#MonthForMakers – an Instagram Adventure

Join your fellow Makers' for our September Instagram Challenge! Use the daily prompts as inspiration to post submissions on your Instagram account. Each day brings provides a prompt.

Have fun with your submissions, and let us celebrate the creative process together. Simply remember to tag @makersmercantile and use the hashtag #MonthforMakers on each of your challenge posts. Remember to follow us as well for more fun adventures. 

Oh! Did we mention? There are 3 chances to win amazing prizes! Winners will be announced via Direct Message in Instagram.

We can't wait to see your month of inspiring images!

Q&A with Bellish!

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Hello Makers!

If you haven’t already heard, there’s a new app for iOS that generates sweater patterns for free called Bellish!

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This revolutionary app allows the user to feel like a designer by offering multiple points for customization! Choose from different necklines, sleeve lengths, body lengths, and textures – all available in a variety of gauges with new options added regularly!

Ready to learn more? Check out our Q&A with Bellish Knitting below!

Makers’ Q&A: Bellish!


Q)
 How did the idea for Bellish come to be? 

A) Bellish began with the idea of creating digital tools for knitters. These days we use our smartphones and tablets for so many of our daily tasks, and it was a natural next step for us to ask if there might be a way to make those devices more useful for knitting. As knitters, ourselves, we wanted to create a dynamic, personalized knitting experience that went beyond what was possible with a PDF. 

 

Q) We love knitting sweaters, which is why Bellish is so appealing! Are there plans to eventually expand the offerings beyond the realm of sweaters?

A) For the time being, the focus is on enhancing the sweater knitting experience to the fullest. We’re building a robust library of options, with new sweater styles, yarn weights and embellishments underway (we add new features almost every week).  It’s certainly a possibility that we’ll add other kinds of knitting projects down the road as Bellish grows and evolves with the feedback of our users. 

 

Q) What is your favorite feature that’s included with the Bellish app?

A) There’s a real sense of immediate gratification when you’re able to customize your design in real time and see the textures and colors transform right before your eyes. Of course, we love the digital tools in the app: the row highlighter, stitch/row counters and clickable stitch checkpoints, but we think the absolute best thing about Bellish is that it makes it easy for any knitter to bring their sweater ideas to life. We’ve loved watching knitters use Bellish as a starting point and then add their own creativity to the mix.


Q)
We love how the Bellish app can allow knitters to fall in love with a yarn, then make a pattern around it. Based on your testers, what’s been the most exciting pairing of yarn and pattern you’ve seen so far? 

A) Knitters loved having the ability to create their sweaters based on the yarn they already wanted to use (rather than trying to find the perfect pattern, and then looking for the right yarn to go with it). One of our testers said that she had yarn in her stash from a friend of a friend’s mom, and it had been sitting dormant since the 1980s. The Bellish app made it possible to finally turn that yarn into the exact sweater she wanted it to be – she said that her friends were very impressed that she finally found a use for it.

One of the other things our testers have really liked about Bellish is being able to open the app while they’re at the yarn shop. They can stand right there in front of the yarn they fell in love with, and – with a few clicks – design a sweater to go with it, and know exactly how much they’re going to need.

 

Q) With any idea that blooms into reality, there’s always something to discover along the way. What’s been the most surprising feedback you’ve received from the beta testers and users so far?

A) Two things really stood out for us. First, we wondered how knitters would feel about seeing an illustration of their pattern rather than a finished photo. But when you think of each knitter as an individual designer of their own project, it makes sense that they would start with an illustration and then bring the sweater to life on their needles – our beta testers loved that process. Second, we were very curious about the skill level of the knitters who would find Bellish most useful. Would it resonate more with beginners? Experienced knitters? We had thousands of beta testers and the feedback was so interesting: it was almost exactly a 50/50 split between those who felt Bellish was perfect for beginners, and those who felt it was designed especially for experienced knitters. We were thrilled to see that Bellish is providing an inspiring and worthwhile experience for knitters, regardless of their skill level. It’s a fun, creative resource for any knitter!

 

Ready to download the app and give it a try?

CLICK HERE to download Bellish

Use the hashtag #MakersBellish to show us your progress on social media!

Maker Spotlight: John Crane

When John Crane announced his retirement from academic librarian of Dartmouth College, co-workers started taking him out for celebratory lunches. When one such colleague arrived at his office for their scheduled lunch, she told John they weren’t actually going to lunch, but instead, she intended to teach him how to knit. Little did John know, that “lunch” would forever change his retirement years.

