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I Can't Believe

  • Sewing??

    I haven’t wanted to sew on a sewing machine since I graduated from my year of home economics in high school. I have probably had nightmares over the years over my experience in home economics. The first semester was cooking and the second semester was sewing. Cooking wasn't a problem. I had been cooking with my mother and both of my grandmothers since I was probably four or five. My mother picked my first sewing project and bought all the material for it. This could be part of my problem because it wasn't something that I would ever have chosen for myself. She chose a jumper like the ones that you see kids wear to private school for me to sew and the material was tan khaki cotton. I should know - I wore one myself when I started to school. I was in a private Christian School; my jumper was red, white, and blue plaid. In fourth grade I switched to public school. Cutting the pattern wasn't the problem, it was sewing all the pieces together. I had so many holes from ripping out stitches. I dreaded the day that we had to wear our finished projects to school. I packed an extra set of clothes to change into right after class. I never wore that jumper again. I now have a fear of sewing machines.

    I am more comfortable making and sewing things by hand. The last couple of years I have contemplated overcoming my fear of the dreaded sewing machine. Both of my grandmothers sewed quite beautifully; even my mother can sew. I was going through the Leisure Arts' website looking at books on everything but sewing when I stumbled across Pat Sloan’s book I Can’t Believe I’m Sewing. I thought to myself that it was time to overcome my fear of the sewing machine. It was easy not fretting over sewing on a sewing machine if you do not own one. I asked my friends on Facebook if they sewed and if they did, what is the best machine to learn on. One of my friends said that they had a new sewing machine still in the box and asked if I would like to use it. Yes!! Please!! So I have her new machine - don’t laugh, it’s a Hello Kitty sewing machine. But hey it works.

    With the book and my friend who lives next door neighbor came over and gave me a quick review. I was surprised about what all I remembered from my home economics class. The only problem that I had with the machine is my bobbin kept shooting out at me. Seriously!! It was shooting out at me like it was possessed or something. I finally tilted it back a little so I could try inserting the bobbin one last time and the problem was I wasn't getting it into a little notch. But once in I had no more shooting bobbins. My first project on the sewing machine was small. I chose A Coaster Set from Pat Sloan’s book. I used tracing paper to trace the pattern and cut it out so I would cut all my material the same size. They aren't the most perfectly sewn coasters. My lines maybe a little wonky but hey I did it. I am ready for my next sewing project. I have some extra material; I will practice on some more coasters. I might even make some for gifts.

    FullSizeRender (15) Coasters



  • 15 Knits That Will Make You Crave Fall Weather

    ...and how YOU can make them for yourself.
    For most people, cool weather just means kids going back to school and needing to get out your winter clothes. As a knitter, cold weather means people wearing the beautiful knits you have been working on all year.

    Here are 10 patterns that make the wait for fall even more unbearable. They are accompanied by Leisure Arts' instructional material that will help you master the technique most prominent in the pattern. Enjoy!


    What a gorgeous and unique technique. Leisure Arts' has a book published by Marly Bird I Can't Believe I'm Entrelac Knitting that can teach you, even if you only know the basics of knitting. 
    Ravelry: Rosemary Drysdale
    Ravelry: Sandi Prosser 

    Fair Isle 

    Mary Jane Mucklestone

    You might be avoiding learning this because it looks complicated. Here are a few gorgeous patterns to help you decide. Leisure Arts' I Can't Believe I'm Fair Isle Knitting book makes learning, and personalizing fair isle knitting easy. See Jen's post about I Can't Believe I'm Fair Isle Knitting

    West Coast Knitter
    Tumblr: Rosa Loves

    Chain Knitting

    I'm thinking this is a somewhat-new technique because I didn't find as much on it as I did the other techniques. I see it all the time, it's just not tagged as a technique yet. A beautiful technique you can master with  I Can't Believe I'm Chain Knitting by Lisa Gentry (designer of our Celebrity Slouchy Beanies patterns). 


    I am making the Felted Clutch from Take the Fear Out of Cables right now, and it wasn't hard to learn. This technique looks so awesome that it took me awhile to narrow down the pictures I wanted to use for this post. Feel free to browse around Pinterest and see for yourself! If you like the "I Can't Believe I'm..." books, Leisure Arts also has one for cables. Check out I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Cables!

    Chic Knits
    Ravelry: Georgie Hallam
    Ravelry: Cirilia Rose


    Although I usually see lace that's been crocheted, lace knitting has definitely taken over its share of Pinterest. Leisure Arts just put up Beginner's Guide to Lace Knitting on our website! Also, we offer I Can't Believe I'm Lace Knitting. Before writing this blog post I did not realize how many "I Can't Believe I'm..." books we have. Leisure Arts wants you to be as impressed with your work as we are! 

