Every October we have a mini-break and take a couple of weeks to ourselves whilst our Alex stays with her Nana. We tend to stay in Spain, and one year we stayed in a marvellously plush hotel (we are not flash gits in the slightest, but tend to splurge on holidays) that had an insanely lovely restaurant. I remember the bread selection vividly – there were like 10 different kinds – and they were served with little oils for dipping. It was amazeballs, to say the least!
Sadly, infused oils usually cost a packet and although I like a treat, I don’t feel comfy spending a lot of money on a condiment… Handbags definitely, condiments no. See I told you I wasn’t flash! Then I had a brainwave…
Cooking and gardening go hand in hand, and there’s nothing more satisfying than combining the two to make your own meals. The thing I love about growing herbs and chilis, for example, is that you don’t need a lot of space for them – or even a garden or balcony – and they are relatively easy to maintain.
This year I’ve been growing all sorts of herbs in our veggie patch, and as we’re huge fans of spicy food we also invested in a bunch of chillis of different kinds. I really love drying out chilis once they’re picked so we have a handy stash all year round, plus dried chilis have a unique smoky spiciness that sneaks up on you – just the thing for Mexican food!
Anyway, let’s cut to the chase. The other evening I was pottering about in the kitchen and decided to make my own infused oils. I was pretty convinced that it wouldn’t work, but tried anyway. Well, as luck would have it they turned out super well and I just had to share this recipe with you!
These dainty oils are best served with crusty bread, but can complement any cuisine perfectly. You can experiment with quantities and flavours ans have s lt of fun inventing combinations! Almost anything can be turned into an infused oil, so do let me know if you discovered any unusual combination…
You will need:
50ml vegetable oil or plain olive oil (not Extra Virgin);
40g chilis, herbs or anything you fancy, roughly chopped. I bought organic or used the herbs from my garden. I used the following quantites for my oils:
Garlic Scapes & Chive Oil: four long garlic scapes, five chive flowers and chive stems. Red Chili Oil: two medium-sized Habenero and five Cayenne chilis. Basil Oil: Eight basil leaves (with stems). Green Chili & Garlic Oil: two large garlic cloves and three large Jalapeño chilis. I also added a very small sprig of rosemary but this is entirely optional.
A food processor, sieve or mug tea mesh strainer/infuser, large jar or mug, small pan, small jars or pots to store the oils.
This amount serves three.
Now you’re all set! There is a lot of trial an error involved in this recipe, but the quantities I have shown are generic. Feel free to add larger quantities of ingredients to thicken the oil or fewer for a more subtle taste. Here are some tips and ideas to help…
When making a batch of oils, make the oils with a milder flavour before chili oils or ones with stronger-tasting ingredients. Even after washing some flavours can stick to the blender and affect the taste of any oils made afterwards.
Invest in a mug with a fitted mesh tea strainer/infuser. They are ideal for making oils and cut down on mess as they fit the mug perfectly. Ikea do great ones!
Take care not to burn the ingredients by constantly stirring the mixture when cooking and keeping a close eye whilst it’s cooking! Even the slightest hint of burning can ruin the oil and you’ll have to start again.
Enjoy your oils and do let me know if you discover and amazing combinations!
Let’s be real. A lot of crafters find knitting difficult, annoying, impossible, weird, clunky… You name it. I’ve heard crocheters say they ‘hate’ knitting and can’t get their head round it, as well as people saying that they really love the way it looks, but the process makes them feel so cack-handed that they end up giving up after a few rows. I’d wager that all over the world there are drawers heaving under the weight of half-finished knitting projects, started with a lot of love and determination, but trashed for one reason or another. RIP, beautiful semi-knits!
I get it, though. My social media handle is Emmaknitty for a reason. Knitting was a craft that had always interested me – especially as my great-grandmother was a master knitter and I always heard tales of how amazing she was at knitting socks and all manner of wonderful things – but it wasn’t plain sailing at the beginning for me at all.
My first knitting memory (back in the olden days of 2008) wasn’t some calming, mindful experience looking like a cool We Are Knitters ad… Oh no. I actually threw the project across the room (like the short-tempered, snarling Scorpio I am) and stuffed it away, hoping never to see it again. I say project, but I mean that it was basically a floppy, uneven rag of garter stitch. A few months later however I decided to try again (like the determinded, pig-headed Scorpio I am) and found myself ‘getting it’. The rest is history.
