Do you ever get inspired to crochet or knit, just from looking at pretty materials? I often do. Case in point: I find these rag balls utterly charming. They make me want to pull out my hooks and needles and dive into creating some new projects.
I think these red, white and blue printed rag balls would be smashing if combined in the same project. This would be an ideal color combination for those of you who are fans of Americana designs or country-style decorating.
These colorful rag balls would also make up into charming projects for Fourth of July. I’m imagining sturdy placemats for the picnic table…coasters that look fab, plus protect the table from drippy, icy drinks…potholders to save your hands from those burning-hot-fresh-from-the-barbecue dishes you’ll want to be grilling up this summer…plus fashionable things too — bags, totes,jewelry and more.
Have you ever made a rag ball? Do you want to give it a try? If so, click here for free instructions. They aren’t hard to make at all, just time-consuming. However, it’s well worth the effort if you’re looking to try something a little different than yarn. Or also, if you have a bunch of no-longer-needed linens or textiles accumulating at your place, and you think you’d like to up-cycle them.
There are bunches of different things that you could use your rag balls for:
Pictured here: A guy-friendly crochet pattern book called Crochetterie by Molla Mills. If you’d like to try working some new patterns from an ultra-cool, up-to-date book, this is definitely a book you’ll want to consider owning. This book would also make a great gift for a dad who enjoys crocheting (or wants to learn how to crochet; the book includes helpful crochet instructions that are suitable for total beginners.)
Whatever you decide to make for dad or give him as a gift, here’s hoping he’ll love it.
Those are all excellent projects, and they’re satisfying to make. But, if you’ve already made bunches of these sorts of items, why not challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone a little?
If you usually crochet with yarn, perhaps you could try shaking things up a little by attempting to crochet without yarn. This isn’t as preposterous as it sounds; by now, maybe you’ve even noticed that the bracelet pictured is a) crocheted, and b) made without even so much as an inch of yarn. It’s one of the projects featured on our list of wire crochet jewelry patterns.
If you’re a die-hard yarn addict and you have no plans of changing that, no worries, there are plenty of other ways to challenge yourself.
Another possibility: Try a new knitting stitch or crochet stitch. This vintage bullion stitch is an unusual one that combines the Tunisian crochet technique with the bullion stitch you might already be familiar with.
There are many great resources for testing out new stitches. Some of my favorites include the following:
These are just a few of my favorite resources to work with when I want to find a knitting stitch or crochet stitch I haven’t worked with yet. These are also fantastic references for finding some great classic stitches; Alterknit Stitch Dictionary has some really cool Greek keys, and Melissa Leapman’s stitch dictionary has all the basic crochet stitches you might want to look up.
Or perhaps you could branch out and get started working a different sort of projects than the ones you usually make. There are infinite possibilities if you want to fire up your imagination and dream up some project ideas that would get you started in a different-than-usual direction.
So what do you think you’ll try next? I invite your comments, especially if you’re feeling inspired to branch out.
Exquisite finishing touches can make a big difference in distinguishing handcrafted items from their machine-made counterparts.
Fringe is a particularly luxurious finishing touch. It utilizes a great deal of material, and it takes time to maintain it well, so it isn’t for everyone — but if you are able to deal with those challenges, the results can be stunning.
There are a variety of ways to make fringe. If you’d like to finish off a knitting project, crochet project or other craft project using fringe, check out these free fringe patterns, instructions and tutorials, posted at ArtsWithCrafts.com. You’ll find bunches of different ideas to inspire you, including knit and crochet fringe plus fringes made in other craft techniques — suede fringe, beaded fringe and more.
Dress Up These Knitting or Crochet Projects With Fringe:
Scarves: Instead of weaving in your loose ends, incorporate them into knotted tassels or fringe. It’s a time-saver, plus it’s an eye-catching finishing touch.
Throws, Blankets and Afghans: It’s even more of a time-saver when you finish off multicolored blankets and throws using fringe instead of weaving the ends in.
Want to check out my absolute favorite no-end-weaving crochet blanket patterns featuring fringe? If so, take a look at Fair Isle to Crochet by Karen Ratto-Whooley. It’s an affordable pattern booklet featuring 5 different blankets for the whole family — baby blankets, kids’ blankets and full-sized blankets. They’re all colorful designs, but you don’t have to go bonkers weaving in ends, because you use all those ends to create gorgeous fringe that finishes off the blankets beautifully. I think the designer of these patterns is a genius!
