Clover Amour Crochet Hooks

At the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair I spoilt myself and invested in a set of Clover Amour Crochet Hooks.

The clover hooks have a rubber grip and have are a slightly different shape handle to a regular hook. They are designed to be easier on the hand. I purchased one hook a few months ago to try and it was brilliant so I invested in the set. I purchased mine from a shop at the show (sorry I can’t remember which one) Whilst I was looking at them someone told me you can get them cheaper online which may be true but by the time you factor in postage online shopping is not always the cheapest. Also by purchasing them in shop you have them in your possession right then you don’t have to wait for them to arrive in the mail.

I used the 3mm to make my Virus shawl and it was heaven. I spent nearly 2 weeks crocheting every chance I could yet my hands and fingers never got sore like they would using regular hooks. I have never used such a small hook either but I have no trouble. I did have a minor panic one day when I was travelling on a ferry that I would drop it on the ground and it roll over the side through a gap into the harbour!

I will be honest and say yes the clover hooks cost a little more than regular hooks but if you are doing a lot of crochet they are worth investing in. You can buy them individually or in sets. Mine are a set of 9 (one was missed from the photo) The biggest size is a 6mm so at some point I will look at getting the larger sizes. Most likely I will keep onto my set of metal hooks that are in a carry case for easy light projects like dishcloths on the go but I will give away all the other random hooks I have.

Cassiy

Yarn Swift

At the Sydney craft show last month I picked up a yarn swift. If you are not familiar with the term a yarn swift is a nifty little device that holds a stretched out skein of yarn allowing you to wind it into a ball or yarn cake. They come in a plastic or wood version. Since I brought a lot of un balled skeins of yarn for me I decided to invest in a yarn swift when I saw a shop selling them at the show.

I set it up for the first time watching youtube how to do it. It clamps on the side of a table and spins around when you pull the yarn, if you have ever heard of an Aussie clothes line “the hills hoist” it is a bit like that. I placed my yarn on my swift, cut the knot tying the yarn ends together and threaded it onto my electronic ball winder. Now I am not too sure if there is a rule as to which way you need to yarn swift to spin (I had it going anti clockwise) but I will be honest my first attempt at balling the yarn didn’t run so smoothly as I hoped. My yarn kept getting caught and I had to help move the yarn swift around. I’m not sure if I didn’t have the arms of the yarn swift open wide enough (you can adjust it as to how wide it is) or if it was my ball winder giving issues as it hates too much tension on the yarn. Towards the end I noticed the cut end was starting to wrap around the base of the yarn swift too. It was only the last few rounds that the yarn swift spun independently.

The first time you do something is always awkward. My first attempt wasn’t a total disaster, my yarn never fell off the swift and I wasn’t left with a completed birds nest of a mess I just had to help turn the swift which is very easy. In the end I was able to wind up my first skein of this beautiful Wren & Ollie yarn.

A little later that same day I still had the swift set up so I decided to wind up the second skein of yarn I had. This time I adjusted the position of my ball winder a little, I tried it in several spots around the table. It has a small slot that you secure the yarn for tension so I was trying to find which was the best spot to place it in relation to where the yarn was coming off the swift. In the end I don’t think it made much difference. I decided to have the swift going clockwise this time and pushed open the arms wider, this I think did make a difference. I did still have to help it along but not nearly as much, it was more just a flick to get it spinning every minute or so which seems a lot but not as much as my first attempt. It also began spinning independently earlier than on my first attempt too and the yarn tail never got caught as I threaded it up through one of the arms. I stood there and became mesmerised watching the pretty blue yarn spin around!

I now have 2 gorgeous balls of yarn that I have started to use. I’m proud of myself that I pulled this swift out straight away and tried it out, I have a habit of getting a new craft gadget and because I don’t know how to use it properly it sits there gathering dust and eventually most times I end up giving it away.  With more practice I will get better using the swift, I just have to remember to extend the arms of it as much as I can. The ball winder was also the issue I think too, it can be temperamental when different tension is placed on the yarn or it there is just the slightest snag. When I first brought my winder (on sale) I wasn’t sure how much I would use it but once I finally pulled it out of the box I have started to use it a bit some maybe I might need to invest in a better one.

Cassiy  

 

Finishing Needles

Finishing needles are something I saw in a Facebook crochet or knitting group earlier this year and I am so glad that I found these little gems.

They are a set of plastic needles that come in various sizes for use on different weight yarns. Instead of having a little eye like regular needles  they have a large eye or gap that extends down the length of the needle that you separate slightly to place your yarn though. I can easily place my thumb into the gap so you can see how easy they would be to thread your yarn into. No more yarn splitting as you try to feed it through the tiny needle eye.

They have double pointed ends allowing you to use them in any direction to weave in your end tails to finish your work. When I first saw these I thought they would be useful to join the squares of my sunny log cabin blanket together because you would use a needle to do the whip stitch with.  These were brilliant and I think one of the reasons why the blanket came together so fast including weaving all the end tails in. They work just like a regular sewing needle except easier to thread. I have used these on range of different yarns and they are great. I got mine from Crochet Australia but you can get them from various places online. I can highly recommend these. Some gadgets you won’t use a lot but these you will.

Cassiy 

 

That Purple Thang

That purple thang is essentially a 6″ long piece of fabric with one slightly curved tapered end and ¼” marking guide on the other end. There is a slot you can place elastic through so you can thread elastic casings. The tapered end you can use to poke out corners, steady fabric near the needle of your sewing machine, hook or move threads on your sewing machine. A quick YouTube search will show you the different ways to use it.

