Aisles at Norma Takahashi’s 100-year-old family shop of Hawaiian wonders brim with macadamia nut cookies, sweet-and-spicy scallop jerky, and waterfalls running down bottles of passion fruit ale. In a town of ramen wars, sushi masters, hand-pulled noodles, and 2-hour lines for boba, Asian comfort food is my town’s vocabulary. Takahashi Market specializes in spicy bacon SPAM musubi: a warm, steaming pile of sticky white rice surrounding sauteed SPAM and bacon umami bombs and spicy aioli all bundled up in briny nori seaweed to handily pop in your mouth. Swoon! What a delicious inspiration for a new crochet pattern: the SPAM Musubi Pillow. (more…)
I have a plan
Two questions crossed my path and stumped me recently: What are your creative goals for 2013? If you could make something for anyone in the world, what would it be? The easy answer is that The Dapper Toad and I are transitioning our focus from making handmade items–which are difficult to profit from–to designing them, allowing us to create anything we can imagine. However, these questions made me realize I wasn’t dreaming big enough: given the opportunity to design anything, what would it be? (more…)
Recycled bottles turned into handmade functional fashion
Are you tired of choosing between functionality and fashion? Do you wish your iPad and MacBook matched your crochet TOMS? Never fear, Knits for Life is here. An eco-friendly, hand-crocheted iPad or MacBook sleeve is a smart investment that will cuddle your device ’til it’s obsolete. (more…)
Who was your ten-year-old crush?
Somewhere around 1987 I knotted Corey Haim a black and purple friendship bracelet, then checked Bop magazine monthly to see if it pictured him wearing it. Imagine my sorrow twenty years later watching The Two Coreys on A&E! Friendship bracelets definitely outlived poor Corey: today Instagram has about 50,000 pics tagged #friendshipbracelet. But the good news is you don’t have to be ten years old to wear them anymore. And you certainly don’t have to hover over a safety pin stuck through your favorite leggings to stitch one up for everyone in your best friend tier. (more…)
I have a confession to make
I don’t go to local yarn shops because they bore me. Gasp! *Shields head from crockery sailing out of the interwebs towards me* Phewf! That was a close one. If you’re still listening because you kind of agree, raise your hand! See, I knew we were buddies. You guys are the ones I’m looking at as I announce my new crochet pattern. DOO-do-do-DOO! (more…)
Calling all silly people!
If you’ve never yarn bombed before, this is a perfect way to start! And if you’re a pro, it’s a great chance do something epic because we have permission to yarn bomb almost anything! When the local Public Works department saw an article about my pay phone yarn bomb, they invited me to help beautify the city on clean up day with more yarn bombs. Now I’m inviting you to yarn bomb with me, either in person or by mail. (more…)
These are chunky stirrup leg warmers for adults. A friend wanted to gift a custom pair to her athletic employee, and the result is stylish but still perfect for yoga class. It made me sad to think this custom pattern wouldn’t see the light of day again, so here it is for you to enjoy! You can make them a long or short as you like, and with or without the stirrup. I’d love to see your work, so tag your Instagram pics with #knitsforlife or tweet them to me @knitsforlife
Update: Check out our new even bigger peg board yarn wall here.
Your yarn storage is a mess because of this conflict:
Yarn companies want you to buy the yarn. You want to use the yarn. The ideal ball of yarn for each goal is different. You will buy a ball of yarn that is soft, squishy, and that looks big for the price. Plus, small-batch hank producers want to invest in less equipment and reduce labor. But, when it comes to using the yarn, you need to find the end, create good tension, and–let’s face it–store it with the ungodly amount of yarn they’ve already suckered you into taking home. You want to use a ball of yarn that has a conspicuous end hanging out of the middle of a compact center-pull ball.
So, while you’d love to be like Vanna White and have a pretty pedestal bowl for your five skeins of yarn, well… seriously? Do you KNOW how much YARN I have, Vanna? Do you KNOW how fast MY cat (who isn’t a designer Bengal cat, but a fluffy rescue cat that’s way cuter than yours!) would POUNCE on that bowl of yours, DESTROYING those pretty skeins?
Yeah, thanks, Vanna, but no. I don’t even know where you’d get a fancy pedestal bowl like that.
Right now you’re using drawers, baskets, and zip-lock bags. All good ideas, but kind of a pain in the ass to access, and starting to fill every crevice you can find. Plus, they’re missing one big thing. If you have a yarn problem, you probably love gorgeous things. Why keep your best treasures in the dark?
The result: you need to upgrade your yarn storage solution.
But you’re in luck! Google “yarn storage” and take your pick from over 21 million ideas. Uh… OK, you have standards. Let’s refine that and Google “yarn organization”. Good, now you just have 13 million options. Sigh.
OK let’s look at Pinterest. That’s the better way to look for things like this anyway. (type type type, enter). Woah, that looks awesome! Oh my god, I like that one. Ooooo, so pretty. What else is on that board? OMG I have to repin that now. Squee! Oreos baked inside chocolate chip cookies!? Genius! I’m craving cupcakes now. Isn’t it perfect weather for baking? Oh shit, my cat is eating my yarn!
