Posts Tagged ‘embroidery’

30
Apr

In honor of Spring

Posted under Free Patterns, Hexipuffs, Knitting No Comments

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How about some new hexipuff charts! Here’s my newly charted delphinium:

delphiniums

and some stylized flowers as well!

sylized_flowers1

Remember, it’s wonderful feedback and donations on the side bar that keep your free hexipuff charts coming. Thanks all!

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27
Feb

A lucky bit of color

Posted under Free Patterns, Knitting, Spinning, Techniques No Comments

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I’ve become hooked on knitting with my own handspun yarns to such an extent that I can usually control myself in a yarn store, even one with great sales. Now a fiber shop? I’m in trouble. I look at a big bump of top and think, “What do I want to make? A bulky weight hat? How about a lace shawl?” I love the freedom to take a fiber I like and literally make anything with it.

Last summer when my grandmother was visiting, we bought some natural colored BFL top which I spun. I wasn’t nearly so good of a spinner back then and have improved immensely since then, but my 3 ply sport weight yarn is at least usable. I knit up a bit into a cute little toy mouse as one of my Ravellenic Games projects. This little guy earned the Bobsled, Toy Tobogganing, Stash Skeleton, and Single-Skein Speed Skate medals.

As I knit him, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. The heathered yarn is mostly just that, a heathered yarn, but thanks to my pre-drafting and the chain plying technique, there are periodic sections of yarn that are solid white and very few that are solid brown. The handspun yarn turned white at exactly the right spot to make a lighter colored face on my mouse! I couldn’t have planned that if I’d tried!

When it came time for a face, I wanted to maintain the handspun feel of the mouse, so I headed over to my loom and cut off a bit of the remaining black handspun warp from the rainbow bag fabric I wove. Hooray for not yet cleaning up my loom!

To stuff the mouse, I used some lower quality wool I had and mixed in a few pinches of dried organic catnip. It felt so, so strange to be mixing in vegetable matter into my wool when I spend so much time trying to get it out normally! Even though I did load this mouse up on catnip and make his tail short for kitty safety, I just love his lucky face so much. I think I might have to keep him and make grandma’s cat another one from the same yarn. This one is just too cute to end up lost under the refrigerator! Looks like he’s headed to the shadow box of handmade mini critters instead of a lifetime of kitty breath, teeth, and claws.

For those wanting to try out the mouse pattern themselves in whatever yarn you’ve got some scraps of, handspun or not, the pattern is available for download free on Ravelry here. It’s made entirely in one piece and works up rather quickly as a result. The ears were an interesting technique and one I’ve not done before, so go check it out! The ears are actually cast on and then drawstring tied up. This requires you to cut your yarn leaving a very long tail for completing the knit and carefully using that very long tail on a tapestry needle. It sounds complex, but when you get to that point in the pattern it feels shockingly natural. Plus, worst case scenario and you get stuck? A large bobble would work just as well!

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24
Jul

El Paso County State Fair

Posted under Crochet, Knitting, Life, Scroll Saw, Toys, Woodworking No Comments

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At a local friend’s urging, I decided to enter some of my fiber arts work into the county fair. I figured that since I’ve only been knitting since February 2010, surely I would rank mediocre at best. I like to try some unusual and challenging pieces, but I still feel like such a beginner! I figured I didn’t have much to lose since the entry fee is only $5 though, so I got to work on some special projects.

My first project for the fair was a pair of socks I’ve been wanting to knit for myself for quite some time. I’d seen someone else win a second place ribbon in one of my Ravelry groups with some knee-high socks, so I figured that knee-high socks were an impressive enough sort of project to enter into a fair.  I ordered the yarn and made a few modifications to the pattern. The pattern was beautiful as written, but featured many floats over 5 stitches which is not structurally sound or traditional knitting. These socks also had a heel type I’d never tried before that is unique to traditional Norwegian stockings. It was great fun to learn the new heel and to do so much stranded colorwork. That’s my favorite kind of knitting to do. It takes just the right amount of attention to detail and works up into a nice, thick fabric. I like my knits to be cozy.

