fun with this, and I'm working on a piecing block now!

Click the button below if you're interested in seeing the other blocks, Alida's other designs, or even joining the QAL for yourself!


Tips and Tricks from Beginner to Beginner

  • Don't Be Afraid of A Difficult Design
         When I first saw the design for this applique, I thought, "A rose! How pretty, and my favorite flower. How the hell am I going to pull that off??" I really think that, this being my first applique project, a solid triangle wouldn't have been any easier than this rose. The most difficult part was at the sewing machine, so if you're handy with that already, then I really don't think that it would have made a difference. Besides, I got some really good practice in with my sewing with all of those sharp turns and tight spaces, and it was fun instead of boring. 
  • Iron 
Iron it all. Every last bit before you do anything else, including any cutting or measuring for your square! I'm sure it will have a disastrous effect on my final product because I know that I didn't get the measurements right on this block. This was such a newbie mistake, and realistically, I knew I was making it, and I didn't fix it. Seriously, for shame, self. Make it flat! 
  • Iron-on Stabilizer Paper
Have I mentioned that I'm new at this? I don't even necessarily know that the Iron-on stuff is called "stabilizer paper", but I know that it was a freaking life saver to not have to pin this thing down. Really! I traced my pattern onto my Heat 'N Bond adhesive, ironed it onto my fabric (make sure that your fabric's wrong side is facing the part of the paper it's adhering to, or it won't turn out properly!), cut out my pattern, peeled off the other side, and ironed it onto my background. So simple, so worth it!

  • Test, Test, Test!
After realizing my dire mistake of not ironing out my fabric before I cut it all to pieces, I vowed to take the not-lazy approach, and that saved my hide when it came time to sew! I used a piece of scrap fabric from my cutting to test out some different stitches, make sure that my sewing machine was set up correctly, and generally just remember what I'm supposed to do with a sewing machine. Again, so so so worth it! 
  • Take Your Time
This was a less of a "mistake" and more of a "Okay, my kids are totally done watching me do this and/or entertaining themselves. Let's hurry up and get it done before one of them starts flipping out." After going through all of the motions to get my machine set up (on my dining room table where it is not safe to leave it unattended) I really needed to just crank this thing out. If I had the option, I would have given myself the time to take it slow. Overall my block turned out great for a first timer, but there are some areas of the applique where the sewing got sloppy. 

Are you a seasoned sewer/quilter? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks from Expert to beginner! Are you thinking about quilting? Do you love applique work? Leave me a comment below, and let's trade some craftiness!

May muses whisper to you always,
Kat
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Saturday, February 4, 2017

DIY Up-Cycled Curtains

DIY Up-Cycled Curtains

A Great Beginner's Sewing Project!


When we first moved to our little suburban house from our tiny little apartment,  I was immediately overcome with the urge to nest! I was so excited about the new space, and I needed to make it our home. I wanted to start warming up the house with curtains. Now, I hadn't had the room to actually get out my sewing machine and give it a try while we lived in the apartment. Not to mention, at the time, I had a toddler, and anyone who has been around a newly walking baby knows they are in to EVERYTHING, even if it is a moving needle!

I pondered and pondered where to find cheap fabric that I could turn into curtains, tried to wrap my head around enough of the finer details to pin down a pattern in my head (pun totally intended), and one day, I wondered through one of my favorite little thrift shopping locations only to find a table full of super cheap decorative shower curtains in marvelous condition! Now, these were cloth decorative shower curtains, not the plastic ones that you use to keep the water from getting out of the tub. 

Here were these curtains, pre-made, and they had a strip of cloth at the top (that you would use for the shower rings) that had small holes in it. A stroke of genius hit me!


I could cut these shower curtains in half. Then, by cutting off the top strip, folding the cut top down, doing a quick sew across the top of the curtain making a little pocket for the curtain rod, I could get some good practice in with my sewing machine and get my curtains for part of the work and at a steep discount!

I didn't even have to toss the strip at the top - check this out:


In retrospect, I could have cleaned these strips up a little more, but I use them as the tie-backs for the curtains!


By using the tops as the tie-backs you don't have to worry about whether or not it's going to go with your curtains because it is, in fact, one with the curtain.


BONUS: There are some seriously cute shower curtains! I instantly fell in love with this dinosaur curtain and used it in our playroom.


