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3 crafty tips my grandma taught me

Nanny and me.

When I was little, I got to spend a lot of time with Nanny, my grandma. Most of our time was spent in the kitchen, where she taught me things like, "always use your finger to scrape out all of the egg white from the shell." But we also did some knitting and sewing, and she got me started in my stitching. Obviously, I was a bit older than I am in the photo above, but this pic has such a nice "awwwww..." factor to it, right?

Today, I pass along three things I learned from Nanny:

Tip 1 - Keep the Back Neat

Keep the back neat.

We've all heard this, but it's a good one. I'm not sure if Nanny would approve of this back. I use back stitch a lot, which results is a not-so-tidy appearance, plus this one will be hidden when it's all finished (it's the last pattern for Summer Stitching Club!). But keeping the back looking nice is still a good habit to form. I continue to work on this.

Tip 2 - Don't Turn the Scissors1

Don't turn the scissors.

Nanny told me this one when I was cutting something...the right way! Here's the idea: you keep your scissors facing the same direction the whole time you're cutting something out, and you move the paper as you are cutting.

Tip 2 - Don't Turn the Scissors2
Tip 2 - Don't Turn the Scissors3

Curves and straight lines work the same, and it works best on paper and felt, when you're holding what you're cutting. Just turn and rotate the paper or felt with your non-dominant hand.

Tip 3 - Twist a Knot1

Twist a knot.

This last one is great for tying a larger knot for hand sewing. Tying a single, standard knot will result in a knot that pulls through most fabric weaves. You need something bigger, and this does that.

Lick your finger. (yes, it's gross, but it works...) Wrap the end of your thread around your index finger one time.

Tip 3 - Twist a Knot2
Tip 3 - Twist a Knot3

Roll your thumb across your finger so the wrapped thread twists together.

Tip 3 - Twist a Knot4

Use your middle finger, or more precisely, your middle finger nail, to slide the twist toward the end of the thread, forming a knot.

Tip 3 - Twist a Knot5

See? A nice chunky knot. Sometimes if you work too close to the end, it may not catch, but once you've done it a few times, this will become your go-to knot tying method!

Oh how I miss my Nanny. I'm sure there are so many things that I never got to learn from her, and I wish I could show her the new tips and tricks I've learned along the way. Most of all, I miss her sweet spirit. Thanks for letting me pass these things on to you!


  1. Mollie,
    Your Nanny was so right! I teach my Kindergarten students how cutting is all about leaving the scissors be and just moving the paper. I make that same knot, thanks to my mother who taught me that trick years ago. I'm doing your summer stitch club but I'm falling behind. I'm hoping to have something to share with you soon. Love your projects and blog!

  2. I learned how to make that knot too! From my Oma (grandma in German) and my mom. Those are great, simple tips to always keep in mind!

  3. I love reading about these great crafting lessons your Nanny taught you! My grandma hasn't shared many tricks with me, but despite that, I've inherited her sass and love of sewing and embroidery!

    Ladyface Blog

  4. great and easy tips!

  5. I just spent I don't know how long staring at that stitching club pattern back trying to figure out what it could possibly be. Such a tease!

    I'll have to practice my cutting and knotting. I've never really paid attention to how I cut but I'm sure it's not like that.

    1. Haha! I purposely chose one that would be hard to figure out from the back! Hopefully when you see the front, you'll be able to tell what it is...

  6. That's how I tie my knots and I bet you my grandmother taught me that way (I can't actually remember who taught me so I'm assuming her)

    Great tip about cutting with scissors. Grandmothers are so knowledgable when it comes to crafty things.

  7. Your Nanny passed on great tips! Hadn't heard the one about twisting the thread before knotting, but I will be doing it now ~ thank you for sharing!

  8. Great points! I haven't knotted like that before- will have to try it.

  9. I love this publication! Not only for the great tips, but for the loving bond behind it. You are such a lucky girl! Very talented! Love your blog!!

  10. Thank you all for your kind words! I'm sure Nanny would be pleased.

  11. So Sweet! My [Grand]Mama is who taught me embroidery, sewing and about life in general. Good tips that are very much in line with the ones my Mama gave me.

    And yes, that pic is adorable!

  12. I love these little tips! Thank you so much for sharing them with us =D
    Do you knot your embroidery thread on the back at all? I've just been weaving the ends in. That was the only way I could think of to try and keep it neat :)

    1. If what I'm stitching will be washed, I do use knots for extra security. Otherwise, no knotting!

    2. Thanks Mollie! I better knot the threads for the Stitching Club just in case :)

  13. Great tips, I was told the some thing about the back of embroidery too :).
    I have heard of that way of tying knots before & I agree it's a great way to get a good size knot. I have recently learnt another way knot my threads that is quick & easy & you can adjust the size. I believe quilters use it alot. With the needle & thread in your dominate hand you lay the thread across your index finger, then lay the needle across the thread to form a X - the point of the needle away from you - using the other hand wrap the thread around the tip of the needle. 1 wrap gives you a fine knot, the more you wrap the bigger the knot. I find 2 or 3 wraps are good depending on the thickness of your thread. :)

  14. Opps! forgot to tell you how to create the actual knot ... once you have wrapped the thread around the needle several times, hold the thread wrapped end of the needle between the thumb & pointer finger of the hand that wrapped the thread & using your dominate hand, gently pull the needle through the wrapps sliding the looped thread off the needle & along the length of your thread to the end :)

  15. I've been trying to get my kids to cut by turning the paper for years, stubborn bugger. I learned that knot in home ec in middle school, except I lick and use my thumb.

  16. Anonymous4:38 PM

    Have you tried using double running stitch also know as Holbein stitch, it's used in blackwork and is neater on the back than backstitch. I have to admit that is what I thought you used because your designs are always so even.


    1. That's actually a great idea! I've used it for some double-sided things, but because it takes longer, it's not by go-to stitch. Still...I need to remember that!

  17. What a lovely post! This was a real pleasure to read :) I have never seen that type of knot either, great idea to keep in mind.

  18. Great tips, especially love the knot one. I miss all the wisdom of my Grandmas too.

  19. I'm so glad to learn these tips from your grandma! I usually take up a lot of time doing the knot over and over until it's "big". No one showed me that trick, so thanks!


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