The hardest part of these socks was actually blocking them. I’d never blocked socks before, but I figured they needed to be done up nicely. I couldn’t find large enough sock blockers anywhere, so I ended up having to make them myself. Unfortunately, I’m not doing well enough physically since the most recent accident to be using my power tools. I broke a half dozen blades and failed at cutting on the lines I’d drawn on the plywood. The sock blockers aren’t great, but they’re enough to get the job done. Any puckering from the stranding blocked right out of the socks.

Then, because I was trying to work on the project anyhow to publish the pattern, I decided the bird I was knitting could be entered in the knit toy category of the fiber arts department. I’m currently working on getting the pattern typed up and materials to a test knitter. The pattern will be available for purchase and download by the end of the year. The entire bird is knit from Knit Picks Palette yarn on size 0 needles. It’s stuffed with wool as well, and has wool wrapped wire for the feet and crown feather. The eyes are 1/4″ rounded-top, shank-style buttons. I made the stand out of craft wood from Michaels Arts and Crafts and painted it out matte black so it wouldn’t fight with the cockatiel for the eye.

Finally, right after the most recent accident, a Ravelry friend of mine gifted me a pattern for a crocheted schnauzer as a feel better and know you’re loved sort of thing. I figured I’d better crochet a little dog and post pictures to show my appreciation. I didn’t really want a great big toy dog cluttering up the place though, so I unraveled some wool yarn and crocheted with only one ply of yarn on a size 7 steel crochet hook. This made an itty bitty toy dog and almost everything is better in miniature! I also rewrote the legs in the pattern, did the face embroidery differently, and needle felted in the beard. I made him a collar out of the finest red ribbon I had and stitched on a sequin to be his dog tag. His eyes are two black beads that were in with the rest of my seed beads but mysteriously a size larger than the rest. Working on such a small scale with such fragile single ply wool was a pain, but the end result was totally worth it. He came out so well I decided I may as well enter him too. After all, you can enter up to 10 items for the $5 entry fee. You only have to pay extra if you enter more than 10 different items in 10 different classes. You also only get $4 back if you win a first place ribbon though, and I wanted to up my chances of making back my $5. When you’re really broke, that $5 matters a lot!

When I finally got to go to the fair after judging on Saturday, I was greeted pretty quickly with my knit socks. They won first place in the knitted accessory category (socks, hats, gloves and such) and won the Adult Fiber Arts Department Reserve Champion ribbon. I had to ask what that meant exactly, and it’s second place out of all adult fiber arts entries: knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, tatting, felting, and rug hooking. How exciting!

Then I found my knit bird and crocheted dog in the glass display case. They each also had a first place ribbon for their category on them, knit toys and crochet toys respectively! I was thrilled!

We looked around at all the other entries for a while, and we couldn’t find the Adult Fiber Arts Department Champion. I really wanted to see what was nicer than my socks. We asked and were told that not all the ribbons were on the items yet. The woman helping us went to check the record book and when she came back, she was carrying the champion ribbon to hang on my crocheted dog! I couldn’t believe it! I won every single award my items were eligible for, three first places, the department champion, and the reserve champion!

I’m so excited. I can’t wait to pick my items up, show off the ribbons and projects at show-and-tell at the Front Range Fiber Artisans annual picnic, and get my winners (the socks and dog only) to the state fair. I’d send the bird too, but the state fair combines knit and crochet toys into one class, so I can only enter one of them. Fingers crossed for more success at the state level. It’s much more competitive and you don’t even get your items displayed unless you win.

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25
Mar

Down to the wire, err, thread?

Posted under Cross Stitch, Embroidery, Holidays and Celebrations 1 Comment

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I’ve been very overwhelmed lately. Sadly, it doesn’t take much when you’re fighting with chronic pain and fatigue. I knew my brother’s birthday was approaching fast, but I didn’t have a clue what to do for him.

