Crochet Tools – Everything You Need

Crochet Tools - everything you need to get started, from Shiny Happy World

Want to learn how to make adorable crocheted stuffed animals with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Let’s Make Amigurumi here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, and how to make an easy amigurumi from start to finish using simple crochet stitches.

It’s a fun, inexpensive, and totally portable craft. You can do it!

You only need a few things to crochet amigurumi – a hook (to crochet), some stitch markers (to mark your place), and a tapestry needle (to weave in the ends and attach arms and legs).

Besides yarn – that’s really it! It’s a lovely craft – and easy to carry your projects everywhere.

I’ve added these tools to the Shiny Happy World shop.

Crochet Hook Set from Shiny Happy World

This set of hooks includes the three most common sizes for working with medium weight yarn.

Locking Stitch Markers from Shiny Happy World

This packet contains 20 locking stitch markers – more than enough for any amigurumi project. I use these to mark the end of a row, to mark where eyes and noses go, to hold pieces in place while I whipstitch them together, and more. They’re super useful!

(If you want something a little fancier, pick up these cute heart-shaped stitch markers.)

Extra Large Tapestry Needles from Shiny Happy World

These are the biggest tapestry needles I could find and they’re awesome for crochet. Yes – you may have a large embroidery needle that you could maybe, with a lot of effort and swearing, work a piece of yarn into. Do yourself a favor and just get the enormous needles. They cost $1.99 and you’ll be glad you spent the money every time you need to thread some yarn.

Total for all these tools?

$15.48

Add in a pattern and a skein of yarn and maybe a packet of eyes, you could be making your first amigurumi for less than $25.

Give it a try! And happy stitching! 🙂

Best,
Wendi

How to Use Safety Eyes

Craft eyes. Plastic eyes. Safety eyes. Animal eyes. They’re called lots of different things! And you can use them for sewn or crocheted softies. I’ve even used them in applique wall hangings!

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 (and noses) shop for the best selection of black, clear and colored animal eyes, comic eyes and craft noses. 

Video Tutorial for Craft Eyes

This is a little 5 minute video. Enjoy!

How to install craft eyes

I started selling eyes 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 6 mm and 4.5 mm craft eyes

The 6 mm  and 4.5 mm 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!

Have fun!

July Crochet Fun + Fave Links

Little editorial note… I published this post about a week ago but I discovered that the fancy website widget that emails the blog post out to my over 5000 subscribers wasn’t working! Eep! And you can’t go without the July news! So, I’m republishing the post… apologies to the (few) folks who read it the first time!

Usually, summer is a slow time in the crochet world, but not here at FreshStitches! Summer is the time when you might head out on vacation, find a bit of time by the pool or want to curl inside in the comfort of the air conditioning… with a crochet project in your hand! Am I right?

Amigurumi crochet sun with comic eyes

Sunshine shown with 16mm round comic eyes

(and for those of you reading in the Southern Hemisphere, by all means, grab a hook and snuggle inside to enjoy the winter!)

The biggest news is that Ami Club members unanimously voted to turn the monthly newsletter into a public one for all FreshStitches blog readers! Hooray! Aren’t they the sweetest? So, I hope you enjoy!

In this post, you’ll find out all kinds of news and I’ll share my favorite links that I’ve found this month!

New 18mm color eyes!

18mm color craft eyes from FreshStitches

I’m always working to bring you the best selection of craft eyes, so I’m delighted to announce that I’ve expanded the shop to include 18mm color eyes!

They’re available in the same, beautiful colors as the 12mm and 8mm color eyes (starting off with Pale Blue, Green and Brown: the 3 most popular colors).

Although I don’t have an exclusivity arrangement with the factory, I haven’t seen these offered in any other shop! Many other pearlescent eyes are hand-painted, which means they are much more expensive. And all of my craft eyes have ridged posts, which allows for the plastic washer to click on tightly and securely.

And Ami Club members get 10% off their entire eyes purchase: all the time! Just one of the many perks of the Club!

July Pattern

I really love July’s exclusive pattern… Stanley the Stingray!

Stanley the Stingray amigurumi from Freshstitches... so cute!

Isn’t he a cutie? This pattern contains 3 brand new videos, including how to use stitch markers so you don’t need to count to do his shaping!

