Learn how to knit for beginners

Learning to knit is easy

I want to start off by saying that it’s not hard to learn how to knit for beginners! Really it’s not. All you need in my humble opinion are these things:

  • internet connection
  • good phone/tablet/laptop to watch videos
  • where to go to watch/download videos
  • time to learn (this includes patience!)

For me, these are the starting points. Of course I left out knitting needles and yarn because that goes without saying.

Three essential stitches to master

Okay so, to learn how to knit you firstly must learn how to do these three things:

  • Cast on / off
  • knit stitch
  • purl stitch

That’s it! Simple as that. So how do you learn to do these? Easy, you watch videos that show just how to do them. Videos are not the only way to learn knitting of course but I found that I pick up quicker when I watch a good video tutorial. Knitting is a very hands-on physical thing so unless you have a family member who knows how to knit and is willing to teach you, or a local knitting class or group that you can go to, I would suggest resorting to watching videos online.

The Best Videos Inspire Knitting!

Now, a note on videos: there are MANY videos online to help you learn the above. If you do a simple google or YouTube search you will confirm this.

I myself am no expert at knitting but what I can do is share with you which videos and people online I found to be really helpful when I first started to learn how to knit.

I went through MANY videos on beginner knitting by knitters all around the web. But here is a list of who I liked and learned from the best. (By the way, this list is just based on my experience and preferences. You will no doubt have your own list. It is only intended as a guide to help you get started.)

Top 5 Video Tutorials/Lessons By…

1. Kristen from GoodKnitKisses.com

Here is why I like the videos by Kristen:

  • angle at which she captures her knitting: the camera is positioned from the viewpoint of we the viewers, making it very easy to follow. You can remember the steps easily
  • use of big needles and yarn as well. This allows people to see clearly the stitches being made but also generally to get used to the hand movements made during knitting
  • Narration is clear as the demos are being done. Plus she sounds very warm and friendly. Her voice puts you at ease and gives you confidence as you follow along. Oh, did I mention the lovely background music?

2. Studioknitsf.com by Kristen McDowell

 

This is a great website that has lessons on almost everything you need to learn when starting out. The video tutorials are easy to follow, structured well and done at a good pace to allow people to follow.

Again the camera captures the knitting upfront so you can easily follow and knit along as well.

3. howcast.com – tutorials done by Jessica Kaufman

I like her videos because they are clear, she explains well as she demonstrates. Again the angle of the camera is good and close up which allows you to easily follow. I also like the way the videos are structured.

4. newstitchaday.com

Again, the structure of videos is great. Also, the angle of camera. It just focuses on the knitting and makes it easy for you to follow through. The videos are accompanied by narration, which I prefer as opposed to videos with just words and demos.

5. knitpicks.com

I like knitpicks videos because the quality of the videos is great! The videos are accompanied by narration which is a must for me.

These videos are what worked for me as a beginner and helped me master the basics of doing a cast on off, a knit stitch, and a purl stitch.

I hope this has been helpful and that you will check out the above resources. And if you have come across some awesome resources that you feel should be given a shout out to and or added to the above, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Happy KnitStitching!

 

 

Are there any caron cakes yarn in Australia?

This is a question I have been asking too: are there any caron cakes yarn in Australia? Its like another similar question I had regarding knit picks yarn. Thankfully for knit picks yarn, there is a notice on their website that says they ship to Australia now (yay!).

Why was I so excited about that? It means I can order knit picks yarn through family or friends in Australia and get them to post it to me in PNG. That way I can save on shipping costs. Anyway that’s for another post but you see why I ask the same question regarding caron cakes yarn? 🙂

So the direct answer to the above question is:

No, I don’t believe they are physically sold in Australia. But can you order them online from Australia? You definitely can! Unfortunately, with the distribution arrangements that are in place, ordering online from resellers will cost you more than the regular price. So I guess from here on, you will have to decide whether you are willing to fork the extra money to get some of these lovely yarn for yourself in Australia.

