5 Knitting Hacks that Will Save You Money

There are so many gadgets and notions to aid in our knitting and, trust us, we want them all but they can get expensive! Why not try to recycle a few things from around your house to make your knitting life easier without breaking your budget. Here are a few of our favorite knitting hacks:

1.Tea Pot As a Yarn Bowl

5a4eafb1ed4b3e6b5c4d9aef138c86bcIf you have an extra teapot around the house or see one at a thrift store, it will expertly double as a yarn bowl. This trick works especially well if you are knitting double and pulling from the outside and center. String one end through the spout of your old teapot and the other out of the top of the pot and, voila! A perfect way to keep your cake together and in one place while pulling from both ends.

 

2.Car Sunscreens as Blocking Mat

41-tpeVW3eLWe have all seen the foam mats from a kindergarten class being used as a blocking mat. They take up a ton of space and are quite an eyesore while in use. For an easier alternative to those big mats, why not grab that sunscreen from the car that you forget to put up before heading into your favorite yarn shop? Your pins will stick nicely into its corrugated foam, the silver covering will reflect light to dry your project from the bottom, and it folds up in a snap.

3.Bread Ties to Wrap Yarn Tails

Seed Stitch baby sweater left front1 blogIf you love colorwork or always overestimate for your long-tail cast on, this trick is about to revolutionize your knitting! Use those plastic pieces from bread or bagel bags to wrap up the ends of your yarn. This will help you avoid knitting with the tail instead of your working yarn and keep all those colorwork strands out of your way!

4.Pantyhose with Runs as Yarn bras

Run-in-PantyhoseUnless they are your absolute favorite pair of pantyhose, forget the clear nail polish next time you get a run. You can reuse your old pantyhose as yarn bras! You will never get a yarn barf or exploded cake again. Are we the only ones who wonder if non-knitters read words that we understand perfectly or hear us talking about yarn barfs and think “What is it with these knitters?!”

5.Wine Corks as Point Protectors

downloadSome people collect wine corks, others turn them into funky pieces of art, but we use them as inexpensive point protectors – depending on the price tag of bottle of wine you choose, of course! You can keep your precious stitches from slipping off you needles all while emptying a few bottles of Prosecco or Merlot with your knitting friends! We will advise, if you choose corks from a red wine, make sure to rinse them first. We would hate for your pale colored shawl to end up with a spot or stain. These work well for any size needle because you are creating the hole. You could even use one end of the cork for large needles and the other for small.

What’s your favorite knitting hack? Share with us in the comments below!

Kitty Kaboodle: Inside the Kittys Studio

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Inside the Actors Studio hosted by James Lipton has always been a fun way to get to know odd things about actors. We thought we would try our hand at this interviewing style to let you in on some quirks and smirks about the ESK kitties! We are definitely a diverse litter but somehow we all balance each other out like a crazy game of Twister!

  1. Favorite / Least Favorite Word
  2. Sound or Noise you Love / Hate
  3. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  4. Unique or Quirky Habits
  5. Best Birthday Memory
  6. Favorite Soda
  7. Going on a road trip, what’s your gas station car snack?
  8. Favorite part of the ESK shop
  9. Show you can always marathon/Movie you’ve seen 100 times
  10. First thing you do when you wake up
  1. jessLackadaisical / Any word beginning with ‘B’
  2. Wind rusting leaves / Screaming babies
  3. An astronaut!
  4. There has to be a pattern to my candy before I eat it. If I pour out Startbursts, I put them in rainbow order.
  5. 30th – I had a Logan’s Run themed party because, in the movie, once you turn 30, they think you are reincarnated.
  6. Red Hare Rootbeer
  7. Starbursts
  8. I tend to squish the big skeins of Blue Moon because they’re a good cuddle size.
  9. Firefly / Interstellar
  10. Play on my tablet – I check Facebook & Instagram while still laying in bed.