This pattern goes away on August 1st, so make sure to login and download your copy!

Update – the pattern is no longer exclusive to Ami Club members. Get the Stanley the Stingray pattern here.

Kepler the Lion CAL!

Our regular Crochet-a-long began today… and we’re making Kepler the Lion!

Amigurumi Lion Crochet pattern

All Ami Club members have Kepler available in their downloads, go grab him and start crocheting!

The CAL ends on August 31st, and everyone who posts their finished photo to the FO thread is entered to win a prize! The prize this month is 2 skeins of yarn and a project bag… squee!

50% off Featured Patterns

Every month, Ami Club members receive 50% off featured patterns. This month, the featured patterns are: Frankie the Lobster, Jay the Bird and Murray the Squirrel.

Amigurumi Lobster pattern

Check the forums for the 50% off discount code for July! Good on one or all three patterns!

Can you Loop Stitch?

I just love the tail on Murray the Squirrel, but I know a lot of people find the loop stitch intimidating. You don’t have to!

How to loop stitch

Pop over to this blog post for a step-by-step photo tutorial and a video for how to do it!

If you’ve tried the loop stitch before, but the loops came apart, don’t worry! The post shows you how to prevent that from happening! (The photo above is the spoiler- you have to make sure you’re grabbing both sides of the new loop with your hook. It’s a very common mistake to just grab one!)

Ebook: Creating different shapes

The monthly ebook download for Ami Club members is about how to create different base shapes for your amigurumi.

FreshStitches Robot

The stingray pattern for this month (and this robot!) were created using a square as the basic shape (instead of our usual circle). These combinations are so fun to experiment with!

If playing with different shapes gets your juices flowing, then you’ll love my Amigurumi: Design Your Own Monster class on Craftsy!

Fave Links

Lots of stuff is happening! It’s hard to keep up with it all! So, I’ve rounded up a few things that I thought you’d want to see.

As a boring side note, if you live in Los Angeles County, you’ll notice that sales tax went up on July 1st. Doesn’t affect any customers outside the county!

Speaking of enamel pins, who would be interested in new pins with my new Nelson logo? Which is your fave? Reply in the comments!

Can’t wait to hear from you… and hope you have an amazing July!

Best,
Stacey

How much yarn does crochet use? Single vs. double crochet

My previous post, how much yarn do I need? has been so popular that I wanted to expand on it a little bit today by looking at adding another stitch into the mix, the double crochet.

How much yarn do I need crochet

Double Crochet vs. Single Crochet

The measurements above show you how much yarn you’ll use for a single crochet stitch for different thicknesses of yarn.

Did you know that different stitches use different amounts of yarn, too?

For my measurement, I measured single crochet and double crochet, both using a size H (5.0mm) hook, worsted weight yarn and crocheting through both loops.

how much yarn single crochet uses vs. double crochet

How much yarn does a double crochet in bulky yarn use? Or fingering? I’m only one gal! You’ll have to measure that yourself! Here is a tutorial on how to measure how much yarn a stitch takes.

You can use this number to calculate how much yarn your project will use or how many rows you can work on your blanket before you run out of yarn. Cool, right?

Which stitch should I use?

It looks like the double crochet uses more yarn, but keep in mind that it’s also a bigger stitch, too… so one stitch covers more surface area.

Knitting, too?

You can do the same comparison for any two stitches… even comparing a knitted stitch with a crochet one! Check out Not So Granny’s post on Does crochet really use more yarn than knitting?

Enjoy!

Best,
Stacey

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!

Best,
Stacey

Chetnanigans Elite Hook Organizer Giveaway!

I have something very exciting to share with you!!!

I’ve been fans of Chetnanigans for years. Sean and Holly are such lovely people and they make such beautiful handmade hook organizers. I’m a real sucker for gorgeous woodwork!

Here’s my organizer, just as pretty as can be.

Chetnanigans organizer

When Sean told me he wanted to giveaway a Black Walnut Elite Hook Organizer to my readers, my mouth hit the ground! This is a $90 organizer!

