Hooked on Needles

Sunday, May 31, 2009

3 Crochet Patterns Ordered

Our oldest child just finished high school and feels the weight of the world lifted off her shoulders...for now anyway! Reality will hit soon enough, but I'll let her enjoy this short time of freedom! She has made a list of things she wants to accomplish this summer, before she begins nursing school in the fall. One of the items on her list is to crochet an afghan of squares, as opposed to the very large and heavy zig-zag afghan she has been working on during the cooler months.

I made the mistake of showing her the Babette Blanket that has been popping up on so many different websites lately and she Fell In Love. I tried my hardest to find a copy of the Crochet magazine from Spring of 2006 where this pattern was first published, but with no success. So I broke down and ordered it online from Interweave Crochet. You can see a picture of it, and order the pattern in PDF form, by clicking HERE if you like. It really is a very creative and colorful piece of work, and I'm sure Elizabeth will enjoy this project to make, and to use and treasure for years to come.

While I was browsing around the crochet patterns on Interweave's website, I came across two other patterns I just couldn't pass up. They are both crochet patterns for children's sweaters and I've never really found any crochet sweater patterns that looked very cute or comfortable until now.

The first is the Come-and-Play Cardigan which I am planning to make for my two younger children, although I'm not so sure my son would wear it unless I do it in Camo colors or put a Truck or Space Ship on it! The second is the Yo-Yo Cardigan which I think is just so different and so cute. I'll probably save this one for my little 4 yr old Gracie and use lots of pinks and purples.

Do you tend to save crocheting for items like afghans, and knitting for clothing items? This is what I've always done, but perhaps these patterns will change my mind.

Happy Stitching!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Handmade Single Decade Rosary Bracelet

What a beautiful day we are having here in New England. Picture perfect for a huge yard sale to benefit our local high school marching band. The Country Cabin Doll Quilts that I made recently, along with the matching pillows, were sold. In addition to that, all the homemade breads I baked yesterday sold as well. My daughter and I spent the morning helping out, and it was fun. By the time we left at 11:00, we had made over $800 for the band!

When I got home and had a chance to check my email, I discovered that Myra had received her PIF package from me and posted about it on her own website, Tactile Pleasures in Fabric. You can read about her little treats HERE.

One of the items I made for Myra is a Single Decade Rosary Bracelet, also known as a chaplet. Here is what it looks like up close...

Rosary BraceletThis is a Rosary that can be worn as a piece of jewelry around the wrist and removed for use when praying the Rosary. There is the crucifix, 10 beads together for counting the Hail Marys, the single bead for the Our Father between the 5 decades, and the Miraculous Medal. Even if this bracelet is never used for actually praying the Rosary, it is a nice piece of jewelry to wear to show your faith and devotion to the Blessed Mother.

These Rosary bracelets are quick to make and quite easy as long as you have the right supplies, especially the proper type of pliers. Rosary making pliers generally are needle nose pliers with little wire cutter blades on the side for snipping the wire or chain links.

I have been making Rosaries of all kinds since before I was in high school, so we're talking quite a number of years now! Like about over 30! I love to make the bracelets and use them as gifts or for our local parochial school fairs or fundraisers. If you are interested in purchasing one or more for yourself or to give as gifts, just comment or email me and I'm happy to make arrangements with you. I charge $12 for one, and each one comes in a sturdy little white gift box, all ready to be wrapped and given away. They make lovely gifts for graduation, First Communion, Confirmation, wedding and anniversary, birthday and Christmas.

Happy Stitching!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Circular Baby Afghans - ?

Not having a good source for yarn or fabric near me for many years has forced me to find online shopping opportunities to fulfill my never ending desire for more and more and more yarn and fabric. One of my favorite places to browse for yarn and ideas is Mary Maxim, even if I'm not in the market for anything new. It's just a great place to look around and see what's out there, and every once in a while pick up a good bargain or two. Plus I love their yarn.

Today I found something on their website that I thought was quite interesting -- Circular Baby Afghans. I've been seeing the round sort of star shaped afghans in catalogs over the past few years, but these that I found today are being marketed specifically as baby blankets. They look a lot like doilies in that they have a design in the middle and lots of open space around the edges, but they are made with medium worsted weight yarn and a size 5mm or H/8 crochet hook and are big enough to be baby blankets.

Yellow Round Baby AfghanI don't know that I exactly like this style for a baby blanket. I think the shape would be a little awkward, and I have never liked hole-y patterns for little fingers and toes to get stuck in. Not very practical at all.

