Make A Thing: learn to crochet, knit, embroider and cross stitch!

characteristic image via subversive cross stitch

Welcome to the million billionth episode of do one thing, where we make handmade gifts for people! Or ourselves. Or our cats. Especially our cats.

Rory Midhani header

Click here for more Make A Things!!!!!!!!!

It’s pretty cold in Colorado, and the cold weather means I stay inside and do some DIY, because I really don’t like riding my bike when it’s snowing. I love learning new trades in the fall that I can imagine myself doing on cold winter nights sitting next to my fireplace in ugly slippers. In the past, these things involved crocheting, knitting, embroidery, and cross-stitching — all major players in the crafting game. Also, these four basic crafts make perfect gifts for the holidays.

Thing is I’m not good enough for any of these crafts to give you a tutorial myself. So instead, I’m going to show you my favorite tutorials for each!


I recommend learning to crochet for people who think knitting is too difficult. I find it much easier than knitting, actually, because there’s no chance you’ll lose a stitch from your needle. It also hurts my fingers less.

I learned to crochet with my friend in college, then quickly forgot everything she taught me as soon as I graduated. To remind myself, I started looking for videos on YouTube. Bethintx1 is by far the nicest and most soothing voice, it slows it down and shows you every step about ten times.

I started crocheting granny squares because it’s really nice to work with (much more so than a scarf, which looks like nothing for a very long time). Granny squares contain most of the regular crochet stitches, so they’re a great starting point.

Other crochet tutorials that I have found useful: Stitch Diva has beautiful pictures and clear instructions for many types of crochet stitches and All About Ami has amazing tutorials and patterns for amigurumi (stuffed crochet toys) the cutest you will ever see.

Look at these panda, teddy bear and koala ornaments!  via {All About Friend}

Look at these panda, teddy bear and koala ornaments! You can crochet them!
via {All About Friend}


Although I find crocheting easier than knitting, my aunt and grandmother taught me how to knit when I was young, so it became a comforting thing. The snapping of the needles, the repetitive stitches, I love it. However, my family only taught me how to knit and purl, so I learned most other stitches from various online tutorials.

GoodKnitKisses is my favorite YouTube teacher. The instructions are clear and given slowly (perhaps you sense a theme in the way I like to be taught: very slowly and with soothing words) and most importantly, what you are shown is obvious.

Scarves are the easiest thing to start knitting with. My best friend is learning to knit and starts with a scarf, and originally she cast on 35 stitches and now has 72, but it’s adorable. This is the most charming piece of heat I have ever seen. It’s the best in knitting, everything you do, no matter how many mistakes, will be very endearing.

Knitting this scarf on circular needles is super quick and easy and the result is beautiful.  via {Purl Bee}

Knitting this scarf on circular needles is super quick and easy and the result is beautiful.
via {Purl Bee}

I really like referring to Craft Cookie for new knit stitches because they have some great pictures. Purl Bee has a ton of gorgeous patterns for knitting, but most are a bit more complicated. The best source for knitting (and crochet!) patterns I’ve ever found is Ravelry. Ravelry has a ton of patterns (a lot of them are free but the paid ones support members of the DIY community so it’s always awesome) for scarves and sweaters and hats and mittens and well, almost anything, j ‘conceived.


The embroidery is so easy and beautiful and people are so impressed with it. I learned to embroider in the Young Women group when I was a Mormon, no kidding, but I’ve always loved it. It’s quick and satisfying and really easy to learn. In addition, the supplies are not expensive! Wins all around.

I bet you can understand why I love Stitching Cow. Slow, simple instructions and a delicious Aussie accent.

The easiest way to start embroidering is to start a sampler. It gives you a nice grip on the different points

An embroidery sampler featuring feather stitch.  via {Craftster}

An embroidery sampler featuring feather stitch.
via {Craftster}

My favorite embroidery designs are still from Sublime Stitching. They also have a variety of cool tutorials for different embroidery stitches. Wild Olive also has the cutest designs ever if you like putting tiny smiley faces on everything (which you should).

Cross stitch

Cross stitch is my new project. I can’t believe I haven’t tried it before this summer, because I love it.

Expert Village has some great cross stitch tutorial videos, like this one which will show you the basics of cross stitch:

I actually prefer reading cross stitch tutorials because it seems easier that way. Do not ask me why. The tutorial I used to teach myself was from Mochimochi Land and had very clear pictures. Purl Bee also has a good tutorial with illustrated instructions.

via {Subervis Cross Stitch}

via {Subversive Cross Stitch}

The best part about cross stitch is that there are a ton of tutorials and patterns for it. The worst thing about cross stitch is that most of the patterns are really ugly. But fear not, there are some really great ones too! Subversive Cross Stitch (NSFW) has some really fun designs and House of Happy by Hancock has around a million free designs to choose from.

What other tutorials have you used to teach yourself how to crochet, knit, embroider or cross stitch? Good bosses or shops to share?

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