Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Inspiration - Liz Cooksey

As someone who enjoys working in many different forms of fiber art, I'm always looking for ways to combine them.  UK artist Liz Cooksey creates collages on metal that do this wonderfully!  

Weaving, embroidery, crochet, knitting, dyeing ... she seems to have it all!  See many more of her pieces on her website here.

I'll be spending next week playing with Henry - see you in March!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lace Knitting and the Tornved Shawl

In keeping with my resolution this year to expand my knitting skills, I've been working on lace knitting!  And after a little bit of three steps forward, two steps back, I think I've got it down.  I've been working on a simple lace scarf that uses teeny, tiny yarn that causes me to have to take breaks, but one was a lot more complicated and necessitated some new strategies!

The pattern is Tornved by Karina Westermann and is on Ravelry here.  I love this shawl!  There are several more in my future!  As far as being a good beginning lace project .... sort of.  I did fine with most of it, searched for YouTube videos for the few terms I wasn't sure of, and just used trial and error on a few steps that I couldn't quite visualize.  It worked!

So what are the strategies I used?  The first was the use of "life lines" - and believe me, I used these several times!  A life line is basically a safety line so that when you get confused or lose your place (happens easily in a lace chart), you can frog back to the life line (a place you know where you are) instead of starting entirely over.  After the first time of using this, I began putting in life lines every few rows!  I used size 10 crochet thread and a darning needle to place it under the stitches on my needle - leave large tails hanging out the ends as it tends to pull into the knitted piece.  JLYarnworks has some good pictures of the process - including one of what happens if you put the life line through the stitch marker.  I should've found this site before I used my first life line - that's exactly what I did and found it causes large pains later!

A couple more strategies I found helped are sticky notes, stitch markers, and counting.  I used the sticky note under the repeat of the row I was currently on to help me keep my place.  The stitch markers were to help me make sure I had knitted the correct stitches - I placed one after each repeat (rotating with two of them) and then both counted the stitches and checked to make sure they were the correct stitches.  Yes, this took a little more time, but saved me from having to take out a couple of rows of knitting several times.  Counting served the same purpose.  I counted at the end of each half row - and several times found that something had happened to a yarn over.  Much easier to tink (unknitting) back to that spot than wait and discover it a couple of rows later.  You can see on my instruction sheet how I kept track of how many stitches should be in a half row!

And here's the wonderful finished shawl!!  I used Dream in Color Smooshy in Raspberry Blaze.  My photos don't really show how beautiful this yarn is - here's a photo from Eat.Sleep.Knit where I ordered it from online.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Inspiration - Year of the Sheep

Happy Year of the Sheep!!  I've been getting inspired by so many sheep designs!  Here are some of the free patterns I've been looking at:

For knitters, there's this darling Shaun the Sheep by Magni Flyum,

a gorgeous sheep yoke baby cardigan by Jennifer Little,

and this cute sheep backpack by Tatyana Fedorova.

For those who prefer crochet, these little sheep are too precious!  Designed by Kristi Randmaa, they are found here.

There's also these warm little coffee cosies by Denise de Lelys

and a counting sheep afghan from Lion Brand's site.

If you're still looking for inspiration, check out my sheep design that I used for a silk painted scarf

and sheep embroidered kitchen towels.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Inspiration - Heart Time!

Happy Valentine's Day!  I was too crazy busy this year to make anything new for the holiday, but am thinking I should find ways to incorporate hearts year long.  Here are some inspirations I found:

Lori Kennedy's heart motif she uses in free motion quilting would be fun on several of the quilting projects I have in mind.  More information (and some other very inspiring motifs) are on her blog here.

Debbie Henry has a good article on creating a crazy heart applique that would look great as a patch.  The free tutorial is here on Craftsy.

Maxine Miller's gorgeous crocheted heart doily works nicely for year round decor - or will in my house!  The free pattern is here.

And this fun felt tic tac toe game was designed by Camilla and can be found on her First Lady of the House blog here.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Project Bags

For quite awhile, I've been meaning to sew up some project bags - something to keep my knitting, crochet, or embroidery in that keeps it together, safe, and looking nice.  Pretty much anything would have been a step up from what I've been using .... Ziploc bags!  Don't get me wrong, I love Ziplocs but you do have to admit that they don't make very classy project bags!

