Hooked on Needles

Monday, March 12, 2018

Winter Crocheting, Sewing and More

It's been a fun and productive winter here in New England thanks to some much needed days in my sewing room on the days I am not working at my Real Job. I am determined to continue using up fabric from my stash to make practical and desirable things for my Etsy shop, in between commissioned projects like the afghans I mentioned in the previous post and a few other things. I will have to dig up pictures of the two afghans I was starting on in that post to share here because I think some of you readers out there might like to try the same designs.

Today, however, I wanted to share two tote bags that were made using what was left of a jelly roll from another project, some black denim leftover from a large commissioned project of black aprons for a local tool and nail store and some yardage for the linings.

This first bag is made using instructions from a book I purchased a long time ago called Hold It, and as you can probably guess, it is a book about sewing all sorts of things that hold stuff! I have made this particular bag many times over the years, sometimes following the instructions and sometimes changing it up to suit my needs or the desires of a client. You can see pictures of some of the bags I have made using this design by clicking HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

The awesome thing about this design is the zippered extension which adds about 5 inches of height to the bag when extended upwards. The bag can be used without the extension pulled up so it is just like a regular open tote bag, or it can be zipped with the extension down inside the bag, or the extension can be pulled up and zipped to keep everything safe inside. It is my go-to bag design for a sturdy and practical bag.

The second bag is a simple open tote with pockets on the inside and no zippered extension. Both bags feature strips of fabric in warm fall colors and designs, quilted on the outside, and full lining with pockets on the inside.

More pictures and measurement information are available in the listings in my Etsy shop. If you're more into the spring look, there is also a very bright and cheerful spring tote bag available too. Click HERE to get to my shop.

It looks like we are going to have another snow day here tomorrow so perhaps between shoveling sessions with my husband and kids, I will try to find pictures of the afghans to share. I'm also working on another one, a huge corner-to-corner afghan for a wedding gift. I'll save that one to share once it is complete. What are you working on this winter?

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Decisions, Decisions ~ A New Crocheted Afghan Project

Summer crocheting is in full swing here in New England the past few weeks as we have been enjoying some unseasonably cool weather. You won't hear a word of complaint from me! I love cool, dry days and cozy nights! A friend recently commissioned me to crochet a twin bed sized afghan for each of her children but I had to tell her that a project like that would most likely have to wait until the hot summer was over and the cool fall weather arrived. And then I ran across a great sale on Red Heart Super Saver yarn, quite by accident since I would not normally drive a half hour to purchase yarn. I'm so spoiled having a Michael's and a Joann's and a Walmart with a good craft department within 5 minutes of my house. For some reason, I looked up AC Moore online to see if I could get a better selection of the colors I needed, and there was the sale announcement! Naturally I had to go! Not only did this store have a good sale, but they also had a better selection of exactly the colors I was looking for. I purchased a boatload of yarn that day! And then the cool weather pattern set in. Perfect timing!

Before I could jump in and start crocheting, I had to make a decision. This was the hard part, deciding what stitch or pattern I was going to use. For the boy's afghan, I had already decided to do a simple corner-to-corner in blues with white in between. For the girl's afghan, blues and purples were requested and I had three shades of each, plus soft white so I had to find a pattern that would look good with all these colors. Time to audition some ideas...

The Red Heart website has so many free patterns to choose from, but I narrowed it down to a few and got to work crocheting a small swatch of this first shell pattern that I thought would look good in gradients of blues and purples. After stitching the pattern as written, I decided the double-triple crochet shells were just too loose for my taste. I am not a fan of afghans with a lot of holes in them, especially for kids. So I rewrote the pattern to use double crochet shells...

...and incorporated a second color once I had the pattern rewritten. It was nice enough, but seemed a bit too busy considering that there would be seven colors involved. This pattern also required a bit too much thought, and I have discovered that thoughtless patterns are so much more relaxing! I must be getting lazy in my old age!

So I moved on to this wave pattern, also from the Red Heart website. It was actually shown in gradients of several colors, so I knew it would work with my colors. The only question was if I would enjoy working the pattern. So I gave it a try. It wasn't too bad, but there was something about it that didn't sit well with me. After working a few repeats, I realized what I was not liking was the extreme shape of the wave. It was too steep, not as gentle as I wanted. So out came those stitches and I kept searching.

