Thursday, March 1, 2012


Did you know that March is National Craft Month? On their website the Craft and Hobby Association explains that National Craft Month was designed in 1994 "to help people learn about and re-discover the joy of crafting and all its many benefits." How have I never known this?  Well now ... get out your fabric, paper, beads, buttons, yarn and's time to tap your inner-crafty!!
To get the month started, I have A Crafty Tip if your craft project involves a small amount of paint (or other liquids that might dry out between coats such as decoupage medium):  use an old prescription bottle to hold your paint!

I used one of my larger prescription bottles and a 1" foam brush which fit into the opening of the bottle perfectly!

The bottle can be easily sealed and unsealed between coats giving the paint less chance to dry out.  In between coats I closed the bottle and wrapped the brush tightly in plastic wrap (but not so tightly that it distorted the shape of the brush).

I didn't use all of my paint up so when I was done with my project I made a small dab on the outside to easily identify the color. I also find that a Sharpie pen works well to write special color names or customized blends - mine was white so I wasn't too worried about it. Additionally, if it had been any other color I would put a dab of the color on the top of the lid so it would be visible in my storage drawer.

This is also a great way to store small amounts of paint for touch up jobs around the house - when you paint a room save a small quantity in one of these bottles, label it and set it aside.  Then you are ready for those pesky dings, scrapes and mars that seem to come out of nowhere without having to open the giant can of paint you originally used.  Much cheaper than those tiny paint sample bottles found at your local paint or hardware store...and is an exact match for the color you used.

Time to get Crafting!!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Bobbles...I swore that I would never knit one again after the scarf I made for my friend's charity drive last year (see blog post: Knitting for Charity - Part I from March 2011). 

As I recall, I swore bobbles off because I found knitting them to be highly tedious as one must knit a few stitches (really few!), turn the work, purl those few, turn the work, knit those few, blah blah blah.  And I have managed to avoid them.  Until now.  In the course of one week I say!...several people have come to me regarding bobbles!! Bobbles!!! Of all things

The first was my sister - who can refuse their sister?  Not me (shhh, don't tell her).  Finally having a peaceful moment in her life (she doesn't get many) she was trying to get back to her knitting.  She picked a pattern that had...bobbles...and was asking for a bit of help figuring out the bobble stitch directions.  Okay, it was brief, she was doing the work, no problem. Even though I had to pick up my needles and knit a bobble or two to refresh my own memory,  I was grateful that it was a project she was making and not I.

Soon after my sister's request, that same friend who had presented me with the charity project from last year came to me with this years project...the same thing only bigger!!!  Instead of knitting Bobble Ribbon scarves, she reported, her group is making Bobble Ribbon shawls for the Breast Health Initiative Race this spring. Bobbles.  Out of my mouth comes, "No problem, love to help" (what is wrong with me?).  It is for a good cause, I tell myself, and I can get past this bobble issue of mine, I think.  I haven't seen the pattern yet... 

Well now, here is the kicker.  My friend has a problem with knitting bobbles as well.  Additionally, she is more comfortable crocheting than she is knitting and lamented that if she could figure out how to crochet a bobble she would be so much happier.  That's where The Crafty Librarian comes in!!  I don't crochet (yet)  but I can find resources to help her.  And there are some excellent references available for crochet stitches.

The first book I found on our library shelf is titled "Ultimate Crochet Bible - A Complete Reference with Step-by-Step Techniques" by Jane Crowfoot. 

With a title like that, I reasoned, it must have a Bobble Stitch in it that even I might be able to follow.  And I am correct.  I found the Bobble Stitch in the index and turned to page 100 to determine if this book would be helpful to my friend.  The diagrams are large and very easy to follow and are accompanied by a photograph sample of the stitches - the best of both worlds.  Love it!!  I learn that the crocheted Bobble is worked on the wrong side rows (unlike knitting) and is, very simply, a group of stitches worked into one stitch to form a raised "puff" that is pushed through to the right side of the work.
For a 5-Stitch Basic Bobble (a double crochet bobble on a base of single crochet worked into the back of the stitch) it instructs:
  • With the wrong side facing, work to where the bobble should be formed.  Work 3 incomplete stitches (by leaving the last loop of each stitch on the crochet hook so that 4 loops remain on the hook. 
  • Then work 2 more incomplete stitches to leave 6 loops on the hook. (I don't really understand why it doesn't just say work 5 incomplete stitches until 6 loops are on the hook...) 
  • Wrap the yarn around the hook and draw it through all the loops on the hook. 
  • Wrap the yarn around a final time and draw through the loop on the hook. Gently push the group of stitches through to the front of your piece.
Sounds nice, looks easy (trust me, the diagrams that go with that description make it appear much simpler than what I wrote!), and it doesn't involve constantly turning your work.  Hmmmm, maybe I have to learn to crochet.

