Hooked on Needles

Monday, July 21, 2014

Custom Tote Bag with Zippered Extension ~ Downton Abbey Fabric Too!

Since I started back to school almost two years ago, I have not taken on too many custom orders except those that come around during the summer months. A few customers have inquired about custom items during school time, only to be told that what is currently in my Etsy shop is all that is available at the time, but if interested, they could contact me early in the summer for a custom order. Well, one of my customers did just that and received her item in the mail today. She had her eye on one of my expandable zippered tote bags, but wanted to choose her own fabric. I must say, she made a lovely choice. Take a look and see if you agree...

This is Beth's finished bag, designed for her needs and in the fabrics of her choice.

Hawthorne Threads sells top quality fabrics, and allows searching their website by color, designer, collection and many other criteria. Beth found this collection of Downton Abbey fabrics and put together a lovely combination for her bag.

Here you can see the inside of the bag with the extension inside the bag. Notice the inside pocket with lots of padding, just what Beth ordered to fit her ipad mini.

And this shows the inside of the bag with the extension pulled up. Isn't that fabric lovely? You might also notice that I included a swivel hook on a strap to keep track of keys or other small ringed items.

I just love how this bag has such a generous capacity. Beth will need all that room for the cross stitch project she is planning to keep in here!

The zippered extension is wonderful for adding extra room inside the bag, or just for closing up the bag to protect the contents from spilling out or getting dusty.

At the moment, I do not have any of these expandable zippered tote bags available in my shop, but I do have a few other fabulous bags along with lots of new crocheted cotton items and some reversible aprons, so click HERE to check out what is available now. If you have been wanting a custom tote bag, be sure to contact me soon since summer is moving awfully fast towards school time once again!

I hope you are having a creative summer!

Happy Stitching!

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Summer Crochet Projects

Now that the hot and humid weather is here, and the slow and easy summer schedule is the rule of the day, crocheting with cotton is the preferred form of handwork. Take a look at the colorful things I've been working on recently...

These little crocheted drawstring bags are so cute and colorful, and they make the perfect packaging for a small gift or party favor.

They are available over in my Etsy shop and during the summer while I am not in school, I also take custom orders for them. Go on over and take a look if you're interested. Click HERE to see the listing with more information.

These double thick cotton pot holders or hot pads are so popular, and also very colorful!

They look different on the front and back because of the magic crochet technique used to make them. They are also 100% cotton and wear like iron.

You can see what's still available by clicking HERE. As with the little drawstring bags, during the summer while I have more free time, I am happy to take custom orders. These would make great party favors for a kitchen bridal shower or a gathering of home cooks, or just a nice gift to give yourself!

Do you have any favorite hot weather handwork? Share it in a comment below! Happy Summer!

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Back in the Sewing Room! ~~ A Big Happy Summer Tote Bag

It feels so good to be spending some quality time back in my sewing room. I've been going through my fabric and putting projects together to work on this summer. My first complete project is a large, roomy, long handled tote bag with inside and outside pockets made with what I think must be the happiest fabric on this planet. Mary and Barb of Me and My Sister Designs come up with the most fabulous colors and prints, and I just love to get my hands on their charm packs and yardage manufactured by Moda for projects like this. Take a look at this happy tote bag...

To make this colorful bag, I combined a charm pack of Dilly Dally with some yardage of Twirl since they both use the same color scheme and their prints go together so nicely.

The lining and inside pockets of this tote are made using fabric in the most luscious robin's egg blue. Look how roomy this bag is!

The non-pocket side of the bag is just as cheerful!

This bags just screams SUMMER, don't you think?

Just look at how long those quilted straps are too! They are long enough to comfortably sling the bag over your shoulder for a day at the beach, or put your head through the straps and wear the bag on your hip with the straps across your body for a day out shopping or for traveling.

