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?
This is fabulous. I had my knitting supplies mailed to my new place of residence from my mom and I have yet to touch them because I forgot how to knit.
That scarf is gorgeous.
And I clicked on the link for the amigurumi because the name is so darn cute but oh my god the little creatures are even cuter. Mini cupcake bear! And I am seriously in love with the dragon.
Knotted headband? Slouchy hat? Come on. I need to learn how to crochet….right now.
I think I need to calm down. Phew.
Counter-disclaimer re crochet – I find it hurts my fingers/hands much more than knitting. It also can be harder to count stitches/read the fabric? YMMV of course but JUST A WARNING, mileage is all OVER the place in Craftland.
Also if you’re wanting to stick with knitting, by all means start a scarf, but don’t hold yourself to finishing it – SO BORING, even with an interesting stitch. Ugggghhhhhhh. (not…that I am making someone a scarf for Christmas and am BITTER about 6 feet of lace, noooo.)
WHICH IS TO SAY I have strong feelings about this post and 95% of them are warm and fuzzy and yarn-filled. <3
I’m hoping the other 5% of the feelings are anti-6 feet of lace, and who can blame you? I’ve never even been able to properly read lace knitting patterns, so I am super impressed with you already.
knitting supplies are something that move with me from house to house but i never actually use. but this is inspiration to get back into it!
That scarf looks great and I have never tried circular needles. Will begin tomorrow!
Circular needles are fantastic! I had a hard time at first with the yarn twisting, so just keep an eye on it and patience in your heart or else your scarf will be super wonky.
I prefer to work with double ended needles on things like socks and beanies, but circular needles can be really good for big projects (like the uber cute baby blanket I’m making for my cousin’s baby at the moment).
When I do any work in the round I always cast on one extra stitch than the pattern directs, so that I can knit the first stitch and the last stitch together. I think that this helps avoid having an unsightly gap where the two ends join, although if you leave a long tail on your yarn and wind it in later, that helps too.
It’s funny that you say crochet is easier than knitting! I’ve been knitting since I was 2 and I tried to crochet a flower once to sew onto a headband and I found it to be the most frustrating thing ever! I gave up haha. Maybe watching videos will help!
this is awesome, but i’ll admit, i too am one of those who gets the knitting thing, but still can’t seem to pick up crochet, no matter how patiently my crafty friends are with teaching me.
that being said, do you know any good tutorials on illusion/shadow knitting? i think this is going to be my new knitting goal for the season. it’s like undercover crush art…it could just be a striped scarf/armband/toque/beanie…or it could have a secret heart waiting to be revealed.
I’ve never even heard of illusion/shadow knitting but I just looked it up and I AM SO EXCITED. I want to try this immediately. These look pretty legit, what do you think?: http://www.instructables.com/id/Shadow-or-Illusion-Knitting/
i know, right? the potential for awesome is pretty high. thanks for the instructables link. if you do an image google search you’ll find all sorts of crazy stuff. these are a couple of my faves: Harry Potter geek-out http://youtu.be/QWHGoFrNqhI
Einstein?!!!! Are you kidding me??? http://youtu.be/Rlwe68ogPfk
ughghghhhh this makes me want to finish my embroidered jellyfish!
embroidery — excuse me while i have a lot of feelings — is just the cutest most romantic threadcraft. i wish i had at least 7 friends who would sit with me and embroider things while we watch The Breakfast Club and snack on crudités and order dresses for each other from modcloth. my grandmother only taught me to sew because she wanted me to finish this cathedral quilt she’d started ~30 years prior, so i had to find embroidery on my own, but it still feels like something from her. probably bc of all the embroidered linens and handkerchiefs she’d collected.
thank you hansen! i’m going to make something pretty tonight.
Laneia, I’m going to come over and we’re going to embroider and watch John Hughes movies and talk about how freaking difficult cathedral quilts are, deal?
I never could pick up crocheting (tension issues) but I knit kind of an absurd amount.
