Because everything can be a little cuter

Step 1: The Long Tail Cast On

So as I said in the last blog post about what you’ll need to get started knitting, you should have at least one color of a pretty cheap yarn and at least one set of knitting needles. To learn to cast on, that’s really all you need right now.

Your first step will be to make a slipknot in your yarn. Yes, slipknot is more than just a mediocre rock band that was marginally cool when I was like 13.

For the long-tail cast on we’re doing today, where you put the slipknot matters because you want enough yarn to form the stitches you need. A standard rule of thumb is that you’ll need one inch for every stitch you plan to cast on.

A good number to start with is ten stitches, so take the end of your yarn and pull about ten inches plus a little bit for wiggle room, and then make your knot like so:

Slipknot

It’s difficult to put it into words well, but hopefully the gif above is clear. You’re basically twisting a simple loop into the yarn, then pull a loop of the hanging yarn through the first loop. If that doesn’t make sense, just mimic the gif!

Slipknot on needle

Next, just slide that slipknot onto the needle and pull to tighten. BUT don’t make it too tight. This goes for when you start casting on too. When I first started I had a habit of casting on too tightly and then it was painful to actually try and knit with these tight stitches. Leave a bit of slack so that when you start stitching, you’ll be able to get the other needle into the stitch.

Splitting yarn

Once the slipknot is on the needle, put your index finger on the knot to hold it in place then use your other hand to hold the yarn. As you can see in the gif, you’ll hold both the loose end and the yarn that goes back to the ball, then split them apart with your thumb and index finger.

I think to some people it matters which end is which, but I’ve never found it makes much of a difference. So just pick up the needle, hold your slipknot in place, grab the hanging yarn, and separate the strands.

And here it is: the cast on.

Casting on stitch

Notice that the first step is to move the needle toward you and pick up the lower portion of yarn that’s looped around your thumb.

You then point the needle toward your index finger and pick up the upper portion of the yarn looped around your index finger.

You then pull with your thumb and forefinger on each strand of the yarn to tighten. But not too tight like I said above.

So let’s say you want to cast on 10 stitches. Remember that the slipknot counts as a stitch. So to get 10 you’ll go through the motion in the gif above nine times, not ten.

In all its blurry beauty, this is what it looked like when I’d cast on three times:

Cast on

Once you’ve cast on the number of stitches you need, you’ll be ready to get started learning some basic stitches, but that’s a lesson for next time.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the next post!

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Why knit? More like…why not?*

Basic things you'll need to get started knitting - some cheap yarn, a pair of needles, and scissors

So up to this point a lot of the crafting I’ve done & shared on the blog has been sewing or painting, which are still super fun activities! But now I’m going to switch up the focus a bit and get into the basics of knitting.

You might be asking yourself…knitting? Isn’t that just something for old women in the 1800s or Serena on The Handmaid’s Tale? Lies.

The reason I took up knitting has a lot to do with the reason why this blog has been sadly quiet for so long. I just graduated from law school, and it’s no coincidence that law school lasts 3 years and it’s been 3 years since I’ve gotten to update the blog.

But I took up knitting thanks to pressure from my sister and to have a stress relieving hobby to work on when I needed a break from studying. Here are some of the reasons I’ve stuck with it through the years and have been neglecting other crafts:

  • Knitting is super easy to put down and come back to later, so you can just work on it a little at a time when you need to unwind
  • Doesn’t take up nearly as much space as sewing — having to clear off my table anytime I wanted to craft was really hard to do
  • Great for stress relief and other health benefits
  • Super easy to take things apart and start over if you realize you’ve made a huge tactical error, and you don’t have to toss out yarn

And that’s all just off the top of my head.

So what do you need to get started? Basically everything you see in the picture above will help you get the foundational skills down. First, I recommend getting two contrasting colors of a cheap yarn — I don’t want to recommend any particular brands here because I feel kind of bad singling out a brand as “cheap.” But I always keep the white and pink yarns you see in the photo handy for experimenting with new techniques.

Second, get one or two pairs of needles. I have size 7s in the picture, but size 10 is also a good one to get started. We’ll talk more about picking the right sized needle for a project later, but for now anything in the 7 to 10 range should get the job done.

You’ll also need some scissors to cut the yarn, and not pictured but also very handy is a yarn or tapestry needle. It’s basically a needle with a really big eye for when you’re weaving in the ends of your yarn.

And finally, brew yourself a nice warm mug of tea. Just because it’s good for you.

Now while you’re out at the craft store picking those up, I’ll be here getting ready to show you the first steps in any knitting project: casting on stitches.

*I regret nothing.

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We’re getting the blog back together!

Do your eyes deceive you?

No, they do not!

This is a new blog post!

Yes after years and years of waiting, Paroxa is back and ready for action.

We’re going to get back into the swing of things with some how to’s on knitting! And the Etsy store is going to make a comeback! And I’m learning to make gifs! So many exciting things!

Stay tuned because we’re about to go feet first into the wonderful world of knitting. See you then!

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The Fabric Pile

A big pile of my fabric for crafting

 

Pictured above is my attempt at organizing my fabric and notions collection. I took the painful step of throwing away any fabrics that I knew I’d have no use for in the near future, like scrap fabric that was basically in shreds. Even when I have a ton of ideas for things to craft, it’s hard to get started without knowing exactly what I have in inventory because there have been times when I’ve started a project only to realize I didn’t have the right zipper, lining, thread, etc.

I’m also looking for inspiration for things to craft out of all this fabric. Just browsing the internet for project ideas is a project all on its own!

