10 Gifts for Knitters (curated by a knitter)

I recently wrote about gifts for the librarian in your life. That got me to thinking about gifts for knitters and crocheters. Knitters are often very generous at creating gifts for other people, but what about gifts *for* them? You may need to play detective a little to determine their tastes or to see what gadgets they already have, but I hope this list will offer some inspiration.

If you want to use this list for the knitter in your life I suggest bringing it to your local yarn store, as they are likely to stock some (or all) of these products. I haven’t linked to any specific shops within the post, but you can find a list of yarn shops in Dublin in this post. And if you are a knitter or crocheter, feel free to hint heavily by sharing this post with loved ones. So without further ado….

1. Gift vouchers

This is a controversial one, some people love gift vouchers, others hate them. Me? I love them, because it means I get to pick my own treat. If you feel that gift vouchers are impersonal, at least with a voucher for a yarn shop you can argue that you put some thought into it, rather than getting one for a shopping centre (which I also love, btw).

2. Luxury yarn

10 Gifts for Knitters (curated by a knitter) - Luxury yarnIf you don’t want to buy a gift voucher and you do want to buy yarn, I recommend buying one or two beautiful skeins of luxury hand-dyed yarn. They may seem eye-wateringly expensive to you, but (most) knitters will know and appreciate the value of such a gift. If you want some Irish dyed yarn Coolree, Dublin Dye Company, Hedgehog Fibres and Townhouse Yarns jump to mind, although there are others. I suggest checking to see if your knitter has particular colour or fibre preferences.

3. Wool wash

10 Gifts for Knitters (curated by a knitter) - soak wool washMost knitted items need to be handwashed rather than machine washed. But handwashing is a pain in the ass (pardon my French). Wool wash is a non-rinse detergent, perfect for delicate items. Brands that I’m familiar with include Soak and Eucalan. These can be used on any clothes that require handwashing and I often bring a bottle on holidays incase I need to wash any of my clothes in the sink. It’s also lovely to pop a drop of it in the water when soaking knitting, ready for blocking.

4. Blocking Wires

10 Gifts for Knitters (curated by a knitter) blocking wires

Blocking is a magic thing – magic! This is the process whereby you soak a knitted item and then pin it to the shape or size that you want. When it’s dry the fibres hold this shape. It’s kind of like ironing for knitting. You can block items without wires, but they are particularly helpful when blocking lace. [Image courtesy of Inspinknity]

5. Yarn winder and swift

10 Gifts for Knitters (curated by a knitter) yarn swiftHave you ever seen yarn in a hank? This is when the yarn is twisted lightly into a kind of plait (like in the photos above). Well you have to wind the yarn into a ball before knitting it. Just as blocking doesn’t require wires, winding doesn’t require a winder and swift – but it’s a hell of a lot easier if you have them. The swift is the yoke that reminds me of a washing line, which holds the yarn and spins around as you wind the yarn on the, well, yarn winder.

6. Knitting needle/ crochet hook sets

10 Gifts for Knitters (curated by a knitter) Crochet hook set from knitproA set of knitting needles or crochet hooks is more useful for a beginner, who may not have built up a large range of sizes already. Most yarn shops will stock sets in a pretty (and useful) presentation box. I’d advise checking first if your knitter prefers straight (no cable) or circular (joined with a cable) needles before investing in a set.

7. Interchangeable knitting needles

10 Gifts for Knitters (curated by a knitter) knitpro interchangeable needlesI use my set of Knitpro interchangeable needles pretty much exclusively. You may be familiar with the knitting needles joined by a cable, but did you realise that there are many lengths of cables, depending on the type of project the knitter is working on? Well there are! And interchangeable needles mean you don’t need multiple lengths in each needle size. You just choose your needle size and add it to the required cable length. You can buy sets of these in pretty presentation boxes, or you can buy individual tips and cables to expand the set. As well as Knitpro needles I’ve heard of Addi Clicks, although I’m sure there are others.

8. A yarn bowl

10 Gifts for Knitters (curated by a knitter) wooden yarn bowlI’m lucky enough that my father-in-law is a super talented wood-turner and made my my very own yarn bowl. I love my yarn bowl and use it all the time. You can find lots of different examples on Etsy or you could contact a local potter or wood turner if you were feeling particularly generous. Again, this isn’t necessarily a cheap option, but your recipient is sure to love theirs as much as I love mine.

9. Knitting related stuff

10 Gifts for Knitters (curated by a knitter) Debbie Bliss mugA few knitters I know have expressed interest in these tea towels and mugs from Debbie Bliss, however I have to say I think they are a bit pricey. Having said that if someone else was to buy them for me, I would be absolutely delighted. I particularly like this London brick knitting needle holder.

