Hooked on Needles

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dilly Dally Twirl Extra Large Tote Bag ~ Auction Item

This fabulous, colorful, cheerful, extra large tote bag will be raffled at the St. Anna School Gala in a few weeks. This is the school my younger children attend and I always love to donate some handmade item to the raffle.

Good luck to all who enter!

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Winter in New England ~ and a crochet finish!

March is finally here which means spring can't be far behind. We've been seeing lots of fat robins around lately so that is a very hopeful sign. If you've paid any attention to the weather news in the US this winter, you probably know that here in New England we have gotten more than our fair share of snow this season. Here's one of those robins perched atop one of our six-foot snow banks just waiting for winter to be over!

It has been perfect weather for crocheting thick, cozy afghans though. Here is the gray/gray baby blanket that has kept my fingers busy and is now finished and ready to pack up and mail to my newest little grand-nephew, Drake, born just the other day out in Wisconsin. Take a look...

A very satisfactory winter's work, I'd say! For this afghan, I used Vanna's Choice yarn, seven 3.5-ounce skeins of Charcoal Grey which is the darker yarn in the afghan, and eight 3-ounce skeins of Silver Heather which is the lighter yarn. The only border I put on this afghan is a single round of single crochet in the Charcoal Grey just to finish it off neatly. Once it is shipped out, I can check this off my list!

Another crocheted afghan is in the works and progressing nicely in between school work, exams, clinical days and studying. All is going well so far this semester, but I will admit that I am very much looking forward to the summer break so I can get back into my handiwork a little more. Whether or not I actually will once I have the time remains to be seen. But just having the time available will be a nice treat!

I'll post pictures of the new project as time permits. Until next time...

Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy 2015 ~ And My Winter Crochet Project

Use coupon code HAPPY2015 for any purchase from my Etsy shop and save 15% through January 31, 2015!

It's been over four months since my last post here at Hooked On Needles, and I'm wondering how all you wonderful readers have been these past many months and if you might be interested in what I've been up to. So I am going to start out by saying a big HELLO and Happy New Year to anyone who might be reading this, and give you a little update on what I have done since that summer day of acorn painting way back in August. Then I'll show you the crochet project that is keeping me warm and cozy in the evenings now that winter is in full force here in New England.

In September, I started my first semester of the RN program at our local college after completing the previous two years of prerequisites and required electives for the program. We covered nursing fundamentals and long term care was our focus for our clinical experience. The material and the work this time around was so different than all my previous courses, and at the beginning I had some serious doubts as to what I had gotten myself into. But I pressed on, studied hard, worked hard, prayed hard, and in the end finished with a very respectable grade of 88 for the course. I was quite happy with that, and now ready to begin semester two which will cover maternity and pediatrics, two areas I have had a little bit of personal experience with already! So that's a quick update on my school situation.

Now let's talk about the fun stuff! I have actually completed a few projects that I did not post here just for lack of time. One was a new mitten for the Christmas mantel. This one was for our daughter's husband, so we could have a mitten for everyone hanging by the chimney with cheer. You can see our mittens in this old post if you're wondering what mittens hanging on the mantel look like instead of stockings! We love them!

At the medical office where I work, we had a Secret Santa swap before Christmas and I made a set of embroidered note cards for one of our nurse practitioners. I don't have pictures of those exact cards, but this old post shows some embroidered bookmarks I made a while ago using the same technique.

Between studying fluids and electrolytes, learning how to turn, bathe, medicate and assess patients, practicing inserting catheters on very life-like dummies, writing nursing care plans and making medication cards, I am sure there were a few other crafty projects I worked on in my spare time. For now though, take a look at the very cozy crochet project I am making for one of my nieces who is having her first baby in another month or so. Keep reading....

It really is a baby blanket, although these colors are not what comes to mind when I think of a baby blanket either! My niece asked for two shades of gray, so there you go...two shades of gray!

This crochet stitch I am using is an oldie that I have used many times before. I like it because, as you can see from the above picture, the front and the back each have an interesting pattern. It's also a very easy pattern that involves only double crochet and chain stitch, although it looks much more interesting than that!

The yarn I picked is Vanna's Choice which I was able to get at my local Michael's store with one of those great before-Christmas coupons. The colors are Charcoal Grey and Silver Heather.

The pattern I used is the cover pattern from this very old Coats & Clarks pattern booklet #299 which is still one of my go-to patterns when I want something easy, cozy and pretty.

