What size are my craft eyes?

Do you have some plastic craft eyes in a box somewhere… and you aren’t sure how to tell what size they are?

Umm… yup, me too. Don’t worry! Today, I’ll show you how easy it is to figure out what size they are!

All you need is a ruler with millimeter measurements. A craft eye is sized by its diameter in millimeters. So, to determine the size, place the ruler across the widest part of the eye.

Using a ruler to measure plastic safety eyes

You can see that this eye is a 24mm. Easy!

If you have a needle gauge and small eyes, I have an even easier way. Knitting needle measurements are determined by the diameter of the needle, so you can simply stick the eye in the gauge!

Measuring a craft eye with a needle gauge

This is an 8mm eye, and it fits fully in the 8mm slot (size 11 needle).

Here’s a look at the back view:

Note that the eye fits snugly in the hole, but does not go entirely through like a knitting needle would.

Now you can organize your craft eye stash!

 

 

How to Use Safety Eyes

Craft eyes. Plastic eyes. Safety eyes. Animal eyes. They’re called lots of different things!

craft eyes from FreshStitches

I’ve made a video that shows you how to install them and remove them (eep!). I also talk about why I only use eyes with ridges and plastic washers as well as why you shouldn’t use them on toys for children under 3 years old.

Below, I’ve also included a quickie tutorial for those of you who want to get ‘straight to the point’ as well as some other links you might like!

Ready to get some eyes for your creations? Visit my craft eyes shop for the best selection of black, clear and colored animal eyes, comic eyes and craft noses. Is it your first order? Use the code FIRSTTIME for 10% off your eyes purchase!

Video Tutorial for Craft Eyes

This is a little 5 minute video. Enjoy!

How to install craft eyes

I opened the FreshStitches eyes shop because I really like ridged eyes and plastic washers… and I was tired of ordering eyes that showed plastic washers in the picture, but getting metal ones. Or getting eyes without the ridges. Geesh. Those things matter! It’s like ordering a long-sleeve shirt but getting one without sleeves. Not the same.

That’s why every pair of eyes I sell has ridges on the post with plastic washers. There are actually a few styles of eye I’ve wanted to carry, but they only came with metal washers. Nope. No deal. I’m pretty passionate about a plastic washer.

Plastic washers don’t bend as you try to put them on, and if they’re good quality, they’re amazingly strong. (That’s why I recommend you buy eyes from someone you trust, and not just the cheapest ones you can find from China.) And do you see those little points?

plastic washer on a safety eye

Those little ‘barbs’ dig into the fabric and keep the eye from rotating. Which isn’t a big deal if you’re just using a black craft eye, but is crucial if you’re using a comic eye. You don’t want them twisting and giving you googly eyes!

The ridges on the posts of craft eyes help the washer click on (and stay on!) securely. I love hearing the ‘click’ as I press the washer on! The ridges also help to make sure the washer doesn’t back off AND makes sure the washer presses on evenly.

how to attach a craft eye 2

So, let me show you how to install a craft eye with a plastic washer.

First, insert the post of the craft eye between the stitches on your piece where you want it to go. I recommend that you place the eyes first, before pressing on the washers, just to see if you like the look.

monkey with heart eyes

Once your eyes are positioned how you’d like, press the flat side of the washer (that’s the one with the tiny barbs!) onto the post.

Here’s a photo of how it will look (but without the fabric getting in the way… obviously, your piece doesn’t really look like this!):

how to attach a safety eye 3

I don’t want you to stress too much about this, because if you try to put the washer on backwards, it just won’t go.

Now, push! You’ll hear that click, and it’s on!

A note about 6mm craft eyes

 

The 6mm craft eyes, because they are SO tiny, have smaller plastic washers without the ‘barbs’. But don’t worry, the same rule applies: flat side towards the fabric.

6mm safety eyes

Other links you’ll enjoy

Here are some other craft-eye-related links you’ll like!