But I was thinking that these designs would not necessarily have to be used as baby blankets. Don't you think they would make lovely table toppers with a solid color fabric under them? They would be like a huge doily to put in the middle of a large table, or on the top of a small round table and let the edges hang down the sides.

White Round Baby AfghanWhen I was growing up, our dining room table was huge and round, big enough to seat 13 or 14 people every night for dinner. My mother made solid color round tablecloths which went on the table first, then she covered them with a cream colored round lace tablecloth. I always thought it looked so nice and fancy, even for our not-so-fancy dinners.

Blue Round Baby AfghanSo have you ever made one of those round afghans? I would be interested to hear how you like working the pattern and how you like using them once they are finished. What do you think of the worsted weight doily as a baby blanket? Something you'd consider making and giving as a gift, or not practical enough to bother? Inquiring minds want to know!

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

How Do You Spell Relief? -- P E N I C I L L I N

It's been quite a week here, but not a whole lot of needlework happening. After returning from my trip to Kansas, I came down with a nasty case of strep throat which, as my luck would have it, didn't really kick in until Friday night of the long holiday weekend. I kept thinking it would be better the next day, but it never was. As it happened, I already had a doctor's appointment set up for Tuesday morning, so besides going over follow-up lab work which was the original purpose of the appointment, I also got a good once-over and a rapid strep test which was positive.

So now here I am 3 days into a 10 day cycle of good old trusty penicillin and I'm finally starting to feel better and be able to sleep during the night. What a relief!

I have had a chance to do just a small amount of handwork but nothing is finished. One thing I still need to do some little bit of finishing on is my third Pay It Forward gift which is going to Jane. If you know anything about Jane, you know she loves PINK. So I would not be letting any cats out of the bag, so to speak, if I mentioned that this item I am working on is PINK...very PINK! And it will be even PINKer when I'm done with it! After she receives it, I'll share pictures of it with you.

I mailed off my second PIF to Myra last week and am anxiously awaiting word that she received it before showing you what her little treats were.

I also finished the second Country Cabin Doll quilt and the three matching pillows for the band yard sale this Saturday. It's about time those go somewhere to be used and loved by some little doll.

Now it's about time for a cup of tea before I get back to work on the Oddball Baby Blankets I received in the mail the other day. I have two crocheted blankets to finish and one knitted, so those will keep my hands busy for a few days anyway. Perhaps I'll have a new stitch or border to share if I get creative enough to come up with something that I haven't already done!

Happy Stitching!

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Machine Quilting Technique - definitely needs some work!

Over the years, I have gone on buying kicks for certain things, just like many of you have done as well. For a while, I was on the hunt for fabric panels to make things like vests, baby quilts, aprons, or doll clothing and accessories. Recently I showed you what I did to use up two of the vest panels in a way that I am sure the designer did not intend. Today I have another panel to show you, but this one was finished in the way it was originally intended. It's a Country Cabin Doll Quilt, and I used this project to practice my machine quilting technique.

Country Cabin Doll QuiltAs you can see by the machine stitching lines on this portion of the quilt, my technique needs a little help! I love using the walking foot and being able to whip up a little project like this so quickly. But I really wish the result looked a little more like I had hand quilted it.

Country Cabin Doll QuiltNot too bad, but as you can see, not quite perfect either!

Country Cabin Doll QuiltLooking at the back side of the project, there is no question that I still need a lot of practice!

Country Cabin Doll QuiltBut after I turned the edges of the backing over to the front and machine stitched them to finish the quilt, it really doesn't look all that bad. I am sure some little doll will spend many cozy nights tucked into her little bed with this cozy quilt to keep her warm.

I have another panel exactly like this one which I am in the process of finishing right now, and two matching pillow squares with the little cabin design on them which I will make into little pillows to go with the quilts. These will be donated to the yard sale which is being held next weekend to raise money for our local high school marching band, of which my older daughter has been a member for the past 4 years.

I am still slowly going through all the unfinished projects I found when I did my big sewing room clean-up at the beginning of the year. It will be nice to have these little quilts finished and given away to a worthy cause instead of sitting in my unfinished pile for another year.

Do you finish your quilts by hand or by machine? I would love to hear any advice or tips on how to perfect my technique using my walking foot on my old Singer. Don't be shy! Go ahead and leave a comment and share your wisdom. I would really appreciate it!