Besides just how my works in progress look, there's been another development that's made it a bit more imperative to get them made.  The "kittens" (who are now 10 months old, very large, and not kittens any longer but are stuck with the handle) have fallen in love with yarn.  They're pretty hard on whatever they decide to love and several skeins and projects I'm working on have bitten the dust.  Since they can see right through Ziplocs, they know yarn is in there, chew their way in, and liberate the wonderful "toys."  It's a good thing they're so cute....

On to the new project bags ....

*about 1/3 yard fabric
*about 1/3 yard lining - I like a light color so I can easily see what's inside, so I use white muslin
*large decorative button

Cut two 11 x 14 inch rectangles from the main fabric and the lining.  Sew around three sides of the main fabric with a 1/4 inch seam and leaving one of the shorter sides open for the top.  Fold under 1/4 inch around the top and iron.

To make a box bottom, pick up the bag and fold the bottom up on one side so that it forms a triangle - make sure the two seams (bottom and side seams) match.  Draw a straight line two inches from the point of the triangle - if you have a marked cutting mat, line one edge of the triangle up along the 45 degree marking.  Sew along the pencil line and trim.  I got the photos below in the wrong order - the middle picture is first, the first picture is second, and the third is really third and in the correct spot!

Repeat with the lining fabric.

Leave the lining with the seams on the outside and insert it into the main fabric bag, adjusting so that the seams all match.  Fold the top of of the outside bag over the top of the lining and sew a bit up from the folded edge.

To make the tab, cut two 3 x 6 inch rectangles from the main fabric.  Put right sides together and fold long wise in half.  Using a small circle (I used a custard cup), draw an arc at one end.  Cut along the drawn line.

Sew together with a 1/4 inch seam, leaving the top open.  Turn inside out and press, turn under edges of the open end and press.  Make a button hole near the curved end of the tab.  Line up the tab in the middle of one side of the bag's top so that the tab goes over the bag about two inches.  Sew close to the edges of the tab to attach to the bag.

Sew button on in the middle of the other side of the bag, right below the top sewing lines.

And your project bag is finished!

Much nicer looking!

And here's the finished project that got to use it first - a vest for Henry! 

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Inspiration

If you're in need of a mid-winter pick me up, here are four patterns that might fit the bill!

These lace balloons from Instructables can be used as decorations or decked out with light fittings for cheery light.

If there are two flowers that remind me most of summer, it would have to be poppies and roses.  Di van Niekerk's corn poppies ...

and the ribbon roses from would brighten up the grayest winter day!  Both free tutorials includes lots of photos.

Finally, Drops Designs has free patterns for these scrumptious but no calorie goodies.  Some sparkly bead "sprinkles" would be a perfect addition.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dogwood Spring Table Runner

Okay .... if you're one of the millions snowed in, what better project to work on than something that reminds you spring WILL come?!  Of course, if you're snowed in, you probably can't get to a fabric store, but if you're like me and have a huge, huge stash you might be able to come up with something from that.

I used a pattern created by Marie Seroskie that I picked up awhile ago at my local quilting shop.  Actually I used it for the background and the leaf, branch, and blossoms, but after that I went my own way!  If you'd like this pattern, it's available here.

Except for one of the tan background fabrics, I used batiks and fabrics that looked like they'd been ice dyed.  You don't need very much for the blossoms, leaves, and stems - fat quarters would work well.

The background is pieced in a quilting pattern I can't seem to locate - almost like a bear claw, but with fewer claws.  I used a lite fusible web to attach the pieces, sewed around them with a small zigzag stitch, and then did a little thread sketching to add some texture.

I've been doing a lot of stitch in the ditch on my quilting lately, so I decided to free motion quilt this one.

The pattern has pink scalloped edges and scalloped ends - I went with just regular edges and no extra pink to keep it from getting too frilly for my dining room.  I just bound the edges with seam binding.

Happy Creating!  Deborah