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11  Halloween / Halloween Decor and Parties / Naartje Candles on: October 31, 2014 11:02:04 AM
I hadn't done anything for Hallowe'en and carving pumpkins takes too long so I made a couple of naarjte candles using this tutorial

She advises using olive oil but I used ordinary cooking oil and it worked just as well. 

It did take a few matches to get started but once it got going it was fine. 
Obviously, as with any naked flame, you make sure it is on a fireproof surface and don't leave it unattended.

I think they would be nice for Christmas too.

12  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Trillium bag on: October 26, 2014 08:21:43 AM
At our last needlecraft guild meeting one of our members, who had recently returned from the UK, gave us a class in these little triangular bags.  She had been introduced to them in England and said they are called Trillium bags over there because they resemble the trillium lily.

I stitched most of my bag in the meeting so I don't have many in progress pictures.
The kits for the bags comprised :
2 equilateral triangles of fabric  -   each  side about 25 cm long
2 pieces of ribbon  35 to 40 cm long for the 2 drawstrings
2 large beads for slipping on the drawstrings.
3 sequins/buttons/beads to decorate the folded down corners.

We took the 2 triangles and put them right sides together and sewed all around leaving a small gap for turning. Then turned right side out and slip stitched or mattress stitched to close the opening.

Then we folded the points down to the outside and stitched them down with sequins/buttons/beads leaving a gap for the drawstrings to run through.

Next step was to fold up each edge of the triangle in half so that the points come together and stitch the edges together using slip stitch or mattress stitch from the corner up to about two thirds of the way so as to leave an opening at the top.

To finish we threaded the drawstrings through the loops at the corners in opposite directions and slipped the large bead over each string and knotted them.

Sliding the bead down the drawstring closes the bag.

I think these will make neat little gift bags and can also be hung on a Christmas tree with gifts inside.  They are a great way to use up scraps of fabric and ribbon and odd beads.  I plan to make several for Christmas.
13  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Knitted outfit for my crochet Bleuette on: August 22, 2014 01:56:15 PM

This is the outfit I made for my Bleuette.  I attach pdf patterns for the jersey, skirt and socks.  The crochet knickers are a modified version (because I only had very thin crochet cotton and a small hook) of the ones on Beth Webber's page I also didn't make them as long.

Everything is knitted in the round on 2 circular needles. This eliminates any seams so the finished garments are less bulky for a small doll.
If you haven't tried using two circulars to knit in the round there is a good explanation of the technique here http://www.weebleknits.net/twocirculars.html  but an internet search will find plenty more resources.

I realise that the pdf files are not accessible to non-members so I include text-only versions below.
Raglan jersey for crochet Bleuette
Knitted in the round from the neck down.  No seams.
2 circular (or 4 double pointed needles) 2.75 mm
Variegated sock yarn  (UK)    
Tension:   33 stitches to 4 inch/10 cm in stocking stitch on 2.75 mm needles
M1   =   Make a stitch by knitting into the loop between stitches. Twist the loop when you do so to avoid making a hole.
K   =   Knit;   P   =   Purl;   sts   =   stitches
The neck needs to be very stretchy to fit over the large head of curly hair.  So the initial cast-on leaves stitches that can be picked up later and knitted with the stitches of the 11th row to make a stretchy hem that looks like a rolled neck.   Knitty has a good tutorial http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall05/FEATfall05TT.html if you don't know how to do this type of cast on.
Yarn   I used self-patterning yarn left over from a pair of socks. I didn't make any effort to get both sleeves the same but if you did it would look much better and more like a proper Fair Isle jersey.  Of course  a plain yarn would also look good.