I love tote bags and have ones from Loop London and Purl Soho in New York, these would also make great gifts. Most yarn shops will have some kind of knitting related paraphernalia, often locally produced, so just ask.

10. Stocking fillers

  • 10 Gifts for Knitters (curated by a knitter) Stitch markersButtons make great stocking fillers for the knitter in your life. I’m talking cute buttons, or unusual buttons, not a packet with 6 plain black buttons. I often see lovely handmade buttons at craft markets or in craft shops (and I am rarely able to resist them).
  • Stitch markers would make another nice stocking filler. You’ll find all sorts of handmade ones on Etsy or in your local yarn shop. My favourite ones are those made from wire. If you’re buying for a crocheter make sure you go for split ring markers.
  • Project bags are great for knitters who regularly have multiple projects on the go. Julie says they don’t even have to be actual project bags – any little drawstring pouch and sometimes toiletry bags are perfect!
  • Other bits of pieces that knitters “need” are called notions. These include tins or boxes to store stitch markers and needles and interchangeable needle stops. How about some tiny embroidery scissors, a cute measuring tape or needle size gauge thingy.

If you have any further suggestions leave them in the comments please and I’ll add them to the post.

Cute baby stuff

The title of this post is fairly self explanatory. I finally finished my  the bulk of my Christmas knitting and it only took me until January 2nd to get it all done. I didn’t even have that much to do but it seemed to take longer than I expected.

First up is a cardigan I began at the beginning of November. This was knit for a friend’s sister who had a baby at the end of November, but before I managed to finish it I was distracted by the Santa coat for Mia. I finally finished it last night. It seems quite small so I hope it will fit the little boy in question. The Baby Sophisticate cardigan wasn’t meant as a Christmas present, it just ended up that way. I love the collar on it, as the name suggests it looks so sophisticated.

Baby stuff 004Baby stuff 001The second project is a pair of mittens for a toddler. These were knit using leftovers from my own mittens and knit at a pretty tight gauge. I had hoped I’d have enough yarn left to do an icord string that could connect the two mittens but I barely had enough to finish the mittens themselves. They look so small and I really have no concept of how small a toddler’s hand is so, again, I really hope they fit.Baby stuff 019

Lastly is a hat for a newborn. I had seen this pattern on Ravelry many times, but wasn’t sure I liked this pattern until I saw it on a baby’s head. Then it looked so cosy and cute. The hat is designed using short rows to create the curved shape of the head. It’s really clever and very effective. It’s also designed to cover the ears and there are a few options for fastening it. I chose icord strings and I wasn’t mad about the button to the side option. It’s also really tiny but I got to see it on the recipient this afternoon and it fit her snugly. I’m not sure how long it will fit for, but she’ll be a super cosy baby while it does.Baby stuff 023Phew, after all that I’m knitting only for me for the whole of January at least.

Happy Christmas from CraftyTails!

Are you ready for this? The cuteness that is my gorgeous girl Mia in her new Christmas jumper (even if I do say so myself) ? Christmas jumper are *everywhere* this year so it’s only right that Mia has one of her very own. I intend on knitting one for Ollie too but he hates wearing clothes, absolutely hates it. Mia is such a little girl though, she loves dressing up.Santa Coat 009The pattern is from Debbie Bliss Fall/Winter 2013 magazine. The instant I saw the pattern I knew I was destined to make at least one of them. The yarn is Garnstudio DROPS Nepal that I bought at the Knitting and Stitching show from Winnie’s Wool Wagon. It was on sale and cost less than €2 per ball from memory. In the end I bought enough for about 4 coats I’d say, I ended up needing far less yarn that the pattern suggested, less than one ball of each colour for Mia’s coat (she’s a Yorkie/Chihuahua cross, so pretty small).

Santa Coat 020This pattern is great as it’s very easy to tailor to your own dog, I just had to keep measuring it against Mia as I was knitting. The cables felt like they were taking FOREVER, but in the end they add great stability around the neck, and also on the belt. You can barley see the cabling on the belt because it’s black but it’s a lot more structured than garter stitch would be. I love it, and Mia loves it. She gets so much attention when she’s wearing it and she loves that too.

Happy Christmas everyone!!

Icord jewellery

Necklaces 001*taps screen* Is there anyone out there? Hello? I know I haven’t been here for a while but I hope there are still a few people reading.

The last few week seem to have flown by and all of a sudden it’s nearly Christmas. As I’m currently working as a Library Intern and disposable income is somewhat scarce, I decided to put my thinking cap on and come up with a gift idea that would be economical, quick and easy but with a bit of a wow-factor.

Necklaces 004My LYS started stocking Embellish Knit which allows me to knit icord really quickly and an idea was born. I had already played with icord necklaces but I wanted to try something a bit more complex. I can’t claim this design as my own because I’m using tutorials written by someone else, but I would like to think I put my own spin on them.