These are the colors for the girl's afghan I am making. In order, they are: Soft Navy, Royal, Light Blue, Soft White, Dark Orchid, Medium Purple, Pale Plum, Soft White.

Next time I'll share with you the pattern I finally decided to stick with and some pictures of my progress. The cool weather only lasted a short time and we are heading back into some sticky hot summer weather now, but it was great while it lasted and allowed me to get a head start on this fun project. I'll enjoy summer while it's here, but fall can't come soon enough for me! How about you?

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Winter Sewing ~ Easy Ottoman Coverup

Here is another quick and easy sewing project that got done this past winter. My extra large chair-and-a-half that has been used as a backdrop for many photographs here on Hooked On Needles has an extra large ottoman to go with it. It is so super cozy to sink into this chair with a good book or a sleepy little baby. I spent many nights with my little babies sleeping in this chair when they were sick or just needed some extra TLC. In recent years, it has become what we like to call The Nest for our youngest daughter Grace who is now 12 years old. She likes to gather all her Stuff and settle into The Nest to read or crochet or browse Pinterest for her next project. She also had the bad habit of wearing her slippers while Nesting which caused the piping along the edges of the ottoman to wear out and look sloppy. Here is a picture of the ottoman before this quick and easy makeover:

You can see that the fabric covering the piping is all but gone and the rope inside the piping is exposed. The texture on the top of the ottoman is wearing thin as well. Not a great look if you ask me! So I had an idea to make a simple cover for the ottoman and went about the business of finding fabric that was as close a match to the original as possible. I lucked out at my local Joann's in their upholstery section and purchased a generous cut of this cozy fabric. I took a few measurements, hemmed the cut edges to the dimensions I wanted, cut out the corners in squares equal to the height of the ottoman, stitched up the corners and Voila! Here is a freshly covered ottoman looking all sharp and spiffy:

Not bad for a couple hours of time and some upholstery fabric!

Here's a very high-tech diagram of how I did it in case you want to make something similar for yourself. You can click on the picture to make it bigger:

If you want to make a simple cover for something like this, just substitute your own measurements. The size of the piece you will need can be figured by taking the width and adding twice the height to get the finished width of your fabric, and then taking the length and adding twice the height to get the length of your fabric. Add enough to each dimension for hemming the raw edges. Hem the edges, then cut out the corner squares which will measure height by height, in my case 16 by 16 inches. Then sew the two cut sides of each corner square to each other and place your new cover on. That's it!

If you have some fabric leftover and want to make a very simple cover for a throw pillow, click HERE and check out my tutorial for the easiest pillow cover ever. It's even easier than this ottoman cover! Really!

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

More Winter Knitting ~ A Special Baby Blanket

After finishing those two Christmas mermaid tail blankets I shared with you recently HERE, I was in the mood to dig out my knitting needles and get started on a longer term project, but not something quite as involved as a sweater. A project that would be easy to set up and keep working on without much thought involved, and that would take longer than a few evenings of knitting. I have already mentioned my love of Craftsy after working up some neck wrap kits from them. Craftsy posted pictures of a luscious looking baby blanket one day that really caught my eye, so I shared it on my facebook page and mentioned how I would love to knit this pattern, but sadly I have no babies in need of blankets. Within minutes I had inquiries, and by the next day, I had ordered the kit and was anxious to get started. It is called Square Within a Square, and it was truly a pleasure to knit. Keep reading and take a look...

The yarn that came with this kit is called Sprightly, which I had never heard of, but it got very good reviews so I was excited to give it a try. This ecru Sprightly yarn is 100% acrylic and so soft and luscious. It was a real pleasure to work with.

The pattern, Square Within a Square, is a simple combination of knits and purls. Once the garter stitch border was done and the pattern was set up using stitch markers, it was a very simple pattern to work without a whole lot of thought. Perfect for relaxing on many cold winter nights while enjoying a movie or visiting with family and friends.

The blanket finished at about 40 inches square, a very generous size for a baby to be able to use for a long time. This particular blanket was delivered last week and will be given as a baptism gift for a baby girl whose two great grandmothers were friends of mine for many years and who have both passed. I know that, if they were still living, they would have pulled out their own knitting needles and made something just as special for this little baby. It was truly an honor to be able to make this blanket in their place.