    Ravelry: Jenny Johnson Johnen
    Craftsy: Rita Maassen


    My favorite part of cold weather. They are so cute and soft. I am already planning on picking up this skill before the temperature drops. You can, too, with our I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Mittens book! Leisure Arts also has a wonderful Texting Mitts (fingerless mitts) book, but this year I want mittens. Who's with me? 

     We Heart It
    We Heart It 


        Ravelry: Lifeline Pattern
    Ravelry: Vivian Aubrey
     My mitten WIP from Instagram
    Instagram: LeisureArts

    In the Round

    There nothing like a chunky cowl in the cold weather. It's my secret to staying warm. Last year I had a crochet cowl. This year I'm knitting the Tempting Texture cowl (in the round) from Knit Cowls by Lisa Gentry. I'm guessing many of you know how to knit in the round, but for those of you who are avoiding it, have no fear! The book Beginner's Guide to Knitting in the Round was recently put up on the website. Jen interviewed the designer Kristin Omdahl!

     Barksdale Blessing
    Barksdale Blessings
    Lara's Cowl

    Thanks for reading! I hope you were inspired to learn something new.

    Stay crafty!



  • I Can't Belive I'm Knitting this WIP!

     Well, I finally went for it.  I remembered my New Year's resolutions and decided to jump into Fair Isle knitting with I Can't Believe I'm Fair Isle Knitting!

    I know the back of my knitting is supposed to look like this, but I still freak out a little every time I see it.

    But I am Fair Isle knitting and so far, it hasn't been a disaster.  I'm working on the Columbia River Ear Flap hat.  Please note the ear flaps.  You knit them first and then cast on stitches for the band.  Weird, but true.  I picked the Columbia River Ear Flap hat because it only uses two colors.  I figured that would be the most I could handle for my first attempt.  Also, I liked how outdoorsy the pattern name sounded.  Again, weird.  But true.


    And!  This is knit with worsted weight yarn.  I'm not sure why it would make much of a difference, but I tend to hold thicker yarns a little more loosely than something of a finer weight.  Since I would be carrying my spare yarn behind my stitches, I wanted to make sure I wouldn't grip anything too tightly and wind up with some bunchy colorwork.


    As it is, I just wound up with some messed up colorwork.  Because that's what I do.


    But I don't care that much because 1) this was my first attempt (actually, it was the second row of knitting on the chart, but there was a lot of talking going on at my local knit night while I was working on this), and 2) no one will care as much as I do about this minor mistake.  So if I don't care very much, then I guess people won't care at all.  Or something.  I think I'm going to give this to my husband, and I know he especially won't care.  I have knitted him hats before that didn't even fit, and he wore them.  The man is a saint as far as being a knitter spouse goes.  I have a lot of other complaints about him, but he has knows better than to judge a knitted gift--especially one that I made for him. 

    I think he's really going to like the ear flaps.


    I'm a third of the way through the chart and it's not terrifying.  Hooray! And it's even pretty!  More hooray!  I'm using Patons Classic Wool because I had some in my stash and I thought the colors would go well together in a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup sort of way.  Also, and I know this is silly, I felt like I should use wool instead of an acrylic blend for Fair Isle knitting.  Fair Isle feels classic and lovely and real wool seems classic and lovely and I don't know.  I just thought it would look nice.

    And it does so far!  I hope your WIPs are going just as well.  Minus the mess-ups, of course.

  • Marvelous Mittens

    I made mittens!  I finished the Basic Mittens pattern from I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Mittens! and I love how they turned out!


    My daughter loved how they turned out as well, which is great because I made them in the toddler size and they were for her.  I'm not sure if they'll fit her in the fall, but that's okay.  One, because I have made these mittens and I'm fully comfortable making them in the next size up.  And two, because she's wearing them this summer.  Girlfriend loves to accessorize.

    This was a delightful pattern.  I feel a little silly saying that, but not enough so that I pick a different word.  The number of stitches is divisible by four, you use four needles, and when you follow the pattern you get mittens.  I'm not sure what could be better because this was lovely.

    I really enjoying making anything from the I Can't Believe I'm .... series.  Just when you think something couldn't possibly be broken down into more minute detail, it gets broken down into more minute detail.  There's painstakingly detailed instructions in there to reassure you AND step-by-step photographs.  It's fantastic.

    One of the things I appreciated about the pattern is that even though they recommend you work to find your gauge and go from there, the instructions are still to knit your plain rows (meaning, rows that don't involve increases, decreases, thumb holes, etc.) until you reach a certain length.  Not a certain number of rows, just a certain length.  Gauge is a funny thing, and people are funny things, and pattern-writers who assume you must absolutely achieve perfect gauge and then knit something exactly as they did with exactly the same type of yarn for the same number of rows are funniest of all.  They just make me laugh and laugh until I want to cry and maybe throw something. 

