Showing posts with label tutorial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tutorial. Show all posts

Guest Post: How to Make a Gift Card Holder

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Have you ever been just a bit disappointed when you receive a gift card as a present? This doesn’t mean you are greedy or ungrateful; it just means that, perhaps, you were hoping for a gift that was more personal. We all love to get presents – there’s no denying it! But what makes it so special is that someone thought of us. When we get a gift card, it can seem impersonal. It may not be; the giver may know that you’ve been eyeing a new pair of sneakers and wants to let you choose your own size. The giver may know you love to shop!

Whatever the case, there are good intentions behind the gift. But we can make our good intentions known more clearly when we create a homemade gift card holder. There will be no doubt that you were thinking of your recipient then!

Version One

You don’t have to be a craft expert to make wonderful gift card holders. You can even use some pre-made materials to get you started. Martha Stewart suggests buying inexpensive pre-cut tags. Get the kind with grommets on the end (which allows you to put a ribbon through, if you want).

Cut a piece of fabric or extra-wide ribbon so it measures 3.5 inches. Fold each cut end under by ¼ inch and glue securely. Sew (or use strong glue) the bottom and side edges to the tag to form a little pocket for the gift card. Voila! A beautiful, thoughtful card holder. You can do something very similar just using fabric or felt and making a little pouch.

Version Two

For this next one, use a piece of cardstock and trim it very carefully so it measures 6 5/8 inches x 4 ¼ inches. When you have trimmed it, fold one end in towards the center and flatten it. Fold the other end in to the middle and flatten it. Now you have a tri-folded little envelope.

Next, unfold it and lay it flat on your working surface. Decorate it with fun stamps or even with crayons and markers. (This way you can get children involved as well.) A nice touch is to sponge all of the edges with a complementing or contrasting color. Fold the card again to reinforce the lines and then get ready to glue or tape it together.

Double-sided tape works well for this, as does glue. Make sure that you leave enough room so the gift card fits in though. Put your glue or tape on the two sides of the middle third, and then fold up the bottom third and press it down firmly to achieve a strong adhesive bond. You are just about done. You now have a functional envelope for your gift card. You can tie a ribbon around the whole card or around the top flap and adorn the front of the card with a greeting or the name of your recipient.

There are endless videos and tutorials online available to help you make your own wonderful gift card holders. Take advantage of them! Watch craft experts as they effortlessly create these beautiful, personal holders – and then try your best to do the same. You can always add your own ideas and variations so you make a holder that best suits your recipient. It is the thought that counts.

Author Bio:

Sarah is a writer who enjoys doing crafts and giving creative gifts. She also contributes articles to the All About Gifts & Baskets blog, where you can find all kinds of discount gift baskets.

Guide to Yarn: What are weights, different types and how to use them

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Many beginning yarn crafters make a common mistake (myself included, many years ago) and this mistake is not knowing enough about yarn.  Different yarn can behave rather differently when you are crafting with it, and it is very important to know what type of yarn you can use with different patterns, hooks, and techniques.  I have experimented with almost every type of yarn out there, and let me tell you, there is a world of difference.  For ease of reference, I will list them from the lightest weight to the heaviest and will discuss each one a little more.


Category 0-1: Super Fine
   Yarn types: Fingering, Sock, Lace
          Hook Size: 1-3mm
                 Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches: 27-32
                      Used for: socks, lace, doilies, baby wear, delicate work


Category 2: Fine
    Yarn types: Sport Weight, Baby Yarn
        Hook Size:  3-5
                Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches: 23-26
                       Used for: babywear, sweaters, and lighter throws.


Category 3: Light
     Yarn types: DK, Light Worsted Yarn
            Hook Size: 5-7
               Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches: 21-24
                   Used for: baby and light-weight adult garments, light-weight scarves


Category 4: Medium
     Yarn types: Worsted-Weight, Afghan, Aran Yarn
           Hook Size: 7-9
                 Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches:  16-20
                        Used for: Throws, adult garments, blankets, sweaters, outdoor wear
                       *Most Popular Weight for Knitting and Crocheting*


Category 5: Bulky

     Yarn types: Chunky, Craft, Rug Yarn
          Hook Size: 9-11
               Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches: 12-15
                      Used for: hats, scarves, throws, rugs, jackets, and blankets


Category 6: Super Bulky
      Yarn types: Bulky, Roving Yarn
            Hook Size: 11 and up
                 Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches: 6-11
                        Used for:  Heavy Blankets and Rugs, Sweaters, Scarves

For some additional information regarding yarn weights, see the following links:


Some Typical Mistakes Made by Crocheters When Choosing Yarn:

Pay attention to your pattern.  When a pattern calls for a light sport, don't use a super bulky or your item won't end up looking anything like the pattern.  If you MUST use a different yarn, it's worth doing a test gauge so that you know what changes you should make, like going up or down a hook to get it to the right size.

