Knitting in the Round AHA! Moment

Are you someone who tried knitting in the round on two circular needles or using Magic Loop and struggled to figure out why on earth anyone would use either of these methods? Was your experience fraught with frustration? Did you decide that the person who suggested it to you was completely and utterly insane? I think I might know why… and it’s not you.

It’s interesting how you find a way that you like to do something and it turns out there’s more to it than you realized.

I have mentioned in previous posts that my preferred way to knit in the round is on two circular needles.

Depending on what it is, I will occasionally use the magic loop method as well. Always worked like a charm for me. Turns out it’s not just about the method itself. What I have discovered is that using the right needles for this method is vital.

I often see customers who are quite new to knitting.

They are looking for advice. I am happy to share my experience with them. I know a fair bit, but by no means do I know everything there is to know about knitting. I offer advice and I encourage them to embark on their own discovery mission on YouTube as well.

When people first approach knitting, they want to see whether they will like it before they invest a whole lot of money. Let’s face it, it’s easy to spend a whole lot of money on knitting! As a shop keeper, there is a very frugal part of me that wants to look out for them and help them to keep their initial costs down. If they discover that they fall in love with knitting, there’s lots of time for them to invest in top notch tools should they choose to. I carry a range of different brands of needles that have varied price points for that reason. Not everyone has a budget for the really nice ones.

After demonstrating them to customers, I invested in Knitter’s Pride Dreamz needles for my knitting, but didn’t really think about the fact that what makes these needles so lovely is also what makes it so easy to use them in varying ways. So when I encouraged people to try knitting in the round on circulars using either the 2-needle method or the magic loop method, it didn’t occur to me that a big reason that I love these methods is because my knitting needles make it easy to do so.

A customer came in, very frustrated, trying to hang in there with two circulars, knitting in the round. She pulled out her project and handed it to me. The look of defeat on her face broke my heart. I slid the working needle in place and before I even began to knit I knew her pain. The cords on her economy knitting needles were so stiff and so locked into the curled shape from being in the package that it was a nightmare to knit anything at all, especially with the second equally stiff circular needle insisting on always getting in the way. I pulled out my project, on two Knitter’s Pride Dreamz needles to show her the difference. I slid the stitches onto the working needle, passed it to her and suggested she give it a try. She took it in her hands and immediately understood what I was trying to demonstrate to her. The cords are light, supple and easily move out of your way without distorting the shape of the project. The second needle is barely noticeable as you work. After a brief discussion, she decided to get what she needed to have one long circular that she could use for Magic Loop method. This way she only needed to invest in one set of tips and one cord. She left happy and I learned something.

We hear it said all the time: ‘Use the right tool for the job.”

I have not used every knitting needle on the market by any stretch of the imagination. I assume that there are other brands besides Knitter’s Pride out there that also have light, supple, flexible cords on their circular knitting needles. Economy needles absolutely do the job. For anyone getting started they are a great way to keep your initial costs down until you decide whether you want to stick with knitting or not. High end needles glide differently, feel beautiful in your hands and make knitting more pleasurable. They really are worth the investment.

If you are unsure, ask your local yarn shop whether they have sample needles that you can try out in the store.

 

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Buying Elastic

There are quite a few different types of elastic on the market for sewing and craft making. It can be rather confusing to be sure what you need. Today I thought I’d explain some of the differences and perhaps take some of that confusion away.

Elastic can be manufactured by being knitted or woven, it can be round or flat and some is even transparent. For many types of projects, whether you use knitted or woven elastic really won’t make that much difference. I hope I can give you a few tips on what to look for so that you know what to pay attention to when choosing.

Flat Elastics

Flat Elastics include

  • woven,
  • knitted,
  • transparent and
  • waistband or
  • non-roll elastic.

Most elastics come in a wide array of widths from 1/8″ up to 4″. Usually you can choose between white and black, occasionally an ivory or cream and in a few specialty elastics you can buy it in colours. Not every store will carry every width and certainly not necessarily every colour that is available.