    But then I remember I'm a grown woman who can do whatever I want with a pattern to get whatever finished project I need.  I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Mittens is a great starting point that completely explains every point of a pattern to a newer knitter with the type of tone that lets the knitter know, "Hey, you'll have this in no time and then you'll probably do all kinds of things with all kinds of patterns!"

    "High five!"

     I would MUCH rather knit a pattern that tells me to knit until something is a length I like or need.  The measurements were incredibly handy.  And I know this seems rather obvious to some crafters, but I really appreciate the little note where you're instructed to knit the hand of the mitten until it's roughly whatever length is appropriate for whatever size you're making--or you know, until it hits the tip of the pinky of the person you're knitting for.  Duh.  I appreciated the reminder, though.  Sometimes it's easy to lose all common sense when you're in the thick of a pattern and keeping up with all your needles.


    And yes, even though I am a grown woman who can (mostly) follow a pattern I did knit one of these a bit larger than the other.  I hypnotized myself a little with this soft yarn (Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica. So soft!  So wooly!) and these simple little knit stitches.  Sometimes I wouldn't catch myself until I knitted a bit farther than I should have.  In the future, I plan to just knit a much larger size.  (The sizes for this pattern are Toddler, Child's Small, Child's Medium, Women's, and Men's.)  That should let me enjoy plenty of relaxing knitting and then I'll have a set of mittens for myself!  Like I said, I don't know what could be better.

    Because it just doesn't get much better than mittens.

  • I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Toddler Mittens!


    I'm making some mittens!  Tiny, toddler-sized mittens!  The Basic Mittens pattern from I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Mittens is helping me create some adorable little mittens for my three-year-old.

    They're lovely.  I'm using #5 needles and some Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica that I have left from when I knitted mine.  We're going to match this winter!  I can't wait!


    I first learned to make mittens this winter from the 36-stitch Mitten Pattern from Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann .  I really like the method of working the thumb holes by knitting a few stitches onto waste yarn, and then unraveling it later to pick up the free stitches.  So that's what I'm going to do with these mittens. 


    However, the instructions in I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Mittens! suggest a pretty interesting construction that involves a little bit of moving stitches around and casting on some new ones that I would try if I was more adventurous.  But since I just figured out how to knit mittens a short while ago, I'm sticking with what I know because I want these to be nice.

    Working with the four needles is going along just fine, and things only feel too 'slippery' when I'm on the last few rows.  There's an excellent tutorial here about working with double pointed needles, and I thought it was a nice refresher course to watch before I got started.


    I'm working on my second mitt now, and I'll save the thumbs for last.  I know that cold weather is a long ways off, but I'm excited about finishing these little mittens quickly.  I want to be ready and I want to see these on my little girl's hands!

  • Weekly Dishcloth: I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting this Dishcloth


    This week's dishcloth is the Dishcloth pattern from I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting!  The exclamation point is part of the title.  But I'm excited regardless.  I was looking through my patterns on Ravelry and this little gem was buried somewhere in the dishcloth section of my library.  I liked that the pattern came with the option of making this with stripes, or as a solid color dishcloth.  And since I love anything with modifications, I got started on this almost immediately.

    This dishcloth is made up of half double crochet stitches that worked in the front loops only or in the back loops only (the stitches alternate).  It lets a newer crocheter practice half double crochet stitches and new techniques while creating a fantastically textured dishcloth that looks like it's going to be perfect for scrubbing.

    A little part of my brain just groans with boredom every time I write about a dishcloth's texture (I feel like I type out the word "texture" way too much), but talking about the way something looks and feels is a big part of yarn crafting.  Also, I checked a thesaurus and decided I would feel silly using "composition" when talking about the crocheted fabric of fairly simple dishcloth.  So I'll just say that this pattern creates a very textured dishcloth.

    This very textured dishcloth has an interesting-looking surface and I think it will be perfect for scrubbing for dishes and mopping up spills--even if they're only imaginary because my three-year-old believes I'm making this for her play kitchen.  Oh well.  If you're a new crocheter, this dishcloth pattern (or any dishcloth pattern really!) is an excellent way to practice new stitches and techniques.  If you're more experienced, this still has enough variety to keep you entertained.  Either way, you're sure to love the end result and it's a wonderful addition to any kitchen!

     Real or otherwise.
  • Loom Knitting: 2nd Baby Hat Complete!