Ponchos, Wraps and Shawls: Many knitted and crocheted ponchos just beg to be finished with fringe. Some casual wraps and shawls do, too. The fringe could also go dressy if done carefully; in moderation, beaded fringe is an option for elegant evening shawls. You just have to keep it simple on the beading, since beads are heavy and you don’t want your wrap weighing you down when you’re out on the town.
Purses and Bags: Finishing the lower edge of a bag or purse with fringe gives it a whole different look than you’d have without it. This is an especially interesting option for seamed bags, but there are other options as well. You can easily create an area for anchoring fringe to an un-seamed bag by adding a line of slip stitch in the spot you want your fringe to be; then you work the fringe into the ridge created by the slip stitches.
Fringe isn’t for everyone; if you’re seeking a unique way to finish off a knitted or crocheted item, you might wish to find just the right border, edging or trim that will complement it and make it look extra special.
Edgings for Blankets and Afghans: Borders and edgings are popular finishing touches for blankets and afghans. For projects like these, you usually want to choose an edging or border that includes instructions for turning a corner. Here are a few suggestions for those:
Edgings For Towels, Sheets and Pillowcases: It’s lovely to finish off the lower edges of a towel with a pretty trim or edging. For sheets, I usually only trim one edge. For pillowcases, I usually trim only the outer opening. For these sorts of edgings, I prefer to choose an edging design that does not include a corner. Here are a few suggestions:
These aren’t the only projects that can benefit from edgings. If a project has an edge, you could probably add an edging to it. You could add pretty lace edgings to the lower edges of pants that need lengthening. You could dress up the edges of ankle socks with pretty lace trim. You could even add trim to certain simple open tote bags (ones that don’t close with zippers, so there are upper edges to work with.) I’m sure you know of many other examples where trim would enhance the project significantly.
The pictures above show you just a few of the free trim and edging patterns available online. To see many more possibilities, be sure to visit our page of free knit and crochet edging patterns.
Would you like to learn how to knit socks? If so, perhaps you’ll be excited to learn about a free broadcast of Vickie Howell’s class called Knit Maker 201: Knit Socks at Creativelive. The free broadcast of this sock knitting class will take place on November 15-16, 2018. My understanding of the situation is that, if you want access to the free broadcast, you’ll have to RSVP for the class before it starts to air on November 9th. Tip: After you click through to the course description page, look up at the top right-hand side of your monitor for the black button that says “RSVP”. (There’s also a blue button that says “Buy” if you prefer to just buy the class and watch it immediately.)
I RSVP’ed for the class and am looking forward to it. 🙂 I hope you’ll have a chance to check it out, too.
This isn’t usually a free class; the regular class price is $29. So getting in on the free broadcast is actually a really good deal. If for some reason you miss the free broadcast, or any part of it, you’ll be able to access the class at its regular price any time afterwards.
To knit socks, you’ll need sock yarn and appropriate knitting needles. Most people knit socks using sets of double-pointed sock knitting needles. I’m pretty sure it’s also possible to knit socks using a circular knitting needle that has an ultra-short cord length — if you can find a needle that’s the right size.
So far, this is the best sock knitting reference I’ve come across. You probably noticed the phrase “big book” in the title, and they aren’t kidding; it’s a huge book that’s totally dedicated to the topic of sock knitting. The book includes basic patterns, plus a whole bunch of really fun and unique patterns for knitting animal-themed socks, Scandinavian style socks and just about every other type of socks you could imagine.
Where to Buy Jorid Linvik’s Big Book of Knitted Socks:
This affordable booklet features unique and wonderful sock patterns that are more interesting than simple basic socks — yet they are normal, wearable, everyday designs that you’re likely to get a lot of use from.
Denise Samson included 4 excellent sock patterns in her book called The Cable Knitter’s Guide published by Trafalgar Square Books. The sock patterns are as follows:
Cozy Slippers — These are gorgeous cabled slipper socks that look like they’d be worth the effort — they are that pretty. If you knit gifts for loved ones, the slippers would be an extra-special gift.
Socks With Reversible Cables — These slouchy socks have cabled cuffs that you can pull up or fold down. The cables look the same on either side, so there’s no need to worry about hiding a “wrong” side.
