March 22, 2013

Knitting: Casting On

 Knitting can be a little intimidating when you are getting started. I remember the first time I tried to knit during college. My friend's very muscular boyfriend (now husband) sat down next to me and showed me how it's done. Let's just say I was humbled. He made it look so easy.Still, I couldn't get my hands to do it. A couple years later, I gave it another try.

  To get started in the world of knitting, all I did was practice casting on. Over and over until I felt comfortable holding the yarn and remembering the how to. If you are just learning, I hope this first step is helpful. It really is as simple as Ed made it look. Today, all we will do is practice casting on. You can do it! Grab your yarn and needles, get cozy on the couch, and let's get started.

 First, pull a tail of yarn from your ball long enough for the number of stitches you need for your pattern. For instance, if you need 24 stitches for, say, a scarf, pull a string of yarn that is approximately 24 inches long.

 Begin with a slip knot. To form a slip knot, make a loop of yarn. Hold the tail between your left thumb and index finger, and the yarn from the ball in your right. Make a loop by crossing the yarn from your right fingers over the yarn in your left.

 Take the yarn now hanging in the front from the ball end, and pull it through the loop from behind. Pull the tail end to tighten.

 Insert your needle into the loop, and pull to tighten. Make sure it is tight, but not too tight or it will be difficult to work with later. Trust me on that one.

 Now you have two threads hanging from your needle, the tail end near you and the ball end from behind the needle. To make your next cast on stitch, put the string in front of your needle over your left thumb. Put the string from the ball end over your index finger so that you have formed sort of a triangle. It should have more tension than the photo below to form the triangle, but I had a hard time holding the camera and the yarn at the same time.

 Almost there! Insert the needle behind the yarn on your thumb.

 Then insert the needle over the string hanging in front of your index finger. 

Pull the needle under and through the loop still hanging on your thumb. Let the loop now fall off your thumb and pull the yarn to tighten the stitch onto the needle.  

 And congratulations! You have successfully cast on. Just continue to cast on the number of stitches determined by your pattern. Check back here to learn how to make a basic knit stitch.  Happy Spring!

March 7, 2013

Sunshine and Sewing

 We've been shifting gears around here lately. I haven't been sewing nearly as much with paint colors to choose, built-in shelves to design, a bathroom plan in the works, and a kitchen to finish up. But my all time favorite project to spend time on is planning my garden. Plans for this spring include finishing the tree house, putting together our hand-me-down wooden play set, and planting flowers and vegetables (and plenty of them.) I'm no artist, but I sketched out what I want to plant where.

The front garden beds, which are mostly shady, will have hydrangeas and hostas, with lavendar that was already here and thriving when we moved in. My neighbor gave me hostas last year, which I am hoping will come back, and I planted the limelight hydrangea tree last summer, along with several hydrangea bushes. The tulips are popping up already, and I have plans to add some zinnias and peonies to the mix. I'm still trying to figure out what to plant for fall, but I can fill in empty spaces later. 

In our back yard, which sees lots of sun, I have lilacs, shasta daisies, zinnias, and salvia. I'll add more this summer, including catmint and allium if it thrives here.  And somewhere in the yard I want to plant dahlias. Since it's still early in the year, I should probably focus on inside cleaning before the baby comes. But flowers are so much more fun and pretty. We have two months left until the baby comes, so I need to get nesting.