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Gifted: Lovely Little Things to Knit & Crochet

Reported by Jen Geigley

Knitting books are my most favorite resource, and I have to admit that I get excited when I see anything with ‘gift’ in the title (because that little word usually means quick-knits or smaller items that are easy to finish). So I was happy to have the chance to check out Gifted: Lovely Little Things to Knit & Crochet by Mags Kandis. If you love to knit, and enjoy giving your hand-knit items as gifts, you’ll adore this book.

A peek inside Gifted reveals a wide variety of projects for both knitters and crocheters, including scarves, mittens, hats, and baby items… but then also venturing into more creative territory with things like trivets, coasters, a wrist rest, notebook sleeves, knitting needle cases, and more. The book is divided into two sections: Gifts for the Body has patterns for lots of accessories, and Gifts for the Soul includes non-wearables and several felted projects. The best part is that all of the projects really are small and perfect for gift-giving.

I loved the little details and embellishments included throughout, like these crocheted flowers. This book also includes cool ideas for sewn fabric gift bags and sachets to pair with your handmade gifts
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Mags also shows examples on how to add these small additions to accessories, and ways to personalize projects with beads, needle-felting, embroidery or applique.
Several projects in the book explore sewing techniques and use scraps of felted knitting or even re-purposed items like old sweaters, which was really fun to see!
The first project I decided to try was ‘bevy of bangles.’ This is the perfect starter project if you’ve never attempted felting something you’ve knitted before (you really can’t screw it up… and look at how cute these bracelets are!).
You start by knitting a narrow strip of stockinette using 100% wool yarn, or another fiber that will felt well. I used Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Full o’Sheep in two different colors.

Using a three-needle bind off, you end up with huge rings that look like this (before felting). You can hand-felt these using hot water in your sink, or do what I did – throw them in the washer and dryer. Just check on them periodically to make sure they don’t shrink down too far.

Mine ended up looking like this. I used extra strands of Full o’Sheep to wind the contrasting colored stripes around the bangles.
I love how soft (yet solid!) these are! Mine turned out a little bit chunkier than the ones shown in the book, but all yarn felts differently. This is the perfect stash-buster – it hardly used up any yarn at all. Such a fast and fun project!

The second pattern I wanted to try was the ‘linen summer wrap.’

The photos of this scarf/wrap were just too pretty and I couldn’t resist!

I love the yarn they used in the book (Berocco Linen Jeans unbleached muslin) but wanted to use something I had on hand, so I grabbed a skein of I Love This Cotton in olive green.
In one evening – and using only one skein of yarn – I had this awesome lightweight scarf! I love how it drapes and cotton yarn totally works for this. I love it so much that I think I’m going to make another one in black right away! It’s totally wearable with just about anything.

Here are just a few more peeks at fun patterns this book includes:(I love the ear warmers!)

Gifted: Lovely Little Things to Knit & Crochet (by Mags Kandis)
Interweave Press
Price: $24.95
Paperback
136 pages
30+ projects and patterns

Pros:

  • This book offers a wide variety of small projects.
  • Gifted is not just a pattern book – it includes sewing, repurposed, recycled and felted projects.
  • In my opinion, the majority of the patterns are very usable and/or wearable. (And very gift-able!)
  • The little felted bits, gift tags and hearts are super cute and fast to make and would be a cute addition to just about anything you make.


Cons:

  • Some projects are knitting patterns and some are crochet patterns. If you’re not bi-stitchual (meaning you only know how to knit or crochet) you may not be able to make all of the projects in the book.
  • There are quite a few felting projects in this book. (I believe 15, to be exact.) If you’re not keen on felting, this seem like a lot to you. On the flip side … if you’ve felted anything before, it might get you excited to try it! 
  • Some of the projects take a bit more time to complete, like the fair isle or felted granny square bag. (Lots of the patterns included are fast and easy ones … but not everything can be a one-night project!)

Have you picked up a copy of Gifted yet? With autumn coming fast, what do you think you’ll be knitting and gifting this season?

