DIY Sock Blockers

Last weekend I went to purchase sock blockers but the shop didn’t have any stock of the size I needed, turns out sock blockers were popular that day as they sold out of the size I needed that morning. The shop assistant suggested perhaps I could make my own so I went online and found a free template. Maryann who made the template also has a tutorial on her blog that goes along with it but I didn’t follow the tutorial. I have made so many sewing patterns I was confident I could make the sock blockers myself with just the template.

As I was doing a clean up of my house I found some template plastic in my stash that you normally use to make template pieces for quilting and decided to use that to make my blockers. I just traced out the template twice to create a pair of blockers. In the comments on Maryann’s blog post about this others have also suggested beside the cardboard Maryann has used that you could make them from foam, old placemats or plastic tiles.

The size of the template is for a ladies small sock. I wanted medium sock blockers so I added about half an inch around the template as I traced it out. They are a bit short so I should have added more to the length if I want to use them for calf length socks but for ankle socks they will be fine.

I tried them out in a pair of socks that I wanted to photograph. Now I will be honest I won’t be using these for blocking but for photographing socks so that I can show them here on the blog. They will work if you wanted to use them for blocking but I have never actually blocked socks before. I am still going to buy a medium set of sock blockers when I can and actually use them to block a sock to see if it makes a difference but for the mean time these will do just fine. These didn’t cost me anything and took about 15 mins to make plus I decluttered some template plastic from my stash.

Cassiy

Sock Ruler

I first saw the Sock Ruler about 18 months ago on the Grocery Girls podcast and thought if I really get into sock knitting it is a tool I’m going to get. I looked at buying it from overseas, the ruler itself wasn’t too expensive but the postage to Australia was a killer with the costs working out to be way more than the ruler. Luckily I found a local shop Kathys Fibres in Australia that sold it so I was able to get it from there – I may of also picked up a skein of yarn when I was there….

So what is a Sock Ruler? It is a rigid piece of plastic that is a measuring guide or as the name suggests a ruler that you can use when knitting socks to see how long each section is. Pretty simple when you think about it but really handy and useful as measuring socks can be a little tricky, it has a rounded tip so you can place it inside the sock to get an accurate measurement. It has both inches and centermetres marked on it so it caters for imperial and metric measurements – I always use inches when I measure things

At the moment I knit my socks cuff down. This is perfect for measuring how long the cuff and leg section is. You place the rounded tip inside the cuff section then flatten your knitting down the ruler to see how long it is. If you were to knit toe up socks you would place the rounded tip inside the toes and measure the foot section from there. For cuff down this is brilliant as I can measure how long the leg section is before starting my heel section.

Again on cuff down socks once you finish the gusset section you can measure to see how long the sock is before beginning the toe decreases. You fold your sock over and place the rounded tip snug into the heel turn to measure the foot length, on toe up socks you would place the tip in the same area but this time measure how long to make the leg section before beginning the cuff. I knit magic loop and my knitting tends to roll a bit when I try to measure it but by placing it on the ruler I can get it to sit flat and accurately see the length.

I have found that I’m not only using this on socks, it is a handy ruler to measure small items like the width of cowls. I’m so glad that I purchased this tool for my knitting. If you like sock knitting I urge you to go check this out, there are other sock rulers on the market but I really like the rounded tip that this one has.

Cassiy

 

ChiaGoo Stitch Markers

Not everyone gets excited over stitch markers but I do. Before I visit a yarn shop I check out their online shop if they have one and make myself a shopping list. On my recent trip to Skein Sisters stitch markers were on my shopping list and I picked up these ChiaGoo ones. It was only when I got these home I realized how great they are.

The set has 5 different size stitch markers and you get 10 of each so a total of 50 markers. They range in sizes from 5mm – 15mm. Each size is a different colour so you can easily pick the size that you need from the pack which I found really useful. Price point wise they were fairly inexpensive at just over $6 which I think the amount you are getting is good value. The only draw back is that they are a fixed ring so they are only suitable for knitting projects and not crochet as you can’t undo them.

