Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Gift Fun

Now that most gifts have been opened, I can share some of my gift projects from Christmas 2016.

First, here is  Werewolf Hat from Vampire Knits  by Genevieve Miller, worked in Bernat Roving:



Next, a Baby Yoda Hat (pattern by Shinah Chang) in Big Twist from JoAnn:




Other items are still in the works for birthdays and such, so I'll share them as I can.  

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Good Fiction for Quilters


Perla Phillips has a secret.   Unfortunately, she suffers a stroke around the time she thinks she ought to disclose her secret to her daughter.  Will the family be able to unravel the secret with the clues they find around the house as they care for Perla, quilt together, and deal with some church drama?  Author Sarah Loudin Thomas has crafted a beautiful story.

I received a free copy of A Tapestry of Secrets from the publisher for my honest review.  You can get your own copy here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Crochet and Knitting for Baby

Knitting handmade clothing, toys, and blankets for baby is rewarding and fun!  Here are some tips for choosing patterns and yarn for successful baby projects such as these I found on Ravelry:

Yarn for Babies
Anything to be worn next to baby’s skin must be soft and washable.  Yarn manufacturers now produce a wide variety of washable wools, cotton, and acrylic. There are also new rayon blends made from bamboo and microfiber polyesters that feel like natural fibers.  Wool is excellent for babies, as it does not cling to odors and allows air to circulate near baby’s skin.  Cotton is cool and absorbent for summertime clothing.  Blends of two or more fibers offer the best qualities of each fiber.

Fingering or baby weight yarn is the best choice for socks and undergarments.  Use sport or DK weight for booties, hats, mittens, and sweaters.  Blankets and coats can be made from worsted and bulky weight yarns.  Be sure to knit at a tension that makes the fabric firm, but not too stiff. Little arms and legs need to be free to move.  For baby toys, use a tighter tension so stuffing will not escape from between stitches

Patterns for Babies
When choosing a pattern, first look at the stitches used.  Baby items should not have large open spaces where a foot or hand could poke through.  Simple lace patterns with small spaces are good for knitted or crocheted baby items.  Bobbles and other textured details are attractive, but be sure bobbles, buttons, or toggles are not in places that will be uncomfortable for baby while he or she is in a car seat, stroller, or bed. Avoid details that might get pulled off: Pompoms and tassels must be securely sewn to the item.

Always knit a swatch to be sure the yarn, stitch pattern, and needles or hook are producing a pleasing fabric.  If the swatch seems too light or heavy, pick a different pattern or yarn. You may also use the swatch to try different colors and discover pleasing combinations for stripes and color patterns.
Choose patterns with diagrams so you can measure your work as you go and be sure you are knitting or crocheting true to the size you want.  Good designers give you enough information to know how a sleeve is shaped or how long a sweater back should be.

Finishing Touches for Babies
Items with more than one piece should be sewn securely. Loose threads must be woven in carefully.  Babies have been known to get threads from socks wrapped around their tiny toes--very painful!  All fasteners must be sewn well to make them hard to remove. 

Toys should include embroidered details rather than buttons that can be bitten off by a determined child.  A crochet style called amigurumi is good for toys. It uses very tight crochet stitches to make sturdy small toys with wonderful detail.

Enjoy knitting handmade items for babies and young children.

References:

All About Ami, http://www.allaboutami.com
Ravelry, http://www.ravelry.com/

Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Recommendation: My Mother's Quilts


My Mother's Quilts is a devotional book with a special twist.  Each 3-4 page daily devotion includes a beautiful quilt photograph along with the story of that quilt.  A Bible verse begins each chapter and a prayer starter ends each chapter. This is a fitting theme for a devotional--God Himself is a Creator, so we, His people, also create.

This book, like the quilts within it, is carefully crafted with a built-in ribbon bookmark and attractive dust jacket.  This would make a wonderful gift for a quilt lover.  You don't have to make your own quilts to appreciate these quilts, the women who made them, and the love to which they testify.

Enter a contest to win the friendship quilt shown or other prizes such as signed copies of the book. above by following this link.

Get your own copy of My Mother's Quilts at Shop Better Books

About the Author of My Mother's Quilts:

Ramona Richards is an award-winning editor, speaker, author of nine books, and a frequent contributor to devotional collections. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves Nashville, which she’s called home since she was ten. Sensing her mother was near the end of her life, Ramona documented her mother’s stories and lessons behind each family quilt. These stories form the devotions in My Mother’s Quilts. Find out more about Ramona and her books by visiting her online at ramonarichards.com.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Potions Master Scarf: Free Pattern

See this project on Ravelry



In the movie version of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" we see Professor Snape bundled up for a Quidditch match.  He's dressed in black, of course, but I found his ribbed scarf actually handsome.  I searched my stitch libraries for something more exciting than my usual 1x1 or 2x2 ribbing.  I wanted the look of Shaker stitch, but without the yarn-overs and other maneuvers.  Enter Katharina Buss' Big Book of Knitting  and the Fake Shaker Stitch--which I affectionately christened "Faker Stitch."  Done in Lion Brand's "Heartland" worsted, I got a black scarf with a heathery tone rather than a flat black and a cushiony soft texture.


