January 27, 2010

The blog will be moving soon!

In the near future, I'll be moving my crafty blog to a new page - a fresh start where I'll be putting more of my daily life into my blog posts and letting you see some of the things that are part of my everyday. You'll see more pictures of life in Alaska as it relates to my crafting projects and I'll show you around my world a bit. Please change your bookmarks and be sure to follow me over on the new site at AlaskaGirl Crafts!

Thank you, and I'll see you over there soon!

January 6, 2010

Stitch Markers for Knitting

Here's how to make some very pretty stitch markers to use when you knit. If you're like me, you appreciate a little something extra to make your everyday activities a bit more special. These stitch markers are an easy way to put a smile in your crafting time!

But they're not *just* pretty - they're useful! They can be used to mark pattern repeats or to mark off groups of stitches on large projects to make counting stitches easier.

The easiest way of all to make stitch markers is to use jewelry toggle clasps (just the round part - we won't need the other half), pre-wired bead dangles, and a pair of needle-nosed pliers.

If you don't have jewelry toggles, you can use cabone rings. The disadvantages to using cabone rings is that you won't have the handy built-in loop to thread your bead wire through, and you won't be able to use the pre-wired dangles because the wire on them is cut too short to go around the cabone ring.

You can use head pins - my favorites are these with a decorative end - and some beads from your stash in place of the pre-wired dangles. You could also use strong sewing thread in place of the wire, sewing through the beads several times for strength. I've done it that way, too, but I prefer the wire.

If you're using the pre-wired beads, simply open the wire pin the beads are on, and thread it through the loop in the round part of the toggle. Close the wire using the pliers, making sure there is no sharp end to catch on your knitting. The packs of dangles I picked out had two styles of dangles on them, so I made two different sets. I can mix-and-match them or use them separately!

Not using the pre-made dangles? Thread your beads onto your wire head pins. Trim the excess wire, but be sure to leave enough to thread through the loop in the toggle (or to wrap around the cabone ring). Close the wire using the pliers, making sure there is no sharp end to catch on your knitting.

Notice there is one marker in this set that's bigger than the rest? That's for when I'm knitting a project on circular needles or double-pointeds. The larger marker marks the beginning of a new round, while the others mark the groups of stitches within the knitted piece itself.

New Gift Tags From Old Greeting Cards

Christmas is over, and the decorations are all down. The last thing to be taken off display for me are the Christmas cards from friends and family. Saving them takes up too much room, but it's such a shame to simply throw them away. That's why I like to use them to make gift tags to decorate my packages next year!

This is my all-time favorite paper punch. It's the large gift tag punch by Marvy Uchida. They make a couple different sizes, but I really like this big one. There are also different shapes of large punches (hearts, circles, etc) that you could use to make gift tags. Use the one you like best.

Once you've got your punch chosen, sort through your greeting cards and select some that have nice pictures without writing on the backside.

Separate the back of the card from the front. Trim the card if necessary to get your chosen image to fit into the punch properly. Check by looking through the window in the back of the punch to see if you like how it's positioned, and if so, punch it out. Use a regular hole punch (the kind you would use to punch papers to fit in a 3-ring binder) to make a hole for string or ribbon to go through.

Now you have a new assortment of gift tags for next year! You didn't waste your cards, and you've saved yourself money by not having to buy gift tags later.

Don't forget to check the sentiments INSIDE the cards, too. Those make lovely gift tags as well.

I make gift tags from all-occasion cards throughout the year. Recycle your used greeting cards, too, for a quick and fun way to save that pretty artwork from the trash pile!