Hooked on Needles


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Am I Blue? -- A Shopping Expedition

It seems that I had The Blues today. I didn't feel Blue, but apparently I thought Blue! Check out what I brought home from my shopping trip today...


Shopping HaulBlue fabric...a substantial weight blue denim with pretty paisleys on it and some cotton flower/paisley in feminine blues and pinks...enough to make a fun project that will be given away to an angel of sorts.


Shopping HaulBlue yarn...Delft Blue in fact, and white to go with it...enough to make a few warm things that will be given away to some very Special People in a few months.


Shopping HaulBlue pony beads...3000 to be exact, along with 1000 white and 500 black...enough to make a one-of-a-kind, personally designed Beaded Something for a Big Blue group that really plays to the crowd.

Don't you just love surprises? Well, if you've been reading my posts recently, the first two things won't be too much of a surprise. The third is something I have yet to talk about, but another needle craft that I enjoy designing and also making. This project involves both and will be fun to see finished.

I'll be working on all these projects in the coming weeks, and of course sharing them with you.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mitered Square Crocheted Baby Blanket -- Finished!

The Mitered Square Baby Blanket is finally finished! Yippee! I love wrapping up a project and putting away all the leftovers, not because I didn't enjoy doing the project, but because it means I can start Something New....ooooh, something new. But that's not what we're talking about this time.

Are you curious to know what I did with the mistake I made on this blanket? Did I leave it rectangular, or did I rip out the mistake and make it square as the pattern called for? What would you have done?

We'll get to that, but first take a look at the very simple border on this blanket and how it looks different on the different corners.

Mitered Square Crocheted Baby Blanket CornerThis is the corner of the first square made on this blanket. It's a little bit rounded because it is the outermost corner of the square which hasn't yet been pulled in by the decreasing on the subsequent rows. If you follow the single crochet stitches towards the corner, you can see where I worked three stitches into the same space to allow the corner to lay flat and not bunch up.


Mitered Square Crocheted Baby Blanket CornerThis is another corner on the blanket, a little more square than the previous corner. The one round of single crochet I used for the border really blends in to the bottom edge of this corner, and really just looks like a continuation of the block design.


Mitered Square Crocheted Baby Blanket CornerThis is the outer corner of the very last block of the blanket where all the decreasing rows come to a point. Instead of cutting the yarn after the block was complete, I simply worked a chain stitch, then three single crochet stitches into the very last stitch and began the single crochet round of the border. When I was finished, I just had to weave in that last tail of yarn and whatever other tails were not stitched over in the process of making the blanket, and it was done!


Mitered Square Crocheted Baby Blanket FinishedSo here is the finished blanket...rectangular! I liked the shape better than if it were square so in the end I was glad I had made that mistake. Funny how things work out.

This exact blanket is available for purchase on my Etsy shop and would make a wonderful baby blanket for in a crib or stroller.

I enjoyed making this blanket for several reasons. It gave me the chance to use worsted weight cotton yarn for something other than bags or dishcloths, and I discovered what a nice feel the cotton has and how nicely it drapes. I also found this pattern of the mitered squares fun to work as opposed to crocheting the usual full length rows back and forth. Sometimes it seems like no progress is being made, but with this pattern each block only took a little over an hour so progress was noticeable very quickly.

I think this pattern would be nice in any color or also in a variegated yarn. You could even do each block in a different color to make a diagonal design or a "trip around the world" type of design. However those would require a little more planning ahead, and also take away the benefit of not having to cut the yarn at the end of each block. So there are a few ideas of different ways to use this pattern. If you decide to try it, I'd love to see the result. Post a comment and share your creativity!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Examples of Cable Knit -- Arm Cozies and Owl Sweater

Back to Cable Knit! Now that you know how cables are knit, I thought I would share with you some of the projects I have made, or others have made as gifts, or you could make yourself.

First is a pair of white cable knit arm cozies that I made for my daughter to wear when she is playing with the high school band at football games in the cold fall weather we get around here. The band kids get so cold, but for the field show at half time they can only wear their band uniform, and their fingers must be exposed in order to play their instruments. These arm cozies are fingerless, but do have a separate thumb which is nice. They go all the way up past the elbow by about three inches so they keep her hands and arms nice and...well...cozy.


Cable Knit Arm CosiesAnd here they are! You can see that her fingers are free to move around and play her instrument, but her hands and arms are snug inside the cable knit cozy. These were made with Red Heart worsted weight yarn, even though the pattern called for Lion Brand Lion Cashmere Blend yarn. I decided to try them out with inexpensive yarn to see how she liked them before investing in more expensive yarn. She likes them just fine the way they are, so I didn't get the cashmere to make a new pair.


Cable Knit Arm CosiesHere you can see the cable going up the middle of the front, and the separate thumb. Very practical for playing or typing or doing anything where you need the use of your fingers unhindered. There is only one cable row on each arm so it was a pretty easy pattern to knit.

When making a pair of something, like these cozies or sleeves for a sweater or mittens, I always knit them both at the same time on the same needles so that the tension remains the same for each and so I don't have to follow the directions through twice and, most importantly so that they both end up the same size!