I often get asked on social media how to get better at knitting. The truth is, there’s no straight answer to that – heckers, is there ever in life? – but I do have an arsenal of helpful tips that will definitely help you out as a new knitter. I’m not going to teach you how to knit or work stitches or anything like that – there are hundreds of people who do it way better than I ever could – but this is a list of hints that I hope will make things a bit smoother for you on your two-needle journey. Ready? Let’s go!
You won’t manage anything without patience
It’s easier said than done, but like most things in life, patience gets you everywhere. If you are starting to knit as a crocheter, the slowness of it will probably be a big factor in you stopping knitting altogether. Crochet is notoriously fast and satisfying, so if you’re used to finishing a crocheted scarf in an hour, the idea of a knitted one taking a week will make your teeth itch, and not like bad-quality acrylic yarn does. If you find yourself getting impatient and annoyed with your knitting, put it down and come back to it another day. Don’t force the process or you’ll only learn to hate it.
Allocate calm time to knit
When you are learning something new, it goes without saying that peace, quiet and time to concentrate are paramount. Give yourself an hour a day in a quiet place where you can’t be interrupted (not when the kids are running riot and your husband is asking you for the 20th time where you put his iPhone charger) to really sit and enjoy the process.
Don’t bother with patterns at the start
One of the things I hear the most from frustrated newbie knitters is “Why are the patterns so confusing? They’re impossible to understand!” and well, I know! Not being bitchy, but when I started to crochet I thought the same thing, you just swap a hdc blo with a kfb – it’s all a confusing new language that you have to learn… My first reaction to anyone who says that is, “well, why are you following a pattern when you’ve been knitting for a week?”. At the beginning you need to cast on and off, knit and purl and perfect those four things. I shouldn’t say this as designing patterns for beginners is my bread and butter, but the last thing you should be doing when you’re learning to knit is grappling with abbreviations. The best thing to do is work small searches of stitches until you’re happy and ready to move on. Unless you’ve managed to find a picture-based pattern designed especially for beginners, you’re running before you can walk. Get on YouTube, browse tutorials for the basics and worry about patterns later on.
Choose the right yarn and needles
Go big or go home! The last thing you should be doing as a new knitter is faffing about with fine-weight yarn and teeny needles. Choose the chunkiest wool or acrylic yarn you can find and some wood or bamboo needles and start from there. The bulkier the yarn, the easier it is to see you stitches, the faster the process is and the sooner you can finish your project. Why wood or bamboo needles and not metal or plastic? Well, wood and bamboo help the yarn ‘stick’ and your stitches less likely to drop off the needle. Also, avoid very long needles as they can be another obstacle. Yarn wise, wool and acrylic are excellent choices for beginners as they are forgiving, and in the case of acrylic, cheap and in a huge array of colours.
Knit a rectangle
You can do so much with a rectangle, and it’s the easiest thing to knit, like, whoa. Everyone makes scarves when they start knitting, but a simple rectangle can be turned into a blanket (such a good pick up, put down project), a bag (by seaming the sides, adding a zip and knitting a long, thin rectangle for a strap) or, once you’ve learnt the basics, even a modern floor cushion like my easy The Bubu Mini Ottoman! If you want to keep it even simpler, by knitting a small rectangle you can make coasters or washcloths.
Perfect the basics before moving forward
Don’t push yourself. There’s no point in attempting more complex techniques like increases or changing colours until you’re feeling 100% speedy and confident about the famous four techniques I mentioned earlier on. Get your knitting, purling, casting on and casting off down to a T and then move on. Piling too many skills on yourself will only make you feel frustrated and throwing your knitting, like me back in 2008. Not a good look.
Understand what knitting actually is
Do you know what a knit stitch looks like? How about a purl one? Do you know the differences between knitting with cotton yarn compared to wool, for example? How about the history of knitting? All these things may seem silly when you’re starting out, but learning about knitting beyond the actual process of making an item is all part of the experience and might peak your interest! Knowing what the stitches look like and the different types of yarn is essential, but it is fun and motivating to get to know elements of the importance of knitting in culture and the wider world.
