favorite tools!

I’m sure others have experienced the gradual accumulation of crafting tools—you start with a pair of knitting needles and a skein of yarn, and soon you somehow have a spinning wheel, tens pairs of size 00 dpns, and half a room of “stash.” And of course, the more crafts you do, the more this multiplies.

So I thought it would be nice to pare back a bit and show off the top ten crafting tools that I didn’t just “end up with,” but that I genuinely enjoy using most. Some are craft-specific, others I use for any and everything. 🙂


9. clover patchwork pins

Not being very good at sewing (or realizing how many cool sewing supplies are out there!) I spent years using cheap plastic topped pins that were frequently dull and even more frequently poked giant holes into my humble projects. These clover pins were such an upgrade! Also I love the cute case they come in. 🙂

8. brittany crochet hook(s)

These hooks look beautiful and also happen to be my favorite ergonomically. The wood keeps stitches from sliding too much, while the long handle allows me plenty of room to grip. And I love tools that are as beautiful to look at as they are to use—it makes crafting even more special.

7. stone whorl spindle

Spinning is one of those crafts that can feel just incredibly ancient. I think about all the women who used to have to spin hour after hour to make enough yarn for clothing and other household necessities, and am a bit awed by taking part in such a long, arduous, tradition. These stone whorl spindles really accentuate those feelings. They’ve become one of my favorite types of spindles to use, and it helps, of course, that they’re extremely well made and nicely balanced.

6. turtlemade 3d spindle

In contrast, these 3d printed spindles are eminently modern. 🙂 They’re also perfect for traveling—I slip mine into a coat pocket or purse, and bring it everywhere! I’ve even spun with mine in Disney World. 😉 These are also the favorite spindles of my little cousins, who have taken to asking after them if I neglect to bring them. While I wouldn’t recommend them for beginners, due to their light weight and high speed, for a more confident spinner I think there is no better travel option!

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6. a portable iron

Ironing was another of those simple, exceptionally obvious skills that improved my sewing. I like using a small, portable iron, because I travel and move frequently, and I don’t really need a bigger iron for my clothes. Having a little iron and tabletop ironing board allows me to set up a space almost everywhere, and just start sewing!

5. my handmade nalbinding needle

Nalbinding is one of my favorite types of wool-based crafting, because it’s so portable and looks great with my rather uneven handspun yarn. 😉 When I first started nalbinding, I made my own needles out of sticks, because I didn’t like using metal tapestry needles (a cheap beginner option) and didn’t want to purchase one before I knew I like it. Now, a few years later, I have quite a collection of needles! The three below are my three favorites, made of elk antler, mammoth ivory, and one I made myself! Not only do I love using my little wooden needle for finer projects, but I’m also very proud of it. While my dad is a woodworker, I rarely do anything with wood. But I have had a little pocket knife since I was 5 for whittling, and I guess it finally paid off!

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4. sajou embroidery scissors

I bought these scissors in France, and I love them. Embroidery can be so delicate, so pretty—doesn’t it make sense to have a pair of scissors that matches? Of course, they also have a very sharp edge, and the blades are paired, so they work beautifully too. But I will admit I mostly enjoy them for their looks!

3. kromski minstrel

One of my biggest crafting tools, the Kromski Minstrel is my long-awaited first spinning wheel. As you can probably tell, I enjoy a certain aesthetic style. 😉 The Minstrel looks somewhat antiquated, but because of its castle-wheel setup, doesn’t take up too much space. I got it because I wanted a very versatile wheel, and so far it hasn’t disappointed. While I still do particularly fine spinning on my spindles, I’ve found it easy to switch between fine and think yarn on this spinning wheel.

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2. rhodia grid notebook

I am…not the most organized person in the world. But while I don’t mind digging through a pile of mail to find my bills, I hate to lose pattern or project notes and ideas. My solution has been to save one notebook, a rhodia gridded one, and use it for everything! While I still keep notes in other places, or use larger notebooks to design patterns, this little notebook always has at least a note or initial sketch. That way, if I somehow lose the other pieces (which has happened…too many times), I don’t have to start entirely from scratch. 😉

1. gingher shears

My sewing shears get top place. 🙂 When I was a kid, I used to scoff at all the sewing tutorials I found that instructed me to use real sewing scissors. What could possibly be wrong with my normal paper scissors, other than the fact that they had nicks all over them, were incredibly dull, and occasionally didn’t even close properly?

Obviously nothing, right? 😉 I’m sure it’ll surprise no one that my sewing magically improved ten-fold when I finally invested in this pair of gingher shears. Suddenly I could cut in a straight line! My seam allowances no longer looked like mice had chewed the fabric apart! I could actually follow patterns! I’m still using the same pair, and I still love them.

So these are some of my absolute favorite crafting tools—what about you? Which do you use most often, or enjoy using the most?

 

 

finished lily-of-the-valley pincushion!

I finished my pincushion! It turned out super cute. I went with a Rifle & Co. print fabric for the back, and also used it to make a covered button.