Chetnanigans Elite organizer giveaway

Whoa. But, who am I to talk him out of it? 😉

So, here it is. One of the most beautiful and finely-crafted hook organizers on the market. The rear platform holds your aluminum hooks from size M through D plus 14 additional holes for your steel hooks, sizes 00 – 14. And the front platform has 25 holes sized to accommodate nearly every size of comfort grip hooks available in the market.

Elite Hook organizer

Hubba hubba.

And it can be yours!

Update – the giveaway is closed now, but you can still head over to to Chetnanigans and have a look at their organizers. They are just so lovely!

How to use Ravelry’s Stash Feature

This post was originally published 5/21/2012… but 4 years later, this is still some of my best advice! Follow these steps to get your stash organized!
amazing tutorial for using stash on Ravelry... go read these tips!
You’ll also be interested in reading:

If you’re a Ravelry-user, you’ve probably seen the ‘Stash’ button (underneath ‘my notebook’)… but do you use it?

You should! In this post, I’ll tell you why I love storing my Stash on Ravelry, and I’ll walk you through the basics of how to use it. Just put in a bit of time up front, and you’ll have a super-organized stash that your yarny-friends will be envious of!

Reasons to Use Ravelry’s Stash

Why should you go through all of the work of uploading your yarns into the Ravelry database? Seems like a lot of trouble, huh?

Here are a few reasons why I think it’s worth your while:

  • No matter how large your stash is, storing it in Ravelry’s online database makes it easy to sort and search… no more digging through tubs in your basement to see if you have any pink laceweight yarn.
  • The stash is integrated into other features on Ravelry, meaning you can search through patterns based on what’s in your current stash.
  • When it’s time to do spring-cleaning, it’s easy to list your undesired yarn stock as ‘for sale/trade’.

The Basics of Putting your Stash on Ravlery

Let’s start at the start. Under ‘My Notebook’, click on ‘Stash’:

You’ll go straight to your Stash Page (yours will be empty if you haven’t added anything yet, but I’ve got yarns in mine!):

Have a yarn you want to add? Click the ‘Add New Yarn’ button and add whatever information you’d like. I like to put a picture in, but that’s not necessary. To get the best use of the stash feature, be sure to enter the name of the yarn, number of skeins you have and color.

How to Search through your Stash

Okay, so you’ve uploaded the yarns that you have… how do you search through them? Easy-peasy!

Let’s look at our main screen, again:

Look to the right of the ‘Add New Yarn’ button… that’s where you do your searching! You can search by ‘Date Acquired, ‘Yarn Weight’ (i.e. do you have any bulky-weight yarn?) or ‘Fiber’.

Let’s say I’m trying to find out if I have any yarns that contain cotton… I just select ‘Contains Cotton’ from the ‘Fiber’ drop-down menu:

Looks like I have 4! When I click on that selection, those yarns come up on my screen and I can browse them for further info.

Searching Patterns with your Stash in mind

Now, we’ve all done the search for patterns… but did you know that you can restrict your search to patterns that you already have the yarn for?!? Talk about a time-saver!

To do this, you’ll need to click ‘Pattern Browser & Advanced Search’:

Here, you can enter lots of criteria… but what’s important to us is restricting your search to yarns you have in your stash.

Scroll down, looking on the left, until you see the ‘My Notebook’ header. Click ‘Yarns in my Stash’, and the search will bring up all of the patterns you can make!

Isn’t that great?

Using your Stash in your Projects

Once you’re using the Stash feature, you’ll want to keep it up-to-date. So, when you start a new project, make use of the ‘use stash yarn’ option:

Doing this does 2 things:

  • It automatically updates the amount of yarn in your stash
  • It lists detailed information about your yarn (color, dye lot, purchase date) in your project

Listing your Yarn for Sale/Trade

Sometimes, you’re looking to clean out your yarn stash. No problem! It’s easy to list your yarn for sale to other Ravelry-users. Edit the information about your particular yarn, and select ‘Will Trade or Sell’:

If you want added exposure, share your yarn with some groups where you think people may be interested.

Get Started!

Are you encouraged to list your stash online, yet?

Those of you who have giant stashes, here’s one more helpful bit of information:

See that line next to my cursor? You can use the ‘Stored In’ line to add information about where a particular skein is stored (i.e. the blue storage tub under the guest bed) in real life!

Happy organizing!

