Last-Minute Christmas Gifts to Knit - A Round-Up

It's officially the Christmas season! You know what that means: finish up ALL the Christmas knitting! Oh, you haven't started anything yet? Well, me neither.

Here's a collection of quick knit-up-in-an-afternoon-or-two gift ideas. I must say though, just because they're quick to make doesn't mean they lack that WOW effect!

1. For the homemaker... Rollicking Bauble Ornaments by yours truly!

2. For the coffee drinker... Forest Folk Cup Cozies from Stitch & Unwind

 3. For the fashionista... Cable Knitted Ear Warmer from Mom Advice

 4. For the kiddo... Knitted Christmas Trees from The Twisted Yarn
 (perhaps just knit the trees up and include a little kit full of decorating supplies?)

5. For the dude... Sideline Beanie also by yours truly (it's my blog, I can self-promote, OK?!)

6. For the tween... Gift Card-igan (converts to a phone case after the fact!) from Simply Notable

And there ya go! I hope this post gave you some gift-giving inspiration.
Until next Friday,


How to Cover Headphones with Knitting - A Tutorial

I love music. I have since I was little. Besides the fiber arts, music is my absolute favorite art form. So why not combine my two favorite things?

Today I'm going to show you how I covered my headphones with knitting. Let's go!

First things first: I used white Sony headphones. The exact model I used can be found here on Amazon for around $15. Obviously, I can't provide a tutorial that will cover ALL the headphones out there, so you may have to do a bit of customizing to fit your specific pair. This will be more of a recipe rather than a pattern.

A few things to keep in mind:
1) Make sure your headphones have screws visible somewhere. Otherwise, you won't be able to disassemble your headphones to cover the individual pieces.
2) Ultimately, use headphones that are made of simple basic shapes, just two circles and a rectangular band. Knitting around crazy shapes can make this project pretty tough.
3) If you can, use headphones that are all one color. Depending on your gauge, you may be able to see through your knitting slightly. Solid white or black will make your work look a lot cleaner.

I used worsted weight yarn and a size 3 (3.25mm) needle. Wowzers, yeah, that's a pretty tight gauge. True, but it's important that you can't see through your knitting for this project. If you use 3s and can still see through your knitting, go even smaller.

Let's start by taking everything apart. Use a little eyeglass screwdriver to unscrew whatever you can. You should end up with something kinda like this. (PS. DON'T LOSE THOSE SCREWS! I learned this lesson the hard way I mean, that's just common sense, right?)

Let's cover the band first. I cast on 16 stitches provisionally and knit in the round. You'll want to cast on as many as will fit snugly around your band without stretching too much. Knit this tube until it's as long as your band, plus like a quarter inch. Don't bind off. Rather, thread some strong fingering weight yarn through those top stitches. I'd suggest cotton or linen. :) You'll want to use this same yarn for your provisional cast on.

Now we're going to knit 2 octagons that will cover the round ear parts of the headphones (because octagons are easier to knit that circles!).
Note: If you're doing any sort of fair isle pattern on the ear circle, duplicate stitch it. Otherwise, it'll be upside down! :) Again, there's that common sense shining through! ;)
Pattern (make 2):
CO 8
Row 1: p1, yo, p across to last stitch, yo, p1
Row 2: k1, yo, k across to last stitch, yo, k1
Row 3: p1, yo, p across to last stitch, yo p1
In row 4, we're going to yarn over in the middle of the row (and then knit it regularly on the next row) to create a hole for the place the band connects to the ear puff. That sounds really confusing, but bear with me.
Row 4: k1, yo, k5, yo twice, k5, yo, k1
Row 5: p1, yo, p to yo, drop 1 wrap of the yo, p2tog (the yarn over and the stitch next to it), p to last stitch, yo, p1
Repeat rows 2 & 3 until your piece is as wide as your earphone circle plus a little bit. I went until I had 26 stitches. Then, work straight stockinette for a few rows (I did 7) just to add a little height.
End with a purl row.
Row 6: k1, k2tog, k across to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1
Row 7: p1, p2tog, p across to last 3 stitches, p2tog, p1
Repeat rows 6 & 7 until you have 10 stitches left.
Now we're going to create a little slit in the top of our octagon so that we have a space for where the wire comes out of the ear.
Row 8: p1, p2tog, p2, drop yarn, continue row with tail end of ball, p2, p2tog, p1
Row 9: *k2, pass 1st stitch over 2nd, k1, pass stitch over, k1, pass stitch over, cut yarn and pull through final loop,* pick up original strand of yarn and repeat the steps within the asterisks.

