Getting to the Point

knit ndl blog 1Knitters can’t do without them, but there are so many types of knitting needles available, how do you choose?  I often tell people it’s a personal thing, but here is some information to help with the choice.

 

Straight – these are the style that most people think of when you say “knitting needles”.  They are basically a straight stick with one end tapered to a point and a knob on the other end.  Straight needles come in a shorter or longer length, to accommodate fewer or more stitches. I only use shorter straight needles (I’ll explain why in the next section).

knit ndl blog 2

Circular –  these look like they have two straight needles connected by a string.  Actually, they are basically two short, straight needles with a flexible cable (often plastic) joining them. These have become my preferred needles. You can knit flat or in the round and they come in a variety of lengths (use longer ones for bigger projects like sweaters and afghans, shorter ones for hats, scarves and smaller projects).  The biggest reason I like the circular style is because of my hands and wrists and elbows. Circular needles are much easier on your joints (especially if you have arthritis or tendonitis). They are also easier to travel with, since your project can slide down to stay safely on the cable, and they are easier to store (mine are coiled in a tote bag).

knit ndl blog 3

Double Point – these look like straight needles, except that they have tapered points at both ends. Double point needles are most often used for knitting smaller items in the round, such as hats, socks and sleeves of sweaters. I also like to use them in place of straight needles when knitting a small flat piece.  Many people are afraid of double points, but while they do require a bit more attention, and seem a bit awkward, they really aren’t that different.

knit ndl blog 4

Knitting needles are available in a variety of materials too, including metal, wood, plastic and even a few more usual materials like bone or glass.

The Addi Turbo line of needles is one of the best out there, designed for experienced knitters.  I usually don’t recommend them for beginners.  They are a slick coated metal, so the knitting seems to fly, but if you’re not prepared, the knitting can fly right off the needles!

knit ndl blog 5

I used to be a fan of the standard aluminum, but have fallen in love with bamboo.  The smooth texture, the warm feel of wood, and the way the yarn moves across the needles, but still grips is wonderful.  And bamboo is sustainable (one of those important Eco friendly words) because the trees can be harvested and then regrow quickly.  The needles also have a flexibility (which you don’t really notice) that makes them comfortable to use.

knit ndl blog 6

You do have to take into consideration the yarn you’ll be using when  you choose your needles.  Sometimes I have started a project then had to change needles because the yarn didn’t move the way I wanted it to.  Some yarns slide too much on some needles while others won’t slide easily enough.  For example, chenille type yarns do not slide well on bamboo needles. If one thing isn’t working, switch needles so that you’re comfortable working.

One more needle tool you should consider:

Needle Gauge:  I’m on my third needle gauge – I am always loosing them!  They are a little investment (we have a number of options including one that sells for $2.00.) that is so helpful.  My Addi Turbo needles are marked on the cable with the size (of course I don’t keep packaging) but it is so small and partially worn off, that I can’t tell what size the needles really are without the gauge.  Also, I do have a few aluminum double point needles and no idea what sizes they are.  The little ruler on the gauge is also handy for measuring your gauge swatch.

knit ndl blog 7

Go ahead and try a few things and find what works for you!

Happy Knitting!                                 by Cathy Mark

To find an item or event on our web page click on the highlighted words, and when you get to the page, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Put the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.

You can see what’s new at Erica’s almost every day!  Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

If you signed up for our blog posts long ago, or you don’t get “WordPress” emails, please sign up again on WordPress.  It doesn’t split sentences or put photos in the wrong place.
Add your email address above.  These emails are so much better.

Learning How to Crochet

I recently took a crochet class at Erica’s and am totally hooked on it! Pun intended. 🙂

I’ve been a quilter for years, but was always intimidated by knitting and crocheting. But not any longer! I wanted to share with you how easy it is to learn a new craft in case any of you are in the same boat I was.

Kim started me off with two basic supplies: a crochet hook and a skein of yarn. As a general rule of thumb, chunky or bulky yarn takes a larger hook and fine yarn takes a smaller hook. And most yarn labels will tell you the recommended hook size. 

crochet1Baby Chunky Yarn from Hayfield (Tufty) A22975 $7.00
Boye Aluminum Crochet Hook (Size J
) 25640 $2.15

Kim first showed me how to make the chain, the foundation for most projects.

crochet2The next two stitches I learned were the single crochet, and the double crochet. Then I attempted to make a swatch using my new-found skills. My swatch is quite laughable (it really was supposed to be a rectangle!) but it sure taught me a lot!

crochet3The first thing I learned in making this swatch was not to be afraid. In about 45 minutes, I had gone from not knowing how to crochet at all to having made something. It’s a funny-looking something, but that doesn’t matter at this stage. I still made it!