Cable Knit Owls Sweater FrontAren't these owls just the cutest little things with their button eyes and sitting on their little garter stitch perches? My husband's aunt made this sweater for our younger daughter and she wore it until she just couldn't squeeze into it one more time. The owls are made by working a right and left twist cable at the ears, neck and feet. It may look complicated, but really that is all there is to it.


Cable Knit Owls Sweater BackThis is the back of the sweater -- four wide-eyed owls! The whole sweater is knitted in a very delicate fingering weight pink and always got so many compliments whenever it was worn.

If you are looking for a blanket pattern to practice your cable knitting, here is one from Mary Maxim that would be a fun project. You do need to register with Mary Maxim to access the free patterns, but it is well worth it because of the variety they offer. This pattern is made with Bernat Chunky yarn and size 10 circular needles, so I think it would work up quickly and not be too hard on the hands.

If you decide to give cable knitting a try, I would love to see what you make. Leave a comment and I'll let you know how to send me a picture.

Happy knitting!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Knit or Crochet Scarves for Some Special People

The article I have included below is from the August 26th issue of "Talking Crochet with Carol Alexander" and I thought it was worth sharing with you. You can subscribe to Carol's newsletter and many others by clicking here.

If you would like some ideas for a simple stitch to use to make a scarf, I can recommend the Woven Stitch, the Basketweave Stitch or the Ripple Stitch, which are three of my very favorites. My daughter and I will be making a few to send along for the Special Olympians. I'd love to hear from others who plan to participate in this worthwhile and rewarding project too.

Keep reading and see how you can get involved.

Make a Special Scarf for Some Very Special Athletes!
Crocheters and knitters are well known as some of the most caring and giving folks around, and the Special Olympics always seem to touch a special chord when it comes to lending support to some very deserving individuals. Participating in the Special Olympics can be such a positive and life-changing experience for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. I have witnessed it firsthand and seen the joy and have sense of pride and accomplishment that being part of the Special Olympics gives these extraordinary people who work so hard to achieve their athletic goals.

Knitters and crocheters have a wonderful opportunity to extend a warm gesture (literally!) to these special athletes in the form of cozy, handmade scarves stitched in the colors of the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games logo. What a wonderful way to give them a personal "hug" to wish them well in their upcoming games! Please read the following press release from Coats and Clark, sponsor of the scarf project, and show your support for the Special Olympics athletes with the heartfelt gift of a handmade scarf.

Coats & Clark Sponsors Scarf Project for the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games
Athletes at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho will be wrapped in a little handmade love, courtesy of knitters and crocheters across the country. Charlotte-based Coats & Clark is sponsoring a project to provide each athlete with a scarf created in white and delft blue Red Heart® Super Saver® yarns, which happen to perfectly match the colors of the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games logo.

The Special Olympics World Winter Games Scarf Project is now in its second year. The program began in 2007 when World Winter Games organizers decided to give handcrafted scarves to athletes to wear to the Opening Ceremony. They asked local crafters to participate, and the headquarters office was inundated with over 1,000 scarves!

David Gish, an athlete from Idaho who participated in the 2008 Special Olympics Invitational Winter Games, says his scarf is a symbolic memento from the event. "Getting the scarves was very special for the athletes because we knew someone spent their time to make them especially for us," says Gish. "It is something I will have forever, and I know they will be just as special to the athletes next year at the World Winter Games."

This year, the World Winter Games aims to give a scarf to each athlete, the delegates supporting them and various dignitaries who will be visiting the Games, and they need help to meet that mark. This is where Coats & Clark comes into the picture.

"We're thrilled to sponsor this project. Our goal is to see 5,000 scarves donated. It's a big number, but I'm confident we can do it," says Vicki Blizzard, media relations and special promotions director for Coats & Clark. "Knitters and crocheters are dedicated and generous and are known for rising to this type of challenge."

Coats & Clark is promoting this project through its Web site, electronic newsletters, various consumer shows and magazines, so that knitters and crocheters around the country (and around the world) can send scarves to be given to the athletes. No special patterns or skills are required to create a scarf. Crocheters of all ages and skill levels, as well as schools, scout troops and other local groups are actively encouraged to participate. "Our only rule," says Blizzard, "is that the scarves are knitted or crocheted by hand using delft blue and white Super Saver yarn, because these colors were chosen specifically by the World Winter Games organizers."

Scarves can be simple or complex -- last year's scarves ran the gamut from basic stitches to complicated colorwork and stitch patterns. Personal notes from knitters and crocheters who want to send their best wishes to the athletes are encouraged and should be firmly attached to the scarves, which will be handed out before the Opening Ceremony.

Completed scarves must arrive by January 15, 2009, and should be sent to:
2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games Scarf Project
3150 West Main Street

Boise, Idaho 83702


Reprinted with permission from Talking Crochet e-newsletter, copyright Aug. 26, 2008, published by DRG and edited by Carol Alexander.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Learn to Knit -- Right Twist Cable and Left Twist Cable

Time for another Learn To Knit video to add to the video library. This time I'll be showing you how to knit a simple cable twisting to the right and also twisting to the left. Cables look complicated, but really they are quite simple and they add such a nice touch to a knitted sweater or hat or mittens.

Take a look at the video and see how easy a cable is to knit.

video

In the sample, after knitting the row with the twists in it, I purled the next row, then (knitted the next and purled the next) twice. Then I worked another row with the twists in it exactly as I did in the video. So between each row with twists there are five rows in this order: purl, knit, purl, knit, purl. If you wanted your twists to be farther apart, you would just add more knit and purl rows in between the twist row.