Flat elastics are most often attached along the edge or hem of a garment (or craft project) or are pulled through a fabric channel and then fastened together in a loop. You can pull them through a channel at a hem too. They can be

  • stretched as you sew them in place with a large straight stitch or zig-zag stitch or
  • serged along the edge. Once stitched in this way, you let go and it gathers the fabric. (Be sure to use a long stitch though.)

Woven Elastics

Woven elastic tends to offer a little more resistance when you pull on it; knitted elastic gives a softer pull (in general). Waist band or non-roll elastic has a very firm pull to it. It has visible reinforced ribs and and as its name suggests, it will stay flat in a waist band. Most people have experienced a waistband that curls up. Ick. Personally, I prefer to use a woven elastic in small children’s trousers, but I also would stretch the elastic and stitch it to the edge of the fabric before finishing up the waistband. I like that it’s a softer elastic. When you are changing diapers it makes it easier to get them on and off. Once they are out of diapers, I would be inclined to use waistband elastic.

Folding Elastic

Folding elastic is intended to be attached along the edge of a garment like a binding with the bonus that it is stretchy. (Although when you attach it you might not feel like that’s a particularly nice bonus. LOL) It has a spine where it folds readily in half along its length to make it easy to line up. If you hold your tongue right, you can even attach it with one line of stitching. Zig-zag makes it easy to apply.

Decorative Elastics

Decorative elastics come with frilly or picot edges or in bright colours with patterns woven into them. These are often used on the top edge of underwear (the lacy ones) or on children’s garments (the bright funky ones). The latter are usually sold in small packages rather than in bulk on a spool.

Clear Elastic

Clear elastic is most often used as a strap for a “strapless” top or dress (although you can actually see it a little when it catches the light) or for hanging straps inside a garment so that you can keep the garment from falling off a hanger in your closet.

Bra Strap Elastic

Bra strap elastic is fuzzy on the back so that it is comfortable on the shoulder; it has a satiny sheen on the right side so it looks attractive. It comes in a few different widths to accommodate typical bras. I have personally only seen it in white, black and ivory from my suppliers.

Round Elastic

Round elastic is most often used as a drawstring in cuffs and hems on outerwear and winter gloves. However you can also buy heavy round elastic called “shock cord” to make bungee straps and tie downs for tents. The thinner versions of this come in black or white, the heavier ones are often striped for better visibility.

Elastic Thread

Finally, you can buy elastic thread. This is most commonly used to shirr (gather or smock) fabric. It is thicker than normal thread. It is wound on a bobbin by hand without tension on it, and sewn with normal thread on the top. This technique is a whole skill set in and of itself.

You know those groovy smocked dresses we wore back in the 70’s?

Well this elastic is what made those possible. I have seen people weave this into the back of cuffs on hand knitted sweaters to enhance the “staying-put” quality of the ribbing.

Deciding

When determining what type of elastic you want to use take a few things into consideration.

How do you plan to apply it?

If you are sewing stretched elastic into a garment,

  • how heavy is the fabric?
  • Will the elastic be strong enough to keep it gathered?

Conversely, if you are using a light weight fabric,

  • is the elastic so stiff that you lose the drape of the fabric?
  • Do you want something that will just give a little shape?
  • Does it have to help hold the structure of what you are making?
  • How much and how easily do you want it to stretch?

Most sewing shops sell elastic in bulk on spools. If you are unsure what you need, pull those spools out and give the elastic a stretch to see how it feels. Take your project into consideration as you eliminate which elastics won’t do what you want. This will help you narrow it down. Most staff members in sewing shops are sewing enthusiasts and will be able to guide you. If that doesn’t narrow it down enough, remember that elastic is very inexpensive; to purchase a few different types won’t break the bank. It will allow you to experiment and become familiar with their qualities.

Happy crafting!

Scissors and More

Do you remember your first pair of scissors?

Or when you first discovered how scissors worked? Oh, the power! Memories of scissors incidents came flooding back to me the other day when a customer came in with a brand new child’s jacket that was the victim of someone’s first experience with a good pair of scissors. This was my inspiration for today’s topic.