Rolled Neck
Using the waste yarn/ provisional/ open  cast-on and both circulars, Cast On 40 stitches (20 stitches on each needle)
Knit 10 rounds of  K1 P1 rib
Next row    Release the cast on stitches and with every stitch pick up and Knit or Purl 1 stitch from the cast on row. This makes the rolled neck.
Continue in knit.
Row 1   K1 M1 K8 M1 K1. Repeat all round   48 sts
Row 2 and every alternate row   Knit.
Row 3    K1 M1 K10 M1 K1. Repeat all round   56 sts
Row 5   K1 M1 K12 M1 K1. Repeat all round   64 sts
Row 7   K1 M1 K14 M1 K1. Repeat all round   72 sts
Row 9   K1 M1 K16 M1 K1. Repeat all round   80 sts
Row 11   K1 M1 K18 M1 K1. Repeat all round   88 sts
Row 13 K1 M1 K20 M1 K1. Repeat all round   96 sts
Row 14 Knit
Row 15   Knit

Row 16      Increase in first stitch, Knit 22, increase in next stitch, Slip next 24 stitches onto spare yarn, increase in next stitch, Knit 22, increase in next stitch, slip next 24 stitches onto spare yarn.
Continue in Knit on these 52 stitches for 20 rows or until it is long as you want it.
Finish with 5 rows of Knit 1 Purl 1 rib. Cast off

Sleeves      -   both alike
Re-join yarn and pick up and knit one stitch from the body under the arm, Knit across the 24 stitches on spare yarn, pick up and knit one stitch from the body.
Knit 9 rows on these 26 stitches.
Next row    Decrease one stitch at beginning and end of the round (ie where the underarm seam would be if there was one)
Knit another 9 rows on these 24 stitches
Next row    (Knit 2 Knit 2 tog.) repeat all round       18 stitches
Finish with 3 rows of Knit 1 Purl 1 rib. Cast off
Make another sleeve the same

Pleated skirt for crochet Bleuette
4ply wool   two 2.75 mm circulars
Tension       stocking stitch  29 stitches to 10 cm on 2.75 mm needles
K = knit;    P = purl;   tog = together;   
sts = stitches;   psso = pass slipped stitch over.
Cast on 80  stitches for bottom edge and join the round (40 stitches on each needle)
First 10 rows   (K5 P5) rib
Row 11      Slip 1st stitch (K4 P4 K2 tog) seven times K4 P4. Knit last stitch of round together with first stitch of next row.   (The one that was slipped at the beginning of this row)   72 sts
Row 12      K4 P4 (K5 P4) repeat all round
Rows 13 to 16    (K5 P4) rib
Row 17      (K4 slip 1 K1 psso P3) repeat to end   64 sts
Rows 18 to 20    (K5 P3) rib
Row 21      Slip 1st stitch (K3 slip 1 K1 psso P1 K2tog) seven times, K3 slip 1 K1 psso P1. Knit last stitch together with first stitch of next row (like on row 11).     48 sts
Row 22       K4 P1 (K5 P1) to end
Row 23       (K5 P1) rib
Row 24       (K4 Slip 1 K 1 psso) to end   40 sts
Row 25       Knit
Row 26 and 27    (K1 P1) rib
Cast off.

Toe-up socks for crochet Bleuette
Knitted in the round from the toe up using 2 circular needles.
Two circular  2.75 mm  needles
Variegated sock yarn  4 ply (UK)    
Tension:   33 stitches to 4 inch/10 cm in stocking stitch on 2.75 mm needles
M1  -   Make a stitch by knitting into the loop between stitches. Twist the loop when you do so to avoid making a hole.
K - Knit;  P - Purl; tog - together
Cast on 6 stitches, alternately on 2 needles.  (I used Judy's Magic Cast On. You can find it here http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring06/FEATmagiccaston.html)
Row 1 Knit all round
Row 2   K1 M1 K1 M1 K1. Repeat       [10 stitches]
Row 3 and every alternate row   Knit.
Row 4    K1 M1 K3 M1 K1. Repeat      [14 stitches]
Row 6   K1 M1 K5 M1 K1. Repeat       [18 stitches]
Row 7 Knit
Row 8   K2 M1 K5 M1 K11         [20 stitches]
Row 9 and alternate rows Knit
Row 10   K2 M1 K7 M1 K11         [22 stitches]
Row 12 K2 M1 K9 M1 K11         [24 stitches]
Rows 14 to 19 are on one needle only.  The stitches on the other needle rest until they are knitted again in Row 20
Row 14 K 8 K 2 tog K1 turn
Row 15 Slip 1 purlwise P2 P2 tog P1 turn
Row 16 Slip 1 knitwise K3 K2 tog K1 turn
Row 17 Slip 1 purlwise P4 P2 tog P1 turn
Row 18 Slip 1 knitwise K5 K2 tog K1 turn
Row 19 Slip 1 purlwise P6 P2 tog P1 turn
Row 20 Slip 1 K8 M1 K9 M1(use this to close the hole)
Continue knitting on all stitches  for another 28 rows - or as long as you want it. Finish with 6 rows of K1 P1 rib. Cast off. (I used Jeny's Interlock Bind-off - you can find it here http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEss11/FEATinterlock.php
14  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Crochet Bleuette doll on: August 05, 2014 04:30:58 AM