Help offered here

If you are seriously thinking of buying some online, this post is going to shed some light on places that you could find caron cakes yarn online if you are in Australia (or anywhere else outside the US for that matter) based on some research that I did recently.

To be clear, the results I talk about below are results of where and how much you can get the yarn at resellers sites online.

Only one distributor

A quick note before I get into that: for those of you who were not aware, caron cakes yarn is manufactured in USA and as far as I understand it, this yarn is distributed by Michaels chain of stores in the USA and Canada. Michaels has exclusive rights of distribution. Meaning you can’t source the yarn from another source at the price they offer except at Michaels. I believe you also cannot order it online from outside the US because they don’t do international shipping.

For people like me who live outside of the US, this is not favourable! So what do we do? We go online to see if we could snatch some of this yarn up through reseller sites at reasonable prices.

Online Sellers

So to help you out here is my list of the places that sell these yarn and the corresponding prices at which it is sold.

  • Amazon – prices start from $8.50/ cake the last time I checked.
  • EBay – out of the sites that I came across, sites on eBay generally seemed to sell the yarn cheaper (that is, closer to its original retail price of $7.99/cake) than other sites. For example one site sold it at $8.25 excluding shipping of course. This is the lowest I’ve seen so far.
  • Etsy – higher unit prices here. For example, one store is selling the yarn for $9.99/cake (about AUD 13.80) excluding shipping. Whilst another store is selling the yarn at almost $17!
  • American yarns (americanyarns.com) – according to this online store, they are awaiting delivery of their caron cakes yarn which will be available in Australia as early as March 2017. They are based in Melbourne Australia so that’s hopefully good news for knitters/crafters in Melbourne. There is no indication as to how much it will be sold for per cake but hopefully it will be cheaper than what some of the other online stores are currently offering. You could pre-order your  Aron cakes from them and wait for March!
  • Yarnover (yarnover.com) – Again, no indication of price but the fact that it will be sold locally is probably a good thing! We’ll just wait and see.

But generally, I would say prices from online resellers range from $8.25 to $17.00 excluding shipping.

Current Sale at Michaels!

Did I mention that Michaels currently have this yarn on sale for $5.00/cake on their website (they should consider offering international shipping, seriously!). Or even better is Caron could open up distribution to other retailers.

The regular price is of this yarn at Michaels is $7.99 and they also offer regular sales for you to take advantage of as well as coupons. So if you are in US this is great news if you’ve been thinking of getting some.

Other Options To Consider

  • Of course, if you have family or friends living in the US, you could always arrange payment and delivery within US and then ask whoever is travelling to Australia to bring the yarn with them.OR..
  • You could try using an alternative yarn, something with similar characteristics to caron cakes. I can help you out with that as well. OR..
  • You could experiment by making one yourself if you are feeling creative and adventurous enough. I know there are a number of vidoes on YouTube that show how its done.

In Conclusion

I hope this post has helped you become more aware of your options of finding caron cakes yarn in Australia. I for one am looking forward to the day when caron cakes yarn can be shipped internationally straight from Michaels or any other approved distributor. In the meantime I will stick around for the announcement from either americanyarns.com or yarnover.com!

By the way, I know that there’s two opposing views held by knitters on whether or not caron cakes yarn is awesome. I am on neither side because I haven’t tried it myself. I would like to think its great rather than not because I’m sure all yarn has good AND bad attributes. Its just a matter of figuring out whether it has enough good points to work for you and your purposes.

If you have worked with this yarn and would like to share your experience with it, please leave a comment below. Also if you have any question on anything I have said in this post, leave a comment and I will be happy to help you out.

Happy Knit Stitching and Happy 2017!