Maj’s Ankle Socks — These elegant lace ankle socks feature a lovely cabled design.
Tormrod’s Stockings — These intricate cabled knee socks are guy-friendly; the author designed them for her significant other to wear on his camping trips and ski trips.
The socks aren’t the only fantastic patterns in the book; this book is actually sort of like a cable stitch dictionary that also offers you finished patterns for trying out the cables. There are also excellent patterns for blankets, sweaters and bunches more accessories.
I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit socks. When I was a teenager, I invested the money in buying a lovely set of bamboo double-pointed needles; but I couldn’t figure out how to use them despite having looked at several books and magazine articles on the topic of sock knitting. I made an honest effort to learn how to knit socks, but without someone to show me the finer points, it wasn’t long before I lost interest. There were too many other amazing projects to work on. I decided to invest my efforts in knitting sweaters and hats, and I never actually returned to sock knitting.
When I was traveling in Europe a few years ago, I bought a circular knitting needle that I think (hope) will work for knitting socks. I’m thinking it will be preferable to dealing with bunches of individual double-pointed needles. Having never successfully knit socks with any type of knitting needles, the jury is out on whether I will be able to do this. We’ll see!
I’ll be pulling my circular and double-pointed knitting needles out of the closet and tuning in to Vickie Howell’s sock knitting class on November 9th to see if I can finally learn how to knit socks. Here’s hoping I’ll have more success this time around than I have in the past — and here’s hoping you’ll join me and learn how to knit socks, too!
We’re curious: Which pattern format(s) do you usually work from? Do you have a strong preference for one particular format over another? Do you grudgingly use a pattern format because the pattern is ONLY available in that format instead of another format you’d like better?
I’ve started a new poll that covers the basics of which pattern formats you usually work from. Please feel free to comment and add any insights you care to provide regarding the answers to the other questions I’ve asked above on the topic of pattern formats. Your comments are welcome!
If you have the time and inclination to comment further, we’d also love to know WHY you prefer the pattern format(s) you use most.
As for me, I work from both digital and physical patterns — but I really prefer physical patterns.
I enjoy physical patterns because I suspect that working on anything at all on my laptop could be the cause of eyestrain (my eyesight isn’t that great) and because I don’t enjoy trying to figure out how to rotate charts on my laptop (when that is necessary — it isn’t always — usually just when the charts are printed sideways in the book due to space constraints).
I also really enjoy physical books — holding them, looking at them and turning their pages.
AND I also prefer physical patterns because I suffer from “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome. If a pattern is right there on my bookshelf, hanging around, I remember that I wanted to knit or crochet a project from it. If it is saved somewhere on my hard drive, I am prone to forgetting it is there.
Now it’s your turn. Which pattern formats do you prefer? WHY? I’m looking forward to seeing your answers and your comments!
Which Pattern Format Do You Usually Work From? (Choose All That Apply)
You're invited to leave a comment elaborating on your answer. Thanks so much for voting, and thanks in advance for any additional comments and insights you share with us. We sincerely appreciate your interest in our poll!
Update 10-25-2018 — I’m updating this post to answer a reader question I received by email regarding the differences between physical and digital patterns. If you have the same question, read on for clarification.
This may sound like an extremely stupid question, BUT…
What do you mean by digital or physical patterns?
I love all things crochet, even tho I have a really hard time reading patterns, I love to do simple things, i.e., granny square, simple single, double, or triple crochet blankets, etc.). Even tho I can’t physically do ALL the patterns you share, I really love looking at them!
It’s not a stupid question at all! In fact, please forgive me for not explaining this more clearly before I introduced the poll! Now that I think about it, I’m going to guess that a LOT of people probably have the same question.
Physical patterns = tangible patterns that exist in physical space. You can hold them in your hands and touch them. You can highlight on them with a highlighter or make notes on them with a pen. These include pattern books, craft magazines, the patterns you get on yarn labels, etc.
Digital patterns = intangible patterns that exist somewhere in the digital world — frequently they’re saved as digital files on computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones, or digital readers like Kindle or Nook. You use one of these patterns by opening the file in a digital reader or a piece of software like Adobe’s Acrobat Reader. In some cases, you might be able to print out the pattern to make it a physical pattern you can touch, fold, make notes on or highlight. In other cases, like with patterns available for the Amazon Kindle, there isn’t any obvious way of making a physical printout. You’d probably use the pattern by turning on the reader and working from that.