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Benedictine Bobbin Lace

The Benedictine Sisters I had the pleasure of visiting while on my trip to Kansas City recently and whom I mentioned in my previous post, besides making priestly vestments and stunning embroidery, also make lace to use as trim for their handmade items.

The method they use is called Bobbin Lace which I have tried with very little success. I think it is the kind of thing that needs to be passed directly from person to person, and not learned from a book or a kit.

Bobbin LaceHere is the finished part of a piece that was still attached to the pillow and being worked on. It is only about a half inch wide and very delicate. This piece is made with size 100 cotton, which is just about as fine as sewing thread.

Bobbin Lace Gossip TableThis is the pillow where four people can be working on lace at the same time. Only two rolls were being used at the time this picture was taken. You can see hanging towards the outside of this big round pillow lots of wooden bobbins with thread wound around them. This is the working thread that is being used to make the lace. The round rolls, like little neck roll pillows, have the pattern attached to them and the thread is moved back and forth with the bobbins to create the lace to match the pattern, then pins are inserted to hold the threads in place. The whole process is very tedious and intricate, but people who master the art can manipulate those bobbins seemingly without effort, and very quickly too.

This big round pillow is also called a gossip table, and you can just imagine how it got that name. Of course in this Benedictine Priory where this particular table is being used, I can pretty much guarantee no gossip happens around this bobbin lace pillow since these Sisters maintain silence throughout most of the day.

Here is my attempt at bobbin lace. It is a sample of three different background patterns and the whole piece is only about an inch wide. It took me a long time and gave me a headache and cramped hands and an aching back. I am sure if I had someone actually sit down with me and show me how to do it, I could have mastered this beautiful method of lace making. But I think I'll just have to settle for knowing that the art is not completely dead thanks to the patient and creative Sisters in Kansas City!

If you are interested in learning the art of bobbin lace making yourself, Lacis carries a beginner kit which you can find by clicking HERE. They also carry many patterns, books and supplies for the art of lace making and other forms of needlework too.

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Religious Embroidery

A few weeks ago while showing off my collection of cotton dishcloths, I mentioned that I would be leaving town for a short visit to Kansas for my mother's 75th birthday. Well, I have gone and come home again. It was a wonderful trip and I did pass out all of my dishcloths. The first two went to a nice lady sitting next to us who was traveling to Texas for her niece's wedding, one for her and one for the bride. When we arrived in Kansas City, we were picked up by a high school friend I had not seen in over 15 years. She got the next four. All the others were distributed to various relatives, and my Dad even got a chance to use his and report back to me while I was still there. He loved it!

But today I am not going to focus on dishcloths. In fact, I plan to drop that topic for a good long time! I must move on to something different!

This friend who picked us up at the airport just happens to be the Prioress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Kansas City, Missouri. One of the things this order of Sisters does to support themselves is make vestments for priests to wear while celebrating Holy Mass. They are also in the process of learning how to do the traditional hand and machine embroidery that seems to be a dying art among even the religious. I had the privilege to see some of their work in progress, and that is what I wanted to show you today.

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis is just a small sample of the machine embroidery thread which was given to this little group of nuns by an order of nuns from O'Fallon, Missouri who used to do this type of work and no longer does. I am sure they were quite happy to pass on their skills as well as their supplies so this work can continue. You can read a little about this HERE if you are interested.

Religious Embroidery suppliesYou can see how old these boxes are, and there were drawers and drawers full of boxes just like this. What a treasure!

Religious Embroidery suppliesIsn't that silver thread just beautiful?

Religious Embroidery suppliesThe gold is even more beautiful in person. And so heavy to hold too!

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis is my old high school friend, now called Mother since she is the Prioress, showing off their wall of vestment patterns. The machine in the corner of the picture is an old Singer which is run by foot power! It's a treadle machine and they say it works like a dream.

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis looks like a mass of gold worms, but in fact it is only one of the many boxes of different kinds of gold used for decorating vestments. No wonder they are so heavy!

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis wall of old library card catalog drawers was full of every variety of hand embroidery thread you could imagine. What a clever way to make use of good furniture that is no longer needed in libraries.

Religious Embroidery suppliesHere are some of the machine embroidered samples that are used on vestments.

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis is a very old embroidery stand set up with the piece in progress stretched in the middle. The dove that is being copied was machine embroidered, but the work in progress is being done by hand.

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis is a piece being done by hand on another old frame. The detail is stunning.

Religious Embroidery suppliesHere is the face before shading has been added. Still so beautiful.