Necklaces 009For the necklace I used a little under three metres of icord and this tutorial for a knotted necklace from Operation DIY. For the bracelet I used about a metre of icord and this tutorial for a knotted cord bracelet from Katrinshine, except that I used one continuous piece of cord rather than two separate pieces. Both necklace and bracelet are secured at the back using a crimp clasp with a lobster clasp. The teeth on the crimp clasps grip the yarn well and feel very secure. I then put a few stitches in the knots to hold them in place and buried the ends on the icord.

Necklaces 007I’ve experimented with different types of yarn and have discovered that not all work. I thought this would be a great way to use up ends of my precious Coolree fingering weight yarns, but alas the resulting icord is too slinky and won’t hold it’s shape. One yarn that works really well is Louisa Harding Orielle. I suspect the 3% Metallic Polymide gives a bit of extra stability (and a gorgeous sparkle to the jewellery too). The necklace and bracelets in the photos are knit in Ice.

I also had some Zettle Panda yarn from Lidl, which works well too. This yarn also had a lovely sheen to it, I have some deep pink and a lovely cornflower blue, but I think I’ll be picking some more up the next time my local Lidl have it in stock. Right, now I’m off to what feels like miles of icord to get all my Christmas presents made.

Are you doing any Christmas knitting? If so what have you chosen and why?

Leopard Bootcuffs

Christmas gifts 014I showed my sister-in-law some pictures of bootcuffs earlier in the year and she had joked could I knit her some leopard prints bootcuffs, and I said I would if she found me leopard print yarn. But then, HA, I found a pattern for leopard print bootcuffs in a Debbie Bliss magazine.

Christmas gifts 015This was my first colourwork project and it took me waaay longer than I expected. And maybe in hindsight this wasn’t the best colourwork project to start with. For each of the brown and gold I cut long pieces of yarn, maybe a meter or two long. So. Many. Ends. The cream yarn I threaded across the back of the print sections.

The tension in the first cuff is a bit off but I got the hang of it a bit more with the second cuff. And I’m really happy with the results. In the end I got lazy and didn’t weave in the brown and gold ends – I just tied them off on the back and snipped them short. I know, I know, knitting sins, but there was no way I was weaving in that many ends. I hope you will all forgive me. And my sister-in-law was delighted with on Christmas morning.

I Heart Cables

Knitting cable hatMore gift knitting. In tune with my aim to spend as little money this (last) Christmas as possible I decided to knit as many gifts as possible. Having consulted with some of the parents that I know on Twitter, I decided a hat would be ideal for my friend’s daughter.

Christmas gifts 010Looking through the patterns on Ravelry I decided that I wanted a hat with ear-flaps that could tie under the chin. I don’t have children but I can imagine they like to pull hats off. I found the I Heart Cables pattern and then found some aran weight yarn in my stash. Bingo!! I knit the infant size and I’m really pleased with the results. It was super quick and looks so cute. And both my friend and her daughter seem to like it too which is great!!

Christmas Cowls

Christmas CowlsIt seems a bit – odd – to be blogging about Christmas presents after Christmas, but there you have it. In the last two weeks running up to Christmas I decided that instead of making ornaments  as gifts it would be much quicker to knit something else. The quickest thing I’ve ever knit was a cowl for my hubby. Then I remembered that I had three balls of chunky Garnstudio DROPS Andes in cream that I had bought to make a hot water bottle cover for myself, as well Chunkylicious cowl that I made for Knitmas.

Christmas Cowls 004So three cowls for three friends were knit, using the cream as the base with splashes of red in different places to make each one individual. For the middle cowl in the photo I simply cast on 75 stitches and knit in the round alternating between red and cream. The edges roll nicely on this one and I hope the alpaca wool blend will be nice and toasty for the recipients.

Christmas Cowls 010Inspired by some of the gorgeous wrapping on Pinterest I decided to wrap my presents in brown paper and tie the packages up with yarn, both of which I already had at home. For gift tags I used some Christmassy card I had in my stash and cut them to vaguely resemble luggage tags. Then I used a hole punch to create a hole at the top and looped the yarn through the hole before tying in a bow. I’m really happy with how they turned out.

Chunkylicious

Red wrap 011The real joy of Knitmas for me is that I got to put a package together for someone as well as receiving some fab gifts. I love the thrill of picking great presents for people, which is part of the reason I love Christmas so much. I drew Joanne who currently lives outside Ireland. Perfect, that meant I got to put together a really Irish gift for her.