 

 

 

 

Crochet: Back Loop vs. Both Loops + Video

This post was originally published April 28, 2015… but it’s so popular that I’ve updated it and added a video!

Crocheting is so much fun because there are so many options! Even a simple single crochet gives you the option of crocheting through the front loop, both loops or the back loop!

crocheting through the back loop

Today, I’ll show you where to insert your hook for the most two popular techniques: the back and both loops. I’ll also link to some posts that you might find helpful… and included a video tutorial at the end!

how to count the number of stitches in a round, crochet tutorial by FreshStitches

The Back Loop

Every stitch is a V laying on its side. Do you see the V in the above photo? The back loop refers to the top leg of this V.

crocheting through the back loop

To use this technique, insert your hook where I’ve put a black dot in this photo:

crocheting through the back loop

Why the back loop?

Crocheting through the back loop is my favorite! You’ll want to read this blog post that outlines all of the advantages!

Both Loops

The term ‘both loops’ refers to both the back and front loops. This is the ‘standard’ when a pattern doesn’t specifically reference any loops. This is the entire V:

both loops

To use this technique, insert your hook where I’ve put a black dot in this photo:

insert both loops

Video

I know it can be hard to picture what these variations look like when you’re actually crocheting, so I’ve recorded a video for you!

What’s it look like in the end?

You’ll want to have a look at this blog post where I show you photos of how each technique looks, in the round and in rows!

Which is your favorite?

Variegated Yarns: swatches in knitting, crocheting and weaving

It’s always so mysterious how a pretty little skein will work up, isn’t it? Especially with variegated yarn!

I dyed up a little (well, BIG) skein and made swatches in knitting, crocheting and weaving! And they’re SO different!

Here’s the skein I dyed (if you want to try it, check my tutorial on how to dye yarn with Wilton Icing Dye):

variegated skein dyed with Wilton icing dye

Knitted Swatch

Here’s my knitted swatch!

Variegated yarn in knitting

The factor that’s relevant in how variegated yarn will work up is how long each color repeat is and how much yarn each stitch uses. Although skeins vary, most are about 3-4 feet in circumference, and a variegated yarn will break this length up into a few colors. So, most color repeats are a few to several inches.

Here’s how to calculate how much yarn each stitch uses.

You can see here that each color lasts several stitches before switching to a new color.

Crocheting

Crochet stitches, in general, use more yarn than knitting stitches, so a color repeat will last over a fewer number of stitches.

Here’s my crochet swatch

Crochet swatch with variegated yarn

This swatch is done in single crochet, and most of the colors last for a few stitches before changing (as compared to several with knitting). This results in a ‘splotchier’ looking fabric.

You might be interested in reading about the latest craze of Planned Pooling.

Weaving

Totally different from knitting and crochet, because there isn’t a ‘stitch’, the color repeat goes for as long as it actually goes on the yarn. In most cases, a color lasted for an entire row on my scarf.

Also, weaving uses two directions of yarn, the warp and the weft.This results in a really lovely plaid-like fabric. Here’s my swatch:

weaving swatch with variegated yarn

All together now!

They’re all so different, right?

swatches: weaving crochet knitting

It just goes to show that when you find that dream variegated skein, you still have choices to make! You’ll want to select a project (and craft) that will result in the colors working up the way you want!

How to crochet the 2nd round in amigurumi

Today, I’m going to talk about how to crochet the second round of your amigurumi!

You see, I spend a lot of time talking about how to start off with the first round. Whether it’s using the magic ring method or the sloppy slip knot… the first round gets all the attention!

And then, Jen told me she was having trouble on the second round. Of course! We never talk about the second round, even though it’s just as tricky! So, here we go!