Pair them with some awesome sheer curtains, and you could even make a tiny apartment look like a cozy little home!

What is your favorite DIY home decor project?

May muses whisper to you always,
Kat
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Crocheted Vine of Tomatoes

Crocheted Vine of Tomatoes

This post contains affiliate links.




My toddler (turned preschooler this week!) has been obsessed with cooking sense he could toddle. He has a toy kitchen that my husband rescued from curbside and then extended by being his handy creative self.  Recently, my preschooler has started to compost his egg shells in his kitchen. This means that he breaks his Play-Doh eggs in half over his frying pan and then throws the two pieces of Play-Doh into a separate container that he has deemed his compost container.

First of all, parenting win! The preschooler is pretending to compost. Hello, environmentally friendly teachings that are now coming to fruition in play! Secondly, I wanted to make sure this continued and grew, so the crocheted vine of tomatoes was born!

I made the little red tomatoes using the book Yummi Girumi which was a pretty great little book of crochet patterns.



The cherry tomatoes were a little bland. I actually made them as part of the preschooler's Christmas gift (which ended up being given to him three days late because I'm an awesome procrastinator), but I didn't think they had enough "cute" to be given along with the totally adorable watermelon, apples, strawberries, and broccoli. The tomatoes rolled around in my desk until this week when I decided I would crochet a vine to connect them and to be thrown in the make believe compost! The tomato tops were partially inspired by the strawberry tops in the book. Since the actual tomatoes came from the book, I can't give you that pattern. You are welcome to purchase the book or look for a simple tutorial on how to crochet a small red ball. They're everywhere! 

This pattern is just for the vine. 

You need:

Medium or worsted weight yarn in dark green
2.5mm crochet hook
Sticky-back velcro coins 

Yarn needle for weaving in the ends
Crocheted vined fruit or vegetable of your choice

Begin Pattern:

Ch 4 and slst together to make a ring
*ch 4, slst into the second ch from the hook, and sc in the next two ch stitches. Slst into the middle of the beginning ch 4 ring.
Repeat from * four more times for a total of 5 leaves. 
**Ch 9, slst into the fourth ch from the hook to make another ch 4 ring. 



Repeat from * four more times for a total of 5 leaves again. 
Repeat from ** to crochet another tomato top for as many tomatoes as you've made!


TOMATOES! ASSEMBLE! 
(Please, say this in your best superhero narrator voice.)




After weaving in your ends stick one side of your Velcro coins to the tops of your tomatoes (or other vegetable/fruit)










Then add the other half of your Velcro coins to your fruit or vegetable.










Put it all together and what do you have?
Beautiful, garden fresh, tomatoes for your little one's creative kitchen play with tops ripe for composting!



What other foods could we make for our kids to practice environmentally mindful cooking and play?

Show me your pictures, let me hear your thoughts, and let's share ideas with one another!

May muses whisper to you always,
Kat
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Friday, January 20, 2017

KatKnap How-To: Beaded, Twisted Headband

Beaded, Twisted Headband

A KatKnap How-To

This post contains affiliate links

Last week, in my 5 New Crafts To Try In 2017 post, I mentioned that fabulous headbands could be made with some jewelry making equipment. Well, there was a reason for that.


Boom! I was so happy with how this finished! I can't stand store bought headbands. I have a unreasonable mass of curly thick hair that does not play well with... it doesn't play well! So I set out to make a headband that can actually keep my hair out of my face. Other headbands break during early use, stretch to being useless, or just plain fail. Here's how it's done!

Choose Your String


You want this to stretch, so no wire! I used Bead N'Stretch, and it worked great. Give yourself some wiggle room when you cut your string. I cut 22", and I really wish I had given myself some more slack. Cut three strings for yourself, and then on to the first clasp!



Choose Your Clasp


I went with a Clamshell Clasp. My camera isn't awesome, so I found this video by Stones and Findings so that you can see how to put it on. Put one on your starting end and save the other for the end of the project. 
I chose this clasp because they link together nicely, and it gives the headband a strong base. I thought about going with a classic latch, and although that would have worked, I want to feel like I'm putting on a headband - not making a necklace into a makeshift hair accessory. 