Red_wrap_005First up I knitted the chunky wrap in the photo. The yarn is Garnstudio DROPS Andes and I used three balls and a couple of meters from a fourth ball to finish the cast off. I loved the pattern, it was really straightforward and with the chunky yarn it flew up. In the pattern you pick up and knit the tips separately so I used a provisional cast on to avoid seams. You then pick up and knit stitches along the edge of the ribbing and use short rows to create the curve. Very clever and effective. I hope Joanne will be nice and warm this winter.

I also included some Dublin Dye Company yarn I had in my stash, some handmade stitch markers, a shawl pin I picked up at the Knitting and Stitching show and some Lyons tea. I’ve lived abroad so I can appreciate how much little home comforts like tea are appreciated. I really hope Joanne liked her gift as much as I loved mine.

Handmade Christmas – Decorations

(c) Jewelandarlin.comIt’s nearly December, which means it’s nearly time to start thinking about Christmas. I’m back in college this year which means two things. First, I have very little disposable income. And second, I’ll have a few weeks off before Christmas so I’ll have time to get crafty.

I’ve been pinning some ideas for the last few months and my plan is to create some special handmade Christmas ornaments to give as gifts. So (in no particular order) here’s what have collected so far. Last year I knit the Christmas Bell above and it has inspired me to try some more ornaments this year. Thanks to Jewelan’darlin’ for letting me use her photo.

How cute is this inuk and baby seal from Fuzzy Mitten. I think these will look amazing on the tree and I would think they’d take about an hour each. You can find the free pattern on Fuzzy Mitten’s Blog.

I found some really cute patterns on Ravelry too. I found this free pattern for a knitted acorn, a gorgeous yarn basket ornamentStjärna a knitted star that looks really pretty, Mochimochi Snowmen although this isn’t a free pattern.

I love burlap and all things a bit rustic so I really love the look of this burlap Christmas ornament. The same blogger also has a great mini felt stocking tutorial.

I also found this lovely ornament with beads and ribbon, I think it would be really easy to make with some lovely beads, ribbon and wire. And I think I may just have something suitable in my stash…

If you have any other favourites, please let me know in the comments.

Giving isn’t just about money

So, when I started this blog I promised I wouldn’t say “I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in ages” so lets just say the dark mornings are taking their toll and move on, shall we?

Goodwill to all men (and women, children and animals etc.)

Santa Coat 009Christmas is a time of giving and sharing, of friends and family, and reaching out to those less fortunate than ourselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the giving aspect recently, particularly since most of us have very little extra to give this year, especially in monetary terms. But there are other things you can give that are just as valuable.

As many of you will know already the Dublin SPCA, where I volunteer, have found this last year particularly difficult. It’s no secret that they are ending the year with redundancies and somewhat curtailed services, particularly when it comes to healthy stray dogs, because of a lack of funding. Donations have dropped dramatically, which is unsurprising and understandable giving the Current Economic Climate*. I’m sure most other charities are facing similar problems.

Angel working at the Dublin SPCA

Angel hard at work at reception of the DSPCA

So back to Christmas and the charitable spirit it inspires in many of us. Giving is about more than just money. I’m sure to many charities the gift of time is just as valuable as the gift of money. The DSPCA rely heavily on volunteers to run the shelter and I am lucky to have the time to donate one morning a week to them. But time is another luxury most people don’t have to give.

Hang in there, there is a point to all this.

If you can’t afford to donate time or money, there are other ways of giving charitable donations. At any time of the year.

The pond at the Dublin SPCAThe DSPCA have a wish list on their website of supplies that they need to help run the shelter. This includes dog and cat toys to help stimulate the animals, as animal mental health is so important. They also use a large amount of newspapers in the cattery to line the litter trays. Old (untorn) towels are also vital to help keep the place clean and dry as all kennels, pods and every surface is cleaned daily with disinfectant to keep it clean and the animals healthy. (It is after all essentially a working animal hospital.) Nappy bags are also used in huge amounts for – scooping the poop, as it were. The list goes on and on, many of them items you might have lying around at home unused.

A foster kitten at the DSPCA being bottle fed

A foster kitten at the DSPCA

Oxfam Ireland launched a campaign in November 2011 called Make Space for Oxfam to highlight Oxfam’s shops urgent need for donations. Over the past year donations to Oxfam shops have reduced by up to 40% and stock levels are now critical in many shops. I’m sure this is the same for practically every charity shop.

St. Vincent de Paul run a food appeal and Giving Tree every year. I’ve seen areas set up in many shopping centres where you can donate an extra gift you have bought. From memory they are often looking for gifts for teenage boys. For me, if I buy 3 for 2 in Boots or somewhere I try to give the third (free) item to charity and it technically doesn’t cost me anything.

Do anything, just do something

If there is a charity you are particularly interested in, why not contact them to see if they have a similar wishlist. Or if you know of any other charities that take non-monetary donations please mention them in the comments.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Mia wearing her Christmas coat*My official Most Overused Phrase of 2011.