Don't start with Bulky or Super Bulky.  I know it's tempting, because these yarns are just so lush and inviting, but they're much harder to see where your stitches are, making the learning process even harder.  Instead, start with a DK or a regular Worsted Weight (I highly recommend the worsted weight).


Well, I hope that helps everyone!  Do you have any beginning yarn stories or advice?  If so I'd love to hear them!!!

Holiday Crafting, Tutorial, Joy to the Cookie (Cranberry Nut Cookies) in a Jar

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I really wish I had taken a picture of just the jar here, because this mix, when layered, looks gorgeous.  The cookies themselves are lovely!  

Joy To the Cookie

Ingredients for the Jar:
  • 5/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Assembly Instructions: 

Using a canning funnel, layer the ingredients in a 1 quart canning jar in the order listed.  Decorate the jar with cloth, stickers, ribbon or other accessories.  Make sure to include the cooking instructions!

Cooking Instructions:

Ingredients not Included:
1/2c. softened butter
1 Egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a cookie sheet.
In medium bowl beat together the ingredients that were not included with the jar until fluffy.  Add the contents of the jar and mix together until blended.
Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheets, bake for 8-10 minutes.

How To Crochet Series: Episode 7, Advanced Stitches

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Now after you've mastered the Intermediate techniques, the world is really your oyster.  You are ready for almost anything that can be thrown at you and I'm sure that many good things are to come!  Take advantage of the following resources to learn about and discover more interesting crochet techniques!

Here is a list of a ton of stitches for your reference

After trying some intermediate patterns, you might be ready to attempt arigurami, complex afghans, gloves and clothing!

I hope that this tutorial series has helped you get a better grasp for what to do and where to look for more information.  Also, don't be afraid to use your google skills and look up videos on youtube or more help.  It's available out there and you no longer need your mom to teach you how!!!

Enjoy the art of crocheting! :)

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

How To Crochet Series: Episode 6, Intermediate Stitches and Projects

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Once you feel like you've mastered the simple stitches, joining, finishing off and working in rows, you might ask yourself what is next?  There's much much more- and some things may seem like they belong in the beginner section... but remember, a beginner in crochet needs to learn how to work flat first, how to do the simple most basic things before moving on to things with dimension, difficult stitches and more confusing patterns.

Crocheting in the Round

The first thing I want to talk about is crocheting in the round.  This essentially means you work in a circular fashion, not usually turning your work at the end of the row, just building up from it.  This is the most common way to make a hat.  Granny squares work in the round, even though they look like they are working in straight lines.
My favorite way to begin working in the round is with the magic ring method.  Here is another link on a different way to do the magic ring.
Here is another way to work in the round:
The Joined Rows Method

Increasing and Decreasing
Some patterns may not make a simple shape and may call for you to add or remove stitches from a row.  You can't just drop it, or make one appear, so what do you do?
How to Increase and Decrease

Intermediate Stitches

Stitching on the Post (otherwise known as Front Post (FP) or Back Post (BP))
Puff Stitch
Popcorn Stitch

you should now be ready to attempt projects such as hats, mittens, pot holders, and granny square or regular intermediate level afghans.

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

How To Crochet Series: Episode 5, Finishing off and Joining Together

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Now that you've completed your pattern and it tells you to Finish (or Fasten) off, what do you do?
It's very easy, depending on what you are wanting to do.  If you are just finishing off for the end of the pattern, follow this link:
Fastening off
If you are joining a new color or if you ran out of yarn and need to add another ball, follow this link:
Joining a new color or a new ball of yarn 

Of course, there are now those silly little strings left from where you snipped everything, and you need to work those into the piece.  This is called Weaving in the Ends.  There are a couple different ways to do it, if you are joining pieces together, you can either use the ends to join (if you left them long enough) or you can hide the ends under your seams, or you can just use a yarn needle to hide those ends into the piece.  Here are a couple of links on how to use a yarn needle to hide your ends.

Weaving in Ends 1
Weaving in Ends 2

Now lets say that you are working on a larger piece, where you have multiple pieces to fasten together.  You're going to want to figure out what style is best for you to get the appearance that you would like.  Each method produces a varying look that will depend on your color of yarn, and how the pieces are joined together.  There are some ways of joining that create a nice pattern between the motifs, and others that are meant to be hidden.  It's all just a matter of personal preference and how you would like the pieces to join together.  I've included links to all of the varying methods that I know of, and they all include pictures of how the stitches will look when worked together.