janine

  1. Lumens / Moisture
  2. Thunderstorms / Crinkling plastic bags unnecessarily
  3. UN Interpreter
  4. I have to have scrambled eggs & toast for breakfast or I just can’t start my day.
  5. My first birthday while working at ESK! The knit nighters threw me a coffee and trivia party!
  6. IBC Rootbeer in the glass bottle
  7. Haribo gummy bears
  8. The indie dyer room that houses WSK, NBK, TIG, Yarn Love, etc.
  9. Scrubs / Oceans 11, 12, 13
  10. Get up and make scrambled eggs & coffee

erin

  1. Ridiculous / Potty
  2. The sound of children sleeping / White noise
  3. Cognitive Scientist
  4. I’m obsessive about alphabetization. I regularly alphabetize my books and, if I’m at a movie or book store, and the order is wrong, I have to fix it!
  5. My 8th birthday was particularly memorable because my mom made a cake to look like my Purr-tender kitty named Purry. She used a gingerbread man cake pan, ice cream cones for the ears, and iced him to look like fur!
  6. Cherry Coke Zero
  7. Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Combos & a Cherry Coke Zero
  8. The ottoman in Emily’s office – I curl up on it when we have meetings
  9. My So Called Life / Down To You & Playing by Heart
  10. Get a Cherry Coke Zero from the fridge, even if I’m carrying a screaming child.

tracey

  1. Panda / No
  2. Woofy noise my dog, Dash, makes while dreaming / Beeping of a truck backing up
  3. Field Archaeologist
  4. I time myself completing various tasks like folding laundry. I don’t try to beat my best time, I just need to know how long it takes for some reason. And I count my steps!
  5. My first day of kindergarten was my 5 birthday so I got to wear a paper crown all day!
  6. Orange Crush
  7. Honey Roasted Peanuts
  8. The Madelinetosh corner that houses TML, Sock, Vintage, and Twist Light
  9. The X-Files / Young Frankenstein
  10. I wake up to a pair of beady eyes staring at me so I immediately take Dash out.

jenny

  1. Spelunking / Moist
  2. The droning of a box fan / Hearing someones dry mouth on a podcast
  3. Medieval Historian
  4. I only floss in my car at stop lights & I absolutely cannot sleep without my box fan, a ceiling fan won’t work.
  5. I have a July birthday so we spent most of my childhood birthday’s on Sanibel Island with family having a big beach party!
  6. Classic Coke
  7. Gummies or Corn Nuts
  8. I’m fascinated by Dream in Color Jilly and Manos del Uruguay Alegria
  9. Vikings / Teen Witch
  10. I purposely put my alarm clock across the room so I hobble over to turn it off.
  1. Emily Gorgeous / I can’t even type this word because I hate it so much so here’s an acronym: Touching Uranium Really Delights Sally
  2. Church bells / Cats brawling
  3. I’d really like to name nail polish colors.
  4. The volume in my car or on the TV has to be on an even number.
  5. My 4th birthday was a carnival theme so my mom painted animals on pieces of wood, like a seal with his mouth open. Then she filled a tube sock with beans to make “fish” for us to throw in the seals mouth.
  6. Cream Soda
  7. Bugles and Bull’s Eyes
  8. Yarn Love – it’s spectacular and smells SO GOOD!
  9. The Office / The Sound of Music
  10. I sit up, pet Bianca, and think about how tired I am for about 13 minutes.

lindsay

  1. Fluffy / Squeee!
  2. Popping of bubble wrap / Squeee! (again)
  3. National Geographic photographer
  4. I set my alarms at odd times, never on the half or quarter hour. My morning alarm is at 3:46 AM.
  5. I remember we always went ice skating when I was a kid because I have a winter birthday.
  6. A&W Rootbeer
  7. Sweet & Spicy jerky
  8. The indie room because it smells so good!
  9. Gilmore Girls / Troop Beverly Hills
  10. Turn on the lights and pet my dog, Lexi!
  1. amyThank You / Overuse of ‘Amazing’
  2. My chocolate lab, Charlie, softly snoring on the couch / Mouth noises – chewing, slurping
  3. Dog trainer
  4. I have to clean the sink every morning after I brush my teeth.
  5. One year, my husband got me a lesson to fly a plane!
  6. Diet Coke
  7. Payday
  8. I am drawn to the Northbound Knitting cubes.
  9. BBC’s Coupling / The Italian Job
  10. Put on my pedometer – gotta count those steps!

Please share your answers in the comment section below! We would love to hear your interesting answers 🙂

Kitty Kaboodle – Before We Were Kitties

kittyKaboodle

Have you ever wondered what we all did before we were knighted as kitties? What were our first jobs in high school? What type of jobs led us or, in some cases, forced us to adorn the fantastic title of an ESK kitty? Follow us as we go from dead end to dream job!