Serah

Do you know where to buy yarn bowls?

where-to-buy-yarn-bowls-some-answersA necessary accessory: yarn bowl

I never seriously looked into where to buy yarn bowls until early this year simply because I did not think I needed one all that much. But after thinking hard about the way I stash my yarn (including works in progress), I decided to do some searching online. This post is my little take-away on yarn bowls in general and to give you some ideas on where you could find some really good ones for cheap and reasonable prices.

“But what is a yarn bowl?” a beginner might ask

what-is-a-yarn-bowl

Well simply put, its a special bowl for holding yarn. Most bowls have little groove-like openings at the side to allow for the yarn within the bowl to be pulled out continuously whilst knitting. Yarn bowls can also be knitted or crocheted as well. Preference depends on each individual knitter.

Whichever type that comes in, it is a nifty little accessory that I aim to get for myself one of these days!

Types of yarn bowls

where-to-buy-yarn-bowls-types
So yarn bowls are made of different materials. I’ve seen a lot of mainly ceramic and wooden ones on the market. Some are quite beautiful works of art. Some are even made of leather and glass! I do admire those who can actually make them.

There are do-it-yourself video tutorials as well on youtube if you would like to try your hand at making one and save some money in the process. Just go to YouTube.com and search for the “diy yarn bowls” then browse from there.

Unfortunately I can’t make one because I don’t have the time nor the tools (or the know-how). But it might be something I can convince my husband to do for me some time in the future.

The benefits of a yarn bowl


What do you get out of having a yarn bowl?

  • More organized: the yarn bowl helps you by keeping your yarn tucked away from your kids, pets, getting dirt on it by lying around the house without any proper storage place
  • A more decorative home! You could use the bowl as a display item, especially if it is a beautiful work of art handmade by an artist – would not hurt to get a few glowing comments about it from visitors to your home.
  • A temporary storage place for your “wip” (if your bowl is deep and wide enough) – more storage space is a good thing for knitters
  • An even tension in your knitting. This is dependent for some knitters on where they place the yarn bowl containing the yarn relative to where they are sitting to knit. For eg, if you are on the couch, placing the yarn bowl on the floor might negatively affect your tension. The result might be different if you place the yarn bowl on a table in front of you etc. The bottom line is that this could be a problem for some knitters which might be a disincentive to get a yarn bowl. But they say you never know until you try.
  • Portability: this depends on size. If the bowl is small, its portable. If its wide and deep, you won’t be able to take it with you wherever you go.
  • Encourages faster knitting: though I think other factors come into play as well here.

Some disadvantages to note

Some obvious disadvantages are:

  • Easily breakable if its made of glass and ceramics
  • Not portable if its large and deep
  • Expensive: this again depends on other factors like your intended uses for it, the type of material it is made out of, the process used to make it (factory-made or handmade).

About those places to check online?

Yes, well here are a few places that I have checked – not in any particular order. I just checked based on reviews and recommendations I read in various forums:

  • amazon.com
  • etsy.com
  • ebay.com
  • knitpicks.com

Price Ranges

Price of course varies with quality, design, type of material used and other less obvious factors. Here’s a basic comparison of the price ranges from each of the above places:

  • Amazon – the yarn bowls found here are generally priced from $13 to $50/$60. You may even find cheaper ones but this price ranges is just a rough estimate of what I figured out.
  • EBay – yarn bowls sold here are pricier, especially factoring in the shipping costs. The range looks to be between $30 and $70.
  • Etsy – yarn bowls sold here are some of the most beautiful works of art! They are all handmade by artists so obviously you can expect that the prices are generally higher than those sold on amazon. The prices from what I could tell range from $30 and over excluding shipping.
  • KnitPicks – I saw only one yarn bowl here. Maybe they will stock up on some more in future. This particular yarn bowl costs $29 and its made of wood. There were 6 reviews when I checked and they all said it was a good quality bowl just that it was a lighter brown than appeared in the photos – a minor disadvantage.

You could also check out these places. I’m sure you will find great pieces at these places too:

  • thrift stores
  • local craft festivals
  • local pottery stores
  • antique shops etc.

