Posts Tagged ‘stitch’

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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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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05
Feb

Duplicate Stitch Tricks and More Free Charts

Posted under Free Patterns, Hexipuffs, Knitting, Techniques, Tutorials No Comments

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I’ve been a but quiet for a while due to increased pain levels and being busy as a bee designing new hexipuff charts for the Beekeeper’s Quilt!

The new charts are primarily a series of buildings and more flags. The reason I’m making so many flag designs is that I’m trying to collect mini skeins from as many countries as I can and knit them into puffs for my quilt! I will be knitting each flag as I receive yarn from that country. If you’d like to send one in from your country, shoot me a message on Ravelry! I’m Swamps42 over there. So far I’m set for yarn from the United States and Canada only! I am expecting yarn from Cuba and the UK any day now though!

Of the new charts, which are all posted for free via the hexipuff chart tab at the top of this page, the castle is the one that tempted me most to get out a needle and do some duplicate stitching. Duplicate stitched puffs take much longer than a plain puff, for me about an hour and a half longer. I do think it’s worth it though, don’t you?

The chart

 

The resulting puff

Whenever I post picture of my duplicate stitched puffs on Ravelry, my inbox is filled with PMs from people asking how I get my duplicate stitched puffs to look just right. Common problems with duplicate stitching include the background color showing through, the puff looking bunched up, the duplicate stitching unraveling over time, and the design not being centered on the finished puff. I’m pretty good about responding with my tricks, but doesn’t it seem better to have a photo tutorial to send folks to with all the tricks I’ve learned over time through my own successes and failures?

The Duplicate Stitch Tutorial of Win

***I’m assuming you know the basics of how to duplicate stitch by following the Vs of existing stitches. If you have no idea what duplicate stitching is or how to do it, please visit a beginners tutorial and then come back here for all the tricks that take your basic duplicate stitching and make it look professional!

Of course, first you need to pick a chart and knit your puff with the appropriate background color(s). Here I’ve chosen the castle chart. The background in this chart is two different colors. I cast on with green yarn and switched to blue just before starting the increase row to move up to 16 stitches. I then finished out the hexipuff as per my usual modifications. I use Judy’s magic cast on and eliminate the last knit even at 10 stitches row as the three needle bind off counts as this row if you want a puff that isn’t top heavy. Don’t bind off the puff yet. Just stop knitting after the decrease down to 10 stitches row. Split the stitches on the front of your puff onto two needles and leave all the back stitches on one needle. This will make it easier to get in and out of the puff to weave in ends.

Next, thread your needle with your first color working form the top of the puff down. I’m doing grey. Turn the puff inside out and weave in your ends. The appropriate way to weave in ends requires you to split the ply (or fibers in a single ply) of the existing stitches, purls on the inside of a puff. I usually go one direction horizontally, back, and then up or down one or two stitches just to be sure my yarn is really solid and will hold up to repeated washings. If you’re using something really slippery, like a silk, you may want to run it through a few more times just to be sure. By splitting the ply, you not only assure yourself that your tail won’t be visible from the outside of the puff, but it also provides a more secure grab on your yarn tail.

Now, turn your puff right side out and decide on which stitch to begin with. I find the best results come from duplicate stitching a design from the top down. You will get more complete coverage with your top yarn, but we’ll get there. For now, pick your first stitch at the top of the design. If you are knitting your puffs with the same modifications that I am, your loops on the needles are the bottom row of 10 stitches in the chart. So the third stitch down from the needles on the first stitch on the right hand side of the right hand needle is the furthest top right stitch of the castle!

One of the most important tricks I’ve learned in duplicate stitching is the importance of NOT making twisted stitches. This means that to get a smooth stockinette finish on your duplicate stitching, you need to take directions into account. If you’re moving to a stitch left of the current stitch, you need to go through the current stitch from the right to the left, moving toward the next leftward stitch. Alternatively, if you’re working right to left on a row, you need to move right to left when you insert the needle under the V of the stitch above. Here you can see me working from left to right and so I’m inserting the needle left to right. Remember to work your duplicate stitching somewhat loosely! You want it to be soft and stretchable just like the original knitting!

The other big trick you’ll notice here is that since I’m on the second duplicate stitch of the row, I can pick up only the grey V of the stitch above and not the underlying original blue stitch. This helps prevent any blue yarn from showing through the crook of the V in the duplicate stitch!

It can also be very helpful to grab a bit of fiber or even a full ply of yarn from the neighboring stitch as you’re continuing along a row. This helps prevent your background from showing through in vertical stripes, an otherwise common problem. Here I’m working from right to left and have grabbed a bit of the grey yarn from the previous stitch to the right to help the current stitch and the one to the right stay snugged up against one another.

Continue working top down and side to side in this manner until your first color of duplicate stitching is complete.

Carefully turn your puff inside out again and weave in the tail of your duplicate stitching yarn just as you did when you were starting out. Now, you have loops of both your background yarn and your working yarn, grey. You can split the ply and weave your tail into any of these. If you weave into grey purls, your tail will not show up between stitches on the front of the puff. Of course a mixture or even all background yarn is fine too, just so long as your tail is securely woven in through the ply or fibers of the existing yarn.

Cut the excess grey yarn, thread your needle with black yarn, and weave in the end just like you did to begin working with the grey yarn at the beginning. Turn the puff right side out, and insert your needle through the first stitch. Remember to work from the top of the puff down. It is also important when filling areas like windows here to catch a bit of the wall yarn on either side of the window to make sure the stitches stay snugged up against one another and no blue yarn shows through. Here I’ve grabbed a bit of the right side’s grey wall fiber, the two V legs of the black duplicate stitch above, and a bit of the left side’s grey wall fiber. This stitch is sure to stay snugged into place and banish the blue to the background where it belongs!

Again work from the top down filling all the black stitches. If you need to strand across an area on the back, try to catch a bit of the black yarn underneath the purls of grey duplicate stitches on the back to help secure it. Remember to keep a loose tension as you’re duplicate stitching. If you don’t allow your duplicate stitching yarn to be fluffy, you won’t get good coverage. This is why embroidery floss is not good for covering large areas in duplicate stitch. My preferred fiber for duplicate stitching is the same fingering weight yarn I’ve used to knit the puff. I used all Knit Picks Palette colors to do the castle.

When you’re done with your final color of duplicate stitching, weave in it’s end on the inside as before and turn the puff right side out. I like to stretch my puff in each direction at this point to help the stitches settle into place and make sure there aren’t any gaps or mistakes. The reason a bit of background yarn shows through at the bottom of the door is because there is no stitch below it. Your bottom stitches will look like this unless you also duplicate the purl inside the V. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it. You can barely see the background with the zoom and flash on a camera. In person you’d really, really have to be looking.

Stuff your puff and bind off. Weave in your final tails and enjoy your perfect picture puff!

Remember guys, if you knit a puff with my charts I’d love to see it and feature your hexipuff on my blog! Drop me a line in the comments here or to swamps42 on Ravelry!

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