Cable Sample FrontThis is the front of the sample after three cable twists and five more rows of alternating knit and purl. It is ready for the next knit row of twists. I love how it looks like the knitting is weaving in and out and around which, of course, is characteristic of cable knit.


Cable Sample BackHere is what the back of the piece looks like. You can see the little bumps where the twists have been worked.

So now you have seen just how easy a cable is to knit. I hope you give it a try, starting with a simple scarf or hat pattern. Lion Brand Yarn has a wonderful website with lots of free patterns. If you haven't signed up to access them yet, I would highly recommend it. Here is one for a simple cable scarf that has a neat detail where the cable gets smaller in the middle of the scarf. It would be pretty in any color! Let me know how your first cable project comes out.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hold It! -- A Bag Lover's Dream

Ever since I received the name of my Secret Stitcher for the Stitcher's Angel Swap, I've been trying to come up with some ideas for what I would like to make for her. I checked out the first two free projects that the designers have posted for the swap, and I really like both of them, but I really want to make my gifts unique.

I had a thought today for one of the gifts. A book I have had for many years has provided me with inspiration many times when I needed or wanted to make any type of bag, and that is one of the things I want to make for my Secret Stitcher -- a generously sized tote bag. She is a quilter after all, and we all know how big quilts can get even while in progress!

The book is called "Hold It! How to Sew Bags, Totes, Duffels, Pouches, & More" and one of the tote patterns in it has become My Absolute Favorite Bag of All Time.

My Favorite Tote Bag
This is a picture of the tote bag holding six 7-ounce skeins of yarn and my Basketweave Afghan which is about two-thirds finished now. It isn't really a Huge tote bag, 20" x 14" x 6", but it sure holds a lot! It is Project 10 in Hold It! and is called Expandable Zippered Tote. The top part of the bag, striped in the picture above, has a zipper down the middle and is shown in its expanded state. If the bag were not so full, that top part could be tucked down inside the bag, hiding the zipper.

I made this bag using discontinued upholstery samples from my local furniture store where a friend of mine worked. The bag is completely lined and has a large pocket sewn into the inside on one side. The handles are made of 1" webbing.

For my Secret Stitcher, I think I would choose two or three nice fabrics in her preferred color scheme and some denim. I love working with denim. I am planning to embroider a decorative panel for the outside on one side, and perhaps make it into an outside pocket. I hope this is something she will like and be able to use.

Now back to the book...ooooh, The Book! I love little books like this. 132 pages, paperback, 22 different projects of all shapes and sizes and for all skill levels from beginner to expert with many variations on each, clear directions and diagrams. There are chapters for Flat Bags, Totes, Duffels, Cases, and Rolls & Pouches. Lots of colored pictures of finished projects in various forms. Very inspirational if you're into bags! Check it out if you'd like and see for yourself.



Once I get my Secret Stitcher's tote bag underway, I will certainly share the details so come back and check it out.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Oh No! What Have I Done? A Crochet Mistake

I've been diligently working on the Mitered Square Baby Blanket lately so I can get it done and move on to something else. Just the other day I started working on the last row of blocks. How exciting! Closer and closer to doing the border and finishing it up. A good feeling to be sure.

I have also been enjoying a little Olympics viewing in the evenings while working on this project ... Michael Phelps, USA Volleyball gold medals, all that exciting stuff. When I worked the first block of this last row, something wasn't quite right about it. I looked and looked at it trying to figure out just what was wrong, but couldn't, so I continued crocheting and enjoying the Olympics. The second block was finished and I started the third. After that only four more blocks and on to the border.

Well, last night I was about halfway finished with the third block and it was time to put my work down and go pick up my daughter from work. All this time I was still bothered by the feeling that something just wasn't right about this last row. I put my crochet hook down, spread out the blanket to see how it looked, and It Hit Me! Right that very moment, I realized what I had done wrong. I was working this row onto the side of the blanket instead of the top! So instead of working a seventh row of seven blocks, I was working an eighth row of six blocks. No wonder it didn't look right. Why hadn't I noticed that before?


Mitered square baby blanket mistakeSo this is what it looked like at the Moment of Realization. Notice the row along the bottom now has eight blocks in it. The pattern calls for this blanket to be seven blocks square. I was pleased to see at least that the shading that makes the triangle shapes was still intact along the new row, but I was not happy with how the right edge of the new row was slightly different from the joining edges of the other rows.


Mitered square baby blanket mistakeThe partial block on the left is the new eighth row so you can see the joining edge of that block with the block in the center. Compare that edge to the right edge of the center block and perhaps you can tell the difference too. The new block begins with a valley and the center block begins on the right side with a peak. These valleys and peaks, or ridges, are formed as a result of crocheting only into the back loop of the stitch instead of into both loops of the stitch.

Hmmm...what a quandary. Now I am wondering a few things about this mistake I have made.