Ok. All the knitting is done!
We'll start by covering the circle parts. There are 3 steps to this process:
1) Glue down any movable parts on the headphone.

2) Place your knitted piece onto the headphone by tying the slit around the wire spot and popping the yarn-over space onto the plastic bit at the top.

3) Notice the little space in between the hard plastic of the headphone and the ear puff (for lack of a better term). Use a flat, thin object (I'm suggesting a knife but PLEASE BE CAREFUL. Only an adult should be doing that!) to shove the knitting into that little space. You really don't need glue! It's gonna be a tight fit. And since we aren't using glue, you can give your headphones a makeover as many times as you want!

All right, you should now have this!

Ok, the rest is pretty self-explanatory. Slide the band into the knitted tube, pop your ear buds back on, and screw it all back together. Oh! Remember that cotton we put into the ends of the knitted tube? You can use that string to gather up the tube around where the band connects to ear phones. This will give a nice, finished look.

Boom! All done!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Feel free to leave comments, questions, and suggestions in the comments below.
See you next Friday!


How to Digitize Fair Isle Charts in Excel

Hello everyone! Today I have a tutorial for you.
The past few days I've been playing around with graph paper. I know, that sounds like SO much fun, right? Actually, yes! I'm working on some free fair isle Christmas stocking patterns I'll be releasing. I'll be posting some how-to-work-fair-isle videos to go along with those patterns on my youtube channel. It's gonna be awesome people!

QUICK NOTE: I found this super awesome resource for all you fair-isle designers out there. Over on the lovely blog Laylock Knitwear Design you can find free printable graph paper specifically designed for knitters. Instead of squares, the chart is filled with little knit stitches in perfect rows. This will give you a better idea of what the final product will look like as you're designing. Super helpful! Find the graph paper here.

Anyway, in order to put the design I created into a PDF for Ravelry, I needed to digitize my pencil-and-paper chart. Whether to have a "professional" copy of your chart for personal use or to create a download for Ravelry, you'll need to digitize it. Here's how I created my fair isle chart using Microsoft Excel 2010 on my PC:

The very first thing you'll need to do when you open Excel is alter the cells so that they're a bit more square-ish. They're fairly long rectangles by default and that won't work for us today. We need these boxes to replicate the shape of a knit stitch. So, click on the triangle in the corner (indicated by the red arrow above) to select all the cells (all the cells will turn blue), then drag the cells to 3.00 (or 26 pixels). (To drag, hover your mouse in between the "A" and "B" and a little toggle will appear. Click and hold to drag!)

Now that your cells are the size of stitches, you can begin filling them in to create your design. To do this, right click on any cell, and click the paint bucket. You can click the tiny little triangle next to the paint bucket to change the default color.

While you're in the process of designing, you can use the slider (down in the right corner) to zoom out and see how it's lookin'. :)

Once you're all done, you'll need to add some black grid lines so your chart is easy for people to read. To do this, you'll need to select your entire design by clicking the top left corner and dragging all the way down to the bottom right. Again, the cells will all turn blue.

Once you have your design selected, click the little square/window type thing in the task bar, then select "All Borders." Boom! Chart made! 
Now, in order to save it as a picture file, you'll need to select it all again (click and drag from corner to corner) and then copy it (by right clicking and selecting copy). 
Then, open Paint (a program that comes standard on most PCs), click the paste button, and your chart will appear! Then, click the little floppy disk up in the corner to save it as your desired file type, and you're done!
Here's a quick tip: to see how your chart would look repeated, select your entire chart, copy it, and then paste it multiple times. Be sure to zoom out (using that toggle) to get the big picture.

How awesome is that?! Creating these charts is my new obsession. It's so satisfying to print them out and see them all nice and professional looking.
I'll talk with you guys again Friday!
Until then,


Free Anthropologie-Inspired Braided Crochet Headband Pattern & Tutorial

I was first inspired to create this headband when I came across this (Rav link here) headband pattern. It's basically the same exact idea, just crocheted. I wanted to make a ton of them for Christmas presents, but knitting (the original was knitted) took too long in this case (bc procrastination), so I decided to crochet them. I just want to be clear: ALL of the credit for this ingenious idea goes to Melynda Bernardi who created the original knitted version! But for all you crocheters out there, I hope this helps :)

Also, if you're a knitter who's been wanting to get into crochet, I'd highly recommend starting here. It's seriously SO simple, and by the time you get to the end, you'll have perfected your tension. Plus, you'll have a beautiful headband to show for it!
Ok, I've photographed a tutorial for the beginner crocheter, but if you've already mastered all this, I'll type the condensed pattern at the very end of the post.