Whether you sew, crochet, knit or make crafts, at some point you are going to have to cut something. Today’s focus is on a variety of tools to allow you to do just that.

Scissors, as I’m sure you know, come in a variety of styles and sizes and are made out of various types of metal. Some are made with steel, some with titanium. Titanium is very strong and it’s nice, but not really necessary for fibre arts. In the realm of sewing for the average person (not everyone needs a 12″ long pair of tailor’s shears, after all) there are really only a few that most people use.

Sewing Shear

Most common is the sewing shear. These very sharp scissors generally have blades in the range of 7″ to 9.5″ that are offset slightly so that when you are cutting fabric that is laying on a flat surface, your hand is up and out of the way of the table. This prevents disturbing the fabric any more than necessary while cutting. Typical quality brands include Gingher, Henckels, Fiskars, Mundial and Wiss. There are also some less known brands that offer excellent quality scissors at a lower price.

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Pinking Shears

Pinking shears are scissors that cut a zig zag pattern. These are great for trimming seams to minimize fraying. They can also be used in making crafts where you want a zig zag edge. They tend to be a bit heavy so they can tire your hands out if you are cutting for longer periods of time.

 

Rotary Cutters

Rotary cutters consist of a handle assembly and a round razor sharp blade. They come in a few different sizes, measured by the diameter of the blade. The most common are 28mm, 45mm and 60mm. You need a cutting mat to protect your work surface when using this tool. The mats are printed with a grid in inches that works well with a wide array of rulers designed specifically to be used with rotary cutters. You can also get circle cutters that use small rotary blades. These cutters are fantastic for cutting out fabric for any sewing project. It allows the fabric to remain completely flat on the cutting mat, so there is less risk of any distortion that you can sometimes get when cutting with scissors. These also allow for a very smooth cutting line. Rotary cutters are extremely sharp! It’s very important to replace the blade guard any time they are not in use. Just brushing your hand up against it will result in a cut… and they hurt like paper cuts… ouch! The most common brands include Olfa and Omnigrid. Replacement blades are readily available. It’s possible to get blades that give a wavy or pinked edge. These may not be a regular stock item in your local sewing store, but they can certainly be special ordered in. You do have to press them firmly into the fabric as you cut. If you have problems with your wrist you may find them a bit challenging to use. I personally couldn’t live without mine.

 

Embroidery Scissors

Embroidery scissors are small with blades that are typically less than 3″ long. Many people will be familiar with the classic style that looks like a stork. These are handy to have in a little tool pouch for small or intricate jobs. If you are cutting thread, yarn or cutting out the pieces of a small felt Christmas ornament, embroidery scissors will do the job.

It’s worth paying the price for a good pair.

A good pair (provided no one sneaks them for cutting paper… LOL) can last for a lifetime.

 

Applique Scissors

Applique scissors are a strange looking creature. They look a bit like something out of a nineteenth century doctor’s kit. The blade is offset and has a shield attached that allows the user to trim away excess fabric when attaching appliques to a sewing project. Although these are not a “must have” tool, for anyone doing applique a lot, they are certainly a nice tool to have. They can be quite pricey as they are a specialty item, so this might be something to ask Santa for. 😉

 

Clippers / Snippers

Clippers, or snippers or thread snips are a cutting tool most commonly used to snip threads. These can be purchased with or without a guard. For knitters or crocheters, I recommend getting one with a guard. This allows you to cover the business end of it so it won’t cause damage in your project bag. This is a very handy tool to keep next to your sewing machine to trim threads as you sew.

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Folding Scissors

Folding scissors are usually very inexpensive. These are fine as a back up pair for thread and such.

Don’t expect to be able to cut fabric with them.

You get what you pay for. They are handy for things like the first aid kit, emergency sewing kit, tool box or in the glove box of your vehicle as a “just in case” tool.