I also learned to count stitches at the end of every row. I had no idea that I was dropping stitches until I was about eight rows into it. Looking at the swatch, it’s very clear that I dropped stitches as I went along, but I didn’t see it right away.

I learned how to improve my tension by playing with different ways of wrapping the yarn around my fingers until I found something that was comfortable for me.

And I learned that practicing stitches over and over again until you move onto another stitch is tremendously helpful and a confidence builder. 

Just by working on those three things – counting, evening out my tension and practicing – led me to this in just four days:

crochet4It’s not perfect, it’s not even great, but it’s a scarf! And I made it! It wasn’t hard and it wasn’t intimidating at all, once I dove into it.

I also recommend finding a great how-to book. Many of our staff members recommend “I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting” by Leisure Arts, so I bought it and took it home with me. It helped remind me how to do the stitches once I was on my own, and gave great tips about tension and how to understand patterns. 

crochet5I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting 23098 $8.95

Another really good one that I’ve had my eye on is “10-20-30 Minutes to Learn to Crochet,” also by Leisure Arts. It has great pictures and simple patterns.

crochet610-20-30 Minutes to Learn to Crochet A11978 $9.95

I am so excited to have learned a new craft and even more than that, I’m no longer intimidated to learn something new. I encourage all of you to do the same!

For more information about classes or to see a schedule of upcoming classes, sign up for our newsletter on our website – Erica’s Newsletters Sign-Up. You can also stop into the store or give us a call at 574-233-3112 or 1-888-837-4227.

(To find an item on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

Let us know in the comments, about something new that you’ve learned!

Happy Crocheting!
~Stephanie

Our yarn department is back!

Many of you already know that our yarn department was destroyed in a terrible early-winter storm last November. The large front window of our store was blow in and all of our yarn had to be disposed of because it was either full of glass shards or water.

But the yarn department is back! We have new carpeting, the shelves have been repaired, and we have restocked them with all the great yarns we’ve been carrying and some new ones as well.

yarndeptWe are so excited to have our yarn department back, and we’re having a Yarn Department Grand Reopening. Along with new yarn, we have new models, and new patterns.

shrugweb

Baby Alpaca Grande Scarlet A24314 $11.24 (sale price)
Top Down Jacket Pattern A24293 $4.00

kraemerweb

Perfection Lights Yarn from Kraemer Yarns
Jelly Lights A20470 $5.63 (sale price)

Through Monday, March 3rd, all of our regularly-priced yarn is 25% off, both online and in our store. Head on over to our Yarn Page or come visit us if you can!

We also have Free How-To-Knit and How-To-Crochet Lessons in the store through Saturday. The free lessons are available from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm on Friday, and from 9:30 am – 3:00 pm on Saturday. Earlier this week, Kathy Robb and Naomi Bozovsky came in and enjoyed a free crochet lesson with Linda in our yarn department.

yarndept2So stop in and celebrate with us or go to Erica’s yarn page for all the great deals!

Happy knitting and crocheting!
~Stephanie

Magical Knitting

I was adding to our site some of the recent books and magazines we’ve received, when I stumbled across one that really caught my eye, especially since yesterday marked the birthday of the original mind behind the book series itself. It’s a Harry Potter Imageinspired knitting magazine: The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits. Flipping through the pages, some of these sweaters and accessories are just too cute to pass up! I have to admit, like several people, I am a fan of the books by J.K Rowling as well as the films from Universal. And my creative drive is heightened by themed projects, so you can imagine I was thumbing through this magazine for quite a time. ImageI absolutely love the fact that the designers went through and told why they created the designs that they did and what aspect of the series inspired each design.

These projects (There are over 30 of them!) have step-by-step instructions, and would be great trendy gifts, even for people who aren’t Harry Potter fans! ImageSince so many crafty people have Christmas on the mind, you should know that there is gift potential in this magazine and its projects. I know plenty of people I can start making some of these for, and with the Harry Potter movies in the top 40 highest grossing films of all time, I’m sure you’ve got a fan somewhere in your life, too.Image

(To find an item on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F. Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item. Some of the images on this post are also links!)