This bag measures 22 inches across the top from side seam to side seam, 12 inches from top to bottom, the boxed bottom is 15 inches by 7 inches, and the straps measure 19 1/2 inches from the top of the bag (where they are quadruple stitched) to the arch of the strap at the top. Take out your tape measure to help you visualize just how big this bag is! Big I tell you!

You will find this bag listed over in my Etsy shop very shortly. It will be listed for $50 plus shipping to US addresses only. As always, if you are local to the Leominster, Massachusetts area and I can deliver it to you in person, please email me first so you can save the shipping charges. My email is over there on the sidebar.

Another fabulous tote bag is already in the works, and this one will be even bigger, but with shorter straps! So stay tuned!

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mug Rug Swap ~ Goodies Received

Remember back in March when I was knee deep in school work and I joined the Springtime Mug Rug Swap? I wrote about it HERE. It was just what I needed to look forward to so I could push through the semester and get back down to my sewing room.

This afternoon, George the mailman made my day when he delivered a package from De in Georgia. Want to see what De sent me? Keep on reading...

Besides the two mug rugs, which are lovely by themselves, De included an oversized mug that can be personalized, and packages of some of her favorite teas. She knew I like tea, and she suggested that I could use the mug to commemorate my return to school. So thoughtful!

Aren't these colors just so happy? I think so!

I love the pieced section on this design and that busy butterfly too! The bow tie leaves are fun!

Our tulips are past blooming now, but I have some lovely tulips and flowers on this mug rug to enjoy! Thanks, De, for such a fun swap!

Once I hear that De has received the package I sent, I will post pictures of what I made for her, so stay tuned!

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Two years down...almost...and two to go!

Do you remember not long ago when I wrote THIS POST announcing that I would be putting Hooked On Needles on the back burner for a while in favor of earning a college degree? Sitting here right now, that post seems like just yesterday and at the same time like forever ago! This coming week I will finish my fourth semester, eleven courses (all prerequisites and electives) under my belt, my acceptance letter in hand for the Registered Nursing program starting in the fall, and a grade point average of 3.95! Not bad for an old lady, I'd say!

The past two years have been a whirlwind of activity here at home after adding my own school schedule on top of the children's school and activities, starting a 3-day-a-week job last fall, and still having at least one creative project going at any time. There is no need to add to that list all the usual tasks of daily family life since you all know what they are anyway! It's been so exciting and challenging, and quite satisfying. Of course I could not have gotten this far and had this kind of success without the grace of God and the full support of my sweet husband who has taken on whatever tasks necessary to keep things running smoothly while I am in class or studying. And the kids have enjoyed seeing me succeed, and hopefully learned a good lesson from watching me struggle and work hard to reach my goal.

So I just wanted to check in today and give a little update on my progress in school and assure any Hooked On Needles readers that might still be out there that I am still around and just itching to get back into my sewing room to create some new things to share with you. I have a few video tutorials on my list of things to do and a few quilts that I need to finish up and photograph so I can list them in my etsy shop. But I must finish two more finals and wrap up my semester, and maybe give the house a good cleaning first! Then I'll be in good shape to get creative again.

Hope to share some new things with you very soon!

Happy Stitching!

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easy Knitted Baby Blanket ~ Instructions Included!

The next generation in my family seems to be expanding so quickly that I can barely keep up! This is why I only make a handmade gift for each first baby! It is so wonderful to have all these new babies coming along, but I just wish that I lived close enough to the families of my nieces and nephews to be able to see their babies and get to know them. The next best thing is to send a little homemade love in the form of a hand knit or crocheted blanket that they can snuggle with and drag around with them wherever they go. Here's my latest...

This one is a knit blanket, which is a rarity for me. Usually I crochet baby blankets and afghans, but I had a good reason for wanting to knit this one.

This blanket is knit on the diagonal, starting at the corner pictured here. I started out on size 10 straight needles because that's what I had available, but then I switched to circular needles and the closest I could get to size 10 was size 10 3/4. You can see where I changed needle size, right where the stitches cease to be close and tight and instead become loose and ... well, loose! Overall, I don't think the difference is all that noticeable, and the blanket turned out very soft and squishy and quite cozy.