This pattern comes from the website of the awesome Beth Webber
She has made this pattern available for free here  and she is so helpful in answering any questions you have about it. 
She also has several excellent wig making tutorials.  I used  this one for the wig cap. Although it is for a Waldorf doll it adapts perfectly to Bleuette,
I chose to make the version that has the articulated wrists and ankles as well.  Her instructions are very clear and as I already said she is very generous with her advice on any problems you encounter. She also has lots of other lovely doll and doll clothes patterns - both knit and crochet.

Technical details
I used a 3 mm crochet hook and Vannas Choice yarn by Lion Brand which is one of the yarns she used. The colour I chose was Honey.  I found it worked up very nicely and is nice and soft despite being acrylic and therefore more hardwearing, which is always a consideration when making a childs toy.  I did find that it tended to split easily which was a bit of a nuisance but is obviously related to its softness. A tighter ply would probably have been harsher.
I couldnt find 9 mm doll eyes so substituted 10 mm. They do make it unsuitable for a very small child because they could be chewed out but then I dont think you would give a doll like this to a baby.
The joints were articulated with Double Strong Fishing Twine 210D/2 Ply  in dark brown.
I used some excellent acrylic yarn from a private swap with alwaysinmyroom.  I knitted it double on 6 mm needles -stocking stitch, 28 stitches over 100 rows. This piece was wet and ironed dry to set the curls and then I trimmed off either side and cut down the middle to give separate strands that I could hook into the wig cap.
I made her while on holiday in Almaty.  Although days are filled with sight-seeing, I'd brought Bleuette as something to do in the evenings and was initially stumped as Id forgotten to bring any stuffing with me.  However I found an excellent little craft shop that sold almost everything one could need.

The only stuffing they had was not a type I had ever seen before as it was polyester fibres, but rolled into tight little balls.  However they had several soft toys in the shop that had been filled with it and the crochet fabric of Bleuette is quite thick and strong so I reckoned it would be fine and it was actually much easier to use than normal fibre fill would have been. 
I should add that all these discussions took place with minimal Russian on my part or English on theirs.  I guess crafting is a universal language.  Cheesy

Her clothes are all knitted apart from her bloomers which I made from Beth Webbers pattern.  I adapted it a lot because I only had No. 20 crochet cotton and a 1.5 mm hook. So I increased the number of stitches and also made the legs shorter and did only one row of the love knot lace as I really wanted a pair of short knickers.

Jersey and socks are done in self-patterning yarn left over from a pair of socks. Ill write up patterns for the skirt, jersey and socks as a separate post as this is getting rather long.
15  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Knitted teacosy on: August 05, 2014 01:42:42 AM

I'm on holiday in Almaty and the apartment we are staying in doesn't have a tea cosy for the teapot.  The decor is mostly black and white and neutral so I thought it would be nice to have a bright coloured tea cosy.  I found a wonderful shop selling everything for needle crafting - yarn, fabric, threads etc.  and bought this butter-yellow baby wool mix by Lanoso.
The wool is about a 4 ply I guess - stocking stitch gauge on 4-4.5 mm needles is 19 stitches and 26 rows to 10 x 10 cm. I didn't want to buy knitting needles but I had a 6 mm circular so worked out a pattern using what I had.