This book is a wonderful go-to resource for anyone who wants to learn to crochet or learn some advanced crochet styles and techniques (such as Tunisian,  Entrelac, Broomstick and Hairpin Crochet).

Another very good resource for someone who is new to crochet or for someone who is interested in learning some advanced stitches and techniques is one that relies specifically on photographs to exemplify each.  It is aptly titled "The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet" by Margaret Hubert. 

As the title suggests it provides a wealth of excellent photographs of a comprehensive number of stitch patterns and covers a number of specialty crochet methods as did the previous book.

Here are the instruction for the Bobble Stitch provided in this book (also worked from the wrong side):
  • Wrap the yarn over the hook and pick up a loop in the next stitch. 
  • Wrap the yarn over the hook again and pull it through 2 of the stitches on the hook 
  • Repeat this 5 times in the same stitch. 
  • Then wrap the yarn over the hook and pull it through all 6 loops on the hook. 
  • The bobble stitch is worked from the wrong side and pushed to the right side of the work.
These instructions are a little different from the other book in that a yarnover is done before the hook is put through the stitch but for all I know it is simply a different crochet stitch.  You still work in the same stitch until 6 are left on the hook and pull the yarn through all of those (but, you don't yarn over and pull through that one.)

Okay, I have to go get some practice yarn and a crochet hook....I think that I have some experimenting to do!! 

I started with the Ultimate Crochet Bible and taught myself the Single Crochet stitch.  Easy Peasy! Instructions are good but I became a little lost when it came to the Bobble because a) I didn't know where to go in the row once I did the steps for the bobble, and b) once I got past that, I didn't know where to stick my hook on the way back.  I looked at the Complete Photo Guide to Crochet and followed their instructions as well.  It left me with the same questions but ultimately I figured it out.  I think it was just my lack of crochet experience making me overthink things.

Here's my little sample! 

Now I can  provide resources for my friend as well as show her how to crochet bobbles.  I can't wait.  Bobbles are much less of a pain when crocheted...almost fun even!

In the fianl analysis, when I am really ready to sit down to learn to crochet I think the Ulitmate Crochet Bible will offer me the most intital guidance while The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet will supply a number of stitch patterns to keep me occupied once I am off and running.

For those who would like to actually see the stitch being made I found a video on YouTube that helped me understand what the book instructions meant (again, since I don't crochet I needed to see!).  You can search for Crochet Bobble Stitch instructions on YouTube yourself (or do a Google video search) however, click here to link to one video that I found helpful. 

Both of the above books could be of interest to those of you who are already accomplished crocheters as they both offer a number of stitch patterns and an introduction to some advanced methods of specialized crochet as I mentioned.  But, if you want to investigate a book of patterns that employs some of those techniques then  the following book could be very interesting:

Crochet Master Class - Lessons and Projects from Today's Top Crocheters
by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss

I found this book while I was searching for Bobble Stitch instructions and while it is not a stitch instruction book it has so many interesting and beautiful projects in it that I wanted to give it a mention here.  It is not a book that I can use, yet, but one of you might!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I had great intentions about posting an article before Christmas...had a book picked out, projects selected, supplies purchased, notes written out...then I misplaced the whole shebang.  It was on my desk, I had visitors, it was gone.  Sometimes tiding up before company is NOT a good thing no matter how organized you think you are.

For once in my life I decided not to go too crazy and went with the flow.  I switched gears, slowed down, put the blog aside, and focused on the gifts I wanted to make for friends and family...most of which involved my beloved knitting.   I have to tell you, it was nice to approach the holiday in the relaxed state of mind that knitting puts me in.  Not to mention the fact that, for the first time in maaaannnnnnyyyyy years, the gifts that I was hand-making were actually ready and giftable!!!!!