In 1997, I paid more than $16,000 for the classes that resulted in my degree in textile design. That was actually a bargain compared to what many other students pay for a design school education — especially these days. I was able to earn that degree in only 9 months since I already had a Bachelor’s degree and didn’t need to take any of the foundational courses like Art 101. Hmmm. Well, considering it was only 9 months worth of classes, maybe it wasn’t a bargain at all. That’s debatable. $16,000 is a lot of money to spend on classes, no matter how you slice it. But as to whether or not it was worth it, that particular debate isn’t the topic of today’s blog post.
Why I’m telling you all this: Today, more than 20 years later, I’m still a textile designer. And today I’m going to share with you a couple of the most important takeaways from my design school education on the topic of color. If you aren’t inclined to pay whatever the going rate is for a design school degree, now you’ll at least have access to several of the most important things I learned after having paid my $16,000. Here are 3 of my $16,000 secrets for knitting and crocheting with color:
Secret #1: Flower Centers Should Visually Pop Out From the Flower Petals
I see a lot of knitters and crocheters making a big mistake when they choose the colors for their floral projects. They pick colors that match each other too closely for the flower centers and flower petals. This works FANTASTIC when you’re choosing a skirt and a blouse to wear — but it makes for boring flowers.
Instead, choose a color for your flower center that’s much bolder than the color you use for your flower petals.
Secret #2: You Can Make Any 2 Colors Match Each Other
I didn’t actually learn this secret in design school. I learned it on the job shortly afterward. (One of my design school classmates helped me get the job). I was working as a textile print colorist. As the newest member of the team, I was typically assigned to work on the weirdest, oddest projects for the company’s least important clients. What fun!
Except, it did turn out to be fun. I learned a TON in the process. And, through trial and error, I figured out that you can make any 2 colors match each other. It was necessary for me to learn this, because I was forced to work with my clients’ color palettes — and they came up with some bizarre color palettes.
So here’s the secret: In any computer program that has a gradient function, you take color #1 and color #2, and you plop them into a blank document. Then you create a gradient between the 2 colors. Then you use the color picker to choose the most interesting-looking color that’s somewhere in between the 2 shades you’re trying to coordinate. Use all 3 of these colors in your finished design. Usually, you’ll want to use the gradient color or one of the other 2 colors as the main color, and then you’ll use the other 2 colors as accents.
When you’re knitting or crocheting, there’s one obvious step missing here: You need to translate these colors to yarn colors. The key is to work with a yarn that has a massive color palette. Cascade 220 is the yarn I recommend. Red Heart Super Saver is also an option, although I don’t personally recommend crocheting with acrylic. You might not be able to find exact matches in these yarns for the colors you’ve selected, but their color palettes are large and significant enough that you’ll most likely be able to find workable options.
I bet you’d like to see some examples of this, wouldn’t you? OK. I don’t have any ready at the moment, but I’ll work on putting them together for you soon. You’re invited to subscribe to my newsletter, if you don’t already, to keep up with my upcoming posts and projects.
Secret #3: When You Create a Color Palette for a New Design Collection, ALWAYS Consider Including a Green.
This is a tip that will likely prove to be more helpful to knit and crochet pattern designers who create complete collections rather than single designs — but if you do happen to create collections, I hope this tip will help you.
Green is one of the most important accent colors to consider including in a color palette — and this holds true for both fashion and home furnishings. For starters, it’s hard to create appealing floral designs without green — and many of the top selling textile designs in both fashion and home decor are florals.
Even if you aren’t working on a floral, if a colorway you’re designing somehow seems wrong, injecting a small amount of green into the design can often improve it.
Along with that tip is another important one: Not all greens are created equal. A pale celery green usually beats a vivid emerald green — although right now, vivid emerald green is totally on-trend, so use it to your heart’s content if it’s a color that appeals to you and otherwise works well in your designs.
(Temporarily FREE) Color Theory Classes
Creativelive is my favorite website — and they have some upcoming color theory classes scheduled to stream for free. These are classes you would ordinarily have to pay a bundle for; so if you’re interested in watching them, it’s worth it to RSVP for the classes and note them on your calendar so you can tune in when the free broadcast is available. I haven’t actually watched these particular classes yet. I’ve RSVP’ed for the free broadcasts and I do hope to catch them when they air.