I should mention however that the picture above doesn’t even include my Christmas fabric. That’s sitting in an extra large JoAnn bag in my closet and has to be lifted from the bottom with both hands. But summer and spring aren’t exactly ideal times for Christmas crafts right?

I’ve added a few new items to my Etsy Shop if you’d like to check it out and created a section just for spring and summer items which I hope to fill pretty quickly!

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Quick Sewing Tip: Easy Cleanup

If you’re anything like me, when you get done with a big sewing project your table looks a bit like this:

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

Threads and scraps everywhere!

I used to try to clean these up by wiping with my hand or with a piece of fabric, but that only knocked thread to the floor.

But alas, there’s an easier way!

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

That’s right. A lint roller.

If you haven’t thought of this already you’re probably hitting yourself like I was for not thinking of it sooner. Usually I only think to reach for the lint roller when I’m wearing black, but it’s a great cleanup tool.

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

Look at all that. It’s almost gross.

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

 

Now it’s clean and pristine!

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Christmas Sewing Craft: Drawstring Pouch

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I’m not ashamed to say I use reusable grocery bags every time I go to the grocery store (unless I forget to bring them with me). Yesterday I went to an event where they handed out fabric bags to throw your goodies in, and my first thought was “Yay another grocery bag!” My family also holds onto gift bags and reuses the same ones over and over and over again. So I thought to myself, why not sew a fabric gift bag?

A little drawstring Christmas pouch is great for small gifts, candy, ornaments, etc. It’s reusable, and the drawstring opening builds suspense by completely concealing what’s inside. And if your Christmas party is lacking anything, it’s suspense.

What you’ll need:

  • A Christmas fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Ribbon
  • A safety pin

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

First I take a cut of fabric that’s about twice as long as it is wide.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I press them in half where the bottom of the bag will be, and the two free ends that meet at the top will form the opening.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

My ribbon is 3/8″ wide, so I’m making the drawstring casing 1/2″ wide to allow adequate room. to make sure no frayed edges are exposed, Fold over about 1/8″ on the edge of the fabric and stitch it in place. Only one side is pictured above, but I do this on both sides of the opening.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Next I fold down 1/2″ and press to form the casing.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I stitch down the casing with a zigzag stitch to keep the edge from fraying as much. I could theoretically overlock and then straight stitch it down, but the zigzag stitch just looks more fun. And in the words of Sheldon Cooper, “What’s life without whimsy?”

2013-11-03 15.51.11

 

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Next I pin the right sides together to form the sides of the bag, and these I stitch with an overlock stitch and no seam allowance so that the stitch will line up perfectly when the edge of the casing. Make sure to leave the opening of the casing free so you can insert the ribbon!

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

To make the bag stand up on its own, you’ll want to sew the corners of the inside into two triangles that will lay flat against the bottom. I don’t know if there’s a science to determining how wide you want your triangles, but I make mine half the width of my pouch. My pouch is 6 inches wide, so you can see in the picture that I’m making my triangles 3 inches wide, with the side seam right in the middle. I draw a line where my gauge is measuring 3 inches and stitch right along that line, then draw a similar line on the other side and repeat.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

A view from the top after I stitched my corners.

Next it’s time to insert the ribbon and make it a drawstring pouch!

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I used leftover pieces of ribbon from another project that weren’t quite long enough, but you’ll want yours to be twice the width of your bag plus a couple of inches. My pouches were 6 inches wide, so I should have used 14 inch ribbons, but alas.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Affix a safety pin to the end of one of your ribbons, and insert it into one of the casings. When you reach the next opening, keep pushing the ribbon through the other side of the casing until the ribbon has come full circle.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Now you’re halfway done!

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Finally, attach the safety pin to one end of your second piece of ribbon, and insert it into the other side of the opening, where your first ribbon simply continued through without stopping. You’ll again want to move the ribbon all the way through so that both ends of the same ribbon are on the same side of the opening.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

And voila! You have a drawstring little pouch for Christmas. I think these would be great if you’re having a party and want to give out little goody bags, and you can make it taller or wider as you so desire!

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Living on the Edge: Installing Wall Shelves

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectWall shelves can be a sleek, minimalist way to create some storage space in your home. I decided to install some wall shelves above my TV to clear up some of the clutter on my TV stand.

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectBefore, I had junk all over the stand blocking my remote signals and stressing me out. Also I had a gaping empty stretch of wall that needed filling!

Remember the post where I talked about how to find a stud in your wall? Well this is why I had to learn how! Each shelf has three screws to secure it to the wall, and for maximum weight capacity at least one has to be secured to a stud.

Here are a few screwing tips I learned to hang these walls.

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectBefore you get to screwing, you’ll want to use a skinny drill bit like the one pictured above to form a little starter hole where you’re planning to drill in a screw. It’ll make the screw move into the wall more easily.

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectThe white screw-looking object pictured above is actually a dry wall anchor. Anchors will help stabilize a screw in the wall so that it can carry more weight without pulling out a chunk of the wall. I only used anchors on screws that weren’t going into a stud. Different kinds of anchors come with different instructions, so be sure to follow yours closely!

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectIf your screw ends up looking like the one pictured above, and no screwdriver can turn it in or out, you have yourself a stripped screw. The only choice is to take it out and put in a new one. Mine got so securely stuck I had to get out the pliers and jiggle it out!

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectEventually all my screwing hung the bracket above that in theory I’d be able to gently slide the shelf onto, but really sliding the self onto the bracket may have been the most difficult step!

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectBut eventually I was able to do it! And now I have some nifty storage space and some screwing experience under my belt.

I prayed pretty vehemently that hanging these right above my TV wouldn’t backfire terribly, but so far they’ve been safe and secure!

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