With spring weather drawing kids outdoors again, it’s time to find crafty activities that you can take outside. This homemade sidewalk chalk is a great project because you and your kids can mix up a batch in fun shapes and colors in about 15 minutes (plus drying time), and they’ll be entertained drawing all over the driveway afterwards. Jennifer Casa shows you how in this tutorial from our new book Teach Yourself VISUALLY Crafting with Kids:
Prepare cookie-cutter molds by covering one side with duct tape.
Add tempera paint powder to the mixture 1 tablespoon at a time and stir well to combine. Add more paint if needed to achieve your desired color.
Pour or spoon the plaster mixture into your cookie cutter molds or an ice cube tray.
Allow to harden and dry completely. It can take anywhere from half an hour to overnight, depending on the size of the chalk you create. The larger the pieces, the longer they will take to harden.
Unmold the chalk and enjoy!
The lovely Jennifer is giving away a Make it Yourself KIT on her blog — enter here!
We’ve had a record number of entrants to the Win a Wiley Craft Library Giveaway for a choice of 10 books for a customized Wiley Craft Library! Unfortunately there can be only one winner. Congrats to ROSE RYAN! I’ll be contacting you later today to receive your contact information and your book choices for your customized Craft Library!
For the rest of you who didn’t win, don’t worry, there will be plenty of giveaways and free patterns to keep you crafting in the coming months. Be sure to stop by often for more information.
Also, we have a Charity Project running right now for Knit This Doll. All you knitters out there please visit here to download a free doll pattern and consider knitting a doll for a kid whose parent(s) are deployed in the military. As a thank you for participating in this worthy cause, we are giving away lots of free knitting goodies for those who post a photo of their donated dolls on our Flickr page.
On Tuesday we announced the Knit this Doll Charity Project. We invite all of you to create a knitted Military Doll with varying features and send them to us. We will be working with Operation Care and Comfort to donate these dolls to children of military families. Operation Care and Comfort has also accommodated sending letters to these kids with your dolls if you wish to do so.
Here is the free pattern for you all to create your customized military doll! As a thank you to those who participate, we are giving away 5 free doll kits including yarn, feature extras, and a copy of the book Knit This Doll to those of you who post a photo of their completed doll on our Flickr gallery (here).
Please mail your completed dolls to the following address. We’ll be accepting dolls through the end of April and the winners of the doll kits will be announced on April 22nd:
Knit This Doll Charity Project
C/O Colleen Schumacher
111 River Street
Mail Stop 5-02
Hoboken NJ 07030
On Tuesday we announced the Knit This Doll Charity Project. We hope you all will participate in this worthy charity project. To give you all more information about Nicki and the idea behind this book, we’ve created a video which is linked below
Also, we’ll be creating a Flickr Gallery for all of you who want to post images of the military dolls you’ll be sending us to donate. Keep checking in for more information regarding this charity project.
I’d like to announce an interesting new charity project we’ll be sponsoring here at WileyCraft. Author Nicki Moulton has written an adorable book called Knit This Doll!: A Step-by-Step Guide to Knitting Your Own Customizable Amigurumi Doll. All you knitters out there, you can create doll after doll, and no two will end up the same. With an endless combination of possibilities and a bit of imagination, this book really lets you knitters flex your creative muscles.
For the basic doll, you can select the hair and skin color, then starting at the toe, work your way through menus of options for feet, legs, torso, arms and hands, head, alternate appendages (wings, tails, and ears), clothing, removable footwear, and accessories.
The author, Nicki, has created a military doll pattern which we will provide to you at the end of this week. We are asking our blog readers to create their own military doll (with varying features) from the free pattern, send it to us at Wiley. We will then donate these dolls to children of military families. A lovely charitable organization, Operation Care and Comfort, has agreed to partner with us to distribute these dolls to military children. They provide Care Packages and support to family members of deployed U.S. military service members deployed (amongst other things. Check out their website here).
As an added incentive, we will be giving away a couple knitting goodies if you sign up to make a doll by posting on this page. Stay tuned for more information about this charity project throughout the week and we hope you will all participate to make this charity effort a great success.
Hi Everyone! Don’t forget to enter our Win A Craft Library Sweepstakes here. The winner will be announced this Friday so be sure to enter.
We here at Wiley, are all big fans of Knitting it Old School: 43 Vintage-Inspired Patterns by authors Stitchy McYarnpants and Caro Sheridan. Fortunately for us, they have graciously agreed to stop by and answer some of your knitting questions.