 

Stitch Ripper

The stitch ripper (also called a seam ripper) is a specialized tool for cutting the threads in a seam when you need to disassemble a sewn item. It has a sharp point that allows you to direct it between stitches accurately. The point then leads the stitch you pick up to a very sharp curved cutting edge. Opposite the point is a shorter point with a ball on it. This ball prevents the second point from catching on the fabric. These are available in different styles. The differences are generally in the shape and size of the handle and whether the cover fits over the handle when not in use. You can also get some with a rubbery top that is intended to rub away the bits of cut thread as you go. It’s a must have tool for a sewing kit.

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Pendant Cutter

20171013_083314The pendant cutter is a neat little tool. I don’t know for sure, but I imagine they invented this one in response to all the travel restrictions affecting bringing scissors in your carry on luggage. This nifty little guy is a decorative but effective tool that you can put on a chain or ribbon like a necklace. The blades are tucked in behind guards so that it won’t cut unless you actually put the yarn or thread into the blade area deliberately. This is a very good cutter for the project bag as it is highly unlikely to cause any damage between uses.

You might want to have it in a little pouch so you can find it though.

If your project bags are anything like mine, that is.

 

I am a firm believer in having the right tool for the job. I personally appreciate that there are so many different cutting tools available to make creating fibre arts more enjoyable.

Happy Crafting!

 

Featured Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

An Introduction to Ravelry

This summer I was quite surprised by the number of customers in my store who did not know about ravelry.com. I realize that many of you who knit or crochet will know all about it, but for anyone who doesn’t,

today I’m going to sing their praises. 😀

For anyone who knits or crochets, ravelry.com is a website where you can find patterns for free or to purchase for any knit or crochet project you could imagine.

Looking for inspiration?

Looking for a cardigan pattern for fingering weight yarn? You name it; you’ll find it on ravelry. But that isn’t all. Ravelry is a community of knitters and crocheters as well. It is home to many, many groups of every sort of focus in the knit and crochet world. There are regional groups from all over the world too.

Looking for a group of like-minded yarn lovers?

If you can’t find them on ravelry, I’d be very surprised. But if you don’t, you can start a group yourself.

It’s free to sign up and it’s worth taking the time. I just looked and at this moment, there are 481,523 knitting patterns and 267,311 crochet patterns on the site. A search for free patterns brings up a total of 132,338 knit patterns and 98,313 crochet patterns. By the time I finish writing this blog post there will be even more since designers are posting new patterns all the time.

Does that many patterns sound overwhelming to you?

It would be, if not for the excellent filters to narrow your search. Click on “patterns” in the top left corner of the home screen. Next, look for the search bar and simply click on the “search” button. This will bring you to the search filter screen.

detective-bob

Notice along the left side of the page. You can take a moment and select the filters you want. For example, I personally prefer there to be a photograph of the patterns I search. The first thing I do is select “has photo? yes”. You can then choose knit, crochet, machine or loom knitting. Or, you can click on the button below to exclude options.

Next you can decide whether you want a free pattern or if you are willing to look at those that you have to pay for and details about that. You can pick what type of project, garments or crafts and attributes. Attributes covers specifics about what techniques are used in the pattern. For instance, are you looking for colour work? follow the filter options to narrow down through 7 options for various colour work techniques!

You don’t have to choose any of these if you don’t want to; it will just give you more results in your search.

By the time you specify the gender or size, the type of yarn, the amount of meterage and the difficulty level, you will have eliminated a whole lot of the almost three-quarter million patterns on the site. Suddenly it’s not so overwhelming any more. Or you can simply type what you are looking for into the search box and click search. For example, you could type: “baby sweater with cables” or “lace socks” or “bulky hat”.

Do you know the name of a designer you love? Put their name in there and bring up everything they have posted.

Above the search filters is a row of different categories you can search: patterns, projects, designers, sources, yarns, stash, fiber, brands and so on. If you select one of these it changes the nature of your search. Looking for a friend? Pop their ravelry name into the people search to find them.

As you collect patterns, you can store them in your library. This is handy and allows you to access your patterns from any computer or device as long as you are connected to the internet. As you complete projects, there is a place where you can post the details of what you made too.

If you see patterns that you like, you can “favourite” them. This is a way of bookmarking them so that you can find them again later.