Have you used your hooks and needles for any long term projects lately? Or do you prefer the instant gratification of quick projects? Next time, I'll show you a very quick project I did recently as a matter of necessity.

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

More Winter Knitting ~ Fisherman's Wife

Have you checked out the knit and crochet kits on Craftsy? I've purchased a few myself and have been very happy with the quality of the yarn and the patterns as well as the price.

Last fall, I was on the hunt for a thick and cozy neck wrap pattern that would be quick to make and have just enough detail to be interesting. One day this pattern came up on my Facebook feed and I had to try it!

This one is called Fisherman's Wife and it is a neck wrap with one cable going down the middle. It is made using chunky yarn with a cast on stitch count of only 16. The pattern uses size 15 needles so it works up very quickly.

I liked it so much that I had to make another ...

... and another!

One of these was given as a Secret Santa gift at work, but the other two are still waiting for a home.

I would love to know if you have purchased anything from Craftsy and if you were happy with it, whether it was an online class or a kit or pattern or supplies. So far the yarns I have purchased from them have been quite nice and the patterns well written and easy to follow. I'll share another project from Craftsy soon, and a few other sewing and crochets projects as well.

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Happy Spring ~ Well, Not Quite Yet ~ Crocheted Mermaid Tail Blankets

It seems strange to be welcoming you to spring when the last time we visited here at Hooked On Needles it was spectacular New England fall! Welcome to spring anyway! I wish I had a colorful spring-like picture to share with you, maybe daffodils from my garden or even a crocus or two, but we are still under a blanket of white. Not a daffodil or crocus to be found. Winter never really likes to leave us until we are well into spring. But it's a good time to think back on where we've been and what we've been doing since last we met. So here goes...

Last fall, one of my nursing school classmates, AH, asked me to help her figure out the pattern for one of those mermaid tail blankets that are all the rage now. She's the same classmate I talked about last year when I shared some of my nursing school knit and crochet with you. You can read about that HERE if you like. At the same time, one of the moms at the school my children attend asked me to make one of these blankets for her daughter for Christmas, so I had the perfect excuse to buy yarn and dive into the project. The pattern AH wanted to use was THIS ONE which I really liked since it has the appearance of fish scales in the body of the blanket. So that is what we used. The above picture shows the first one that I made for the little girl at school. She's 5 so of course it had to be pink and purple. No question about that!

After I had finished the first mermaid blanket, another friend asked if I could make one for her to give as a Christmas gift, but this one would have to be larger since it would be for an adult. And not just a me sized adult, but a very tall adult, as tall or maybe even taller than my own husband. I am, shall we say, vertically challenged measuring in at about 5 feet, 2 inches so a blanket for a me sized adult would not have been too much bigger than the one I made for the 5 year old since I made that one big enough to be cozy and give her some growing room. But my husband is a whole foot taller than me so any blanket made for him, or someone his height, needs to be considerably longer. So the above picture shows the tall adult version of the same mermaid blanket, requested in the same colors as the first!

The stitch pattern used for the body of this mermaid tail blanket is a simple 5-double crochet scallop and would be a nice pattern to use for a rectangular blanket with no tail attached as it is very warm and cozy. Also once you get the pattern established, it is easy to work and works up quickly.

These two mermaid tail blankets started off my cold weather crocheting last fall with some eye-popping color and pleasing results. I heard through the grapevine that both recipients loved their gifts. In the coming days, I will share some other knitting, crocheting and sewing projects I have worked on since last fall. Now what have you been doing with your hooks and needles? I would love to know!

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Time To Fall Back ~ 20% Coupon Code for Early Christmas Shopping

Another fall has arrived here in New England and the trees have been just stunning. I wish I could share a picture with you that actually did justice to the spectacular show of color we have enjoyed this year. But this will have to do.

I cannot even claim credit for the picture! This was sent to me by a friend who had visited Vermont at the peak of color. Isn't it just fabulous?

To celebrate my very favorite season of the year, I have decided to offer a coupon code to save 20% off of any purchase in my Etsy shop for the month of November. We will be turning our clocks back this coming weekend, so the coupon code is FALLBACK2016 and it is good for the entire month of November. So click HERE to take a look at some of my handmade items that would make perfect Christmas gifts for lots of people on your Christmas list and get those gifts checked off, wrapped and put away.

