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Stitch Shape and Bristol Fashion

Crafting in the West Country

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knitting needles

Money Makes the Yarn Go Around

Having a hobby is great! Having to fund it is not. It would be quite easy to over hear parts of a conversation with a crafter and assume they were talking about drugs, with their stash and hunting for needles, they do go missing a lot… And another similarity that could be drawn is the issue of needing to get the money together. So, what to spend money on and what not to?

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The only reason my house is not full of wool is due to monetary constraints…

Cable needles are a huge waste of money in my opinion. The concept is great, but honestly, you can do the same thing with other needles. For me, I actually find them more annoying than using my own techniques. Its simple, slip the stitches onto a spare needle (it doesn’t even need to be the same size, relatively similar though) hold in front or back, knit your next stitches, slip the stitches back, knit and continue! Occasionally, you do come across a technique where you’ll need to knit off the other end, so dig out your double pointed needles in that case.

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My most recent cables and what it was achieved on.

If you have something it’s worth keeping ‘in stock’ because you use it so much, buy it when you see it cheap. My mother is the master of this. She knows she will always use black and white fabric, so if she sees something of a high quality and cheap, she will buy it, even if she’s not going to use it immediately, because she knows she will eventually. Whenever there’s a trip to Ikea, she keeps an eye out for reduced duvet sets, because quilts always need backs. Having a small stock of them also means she can pick one that compliments the front.

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Having a duvet day?

Know your local craft shops. There’s one that’s a national chain near me where everything is sold at the RRP. I know I can get most of these things cheaper elsewhere. However their offers can be pretty good. Their yarn seems to be permanently 3 for 2, so when I’m stocking up for a big project, as I seem to be doing on a monthly basis this year, I know I can get a new jumper for a third cheaper than I might do otherwise, which isn’t a bad saving.

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Wowie! Bowie jumper made with a third off the yarn!

Sometimes a local craft shop just isn’t an option, so it’s time to think outside the box. When I was a student I was living in the outskirts of London and walked everywhere. Unfortunately, I never found a local craft shop, and the price of transport shot up not long after I got there. There was always good old Ebay and such, bringing things straight to my door, but you can’t always trust the quality (or speed). A surprising number of shops do sell cheap crafting supplies, so if you’re not looking for something special made out of mohair, you can do pretty well on the high street. The Works, Wilkinsons and even the pound shop can keep you crafting in desperate times.

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One of my most infamous WIP’s. Knitted on yarn that’s £1 a ball!

See you in a week guys!

Health and Saftey in the Stitchspace

People think that crafting is a sweet little hobby that couldn’t possibly cause any harm, on the whole it is, but it’s important to remember that you can still injure yourself badly working with sharp objects.

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A High Vis jacket probably isn’t required… Probably…

Pins can be dangerous business. Last year, my mum started telling every crafter she came into contact with about this story, where a member of a wardrobe department accidentally inhaled a pin, resulting in her having surgery. Anyone who uses pins will keep them in their mouths and my mother is now quite adamant that we shouldn’t. While I haven’t stopped doing it, I am much more wary now, and ensure I keep my tongue firmly against their heads if they are in my mouth.

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It’s hard to make pins in your mouth look good. That’s probably for the best.

Repetitive strain injury preventing me from knitting is something I live in fear of since it’s halted my mothers pursuit of the hobby. For me, there are three things that help when I do start getting twinges in the wrists. Firstly, make sure you have as much of the weight of what you’re making on your lap as possible. When you are knitting, the weight of it rests on your wrists and puts them under strain. A useful tip I read to combat this is that working on circular needles, even when not knitting in the round helps to keep the weight elsewhere.

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Could be a poor man’s Jolly Roger

Overloading your needles is a bad move. When you have too many stitches on them and you’re fighting to stop them slipping off the ends all the time, guess where the strain goes? Yup, once again, it’s your wrists doing all the work. Using circular needles helps to combat this also, as there tends to be more room on them than a straight set, but you don’t have two rods sticking out which can be annoying.

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Easier and more comfortable to put it on a needle that fits!

If you do start getting twinges, take a break. As hard as it can be when you’re in full knit mode, it’s better to take a break and spend a little longer finishing the project than finishing the project more quickly, but never being able to knit again. The thought that sends a chill down my spine. No resting properly when you do discover the problem will worsen it and potentially cause lasting damage.

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I always take a break with my best MUGgle.

Rotary cutters are lethal. My mother recently told me a story about a well known local patchworker who wore her cutting mat out so much that the blade of hers got stuck. When freeing it, she also sliced through the skin on her other arm and had to go to hospital. The surgeon had never seen anything like it and didn’t know what a rotary cutter was. when she explained to him it was a razor blade on a wheel, he couldn’t believe people were allowed them!

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ALWAYS retract the blade after use.

I could bore you with the thing we were told in school, goggles for the sewing machine in case the needle breaks… but these seemed a bit more obscure. See you next week!

Stuff, Stuff Everywhere!

One of the big problems with crafting is, where do you keep all your supplies? I’m lucky enough to live in a house with a dedicated sewing room, but that doesn’t make it easy. The house is being decorated, I plan to make myself a little crafting corner in my bedroom. In light of this, we have been discussing how we are going to use the space sensibly and what already works for us. Here’s some of the best bits.

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Yes, it is a tip, but it will be sorted… eventually…

Small Space Storage

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This Ikea laundry bag has done me well!

When I was at university, I was living in small rooms, moving regularly and only just delving into my knitting addiction. After some careful thought, a large laundry bag seemed like a great idea to keep my supplies in. It’s compact and squashable. A bit of a pain to find stuff in, but easy to move about and would sit at the end of my bed without taking up much space.

The Stash of Fabric

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Every once in a while, there’s a big sort out and it’s all organized by colour!

My mum read a great tip online a couple of years ago about how to store stash fabric, and it has done her well. Fold it around the cardboard used by comic book collectors and it is so much easier to organize and view. (If anyone knows where this tip originated, would love to be able to share the link.) The card isn’t terribly cheap, but once you use that piece of fabric, you can use the card again!

Works in Progress/Unfinished Objects

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The Liberty bag is one of my prized possessions.

Getting distracted from your project by a new idea, it’s something I’m getting better at not doing, but I don’t think I’ll ever be completely innocent of it. How I stop myself getting to confused by returning to a project after 6 months is by keeping all of the yarn and notes and everything together in a nice plastic bag. Next step, I plan to buy some plain tote bags, which I can then make notes on in fabric markers to help me identify what’s occupying it.

Knitting Needles

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The vase would only have cost me about £2

At some point I decided there should be a home for my needles to return to, but I knew trying to organize them by size wasn’t going to happen. A moment of inspiration came and I decided to buy a vase to keep them in. This was only a cheap one to see if it was a worthwhile plan, and it turns out it was! I plan to buy a bigger, prettier one in the no too distant future.

Make it Pretty

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Storage being proudly displayed in the living room

A huge issue for me is having to go through a whole process to get out and put away something I use regularly, because I’m trying to keep it hidden. By spending an extra few pounds to make a storage feature a decorative feature, it could actually make the whole process of crafting much less frustrating.

Once everything’s done in the house, I’ll do a follow up post and let you all know how it turned out. But that may well not be for quite some time…

 

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