  • Would anyone else besides me, and everyone who reads this post, even notice this mistake?
  • If I rip out this eighth row, should I reuse the yarn to begin the proper seventh row and if not, will I have enough yarn to finish the project?
  • Do I like the blanket as it is turning out, that is rectangular? Or would I prefer it to be square as the pattern calls for?
  • Will it make a difference in the overall look of the finished blanket if I finish it as it is now?
  • Will it bother me in the end that I noticed a mistake and didn't fix it?
These are all good questions to ask after discovering a mistake in a piece of work. In most projects, I would say definitely do what you can to repair your mistake so your work will be finished properly and will look just right. There is no sense in doing all that work and spending all that time to end up with a piece that isn't just right. However, in some kinds of projects, a little mistake can add to its charm or actually make it work out better in the end.

So to answer my questions, I would have to say:

  • I doubt that anyone else would even notice the mistake.
  • Since this project is crocheting and not something like needlepoint or embroidery, ripping out lots of stitches shouldn't do any damage to the yarn and it should be fine to reuse it, so I don't have to worry about running short on yarn to finish the project. Also since each row is worked with one continuous yarn instead of the yarn being cut after each block, I will not end up with several short pieces of yarn after ripping it out.
  • I do actually prefer rectangular baby blankets, but this blanket is not for me and will most likely end up being a gift for the next niece or nephew who has a first baby.
  • No, I don't think it will make a difference in the overall look of the piece, except to someone who is a very perceptive and detail oriented expert crocheter.
  • Yes, it would bother me to know that I finished a piece without fixing a mistake. Unless I decided I liked what the mistake brought to the finished piece.
I think that last answer is the key to what I should do next. Do I like what the mistake has brought to the piece? I haven't decided. I'll have to think about it some more and see how I feel about this. When next I show you the blanket, I will be working on the border so that's when you can find out what I decide to do about this dilemma.

What do you think?

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Daisy Cottage Textured Needlepoint Companions

Yesterday I showed you Daisy Cottage which is a Needlepoint picture worked in a variety of stitches using tapestry wool and Perle cotton. When I made that purchase, I also bought another kit that was its obvious partner. It is called Rose Cottage. I thought the two of them would look so nice in our master bedroom, framed alike, if I could only get them done. You saw that Daisy Cottage is complete. Here's what Rose Cottage looks like...


Rose Cottage Needlepoint Kit...still in the package, just like it did the day I bought it! It is definitely on my list of things to do though, because I am itching to put down the knitting needles and crochet hooks for just a little while!

These kits are part of The Coleshill Collection from England, makers of beautiful Cross Stitch, Tapestry, Crewel Embroidery and Stumpwork kits for all levels of stitching experience. Their Country Cottages series of Textured Stitch Pictures is what I stumbled upon during that wonderful shopping trip to Keepsake NeedleArts that day, but only two of the kits were available. There are two other kits in this series which I would love to acquire so as to complete the set and make a beautiful display on my bedroom wall.

Wisteria Cottage is lovely with its hanging clusters of purple and its pretty heart shaped tulips in the foreground.

Gable Cottage is just as pretty with more purple in French Knot clusters and a very inviting peaked roof entryway. Such curb appeal!

When I finally get my hands on them, I will certainly let you know! For now though, I must finish up my Filet Crochet dresser scarf for my daughter and the Mitered Square Baby Blanket before starting anything new! Oh yes, and I can't forget the treats I will be making for my Stitcher's Angel Swap secret stitcher!

So much stitching, so little time!

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Daisy Cottage Textured Needlepoint

I love all kinds of needlework and have tried just about every kind there is. Needlepoint was never really my favorite and consequently I don't have many needlepoint projects under my belt. However during my annual Vacation Shopping Trip a few years ago at Keepsake NeedleArts, I stumbled upon this kit for a Textured Stitch Needlepoint picture called Daisy Cottage. It intrigued me. The colors and the abundance of leaves in the picture would go very nicely in our master bedroom. But would I ever actually make it? If so, would it turn out good enough to spend the money to have it professionally framed? And even if I did make it, would I enjoy it? Needlepoint kits are not generally low-budget items, so these were all very good questions. I took the plunge and purchased it. The fact that it had been marked down from $59.99 to $17.99 helped quite a bit!


Daisy Cottage NeedlepointAnd here it is, in all its finished-but-not-yet-framed glory. I must say I am pleased with the outcome and I really did enjoy making it. The stitched part of this piece is only 7 inches square but as you can see it has lots of different stitches in it which give it a sort of 3-dimensional appearance.


Daisy Cottage NeedlepointThis corner of the piece is done in a greyish green wool background of Diagonal Mosaic stitch with little
yellow Perle Cotton French Knots on top. You can imagine the yellow to be any kind of flower you like.


Daisy Cottage NeedlepointThe light and dark green reeds in the foreground are worked in Straight Satin stitch. The tan walkway and light green bush backgrounds are worked in Tent Stitch with Cross Stitch cobblestones in cream colored wool and pink Perle Cotton flowers. The greyish green background on the right side of the picture is Diagonal Mosaic stitch again with white French Knots. The dark green background above that is worked in the Upright Greek Cross stitch which gives a nice texture to that area.



Daisy Cottage NeedlepointDoesn't this doorway look inviting with its Lazy Daisy stitch vine and Double Cross yellow flowers surrounding it? The door itself is worked in columns of Straight Satin stitch with Tent stitch in between to look like panels of wood.



Daisy Cottage NeedlepointI love the look of the thatched roof with the scalloped edge on top and the Cross stitch peak.