I’m knitting an afghan and refusing to let myself knit anything else until I finish it. Because it’s a wedding present that has been promised, and if I start doing other things, it’ll never get done. But damn it, I want to be done with the thing. It’s the third blanket that I’ve made this year, and that’s way too many. I’m drooling over this lace-weight cardigan on Ravelry so that’ll probably be my next thing, though it’ll probably also drive me up the wall.
Can I just take this opportunity to do a very small, discreet advert for my sister-in-law’s Etsy page. She sells all kinds of crochet patterns inspired by geekery and fantasy, from Star Wars and Doctor Who to Dragons and Animals. I wouldn’t normally be so shameless in advertising something, but she really is talented, and I’m sure anyone who’s interested in crochet or geekery would enjoy her site! :)
I just love knitting so much. This is the best post.
This is great! I have known how to knit, crochet and cross stitch since I was a kid (thanks Mom!) but just picked knitting back up yesterday. =)
I was always soo bad at knitting, everything looked terrible
learning to crochet is my christmas project though, i want to make a sweater one (far away) day.
I’ve been embroidering as long as I’ve been sewing, so pretty much my whole life, but I just learned how to knit. Even though my first scarf is super ugly right now, it’s been a very relaxing activity for my anxious hands.
Also, in november I’ll be starting a piece where I’ll end up embroidering every bone on the human body on a life-sized stuffed body. I’m expecting to really hate myself after that.
May I offer a couple of suggestions for those wanting to learn to knit?
1) consider washcloths/dishcloths. You can pick up incredibly cheap cotton at your local craft store. A washcloth is a small project that you can complete quickly for instant gratification. As a bonus, if it looks terrible (my first one did) then you can still have the pleasure of using it yourself in your own home without anyone else having to see it. Having that “I made that!” moment is a great motivator.
The traditional pattern folks have used going back for time immemorial is often called “Grandma’s Dishrag.” It’s this one: http://majorknitter.typepad.com/photos/patterns/dishrag_and_magazine_photo.html
2) I teach people to knit with a modified version of this knitted cat: http://lillielil.livejournal.com/195349.html
It is mostly straight knitting, but calls for small amounts of other stitches, so it’s a good learning project. The pieces are a manageable size so the entire cat is very doable as a beginner. The finished cat is adorable.
3) If you’re looking for inspiration, consider the website Ravelry.com . Free to join, with patterns, forums, and pics of other users’ projects, it’s the happening spot for knitters and crocheters.
as an aussie, the description of “delightful australian accent” has me in a fit of giggles. it’s not my first thought when I hear what we sound like… haha!
crochet and embroidery are both so darn lovely, they remind me of my gran, though I’ve never learnt the art of either (yet).
cross-stitch was more my style as a kid though, and I really should start up again! (much more seasonally-versatile than knitting…) many a car-trip was spent stitchin’ up a storm in the back seat!
Was obvs a hardcore child.
OMG, yes. Especially the accent in the video; that’s hilarious. My Nana was a hardcore crochet-er, and the first time I ever took a girl home for Christmas she received a crochet-covered coat-hanger as her present. AW!
too cute! that’s such a lovely present haha that just reminded me of the approx 1 million crocheted coat hangers she had!
re: the video: the shock my brain goes through everytime… “that’s what we sound like?!?” >.< such denial lol
What do you when you’re at home with a 4yr old sporting chicken pox? craft, that’s what.
I would like a jumper plz
I was working on a onesie for you.
Oh, I love it! Thank you very much for this!!!
I’ll make some for Christmas.
I MADE THAT CROSS STITCH
and then it ended up at a roller derby raffle, which I think is so appropriate.
This year I have taught myself both embroidery and crochet! I love making things, and always enjoy trying a new craft or technique, plus it has helped me alot with anxiety because I’m to focused to worry about things!
I had a friends mom teach me to knit a little in high school but I forgot how, and I actually bought a book a couple years ago to try and relearn but I think me being left handed makes it more difficult because I could not get the hang of it! Can anyone recommend sites to teach us left handers??
This is so great, just look at all the great things you can do!!
Knitting wasn’t something I enjoyed until much later on and I was incredibly horrible at it. I still am, but dang, these videos are incredibly helpful, I can’t even explain.