You can tell this is an old pattern booklet by the price sticker. First of all, it is from Woolworth's, the Greatest Store Ever in the history of retail. I loved that store for everything! And then get a load of that price! A whole dollar! One entire dollar bought me 15 pages of knit and crochet patterns for babies, everything from blankets and booties to sweaters and sacks! Amazing! A real treasure too! If you ever find anything like this at a yard sale, don't leave without it! Great stuff in these little pattern booklets!

I purchased nine skeins of each color for this afghan and have used up a little more than half of it at this writing. The size of the blanket right now is what I would consider a good size for a baby blanket, but I don't really have any other use for the leftover yarn, so I have decided to continue crocheting this blanket and make it a size that this little guy will be able to grow into. The colors are much more Manly than Baby, so I'm hoping he will be able to use this as a cozy afghan on his bed as he grows up.

So that's what's filling my relaxing time in the evenings until I finish it up, wrap it up and mail it off to the great white north for a lucky little baby boy.

My school starts up again in just two weeks, and I have already received assignments to do before that, so keep those hands busy creating nice things for people in your lives and I hope to catch up with you again when I have another semester under my belt!

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Painted Acorn Santa Ornaments ~ A Picture Tutorial

It's the end of August and the school year has already begun. It seems like we barely just started summer and here we are at the end of it! As far away as Christmas might seem now, we all know it will be here in the blink of an eye.

Today I have a fun little tutorial using some of those acorns that are falling from your oak trees. This year happens to be a "big acorn" year for some of the oak trees on our street, and we've been able to collect a few that are quite large, beautifully shaped and intact. A little craft paint turns them into these cute little Santa ornaments!

Keep reading to see how...

First you need to collect your acorns. Look for well shaped acorns with their caps still attached, with no worm holes or other deformities or nastiness.

You don't have to use huge acorns, but I found that painting on the bigger ones was just a little easier than the smaller ones. These monster sized acorns only come around every few years, and this year was it! I think it has something to do with what kind of winter we had last year, or will have this year, or something like that. Anyway, you can see how big this guy is and this one was just freshly fallen from the tree so still very green!

Since I wanted to start my painting soon and not wait for these acorns to dry out naturally, I spread them onto a cookie sheet and put them in a warm oven (170 degrees) for a few hours to dry them out. Then I gave them a good wipe down and popped the caps off of them...

...and glued them back on using hot glue. This is important because if you don't glue the caps on, they will eventually fall off naturally as the acorn ages.

The next step is to screw into the top of each acorn a small screw eye so you will have something by which to hang the jolly little Santa when he is finished.

So just screw the little screw eyes into the top, as close to the middle as you can.

You don't even need to pre-drill a hole or anything like that. You should just be able to push it into the cap and turn a few times to get it started. Then you can put a toothpick or the end of a small screwdriver or paintbrush through the hole to make turning it easier, or just turn it using your fingers. The first few aren't so bad on the fingers, but if you are doing a lot of these all at once, you might want to save your fingertips and use something to help turn the screw. Ask me how I know!

Let the painting begin! Using inexpensive acrylic craft paint, paint the caps red. Paint the edge of the cap as well as the top, but you don't have to paint all the way down to the acorn itself because the lower part of the edge will be covered in white...you know how the edge of Santa's hat is all white and fluffy, right? Let that dry, and then paint another coat of red on the caps.

When the second coat of red is dry, paint not quite half of the acorn with a peach color, using even downward strokes from the top of the acorn to the point. Let that coat dry, then paint another coat of peach for the face.

When the second coat of peach is dry, turn the acorns over and apply dimensional white paint in a swirly motion onto the back side of the cap edge, then apply more of the dimensional white paint all over the back side of the acorn that was not painted peach. If needed, use a paintbrush to spread out the white paint or pull out little points in it to give it the look of white hair. I just used a small paintbrush and sort of pushed it around until it covered the back half of the acorn and looked all thick and fluffy. Give this coating of white a good 12 hours to dry completely.

Once the back of the hat and head are completely dry, it's time to apply a small circle of red in the area where the mouth will be. I made my red circles bigger than they needed to be so that I had more flexibility in adding the "facial hair" later.

Add little dots of black paint for the eyes. I used the non-business end of a small paintbrush dipped into a little puddle of black paint and then just touched it to the face where I wanted the eyes to be. Make sure you don't place the eyes too high on the face or you won't have room for the white trim on the cap and the fluffy white eyebrows. Santa does need his fluffy white eyebrows you know! Let the faces dry before proceeding.

Once the faces are dry, you can finish the white trim on the caps, applying the dimensional white paint in swirling motions to the front part of the cap.