Oh, internet, you’re as mischievously useful as Aladdin’s Genie, aren’t you?
Try another angle. Jill at The Dapper Toad made a list of her needs: “For me, the ideal yarn storage solution has 3 qualities. It must be: easily accessible, out of the way, and nicely displayed. There are countless ways to store yarn that meets 1 or 2 of these ideals, but never all three! It’s the elusive yarn lover’s trifecta!”
She took a page from makers (those people us crafters date and marry), for storage ideas. Yarn, hooks, and needles are our materials and tools. How do makers store materials and tools?
Now that’s crafty! Jill even put the peg board behind the door, turning and unused space into a useful one.
Sold! I’m always rearranging my apartment. I have this little nook that wasn’t working as an office, but would work perfectly as a yarn studio. Plus, think of all that closet space I’d get back! I rearranged (again) and enlisted Jill for help. Let me show you what we did.
What you need to make a peg board yarn storage wall
Back to our initial conflict. You have lots of skeins and hanks that are hard to work with and bulky to store. The first thing you need is like a little eight pound six ounce baby Jesus: a yarn winder. This one is a good balance of quality and price.
Winding is fast, easy, and fun! I recommend holding the strand as you wind to give it some tension. It will wind better and create a more compact ball. Winding alone reduced my yarn storage by a third: from 15 ANTONIUS IKEA drawers to just 10!
Peg board and hooks are cheap and sold at most hardware stores. Boards come in 2×4-foot sections: combine or tailor cut them to your space. For each board, be sure to pick up a set of the spacers and screws that hold the peg board away from the wall a little, where the hooks poke through and anchor. They’re usually with the hooks, not the boards. Hooks come in all shapes and sizes: I recommend two- and four-inch straight hooks. Check the combo packs to get the best deal.
Once you screw in your wall and wind your yarn, the fun part starts! I spent hours meticulously color-matching my enormous stash. It was interesting to discover what colors I have and wonder whether that means I don’t use them or like to buy them.
So many peg board attachments exist, that you’ll start rethinking all your storage systems. I created rails by laying dowels across peg board hooks and hung some IKEA storage cups from them. I also hung some IKEA cloth baskets. You can even lay your long knitting needles across peg board hooks.
Installing my yarn wall only took an afternoon and was super gratifying. I can’t stop taking pictures with it. Knitting and crocheting in my little nook is so invigorating now. Everything is instantly accessible and a cinch to put away. When people come over they’re in awe. Personally, I’m in awe of all my empty closet space!
What yarn storage ideas do you currently use? I’d love to see and swap ideas! Tag your Instagram pics with #knitsforlife to show me or tweet them to me @knitsforlife.
All this knitting and crocheting in my new studio nook has been productive. Coming up I’m posting a free leg warmer pattern for those of you still weathering out the cold, and for the lucky ones enjoying spring, a geometric crochet bracelet photo tutorial (in neon colors!) using embroidery floss. Catch them by adding me to your Feedly or Bloglovin’ RSS feed, or following me on Facebook.
Until next time!
All image sources above are linked to the image.
This week I modeled The Dapper Toad’s handiwork, based on Howie Woo’s Anti-Facial Recognition system. What fun we had lolling around Downtown! Jill at The Dapper Toad made them for the kids at summer camp, where she teaches knitting and crochet. I think it it would be a blast to make a stop-motion video with it. What story line would you like to see in crochet?
So much has been happening lately that I’m excited to tell you about!
The people at Purl City Yarns in the Northern Quarter were absolutely lovely and had some nice English heritage yarns.
The clerk was wearing Berroco’s Beatnik sweater, which is now on my knitting list!
Next up was the city of lights, Paris–on Valentine’s Day, no less. Did you know about the growing trend to click a padlock onto the Pont des Arts? The bridges overflow with lovers’ tokens.
Of course I had to leave one in yarnbomb style–on Valentine’s Day evening with sparklers while the Eiffel Tower twinkled on the hour. Très romantique! (Obviously photography was not my focus at such a moment.)
Upon my reluctant return, I finished my iPhone yarnbomb and made the front page of my local paper! My sister over at The Dapper Toad made some wonderful photographs.
I realized I’ve never seen a yarnbomb in my city. Have you? Since I see them every day in The Yarnbomb Daily I forget how rare they are.
In Manchester I discovered a stellar string artist so tried my hand at it in my local park. I’m planning to do a big one on my wall next.
Guests are the only way my house gets clean, and this month I had two. Yarn organization plan, activate! I went from a pretty good storage plan to an amazing one! Grab a yarn winder and some pegboard and DIYODS (do it your own damn self). You can even knit or crochet from the skeins on the wall. I call it knitting like a boss.
All play and no work makes… well, no money! I wrapped up two unique custom projects that turned out just swimmingly: a fangirl hat based on the cheetah movie Duma and a replica of a vintage Christmas stocking. The stocking pattern dates all the way back to 1935. How cool to help keep a family tradition alive–and they want 4 more!
And speaking of products, chain scarves and lacey laptop sleeves are getting popular lately. I’m designing new products for spring, but it seems these will stay alive–in popping, new colors.
Phew, what a year so far!