Jenny – From Barbizon modeling to her first job in high school as a Custard Queen at Jeannie’s Custard Palace, our darling Illustrator, Jenny, has had a very interesting journey! Her favorite job was working at the Saint Louis Science center as a Designer & Illustrator where she designed signage, came up with the wall art & color schemes for exhibits, made posters & invitations for events, and started her day at morning meetings with a rousing game of Boggle! She also freelances – designing logos, invitations, etc. for a slew of awesome companies.

jessJessica also has a colorful “resume.” She started her working years as a Grocery Clerk at Publix! Then she moved on to become a Preschool teacher where she loved throwing holiday parties for her hilarious 4-5 years olds. After snack time & playgrounds lost their interest, Jess turned her gig as the “door girl” at a nightclub into a position that suited her better – she got to decorate for themed parties & events! Right before she blossomed into our Photographer, Jess worked for an apartment management company doing clerical work.

EmilyStill in high school, Emily teamed up with her 2 sisters and manned Guido’s Pizzeria in the heart of 6 Flags where she slung pizza, traded on the “6 Flags Black Market” for lemonade & cotton candy, and made some of her best memories sweating in the summer heat. During college, she worked part-time in an elementary school after school program and had the same fantastic group of kids from Kindergarten until their 4th grade year when she graduated college. Marketing-wise, she worked for a Canadian steel company, then a Realtor, and finally ESK!

traceyOur Maine-native, Tracey, first worked as a waitress in a local diner named Grant’s Family Restaurant. As she describes her time at Grant’s, she says, “I basically just topped off coffee cups for old men.” Once out of the diner business, she got involved in Environmental Consulting as a Marketing Manager where she would write proposals & run trade show booths. In between, she was a Test Knitter and Research Assistant before moving down South to avoid the harsh Maine winters.

Janine – The first job Janine ever accepted was as a Receptionist at a car dealership. She answered phones, crunched some numbers, and met some very interesting people. During college and a little after, she hopped around a few retail positions before finding her true love – working in a research lab. She worked in a Cognitive Neuroscience Research Lab where she measured study participant’s brainwaves as they read different sentences! Janine loves Science almost as much as she loves knitting!

lindsayOur oldest kitty, Lindsay, has a fairly short work history – she is a very dedicated employee as you all can tell by our super fast shipping. Her first job in high school was at her local Piggly Wiggly as a cashier. Once she graduated, she accepted a position at a Marriott hotel where she did laundry, made breakfast, helped at the front desk, managed the housekeepers, and even drove the Marriott van. She says, “I housed tons of baseball teams, plunged a lot of toilets, but I loved the variety! No two days were alike and I never knew what I was going to find in a room!”

amyLindsay’s loyal shipping assistant, Amy, took her first job at a neighbor’s catering company. She spent her after school hours decorating cake, cookies, and hand-dipping confections in chocolate. Amy then helped at Kitchen Affair, the same neighbor’s store front, where she helped prepare for cooking classes. She ran copies of recipes & helped with clean up. After graduating college, she worked & eventually retired from Commercial Real Estate as a Director of Project Management. She managed renovations at resorts from Hawaii to the Caribbean and everywhere in between. Though she spent 45 weeks out of the year traveling, she says, “They don’t build resorts in ugly places!”

Erin – Our head kitty started her journey at Hoit Cinema taking movie tickets for a mere $5.20/hr! She then moved up and spent the rest of high school as an Express lane cashier at Shaw’s Grocery. She loved competing with herself to check people out quickly which is no big surprise. After graduating college, she took a position as Copywriter. It was so terrible that she left for her lunch break and never came back! Her most recent, pre-ESK job was VP of Products & Services at a small company where she mastered search engine optimization and user conversion. After 4 years there, she started ESK, and actually remained working for another 2 years before she finally got up the courage to take on ESK full time.

We all started somewhere and were molded in different ways but ultimately, we ended up together..amongst these piles of yarn!

Q2 Begins Today!

The first quarter is always an absolute madhouse of excitement! There are so many new things that it is somewhat hard to take in. As things settled and you got to know your new teams, the competition was seriously on! You all earned tons, and we mean TONS, of Booster Club badges, blasted through the Yarniverse, and gathered so many stars for your teams. We hope to continue the fun so read on to see what’s new in Q2!