Get some books
Investing in a few good knitting books will help you get to grips with the theory and generally give you a reference guide when you need to check a stitch, refresh your memory regarding a technique or simply just enjoy some relevant bedtime reading whilst you’re learning. Everything is digital nowadays and tutorials can be found instantly online, but sometimes just flipping through a book old-style can be satisfying and even more useful! There are a lot of knitting books on the market, so take a while to browse and invest in a few to really up your game
Don’t spend a lot
It might be tempting to splurge on luxury wool yarn and exotic needles, but if you’re just trying knitting out it probably isn’t a good idea to spend too much at the beginning. Companies such as We Are Knitters sell awesome knitting kits for beginners (and more advanced levels) with all you need to make gorgeous jumpers, home decor items and even pet sweaters, but there’s nothing wrong with popping to a discount store and spending €5 on some simpler but no less useful yarn and needles. Once you gain confidence and if you think knitting is for you, you can always widen your range and go for fancier yarns!
Ask for help
Finding an experienced knitter to help you out when you have doubts is a wonderful way to bond with other makers and make friends. Even better, starting to knit with a friend can be really rewarding and motivating! Most designers on Instagram for example are super friendly and helpful, and although it might not be a good idea to send them a whole pattern to decipher for you, most of us LOVE giving tips to beginners. I mean, any reason to talk about yarn-related stuff is a good reason, right?
Are you a newbie knitter? What do you find the most complicated about knitting? Let me know over on Instagram and share your experiences!
I’d like to send HUGE thanks to everyone who sent in their knitting problems, doubts and frustrations over the last week. I couldn’t have written this guide without you!
Can you remember what daily, boring, routine-based life was like before Covid-19 hit us all? Can you remember the school run? Can you remember having ‘normal’ problems, like the supermarket being sold out of your dog’s usual food, or your daughter refusing to get out of the bath? I do, and it all seems small fry compared to the devastaing panic and worry that millions of people are around the world are suffering these days. My family and I live in Spain and we are just ending our second week in isolation. We are young(ish), healthy and are privileged. We have a large detached house and garden. We can work(ish) online. We have a car with a full tank and can access the supermarket, albeit individually. Privilege matters at times like this and we are counting our blessings even though the worry can be overwhelming. It makes you want to go to bed early and sleep for a week, but we can at least go out in the garden and breathe the fresh air.
Police are everywhere and people in hazmat suits are disinfecting the streets where we used to stroll about. The other month my husband and I went for a random lunch just as this was starting to kick off. We chatted about how this would probably all be over in the next few days and the tabloids would get tired of it and things wouldn’t escalate. My goodness, how wrong we were.
I apologise if you’re here just for the craft tutorial, but I can’t get on with telling about that without giving you a bit of context. The quarantine situation has become the new normal and it would be insensitive not to address it and pretend that everything is okay. That’s not my style as a maker and, well, person.
So, let me tell you about this project. For many, rainbows represent hope, positivity and a brighter future. My feed has been chock-full of beautiful rainbow crafts recently, people doing gorgeous, rainbow-themed activites with their family and putting them up in their windows to spread good vibes. I’m not a rainbowy person, but I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and create a sweet crochet tutorial for those of you who need a quick, relaxing and pretty project.
Slip Stitch Rainbow Wall Hanging
This little rainbow hanging is a lovely way of showing solidarity and hope during difficult times and uses up scraps – always a bonus! For this design you will crochet a small circle in super chunky wool yarn, create some fluffy clouds using silky bouclé yarn and finish off by slip stitching an adorable rainbow in the shades you choose. This project also has a lovely ‘punch’ needle’ effect which adds a touch of texture and bulkto any interior.
Level: Confident Beginner.
You will need: A ball of We Are Knitters The Wool in ‘Natural’ (or other super chunky 100% wool yarn), a small amount of bulky/chunky yarn in three colours (I used Deramores Studio Chunky in ‘Seashell’, ‘Salmon’ and ‘Mustard’), small amount of white super chunky/bulky bouclé yarn (I used Rico Design Fashion Inuit in Creme), a small amount of Rico Lamé in gold (or dk weight lamé yarn) a 15mm & 6.5mm crochet hook, a clip stitch marker, scissors, a yarn needle.