Easy Directions for Potions Master Scarf

Cast on 53 stitches (increase or decrease by multiples of 4 stitches) using whatever needles you like for worsted-weight yarn.  I used U.S. size 7 and two skeins of Lion Brand Heartland.

Row 1 (right side) P1, *K3, P1* repeating ** to last 4 stitches, K3, P1.
Row2 (wrong side) P1, K1, P1, *K3, P1* repeating ** to last 2 stitches, K1, P1.

Continue to desired length. (Mine is about 4 feet long, plus fringe.) For fringe, I cut 12-inch lengths and knotted 10 strands together at even intervals, 13 tassels per end.

You may also buy this scarf on Etsy.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Beginning to Sew?

If you have decided to branch out form knitting or crochet and try your hand at sewing, be advised the variety of machines is bewildering!  Resist getting distracted by all the special features on the high end machines. Even professionals use a simple straight stitch most of the time!

While I have been a lifelong Kenmore seamstress (Mom worked at Sears over 40 year) I found a good review of this Brother CS6 machine.  It looks like it has just the features a beginner wants, such as an automatic needle threader, without many expensive distractions.

A word of advice if you are teaching a child to sew: Don't bother with a toy sewing machine.  A good basic machine such as the Brother I mentioned before is not expensive and will enable the beginner to have a real sewing experience.  Toy sewing machines and knitting machines often break after relatively light use.  By choosing a grown-up model, you can use easy-to-find needles and accessories instead of special toy parts, too.  Treating the learn-to-sew project seriously also shows confidence and promotes successful sewing, which leads to more successful sewing....

Check out the What Rocks site for more reviews, too.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fun Gifts for Knitters from 5amily


Declare to everyone that, "I am a knitting Grandma. Just like a regular Grandma, but way cooler." 5amily has all sorts of delightful products, but as a knitting grandma I like this T-shirt best.  It's preshrunk cotton jersey for comfort and on sale right now for 24.99 (regular 29.99.)
Image from 5amily


Another clever gift for the knitter in your life (maybe yourself?) is a coffee mug that states, "A day without knitting probably won't kill me, but why take the risk?" I have to laugh because I can't remember the last day I did not knit at least a few rows!

Image from 5amily
The 5amily site is full of fun products at great prices, so I wanted to let you know it was out there. St. Valentine's Day may be over, but Mother's Day will be here in May.  And any time is the right time to give a small gift to somebody for no particular reason at all.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Season 18 Scarf Adaptation Done!



Finished scarf, folded many times--it's about 16 feet long


This adaptation of the Season 18 scarf from Doctor Who is shorter (while maintaining proportions in the stripes) and is made of affordable, easily available acrylic worsted instead of the original chenille.  I have no desire to knit with chenille--it requires patience I lack.  I do love the colors and hope to get a good picture in sunlight as soon as I can.  I finished the scarf after dark, so had to make do with artificial indoor lighting.

I used 2 skeins each of : Crafter's Secret in Black Cherry, I Love this Yarn in Terra Cotta, and I Love this Yarn in Purple.  For more info, see this project on Ravelry.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Pattern Testing and Design

Knitters love to try new designs.  When we want to offer those designs to others, however, it is good to have several knitters test a pattern.  I may create something on the fly and make a few notes so I can reproduce the item in the future; Those notes are not enough for someone else to knit the design.

I enjoy testing patterns for designers.  My latest tests were of some slouch hats by Tracie Taggart, aka PETALKNITS. You can buy her patterns on Ravelry.  Shown here is the Madilyn Slouch:


It has a simple, pretty lace pattern around the hem and is quick to knit.  Her many designs include garments for infants, children, and adults.

Testers use the instructions supplied by the designer and follow guidelines for yarn, needles/gauge, etc.  They then offer feedback about errors or ambiguities in the instructions and whether they were able to achieve the proper gauge/finished measurements.  Testers are an important part of the design process, just as proofreaders and editors are for writers.

Links to check out:

PETALKNITS on etsy

FiberFrau on etsy

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Winter Scarf Knitting: Playing with Color


Those who have read my post on the Blue Variant of the Doctor Who scarf  might be interested to know there are enthusiastic scarf knitters creating variants of the famous time lord's scarves all the time.  On the Facebook group Stitches in Time one member has created variants based on the Hogwarts house colors from Harry Potter.  When I saw the black and yellow/gold variant for Hufflepuff, I knew I had to knit one.  Purdue (my alma mater) is having an excellent basketball season and I want a new scarf that celebrates their colors.  

Of course, buying the yarn is half the fun:

I encourage those of you on Facebook to visit the Stitches in Time group and join. You don't need to be a Doctor Who fan--just an enthusiastic crafter! Almost every day someone posts a completed scarf picture, a question, or a tutorial.  Always be learning!  And always have fun!