Knit-a-longs

Knitalong_iconWe are not starting any new KALs in April but we will continue working on our Space Shawls and Carson Throws. If you haven’t started, feel free to join any time! We have seen some amazing progress and look forward to awarding more store credit in the show off threads for the Carson Throw and shawl voting thread which will open at the end of April.

We will start our Freestyle KAL in May which is going to be tons of fun! We know what happens when we let you guys loose – you produce some inventive & beautiful work. As the name states, this is not a pattern-specific KAL but you must choose between 2 yardage brackets: 300-599 yard projects earn 250 yards & .5 star; 600+ yard projects earn 500 yards & 1 star.

In June, the Space Socks KAL begins. For this KAL, you must knit a pair of adult sized socks (this Ravelry search may be helpful) using any weight of our exclusive space colorways. You may choose any sock pattern and the minimum yardage requirement is 350 yards. If you complete your socks, you will earn 500 yards and 1 star for your team!

Booster Club

BoosterClub_IconWe know you all have been anxiously awaiting the new set of badges but wait no more! We have 6 new badges for you to earn in 2016. See what you can, will, or maybe even have already earned:

Walk Like An Estonian (20 points)
To Wear Not to Wear (20 points)
New School (10 points)
I’m So Indie (10 points)
Steeking Streaker (5 points)
Double Dutch (5 points)

New Puzzle

yarnatronIn lieu of trivia, we will be starting a new puzzle series on April 4th called Yarnatron 5000! If you can correctly solve the puzzle each week, you will earn 50 yards towards your Yarnathon total. That means you can earn 500 extra yards this quarter just by playing along & not buying a single thing. The puzzle will be posted each Monday on our Google doc and is due by Friday at Midnight EST, just like trivia. For the full explanation on how to solve Yarnatron’s puzzles, click here.

Yarnatron 5000

yarnatronAll the yards & stars you all earned during the Leap Day Challenge put the ESK ship into overdrive; unlocking a whole new planet to add to the Yarnathon – Pluto! We also found this cute little robot who is a distant relative of our 2014 Roboknit mascot. Everyone, meet Yarnatron 5000! If we can solve all of Yarnatron’s puzzles in Q2, he will show us how to get to Pluto. You know what that means, you can get there too! If you earn 100,000 yards along your Yarnathon journey, you will receive a special Pluto Pack filled with lots of awesome goodies, $50 store credit, and 10 stars for your team!

How do you play?

Yarnatron 5000 replaces our weekly trivia game, so you’ll go to the same Google form to see his puzzles. He has every picture of our yarn stored on his memory chip. He will tune his dials and 2 pictures will show up on his screens. You must first decipher which colorways he pulls up then find their common linking word. Here is an example. Say Yarnatron dials in Spicewood and Woodstock from Madelinetosh. The answer for this puzzle would be ‘wood’: Spice-wood-stock. The yarns he finds won’t always be from the same dyer so they will be more challenging throughout the quarter.

Where do you submit?

Yarnatron will be just like trivia used to be. You will find him on the Google doc each Monday and submit your answer just like you always have by Friday at Midnight EST. Please only answer the linking word. So for the example above, all you would write is ‘wood’ and we will add 50 yards to your account.

Have fun with our newest puzzle! Continue with your chatter on Ravelry so we can all zoom out to the littlest dwarf planet, Pluto!

Kitty Kaboodle

kittyKaboodle

If you ever had a Kaboodle, you know what fun it is to carry all your favorite things around. Well, your Kaboodle just got a make over – you can now carry the kitties around with you in this handy blog series called Kitty Kaboodle. We’ll talk about different things, okay mostly yarn, but we want you all to get to know us a little better and hope you will share with us in the comments!

What are we working on?

erin take 2

Erin is Knitting-a-long for the February KAL! Her Carson Throw uses Tosh Chunky in Kitten, Paper, Espadrilles, Chamomile, Grasshopper, & Glass Bottom Boat.

Emily

This is the pattern picture because Emily has not gotten very far on this beginner shawl. She is using Squoosh Merino Cashmere: Sock in the ESK exclusive colorway Tybee Island.

