Reviews: August 2011 Archives
So I was cruising the Martha Stewart Craft site a few weeks ago and stumbled upon this Lunch Bag Tutorial featuring oil cloth. I knew it would be perfect for our Dorm Days series and coupled with Anna Maria Horner's Laminated Cotton it could easily be adapted for a college student, middle or high school student. It is also a fun way to get motivated to start bringing your own lunch to the work place if you are rebudgeting or pack snacks for a mom on the go or for road trip snacks to reduced fighting. These bags are super easy and the impact is high. You could make a dozen in one day to give to friends and family for fast Christmas gifts or fill them with candles, lotions and homemade goods as teacher and caregiver presents.
My lunch bag was so fast and fun. I used Anna Maria Horner's laminated cotton for all exterior panels and followed the instructions here. If you are thinking to save time by skipping the topstitching, DON'T. It gives structure along with a finishing detail. You can finger press the seams before you topstitch to help keep the fold since you don't want to use pins. I also used a basting stitch as my topstitching because the longer stitch helped my machine run over the laminate easier. I also recommend making a cotton lining using the same directions as the exterior only with wrong sides together. By not attaching the lining to the top of the bag, it can be removed for washing. OR you could use Insul-Bright batting between the exterior and lining to turn your lunch bag into an insulated lunch bag, perfect for yogurts, meats and cheeses.
Don't forget to add a closure at the top. You can go with a clip like Martha or some Velcro like me. Grommets and a ribbon are also a pretty option along with buttons. Go crazy and have fun since these are so quick and simple and infinity useful!
Crochet is my new obsession but it has been a rocky road. First I had to overcome holding my yarn with the "wrong" hand (any sane person holds it in the right, I used to tell myself). Now I am comfortable with both hands and no longer feel intimidated and thus my snobbishness towards continental yarn holders has evaporated (sorry about that, I was just jealous). Then it was my tension. I was concentrating so much on holding the yarn in a new hand, only holding one stick and counting stitches that I would grasp the hook as though it were my last salvation. This has also been rectified by practice and learning new techniques that keep me interested and thus, practicing.
My last huddle in crochet has been the hook itself. I have a slight nickel allergy so my beloved aluminum hooks can only be used for short periods of time before my bones start to ache. I do alternate with acrylic but I prefer the shape of the aluminum hook better and feel it is faster for me when working with my favorite fiber: wool. But now this too has been fixed. The Clover Soft Touch hooks are aluminum with a soft, cushy ergonomic handle that provides a comfy grip with no aluminum exposure. I have been able to crochet for twice as long as previously without the aches and with less muscle fatigue as with the acrylic hooks. I used my Clover Soft Touch hook to whip up my 2 scarf ends for my HotPatterns Fringe Fest Top on Monday. Working during naptime, I was able to get most of one done and start on the second (that is record time for me considering my being new to the game). I was amazed at how much more comfortable it was. It was akin to when I discovered Bamboo Knitting Needles after using the aluminum to begin with. I am putting a whole set on my holiday wish list and can't wait to fill in my hook stash!
See my Susan Bates Crystallite Hook Review here
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I often teach friends and neighbors to knit. Invariably they show up with a ball of worsted weight yarn and 2 ridiculously long straight needles. One of my first recommendations I make if I think they will stick with knitting is to invest in a set of interchangeable cable needles. But even if they are unwilling to take that step, I encourage my students to use cable needles as their default needles as opposed to straight needles. My reasons are thus:
1) Multipurpose. You can only knit straight on straight needles, while you can knit straight and in the round with cable needles. This means you can change needles less if you have a project that jumps from knitting in the round to straight and back again.
2) Weight distribution. Even when working straight on cable needles it is gentler on your wrists because the flexible cables allow knitters to rest most of the weight of a project in their laps or on a table in front of them. This is a good option of those with weak muscles, arthritis or people just getting in the game who haven't built up their knitter's bulk yet.
3) Odd jobs. Cable needles can serve as stitch holders, can be used in provisional cast-ons and other odd jobs that straight needles can't even dream off.
4) Lighter. Though not terribly so, over many hours the lighter weight of cable needles over straight needles can reduce fatigue, muscle strain and can speed up your project.
But how do you knit straight on cable needles? Easy, it is just like have a string tied to each end of your straight needles. You knit from your left needle to your right and once you get to the end of a row (this is easy to tell) switch your left needle to your right hand and vice versa for the other needle and start your next row. It is easier done than said and will really open your eye, expand your project load and reduce your needle inventory. You can start with one and go from there. I would encourage you as I do my students to invest in an interchangeable needle set; it is worth its weight in yarn!