John quickly became obsessed with knitting and started creating patterns for items he knit for himself and his friends. John’s attention to detail and classic designs have since made him a favorite knitwear of many people, and those who are lucky enough to know him profess that he is one of the best hug-givers in the universe. 

John’s public knitting frequently leads to his meeting new people and making new fiber friends. Many of the guys pictured here with John in Provincetown, Massachusetts noticed him knitting and started joining him daily at 3PM at the “knitting table” in front of Joe Coffee when he is staying at his Provincetown home.

More than just a retired knitter, John continues to impress. He developed an Sheep Breeds: A World of Difference as an exhibit to celebrate the differences (and similarities!) of over 71 breeds divided into 5 categories. The hands-on exhibit allows the viewer to touch and feel fiber and yarn samples from each species. Yup. John doesn't "retire" like other people. 

Still one of our favorites, his Johanna Vest is the epitome of classic simplicity. Worked in HiKoo® Sueno, it is a knee length vest (pictured), and is also available as a shorter version.

Ask Hank: Holiday Edition

Hi everyone and Happy Holidays! Of course, every day is a holiday for me because I get to spend it with my family, but this time of year seems to have extra toys and treats. And lights. And happy people. And stress. Well, fear not. Helpful Hank is here with answers to some more of your questions. Read on, wonderful humans:

 Q: I’ve had several requests this year for hand knit socks, but not everyone is local to me. Do you have any tricks on how to size a sock for someone who isn’t around to try them on as you go?
Sock it to Me in Seattle

A: Isn't it getting close to the big day where you open presents? If you can't finish them in time for gift giving, you could send a card with a photo of the yarn and instructions for a tracing of their foot. Have them stand on a piece of paper, trace around the foot, cut it out, and send it to you. From there you can transfer the drawing to a piece of cardboard. Then you’ll be able to measure the entire length of the foot, note specifics like the person’s name and shoe size, and even mark certain areas where you know you like to begin your heel, toe, etc. That way, you can try the sock right on the cardboard template as you knit to see how you’re progressing! When you're done with the gift, you can keep the template for next year's socks (if you want to make it a tradition).


Q: I love giving gift cards but would like to include something small and handmade. Any suggestions? 
Gift Guesser in Georgia

A: How about making a gift card holder? This could be knit, crocheted, or sewn! Or, include something complimentary to accompany it, like a knitted coffee cozy to go with a coffeehouse gift card! Just be sure it’s made from an easily washable yarn! When wrapping gift cards, try putting them in larger boxes to confuse the recipient. A gift card in a shoebox with some marbles to rattle around makes for great and confusing fun until the wrapping is gone and the gift is revealed.


 Q: This is the last year I’m making gifts for everyone in the family. It’s too overwhelming! What can I do to avoid this in the future without having to start crafting in January? 
Fed Up in Florida

A: If you love making gifts, but hate the huge workload, consider holding a yearly drawing with slips of paper for everyone who wants a handmade gift. Each year pull out the number of slips you’re willing to make gifts for. Keep drawing each year until you’ve gone through the names! Once you’re through them entirely, enter everyone back in again.

Another idea is to purchase handmade items from other artists. Collect items through the year and as the holidays approach you'll have a gathering of goodies to share with those most important to you.


Q: I want to knit my cat a sweater for Christmas, but every time I try to put clothes on her she freaks out. Should I go for it anyway? She's so adorable in her little sweater...
-Purrfectly Happy in Samamish

A: If your cat doesn't like wearing sweaters, why force her? She might be too warm, or perhaps she has a style that's totally different from whatever you've provided her. Since she doesn't seem to love clothes, how about making her a little blanket for her bed? That way you get to give a hand made item, and your cat isn't traumatized. 

Also, since you mentioned your kitty, remember some plants are dangerous to pets. Pointsettia and pine are both health risks, so if kitty likes to chew on greenery, this thoughtful pup suggests avoiding live plants to keep them safe.


Q: I can’t stop snacking on all the holiday cookies I made for other people! HELP!
- Cookie Monster in Michigan

A: Every cookie should be taste tested to ensure it would pass Quality Control. I see this as an excellent service you’re offering your friends and family! If you want me to help, I love eating cookies and treats. Keep me healthy though, and remember no chocolate. I'm told it's bad for me. Peanut butter can be a delicious goodie though. OH! and while pets might keep asking for more, more, more, help me stay healthy by limiting treats during the holidays. 