But if you are like me and have almost none of the above near you, then I suggest your best place to look for a yarn bowl is online.

Personal preferrences

Personal preferences will dictate to you in the end which yarn bowl you will buy. If you already have one (or more than one), do let us know where you bought them and how you are finding them so far. I could use some help in finding mine online as well!

Have some great places to share about where to buy yarn bowls? Leave a comment below – I will be happy to hear from you.

Until next time, happy knit stitching!

Serah

Knit Stitcher

 

Yarn ball winder: Manual or Electric? What’s the difference?

Winders yarn-ball-winder-info

In my research I came across these knitting necessities – a yarn ball winder and a yarn swift. I did not understand the difference between them at first, but I understand now. In this post I would like to share with you what I learned about them. I’ll just do the yarn winder for now. Then deal with the swifts in another post, okay.

Yarn Ball Winders

Firstly, there are two types:

  • Manual
  • Electric

Both types are made in plastic, metal, wood or a mixture of these material.

They are available in different sizes as well:

  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large/Jumbo/Heavy duty

So what is a yarn ball winder?

yarn-ball-winder-definition

I could give you a dictionary definition. But then you can always google that right? So I’ll give you my version: a yarn winder is simply a device or a tool used by knitters and spinners to wind their yarn into balls that can be easily pulled and knitted into garments and other knitted items.

Price Range

The price range varies with the brand. also, within a brand, it varies with the size

Manual Winders – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • cheaper
  • more control over speed of winding and tension of yarn
  • easy to use
  • soothing/ therapeutic for some
  • winds more yarn (depending on the size of winder)
  • can assemble and dismantle and take/ use anywhere
  • available in smaller sizes which is ideal for some knitters

Cons

  • time consuming
  • arguably slower than electric winders
  • requires more physical effort and therefore tiring for some
  • in the absence of a swift, might need extra hands to hold the yarn while you wind
  • winds less yarn (depending on the size of the winder)

Electric Winder – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • quicker to wind yarn if you have a swift to use with it
  • easy to use for people with joint problems or physical disabilities
  • has adjustable speeds to take care of tension and speed of winding
  • good for knitters that buy yarn in hanks
  • does not easily tangle if used properly
  • can wind bigger hanks of yarn

Cons

  • more expensive than manual winders
  • not necessarily faster than manual since tension is still manually controlled
  • takes a bit of getting used to
  • requires a power outlet to use, not as portable as manual winders

Manual v Electric – a summary

Manual winders are generally cheaper than electric winders. They allow knitters to have more control over speed and tension. Manual winders are sturdy and less likely to break. They are portable and can be carried anywhere. However, the yarn wound from manual winders is more stressed and tighter than that wound from an electric winder.

An electric winder is more expensive, is not necessarily faster than manual and takes a bit of getting used to. However, it is easier for people with joint problems or physical disabilities and has adjustable speed dials/knobs to take care of tension and speed of winding. Therefore it gives an even tension which avoids the yarn stretching too much. It is also good for knitters that have a lot of hanks as opposed to skeins. It does not easily tangle if used properly.

Conclusion

All in all, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Your preference will obviously depend upon a number of factors including:

  • time it takes to wind
  • ease of use
  • cost
  • quality and durability
  • enjoyment or relaxation
  • frequency of use
  • a mixture any/all of the above and more

There you have it folks – I hope I have helped you to decide which is better for you.

You can check out what my recommended electric yarn winder here. Also click here to see my recommended manual yarn winder.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will be happy to respond. yarn-ball-winder-smiley

Happy knit stitching!

Serah
Knit Stitcher

What is the best place to buy yarn online? A knitter’s perspective

I wanted to post about my best place to buy yarn online. But then I realised that I have more than one actually 🙂 best-place-to-buy-yarn-online

Don’t we just love browsing all that gorgeous yarn that’s online?! In my city, there is no local yarn shop and so when I have free time I spend hours browsing yarn online. I enjoy doing that. Its therapeutic and I always come away awed and inspired to knit,knit,knit!