In my shop you will find cozy quilts of all sizes, hand crocheted blankets for dolls, babies, kids and grown ups, awesome tote bags that any bag lover would love, knitted and crocheted scarves for those cold winter days that are surely coming, crocheted cotton wash cloths, original patterns and lots more.

Feel free to share this coupon code, FALLBACK2016, with friends and family too, along with a link to the item you would like to find with your name on it under the Christmas tree this year! I am not a fan of subtle hints! Just come right out and tell them what you want!

I hope you spend some of this cozy fall keeping your needles and hooks busy too!

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

It Is Finished...School, that is!

Just popping in here to let you know that I passed my state board exam for nursing this past week! Those of you who have taken any kind of board exam will understand completely the relief I felt! So the journey I began four years ago has come to a successful conclusion! Now I can reacquaint myself with my family and my sewing room, and get back to some sort of normal life again!

There is a crochet video tutorial on my list of things to do for Hooked On Needles, as well as a picture tutorial for a cute little sewing project that I shared a while ago and have had a few requests for. So I am hoping to get to those sometime this summer, between trips to the pool with the kids and working my wonderful job as a nurse.

I do hope you are enjoying your summer, maybe with a little sewing or crocheting mixed in!

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July! ~ Some Patriotic Projects from the Past

Happy 4th of July to all of my American readers! I thought I'd share a few patriotic pictures from the past just to add a little Red, White and Blue (and maybe another color or two) to this page! Just click the caption to read about the project pictured.

Sweet Liberty Afghan

Tunisian Short Row Dishcloth

Ma Ingalls Half Granny Shawl

Knitted Apple Dishcloth

Cute Window Valance

Red and Aqua Tote Bag

Apple Tote Bag

Needle Roll for Crochet Hooks

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Grow A Garden With Me ~ Two Matching Tote Bags for Summer

More Summer Sewing is underway here at Hooked On Needles! Moda has some wonderful designers, and one of my very favorite teams is Me and My Sister Designs. Mary and Barb continue to come up with the most cheerful fabrics year after year. These two matching tote bags are made with their Grow fabric line and are just as happy as can be!

These bags are available for purchase over in my Etsy shop while they last. Don't forget to use coupon code SUMMER2016 through July 20, 2016 to save 20% off of any purchase.

I hope you are spending some time in your sewing room this summer too!

Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

More Summer Sewing ~ Two New French Journal Tote Bags

There is nothing quite like an afternoon of relaxing summer sewing, and recently I was able to enjoy a few of them. After making Melissa's tote bag, the leftover French Journal fabric was just begging to be made into something pretty and useful. Take a look at these two summery tote bags, and be sure to check out the summer sale in my Etsy shop where everything is 20% off through July 20 when you use coupon code SUMMER2016 at checkout! These two tote bags will be there very soon!

This tote bag is lined with the coordinating pink paisley...

...and this one is lined with coordinating green paisley.

You can see more pictures of these two tote bags over in my Etsy shop very soon.

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

French Journal Tote Bag

It's not even officially summer yet, and my first custom project for the summer is complete, shipped and received! It's no secret that I love bags. I love to design bags. I love to sew bags. I love to use bags. I just love everything about bags! My favorite travel bag is one that I made for myself a really long time ago using discontinued upholstery samples from my local furniture store. Since then, I have used that same pattern to make dozens of bags for others. Melissa from Texas wanted one, and here it is...

Melissa liked the fabric I had used for a similar bag a few years ago for a young girl's birthday gift in Australia. You can see that bag HERE. It is a Michael Miller fabric called Belle Rose from the French Journal fabric line.

The print on this fabric just begs to be fussy cut. You can see that the two pieces of the zippered extension started out as one piece with that gorgeous bird on the lower half and the gorgeous flower on the top half. The hot pink zipper matches the pink corduroy that I used for the base of the bag.

The lining for this bag is the pink paisley from the same fabric line. Lots of pockets around the inside to keep things organized.

