Thursday, May 31, 2012

Made By Me...

I am really enjoying this book right now, Made By Me by Jane Bull.  Although it is geared toward young people (it was in the "juvenile" section of the library), it is loaded with all kinds of projects introducing knitting, embroidery, needlepoint, cross stitch, and sewing.

Demonstrating how to learn all of these wonderful skills are such projects as hand sewn dolls, felt flower headbands, pocket lockets, and lovely little sachets.  So cute!  There's even a section on how to re-purpose materials to store all of your crafty this book!

I laid the book on a granny square blanket I am working on in the picture...which reminds me...I have to finish this!  Do you have a project that insists on staying unfinished?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Free Knitting Pattern... Embroidered Daisy Pillow!

Embroidered Daisy Pillow
by Jennifer Dickerson

This sweet little pillow makes a lovely gift or the perfect little statement for a favorite chair. On one side it's embroidered with lazy daisies and back stitch curlicues, and on the reverse with knitted with fun stripes. This is also the perfect project for those who wish to learn or practice their embroidery. Included is the pattern for the pillow and instructions for making both the embroidered daisies and backstitch curlicues.

  • Worsted weight yarn in three of your favorite colors
  • US 7 Straight Needles
  • Tapestry Needle (sometimes called a yarn needle)
  • Fiberfill for stuffing the pillow (another great filler for all of those yarn scarps you may have sitting around too)

  • BO: Bind Off
  • CO: Cast on
  • RS: Right Side
  • WS: Wrong Side
  • 7 inches wide and 9 inches tall

Instructions for flower panel of pillow:
CO 35 sts
Knit 4 rows
Row 1: k2, purl to last 2 sts, k2
Row 2: Knit
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until piece measures 8.5 inches, ending on RS row
Knit 4 rows

Embellish all over with lazy daisies and backstitch curlicues:

Instructions for striped panel of pillow:
Note: Stripes are 6 rows of each color
CO 35 sts
Work stockinette stitch for 9 inches, working striped pattern

With WS of both panels facing outward, seam pieces together, leaving a hole for stuffing later. Turn seamed piece right side out (to get the corners nice and crisp, poke the corners with the end of a knitting needle to “pop” them out. Fill with stuffing of your choice and sew hole closed.

© Jennifer Dickerson

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Embroidery Scissors Score!

Good Morning Stitchers!
Just had to show off these embroidery scissors I got...not expensive ones or anything (under $10), but I've been needing a new pair for quite a while and I just couldn't pass these cheerful!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Needles, Needles, Everywhere!

So a few days ago I was going on and on about the fabulous wooden needles I got on my shopping spree...which got me thinking about all of the different needle materials available to us knitters...wood, aluminum, steel, bamboo, plastic, and glass.  After a little knitty research, I learned that antique needles were sometimes made with exotic (and endangered) animal materials such as ivory, walrus tusk, and tortoiseshell too (pretty much impossible to find now).

I probably use my bamboo needles the most, they are lightweight and are good when I want my yarn to "hug" the needle.  For fast moving projects that I want to fly off the needles, I always go for my trusty metal needles.  I only have a few pairs of plastic needles and don't use them much, but the rosewood needles pictured below (from Lantern Moon) are my latest obsession...smooth like metal, but with the warmth and pleasantries that wonderful wood brings...simply divine!  So, dear knitters, what is your favorite and why?

Friday, May 18, 2012

How To Embroider Back Stitch

Knowing how to back stitch is a very handy used in embroidery for outlining and adding fine details to imagery. For your knitting and crochet projects it can be just as useful for making simple pictorials, writing a word or name, making flower stems, and whatever else you wish to embellish.

To start all you need is your fabric or crochet/knitted piece, some yarn or embroidery floss, and an appropriately sized needle...I used a tapestry needle (or yarn needle as they are sometimes called) to thread the yarn on the needle with a tail.

For the first stitch, bring the yarn up from underneath,

and then back down...that's the first stitch. Now, bring the yarn back up from underneath as shown below, about the same width away as the first stitch you made.

Now come back down as shown to complete the second stitch...

Continue in this manner until you have made what you wish! I did this little curlicue to show you that you can do both straight and curved lines and the lines can cross too.

Oh, I almost forgot...if you like the little green flower in the pictures, here's how to embroider that too:

How To Embroider A Lazy Daisy

Back stitching is a really fun way to add a name to a special blanket, or a little heart to a cute hat, it is so simple, yet adds so much to something handmade!

Here is a video that you can watch to learn how to embroider back stitch:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Malabrigo shopping spree!