I am doing a series of posts to share with you some of my favourite places to go. I will deal with one website at a time to avoid information overload!

The beginner’s challenges..

One major challenge I had when I first started browsing the yarn in online shops was feeling overwhelmed with the variety! And I realised I could not really make up my mind on anything to buy because I was just not informed enough about YARN itself. Have you ever been in that situation? Its frustrating.

Its true that knowledge and a good understanding of yarn will go a long way to helping you select the best yarn for your next project! I can say now that researching different types of yarn has put me in a better position to buy yarn online even if I haven’t touched it with my hands! For me that’s one of the biggest advantages of taking the time to learn about the properties of fibers in yarn. different-types-of-yarn

Now onto that list: By far, the best online place for me is…

#1. Ice yarns – www.iceyarns.com (based in Turkey)

Reasons why I love shopping at iceyarns.com:

1. Generally lower prices compared to other sites

2. Great deals and promotions

3. Quality yarns and wide variety

4. Worldwide shipping

5. Fast delivery

Not necessarily in that order. The best features for me are the low prices and worldwide shipping. I have had the experience of browsing online shops and really liking the yarn only to find that they don’t ship to my country. Now when checking out a site for yarn I always check the FAQ or shipping information tabs first to confirm whether they ship to my country before I even start to look at any of the products.

Low prices – the big sell

The first time I visited iceyarns.com I thought are these prices for real?! The prices are so low. For example, yesterday I wanted to check out an acrylic yarn fine weight (2) to knit a baby blanket. On the site I easily found the yarn by using the filters. By the way, most times I like to start filtering by fiber content. I found that prices for this yarn range from $2 to $13 per pack. Each pack generally contains about 4 to 8 skeins. So you can already see that the price per skein could go as low as less the $0.50! Crazy.And even better, most of the yarn are on promotion or sale (or both) or bargains and clearances. There are daily deals that you could take advantage of on any given day.

Having highlighted the good stuff there are a number of downsides as well.

Downsides

1. Yarn is not sold individually, only in packs or lots. Some knitters see this as a bad thing. I think its great though. It all depends on a knitters needs.

2. The shipping cost seems high! I felt discouraged when I first checked it out. But when I added the price of a pack and the shipping cost then divided by the number of skeins in a pack, it actually worked out much cheaper per skein! So I think its very reasonable. Don’t let the shipping costs discourage you..and please choose DHL express as your shipping option if you want your yarn in 3/4 days time. If you’d like to save more and don’t mind waiting a few weeks for your yarn, select regular mail as your shipping option. One thing I always do when calculating my total cost is to put items in cart then go to checkout and select in the address my country, then the shipping option.

3. Other popular brands like caron, bernat, lily, patons etc are not carried on the site. Imagine if these brands were sold at the prices offered by ice yarns! It probably will never happen. Its just a thought.

Fantastic reviews

If you would like to read reviews on the yarn itself, I can provide links to them below. (I always take the time to read other customers reviews just to make sure I’m making the right choice). I myself will be reviewing some of the yarn I work with from iceyarns so keep a look out for these posts as well.

In conclusion, if you are a knitter who loves collecting great quality yarn at bargain prices,ice yarns is perfect for you. You can build up your stash quite quickly with yarn from there 🙂 And you can knit all kinds of things with it too. Yarn addicts, you know what I mean 🙂 🙂 best-place-to-buy-yarn-online

Remember I said I had several favourite websites..so get ready for website number 2!

I would like to leave you with a question: Are you an impulsive yarn buyer? Or do you usually buy yarn based on a pattern’s requirements? Leave me a comment below – I’m just curious and would like to know.

If you have your own best place to buy yarn online, drop me a line as well. We can definitely benefit from swapping shopping tips to save more!

With that, happy knitstitching!

Serah