Are buttons a baby-safe substitute for craft eyes?

You’ve probably read the disclaimer: craft eyes are not recommended for use in toys for children under the age of three.

plastic animal craft eyes from FreshStitches

I’m often asked, “can I use buttons instead”?

In short, the answer is no.

To explain why, let’s talk about why craft eyes aren’t baby safe. It’s incredibly unlikely that the washer will accidentally come off of the back of the eye. (in fact, it’s pretty difficult to remove the washer from an eye with plastic ridges, as I showed in this blog post on how to remove craft eyes.)

The danger with craft eyes is that a baby (or dog) could chew through the fabric that the eye is attached to, dislodging the eye.

Now what about buttons? Many people assume that since they’re sewn on, they’re more secure. But it’s not true. A baby can use their set of chompers to chew through the thread attaching it to the piece.

Baby-safe eyes

For a completely baby-safe eye, you’ll want to crochet the eye (follow these directions for a crocheted eye) or sew on a felt eye.

amigurumi crochet owl kit by FreshStitches

Crocheted eyes look fabulous!

(Get that owl pattern here.)

To be on the safe side, you’ll want to watch your little one whenever they’re with buttons. Just the other day, I saw Maddie chewing on the button on her sweater. Oops. Not safe!

How to Paint Your Own Craft Eyes

I stock lots of pretty colors of craft eyes in my shop. But, what do you do if you want something I don’t have? Like pink eyes? Or glitter eyes? Or polka dot eyes? Hmm… those would be hard to find.

how to paint glitter eyes from FreshStitches

You can paint them yourself! Today, I’ll show you how to paint your own craft eyes! All you need is clear craft eyes and some paint. And since there are oh, about a thousand, colors of paint available… the possibilities are endless!

Scroll down for the video!

Glitter eyes!

Have you seen Beanie Boos? They’re the new generation of Beanie Babies… and they have glitter eyes!

I’ve been getting lots of requests for glitter eyes, because you want to add this awesome touch to your own stuffed animal creations. I can’t find anywhere where they are commercially available… but, I have found the perfect glitter paint!

 

Glitter eyes from FreshStitches

Aren’t these amazing? And they’re even more sparkly in person!

Glamour Dust paint is fantastic!

paint square

It’s so much fun!

How to Paint Your Own Craft Eyes

Painting your own craft eyes is easy! All you need is some acrylic paint and clear craft eyes.

Paint your own craft eyes

You’ll get more details in the video below, but here are the basic steps:

  1. Apply a thin coat of acrylic paint to the back of the craft eye
  2. Allow paint to dry
  3. Repeat. I’ve applied 2-3 thin coats for maximum glitter

Of course… you can do fun patterns or stripes. Your imagination is the only limit! (and keep following the blog, I’m planning on posting some more tutorials… I’ve already painted some great 2-color ombre eyes!)

Video Tutorial

I filmed this tutorial before I got the fancy palettes, and I realize my thumb is often in the way… oops! But, I think you get the idea!

 

 

 

Isn’t that easy? And here’s the result!

 

Glitter eyes from FreshStitches

Ready to paint your own?

Get a glitter eyes kit or just some glitter paint and give it a try!

The kit contains 3 colors of clear eyes: 12mm, 15mm and 18mm. I’m working on making these available individually, but for now, the only way to get all three sizes is to get the kit!

Sorry – the kits are no longer available, but you can get the paint here.

Get glittery! 🙂

What’s in your notions case?

I bring knitting or crocheting with me everywhere I go. You never know when you’re going to have a spare moment to get in a few stitches!

I’ve chatted before about planning projects for traveling. But what do you carry in your notions case?

Here are a few essentials that I don’t leave home without:

  • A crochet hook (a size H is what I use most often)
  • A tapestry needle
  • Stitch markers (locking and the ring-type)
  • Scissors (ones with blades less than 4″ are even allowed on planes!)
  • A tiny crochet hook (for picking up dropped stitches in my knitting)
  • A tape measure

Depending on the project… I might also bring along a cable needle, maybe double point needles and a row counter. Fortunately, all of these things fit in my notions case!

So tell me, what do you carry in your notions case? Anything super-important that I forgot to mention?

Best,
Stacey