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Clover Needle Felting Tool

Reported by Deja Jetmir

The Clover Felting Needle Tool is an innovative and easy-to-use instrument for anyone who has ever wanted to try needle felting. The particular tool I am reviewing is the 5 barb felting needle that is used for appliqué work.

Quick lesson on how this thing works: felting is the interlocking of animal fibers to make a dense woven fabric. Wool, alpaca and just about any other natural animal fiber can be felted.
The most common way of felting is through agitation – either vigorously rubbing it with your hands or using a washing machine. The other way of felting is using specially-designed needles. These needles have numerous barbs along the shaft that help the fibers interlock as the needle is punched through it.

Clover designed a tool with 5 barbed needles which not only makes fast work of you project, but also helps secure it that much more. As a crocheter by trade, I picked up the Clover tool to try adding felted crochet appliqués to finished felted crochet articles. There is nothing I loathe more than sewing a finished crochet project and I thought this might help with adding final touches without all of the work. So, not only am I reviewing the main purpose of this tool as a needle felting implement, but I am also reviewing it on how well it works for the purpose in which I chose it.

Fair warning before we go on: I never claimed to be talented in constructing needle felted appliqués in anyway. The projects you are about to see are purely for the ability to review the ease of use and quality of product, I apologize now for the poor representations of the flower and butterfly.

Before beginning, I needed to compile the needed accessories to be able to create my projects. You not only need the needle felting tool and felting implements, but you also need a base to put your project on for the needles to be able to pass through the work completely and not damage any furniture you are working on. I am a thrifty person, so before purchasing the recommended needle felting brush mat from Clover to use with my new tool, I chose to purchase a block of foam from the flower department of my local craft store. Then using wool roving and an already felted piece of wool crochet I began designing.

I placed the roving into the simple shape of a flower, then releasing the lock on the tool, I began easily punching my design into place. The five barbs are stationary in the tool. The outer clear plastic sleeve retracts with each push allowing the barbs to be exposed and pushed into your work. This is a great feature Clover has that other needle felting tools do not. Most other needle felting tools are a single barb with no protection. Though I wouldn’t let my child play with this tool, I feel much more comfortable having this one with its safety lock in my house rather than a stray piece of needle barb laying about.

The tool worked very smoothly, and within a minute I had finished the first layer of my flower. I took other colors of roving and placed them around my completed base, working them in the same way as the first. It was very easy to manipulate the roving with the edge of the plastic sleeve before pressing down to secure it with the barbs. Before long my flower was complete. I could make out the holes from where I was punching through, I was able to cover it up by rubbing the top of my work with my finger. So far the block of foam is working well as a base.

Next, I decided to try a simple piece of store-bought felt with the wool roving. My sad attempt at a butterfly was easy to complete, but the block of foam has decided to vomit on the back of my project. I’m guessing because the piece of felt was much thinner as compared to my crocheted felt piece, the needles dug deeper into the foam causing it to come apart and stick to the roving that was pushed through. Unfortunately, the holes made by the barbs are more apparent on this piece, also because of the thinness of the felt, but that is not readily seen from a distance.

Front side of project

Back side of project with foam vomit

I broke down and bought the recommended Clover Felting Needle Mat for the next project:

Photo of brush mat from manufacturer’s website

Now I am ready to try the intended use I wanted from this tool. Felted crochet appliqués on a felted crochet background. Using the same technique as the other projects, I simply placed the base material on top of my mat, then laid the appliqué in the desired location. I was quickly able to add the crocheted tree appliqués with no problem at all. There is no drag even though both pieces of the project are quite thick, the needles moved smoothly and attached all the pieces with no trouble.

This product is well-made and well-thought out. It really makes needle felting appliqués an easy and fun task. The only drawback I see to needle felting appliqués as opposed to sewing them is the fact that you cannot use this for small children’s projects. I know this because as soon as I turned my back on my newly finished crochet project, my young daughter pulled all of the trees right off. I tested the roving to see if it was more secure and it too can be pulled off. This is of course helpful if you make a mistake as you are working, but not good for the busy fingers of a young child.