Daisy Cottage NeedlepointThis patch of daisies has a background of dark green Tent stitch, white Perle Cotton Tent stitch "petals" and yellow Perle Cotton French Knot centers. Very cheerful!



Daisy Cottage NeedlepointHere is a close-up of the finished piece. The Straight Satin stitch edge around the whole piece goes over 2 threads of canvas and is worked in wool that matches the design. This will be covered by the mat when professionally framed.

I enjoyed doing this piece because it is not very big so it wasn't a long-term commitment, and each section was small enough to work up quickly, but large enough to get the feel for all the different stitches. I also love the look of the shiny Perle Cotton used in amongst the wool.

Tomorrow I'll show you what else I purchased at the same time as this kit and what I hope to get to go along with it.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Learn to Knit -- Eyelet Row Video Tutorial

A row of Eyelets, or little holes, on a knitted piece can add a nice touch of Fancy to the edge of a blanket or around the top of a baby sweater or bootie. It's very easy to do too. You just need to know how to Knit Two Stitches Together and Yarn Over. Take a look at this video to see just how easy it is.

video

I'm still getting used to knitting with a camera and tripod between me and my hands, so I hope you find my videos helpful in spite of their imperfections!

Here are two pictures of the sample piece with an Eyelet Row:

Eyelet Row in KnittingIn this picture you can see the evenly spaced holes made by Knitting Two Stitches Together and then working a Yarn Over. By themselves they can be decorative in a sweater or other piece of knitting. They can also be spaced out further from each other just by knitting in the usual manner the stitches in between where you want the eyelets. On the back side, all stitches are purled all the way across.



Eyelet Row with RibbonThis picture shows one of the ways an Eyelet Row can be used -- to weave ribbon in and out. This looks nice at the top of baby booties to keep them from being kicked off, or around the neckline of a sweater, or around the outside edge of a knitted blanket.

There are so many decorative stitches in knitting. Keep checking back for more videos showing how to do them, or sign up to receive an email whenever a new post shows up on this site. Check out the sidebar to subscribe!


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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stitcher's Angel Swap Underway

stitchers' Angel badge,stitchers' Angel badge

Earlier this week I received an email from Helen with all the vital statistics of my Secret Stitcher. The first free project was posted on Helen's website this week too. What a nice project it is! Very creative, very pretty and very useful!

I have a few things in mind already that I want to make for my Secret Stitcher and one of them is a little bit along the lines of Helen's project, but not exactly. It's still in the planning phase so I don't have anything to show you, but when it comes together, I'll be sure to post it here. I'm also thinking of sending something similar to an item I made just this week and wrote about just the other day, only I'll make it in a different color. Can you guess what it is?

I checked out the website of my Secret Stitcher to find out what she likes, what she does and a little bit about her family and such. I don't want to reveal too much since this is supposed to remain secret until the end of the swap, but I will say that she lives in Australia and is quite an accomplished quilter. I think that is safe to say because it really doesn't narrow down the field of possibilities all that much. After checking out quite a few of the websites of the swap participants which Helen has listed, I came to realize that a good many of them are from Australia and most of those are very much into quilting!

I am anxious to create some pretty and practical things for my Secret Stitcher and send them off to her. Ooooh, I haven't sent an international package in a really long time. How exciting! I just hope she enjoys receiving them as much as I enjoy making them.

In case my Stitcher's Angel is cruising around my website looking for clues about what to make for me, here's a little hint...I love containers, bags, totes, boxes, anything to Put Stuff In. Now I know where my little pack rat Gracie gets her obsession for bags!


Knitting Needles and Crochet Hook MessAs you can see from the picture, I am also in desperate need of some way to organize my knitting needles and crochet hooks. Of course anything handmade and useful would be a treat to receive. I know I'll love whatever arrives in the mail from my Stitcher's Angel!

Keep an eye out for further clues about what I'm planning for my Secret Stitcher and feel free to offer suggestions on what you think would be a nice gift to make for a secret swap partner.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

One More Children's Embroidery Project Finished

When I made arrangements with the local library to offer a Children's Embroidery Class, I decided that six children at one time would be a good number so that's how many registrations they took for the class. I was a little disappointed when one didn't show up for the first session and not one of the girls on the waiting list was available to come. I discovered that five was actually a good number for a group of beginners so I ended up with one set of supplies leftover.

Yesterday my friend's daughter Samantha spent the day with us and she is a very crafty girl. She was very interested in making her own hand embroidered book cover, so we got set up downstairs after breakfast and went to work.

Sam was a very good and patient student. She picked up on the techniques very quickly. Like many of the other girls in the library class, Sam also became good friends with my handy dandy needle threader in short order! What is it about keeping that thread in the needle?

Anyway we had a good time stitching and talking and learning new things. I made good use of the time I was sitting with Sam to work on my Filet Crochet piece for my daughter's dresser and made some good progress.

By lunchtime Sam had finished the rainbow and most of the clouds. Then after lunch and getting my little one down for her nap, we went back to work and she finished the sun, raindrops and blanket stitch.