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I really like how the embroidery turned out. I found it a little difficult to steel myself to cover up parts of it, since although it didn’t take that long to do, it still was work. But the end result was totally worth it.

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You can see some of the lily disappearing into the seam. 🙂 I really loved this fabric too, I mean most of rifle & co’s prints are great, but the blue-heavy floral made an excellent contrast to the gray & white of the embroidered linen. I only got 1/2 a yard before, but I may have to order some more! Or if anyone knows of simmilar fabrics to recommend…? 

wall quilt & garland

One of the less fun things about being a grad student is the lack of money. This is especially a problem, if like me, you tend to prefer handmade furniture and oil paintings (I know, I know). My dad is a very good woodworker, and has so far indulged me in the desire for very nice furniture, but I’ve had to be a bit more economical with art and decorations. I decided to combine my desire for less-blank walls with my desire to improve my quilting skills, so I’ve been making wall quilts! They’re not exactly my favorite pastoral oils, but they are very cute. 🙂

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This is my first finished one—I made it to hang in my kitchen. I thought that the redwork embroidery looked a bit vintage, and the teacup of course makes it very suitable. I didn’t do a very complicated block, since this was for practice, but I did make sure the cat fabric formed a nice border. I think my hand-quilting has improved somewhat—the stitches are getting a bit more even!

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Once it was done, I thought the wall still looked too blank, so I added a little crochet garland. The stars are very simple, only two rounds, so it went quite fast. I used scraps leftover from the cotton I use for my dishcloths, which luckily I’ve made in a nice variety of blue shades.

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Overall, I’m very happy with this simple decorating! I still have a few more things I’d like to make for my kitchen, and then onto the next room. 😉

cotton cami

I very much want to be great at sewing, but sadly, that day is many years of practice into the future. However, I do have exciting news! I finally sewed my first wearable garment!! I saw a simple cotton tank at uniqlo a while back, and of course, thought that I could totally make it. 🙂 Thus despite my limited confidence in my sewing skills, and even more limited confidence in my pattern making, I cut some fabric and it turned out great! Honestly, I didn’t make this expecting to like it much, I mostly just wanted to see if I could in fact make it. But it ended up being pretty cute!

IMG_3362 (1)Ignore my poor photography, but here are some pictures so you can see how it turned out.
IMG_3355I had no idea how to do the shaping for where the arms go, so I kinda just guessed. I also didn’t have twill tape for the straps, which is what the uniqlo one used, so I put in cotton yarn for now—it’ll be an easy replace next time I get to a fabric store. I hemmed everything with rolled hems, and used french seams for the sides.

Anyway, this has definitely boosted my comfort level with sewing. I know it wasn’t complicated, but it feels pretty cool to have made something I can wear, without even using a pattern. I’m thinking it’ll be great for gardening this summer. 🙂

patchwork pencil case

When my sister went to college I made her a pencil case for her first care package. 🙂 It may seem a bit more appropriate for an elementary-schooler than for a college student, but I think cute pencil cases and stationary always makes classes and homework more fun, no matter what age.

Unfortunately, a pen got uncapped in the case and spilled ink everywhere. My sister was sad, but I was actually a bit happy that I got the chance to make another of these cute patchwork cases.

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I used A Spoonful of Sugar’s wonderful pattern. It was very easy to follow, and I feel like my result matched their pictures pretty well! I really liked the cute kitty fabric especially.

Anyway, my sister was quite happy to get a new pencil case and says it holds up well. And just in case, I may have to make a few more if, say, something also happens to this one. 🙂

my craft room

Having a dedicated craft room is pretty much the dream, right? I didn’t think I’d get there until I was retired, honestly, but then my parents found me the perfect apartment—one bedroom plus a tiny office! Of course it immediately turned into my craft room. 😀

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My dad and I found an old table to use as my sewing table, and I filled some baskets underneath with my fabric collection (the rest of the fabric is kept on a hanging rack over the door). You can see my adored vintage 99k singer—my more modern janome is up on a wall shelf. I love having my table right up against the window, it makes for wonderful light. You might also notice some cross stitch in the corner—one of my friends made it for me for my birthday, it’s gollum!

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I hung bobbin racks on the wall, and my dad helped me make a framed corkboard for project ideas and things. I also hung a little wire box I found at target that I keep my more delicate fibers in—and my spindles can hang from the bottom! The ones in the picture are bosworths. 🙂 To decorate, I crocheted a little doily banner.

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This is my kromski minstrel. 😀 It was a birthday present, and my dad and I finished it ourselves. I absolutely love this wheel, it’s beautiful and spins amazingly well.

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Finally, hiding in the far corner, is my harrisville 4-harness loom. I picked it up at a garage sale for pretty cheap, though I haven’t had much time to use it yet. Ignore that one of the treadles got disconnected during moving. 😉

Anyway, that is my craft room! I think it balances function and cuteness pretty well, though of course it’s often messier than these pictures show. I feel very lucky that I get to have such a nice space to work in.