String The Beads

Beauty is certainly an important factor in selecting your beads for this project, but so is functionality. Will bulkier beads overshadow the cute little pearls? Once you twist them together, will there be beads lost in the mix? 

I used long thin beads near the clasps, five beads per strand, to make sure that the piece sitting right behind my head wasn't going to dig in or feel bulky. Then I threaded a clamping tube onto all three strands and clamped it so that those fifteen beads would stay put and create a base instead of twisting in with the rest of my headband. 

Make sure you're choosing small-ish beads because this is something that will go on your head, around your ears, glasses (if you wear them), and it's going to be adding pressure to these sensitive areas. That being said, let me show you these rocks I wanted to put around my head!


These stone beads inspired the whole project. I used a number of other strands of beads that I'll show you in a minute, and they came with the smaller seed beads that I used between the stones. I made my strand with three stone beads, and then I used two two tiny amber colored beads on either side of a small, dark brown, glass bead as my spacer. All of the stones jammed together looked like a mess, so the spacer between every three stones really helped make it look more like something to wear instead of just gravel. 


To add some contrast to this rock collection, I used some of these gritty-looking black beads along with some pearlescent gold beads. I laid out a dark one between two lighter amber seed beads, then I laid a pearlescent between two darker amber seed beads. This gave me two spacer beads, a dark and a light, between each of my larger beads, framing in the larger beads with a contrasting shade. The picture doesn't do it justice. It really turned out marvelous. 



Keeping with the "all natural" look, I added some wooden beads. The pattern here was three tiny amber beads, one wooden bead, repeat that pattern until there are three wooden bead sequences together, then toss in a pearlescent gold bead for a pop of shine. I wanted to keep this strand simple because there was so much going on in the other two. 

Then I stuck the three strands through another clamp tube, clamped it shut, strung on some more long, thing beads, and added my last clamshell clasp. 

Now, for a twist!



I love this effect. It makes me think of river beds and cold waterfalls and, quite frankly, my vacation last summer to the Pigeon River which was so fun!

After you twist all of your strands together attach your clasps to one another and enjoy!




May muses whisper to you always,
Kat
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Friday, January 13, 2017

5 New Crafts To Try In 2017



Crochet was my first love. I remember sitting in the back seat of my mother's car, her in the passenger's side, me behind the driver, and watching her fingers dance around a strand of yarn as she busily built a crochet classic, the granny square afghan. I was about 8 at the time, so of course, I had to ask, "Mommy, what are you doing?"
She handed me a hook, some yarn, and taught me how to crochet a granny square. Love, I tell you. Love in its purest form. I couldn't wait to get to my dad's house to show him what I'd learned. I spent years after tat perfecting the art, and I still crochet today. I crochet almost every single day! However, I'm an artist, not a just a crocheter. I'm a maker.
My love of crafts are many, and I know others that like to dance outside of the lines of just one craft. That's why I wanted to offer my suggestions for:

5 New Crafts To Try in 2017

1. Jewelry making


One of the first necklaces I made almost 6 years ago.
I still wear it for special occasions!

Making jewelry is my third crafting love. We'll get to the second in a minute. I don't wear a lot of jewelry these days. I'll get back around to it in the future, but right now I have too many tiny hands around pulling on earrings and yanking on anything that I might wear on my neck, but I still love to make jewelry. Shiny, sparkly (no glitter!), and stunning - it's so much fun to play with the beads, the colors, to twist the wires and to test the different clasps. There's a lot to this craft, and it can be pricey to start (check this out for all of the tools you'll need to begin). Also, if you're like many of us and have a yarn "problem" (psh, it's not a problem...) you will also have "problem" with beads. There's so many, they're so pretty, and they frequently go ON SALE! This is also a multifaceted craft ranging from the simple stringing of beads to the intricate art of wire wrapping gemstones or straight making chain mail. One of my intentions with jewelry making this year is to try out this awesome thing called Viking Knitting. Not to mention you can delve into beading other accessories like headbands! 

2. Looming

I get giddy when I watch someone weaving on a weaving loom. What I wouldn't give to have the time and space to create my own fabrics from the threads! Knitting looms like these, though, I've found are a fun way to bide my time while I pine for the tedium of an old school loom. "Knit Quick" is more than just an embellishment, I have to say. It is time consuming, but I love the fabric it creates. It's a great alternative to traditional knitting if you're one of those people that just can't seem to get the hang of operating needles in tandem. You can even make your own socks which is something I dislike doing in the medium of crochet. Sorry, they just feel more like slippers to me.

