feature image via Subversive Cross Stitch
Welcome to the million billionth installment of Make A Thing, where we make handmade gifts for people! Or ourselves. Or our cats. Mostly our cats.
Header by Rory Midhani
It’s getting pretty cold in Colorado, and cold weather means I stay inside and craft, because I’m really not into riding my bike when it’s snowing. I like to learn new crafts in the fall that I can imagine myself doing through the cold winter nights while sitting beside my fireplace in ugly slippers. In the past these things have involved crocheting, knitting, embroidery and cross stitch — all the major players in the crafting game. Also, these four basic crafts make perfect gifts for the holidays.
The thing is, I’m not good enough at any of these crafts to give you a tutorial myself. So instead, I’m going to show you my favorite tutorials for each!
I recommend learning to crochet for people who think knitting is too hard. I find it to be a lot easier than knitting, actually, because there’s no chance you’re going to drop a stitch off your needle. It also hurts my fingers less.
I learned to crochet from my friend in college, then promptly forgot everything she taught me as soon as I graduated. To remind myself, I started looking up YouTube videos. Bethintx1 is by far the nicest, most soothing voice out there, she keeps it slow and shows you every step about ten times.
I started crocheting granny squares because they’re really satisfying to work on (much more so than a scarf, which looks like absolutely nothing for a very long time). Granny squares contain most of the regular crochet stitches, so they’re a great starting point.
Other crochet tutorials I’ve found helpful: Stitch Diva has nice pictures and clear instructions for a lot of different types of crochet stitches and All About Ami has amazing tutorials and patterns for the cutest amigurumi (crochet stuffed toys) you’ll ever see.
Although I find crochet to be easier than knitting, my aunt and grandma taught me how to knit when I was young, so it has become a comfort thing. The click of the needles, the repetitive stitches, I love it. However, my family only taught me how to knit and purl, so I’ve learned most other stitches through various tutorials online.
GoodKnitKisses is my favorite YouTube teacher. The instructions are clear and slowly given (maybe you’re sensing a theme in how I like to be taught: very slowly and with soothing words) and above all, it’s obvious what you’re being shown.
Scarves are the easiest thing to begin with knitting. My best friend is learning how to knit and is starting with a scarf, and originally she cast on 35 stitches and now has 72, but it’s adorable. It’s the most charming wonky piece of warmth I’ve ever seen. That’s the best part about knitting, anything you make, no matter how many mistakes it has, will be endearing as hell.
I really like to reference Craft Cookie for new knitting stitches because they have nice pictures. Purl Bee has a ton of gorgeous patterns for knitting, but most are a little more complicated. The best source of patterns for knitting (and crocheting!) that I’ve ever found is Ravelry. Ravelry has a ton of patterns (a lot of them are free but the paid ones support members of the DIY community so it’s still awesome) for scarves and sweaters and hats and mittens and well, almost everything, I’d imagine.
Embroidery is so easy and beautiful and people are so impressed by it. I learned to embroider from the Young Women’s group while I was Mormon, no joke, but I’ve always loved it. It’s fast and satisfying and really easy to learn. Plus, the supplies are inexpensive! Wins all around.
Bet you can figure out why I love Stitching Cow. Slow and simple instructions and a delightful Australian accent.
The easiest way to begin embroidering is to start a sampler. It gives you a nice handle on the different stitches
My favorite embroidery patterns are always from Sublime Stitching. They also have a variety of nice tutorials for different embroidery stitches. Wild Olive also has the most adorable patterns ever if you’re into putting tiny smiley faces on everything (which you should be).
Cross stitch is my newest project. I can’t believe I’ve never tried it before this summer, though, because I love it.
Expert Village has some good cross stitch tutorial videos, like this one that will show you the basics of cross stitching:
I actually prefer to read tutorials for cross stitch, though, because it seems simpler that way. Don’t ask me why. The tutorial I used to teach myself was from Mochimochi Land and had really clear pictures. Purl Bee also has a good tutorial with illustrated instructions.
The best part about cross stitch is that there are a ton of tutorials and patterns for it. The worst part about cross stitch is that most of the patterns are really ugly. But don’t fear — there are some really awesome ones, too! Subversive Cross Stitch (NSFW) has some really funny patterns and Hancock’s House of Happy has about a million free patterns to choose from.
What other tutorials have you used to teach yourself crocheting, knitting, embroidery or cross stitch? Any good patterns or shops you want to share?