I used them to knit my socks. The different colours came in really handy as I used the colours as a code or reference point to the part of the sock I was knitting. When doing the gusset of the sock I knew that between the yellow markers was the decorative pattern I was following, the green markers were where I needed to do my decreases and the pink was the start of my row. Had I used the same colour marker throughout the entire sock I would have gotten very confused. Having 10 of each colour meant I was able to put markers in on both socks at the same time. It didn’t matter which socked I picked up the colour coding was the same. I was using 4mm needles and the 5mm just fitted. The colour I didn’t use was the blue.

These would be a great addition to your yarn notions stash.

Cassiy

Tube Turning – Nappy Pin Method

I have to confess one sewing task I really don’t like doing is turning tubes out the right way. I’m currently in the process of making 6 butterfly wings for Christmas gifts so that equals 12 tubes that need turning out so I can place elastic in them. In the past I have tried various ways of turning out tubes. I have those fancy tube turners, I have used hemostats, I have even tried sewing ribbon in the tube and turning them out that way. I haven’t really been happy with any of these methods. This morning when I sat down to work on my wings I thought I am going to use a Nappy pin. Bingo!

I pinned the nappy pin on one side of the fabric end and then threaded it through the tube. I had to initially push it a bit to get the fabric turning inside out but that happens with all methods you use. Once the fabric was turning I was easily able to move the pin though the to the other end rolling the tube the right way out.

The tubes still need ironing but any method you choose you will need to do that. This method was so quick that I decided to all 12 tubes at once. I had no stress on my hands. The nappy pin was easy to grip and push through. It took about a minute to do each tube and there was so no struggling.

I keep a couple of nappy pins next to my sewing machine. They are perfect for threading through elastic and I will use them on these wings when I get to that stage. Nappy pins are going to be my go tube turners from now as it was so easy to do. My tubes were about 1″ wide but you could use them on a narrower tube too. If your tubes were even smaller than that a regular safety pin would also work, I wouldn’t pick the flimsy gold coloured pins but a medium silver coloured pin.

Don’t you love it when you find a sewing trick that just makes your sewing world a lot easier.

Cassiy

Clover Row Clickers

Clover row clickers are a tool I have been using for a number of years whilst doing my knitting and crochet. By the click of a finger they allow you to keep track of rows. You can either choose to click them at the start of a row eg Before you start row 1 click it once so if you put your work down you can easily see your doing row 1 or you can click them once you finish a row so if your clicker says 5 you know you are up to row 6. I click at the end of a row. You can click up to 99 rows before it automatically goes back to 00. To reset it at any time you just turn the little white dials on the side next to the numbers.

Up until this week I have only ever owned the red ones. I have 3 if not 4 of them now. If you have multiple projects on the go you need multiple clickers. They measure around 3″ x 1.5″ They are very light weight so you can have them placed on your lap or carry them in a project bag. The downside is that if you accidentally bump them and not realise your row count can be off. If you see it happen you can twist the dials until it is at the correct count but if you don’t realise your row count will be incorrect which is what has happened on my Bubble Bum blanket I’m working on. Instead of having 10 rows in one colour band I have 8, my clicker dropped off the lounge and must have gone up a row and in mind I know the even numbers are on one end of the blanket and the odd numbers are on the other end so I must have thought I never pressed the clicker because my ends didn’t match my row counter so I have given it an extra press and I ended up being 2 rows short.

I needed to purchase another couple of clickers but the shop only had one of the red in stock so I ordered a green one for the first time. I always thought this was one meant to look like a frog but it isn’t. The green ones are a mini clicker. They are about same width (1.5″) but are only about 2″ long. These are designed for you to be able thread cord through the bottom of them and hang them on something so you can take them out and about. You can hang them around your neck or to the side of your project bag. When I got hold of this one I realised it has a special locking feature. By moving a lever you can lock it so it doesn’t accidentally get pressed. This is great if you travel with your knitting or of if you have kids around who would be tempted to play with things or if your like me and prone to dropping things. You can unlock it to press it or use it when you have it on a table and when your done lock it or if think it will fall lock it between rows.

If you love your knitting or crochet these rows will be perfect for you tool kit. They are so handy.

Cassiy

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