3. Knitting

Speaking of knitting, it;s my second crafting love! My 8th grade West Virginia History/English teacher taught me to knit during lunch. (She taught me in both subjects in the same year AND she was my homeroom teacher!) I ran into a bit of a bully problem during lunch that year, and she, being the amazing woman and educator that she was, offered her classroom to me as sanctuary. She even cleared it with the principal for me to eat in there! Together her, two other friends, and I all started the Barboursville Middle School Knitting Club. Yeah, I'm a founding member, and yes, I'd love a cookie ;) All you need is a ball of yarn and a pair of  knitting needles (go for a size 7 if you're buying one pair). If you're already a yarny crafter, you're halfway there! You can make anything with knitting that you can make with crochet, and if you're looking to add some high-dollar items to your business's shelves, here's your niche.

4. Felt Crafts

Felt crafting is not something I have endeavored on yet, but it's on my list of things to try out very soon. It's not just for daycare craft projects, everyone. I have seen a dear family member create sheer beauty with felt. You can make anything from iPad covers to activity books, and American Felt and Craft Blog would be a great place to start and look for inspiration. 

5. Sewing

In today's fast-paced and commercialized world sewing is beginning to join tatting as a lost art. We can't let this happen! Even if you only adopt it for sake of repairing your favorite clothes, please, take the time to learn this! I've fallen in love with the PBS show Sewing with Nancy, and have also taken to teaching my children who have all been very interested in learning. So far the oldest two have made their own pillows, and my oldest has made our dog a bed out of up-cycled blankets.



And my toddler has become very good at... Well, he's interested :D Personally, I've thoroughly enjoyed making our curtains, and repairing all of those pants and button-ups that would have otherwise been tossed, donated, or sat in a pile somewhere, unused. This is even a trade that, with practice and proper marketing, you could do at home to make an extra buck. 

If you're someone that subscribes to only one craft, I encourage you to extend your repertoire this year. Let me know what your favorite crafts are! What new crafts do you plan to add to your maker's arsenal this year?

May muses whisper to you always,
Kat
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Friday, January 6, 2017

Lion Brand Yarns' Baby's First Yarn Review



Lion Brand Yarns' Baby's First Yarn
Review


Hello all, and I hope that you have had a fantastic start to the new year! I don't know about you, but 2016 was a hell of a year for me. I graduated with my A.A.S. I had another beautiful baby boy, I laughed, I cried, I yelled at the kids some (and have made a resolution to do that less!), and I decided to give my blog another swing at a home run. Let's kick it off with a yarn review.

My new baby boy needed a new baby blanket, and my dear grandmother gave me a metric ton of this Lion Brand Baby's First yarn. Okay, so maybe not a literal metric ton, but it was enough to make this very large, and what turned out to be an overall gorgeous baby blanket. 


This is my first review. I gave it a lot of thought, and I had the realization that when I'm shopping on Amazon, one of the first filters I apply is the stars filter. You know the one?



It's a great way to make sure you're getting a good deal instead of a hunk of junk when you're spending your hard earned cash. I figured if this is the way that I shop, it should be the way that I review - the one exception being that I'm going to be cute/corny and use paw prints because "Kat" "KatKnap" haha, punny... ugh.

Let's get to it!


Name: Baby's First
Manufacturer: Lion Brand Yarns
Made in: China
Fiber content: 55% Acrylic, 45% Cotton
Measurement per skein: 120 yd (110 m) or 3.5 oz. (100 g)
Recommended HOOK size: K-10.5 (6.5 MM)
(9 sc and 10 rows for 4x4"/10cm x 10cm square)
Recommended NEEDLE size: 10 (6 MM)
(12 sts and 18 rows for 4x4"/10cm x 10cm square)
Care and wash: Machine wash and machine dry. Do not iron.
Project recommendations: blankets, play mats, bathroom rugs. Personally, I think the yarn works up with a bit too much bulk for "wearables" i.e. hats, jackets, sweaters, etc. but the label recommends scarves.

  • Availability




This yarn gets one pawprint for availability. Ouch, right? 