If you’re interested in taking these classes, I suggest clicking the “RSVP” button at the top right hand side of the screen on the class information page to reserve your spot. Once you’ve RSVPed, you’ll get a confirmation email, and they will also send you a reminder before the class begins (assuming you opt in to receive emails). You’ll also have to register for Creativelive (if you haven’t already).
My Favorite Books About Knitting and Crocheting With Color
Crochet Kaleidoscope is almost like 2 books in one; it’s part color theory manual and part crochet pattern book. I own other books on the topic of crochet motif patterns, but this one is my new favorite; it has inspired me to crochet bunches of projects, and there are dozens more patterns from the book I still want to try. You can see photos of some of the projects I made in my book review of Crochet Kaleidoscope.
If you don’t know how to do Fair Isle knitting / stranded colorwork knitting, this book will not only teach you how to do it; the book will also give you some fun and useful colorwork patterns to try as well as some instructions for outstanding finished projects to work on.
This colorful book is super-duper creative. Read it if you want to learn how to design your own colorful knitted panels; or you can also knit the SPECTACULAR examples shown in the book exactly as is. The authors explore lots of fun themes and motifs — floral designs, animal patterns, rock and roll themes, and others. This is one of the most inspiring knitting books I own. It includes designs for the whole family — ladies, gentlemen and children — and includes a broad range of projects including sweaters, socks and more.
So there you have it: Those are my $16,000 secrets for knitting and crocheting with color, along with a list of some of my favorite color resources. I hope you find this information helpful when you choose colors for your knitting and crochet projects in the future.
They let you view bunches of different video classes for free with no strings attached. If you enjoy the class enough to want to watch it again, you have the opportunity to pay for access to the class — but they don’t pressure you to do so. I think this business model is win-win for everyone.
The videos don’t have annoying ads on them the way Youtube videos often do.
Their instructors have a talent for making complex topics interesting and easier to understand.
The videos I’ve seen so far have all been high-quality and worth watching.
I like hearing from the people at this site. They send interesting emails that I often open and read. Their blog is filled with helpful posts, and I’ve learned quite a bit from reading their posts and watching their classes.
They offer frequent sales and discounts on their paid classes. Their class prices vary greatly, but tend to be reasonable to start with — so their sale prices typically represent an outstanding value.
Want to check out this site? Here are some links you might find helpful:
It’s helpful for knitters and crocheters to understand basic sewing techniques. Perhaps you’ve crocheted a bunch of granny squares, and you want to stitch them together to create a blanket. Maybe you’ve knitted a beautiful tote bag, but it isn’t as practical as you’d like because you don’t know how to sew a lining for it. There’ll likely be times you need to know how to ease a knitted sleeve into your latest sweater or stitch the side seams in a baby hat you’re crocheting — and sewing skills are helpful to have when these tasks arise.
Free Video Sewing Classes for Everyone
This month, Creative Live is offering some of their sewing classes for free. You’d ordinarily have to pay a bundle for all these classes — so if you’d be interested in learning some new sewing techniques you’ll want to head over there and sign up ASAP.
Sewing Clothes Into Quilts — Do you have worn-out or outdated clothes you don’t need any more? Learn how to sew them into quilts. This is usually a $39 class, but you can watch it for free on September 14 – 15, 2016 if you RSVP ahead of time.
Crochetterie: A Beginner-Friendly Craft Book That Teaches You Both Crochet and Sewing Techniques
When it comes to combining sewing and crochet projects, Molla Mills is an expert. Molla stitches up designer-quality crochet bags with leather details, fabric linings and other distinctive details. If you’d like to learn her secrets for how to do this, you’ll want to check out her brand new book called Crochetterie: Cool Contemporary Crochet for the Creatively Minded:
Free Whip Stitch Sewing Tutorial — Whip stitch is one of my favorite methods for joining granny squares and sewing seams on crocheted pieces. Here’s a step-by-step whip stitch tutorial with photos.
Side Seams Sewing Tutorial — This tutorial shows you how to sew the side seams on a pair of simple crocheted fingerless gloves. You can use the same basic method on other projects like hats and sweaters too.
How to Make a Rag Ball — Learn how to sew fabric strips together to create rag balls you can use instead of yarn for fabric crochet and fabric knitting.
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