    Remember the Next-Step E-Wrap Knit Hat that I started loom knitting from Kathy Norris’ how-to book—I Can’t Believe I’m Loom Knitting?
    I just finished tidying up the loose ends, and I have to say that this is the greatest pattern ever! I like it even more than the first hat I loom knitted. I was amazed at how fast a novice like me could finish this little loom knitting project, plus I really like the texture created by using two stands of yarn.
    Now, I’ve got to decide what my next loom knitting project from I Can’t Believe I’m Loom Knitting will be!
    I probably should take the learning process slow and easy and simply go on to the third hat in the book—the Garter Stitch Brim Hat. It teaches a different way to cast on, the purl stitch, and how to change colors. I could make another baby hat. But…
    Part of me wants to jump ahead to flat loom knitting and this pretty Sampler Afghan…
    And I’m certainly tempted by this Felted Basketweave Tote (I’m definitely a bag lady at heart)…
    I really like this Hooded Vest!
    While the Darling Daughters want me to try my hand at loom knitting Robin’s Hood!
    And those are just a few of the 18 fun loom knitting projects in I Can’t Believe I’m Loom Knitting! So many cool projects and only two hands...
    Of course, since I liked it so much, I may just have to make some more Next-Step E-Wrap Knit Hats like the one I just finished. It’s such a stress free pattern, and I’ve gotten behind on my charity hat making for this year!
  • Loom Knitting Progress—1st Hat Finished!

    Remember the Beginner Knit Hat from Kathy Norris’ I Can’t Believe I’m Loom Knitting that I was babbling the other day? I actually finished it—

    I actually got to hold my little baby hat up in a house full of girls and say the words, “I really knitted a hat!” It was pretty cool! Then, I got to share my limited loom knitting skills with the girls! They were thrilled when I showed them how easy loom knitting really is…

    And, at that point, I only thought I’d found the easiest way to hand make hats ever! Then, I started on the next hat in I Can’t Believe I’m Loom Knitting—the Next-Step E-Wrap Knit Hat! It’s made while holding two strands of yarn together, so it works up super fast! (I’m making another baby hat!)

    I’ll show you my loom knitting hat #2 when I find a minute to finish it…of course, the girls announced they needed food just as I was about half way done…But once again, I just want to share how simple it was to pick up right where I left off with my loom knitting. No counting or fuss, and if you have hand issues (sometimes mine really hurt if I get on a crocheting or cross stitch binge), so far, loom knitting isn’t bothering me at all! If fact, a lady on Facebook told us that she was able to loom knit with one hand when she had hand surgery! Pretty cool, huh?

  • Loom Knitting — My First Hat!

    I Can’t Believe I’m Loom Knitting! The book title really does say it all! I’m trying my hand a loom knitting with some guidance from Kathy Norris’ how-to book—I Can’t Believe I’m Loom Knitting, and I’m really amazed at how absolutely easy it is!

    To get started, I got myself a copy of I Can’t Believe I’m Loom Knitting, a 31 peg round loom, a knitting loom tool, and a skein of yarn! That’s all you need!

    Father’s Day afternoon while other family members were otherwise occupied with napping or John Wayne movie watching, I sat down with my supplies, read over the instructions, and set to work on the first project in the book—the Beginner Knit Hat. I’m making it in an infant size (hence the need for the 31 peg loom) for my daughter’s friend’s new baby! (I can see myself making more of these baby hats for charity!)

    By the end of the afternoon, I had this much done and was quietly congratulating myself! I really am loom knitting!

    Now, I just need to find the time to actually finish this hat ’cause I want to start on the second project in I Can’t Believe I’m Loom Knitting—The Next Step E-Wrap Knit Hat! (More baby hats on the horizon!)

    Wish me luck with my baby hats loom knitting extravaganza!

    Oh, and if you’re finding yourself intrigued by the idea of loom knitting, too, let me tell you—I Can’t Believe I’m Loom Knitting is also available as a digital download, so you can take it everywhere with you. (Which is probably how I’ll manage to finish my first hat!)
  • I Can’t Believe I’m Fair Isle Knitting

    Here I go again…I don’t knit, but I guess I’m going to have to learn ’cause now I wanna learn how to knit all 6 of the projects in the I Can’t Believe I’m Fair Isle Knitting by Sheila G. Joynes!

    This book, like all of the others in our best-selling I Can’t Believe series, offers up everything you need to know—in this case, about Fair Isle knitting. As a special feature, you can even personalize the color keys, making it easy to use the yarn colors of your choice! Some of the designs are even photographed in two color versions for inspiration…check them out:

    Garden Cowl

    Columbia River Ear Flap Hat

    Autumn Beanie

    Little Sophia’s Hat

    Ginger’s Slouch Hat

    Cranberry Rose Hat

    Meet The Designer!

    Sheila G. Joynes says, “Friends and family describe my relationship to Fair Isle knitting as ‘She paints with yarn.’” Sheila’s knitting journey began when she was a teenager, but she was fascinated by color long before then. She says, “As a small child, I would spend hours studying a book of my grandmother’s called World Famous Paintings. Years later, I graduated from the University of Washington with an Art Education degree. It provided me with an opportunity to focus on my love of color and fiber. Watercolor, fiber art, and photography were my favorite classes. I incorporated art in most of my lesson plans as a teacher and a volunteer.”

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