1. What does everyone do with their knitted washed and blocked swatches? Do you save them and try to put them together in a throw, or old folks just save them, throw them out (forbid!)? Book jacket covers, or try and unravel for a future colorwork project? (that seems like over the top)? I have a lot of them.
CARO: If it’s a yarn I know I’ll use again, I put the swatch in my swatch drawer in case I need to refer back to it. If not, then I’ve been sewing them together and using them for yarn bombing projects like this one outside my house.
STITCHY: I always mean to collect them and make cat toys or sew them into . . . something. But then, when I clean out the knitting bags, I’m sorry to say that I tend to throw them away. I usually stand there for a while staring at the swatch and ask myself if I’m actually going to do something with it and out it goes. I think if I collected them, I would just forget where they were.
2. So what’s the big deal with gauge? I understand why it’s so important and have learned the hard way. But, I also still find it confusing. What exactly do you test in order to realize your gauge is correct for the pattern?
CARO: I knit a fairly large (6×6) swatch and then wash it the same way I would the finished object. I lay it flat to dry (unpinned) to let it do its thing. Once it’s dry, I mostly focus on stitch gauge rather than row gauge, but knowing exactly how many stitches per inch you’re getting is incredibly important for a good fit. The difference of a quarter of a stitch in one inch multiplies out over a full sized garment. Think about a 44″ sweater with an extra quarter stitch per inch. Your garment would be over 11 inches too big! Measuring that swatch accurately before you cast on is key.
STITCHY: I do a lazy version of the same thing Caro does. I make much smaller swatches. She also knits in little bumps that correspond to the needle size she’s using (4 bumps = size 4 needles), so when she tries different sizes, she knows which section used which needle. She’s the swatcher I aspire to be.
3. Do you really swatch every time or even most of the time? I tend to have an idea of what gauge I knit then just cross my fingers and jump in. It usually fits someone if not the intended recipient. I just can’t stand knitting a bunch of squares. knitting blasphemy!
CARO: I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS swatch. A small square of knitted fabric won’t kill me to knit. It’s more important to me that I get an accurate fit. I wouldn’t want to spend all those hours knitting a sweater that I can’t ultimately wear because I didn’t take 15 minutes to swatch.
STITCHY: Pssst . . . I don’t. Hee! I usually get gauge when I do swatch, so when it’s a yarn I feel comfortable with, I just jump in. In fact, it just occurred to me that I don’t think I swatched for the sweater I’m making now. It’s the Sock Hop sweater from our book. I’ve been trying to be better about it, but I really want that sweater. I hope I don’t regret that. (See? That’s the exciting part about not swatching. The suspense! Sometimes I like my knitting to be a little Hitchcockian.)
4. I am just learning to knit and look forward to designing a few new patterns myself. What advice do you have for new designers?
CARO: Go for it! And make copious notes! It’s better to write down what you did in the moment than have to reconstruct something later. The first time you see someone wearing one of your patterns in the wild will make you giddy. It’s very very cool.
STITCHY: I haven’t really designed a lot, but I do know a lot of designers and one thing that’s clear, they all have their own way of doing things. I think taking notes throughout the process is vital, but after that, it seems like a process of trial and error until you find the way that works for you. The designing process is usually a reflection of the person doing the work, so as you design, be mindful of the different things you’re trying so you can see what works for you and what doesn’t. I also think it’s important to have a test knitter run through the pattern before you release it to catch any errors you missed. People usually use their own yarn and do it as favor, so see if your friends will help you out.
5. How were the garments were discovered for the book? Do you use pictures of vintage clothing and then create patterns, or do you find vintage patterns and rework them?
CARO: We started by combing through hundreds of vintage patterns and earmarking sweater details we liked. Collar treatments, color combos, sleeves and that sort of thing. Once we had a solid list of the detailing we wanted, we paired these techniques and aesthetics with designers that excelled in each one. We sent along one or two inspiration photos from that period and layed out what we were hoping for. Each designer took those details and requests to heart and made items with those details, in the vein of the requested time period, but still putting their own stamp on each one. It was like Project Runway: Vintage Knitting Challenge
STITCHY: Caro stated it perfectly. There really was a method to our madness and it was so fun pairing the pieces to the designer. It was like a puzzle and I think we got it right.
6. Where do you get your inspiration for pieces?
CARO: I watch a ridiculous amount of TV and movies on the computer while I work at home. Netflix streaming has heaps of old movies to choose from. The clothing, the sets, the ambiance, the colors, it all inspires me. I’ve always been an old movie junkie, so it’s a natural starting point for knitting inspiration.