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.)

Color

IsacordI’ve been thinking about color quite a bit lately. It’s just so amazing the way all of the colors work together, the way they blend to make a harmonious whole, or how they contrast to add interest to a piece.

And no matter which department you visit at Erica’s, you’ll be visited by a riot of color. I thought I’d offer you a little color adventure today.

Bulky Yarn Sock Yarn

Through the yarn department, from bulky to sock yarn.

And on into embroidery, where every color under the sun greets us, ready to create any scene or design your heart desires.Cosmo Floss

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then on back to wool; this thick, rich fabric that holds its shape so well and loves to be fashioned into so many lovely items to adorn our homes.Wool

 

 

 

And of course, the fabric. So, so many colors and textures, just waiting for you to come and claim them as your own. Solids

 

 

 

 

 

Now you must know, that I would not, in a post like this, leave you without a photo of everyone’s beloved Bali fabrics.

Purple Bali fabrics

Enjoy, friends. Maybe work with a color you never have before, or pair a new combination. You just never know what might work in a given situation until you try.

Most of all, have fun with color. Maybe share your favorite color in the comments? Today, mine is red. I’ve been known to change my mind from time to time.

Until next time,

Jennifer

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

19 Days . . .

You know what that means. Nineteen days until Christmas. That means fewer than 19 days of crafting left before those gifts must be given. Maybe even fewer if your family gathers on days other than the actual holiday. Get those sewing machines and knitting needles working people!

So, what are you working on for the holidays? Or are you like me and still in the deciding phase? Yes, I actually ordered a pillow pattern (A18937) last week that I intend to make for a Christmas gift. It’ll be quick. Promise. I can get this done, right?Personalized Pillow Pattern

I also, of course, have several projects half started, or maybe half finished, or.. maybe I’ll call them almost done. Yeah. That’s what they are. I have a cross stitch for my father-in-law in the “drawn pattern” phase. Then there’s the table runner (for an un-named person who has been known to read this blog!) in the “almost done quilting” phase. Of course there are others. Good grief, I’m going to need a week to get all of this done!

Are you in need of some ideas for last minute hand crafted gifts? Check out our sale Cross Stitch Kits; they include everything you need for quick and easy stitched gift giving! And don’t miss the Mill Hill Ornament Kits. They make great hostess gifts!

Or, are you already finished with your holiday gifts for this year? You know who you are. You started making gifts for this season on January 1st. So, if you want to plan ahead for next year, ugh, be sure to take a look at our sale fabrics. There are lots of reds and greens that would look great in a Log Cabin Quilt for next Christmas! Please, please, somebody buy the Very Merry Quilt Pattern (A13042) so I’m not tempted every time I see it on the web site. You KNOW I don’t have time to get it done for this Christmas. And you KNOW I’ll try. 

So? What are you working on? I really want to know. If you can get your projects done then there’s hope for me yet. Be sure to check our Facebook page where we post photos of quilts and other projects people bring into the store to share. We’ve seen a few Christmas presents come through already. Hopefully, I’ll bring in a few to share in the next couple of weeks.

And whether we get our projects finished or they become gifts for next year or a birthday, here’s hoping you all have beautiful holidays with your friends and family!

Jennifer

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

(To find an item or event on our web site after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F. Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

Welcome to Our Blog!

Hello there!!! We would like to welcome you to our blog!!! First, let’s tell you a little bit about ourselves. Erica is a real person, and she is involved in all aspects of the store. Erica’s Craft & Sewing Center is a family owned and operated small business located in South Bend, Indiana. We carry a wide variety of items including beautiful cotton quilting fabrics, luscious yarns, craft kits for children, gorgeous beads and findings, more patterns than anyone could ever dream of completing, and a multitude of self help crafting and sewing videos and tutuorials.

We have a website, which you can access to view and order anything we carry in the store. We can also try to special order items that you don’t see on our website. If it is available, we do our best to order it for you! We pride ourselves on doing our best to give everyone the best customer service around, and fair shipping rates, too. We don’t like to pay high shipping rates either, so we charge actual shipping costs plus a $1.00 handling fee, no matter what the size or destination of the order.

If you are a local customer, you can stop in to see our extensive selection of sewing and quilting machines. We carry sewing machines, embroidery machines, sergers and quilting frames and we’re authorized dealers/representatives for Husqvarna Viking, Bernina, and HandiQuilter and we’d love to show you the fantastic things these machines can do.