Trust me, if you don’t make a note of the ones you like, it can be challenging to find them again.

You can always remove them from your favourites later if you end up buying or downloading the pattern.

If you haven’t checked ravelry out, I encourage you to do so. Just be warned, like Instagram or Pinterest, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole only to discover that what felt like 10 minutes of searching was actually 2 hours!  …just sayin’. 🙂

Happy Searching!

Sewing Mitered Corners

Mitered corners look tidy and fancy. Most things we see (tea towels, table cloths, place mats and so on) have quickly finished edges. Many of them are simply a twice-turned (sometimes called “rolled”) hem, or a serged edge that has been turned and stitched. I call this a “serge and turn” if you can still see the serged stitches and a “serge and roll” if you can’t. If you are looking for a way to take a simple project up a notch.

Try making it with a wide hem with mitered corners.

Before I get started, I want to acknowledge that this may end up looking like a whole lot of words. Please take the time to read and then compare to the photos. This process is a wee bit counter-intuitive. I have sincerely tried to be as clear as I know how to be.

First off, you need to plan your project accordingly. I like to allow 1.25 inches for my hem when doing a mitered corner. This gives me a quarter inch to tuck under and one inch of fabric that shows off the miter. So I will add 2.5 inches to my desired finished width and length. For instance, if I want my table runner to be 12″ x 18″ when finished, I would cut out my fabric to measure 14.5″ x 20.5″.

Tips:

Experienced sewers may be able to eyeball a quarter inch edge.

If you can do that, all the power to you! If you don’t think you would be able to do that evenly, or it would take you a long time to do so, I have a couple tips for you: If you have a serger, you can serge around the outside edge of the fabric. This gives you a quarter inch seam allowance that you can easily see and turn under. I encourage you to choose a thread colour that blends in with your fabric. This will hide any imperfections when you tuck the edge under and stitch it in place. If you don’t have a serger, you can run a row of stitching a quarter inch from the edge as a guide for turning your seam allowance. Use a thread colour that looks good with your fabric, that you can see, but that won’t look ugly if it shows a little after you are done. Both of these tips are optional, but they will make doing the corners much easier. There are presser feet that are designed to align a quarter inch from the edge of the fabric. If you don’t have one, they are a handy addition to your tool box.

You will need to mark your fabric in some way.

You will be marking on the right side of the fabric. You can use dressmaker’s chalk, a Pilot Frixion pen or other fabric marking pen.  If using a pen, please, please, PLEASE take the time to test it on your fabric before you use it. Frixion pens react to heat and marks should disappear when you press your project. But, I have had a few times when it didn’t completely disappear. I’m not sure whether it is an issue of fibre content or ink colour that causes this. Some fabric marking pens are water soluble and the ink washes away. I don’t have a lot of personal experience using the water soluble pens; both Dritz and Prym make these. I have many customers who swear by them. I usually use DM chalk or Frixion pens.

Marking the outer turn line:

Measure and mark your turn line 1.25 inches from each of your edges respectively. Do this on the right side of the fabric. You will end up with squares drawn on each corner.

Marking for the mitered corners:

Turn your fabric so you can work on the wrong side now. What you need here, is to mark the corners to prepare for the miters. If you have a grid ruler* use it to mark the 1.25″ lines at the corners; measure from the outer edge the way you did on the last step. Notice on my photograph that I marked the 1.25″ turn line about 2″ further than the corners of the squares. This is important. (*I highly recommend having at least a 4″x4″ grid ruler in your tool box. A 3″x18″ and a 6″x24″ are the other sizes I couldn’t live without. Olfa, Omnigrid and Fiskars all make very good grid rulers.)

Next, mark another set of lines 1 inch in from the lines you just made. Notice that this has created two more squares beside the corner square? These are important.

If you didn’t serge the edge, or stitch a quarter inch guideline, then take the time to mark where that quarter inch edge is now. You will thank me later.

Take a moment to notice what you have created. You should have 4 one inch squares drawn in the corner, with a quarter inch edge at the edge of the fabric. Think of that edge as being separate from your squares.