Here's the result of a fun day of stitching:

Sam's Embroidery Project Finished

I thought Sam did a great job. She was a fast learner and very enthusiastic about her new found skill. I warned her parents to lock up their clothes or they may find them embroidered with all kinds of fancy things next time they wear them! I think Sam will use her new embroidery knowledge for some very creative things.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fancy Beaded Scissor Fob

I love pulling out My Beading Stuff every once in a while to see what I can come up with using a little of this and a little of that. I realize that this isn't technically a needle project since I don't use any needles, but I figure any needle project worth its salt requires a good pair of scissors, right? And what's a good pair of scissors without a Fancy Beaded Scissor Fob?

Up until now, I would have answered that question by saying that it is still a good pair of scissors and I have survived just fine with my plain old scissors. But now that I see them all dressed up, I feel the sudden urge to find something, anything, to use them on! They are too pretty to leave alone!

So here's how I made my Fancy Beaded Scissor Fob:

Fancy Beaded Scissor FobFirst I gathered My Beading Stuff -- all the usual suspects: beads, spacers, charms, lobster claw clasps, plain old naked scissors, spool of monofilament also known as fishing line (I love the stuff).


Fancy Beaded Scissor FobThen I cut a length of fishing line about 4 feet long and doubled it over. I picked out the charm I wanted to use which you can see is a pretty little antiqued silver fleur de lis in a circle. I put the folded loop of the fishing line through the ring that was attached to the charm and pulled the other end of the fishing line through the loop. Then I proceeded to arrange my beads and spacers to my liking. The above picture was one of my first attempts which I decided I didn't like, so I took all the beads off and started again.


Fancy Beaded Scissor FobThis is what I ended up with, just a simple single line of tastefully arranged beads in different shapes, and some pretty silver filigree beads in between. I threaded a crimp bead on last and then threaded the loose ends of the fishing line through the loop of the lobster claw clasp. Then I knotted the line twice, making sure to leave the beads loose enough to hang freely, and then threaded it back through the crimp bead again and through the next several beads to hide the end of the fishing line. Then I crimped the bead, trimmed the loose end of the fishing line and there you have it.


Fancy Beaded Scissor FobNow doesn't that pair of scissors look happier all dressed up fancy? This was an easy and fun project to make, using some of what I had on hand and a few items purchased with this project in mind. It only took me about an hour to make, and that included stopping to take pictures and arranging my beads quite a few times before deciding on the final design.

Wouldn't this make a nice gift for a special stitcher, or for your sewing circle Christmas gift swap, or even an easy project to mass produce for your school craft fair?


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Monday, August 18, 2008

Learn to Knit -- Purl Stitch Video Tutorial

I like to think of the Purl Stitch in Knitting as the back side of the knit stitch. When you alternate knit and purl rows, you end up with the Stockinette Stitch which is that nice flat, vertical-line, almost braid-like fabric that is characteristic of knitting. I love the rhythm I get into when knitting a sweater back or some big piece in stockinette. I find it relaxing.

Anyway, enough jabber. Here's a video tutorial on how to do the Purl Stitch. I hope you find it helpful.


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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Learn to Knit -- Knit Stitch Video Tutorial

Learning to knit was a real milestone for me. It was something I had always wanted to try but never had anyone to show me, until my mother-in-law came to live with us for a short time about 15 years ago after breaking her knee. After that I realized how important it is to be able to watch someone knit while learning the skill yourself.

So here is another video to help you along the path to knitting knowledge! This one shows how to do the basic knit stitch.


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If you want to practice the knit stitch and make something practical at the same time, get a skein of soft pretty yarn and the appropriate size needles. Cast on about 30 stitches and then knit every row until you have a piece long enough to use as a scarf. Add some fringe if you like and there you go!

The next video will be the basic purl stitch so stay tuned!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hand Embroidered Card

Swimming lessons have finally ended for the summer. Boo hoo! My two little ones love their swimming lessons and this summer my little Gracie became especially attached to her teacher Lindsey. I was able to get a nice picture of them together and wanted to give Lindsey a copy since she would be leaving shortly for college, so I didn't have too much time to get it done before she would be gone. I quickly made it into a card and did a little hand embroidery on it.

I asked Gracie, who is 3, what she wanted it to say and this is what she told me: I love Lindsey, my favorite teacher. Love Gracie.

So that is what it says!

Hand Embroidered CardI gathered my supplies: leftover Perle cotton from my recent Children's Embroidery Class, card stock, scissors, straight pin, embroidery needle, my favorite needle threader, my pricking mat, cute picture, printed words for card and a piece of scrap paper. On the scrap paper, I made dots to use as a guide for pricking holes in the card stock with the straight pin, into which I embroidered three flowers.


Hand Embroidered CardOnce I pricked the holes into the card stock, I removed the scrap paper and stitched three red flowers using Lazy Daisy Stitch. Then I worked a little yellow French Knot in the middle of each. I also stitched a purple running stitch around the picture after pricking evenly spaced holes through the picture and the card stock. I used double stick tape to adhere the picture to the card stock first so it would stay put while I stitched.


Hand Embroidered CardI also worked three green Lazy Daisy stitches into the four corners of the paper with the words on it and a little yellow French Knot, just to dress it up a little.


Hand Embroidered CardThis is a detail of the red flowers. You can also see the purple running stitch along the bottom edge of the picture.