Here's the story:
My original plan for this blanket was to do the entire piece with that lovely colorwork that you see along the bottom edge. However, I quickly realized that I was way short on the green yarn that I would need to finish the entire piece. So I got on my favorite shopping site, Amazon, to buy some more, and that sucker was $30 a skien! 

Upon further research the color is no longer being made, so it sells for a hefty price. I settled for buying the yellow (Honey Bee) and finishing the blanket as you see it above. Again, it's a beautiful blanket, and I'm happy with it, but even the yellow was $6 for 120 yards. Bye, bye hard earned cash!

  • Cohesiveness






The general continuity of the yarn also gets one paw. Harsh, I know, but when the yarn is split before you can even get it on the hook, it's hard to justify calling it credible in this regard. 



Every skien that I worked with was split anywhere from 4-12 inches at the start and/or end of each skien. To add insult to injury, the yarn was frequently frayed, knotted or both smack dab in the middle of at least three out of the six skiens I used for this project. It had a pretty gnarly effect on the final product. If I had been making this to sell, I couldn't have given it to my customer knowing full-well that they would never appreciate the integrity of the product or my work. Sloppy!


There are snags like this throughout the entire piece because frayed ends of the yarn were tied together or knotted up in the middle of the skein. Needless to say, I would have been mortified to sell this to anyone. Because I intended to review the yarn and wanted to know the effect this would have on the overall project, I didn't preimptively fix the snags; however, if you run into this yourself, cut out the knot, retie the ends with long tails, and weave them in just as you would if you were beginning a new skein, and you will be able to avoid these nasty hiccups. 

  • Color



We'll start with the positive here - this yarn has some gorgeous colors. The pastels are perfect for anything baby. It also works up true to the color of the skein. The work-in-progress doesn't begin to appear lighter or darker in color than the ball from which you're pulling the yarn. Another thing that I appreciated about the colors of this yarn was that they would have all worked together very well. 




With some other yarns, it has been my experience, that just because the color wheel says these two yarns should compliment one another, it isn't always the case, but with the Lion Brand's Baby's First, all of the colors could have been worked together in most arrangements within the same project and it would have come out looking very nice. 


Why only three paws, then?
Because the labels don't tell you the color. That makes it almost impossible to shop for more of the same color to finish or replicate a project. Especially when there are little snakes in the grass like this:


Discerning between these two was terribly difficult unless they were side-by-side. I'd have to use both hands to count how many times that "bright white", as I began to name it, almost ended up in the blanket instead of the "eggshell". 

  • Feel


 FIVE PAWS!!
This is definitely where this yarn shines. I mean, you can't get much better than the luxurious texture of this yarn.






This yarn is so SO soft, you guys. It also has a nice "bounce" to it. To the point that I would highly recommend its use in things like Tummy Time Mats or a nice squishy rug to stand on while you brush your pearly whites. The feel of the yarn is what inspired me to make a baby blanket with it in the first place. I've washed and dried the blanket a few times, and it retains its softness and springiness very well. This yarn is also SUPER warm, so it's perfect for babies (or adults) in the cooler fall and winter months. 
  • Workability


The "workability" of this yarn had me huffing several times over how it split, but the stitches that it forms are so easy to see that it will show off your stitch work like a modern marvel if you take your time. That's why it has three paws.





For someone who is just learning their way around a hook, this yarn is not for you, I'm sorry. You have to be very ginger with your tension and place your hook with precision, or you will end up with split threads. Not only does that damage the integrity of your product, it makes the entire project look just a little.... off. That being said, if you know where to put your hook, the yarn is so thick that with a proper sized hook it grabs well. I never had a problem with it slipping off mid-stitch, and the stitches that it creates have some outrageous detail. I could see this being so beautiful as a Catherine's Wheel - you know, something really showy, maybe even a Star Stitch. 

Overall, I love the blanket, and so does my baby. If you're an experienced hooker, you could definitely make this yarn work for you. Especially if it's already sitting in your stash or if it is gifted to you. However, I have to say, that Bernat's Blanket yarn (which I used for my toddler's baby blanket) is just as luxurious in feel, it's competitively priced, not to mention it's much easier to find in your local craft shop. 

May muses whisper to you always,
Kat
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