So the reason I wanted to knit this on the diagonal is because I had exactly four skeins of yarn to make this blanket and I wanted to use as much of it as possible and end up with a finished blanket. So I needed to use one of two designs. The crochet design would have been a simple spiral square, starting in the middle and continuing around and around until the yarn was gone. I have done a few blankets like that and they turn out quite nice and it is a good way to use up yarn without ending up with an unfinished item. You can see some examples HERE, HERE and HERE.

The knit alternative is what I used for this afghan. It's so easy and you hardly even have to think about it once you get going. Here's the pattern:

Cast on 3 stitches.
*Knit 1, yarn over, knit to end of row.* (This is the increase row. Note that you only increase at the beginning of each row, not on both ends.)
Repeat from * to * until you have used up almost half of the available yarn.
Knit one row even (no increase).
*Knit two together, yarn over, knit two together, knit to end of row.* (This is the decrease row with the decrease only at the beginning of each row, not at both ends.)
Repeat from * to * until only three stitches remain on your needle. Bind off.

Because I had four skeins of yarn available, I worked the increase rows until I had just a few yards left on my second skein. Then I worked the even row and started decreasing. When I bound off those last three stitches, I had just a small handful of yarn leftover. I think it's always safe to err on the the side of having a bit leftover than to get to the end of the last skein and still have one or two little rows to finish!

So that's my latest baby blanket, all finished and ready to be mailed out soon to my niece Lucy in Wisconsin for her first baby. I'll also be mailing this crocheted candy stripes blanket to her sister Mary in Texas for her first baby. There are a few other babies due this year in our family, but they are not firsts so I'm off the hook for them!

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Crocheted Candy Stripes Blanket ~ Finished!

This crocheted candy striped blanket was so quick and fun to make! It is now finished and ready to ship down to Texas for my niece's new little baby who will be arriving sometime later this year. I have always believed that every baby should have some kind of handmade cuddly thing like an afghan or blanket or other snuggly item, so each of my siblings and now my nieces and nephews receive something handmade from me when they have their first baby. I'd love to be able to make one for each baby, but the list would be never-ending, so only the first gets one, and they can learn that valuable lesson of sharing very early in their life!

So here it is...

The diagonal stitching of this afghan made it start fast and get big fast...instant gratification!

The long sections of bright, fun colors in this yarn made for some fabulous chunks of color intermingled with chunks of bright white.

The texture created by this stitch will be perfect for little fingers to discover.

Don't you just love that simple scalloped border?

I surely do!

The perfect border can really make the blanket, and it doesn't necessarily have to be something big and fancy. This border is a simple double crochet scallop worked directly onto the edge of the blanket without even a round of single crochet to start. I think it wraps up this blanket perfectly!

You can make your own Candy Stripes blanket too! I ordered my kit from one of my very favorite online retailers for all things yarn, Mary Maxim!

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Springtime Mug Rug Swap ~ Join the Fun!

I couldn't help it! It's been far too long since I joined in the fun of a mug rug swap, and when I saw this one, I just couldn't resist!

Springtime Flowers Mug Rug Swap

Just click on the swap banner above and read all about it. There is still time to sign up but you need to hurry. Who knows? Maybe we will be partners! I'd love to make you two pretty springtime mug rugs!

Want to see some of the mug rugs I've made for other swaps or just for fun? You can see them HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Crocheted Candy Stripes Blanket ~ Going Straight!

This Candy Stripes Blanket that I started crocheting not even a week ago has become my obsession! I live for the moment every evening when I can finally sit down in my cozy chair, cuddle up with a blanket and crochet the evening away! Have you ever had a project that takes you like that? The only problem I can see with this obsession is that it won't last very long at the rate I'm going! Take a look at the pictures and you'll see what I mean...