Then you can add the little eyebrows just by squeezing out little lines of white over the eyes.

Next apply the mustache by making two curved lines starting from just above the red circle and going down and out towards the side of the face. After that, make a little V below the mustache so that just enough of the red circle shows for the mouth. Fill in the sideburns and beard with swirlies of fluffy white paint to finish him off. At this point, you can add the white pom pom at the top of the cap around the screw eye, or you can wait until the white paint on the face dries to do that.

I found it necessary to hang my wet-faced Santas to dry because they wanted to roll forward onto their wet faces when I put them on the paper towel lined cookie sheet. I just used a plastic container and a few dowels and a paint brush and some paper clips to hang them.

It looks like a little Santa convention inside my plastic container! Leave the white paint to dry completely, at least 12 hours, and then spray the little guys with a coating of clear acrylic sealer spray which you can get at any paint or craft store. Let the sealer dry and enjoy your painted acorn Santa ornaments!

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Impromptu Quilt ~ Finally Finished!

At the beginning of this summer, I made a list of the projects I wanted to accomplish before returning to school in September. Getting this Impromptu Quilt bound, washed, photographed and listed in my etsy shop was on that list, and can finally be crossed off!

This quilt started as a quilt along last summer with the intention of using up a good portion of my fabric stash. It barely made a dent in my stash, but it was so fun to make and I do love that it has a real scrappy look to it. I was able to finish the top last summer and then piece the backing, but getting a date on the long arm machine had to wait until I finished school in the spring. I booked the very first day available once my classes wrapped up, but while my kids were still in school. Then all that needed to be done was the binding.

School starts for the kids in a few days, and real nursing courses and clinicals for me the first week in September, so I feel like I cut it a bit close just finishing this up last week! But it is done, and I am so very pleased with the result. Take a look and see what you think of it...

This is the quilt from the front, being held over the deck railing by my two younger kids because that is the only place where it could hang down freely since it is so HUGE! The quilt measures about 90 inches square! Wow! It was just fresh out of the dryer when these pictures were taken, so it's all quilty and bunchy and warm just like quilts should be!

This is the quilt from that back. I pieced leftover blocks from the front and surrounded them with a darker print so that it could be used for picnics or on the beach or at the park without dirt showing as much. If you click on the picture to see it bigger, you will see that the design is a daisy in a hexagon shape in aqua and brown, a great color combination!

The perfect place for a nap in the sun, don't you think?

Picnic anyone?

I stitched a happy daisy quilting design all over the whole quilt. I just love that quilting design!

The binding is a fun aqua swirl print that sets off the white background of the quilt very nicely.

And of course my very favorite shot of a finished quilt...all rolled up and ready to go!

A few other fun projects have also been crossed off my summer things-to-do list, and I will show them here as time permits. I hope you have had a fun and productive summer as well.

Happy Stitching!

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Always Open Clothes Pin Bag ~ A Sewing Tutorial

About a year ago, we had just returned from our big summer vacation road trip and I had designed a clothes pin bag for my sister. I wrote about it HERE. In that post, I said that I would be offering a tutorial so you could make your own clothes pin bag, and here it is almost a year later! Well what can I say? I guess good things take time!

Here is a picture of the finished bag, and following is the tutorial. Be warned though, as it is very picture-heavy! But if you follow the instructions, you should be able to have yourself an Always Open Clothes Pin Bag in short order! This is a great scrap-buster project, so dig through your stash and see what you can use up!

I don't mind if you make these for gifts or even to sell them, but please don't copy my pictures or my words. They are mine, after all! If you use this tutorial for any purpose, please give credit where it is due and link back to this tutorial. I worked hard to bring this to you for free and would appreciate getting credit for my work.

Always Open Clothes Pin Bag Tutorial
An original design by Mary Grace McNamara at HookedOnNeedles.com


2 – 8 ½ by 11 ½ pieces of fabric (back outside and back lining)
2 – 12 ½ by 11 ½ pieces of fabric (front outside and front lining)
1 – 20 ½ by 3 inch piece of fabric (casing)
1 – 12 inch length of boning (available at your favorite sewing store)
1 – Parachute Buckle or Center Release Buckle for 1 inch strap (also available at your favorite sewing store)
1 ½ to 2 yards of 1 inch cotton belting (depending on how long you like the strap)

NOTE: ¼ inch seam allowance is used throughout unless otherwise noted.

You may find it helpful to read through the whole tutorial before beginning.

These are the main pieces of fabric needed. Also needed is the casing fabric which is one piece measuring 20 1/2 by 3 inches.