STITCHY: Like Caro, my inspiration comes from more than just the clothes I see in movies, TV shows, music, old magazines, even old family photos. I have an obsession with vintage style in general. Not just high fashion stuff, but everyday photos from generations ago. I love seeing what people were wearing and eating and watching and decorating with and using in their day-to-day lives. As a kid, I loved looking at the newsletters from the sweater factory my parents worked at. There were photos of the employees wearing their Pandora sweaters, or dressed for a night out with the bowling team. I also love the crazy, kitschy styles from the 60s and 70s. I’m intrigued by any kind of clothing fad that sweeps in and limps out. I guess my main inspiration comes from trying to recreate a kind of romanticized authenticity of days gone by.
7. I am often inspired by fashions in movies from the 50s and 60s. Are there any old movie or TV show characters that inspired designs in your book?
CARO: Absolutely! While we were pulling together our design ideas we steeped ourselves in old movies. I know for the Sci-Fiber chapter that I rewatched Logan’s Run, Outland and Farenheit 451 just to name a few.
STITCHY: The tunic/mini dress called Sunshine Day was inspired by The Brady Bunch. And I always imagined Mary Tyler Moore in the nautical Ahoy Sailor. (I think she’d look cute in a lot of the pieces in the book.)
8. Is there any way to save a piece that knits up too big or too small?
CARO: On occasion I’ve made a few sweaters that came out too big and it’s pretty easy to seam up the sides either with yarn or on a sewing machine. If something is too small, and I don’t know anyone it would fit, I’ve been known to rip it out completely and start again. No sense letting good yarn just sit in an unworn sweater!
STITCHY: Too big is definitely salvageable, you can just seam up the extra from the inside, just be careful to maintain the shaping as you make the new seam. Too small makes for a lovely gift for that tiny friend of yours. Ripping out a whole sweater is not for the faint of heart, but I hear it builds character. Our book also has instructions on how to make a lined tote bag from an unwanted sweater, so if you don’t want to part with it, repurpose it!
9. What kinds of characteristics do vintage pieces have that are different from more contemporary knits?
CARO: I find that many vintage pieces are knit at a much finer gauge than contemporary knits. Modern published knitting tends toward worsted weight yarns for garments. If you flip through knitting books from the 30′s and 40′s, you’ll find that it’s not uncommon for many of the patterns to be written for fingering or sport weight yarns. My mum used to knit entire dress suits on 3mm needles!
STITCHY: Finer yarns, smaller needles and a much closer fit than we’re used to. Up until the 60’s women’s undergarments were a force to be reckoned with and silhouettes were so much different than they are now. Imagine having to knit in darts for a bullet bra! There were also a lot more skirts, dresses and coats, often in those finer gauge yarns. Vintage knitting books seem to contain entire wardrobes.
10. How have you adjusted for sizing? The old patterns I have collected seem to be designed to be more fitted than current styles as well as designed for smaller people.
CARO: Our designs are also quite fitted, but we’ve expanded the size range available and updated for a more modern silhouette. Vintage patterns were also designed for differently shaped, um, foundation garments, which obviously have also updated.
STITCHY: One of our main goals with this book was to open the world of vintage style to a broader range of people. We made sure that the sizing was available in a wide range precisely because so many vintage patterns are impossible to fit on a modern figure that’s not all trussed up with heavy duty underthings.
11. How hard was it to change the proportions to today’s body shape and still get that retro look?
CARO: We tried to focus more on the details rather than the teeny waists and pointy boobs look. Sleeve lengths, collar details and necklines and such were more our focus.
STITCHY: We also tired to pick out vintagey color schemes and the styling helps a huge amount. We do have a fair amount of shaping in the clothes, so they’re made to flatter your figure like older patterns are. We just understand that most women don’t have as many pointy body parts these days.
12. What are your thoughts on natural fibers like cotton and wool and bamboo versus synthetics like acrylic? I’m a wool girl at heart, so that’s often my go-to fibre. I certainly don’t shy away from blends though.
CARO: I’ve found myself drawn to seacell and wool blends lately. If I’m knitting for a non-knitter who won’t know how to care for wool properly, I heartily embrace the acrylic. Acrylic has changed a lot over the last 20 years and to have a sweater that can be washed and dryed in the machine means you’ll still look good, even after the robot wars are over.