Using the super chunky/bulky wool yarn, Chain four and slip stitch into the first chain to join and form a circle. Chain one (mark this stitch with a clip stitch marker to avoid confusion later) and make seven single crochets into the center of the circle. Slip stitch into the first chain one to join (eight stitches).
Chain one, remembering to mark the stitch as before, and work a single crochet into the same stitch. Work two single crochets into every stitch around. Slip stitch into the first chain stitch as before (16 sts). Now you’ve completed the circle that you’ll decorate.
Break your yarn and fasten off, weaving in your ends on the right side. For this project the wrong side will be visible to give a different, more bumpy effect.
Making sure that the ‘wrong side’ of your circle is facing up, thread your bouclé yarn onto your yarn needle and sew on some small clouds next to each other, making sure to keep them even and with a gap between (see photos).
Using long stitch, carefully embroider the clouds, making sure to fill up any gaps that may appear. When you’re happy, break your yarn and weave in the ends on the reverse side.
Now we’ll make the rainbow. On top of one of the clouds, insert your hook from front to back and pull up a loop of yarn, using one of the three shades of chunky yarn you have chosen. Insert the hook again into a space near this stitch, yarn over and pull through your work. Pull though the loop on your hook to complete the stitch. Careful with your tension! Try and keep your stitches not too tight and not too loose to avoid puckering your work. If you make a mistake just pull the working yarn to undo your stitches and start afresh.
Continue in this way until you have formed the first arc of your rainbow. Break yarn. Repeat with the two other contrasting colours and fasten off, weaving in or knitting the ends on the back of your work as neatly as possible.
Now for the hanging thread, thread the gold lamé yarn through the outer v of one of the top stitches from front to back. Thread through the next stitch, leaving the two free ends on the back of your work and knot firmly together, making sure that your hanging loop is big enough and hasn’t puckered in.
If you like you can sew a backing onto your project, especially if giving it as a gift.
Display your rainbow hanging in a window, in a bedroom, or anywhere you need a touch of positivity and love! If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial, please feel free to share in on social media, tagging me @emmaknitty so I can share your work!
This tutorial is dedicated to the tireless work of healthcare workers the world over and those who have lost their lives to Covid-19.
Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places, but I’ve always found it difficult to find decent mid-season scarves for kids! They’re either super thick and heavy duty for deep winter, staticky (spelling?) and nasty, or, well, they don’t exist. I’ve been after something soft and squishy and light enough for early Spring for my daughter to wear (but also sturdy enough to deal with very cold days), so I decided to design one myself! Wow. Knitting and crochet designer in designing a pattern shocker!
Crocheted using two strands of yarn held double – one variegated cotton and the other baby acrylic – makes for a really squidgeable tact, and combined with the beauty of moss stitch and adorable pompoms, this will be a scarf your little one won’t want to take off in a hurry. As the name suggests, the glorious mustards and blues of this beautiful Katia Candy baby cotton combined with the softness of the muted blue Stylecraft Bambino yarn makes for a very Goldfishy look!
The Goldfish Scarf
You will need: A 5.5mm crochet hook, 50g of variegated cotton yarn (I used Katia Candy in 673), 50g of baby acrylic yarn (I used Stylecraft Bambino in Vintage Blue), around 20g of Paintbox Yarns Simply Chunky (or similar) in Mustard Yellow, a yarn needle, an XS pompom maker and scissors.
Skills & abbreviations (US terms): Chain stitch (ch st), single crochet, weaving in ends, making a pompom.
Measurements: 113cm/44″ by 12cm/4″.
Row 1: Sc in the 4th chain from hook, *ch one, skip next ch, sc in next ch, repeat from * to the end of the row.
Row 2: Chain two, turn, sc in ch one space from previous row, *ch one, skip one sc, sc in next ch one space, repeat from * to end.
Continue repeating row two until your piece measures 113cm/44″.
Break yarn, pull through the remaining st to secure and weave in all ends. Make four pompoms for the corners. I made two using the chunky mustard acrylic yarn, one using a strand of mustard yarn and Stylecraft Bambino in Vintage Blue held double, and one using just Stylecraft Bambino in Vintage Blue. You can of course use any colours your prefer.