And while the contents of a nicely wrapped present are a mystery to you, I have a keen sense of smell and might be tempted to tear into presents to find edible goodies. Keep edible gifts out of my reach until it's time to open them. 

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Our friendly mascot, Hank, loves to fetch answers to all kinds of crafting related questions. He's awesome at digging up facts and helps us help our customers. Have a question for Hank?  Click the button below!

Hexalicious Cushion

Finished Size
22” diameter and stands 16” tall.

Gauge
Since this will be felted, you needn't really worry about gauge (Hooray!)​​

Yarn
Schoppel® Reggae Ombre; 100% Merino Wool,  109 yards per 50 gram ball

Color 1874, 2 balls
Color 1965, 1 ball
Color 1963, 1 ball

addi® Turbo Needles
Size US 10 (12 mm) needle

Notions
6 stitch markers, one to mark beginning of round
Tapestry needle
5 standard pillows or poly-fill for stuffing

Instructions
Make 12 hexagons in color #1874 and one in #1965 as follows: 

Cast on 13 stitches.

Row 1: Knit across row to last stitch, slip last stitch,holding yarn to front.
Row 2: Knit 1, *knit into front and back of the next stitch*, knit to last stitch and slip, holding yarn to front.
Row 3: Repeat row 2.
Repeat Rows 1-3 until you have 25 stitches. 

Continue with the following decrease rows:

Row 1: Knit across row to last stitch, slip last stitch,holding yarn to front.
Row 2: knit 1, knit 2 together, knit to last stitch, slip last stitch, holding yarn to front.
Row 3: Repeat row 2.
Repeat Rows 1-3 until 13 stitches remain.

Bind off all sts. Sew the 13 hexagons together in different directions to create a random pattern as shown in photo, remembering to put the unique hexagon in color 1965 in the center.

To remove the stepped edge and create a complete round, you will need to knit 6 oversized half hexagons in color #1963 as follows:

Cast on 13 stitches (or pick up 13 stitches in the voids between the outer hexagons).
Row 1: Knit across row to last stitch, slip last stitch,holding yarn to front.
Row 2: knit 1, *knit into front and back of the next stitch*, knit to last stitch and slip, holding yarn to front.
Row 3: Repeat row 2.
Repeat Rows 1-3 until you have 25 stitches.

Next Row: Knit 1, knit into front and back of next stitch, knit across row until 2 stitches remain, knit into front and back of next stitch, slip last stitch,holding yarn in the front.Repeat this row until you have 59 stitches. Bind off all sts. Sew the edges of the oversized half hexagons into place – creating a complete circle. If you’d prefer not to seam anything, you can work the hexagons modularly, picking up stitches from a just-worked hexagon. Wash to felt. Stuff and back as desired. Enjoy!

Upcycled Pillow Backs

Karin recommends seeking out large, colorful shirts without pockets. Look for fun buttons, or snaps. Most of these are found in the women’s department, in the extra large sizes. “Men’s shirts are excellent as well, but they frequently have pockets – which I generally avoid. However, pockets can be worked into a pillow back if you are making a gift, simply put a little message in the pocket for the recipient, and it will look like you did it on purpose!”

Avoid shirts with darts; you’re looking for square or rectangular pieces.In general, the width of the shirt, from seam to seam should be no smaller than the width of the pillow, and the length from the armpit to the hem should be no shorter than the length of the pillow. The larger the shirt, the larger your pillow can be. Cut the front body of your shirt away from the sleeves and the back. Lay it flat on a table, with the buttons closed and facing up. Lay your felted panel flat on the front of the shirt, right side facing down, touching the buttons. If there is room, align the shirt buttons so that they are centered on the panel.

Pin the panel to the shirt front, then use the panel as if it were a pattern piece and cut the shirt even to the panel. Keeping the panel and the shirt pinned together, use a sewing machine to stitch around the entire panel. Use a basic stitch,and keep the felt on the bottom while stitching. After you’ve stitched around the piece, open the button panel (it’s a little tricky, as the buttons are now on the inside) and turn inside out. Stuff it with a pre-made pillow form or poly-fill. You can easily create a custom-sized pillow form if you find an almost perfect zippered form: unzip it,remove some stuffing, sew a seam to make the case smaller,and you have a custom sized insert without a lot of work!