STITCHY: I actually don’t wear all that much wool, but when I do, it tends to be super wash because I’m a spiller. I prefer cotton or lighter weight wool/wool blends. I don’t make sweaters from acrylic, but I do buy them from the store when I need a quick sweater fix. When I think of acrylic, I can’t help but think of workhorse yarn like Red Heart, so I tend to think of blankets and toys. I know there’s more out there, but that’s where my brain has filed acrylic and I would need a work order, filled out in triplicate, to re-file that index card in a different place.
13. What’s the favorite thing you’ve ever knitted?
CARO: I knit an Elizabeth Zimmermman seamless hybrid for my husband a 4 or 5 years ago that he wears almost every day in the winter. I love that I can look over and know that every single fibre in the sweater has passed through my hands. It’s a handmade love letter that looks damn fine on him.
STITCHY: I think my first Clapotis scarf. I used a wool/silk blend in purple and green. I have worn it regularly for years. It needs a trip through the sweater shaver, but I just love it. I wear it in the office all the time and it always makes me happy because I love that I made something so pretty, one stitch at a time.
14. Are you more often referred to as Debbie or Stitchy?
STITCHY: I will happily answer to either. Caro always calls me Stitchy. She called me Debbie the other day and it stopped me in my tracks. It was kind of weird. A lot of people that I’ve met through knitting and blogging call me Stitchy. Pre-knitting friends call me Debbie. I think it would be weird if my mom started calling me Stitchy, so each has its place.
15. I absolutely adore vintage inspired patterns! As knitter that wants to get into some knitting design (for personal reasons), where did you get started with design? What was your first pattern? What inspired that pattern?
CARO: Getting started is sometimes daunting, but I say find your inspiration and just cast on and go for it. The beauty of knitting is that if something goes wrong, nobody gets hurt. You can knit and rip and knit and rip until you get it right and every stitch you make improves your skills!
STITCHY: I’ve never actually designed a sweater, but I’m ready to embark upon that journey. I know exactly what I like and I know how to tell people what I want from them, so it’s a logical next step. I’m a little nervous about the numbers since numbers and I aren’t really on speaking terms. But I have been assured that I can do it. The only clothing I’ve really designed was a crocheted beer can gown for a contestant in a drag queen pageant (he won!) I didn’t write out the pattern, but there were a lot of elements that I should have captured. Making that dress tells me I can at least handle structure and figure out how to get the shapes that I want.
16. Hi Stitchy and Caro! I love your book so much! My question is, what kind of inspiration did you give to all your contributors on what “style” of knitwear you wanted? Did you have a collection of vintage images and/or books that you suggested? I am so impressed with how well everything goes together and how many decades of knitwear you cover. I love all the fun patterns that you’ve collected in one place. Did the contributors themselves come up with suggestions? Thanks!
CARO: Thanks! We had a ball pulling it all together. Some designers were given more specifics than others. For instance Kirsten Kapur’s beautiful Swing Time sweater. We sent Kirsten an email with a headshot of Joan Crawford and said, “make us something Joan would wear! We’re thinking a slightly puffed sleeve and maybe some button details!” That was our only input. Diana Loren (Ahoy, Sailor) got a photo of a tacky sailor sweater covered in intarisa anchors and stripes. We asked her simply to “class it up!” The resulting sweater is quite different than the original, but you can see echoes of the inspiration photo sweater.
STITCHY: Thanks! We’re really proud of how it all came together. Before we sent anything to the designers, we had a fully realized table of contents, so we had a pretty clear vision of what we wanted. Some pieces, like the Sock Hop, which is a ribbed turtleneck with matching knee socks, are almost identical to the inspirations photo (mainly because I reeeeeally wanted to make it, but I wanted an updated version). Others were looser and we just gave the designer a general idea of what we wanted, I would say most everything had one or two inspiration photos and some color suggestions. Luckily, our designers understood the aesthetic we were going for, so it worked really well.
17. I want to know how to curl my hair like the cover model…
CARO: Man, me too! Isn’t she gorgeous? She looks like that almost all the time. Her name is Camille and she’s married to the handsome gent who models Pump Jockey and Speedway.
STITCHY: Ha! Me three. I believe it was done at a 50s style beauty salon called Frenchy’s in Burbank, CA. It took forever, but boy was it worth it.
…Oh, a knitting question. Which garment will be more stable in the long run (less likely to pull out of shape) a sweater knit in the round or one knit in pieces and seamed together?