Now using a ruler (do not eyeball this) draw a line. Start at the point where the square meets the outer line at the edge of the fabric (2.25″ from the corner) through both squares and end at the outer line. You did not mark in the outer quarter inch. This creates a triangle with the corner of the fabric; it should bisect two squares. Your line should go through the point where the four squares meet in the middle. This is very important. This is your stitching line.

tablerunner-07

If you are doing this for the first time, I recommend that you just mark one corner to begin with. Once you have sewn it and you understand what it is you have to do, then mark the other three. That way, if you misunderstood the instructions on the first one, you don’t have to undo anything before you can proceed.

Creating the Mitre:

Fold your fabric at the corner with right sides together. You are creating a triangle here. You will be able to see your corner markings. Be careful to align all the edges accurately. You may find it helpful to pin the edges in place so they don’t shift while you are working. Line your work up so that the quarter inch edge is toward the back of the presser foot. Align the needle and presser foot with your stitching line. Your needle should be placed at the point where the stitching line meets the quarter inch seam allowance. DO NOT SEW OVER THE SEAM ALLOWANCE.

Secure the stitching by back tacking (sew forward and back a couple times) and stitch to the end of the stitching line. Secure the stitching again.

Trim the extra fabric away. Looking at the raw edge that you just trimmed, one end is the original edge of the fabric, the other is where the fabric was folded. Clip the fold from the edge to the stitching line.

Turn the corner right side out. Don’t press it yet because that would erase your markings. Use your finger or a point turner (another tool I couldn’t live without) arrange the seam allowance open. In other words, you want there to be seam allowance laying on both sides of the seam you created, inside the corner.

Once you have all four corners mitered, carefully line them up with the markings so they lay nice and flat. Press the corners. I recommend that you now press along the turn line all the way around the project. Take your time with this so that you get a nice smooth edge. If you chose a loose fabric, you should probably pin that edge in place at this point. Now you can easily turn that quarter inch edge under and top stitch as close to the edge as you can manage.

Ta-Dah! You just made a mitered table mat. Congratulations!

Knitted Horizontal Buttonholes

Have you ever avoided a knitting pattern because it included buttonholes? I have to admit, I haven’t always been particularly proud of my knitted buttonholes. I decided it was time to do something about it. After a bunch of YouTube tutorials and some practice I’m feeling a lot better about it and I thought I would share my exploration with you.

There are a number of ways to knit buttonholes.

In today’s blog I will only talk about horizontal buttonholes. We’ll expand into other territory next week. Essentially, making this type of buttonhole requires that you cast off enough stitches to create a big enough hole for your button size and then cast them on again.

There are two basic approaches to knitting horizontal buttonholes:

  • the one-row
  • and the two-row.

The one-row buttonhole does this all in one procedure over (you guessed it) one row.

The biggest advantage to this is that you can check the size against your button right away.

If it doesn’t fit well, you don’t have to frog very much to change it. For the two-row buttonhole, you cast off, knit to the end of the row, return on the wrong side and then cast on to complete the buttonhole. Although there are really just two ways to do this, if you have ever done a search for horizontal buttonhole tutorials you will discover that there seems to be an endless list of them. Why?! Because there are a lot of different cast on methods that you can choose from to complete your buttonhole. Also, some methods reinforce the beginning and/or end of the buttonholes while others don’t.

I am a firm believer that every one of us needs to find their favourite way to do things.

I recommend that you knit up a swatch and give these various methods a try. Chances are you will find one that you love the look, construction and method for. I tried to sift through what I found on YouTube and organize a variety of them for you.

Simple two-row buttonhole (with backward loop cast on).

This is an easy and very straightforward buttonhole. I personally am not inspired by this one although it certainly does the job. I find that it doesn’t look the nicest compared to others and it has a tendency to stretch out. If you are really careful to keep the stitches snug at the beginning of it, that can help. It’s definitely nice and easy. 🙂

Find here

Simple two-row buttonhole (with cable cast on).