Religious Embroidery suppliesThis is a close-up of Our Lady's Immaculate Heart. The centers of the flowers have not been stitched yet and appear to be drawn thread. Isn't the shading just beautiful?

Religious Embroidery suppliesIn this picture, you can get an idea of the little workstation where one Sister spends a good portion of her day with her hands busy, and many prayers being offered for the holy priest who will wear this piece of art on his vestment someday.

In the next post, I will show you another form of handwork that these Sisters do, and which I tried a while back and could not master. It's called bobbin lace.

Happy Stitching!

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ladybug Apron from Recycled Jeans

Those old jeans are not going to last very long on the bottom shelf of my sewing room cabinet! Not since I discovered this great idea for using them to make aprons! If you like ladybugs, you'll love this one...

Ladybug Apron from Recycled JeansI had a pair of old black jeans on the shelf and this remnant of fabric I had recently purchased with ladybugs all over it. What a perfect match!

I put a little scalloped edge on the bottom, but my bias binding technique on the points certainly leaves something to be desired. Usually I love to show lots of close-up pictures, but that's one close-up you can live without. I was not about to rip out all that sewing though, so I just pressed it really well and it is what it is. Still very practical and cheerful at the same time!

Ladybug Apron from Recycled JeansI even discovered a little ladybug appliqué hiding in the cabinet so I pressed it onto the apron right near the top, since we know that ladybugs always crawl to the highest point. This one is on his way up!

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crocheted Dish Scrubbie Video Tutorial

Recently I came across someone on Knittinghelp.com's crochet thread who was looking for help in understanding a crochet pattern she had found for a nylon dish scrubbie. I took a look at the pattern and, although it is fairly simple to do, it would have been hard for me to explain in words. So I offered to make a video to demonstrate this pattern.

Here's what the finished project looks like and further down you will find a little video showing how to make it.

Crocheted Dish ScrubbieDoesn't it look just a little bit like something that might crawl out of the ocean and give you nightmares? Well, I have to say, it feels something like that too! All the better to clean your dishes, I suppose!

Crocheted Dish ScrubbieThe pattern is designed by Julie Bolduc and offered free on the JPF Crochet Club website. Click HERE to view the pattern and print one for yourself if you'd like to give it a try.

I purchased the 2 ounce skein of Needloft Nylon yarn at my local Michael's store, but it is probably available at other craft stores as well. One skein was enough to make two scrubbies.

These would make nice housewarming or hostess gifts, perhaps along with an apron and a cotton dishcloth if you're feeling extra generous. They would also make great items to sell at a school fundraiser, as long as your hands could hold out against the yarn!

I'd love to know if you've ever made anything with nylon yarn and what you thought of it. Leave a comment and let me know!

Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lizzy Anne Quilt Giveaway

I follow lots of websites out there, mostly sewing or knitting or crochet related, because there are so many creative people sharing their ideas and I don't want to miss a single one! Elizabeth Cranmer is a very creative young lady who designs quilts, among other things. Her website is Pigtails and Snails and always fun to read.

Check out what she's doing now...

Yep, she's giving away one of her original quilts! I just couldn't pass up this chance to win it myself by sharing the opportunity with you too. So hop over to Lizzy's place and check out her new design. You might be the lucky one who gets to take it home!

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

18 inch Doll Knitted Sweater and Hat Patterns

My daughter has had the American Girl doll Samantha for quite a number of years now, along with some of her accessories and clothing. I even made a few little dresses for Samantha to match the dresses I made for Elizabeth. Very cute! But here's something she never had, up until now...

Hand Knit Sweater and Hat for 18 inch doll...a hand knit sweater and hat! Are those the cutest little things you ever saw? And guess what size needle these were knitted on...size 1! Yes, that's right, O N E, one! Oh my! And every stitch is perfect. Of course I would expect nothing less from my husband's Aunt M who knits every day of her life and has made some of the most beautiful knitted and quilted items you can imagine. This is an original pattern, and Aunt M gave it to me to offer right here on Hooked On Needles. Not only is she talented, she's generous as well!

Hand Knit Sweater and Hat for 18 inch dollShe also sent me two sets for my girls to use for Samantha. This one is made with Bernat baby yarn in blue jacquard so it produces the striped pattern as you knit. Aunt M said that the sweater on the doll in the picture above which she sent me was made without considering the stripes on the left and right fronts of the sweater. But for this sweater that she mailed to me, she paid attention to where in the color pattern of the yarn each section started so that they would match up across the front. And she did the same with the sleeves. I think that makes such a difference when attention is paid to little details like that.