The zippered extension can be pulled up for lots more space inside the bag, or it can be left folded down as in this picture. Either way, it can be zipped to protect the contents of the bag. You can see the swivel hook peeking out just below the zipper. I like to add a swivel hook to each of my bags so keys are easy to retrieve!

There is a large pocket on each side of the bag framed and lined in the green paisley that is also part of this lovely fabric line.

I was happy to know that Melissa's bag arrived safely and quickly and that she was happy with it. It is always such a pleasure to work with quality fabrics and beautiful prints, and I make it a habit to purchase extra yardage just in case I make a bad cut or have some other unforeseen mishap while sewing a custom project. For this project there were no mishaps, so next time I will share with you what I did with the leftovers of this beautiful fabric. If you like bags as much as I do, you won't want to miss it!

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Nursing School Knit and Crochet

It's been almost three weeks since I finally got to do what I had imagined myself doing four years ago, back when the thought of returning to school and pursuing a degree in nursing came to mind. One of the things I saw in my mind's eye was me, sitting right here at the kitchen table just as I am now, but instead of sharing my love of all things hooks and needles with readers all over the world like I had done since 2008, I was studying, writing papers, learning about things I had never known anything about before. I saw that, and it appealed to me.

The other thing I saw was a sea of fellow nursing students, and myself included, all dressed in white, with me emerging from that sea to stand on the stage and receive my nursing pin. I had never been to a pinning ceremony before, and in fact until four years ago, I had never even heard of one! But I clearly saw this happening to me, and a few weeks ago, it did in fact actually happen! It was quite a thrill to celebrate the accomplishment achieved after so much study, hard work, and sacrifice. The study and hard work were all me, along with a healthy dose of God's good grace, when it came to the actual school work. The sacrifice, however, was not only mine but my husband's and my children's as well. Had it not been for their willingness to take on most of what I had always done and allow me the time and study necessary to succeed, it never would have happened. So it was absolutely a family effort for me to get this nursing degree and the title of Registered Nurse.

So anyway, I am done with school, except for studying for my nursing board exam which will be sometime this summer, and I have some things to share with you that were actually part of one of our last courses. We had to do a service learning project by volunteering at a charitable organization of our own choosing. One of my classmates, AH, also enjoys crocheting and so we thought it would be a great idea to choose an organization that could benefit from the two of us doing something that we loved to do already. The organization is called Warmer Winters and it is located right here in lovely Leominster, Massachusetts. They provide hand made items such as hats, scarves and mittens to needy families. You can read about their work HERE.

Keep reading to see pictures of the items we made as part of our service learning project for Warmer Winters...

These are the items AH made. She let her daughters choose some of the yarn she used for a few of the items. I bet you can guess which yarns were chosen by two fun little girls! AH's crocheting is just beautiful and all of these items will keep some people nice and warm next winter, not to mention add some awesome color to their wardrobe!

And these are the items I made. I used my Swirl Top Baby Hat pattern for most of the hats I made. They turn out different sizes by using bigger or smaller yarn and needles but the same pattern, and all you need to know how to do is knit, purl and knit two together.

A few of my scarves were made using a simple garter stitch and knitting until only a few feet of yarn was left and then binding off. That was the perfect knitting project for relaxing in the evening after a long day of lecture, studying or clinicals because it requires no thinking!

That little blanket under all the hats and scarves was made with two skeins of chunky fuzzy yarn from Warmer Winters using my newest favorite crochet stitch, the diagonal box stitch. I am going to be making a video tutorial for that over the summer so maybe it can become your new favorite crochet stitch as well!

Some of our favorite yarn companies donate yarn to Warmer Winters, which is made available for anyone to make items for them, so some of these items were made with donated yarn. I took the opportunity to dip into my own stash for some items as well.

So this is how I kept my fingers busy and fulfilled my obligation to do charitable work for class credit at the same time! It was also a good excuse to spend a couple of hours with my classmate each month working on our projects outside of the classroom setting.

Summer is not yet in full swing here as my children still have another week of school to go. We have our vacation already planned, and I am hoping to pass my board exam before we leave. Other than that, it looks like we will be having a nice relaxing summer doing fun things together on the days I am not working, and adding to my list of knit and crochet video tutorials.

How is your summer shaping up? Make sure you make some time for your hooks and needles!

Happy Stitching!

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