The cable cast on method gives a sturdier top edge to the buttonhole. This is easy to do and I have found that when I do it this way it doesn’t stretch out quite as easily as the previous one.

Find Here

Reinforced two-row buttonhole

This one does seem a little complicated when you first watch it. It’s worth giving it a go though. After you do it a couple times it starts to make more sense.

Find Here

My personal preference is to do a one-row buttonhole. Again, the differences are mainly in the type of cast on used.

One-row buttonhole (using twisted purl-wise cast on).

This is a great buttonhole for garter stitch or seed stitch. The twisted purl-wise cast on is a nice easy one to do; similar to the cable cast on and not very stretchy compared to the backward loop cast on, for instance. This disappears into the “ditch” of the garter stitch.

Find here

One row buttonhole (using crochet cast on).

This buttonhole looks really nice because the cast on creates a chain along the top that mirrors the cast off.

Find here

Reinforced one-row buttonhole. This one is very strong and it doesn’t stretch out. It also looks attractive. It does tend to pull in at the sides just a bit.

Find here

Tight One-row buttonhole

This is a pretty cool (and really easy) buttonhole. It makes a sturdy buttonhole that won’t stretch out. And because of that it’s great that you can test it immediately to be sure that the button will fit.

As I mentioned there are endless videos of buttonhole demonstrations. I’m sure there are many that I didn’t even get to. But this sampling should help if you want to explore a few. With any luck one of them will stand out and maybe even become your new favourite.

Happy knitting!

A Thimble Glossary

A thimble is a device used to protect your finger as you push a needle through fabric while hand stitching. Surprisingly, there are actually quite a number of different thimble styles available. Everyone has their own preference as to which finger or which part of their finger they use to operate a thimble. As a result, the many thimble types take these preferences into consideration to give sewing enthusiasts the most comfortable option possible.

Classic Thimble

Most people are familiar with the classic thimble. It looks like a little cup made of metal (steel or brass) or plastic with small dimples that grab the end of the needle and prevent it from slipping as you push it through the fabric. It is worn on the finger tip. Some only have dimples on the top, others have them on the sides as well. Some have a convex top some have concave tops. Many quilters prefer a variation of this classic thimble that has slots as well as dimples. It is a little better at preventing slipping.

regular thimble

Open Sided Thimble

Topen sided thimblehe open sided thimble is worn at the finger tip but is used only in one direction.

Soft Comfort Thimble

soft comfort thimblePrym makes a hybrid of the above two styles. It is made of a soft and pliable material that is still strong. They call it the “soft comfort thimble”. It is quite similar to the open sided thimble.

Ring Thimble

Ring thimbles are worn around the finger as the name suggests. They come in a couple different styles: classic and with a plate. The classic style is a simple ring with dimples. The ring with a plate has a separate dimpled plate which is typically worn so that the plate rests on the hand at the base of the finger. These are adjustable.

Leather Thimble

Leather thimbles are available in a couple styles too. The simple classic style that fits over the top of the finger allows you to push the needle with the top of the finger or the side. My personal favourite is the coin thimble. This is a leather thimble, often worn on the thumb with a small dimpled metal “coin” in the side. I have had mine for over 20 years and it is still going strong after hand stitching many quilts.

Thermal Thimble

thermal thimblesAnd last but not least, a thimble for a slightly different purpose, the thermal thimble is intended to protect your finger and thumb as you press fabrics. They allow you to run your finger or thumb along the edge of your fabric immediately after you apply a hot iron. It’s always better to not cook your finger when you are sewing!

Others

There are a number of companies that make thimbles and in my experience they all stand up quite nicely.

  • Clover,
  • Dritz,
  • Prym,
  • Singer, and
  • Tailorform

(in alphabetical order) are some of the most common brands.

They range in price from a few dollars to $20 each depending on the type.

Most styles come in various sizes to accommodate the best fit for everyone. Thankfully, most of them are inexpensive, so it doesn’t hurt if you need to try a few to find the one that’s just right. You will know you have found the right thimble for you when you forget that you have it on. It should become an extension of your finger or hand.

Whether you use a thimble or not, I wish you happy sewing.