I purchased mine at the Stitch craft show earlier this year after seeing it previously online. This morning was the first time I have tried it out. I am in the process of making a toy with small legs and tiny toes. This can be a difficult job. Once I turned out my legs I used the purple thang to get into the tiny points of the toes. It worked great. The tip is blunt which means your less likely to push it straight through the fabric which sometimes happens using other methods to push out the points. It really got into the small areas. The curve on it came in handy pushing out the light curve on the back of the leg, again sometimes it is hard to turn curves nicely. I used it as a stuff tool too to get the stuffing into the small areas. I discovered the ¼” tab was also good for pushing larger pieces. Without doubt I will be using this little tool again when pushing out points and stuff items, these are my best toes ever. It really made the job much easier. This isn’t an essential item to have in your sewing kit but if you are able to get hold of one I’m sure you will use it.

Cassiy

Press Perfect aka Hot Hemmer

I do love a tool or gadget and I seem to collect a lot of them.

The Press Perfect aka Hot Hemmer is a tool I ordered online a few months ago and tried out earlier this week whilst working on a top. So what is it? Basically it is a thin rigid card that has seam allowances marked on it which you place on your fabric at the hemline and you iron your hem directly over it. On the packaging are instructions for ironing curves and mitred corners too. The Clover website has a great clip also demonstrating how to use the tool too. It is made out of nylon and feels like stiff felt, it doesn’t get any hotter than your fabric so you don’t burn yourself when you move it along the hemline each time.

I am usually the laziest hemmer, I don’t mark out seam allowances exactly I tend to just eyeball them. I tried it out on some knit fabric and it was brilliant. For my shorter seams such as this one I didn’t need to pin it once I had ironed it, the ironing was enough to hold it in place. To hem the bottom of the completed top once I had used this tool to iron the hem I hand tacked the hem using really long stitches, you didn’t need much to hold it as the ironing really kept it in place but the tacking was just extra security without using pins.

This is a tool I’m glad I brought and now that I have tried it out I will be using it on all my hems now. If you do have the opportunity to get your hands on one I can recommend that you do. I just Googled quickly and it was for sale on lots of sites, I got mine from Zebra Fabrics but they are out of stock at the moment.

Cassiy

Mini Pinking Shears

I didn’t know you could get pinking shears in a smaller size until I asked at my local quilt shop a few months ago and they just happened to have some come in.

The pair I got measure a total length of 7″ which is 2″ smaller than my original pair which measure at 9″ The cutting blade is smaller on these with a 3″ blade before the pivot, my older ones blade is closer to 4″ I haven’t weighed the two pairs but I can tell by just holding them these are also lighter. I got them a few months ago but this morning was the first time I tried them out.

I’m in the process of making a toy which has a lot of curves in it. On some the pieces I would have traditionally had to snip the curved seams with a small pair of scissors so that the pieces would sit nicely when turned right side out. Using these pinking shears I was about to cut away some of the seam allowance and create notches around the curve so when turned out it sat nicely. It was wonderful to get such even notches around the seam and there was less mess, in the past I have been known to be covered in tiny threads when snipping curves.

I’m calling these mini shears even though the difference is only 2″ to my regular ones. They feel more compact than my regular ones. In the past I have never cut around toy pieces with my larger sheers in case I cut too far and snipped the seam but with these smaller ones I can. If you come across different size pinking shears I think they would be a good investment for your sewing stash. Now that I know how well these work I will be using them again on toys and other curvy seams.

Cassiy

Seam Allowance Guide

seam-allowance-guide

I discovered the Seam Allowance Guide via the Australian Sewing Guild, it is a little tool that contains a magnet that you attach to the sides of your scissors to help you cut accurate seam allowances. It is particularly good if you need to add seam allowance to a pre-purchased pattern or when you are making up your own pattern and want to add seam allowance. In your order you get 2 of the tools so that you can use it both on scissors with a flat side blade and also on scissors that have a slope or an angle on the side of the blade and they can be used on both left handed and right handed scissors. I decided to order the tools and try them out.

seam-allowance-guide-right-hand

I was making up my own softie pattern so decided I wanted a 1/2″ seam allowance. I set up the tool on my scissors (they have a slope) and then realised something… The way they instructions tell you to cut if you are right handed isn’t the way I cut even though I am right handed. This is the confusing part, using my right hand I cut as if I was left handed. I hold the scissors in my right hand but normally I have them so the pattern piece is on my left hand side and cut in an anticlockwise direction. The instructions in this tell you that if you are right handed your should be cutting in a clockwise motion with the pattern piece on your right. I did try it but it felt really foreign and it wasn’t comfortable. Using right handed scissors I couldn’t adjust the tool to cut like I normally would as you need to place this it on the top blade.

seam-allowance-guide-right-hand-cut-piece

I persisted and cut out the entire piece and it didn’t turn out too bad but it isn’t the best cutting I have ever done. I must stress this had nothing to do with the tool it was the fact I felt like I was cutting backwards. Had I had the tool on the other side of the scissors and cut in the direction I normally would I know I would’ve been more accurate. Trying the tool out was an interesting exercise as I had no clue about my cutting style I just cut like I always did. I am now going to try and get hold of a pair of left handed scissors and try using them in my right hand to see how they feel cutting out the way I do. I think the tool would be a fantastic little tool once I get a pair of scissors that I can attach them too.

Cassiy