CARO: A lot of folks don’t like seaming, but I really think that at times it absolutely does help with stability. I think in the long run though, as long as you look after your sweaters, they’ll always look great. I love doing mattress stitch though, so maybe I’m a lone seam-loving gal.
STITCHY: Seaming all the way. I don’t mind seaming, either, and I think it adds structure that sweaters in the round just don’t have. The fact that there are two separate pieces holding the stitches probably makes it easier to maintain its shape. There’s probably some kind of math answer to this, but I don’t know it.
Thanks to Stitchy and Caro for stopping by. With that said, the winner of the autographed copy of Knitting it Old School and enough yarn to make the pump jockey sweater is:
I’ll be in contact soon to get your contact information. That’s it for us this week. Enjoy the weekend and we’ll be back Monday with more fantastic freebees and giveaways!
Family heirlooms are a stitch away with Cherished Quilts for Babies and Kids! From crib- and bed-sized quilts to nursery décor, keepsakes, and gifts, you’ll get ideas and inspiration for making 35 beautiful quilted pieces for babies, kids, and teens.
This book includes gorgeous photographs and full-size patterns for all projects including a quilt diagram, easy assembly instructions and schematic illustrations to ease completion.
Attached is a free pattern from the book, Around the Block, which is a beautiful Log Cabin block quilt shown here on the cover. (Click here for the Sample Pattern_Cherished Quilts). We hope you’ll get some inspiration from this pattern and happy quilting! Also, check out all of our free projects on the free projects tab on this page.
During one of the photo shoots in which we were photographing, step by step, some intricate crochet techniques, we realized that for some techniques, the extra help of video would be welcomed. So we recorded five crocheting and five knitting videos showing more complicated techniques such as knitting a bobble or crocheting hairpin lace.
To access the videos, just click the Video button to the right. And if you have any techniques you’d like to see in video, just leave us a comment and we’ll use your comments as we add more videos.
All of us love the book Better Homes & Gardens Cherished Quilts for Babies and Kids. I am already hoarding too-small but well-loved t-shirts from my kids to make each of them a Tee Time quilt! The book is full of fresh, contemporary quilted projects that are perfect for quilted gifts for everyone from a new baby to a recent graduate.
Jennifer Keltner is the Executive Editor with some of our favorite quilting publications like American Patchwork & Quilting and Quilts & More. She’s also an accomplished quilter and designer ; her adorable Around the Block quilt is featured on the cover of Cherished Quilts for Babies and Kids. Jennifer sat down with us recently to answer some questions about making quilted projects for little ones.
In your opinion, what elevates a quilt to cherished status?
JK: In my mind, what elevates a quilt to cherished status is the relationship between the quilter who makes it and the recipient. There is a special bond between people when one cares enough to create a handmade gift. It’s really like sharing a part of themselves or a piece of their heart.
What has changed in recent years when it comes to creating quilts for kids?
JK: I think we’ve gotten well past the idea that baby quilts can only be pink, blue, and yellow. More moms and grandmas are creating quilts that reflect the styles and colors they use to decorate their homes—some are modern, others traditional, and some are more whimsical. For older kids, the idea of interactive quilts, like the “I Spy” quilt, or quilts with favorite motifs such as dinosaurs or owls, are quite popular. And never underestimate the power of giving a handmade quilt to a teenager. It’s like wrapping up in a hug from the sender—even if they’re away from home at school.
How did you come up with the idea for the Around the Block quilt?
JK: First of all, I love polka dot fabrics. I try to put a little bit of polka dot in every quilt I make. But for this quilt, I wanted to make it all polka dots. I love them in every size, color, and scale, so I thought, why not mix them all together? They’re happy to me. So I thought putting them together in a quick and easy baby quilt would make a little one wrapping up in it happy, too.
Is there anything in particular that quilters need to keep in mind when making projects for babies or younger children?
JK: Washability and durability are two key things. Of course you don’t want to put any small objects such as buttons on the quilt, as they can present a choking hazard. But beyond that, think of how the quilt will be used. If the recipient will need to wash it often, consider prewashing the fabrics so it will be colorfast. And perhaps consider using a shorter stitch length when piecing and binding your quilt to add to its overall durability. Adding a medium to dense amount of quilting can also ensure that the quilt will stand up better to years of continued love and use.
Are the projects in Cherished Quilts accessible to new quilters?
JK: Absolutely! Cherished doesn’t have to mean “heirloom.” You can quilt as much love into a quick-and-easy quilt project as you can a more complicated one. And with our thorough, quilter-tested instructions, everyone can quilt successfully.