Janine

Janine was so inspired by Kayum’s version of the 3 Color Cashmere Shawl that she decided to knit one herself! She is using Tosh Merino Light in Firewood, Spicewood, and Dutchess for a rich, luxurious twist on this fantastic design.

jenny

Jenny is knitting Starfighter by our very own Tracey Cox! She is using the ever-so-squishy Amy March DK from Yarn Love in the dreamy colorway Dryad.

Jess

Jessica is knitting-a-long as well on her beautifully bright Carson Throw in Tosh Chunky. She chose a rainbow of colors: Cactus Flower, Daffodil, Jade, Flashdance, Baltic, and Holi Festival!

tracey

Tracey is using Dream in Color’s Smooshy with Cashmere in Mermaid Shoes to knit up a classic pair of socks. The simplicity in this pattern really shoes off this amazing hand-dyed skein!

Amy

Amy is also participating in February’s KAL! She is using Tosh DK in Flashdance for her Starfighter.

Feel free to share what you are working on in the comments below! We love seeing what is on your needles.

 

5 Reasons Why I Love Yarn More Than Cake

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A knitting themed cake is pretty darn cute and I’m sure delicious, but seriously, nothing compares to yarn. If there is a skein that makes me inhale with excitement, I will find a way to get it. Even if my pantry has tumbleweeds blowing through it, I will look through the couch for coins & mow a lawn just so I can have my precious skein of whatevercatchesmyeye in some crazy variegated colorway named after a character from my favorite obscure childhood book character. Basically, yarn reigns supreme and there’s no shame in that. Here’s why:

It’s SO Pretty

I’m trying to find a picture of a skein that embodies what I mean when I say, “Yarn is SO pretty.” 38 minutes later, I have 6 tabs open and there’s no way I can pick just one. How can dye dripped on fiber and wound into a skein attract me like a mosquito to light? And all for different reasons. Some colorways remind me of a special memory. Others go well with my winter coat. Most just make my heart beat so hard because I know I MUST have it…no project planned, no pattern in mind but it must come home with me. Why? Because yarn is SO pretty.

I Can Knit That

priceI know I’m not the only one who refuses to buy things in department stores or hip pop-up shops because, “I can knit that.” I will spend $150 on yarn to knit an imperfect sweater that will make me want to scream but I absolutely refuse to spend a third of that on a perfect fit, flawless sweater in a department store. What is this logic I have come to know as truth? How do I justify this to myself time and time again? I suppose it’s because knitting isn’t just about the end result..it’s the whole process that makes it worth while. It’s so exciting when you finally find that perfect pattern and you can begin your search for the colorway of your dreams. You set up your project page and cast on. Then comes the sharing. Pick your favorite forum and share your WIP with your friends so they can ooo and aww over it. And nothing compares to clicking the ‘Finished’ button on your project page, taking your FO pictures, and watching those little pink hearts pop up. Each project is a one-of-a-kind journey – not just a machine pumping out hundreds of the same sweater.

Holy Fiber Friends

Knittaz4lifestripI have never known a community of people to be so fun, supportive, kind, and loving as my fiber friends. We all share a hobby but, it’s more than that. Plenty of people share hobbies and don’t know much about one another but I consider my Ravelry friends, most of whom I’ve never met, and my Knit Night friends as my real friends. I see a package of Oreos and think about the Cowlettes or I walk past Alegria in the crazy colorway Locura Fluo and think of MissBlane. It’s fun to think that you all have become a real part of my life – I always wanted good friends but never expected to have so many!

That Squish Tho

alpacaFrom Angora rabbit to the hippest alpacas, yarn’s squish factor is high! I have come to learn that you are a true knitter when you do the Face Test. You know what I’m talking about – head slightly tilted, yarn on cheek, eyes gently closed, slight smile, then the rub. We’ve all done it and the Face Test is the only true measure of squishiness. Yes, this test may also be used for practical things like testing for allergies or seeing how the color looks with your skin/hair, but I like to think we are just listening to the skein. Most of the time it tells me to take it home or else it will be lonely on this shelf for the rest of its life and I, all too often, listen wholeheartedly! But we’re not here to judge.

Sticks & String – I Make a Thing!

Take a second to really think about what we are doing when we knit. We take sticks, sometimes connected by a cable, and click them together to make clothes. It’s one long string looped and stitched in different ways to make a garment or accessory. Seriously, think about it. Knitting is amazing.

XOXO, EmilyNan