Hand Embroidered CardI used double stick tape to adhere the purple card to a piece of yellow card stock, then I trimmed the edges so just about a quarter inch of the yellow showed around the edges. Besides being a nice frame for the purple, the yellow paper also served to cover up the stitches on the back of the purple. And it was finished! Very quick and easy, using supplies I had on hand and making a nice keepsake for Gracie's favorite swim teacher, Lindsey.

I also put the card into a plastic page protector so it would not get any stray water drops on it at the pool. I was not able to see Lindsey the day I left the card for her, so I didn't get permission to show her picture on my website. Hence the blurred faces. But I'm sure she wouldn't mind too much that I showed how the card was made.

Do you have any clever quick ideas for making something nice for someone?

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Great Book of Celtic Patterns

Since seeing my recent articles about Irish Step Dancing Embroidery, and working on her own Celtic cross stitch piece, my daughter has become quite excited about doing some more Celtic embroidery of her own. She is at that age where she is thinking about a day in the not too distant future when she leaves home and makes a home for herself somewhere else. Naturally she wants nice things to bring along so she is busy designing and stitching and thinking about all sorts of wonderful domestic type things.

She was looking for some interesting Celtic knot patterns to use for pillow case embroidery or wallhanging embroidery, and she came upon a book by Lora S. Irish (interesting last name!) called Great Book of Celtic Patterns. In it are dozens of original designs of Celtic knots, lines, finials, corners, Viking animals, religious symbols, fantasy, circles, squares and motifs. She also includes a fascinating history of Celtic knots and lines, a section on layout ideas and line enhancements.

Each section includes clear pictures and many variations of each design. The author takes a simple twist or braid design and shows how it can be made to look like branches with leaves, a rope, a stencil or several lines from thick to thin and so many other variations. She renders some of the patterns in color with lots of interesting details such as birds nests or tendrils.

She shows how the designs can be used on notecards, frames, a chessboard and other creative uses. She even has a whole section on plotting and graphing knots so you can take a knot you like and really make it your own using graph paper, colored pencils and an eraser.

The book itself is paperback, but substantial with each page thick and glossy. I would recommend it to anyone looking for some new and interesting Celtic designs for embroidery or any other kind of artwork. Elizabeth has already traced many designs from the book and has wonderful ideas of how she wants to use them. I'll share them with you once they become a reality!

You can click on the button below to take a look inside the book on Amazon and see some of the beautiful Celtic designs.



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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'Single Cast On' Method of Casting On -- Video Tutorial

This method of casting on in knitting is called "single cast on" and is the easiest to learn. It can be a little tricky to knit off the needle evenly, but with practice, your edge will be nice and neat. This method makes a delicate edge which is especially good for a hem or lace edge. Give it a try and see what you think.


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If you listen closely in this video, towards the end you will hear a big rumble. We were in the middle of a real whopper of a thunder storm at the time I was making the video. Even though I was in the basement, in my little sewing room with the door shut, it was still picked up by my microphone. Sorry about that!

Stay tuned for a few more videos for cast on methods and then I'll start working on some different knit stitches.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beautiful Filet Crochet Vestment Trim

Since I have been talking about Filet Crochet recently and showing you the Pretty in Pink dresser scarf I'm working on, I thought I would also share with you a project my mother has recently finished. It is a white edging piece for the bottom of an alb, which is a vestment that a Catholic priest wears while celebrating Holy Mass.

This piece is about 24 inches long and about 6 feet 4 inches wide. It was worked along the short side with 5 repeats of the design. My mother tells me that it took her 30 minutes to crochet one row without interruptions and she estimates that the whole piece has about 350 rows in it. That's a lot of hours of crocheting!

I believe she used #10 crochet thread and it appears that her filet blocks are made up of the one double crochet on each side and only one chain stitch or double crochet in the middle instead of the two that my project calls for. This difference depends on the pattern being worked and the proportions desired.

The results are beautiful. Take a look and see what you think.


Filet Crochet Vestment TrimThis is a close-up of the fancy designs that run along the entire width of the piece under the square patterns. I love the scallops formed in one row by the open mesh squares and in the lower row by the filled blocks.


Filet Crochet Vestment TrimThis is one repeat of the design pattern with the letters IHS, the beautiful cross and the corner designs that form the circular shape on the inside and the square shape on the outside. Beautiful!


Filet Crochet Vestment TrimHere is the piece spread out where you can see four repeats of the design and the fancy picot-like details on the very bottom. I love the little pieces that stick out with the open mesh crosses in the middle. Nice detail.


Filet Crochet Vestment TrimAnd here you can see the design straight on from top to bottom. This is an exquisite piece of filet crochet which will serve its intended purpose of giving glory to God simply by its beauty.

Good job Mom! Thanks for letting me share this.


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Monday, August 11, 2008

'Knitting On' Method of Casting On -- Video Tutorial

Knitting has been a very rewarding form of needlework for me ever since my mother-in-law taught me how to knit about 16 years ago. You can read about that episode in my life here if you would like. Since then, I have knitted many things and have continued to teach myself the details of knitting.

Here is the first in my library of video tutorials on knitting. It shows how to cast on using the 'knitting on' method. I hope you find it helpful.

video

This method of casting on makes a very versatile selvage. It is soft when worked through the front of the loop and firm when worked through the back. It can be used for increasing and also used to work a buttonhole.