Did you enjoy this pattern? Don’t forget to share your makes by tagging me @emmaknitty on Instagram. I love to share your projects!
Every new season I try and change up my studio and refresh it a little with colours and items that I’m planning on using for my designs – it just helps with inspiration! I find that upcycling and making subtle changes to things I already have saves money and, above all, gives me an excuse to knit or crochet some accessories that I can also share with you all!
So, let me tell you the story behind this tutorial. last year I rescued a plain pine chest of drawers from IKEA that got attacked by mould and damp (the perils of living in the wettest region in Spain!) and would probably have been chucked into a skip. I really needed that chest of drawers to stuff WIPs and finished objects in, so I had the bright idea of treating it and repainting it white, but it looked far too sterile and I’m not painter and don’t have the skills to paint beautifully trendy patterns or motifs – I destroy everything I touch with a paintbrush – so I thought it needed something else. Then I thought, “knobs!” but not in a bad way. How about crocheting some teeny cosies for the drawer knobs? It was such a simple idea but it worked a treat!
I don’t think you need to do anything particularly epic or mind-blowing or magazine-worthy to make an old item look 100% Mollie Makes (as in, cool as heck), it’d the simpe things that can really make your upcycle pop and look amazing! If you have some yarn in the shade you want, a spare ten minutes and can crochet a circle you can get on board with this fun project.
You will need:
· Depending on the amount of knobs you’d like to crochet, a varying amountofyarnin the weight of your choice. I used DMC 100% Baby Cotton in the colours 771, 752, 764 and 763 and the recommended 4mm hook. I think DK is best, but you can achieve a finer look with Sport weight, or go statement with chunky yarn which is also very quick to work up, a crochet hook in the correct size for your chosen yarn, a pair of scissors, ayarn needle and an item or furniture or object with knobs to crochet over.
The amount of rounds you crochet will vary depending on the size of the knob you want to cover. As you work each round, place you work over the knob to check the size and, when it fits comfortably over it with a little extra (I’d say about half an inch extra at the edge), you can stop crocheting. For example, if the knob is 3″ in size, you’ll crochet a circle that is 3.5″ in diameter. Easy, no? This means that the cover will have enough give when you attach it and won’t look too stretched out.
Take your yarn (for this tutorial I used the shade 764) and hook and ch 4 (or make a magic loop). If you worked a ch 4, sl st into the first ch to join. Ch 3 and work nine dc into the center of the circle, working over the tail end of the yarn to minimise weaving in ends later on. Sl st into the top of the first ch three to join and finish this round (10 sts). Pull the tail end of the yarn tightly to close the hole in the middle of your work.
Ch three again and work two dc into every stitch, including into the same st where you worked the ch three (see photo). Work two dc into every st around until the end. Sl st into the top of the first ch 3 as before to join (20 sts).
Ch three once more and work another into this stitch, making two dcs into the same st. Work one dc into the next st, then work two dc into the following (third) st. Continue this way working an increase st followed by one dc until, the end. Sl st to join into the top of the first ch three to join (30 sts).
I only needed to work three rounds to make the circle big enough for my knobs so this is where I stopped. If you need to make yours bigger or smaller, simply stop after one or two rounds or work more for to make it larger. To do this you should work your increases by simply working more individual dc sts between each increase (two dc) st. For example, work two dcs in the same st followed by two individual dcs, then on the next round work two dcs in the same st folllowed by three individual dcs, etc.
Now comes the fun part – putting the cover on! First we need to do a bit of prep, so break your yarn, leaving a tail of around 30cm and pull through the st to secure. Whilst you’re at it, check that the tail of yarn in the center of your circle has been pulled tight then snip this off.
Thread your yarn tail onto your yarn needle and weave it in and out of the inner ‘v’ of the outer sts.
Place over your chosen knob and pull the yarn tight to pull it in and cover it. Magic! If need be, feel free to weave the tail around once more, or simply weave it into a nearby stitch and tie a double knot. You’re all done!
At the moment the only way to remove these covers is to cut them off – sad face – but I’m working on a way of making them removable so you don’t have to destroy them! If you have any ideas about how to do this why not drop me a line?
I love to see your makes, so if you whip up your own #emmakknitty projects remember to tag me on Instagram so I can share your work!