Pros:

  • Works smoothly and quickly
  • Great safety features in the plastic sheath and locking mechanism
  • Needles are easily replaceable and come in two thicknesses

Cons:

  • Finished appliqués can be pulled apart easily
  • Extra cost for recommended and needed brush mat
  • Visible holes from needle punches in some of the finished work

The Clover Felting Needle Tool is available at Amazon.com

Have you tried the Clover Needle Felting Tool, or any other similar product? We’d love to hear your feedback about them.

One Stick, Two Stick…Kits to knit or crochet

Reported by Heather Voinski

I found these kits by One Stick, Two Stick in my local craft store and I really fell in love with them. There are several kits to choose from including wallets, bracelets, and hats. All of their projects are designed for both knit and crochet, and come with 2 sets of instructions. Think of the possibilities if all kits or patterns came this way. It would be simply wonderful for those of us that only do one or the other!

Most impressive to me about One stick, Two Stick is that their kits are designed to create and share. Their kits contain extra yarn and directions to create a second item that can be given as a gift to a friend or donated. They even provided a gift card and donation information to make sharing easy.

(There is a story behind the One Stick, Two Stick name. It is a short but interesting read and I encourage you to visit their site if you have time and read it. Here’s a link to it.)

Crocheting is something that has been in my family for generations. As a little girl, my mother taught me to single crochet, and I used to watch her and my grandmother crochet. When I got older, I taught myself more stitches and have found that crocheting is something that relaxes me almost instantly.

I chose this cute kit to make a felted Sushi Wallet in burgundy:

The kit I chose came packaged in a cute sushi container that could also double as a cute gift box for gift giving.

Included in the instructions are several different options for making the sushi wallet. I originally was going to go with the middle one but changed my mind at the last minute and went with my own design for arranging the little sushis.

The first step to making this wallet was to crochet all of the pieces. I consider myself to be a beginner to intermediate crochet-er and this kit was very VERY simple for me. I stitched the main wallet and 8 little sushis.


The next step was to felt all of the pieces. Following the directions given, I stood watch over my washer and watched all my little wallet pieces felt themselves.

According to the directions, the main piece of the wallet was to be felted until it looked like the picture on the instructions, or until the widest part of the top of it measured 7 to 7 1/2 inches. I stood watch over it and had to take it out several times to measure the opening. This to me was the hardest part of making it because I have never felted anything before and wasn’t sure just how much it would continue to shrink. I went through 3 cycles until it looked like the picture. The little sushi pieces took longer to felt (they have a smaller surface area) and had to be done twice as long.

After they were felted, I rinsed them by hand and laid them flat to dry. I used some straight pins on the little sushis and pinned their edges flat.


Next, I sewed the little sushi’s to the front and stitched the zipper in place. This was also very simple. This is the first time I have ever sewed a zipper and it worked out to be very easy with these direction.

The last step was to sew the tassel part of the wallet. Two sushi pieces sewn together and a small crocheted chain later I was done. I am very happy with the results of this wallet. I have already put it to good use as a holder for my Nintendo DS. It fits perfectly, and there is enough room for all of my games.

Pros:

  • Simple clear instructions
  • Great for both knitters and crocheters
  • Cute projects to choose from
  • Extra yarn and gift tag for easy gift giving or sharing

Cons:

  • Hmmmm…..I am really trying to think of one
  • The varied time it would take to felt the pieces. But this can be resolved with practice and a bit more patience than I have 🙂
  • Waiting for the pieces to dry (told you I have no patience…LOL).

You can find these One Stick, Two Stick kits at stores and at select Michael’s stores. You can also purchase them online at The Yarn Collection and at the Coats and Clark website. They retail for $15.99.

I would definitely do another one of these kits. In fact, I have already purchase this one to make some girlfriend bracelets to share:


Has anyone ever made one of these? We love to hear from our readers. Please feel free to comment on your experiences with these kits. It would be really great to also know how the knitting instructions are for these.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!