Look for a few more videos on ot
her methods of casting on, coming up soon.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mitered Squares Crocheted Baby Blanket -- Update

The Mitered Squares Baby Blanket that I started shortly before going on vacation last month has become my Relaxing-In-The-Evening project, and I have been thoroughly enjoying it. Working with the cotton yarn is a real pleasure, even on warm summer nights. There's just something about cotton that is cool and refreshing, even when it's crocheted into a blanket and sitting on my lap.


Mitered Squares Baby BlanketThis is how far I've gotten now. You can see that I have completed four rows plus four squares, so I am over half way finished. I try to get at least one square finished each night, but sometimes I can do two if I am caught up on my blogging and don't have to sit at the computer instead! I love how the design is working out to look like triangles. And actually it looks different depending on how you look at it.


Mitered Squares Baby BlanketThis picture was taken a little closer to the blanket and from one corner. Crocheting into the back loop of the stitches forms the ridges on each row and gives the blanket a very nice texture.

When I finish the remaining two rows and three blocks, I will have to decide what kind of border to do on it. I'm thinking just something small and simple so as not to take away from the design of the blanket itself. The next time you see it here, it will be complete! Stay tuned!

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Another Handy Helper for Needlework -- Thera Glove

Here's another recommendation for a product that has helped me a lot. I have loved doing handwork for most of my life, but in the past few years I've had a hard time working at it for as long as I'd like because of the dreaded Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Last year while on my annual vacation visit to Patternworks, I took the plunge and purchased a pair of Thera Gloves. They are ugly and look funny on my hands, but I have to say, they make a difference. I found when wearing them that I can actually keep knitting or crocheting for a much longer time in one sitting than without them. In the winter, they keep my hands warm which makes it easier to stitch. Yet in the warmer weather, they are not so heavy as to make them uncomfortable to wear so I can still use them and keep at my handwork.

You can find these on many websites and in most craft or needlework shops, so shop around before you buy to make sure you get the best price. Thera Glove also has their own website where you can see their complete product line. They have colors and velcro wrist bands and Thera sleeves and even animal print gloves!

Have you found something that helps you continue stitching? Leave a comment and let everyone know about it!

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Filet Crochet -- Pretty in Pink Update

I've been steadily working on my Filet Crochet piece, the pink dresser scarf for my little girly girl to put on her pretty white dresser. It's coming along nicely and every day she asks when it will be done! No pressure!

I enjoy working on it, but can only get through two or three rows in one sitting so it will be a little while before it is complete. But I'm almost half way there. See what you think of it so far ...


Pretty in Pink Filet CrochetHere you see that it's just a few rows away from the halfway point and the design is shaping up nicely. I am always amazed how much of a difference is made once the border is added. Right now, it looks so ... well, unfinished I guess would be the word. I noticed that it also looks not quite as Pink in these pictures as it really is. I'll have to work on that when I take the finished pictures.


Pretty in Pink Filet CrochetHere's a close-up of one of the heart designs where you can better see the solid blocks filled with two double crochet stitches and the open mesh blocks which are made up of the two double crochet stitches at either end and two chain stitches in the middle. Most filet crochet instructions will say to make the filled blocks by working the two middle double crochet stitches into the open mesh square below, but I prefer to work them directly into the chain stitches instead. This makes the spacing of the double crochet stitches more consistent and keeps them all nice and tight together. It takes a little more time to work filet this way, but I think the result is worth the effort.

I think it's always fun to see the design emerge as the piece gets bigger. Once it is finished, I'll be sure and post some pictures here, so keep checking back. Better yet, go to the sidebar and sign up for the RSS feed so you can see what's new here every day!

I'll be back tomorrow!

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Super Easy Knit Baby Blanket

Before each of my children was born, I made them a baby blanket or two just because I think that babies should have something warm and cozy made especially for them. This baby blanket that I am going to show you today is not one that I made. It was knitted by my husband's Aunt Margaret and was given to us as a gift before my younger daughter was born. It's been used a lot and washed many times and is still as cozy as ever. And if you are looking for an easy baby blanket pattern, this one just couldn't be any easier. Take a look.


This is the blanket spread out flat so you could see the neat way the colors formed a sort of watercolor marble effect. The yarn used was Red Heart Baby Clouds which is a fluffy, airy, 100% acrylic super bulky weight yarn that calls for size 15 knitting needles. You can imagine that this would work up pretty quickly!



Here is a close-up picture of the surface of the blanket. You can see that it has rows of little bumps. This is because the blanket was made by simply knitting every row. The result is called Garter Stitch.



Here is one of the corners close-up. You can see the detail of the garter stitch. It's a great stitch to use for a baby blanket because it has some texture to it. Babies love soft cozy things with texture! Also notice that, even though this was knitted with large needles, there are no holes in the blanket because the yarn itself is quite thick. I like baby blankets that do not have holes for little fingers and toes to get stuck in.




I threw in this picture because I thought it was a fun shot of the blanket showing all the different colors and the texture of the garter stitch.

So if you're looking for a quick and easy baby blanket to knit, go buy yourself a few skeins of Red Heart Baby Clouds yarn and a pair of size 15 needles. Cast on however many stitches will make the width you want your blanket to be, and then start knitting! When it's as big as you want it, bind off, weave in the ends, and there you have it.

Enjoy!

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