26 March 2014

Apron Strings 5

Lately my SO has taken to asking me how many aprons I think I'll want. I guess he's worried we won't have enough storage space for them all if I keep making (and buying) them. Now, I'm the first to admit I'm a bit apron obsessed, but I don't see a problem with having an extensive apron wardrobe. They manage to combine the often mutually exclusive characteristics of practical and cute. They're fun, both to make and wear. And if you do make your own, aprons are also a great way to use smaller pieces of fabric you may have lying around (or an excuse to indulge at the fabric store).

I'm thrilled with my latest completed apron. I used this tutorial as inspiration and ended up with a pretty, flattering addition to my collection. I also have fabric ready to go for my next two projects. I guess I'd better let my SO know that I don't see the apron acquisition slowing down any time soon. Sorry, sweetie.

(For anyone wondering, all fabrics are from Along Came Quilting.)

Photos ©Whimsy Bower

10 March 2014

Review: Get Started Crochet and Get Started Knitting

DK's Get Started Sewing is one of my favourite sewing books (and it really did get me started), so when I was given the chance to review the Crochet and Knitting books in the Get Started series, I didn't hesitate. What I particularly enjoy about the Get Started books is that they methodically take you from the basics to more elaborate techniques and projects in a natural progression. As you complete one project and move on to the next you'll painlessly pick up new skills until you've mastered the craft.

For those of you unsure what the difference is, Knitting and Crochet are both ways of turning yarn into decorative objects, blankets, clothing, and other items. The main difference is that knitting generally uses two needles (sometimes more) to complete projects, while crochet utilizes a single "needle" with a hook on the end instead of a point. The tools used affect technique and results. Both Get Started Knitting and Get Started Crochet feature similar information and chapters, though obviously specific to each craft. The books aren't interchangeable, so don't get one expecting you'll be able to apply it to the other skill as well.

Both books have some great projects. Personal favourites that I'll be making include a phone case, leg warmers, a stuffed monkey, and nifty cushion covers in Get Started Knitting; and towel edging, toy balls, a clutch bag, and a lacy scarf in Get Started Crochet. There are cute baby projects too, for those of you who want to tackle booties, hats, and wee cardigans. Bonus: there are numerous fancy stitch patterns also offered in each book, including lace, filet, and fair isle. These can be used for a variety of larger projects but I could have fun just making swatches of them.

Where I felt these books dropped the ball was in the how-to for basics like casting on. As a mostly self-taught knitter and crocheter I know the importance of clear instructions and good photos, but I found the photos in these books confusing. Not enough close-up shots and annoying squiggly arrows (attempting to show what you're supposed to be doing) just gave me a headache as I tried to figure them out. The written instructions, luckily, were clearer, and using those along with the photos as a reference, I could probably manage. My recommendation to anyone who has never tried knitting or crochet is to find someone who can show you the first steps. Once you've actually made a slipknot or knit a few stitches, it becomes much easier to decipher more complicated directions. Besides, it's more fun to have someone with whom to share a love of crafting. 

Other than that quibble, both books have plenty of good information on types of available materials and tools (including the wide variety of yarns). There are also yarn weight charts (with helpful photos), conversion info (a size 6 needle does not mean the same thing in Canada, the US, and the UK), pattern abbreviations, and stitch-symbol charts. Basically, whatever your ability level (except maybe for the pros) these books have you covered (and if you can figure out the instructional photos better than I can, then you won't need any further help to learn how to crochet or knit).

I'm happy to add Get Started Knitting and Get Started Crochet to my shelf, and I expect to be consulting them frequently and having a great time making the projects. If you've been wanting to learn knitting and/or crocheting, or if you want to expand your skills or get some new project inspiration, these books are a solid choice. Even better, DK is having a March Break sale. If you have some free time, why not grab yarn and a pair of needles or a crochet hook and save money while getting started on something new.


Get Started Knitting and Get Started Crochet by DK.

08 March 2014

Apron Strings 4

Before I get to my latest project, an update: the SO, the kitties, and I are still living in the condo our insurance company set us up in (we've been here since late December). It is too small, too beige, and too dark. We're all desperate to leave, but since the insurance company is dragging its feet on actually fixing our house (now that the emergency measures are all complete) and the sale is still unable to close, we're stuck here for a while. As for my beloved house, it turns out that not one but three pipes burst during that wretched ice storm. I think the house was trying to commit suicide. Maybe it's for the best, given what I found out about the plans the buyers have for it. Every unique and beautiful detail that's been there for a century (and wasn't destroyed by water), from the leaded windows to the only remaining gumwood trim, is going to be removed. Typical Toronto--buy an amazing old house and gut it to get a generic modern look. I cannot wait to leave this city.

So how am I keeping myself going while I wait to finally be able to move? Crafts, of course. I have two ongoing projects: a sky scarf, where every line of the scarf corresponds to the colour of the sky each day for a year; and another blanket I'm crocheting (this time for my cousins). I'm also sewing whenever I can. I used this post as inspiration for a reversible cafe apron, which was lovely to work on and I can't wait to use. Bonus: it actually adds a bit of colour to this place.

Sky scarf. The more recent lines are at the top of the photo. Thankfully, I'm having to use less grey lately.

Completed granny squares for the blanket-in-progress. When I asked my cousins what colours they like, they both simply said "bright." Done.

The fabrics for the apron I just completed (all from Dragonfly Fabric). The two on the left were used for side 1, the two on the right were used for side 2, and the fabric piece in the middle was used for the waistband and ties.

I really love all the fabrics I chose, but the tangerine and aqua fabric makes me happy every time I see it. Orange was always my least favourite colour, but lately I'm finding myself more and more drawn to it. Funny how that happens.
Getting ready to attach two pieces.

Side two, pieces attached.

I added a line of ribbon to cover the seams between fabric joins. I also discovered that satin ribbon is a pain to work with.

I originally had picked out green ribbon for side two but it blended too well. Turquoise ribbon provided much-needed contrast.

The apron is folded so you can see both sides, as well as one of the ties.

I added a button to each corner of the turquoise ribbon on side 2. Because I didn't like the way the corners turned out and buttons are cute :)

Side 1

Side 2. Because of the way it's folded you can't see that the green accent fabric goes along both sides of the apron, as well as the bottom.
 Photos ©Whimsy Bower