Joining Pieces:
I'm sure that if you play around, you can find one that you like!  Do you remember those gauges that you made (or that I hope you made) a couple tutorials ago?  This would be a good thing to practice with these squares.  Take each one and join them with a different type of joining and see which ones you like and which ones you don't!  It also makes a great reference if you label each seam with which style that you did, and then in the future, you can reference it to see which one you like for the project you are currently working on!

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

How To Crochet Series: Episode 4, Reading A Pattern

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Every pattern that is published (truly published, like in a book, not just the internet) has to follow yarn standards so that everyone who buys or uses this pattern will be able to read it once having learned just one standard.

US Standard Crochet Abbreviations

UK and US Stitch Term Comparison

Here is my little image of how to read a pattern:

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

How To Crochet Series: Episode 3, Picking a Pattern

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Now that you know all about the basic stitches, lets cover how you should go about picking your first pattern to start with.  If you like, you could go out and buy a book on crochet and it would walk you through the easy to the harder patterns.  Chances are, however, if you are reading this blog, you have access to the internet, where there are probably millions of free patterns floating around.
The trick is to find a pattern that works for you as a beginner, yet is something that you really enjoy.

I recommend starting with something simple and square or rectangular.  It gives you less shape to worry about, and ultimately, less complex stitches. A great starting point for anyone is a scarf.  They are quick to do and very easy, and make great gifts!

I would recommend staying away from very large projects, such as full size afghans, sweaters, gloves, socks, and arigurami for your first project.  They're very tempting, but it is also easy to get frustrated and give up on something large or complicated if you make it your first project.

How to find a pattern that you like:
I have many resources that I use to find patterns, and most of them are large scale yarn companies or the sister websites of crochet pattern central and knitting pattern central.  They both contain (mostly) well written patterns and pictures to help you out.

My favorite Links:

Crochet Pattern Central
Lion Brand Yarn
Bernat Yarns
Red Heart Yarn

Now, what to do when you get there.... Look for the categories, find one that you want to search and go there, look through the patterns that they have.  Make sure that it says "Easy" or "Beginner" and it is something that doesn't have any complicated stitches to add to it.

I might also recommend that you start with something like my Curly Scarf pattern that was a big hit at christmas the year before last.  :)

Now that you have your pattern, make sure that you have the needle size that it calls for and the yarn that you want to use and you are ready to go!

Stay tuned for our next Episode, How To... Read a Pattern!

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

How To Crochet Series: Episode 2, how to make a gauge

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Whenever you are working with a new project, new yarn, or anything, it is usually very helpful to make a gauge.  This lets you know if your stitches are on track and the size that they are supposed to be.  If a pattern says that your gauge should be 4" x 4" after a 10 x 10 stitch count, then it should be.  If you get a gauge that is 5" x 5" it could throw off your whole pattern.  If your gauge is smaller or larger than it is supposed to be, it's not that you are a bad crocheter, it is just that either your yarn is a slightly less (or more) bulky variety than they used in the pattern, or perhaps you crochet looser or tighter than the person who wrote the pattern.

So, on to how to make a gauge.
Example of a square gauge.

The pattern will typically tell you what you are looking for.  This is an excerpt that I pulled from the current pattern that I am working from:

"Rnds 1 and 2 of Motif C = 4 in. (10 cm) BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE. When you match the gauge in a pattern, your project will be the size specified in the pattern and the materials specified in the pattern will be sufficient. If it takes you fewer stitches and rows to make a 4 in. [10 cm] square, try using a smaller size hook or needles; if more stitches and rows, try a larger size hook or needles."

Now, this is for a pattern worked in the round, which we haven't gotten to yet, but all the gauges pretty much work the same.

This particular pattern is telling us that if you do the first and second round of the pattern for Motif C, it should equal 4".  It even tells you what to do if it isn't!

Now, if you take the small moment that it takes to make the first two rounds of motif C before you start, then you'll know if your pattern will work and turn out to be the correct size or not.

Here are a couple more examples of gauge guides from other patterns:

  • "Gauge: Each motif measures 4 inches square."  From a granny quilt, where the gauge is even helping you move further along in your pattern.
  • "24 sts = 4”;  13 rows = 4” in Pat St." This one is telling you that 24 stitches across and 13 rows should be equal to a 4" x 4" square.  This one is for a large blanket, and making that four inch sample before you start will ensure a nice piece.
  • "4 sts = 1 inch; row gauge is not important."  With this one, they're telling you that the width is the only thing that matters, not the height.
As you can tell, there are many ways of wording a gauge, but each one explains a great deal about how the project will work up and lay.