Last Thursday, I went to a lecture put on by Open Minded Skeptics and Pikes Peak Urban Gardens on organic gardening in the Pikes Peak region. I used to be quite active with the Bear Creek Community Gardens before I was disabled. I would really like to grow my own food again. Salad goes from blah to the tastiest lunch ever when it’s home grown, fresh, and full of flavor. I plan on having a large, accessible garden south of the gravel driveway where we’re building the cabin. A free refresher lecture seemed like a great way to get me out of this basement. I hate being stuck in the same little box of a space day in and day out. I envy even those who go from home to a cubical and back five days a week!

Anyhow, after the talk was over at 8:30 PM, I found myself at the library with a half hour until closing. I figured I might as well browse a bit. I always check to see if there’s anything I haven’t seen in the knitting section. There wasn’t this time, but I ended up checking through the neighboring embroidery section too since many embroidery charts are similar to knitting charts like I design. One book, Picture Your Pet in Cross Stitch by Claire Crompton jumped out at me. I flipped through it and saw a picture of two cockatiels that look almost exactly like my brother’s pair. I’m not a fan of cross stitch, but I brought it home with me anyhow.

On Saturday, I realized that my brother’s birthday was the very next day sometime in the late afternoon. Worried about what I could possibly do in that time frame on no budget, my mind wandered back to the cockatiels. I checked my meager box of embroidery floss to see what colors I had and what I needed from the store. I went to Hancock Fabrics first and saw a towel with a centerpiece of aida cloth woven in and decided that would be a much better idea than buying aida cloth and trying to get it framed and matted up in time. Since I had a 40% off coupon, it was certainly a cheaper option at only $5 after tax! Hancock Fabrics carries a terrible off-brand embroidery floss though. It doesn’t have the luster of DMC floss so I hopped in the car and drove on to the nearest Hobby Lobby to get real DMC floss.

When I got home, guy pal met me there to help me figure out how to work on my Maple Wool Farm logo in Photoshop. It’s a pain, but I’m making progress. I was finally able to sit down and start working on my brother’s birthday towel around 8PM on the 24th. My mom helped make sure the design was centered right on the canvas. I HATE starting out on a new cross stitch project because I hate trying to get the design centered. I worked until about 4AM with a break to make some boxed macaroni and cheese I found in the back of my cupboard. Finally, I was too tired to keep going. I was starting to make mistakes. I got to bed just after 5AM and was out of bed again by noon after a fitful sleep as usual. By 12:30PM, I’d checked my email and gotten back down to the stitching. Around 1PM, I finished all the cross stitching and by 2:30PM, I’d finished all the back stitching and was heading off to iron the piece. Near the end, I even decided that maybe cross stitching isn’t so bad. It uses a fair bit of shoulder movement, but didn’t irritate my shoulder pain. I’m actually thinking I should cross stitch more just to work my shoulder more. I’ll have to look into software to design my own cross stitch designs though so I can sell my finished work.

I decided to take pictures in my mom’s half bath upstairs because the yellow of the walls really punches up the towel. I also suggested to my brother that he pick up a yellow towel to put behind this one to frame it nicely on his towel rack.

Working with that many shades of grey so close together in value was a pain, but the lifelike result was really worth it!

Then I finally got to move on to wrapping. I consider wrapping to be an important part of a handmade gift. It’s like the packaging selling a product at a shop. I picked  out two bottoms of folding Christmas boxes to make one white box. I lined it with plain white tissue paper. To spice it up a bit, I used a couple scrapbooking stickers inside as the seal to hold the tissues closed, just like something fine from a very upscale shop. With the work I put into this towel, it would have to come from one hell of an upscale shop!

Then, since I don’t have any manly birthday wrapping paper, I used some faintly striped brown kraft paper and some curling ribbons. I added another sticker to the front of the package in place of a card since my brother was ringing the doorbell as I was finishing up the bow!

Not too shabby for a last minute gift, huh?

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