Among other projects, I knit two pairs of socks (one for my dad and one for my sister) using Plymouth Yarns Encore which is a really soft and pleasant worsted weight yarn.  It was very calming to sit and knit these gifts, like a little gift to myself.

My sister's sock in progress. 
In the photo above I have just turned the heel - a process that sounds intimidating but is actually quite simple.  Just trust the pattern and do what it says. 
 It is always magically rewarding to me when I have completed the turn!

Funny thing - when I finished knitting those two pairs of socks and was cleaning up my patterns and supplies guess what I found folded into the pattern notebook I was using...all the copies of the projects I was going to make for my Christmas crafts blog along with all my hand written notes!!  Right under my nose the whole time!!  Lordy. 

Well, it all worked out and I really did enjoy slowing down and just knitting for a while.  I guess I needed that.  A frame of mind to remember in the new year.


F.Y.I.  Socks are a quick and fairly easy project to make.  To those who have not made them ever, they seem like a daunting project to tackle but that just makes knitting them for someone even more fun!

In a nutshell you begin by knitting a tube with what ever stitch pattern you choose.  I used a Knit 3, Purl 1 rib pattern for my sister's sock.  When the tube is the length you prefer you knit a "Heel Flap" back and forth on 2 needles (that part of the sock that sits behind your heel approximately from your ankle down).

 Here is a picture of my sister's sock with the leg tube and heel flap completed.

Next you "turn the heel" which, as I said before, sounds terrifying but is simple and somewhat exciting to execute.  Still using only 2 needles and working back and forth in "short rows" which means simply working only part of the way across...turning...and working back.  If you follow the pattern instructions you will be in awe of yourself when you are done! 

Here is a picture of my sister's sock after I turned her heel. 
 See the turn where her heel will nestle?

Once the heel is complete you work with 3 needles again to create a "gusset" by picking up stitches along the heel flap and knitting all around the sock.  This creates the part of the sock that fills in from the side of your heel flap to your foot section and looks like a triangle when completed.  Before I made my first sock I always wondered how that mysterious section was accomplished only to find out it is a simple pattern of knitting with specifically placed decreases.  Again, just follow your pattern and trust it!

Here is my sister's sock after I have completed the Gusset.

Once the Gusset is complete your pattern will tell your to knit, in the round, to create the foot section...more tube, this time usually in simple knit unless you have chosen a pattern that carries the design down the top of your foot...not me!

 Here are the stitches for my sister's sock all set to go round and round.

When your foot section reaches about 1-1/2" shy (or whatever length your pattern tells you) of your total foot length (from the back of the heel) it is time to decrease for the toe. 

In the picture of my sister's sock above, the marker shows where I stopped knitting the foot and began decreasing for the toe.

CRAFTY LIBRARIAN TIP:  Run a "lifeline" (a thin thread or piece of yarn run through the stitches on your needles) BEFORE you begin your toe decreases.  This allows you to easily rip out your knitting back to this start point if you are not satisfied with the length of the decrease section (if it is too long and pointy or too short and stubby)!!

CRAFTY LIBRARIAN TIP #2:  As you work your first sock write down everything you do (number of rows, etc) so your second will come out the same!

The final step joins the two sides of the toe stitches together in a such a way that there is no seam using what is called "the kitchener's graft. It is a way to "mock" knit stitches using a tapestry needle.  I didn't take a picture of this step because my hands were full but a good tutorial can be found by clicking here.


If you want to learn how to knit socks there are a number of books and websites that offer good instructions.  One of the best books I found when I taught myself is one published by Knitter's Magazine and titled "Socks Socks Socks," edited by Elaine Rowley.

This book includes an overview of a basic sock, in a section called "Six Steps to Sock Success."  Here the six steps involved in knitting a sock are clearly diagramed and explained.  The diagrams are great in that they showed me exactly what I should have on all my needles at any given time.

A website that also helped me understand the anatomy of a sock, provides tips as well as additional links can be reached by clicking here..

Happy knitting in the new year everyone!!!