The width is already determined and you can see on the right side in the above picture that the blanket is no longer getting any wider but has straightened up.

Here you can see the new straight edge that will continue straight until the very last stitch of the blanket.

Now I'll just keep crocheting this pattern, increasing by one block on the long straight edge and not increasing on the short straight edge, until the long straight edge is as long as I want the blanket to be. And then I'll start decreasing until I have only one block left. Then the border and it will be done!

This will be a short-lived obsession, unless I decide to do this same pattern for the next baby blanket on my list! Hmmmm, now there's a thought!

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Knitted Entrelac Baby Blanket ~ Finished!

Entrelac knitting was not nearly as complicated as I expected it to be. Have you tried it? I had been intrigued by this technique for years, but was so intimidated by it that I never even gave it a chance. Then I saw this baby blanket kit from Mary Maxim, and it was on a good sale, so I decided this was my opportunity to dabble in this stitch and see what it was all about, besides also getting a little stash of some awesome yarn that I could use even if I didn't like doing entrelac! Click HERE to read more about this entrelac journey. Or continue reading to see how it ends!

The blanket is finally finished, border and all, and here it is...

The border for this blanket is just a little attached i-cord border that gives the edges of the blanket a nice finished look. You can barely notice it in this picture, but it's there!

Here's a close-up of the i-cord border.

Isn't it pretty? This view is from the front.

And this view is from the back side of the blanket. I-cord can be made as wide as you want, but this one is just a 4-stitch i-cord and it is attached to the blanket as you go by picking up one stitch from the edge of the blanket and knitting it together with the last stitch of the i-cord before sliding the stitches back to left needle and knitting the next four stitches.

The instructions included with the pattern were just a bit confusing, saying to pick up all the stitches along one side of the blanket before beginning the i-cord. I tried it and just couldn't get it to work, so I googled how to knit an attached i-cord and viewed several different videos, each showing a different way to knit an attached i-cord. With the information I had picked up from all the videos, I was able to work out my own way to do the border and it worked out just great!

I ended up using two double pointed needles and picking up about 10 stitches at a time from the blanket, knitting the i-cord attached to those 10 stitches, then picking up the next 10 and so on until I was back at the beginning. I found it much easier to manage with only a few stitches at a time.

This project was a great learning experience for me with two new techniques now mastered, entrelac and i-cord knitting. Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. You just might be surprised how fun it is, and have a new stitch or technique to add to your knitting/crocheting/crafting resume!

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Crocheted Candy Stripes Blanket ~ Finally Started!

My entrelac knitting project is finally finished and my new project is a crocheted baby blanket for one of my nieces who is having her first baby this year! I'll share pictures of the knitted project another day, but today I'm so excited to show you this new crochet project! The yarn is just divine and the colors are so much fun, not to mention the very satisfying stitch pattern for this blanket. Keep reading and see what you think of this project...

This is a Mary Maxim kit called Candy Stripes that I purchased not too long ago, complete with printed pattern and all the yarn needed to make the blanket. I chose the Gumball colorway of their Lollipop yarn for my afghan because I thought the colors were just so much fun and perfect for a baby blanket! The yarn is a medium worsted weight and 100% acrylic so it will be easy to wash and dry, a very important feature for what will surely become baby's favorite blanket!

This pattern is so easy to do, made up of double crochets and chains. It starts off at one corner, adding a block at each end of each row until it is as wide as you want it, then you decrease each row back down to the opposite corner. I love patterns that start in a corner because they seem to get going so quickly. Sometimes you just need a little instant gratification!

In this close-up, you can see how each row of blocks alternates the direction of the double crochet stitches with the row next to it, giving the fabric somewhat of a basketweave look.

And in this close-up, you can see the wonderful texture the stitch pattern gives to the blanket. Combined with the fabulous contrast between the bright colors and the white, this will be a very stimulating visual and tactile experience of complete coziness for this lucky little baby!

Happy Stitching!

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