For today’s tip, I’m using the pattern shown in my beginner ebook, but almost all amigurumi patterns are the same! It starts with 6 stitches for the first round. So, let’s say we’ve completed our first 6 stitches:

how to crochet the 2nd round in amigurumiDon’t turn your work! You’re going to crochet the second round going around just the way you’ve been going. The hardest part about crocheting the second round is finding the next stitch you should use. I’ve highlighted the next stitch in red:

how to crochet the 2nd round in amigurumi

How did I know it was the next stitch? It has to be! I want to have 6 stitches in my first round, so I count my 6 stitches (backwards, starting from the hook):

how to count your stitches in crochetSo, now I know what my next stitch is! What is that little weird extra bit that might trick you into being a stitch? The arrow is pointing to that weird piece in this picture:

ignoring a turning chain in crochet
That’s just a confusing chain left over from the original chain 2. Don’t crochet into it… skip over it and pretend it isn’t there!

Now you know which are your 6 stitches, crochet twice in each one. Now you’ve finished your second round! The rest will be a piece of cake!

crocheting amigurumi

You might also want to read my post on using stitch markers… it’ll help you keep track of your stitches!

Save

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Quickie Intarsia Tutorial

Great little instarsia video! Stacey makes it easy!
Intarsia. Oooh. Sounds scary, right?

instarsia knitting

But it’s totally not scary at all! I’ve filmed a quickie video for you… it’s only 2 minutes, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is!

Intarsia Tutorial Video

Intarsia is a method of changing colors over big stretches (when it’s too far to carry your unused color). All you do is twist the two yarns around each other and keep working!

Here’s a video!

Cool, right?

Practice!

FreshStitches chevron cowl Chiclets
I use this technique in my newest pattern, Chiclets (click here to buy now!).

You may also want to check out this fabulous free pattern I designed for Knitty all the way back in 2010. Another great first Intarsia pattern!
Easy Intarsia pattern from Knitty

And you can follow up with Anne Berk’s Craftsy Class, Next Steps in Intarsia. Sounds fun, right?!?

How to use 9" circular needles for any pattern!

You know I love my 9″ circular needles. I think they’re the easiest way to knit socks and sleeves.

But, because they’re fairly new, there aren’t a lot of patterns written specifically for the 9 inch needle. I’m often asked how to translate your favorite sock pattern into one that can be used on a 9″ circular.

Here’s how to do it! And good news, it’s easy!

How to translate any pattern to using 9" circular needles

In this blog post, I’m going to show you a simple little example of a piece of knitting with 10 stitches. The green string is our yarn!
yarn on 9 inch circular needle

Step 1: Place your End of Round marker

If you’re familiar with knitting on circular needles, then you are probably already doing this step. The end of round marker is an interestingly-colored marker (different from all the rest!) that tells you when you’ve hit the end of your round.

end of round stitch marker on a 9" needle

Place stitch markers where the double points would be

Now, here’s the real trick. You want to place stitch markers on your work to note where would have been between the double point needles (shown in the image as orange).
how to use stitch markers on a 9" circular

Using our little example, let’s say the pattern told you to cast 3 sts onto one double point, 3 sts onto another and 4 sts onto a third needle. You would place markers to section off 3, 3 and then 4 sts.

This trick works whether you’re instructed to use 3 or 4 double point needles.

If the pattern called for 2 needles (such as when you knit socks on 2 circular needles), then you can do the same trick, just using fewer markers!

That’s it! Now you can knit, and easily follow the instructions as they refer to double point needles. If you want a bit more help, you might want to find stitch markers that contain numbers (to remind you which ‘needle’ would have been which.

knitting on double point needles with freshstitches

You can now use 9″ circular needles on socks and sleeves… now that you know how to ‘translate’ the pattern! Happy knitting!

How to Knit or Crochet Using an *Exact* Amount of Yardage!

We’ve all done this, right? You have a ball (or partial ball) of yarn, and you want to know how much you can knit/crochet until you run out. How do you calculate this?

rainbow yarnI’ll show you!

How to calculate how many stitches you can get from your yarn

I’m detailing each of these steps, below!

  1. Calculate how many yards of yarn you have
  2. Calculate how many stitches you get per yard (using your gauge)
  3. Calculate how many stitches you can get from your yardage!