Let's get started!
1 skein of worsted weight yarn (100 grams)
Size G (4mm) crochet hook
Darning needle for weaving in ends
Let's start out with a slip knot:

Arrange your yarn tail so that you have a loop, then lay that loop over the tail end. It should look like the above picture.
Then, pick up your tail end with your hook, like so.

Then pull on both ends so that your knot tightens against your hook. If it's a bit loose, tug on the tail end and slide the knot up snug to your hook.
Now we'll learn to chain:

Wrap your yarn once around your left pinky finger and hold your hook in your right hand like above.

Now place the hook part of your hook under the yarn and then behind it, so it catches in the notch of your hook.

Then gently rotate your hook so the "hook" part faces down and slides through the loop on your hook easily (boom! you just made 1 chain!). That rotation is key. If you don't do that, the hook won't glide through your slip knot smoothly, instead, it'll catch.

Ok, now you're going to make 14 more chains. If you lose count, look at those little v's. Each one is a chain. 
Next, we're going to learn the Half Double Crochet stitch. The rest of your headband will be made up of these things :)

Ok, first, wrap the yarn around your hook as if you were going to make another chain, but don't pull it through! Instead...

 ...insert your hook in the 3rd chain from the hook. So out of your 15 chains, you'll be putting your hook in the 13th one you made. With your hook inserted, grab the yarn with your hook and pull it back up out of that chain.

 You should now have 3 loops on your hook.

Now yarn over (as if you were going to chain), and pull this yarn through all three loops on your hook. Ta-da! One Half Double Crochet created! (Just a note: Half Double Crochet is normally abbreviated as HDC in most crochet patterns) Ok. Now do another one of those in the next chain.
Now this part can be confusing: How do you know where to insert your hook next? Where exactly is the next chain?
Lemme show ya:

That orange bit is NOT where you're inserting your hook next. A lot of people make that mistake when just starting out. It's perfectly understandable! But if you look closer, you'll notice that's the chain you just put your HDC into. Rather, you're going into that pink chain.

Now you're going to do 1 Half Double Crochet in each chain across (you'll have 13 HDCs total).

OK. Now we're going to join your little strip so that we're working "in the round." You're going to do 1 HDC in the very first HDC you made. Basically just bend your strip backwards so your first HDC faces you. Wrap your hook, insert your hook into the "v" on top of that first stitch, draw up a loop, and complete your HDC as normal.

HDC finished!

Okie dokie! Now you're just going to do an HDC in the next stitch (the pink stitch in the picture above shows you where to put your hook next) and the next stitch and the next stitch.... And so on until you have a tube 72 inches long. (182 centimeters)
Once you have your loooooong tube: snip your yarn leaving an 8 inch tail, pass this tail through the final loop on your hook, tighten, and continue on:
Wrap the end of your loop around your head and use a locking stitch marker to "pin" at that point (this should be about 1/3 of your tube).

Now you're going to criss-cross the next 3rd of your tube across the circle you just made, pinning as you go.

Just keep criss-crossing all the way around, until it looks like this:

Now we'll take the last 3rd of your tube and weave it through so this thing starts looking more like a braid!

Take the end of your tube and pull it up through the first hole created by criss-crossing. Oooh! I see a baby braid forming!

Ok, now do the same thing again with the next space. Bring the end of your tube up through that hole in between markers.
Continue weaving in this manner. It may take a couple tries to get this right, but keep persevering! You'll get it. :) When finished weaving, the ends of your tube should meet up. Use your tail yarn ends to seam the tube together.
Also, if you're having serious trouble, I'd recommend looking at the original version's construction instructions, or check out this video: HOW TO KNIT ANTHROPOLOGIE HEADBAND (construction starts at 14:12)
And voila! All done!
All right. For all those crochet experts out there, here's the condensed pattern:
Ch 15
Row 1: HDC in 3rd ch from hook and each chain across (13 HDCs)
Join to work in the round by doing one HDC in the first HDC of row 1. You will not join rounds with a slip stitch. To avoid the seam that would be created with slip stitches, we'll just spiral up instead. HDC around (and around and around and around some more) until you have a tube 72 inches (182 cm) long.
Now scroll on this page until you see the yarn color change from blue to yellow and follow the construction instructions from there.
I hope you all liked this pattern! Again, go check out Melynda Bernardi at French Press Knits. She's an awesome designer and I give her full credit for the original idea. ♥
And also, if you're not about the crochet life, check my Etsy Shop to buy a physical headband. I have some of my knitting patterns up there as well if you want to take a peek. :)
See you all next Friday!