Hand Knit Sweater and Hat for 18 inch dollI love close-up pictures of anything. Here you can see the detail of the stitches and the patterns that the yarn creates on its own.

Hand Knit Sweater and Hat for 18 inch dollAnd here's the little pink set she sent me. Isn't that darling? So girlie!

Hand Knit Sweater and Hat for 18 inch dollOn this close-up, you can see the seed stitch edge down the middle and the Knit 1 Purl 1 ribbing around the neckline, and all the perfect stockinette stitches on the body of the sweater.

If you would like the pattern for this hat and sweater, just send me an email and I'll forward the pattern. Please don't request the pattern in a comment. I just run into too many people who have their accounts set to no-reply. If you send an email, I will be able to simply reply and attach the pattern files. You can find my email address right over there on the sidebar by scrolling down to just past the cheerful red and white Sew Darn Crafty button. It says "Email me at" HookedOnNeedles {at} gmail {dot} com.

Thanks to Aunt M for sharing such a beautiful little doll clothes set!

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Recycling an Old Vest Fabric Panel and An Old Pair of Jeans for a New Apron

I had such fun making my first apron from the leg of an old pair of jeans and some leftover fabric that I just had to try another one. I don't have a very large fabric stash to choose from, but I do have quite a few fabric panels that were meant to be made into vests. I purchased them for practically nothing years ago when they were just going out of style and have pondered what to do with them ever since.

Take a look and see how I re purposed a vest fabric panel and recycled an old pair of jeans...

Recycled Jeans and an old vest fabric panel make a great apronYou can't see it too well in this picture, but the bottom edge of the apron has a nice curve to it which you will see below. I just love the colors and design of this fabric and I think it makes such a cheerful apron.

I am trying out a new tutorial method here. Instead of having lots of photos with explanations in between, I put them all into a little slide show for a change. I'm not sure what I think about it, so I'd be interested in hearing your feedback on this form of show and tell. If it goes too fast for you to read the words and look at the pictures, just click the pause button for each frame and then click again to continue playing.

Please keep in mind that the point of showing how I used the vest panel to make an apron is not to say that you have to go out and find this exact panel. I just wanted to show how I used what I had on hand in a way that I found to be attractive. You can do the same sort of thing with whatever you have that could be used as trim, pockets or decoration. Perhaps you have an old bed sheet that you don't use anymore or an old skirt or shirt or tablecloth. Think about taking what you already have but don't use anymore and making it into something new and useful.

I found an old pair of black jeans in my collection and a fabric remnant that has ladybugs on it which I am in the process of turning into another apron. The possibilities are endless, and it makes me feel so good to be making useful things from something that is no longer usable for its original purpose. I'll be showing the ladybug apron to you when it's finished.

Happy Stitching!

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Crocheted and Knitted Cotton Dishcloth Collection

I've been busy cutting up more jeans and other things and have completed another apron that I was going to show you in a rather long tutorial type post, but I'll be lucky if I can get this published before we lose power since we are in the middle of a whopper of a thunder and lightening storm. So I am opting for a quick peek at my collection of cotton dishcloths.

I am taking a trip later this week with my oldest daughter to Kansas to celebrate my mother's 75th birthday, and I wanted to have something to give to all my siblings and nieces and sister-in-law and other nice people I'll run into while I'm traveling. I thought of bringing homemade jellies, but they don't travel well, especially in light of all the airline restrictions for baggage these days. Since I was so caught up in making these anyway, I thought what better way to thank everyone for their hospitality or just offer a little gift than to give them a handmade cotton cloth for their kitchen or bathroom.

So this is the collection I'll be bringing with me to share:

Crocheted and Knitted Cotton Dishcloth CollectionThere are 21 in the picture altogether, and I have another still on the hook which I should finish tonight, and I may whip up another one or two before we leave. I think that will be enough to go around. I hope so anyway!

I also made my mother a little something for her birthday gift which I will show you after she sees it in person. I don't want to spoil the surprise for her. I know how much she LOVES surprises!

The storm is getting closer, so I will be signing off now. I will have that other apron up for show and tell in the next day or two so be on the lookout for that.

Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms and Mom-like women out there, especially my own. Take a look at this Mother's Day post on a blog that I read regularly and find inspiring. I thought it was so sweet and I think you'll enjoy it too.

Happy Stitching!

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