How to calculate how much yardage you have

If you have full skeins of yarn, this step is easy. Just read the label.

But, if you have partial skeins, you’ll need to do some calculating. The best way to do this calculation is by using weight. Read this blog post for step-by-step instructions!

scale for measuring yarn

You’ll need a digital scale and a calculator!

How to calculate how many stitches you get per yard

You’ll need to do a little gauge swatch! This technique works for either knit or crochet. Read this great blog post on how to measure yarn.

how to measure yarn

This blog post has some typical measurements for crochet.

how much yarn do I need?

Calculate how many stitches you can get from your yardage!

Let’s put it all together now!

To begin, multiply your yardage by 36 to get the length in inches.

So, if I have 110 yards, that’s 3960 inches.

Divide this number by your inch/stitch measurement (that you got in step 2), which for single crochet with a worsted weight is 1.8″.

3960/1.8 is 2200 single crochets!

crochet freshstitches

That’s your number! A good pattern will contain stitch counts at the end of each row, so you can add them up and determine how many extra rows you can sneak into a cowl, or whether you’ll need so skip some rows of sleeve length to get your sweater to work!

Video Tutorial: English Paper Piecing

I’m obsessed with English Paper Piecing (EPP). And because I want to you to share in the love of this awesome craft, I’ve put together two video tutorials so you can learn to do it too!

English Paper Piecing with freshstitches

english paper piecing hexies

Watch them and then start stitching! You’ll probably end up addicted to these little hexagon-shaped fabric pieces of candy… but that’s okay!

Video one: how to prepare your fabric and baste the hexagons

Video two: how to sew hexagons together and remove template

FreshStitches rainbow bundles fabric

I also love rainbows. So… I teamed up with Shiny Happy World to put together a kit that’s great for beginners or old hats! Grab your Rainbow English Paper Piecing Kit– they’re available for a limited time, only!

FreshStitches rainbow bundles fabric

I also highly recommend the book All Points Patchwork: English Paper Piecing beyond the Hexagon for Quilts & Small Projects by Diane Gilleland. It’s amazing and inspiring!

I’ll be announcing the full March shop update on Friday, but everything is listed now! So either check it out, or wait for my tour of all of the fabulous new items!

How to knit anything with STRIPES!

I am completely in love with the Rainbow Yarn Sampler Pack!

FreshStitches Rainbow Yarn Sampler pack

I love rainbows. I want to knit everything in rainbows.

But I’ve been asked… what pattern do you use? I’m not seeing a lot of patterns with stripes!

Well, let me tell you: you can knit almost any pattern in stripes! I’m going to share my tips with you, and show off a darling little sweater as an example!

FreshStitches rainbow stripes sweater

Tips for knitting almost any pattern in stripes!

This adorable little sweater is Gramps by Tin Can Knits, and the sample is in two colors, not stripes. But no worries!

rainbow sweater with heart buttons from FreshStitches

Here are some tips!

  • Calculate your yarn usage (total amount of yarn divided by the number of colors you have) to make sure you have enough yarn of each color. You can supplement with one ‘main’ color (as I’ve done for the collar)
  • Select a pattern that’s fairly simple, like stockinette. For example, a lace pattern would get lost in the stripes.
  • Change colors at the end of a row (and not the middle) for the cleanest stripes.
  • Keep in mind that changing colors on a purl row will create a bump of color, so aim for a changing on a knit row.
  • A ‘make 1 increase’ draws up yarn from the previous round, so avoid changing colors on this type of increase. For the sweater below, I started a new color on rows that were just plain knit.
  • Read the pattern in advance to plan out the number of rows each color should be to avoid the increases/purls/etc mentioned above.

Rainbow sweater from FreshStitches

Have fun! There’s no right or wrong way to do it!

I like to organize my stripes in color order (all rainbow-like), but it would be equally awesome for you to plan your colors randomly. Or have different stripe widths. There are no rules!