Jacinto Ottoman

Kick your feet up on this comfy, squishy ottoman! Worked in 100% Merino with large needles it's a faster-than-you-imagine project and adds additional seating in your home that celebrates your knitterly talents.

Finished Size
22” diameter and stands 16” tall.

Gauge
10 stitches and 24 rounds = 4 inches in Linen Stitch.

Yarn
​​Schoppel XL
100% Merino Wool; 72 yards per 100 gram hank

7 skeins #7251 Camel (Main Color)
1 skein #6045 Fern (CC 1)
1 skein #0581 Savanna (CC 2)
1 skein #1100 Shrimp (CC 3)
1 skein #2790 Pink (CC 4)

addi® Needles
Size US 17 (12 mm) 40” circular needle
Size US 17 (12 mm) double pointed needles

Notions
6 stitch markers, one to mark beginning of round
Tapestry needle
5 standard pillows or poly-fill for stuffing

Instructions
Using size 17 (12 mm) 40” circular needle and MC, cast on 169 stitches. Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist. Place marker to mark beginning of round and knit two rounds. Work in Linen Stitch pattern as follows:

Linen Stitch
Round 1: with CC1, *knit 1, slip 1 with yarn in front, repeat from * to end of round, end knit 1.
Round 2: with CC1, *slip 1 with yarn in front, knit 1, repeat from * to end of round, end slip 1 with yarn in front.
Round 3: with MC, repeat round 1.
Round 4: with MC, repeat round 2.

Repeat these 4 rounds until stripe measures 3”, ending with round 4. Work 3” as established with CC2, then CC3. Work 5” in CC4, then 2” in CC3. Knit 2 rows with MC, decreasing 1 stitch in last round. Bind off all stitches. With MC and circular needle, pick up and knit 168 stitches. *Knit 28, place marker, repeat from * 5 times. You will have 6 sections.

On following round, decrease as follows: *knit 2 together, knit to 2 stitches before marker, slip, slip, knit these two slipped stitches together through the back loop, repeat from * to end of round. 156 stitches. Knit one round. Repeat these two rounds until 12 stitches remain, switching to double pointed needles when there are too few stitches to fit around circular needle.If desired, use remaining contrast shades to create a bull’s-eye pattern, knitting with CC on plain knit rounds and working decrease rounds in MC.

Cut yarn leaving an 18” tail and draw through remaining stitches several times, drawing the piece closed in the process. Weave in ends. Repeat on cast-on edge with MC only, stuffing the ottoman as you work. Weave in all ends and steam gently if desired.


2017 Holiday Wishlist

‘Tis the season for giving, and we have had so much fun collecting all kinds of neat items for presents. After asking the creative team at Makers’ Mercantile what one item they’d suggest as the ideal gift for the crafter in their life, here’s what they came up with:

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Kim LOVES our sheep bowls, and thinks they’d be a great gift filled with candy or yarn as a host/hostess gift! Also she likes the Zauberball sock yarn because of its fun color changing and also how this single-ply version works up so snuggly soft!

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Liz also couldn’t pick just one item. (and yes, she made that cardigan; isn’t it great!? She wants a few skeins of Oh! because it knits up so amazingly… and also another mug from Creative With Clay.

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Kathleen loves Zauberball as well… and she chose the line Starke 6 for her favorite thing. Even when worked in a simple pattern this yarn makes such a great finished object. Imagine a lovely garter stitch scarf or seed stitch wrap!

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Our colorful friend Kesten grabbed another squishy favorite, Sueno! It comes in full size hanks HERE, and mini-hanks HERE! It’s a super soft fiber that’s perfect for big cozy sweaters, wraps, or even cowls!

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Oh…and then there’s me. I have tons of favorite things in the shop. Of course I will say (and this is true from ALL of us) that our customers are our favorites. You’re so creative and fun and inspire us every day!

But I have to pick something too, so I choose our new leggings! They’re so comfy!! Also, of course the addi® needles are a much-loved favorite. I do believe that when we work with good quality materials it makes a large impact on the quality of our finished projects.

So that’s it from us for now. We hope you continue to stay safe, and that you’ll come hang out with us in the shop or online very soon!

 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Makers’ Mercantile!

–Kyle