Save yourself time in the long run, and make a gauge today!

An extra resource

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7

How To Crochet Series: Episode 1, Basic Crochet Stitches and What you NEED {and don't} to get started.

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I would like to start out by giving a bit of my history in the world of crocheting.  It was my first real "craft".  My mother taught me how to crochet when I was fairly young, I enjoyed it, but it just wasn't something that I stuck with.  I just don't think my small brain was ready for something like this, and to me, crocheting was something that was equivalent of baby blankets and afghans.  As I got older, I started learning more about myself, and how dedicated I was to making art.  Art in any form is as second nature to me as breathing.  As I got older, I started seeing more and more that crocheting isn't just a craft, it can also be an art form.  They way you work the yarn to be something that is aesthetically pleasing really intrigued me.  Thus, about 4 years ago, I started crocheting again.

After this long being out of the saddle, I wasn't sure exactly where to begin.  I started with a basic package of 6 needles, sizes E, F, G, H, I, and J.  I got two skeins of yarn, one worsted weight and one heavy weight.  I googled stitches and patterns and tutorials and after about 2 weeks, I had about 25 scrapped pieces that I had done and tested and hated and started over.  I taught myself how to do every bit that I have learned, and I've learned almost every single bit from the internet.

One of the main things that I discovered during this learning process, is that there are
1) Many different ways of learning something
2) Many very very good websites, resources and tutorials available on the internet
3) Many very very BAD websites, resources and tutorials available on the internet

So, having said all of that, this episode of our "How-To" series isn't going to be a true tutorial.  Instead, it is going to be more of a list of all the things that you should have to get you started, along with some of the best tutorials that I have found from across the world wide web to help you get started.  I will explain any difficult or other things as I see fit.

Materials you will need to start crocheting:

  • Some various crochet hooks, particularly any sizes from G-J.  I find that as a beginning crocheter, when you begin to practice, you are better off going up a hook size.  Most people tend to hook very tightly when they first start and if you go up a hook size, you'll generally get the gauge that you need.  I will discuss gauges in another episode of our how to series.
  • Two skeins of WORSTED WEIGHT yarn. (any color that you like and would use again)  This is the easiest of all the yarns to learn on and should definitely be your first project.
Where to start:

  • Please...Please...Please... whatever you do.... Do NOT start on a project right away.  Get comfortable with your needles, learn how to gauge, learn the basic stitches and get a feel for how you crochet.  It won't take long to get through this initial learning phase, perhaps a couple of days, and your first piece will be all the better for it.
  • Learn the basic Stitches (see below for a list of tutorials of basic stitches and what you should learn before moving on to a pattern)
  • Make a couple of gauges (in our next installment of crochet how to's)
All right!  We're ready for the learning!!!

Basic Stitches and Crochet Techniques:

How to hold your hook, the first thing you need to know:
The Slip Knot:  The starter for every project ever.
How to make a chain:
Single Crochet, abbreviated as sc:
Half Double Crochet, abbreviated as hdc:
Double Crochet, abbreviated as dc:
Treble (or triple) Crochet, abbreviated as tc:
Slip Stitch, abbreviated as sl st:
    After having viewed the videos or read the lists, practice! Practice while watching them, reading them!  Try making a couple of rows, or just one really long row of stitches, just to get the hang of things.  Once you get your stitches to be pretty well uniform, you're ready for the next step...

    Stay tuned for Episode 2, Everything you needed to know about Gauges, and why they rock.

    Episode 1
    Episode 2
    Episode 3
    Episode 4
    Episode 5
    Episode 6
    Episode 7

    In preparation: Magic Ring Tutorial

    Though there are many many ways to begin a hat, my favorite method is with the magic ring.  Many people don't know how easy it is to begin any round project this way, so I thought I would do a photo tutorial on it, to kick off my 30 days of hats!

    *Please note: there are many different ways of doing a magic ring.  This is just one of them, and my preferred method. :)

    Begin with a slip stitch and a crochet hook that matches the size used in your pattern.

    Chain 4.

     slip stitch into the first of the chain stitches that you made.  (ring made)

    from here, you can chain and begin.... Most of my hats continue in this manner:

    chain 3.

     11 dc in ring

    slip stitch into the top of the chain3.

    if you make sure that you dc over the tail that you had at the beginning...

    when you pull on it, your hole disappears!  Hooray!