A few days I went a little online shopping crazy and bought a boatload of yarn...Malabrigo is one of my most favorite yarns, it is just so incredibly beautiful and wonderfully pleasant to work with.  Here's a sampling of what I got...
This fabulous trio is Malabrigo Worsted in (from left to right) Dark Earth, Stone Blue, and Velvet Grapes...
Here's a skein of Malabrigo Sock in the "Eggplant" colorway...
And last but not least, Malabrigo Lace in the "Charrua" colorway.  Oh, and I also picked up a set of these...
Fabulous rosewood needles!  I have never owned or even used a pair, so I was really excited to get my hands on these, they have been on my wish list for a long, long time!  They are so beautiful in person...they are two shades of the rosewood, a medium brown with a dark brown cap...exquisite!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Yarny fun had by all...

I was hanging out with these two today, trying to figure out what to do with them...Both are Knit Picks Stroll Sock Yarn.  The green/black one is in the "Tree Fort" colorway, and the multicolored one is the "Playtime" colorway. I love, love, love using variegated and multicolored sock yarn--even if you are just doing simple garter or stockinette, it is wildly exciting (at least for me anyway) to see the piece come to life with the fabulous color changes.  

Hmmm, would these be better suited for a fabulous shawl or a pair of socks?  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wet Blocking 101: Make Your Finished Pieces Look Their Best

Blocking your work is useful to know to make your hand knits and crocheted items look their absolute best.  It makes the "fabric" look uniform and even and opens up lace beautifully, yielding a more fabulous and professional looking finished object.  For this tutorial, I'll show you two ways to block your work, a lighter blocking technique and a heavier duty blocking technique.

A few important things to note:
  • With more delicate fabrics like angora or mohair, the lighter spraying method is preferred.
  • For synthetic yarns, there are differing opinions on this, some say you can block, others say don't do it...if you choose to try it, be sure not to use heat of any kind (like steaming for example), as it could melt the yarn.
  • Make sure your pins are rust proof!
  • You can also block pieces with the steam setting with an iron, it is not recommended for all fibers, and frankly, the idea of doing this scares me to death.  In addition, I like to not only block, but lightly clean the garment as well before wearing or gifting.
  • Do not over block!  You don't want to stretch the garment too far and ruin all of your beautiful hard work.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Pins--be absolutely sure they are rust proof!  I prefer the "T" pins.

The "Lighter" Spray Bottle Method...

Using your pins, pin the dry piece to the blocking mat.  Spray generously with water from the spray bottle.  Allow to dry completely (minimum of 24 hours) before unpinning.

The "Heavier Duty" Soaking Method...

This is the method I use most, I like how it not only blocks the piece, but gently cleans it as well.  To start, fill a (clean) sink or basin with cool water (never hot, as to not felt it) and add soaking solution if you desire (follow manufacturer's instructions on the label).  Immerse the piece and soak until it is completely wet.  If using soap, check the label...some require you to rinse it out, others do not.  If you need to rinse, empty soapy water out from sink/basin and replace it with cool, clear water.  

Lay the piece on a towel and press out the excess water between towels.  Never, ever wring...this will cause damage to the fibers.  

Roll the piece up in a towel, and gently squeeze to remove moisture...

Now it's time to pin!  What I like to do is pin a few all around to get the general shape/measurement, then go back around and place more pins closer together so that you get a nice straight edge.  Do not over pin!  You don't want to stretch the garment too far and ruin all of your beautiful hard work, this is especially important for ribbing which naturally needs to pull in a bit.

When I blocked this piece shown, I pinned up three sides and used a blocking wire (Make your own here!) to show you how they both look...blocking wires are totally optional, but very useful for lace pieces.

Finally, when everything is pinned up to your satisfaction, let completely dry.  I always wait a minimum of 24 is important that there is absolutely no moisture left.  Then unpin and enjoy your beautifully blocked handmade lovelies!

Click below to watch a video on how to block your work step by step:

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Friday, May 11, 2012

(Very) Last Minute Mother's Day Gifts...There's Still Time!

Do you still really want to make your mother something fabulous and handmade?  Not to worry, here are some eleventh hour gifts that will be sure to delight your mother this Sunday.  Perfect for both warm weather and last minute stitchers, you will be able to whip them up in no time and be a gift giving super star!

For Moms who like to knit and crochet:
Recycled Earring Stitch Markers

Use this same tutorial to make a special stitch marker (for knitting in the round) too:

For mailing happy little notes:
Deckled Flower Notecards

For Moms who love hearts or jewelry (or both!):
Tiny Heart Earrings

For fashionista Moms:
Grosgrain Ribbon Belt

To add some cheer to Mom's kitchen (these make lovely coasters too):
Simply Cheerful Trivets

For world traveling Moms:
Luggage Blossoms

When you're all finished making your beautiful gift, here are some ideas to tag it...happy gifting!  
Tagging Your Hand Stitched Gifts

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