With right sides together, sew back to front along both 11 ½ inch sides for outside and for lining.

Press seams toward backs.

Press resulting tubes flat so that about an inch of front fabric frames back fabric piece on each side.

Stitch the bottom edge of outside and lining.

Mark a 2 inch box on both sides of each of the bottom corners of outside and lining using the side fold and the bottom seam line as guides.

So you should have drawn eight boxes all together, two for each bottom corner of the outside and the lining.

Pinch the corners flat at corners of each box so that the drawn lines make a straight line and the front and back come to a point.

Do this on the corners of outside and lining and then place the corresponding triangle corners together with bottom seams facing each other. The piece on the right will be flipped over onto the piece on the left so that the bottom seams are together, the fronts face one way and the backs face the other, and the result is seen in the next picture.

Pin along marked line and stitch once on line...

...and once 1/8 inch from line inside triangle.

This is what you get...

...two corners, one from the outside and one from the lining, joined together.

Put the other two corners together in the same way, making sure the bottom seams are lining up with each other, and stitch twice 1/8 inch apart as before.

Now you can see that the bottoms of the outside and lining are attached at the corners and the little triangle flaps are sticking out from the bag.

Turn outside of bag right side out over lining. At this point either can be outside or lining. Decide which is which before continuing. This is one of the fronts...

...and this is its corresponding back...

...and this is the bottom of the bag.

After turning the whole thing inside out, this becomes the front...

...and its corresponding back...

...and bottom. This is what I chose as the outside of my bag. Whichever piece you want to be on the outside of your finished bag should be turned to the outside now and it will remain on the outside for the completion of the bag.

Pin raw edges of outside and lining together around top of bag matching side seams and baste around top. Sorry no picture of this step, but you get the idea...stick the top edges together!

Ok, now that we've got that settled...time to make the casing...

Fold casing fabric in half along the length with wrong sides together and press.

Open short ends and stitch them right sides together to form a circle.

Cut a 12 inch length of cotton belting. It helps to tape the cut ends of this cotton belting while working with it so that it does not fray. Remove tape right before stitching through the ends so as not to gum up your sewing machine needle!

For the buckle, you can use either a Parachute Buckle which is what I used in the tutorial, or you can use a Center Release Buckle which is pictured here and what I am using for the bags I am making to sell in my shop. They both serve the same function and the instructions for attaching them to the cotton belting are the same for either model.

Following instructions on packaging, thread one end of 12 inch strap into female end of buckle about 1 ½ inches and stitch closed through all layers. This is the part of the strap that is not adjustable.

Finish one end of remaining strap by turning under edge or zig zag stitching. Again following instructions on packaging, thread finished end of long strap into male end of buckle. This is the part of the strap that is adjustable so do not stitch the end of the strap to the length of strap on the other side of the buckle! It needs to stay loose. Once you try it on, you can trim off any excess, only leaving enough to make the adjustments you will use for yourself. Just remember to finish the cut end of the strap if you trim it later.

Pin unfinished ends of straps to top of bag...

...extending raw edge of strap about ½ inch past raw edge of bag, right sides together, along side seam lines with straps towards the front section of the bag.

The short strap is on one side and the long strap is on the other side. Baste straps to bag.

Place casing around outside at top of bag with raw edges even. Pin. Stitch using ½ inch seam allowance through all layers and straps.

Press seam toward bag...

...then press casing to inside of bag over seam. If raw ends of straps extend past the edge of casing, trim them so they will be covered completely by the casing.

Top stitch around outside of bag a scant ¼ inch from top edge through all layers of bag, casing and strap ends.

Stitch through all layers at side seams from top of casing to folded edge to act as a stop for the boning so it won't slip out of place.

Cut a 12 inch piece of boning and tuck it up under casing on front part of bag only. Trim boning a bit if necessary, but you want it to go from side seam to side seam. This is what holds the bag open! Pin casing all around to enclose boning and stitch casing closed all around bag close to folded edge. Tip: The cut end of boning can be sharp, so cover ends of boning with scrap denim or batting or other fabric before tucking it into the casing to keep it from wearing through casing fabric.

Adjust strap for your size and trim excess belting if necessary. This can be worn over the shoulder across the body like a messenger bag so the bag sits at a comfortable spot on the hip to reach pins, or around the waist, or hung on the clothes line and pulled along as you go.

Fill bag with clothes pins and wait for a sunny laundry day!

I'd love to see your version of this bag if you decide to make one using my tutorial. If you don't want to make your own, check my Etsy shop or drop me a line. I'll make one for you!

Happy Stitching!

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