To fit a teapot that is about 45 cm round and 17 - 18 cm high.
   Materials used
Yarn  Lanoso Baby Wool 40 % wool, 60 % acrylic   2 x 50 g balls
6 mm needles
3 mm crochet hook to make a chain to thread through the top
K - knit; P - purl; K inc - knit twice in next stitch; K 2 tog - knit next 2 stitches together; wrn - wool round needle (to make a stitch with a hole)

Two sides both alike.
Side one
Using two strands of yarn together (one from each ball) cast on 36 stitches and knit 3 rows of K1 P1 rib.
1st garter stitch row   -   K2 with doubled yarn then [with yarn from ball A (K1, K inc) twice; with yarn from ball B (K1, K inc) twice] repeat to the last 2 stitches, K2 with both strands together again.         [52 stitches]
   Carry the unused yarn across the wrong side of the piece. Don't pull it too tight or leave it too loose. I found my strands were about 2.5 to 3 cm long and that worked fine.

2nd garter stitch row   -   K2 with doubled yarn, (K 6 with yarn from ball A, K 6 with yarn from ball B) repeat to the last 2 stitches, K2 with doubled yarn.

Repeat this row until the tea cosy is tall enough, about 36 more rows.

1st decrease row   -   K2 with doubled yarn, (K 2, K 2 tog, K2 with yarn from ball A, K 2, K 2 tog, K2 with yarn from ball B) repeat to the last 2 stitches, K2 with doubled yarn.   [44 stitches]
2nd decrease row   -   K2 with doubled yarn, (K 5 with yarn from ball A, K 5 with yarn from ball B) repeat to the last 2 stitches, K2 with doubled yarn.
3rd decrease row   -   K2 with doubled yarn, (K 2, K 2 tog, K1 with yarn from ball A, K 2, K 2 tog, K1 with yarn from ball B) repeat to the last 2 stitches, K2 with doubled yarn.   [36 stitches]
4th decrease row   -   K2 with doubled yarn, (K 4 with yarn from ball A, K 4 with yarn from ball B) repeat to the last 2 stitches, K2 with doubled yarn.
5th decrease row   -   K2 with doubled yarn, (K 1, K 2 tog, K1 with yarn from ball A, K 1, K 2 tog, K1 with yarn from ball B) repeat to the last 2 stitches, K2 with doubled yarn.   [28 stitches]
6th decrease row   -   K2 with doubled yarn, (K 3 with yarn from ball A, K 3 with yarn from ball B) repeat to the last 2 stitches, K2 with doubled yarn.
7th decrease row   -   K2 with doubled yarn, (K 2 tog, K1 with yarn from ball A, K 2 tog, K1 with yarn from ball B) repeat to the last 2 stitches, K2 with doubled yarn.         [20 stitches]
8th decrease row   -   K2 with doubled yarn, (K 2 with yarn from ball A, K 2 with yarn from ball B) repeat to the last 2 stitches, K2 with doubled yarn.
9th decrease row   -   with doubled yarn K2 K 2 tog repeat to last 2 stitches K2

Continue with doubled yarn
next row    K2 (wrn K2 tog) repeat to last 2 stitches, K2
next row   K2 (K1, P1) repeat to last 2 stitches, K2
last row   K2 (P1, K1) repeat to last 2 stitches, K2

Cast off.
Make another side the same and then stitch the side seams together at top and bottom leaving gaps for spout and handle. 
Crochet a chain (about 44 cm/100 chains on a 3mm hook) to thread through the holes at the top and tie off.

And here it is adding a splash of colour to the apartment  Smiley
16  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Dolls from old nylons on: June 28, 2014 01:44:27 AM

Looking on the internet for new doll making techniques I came across this lovely video tutorial by Chyiin.
It doesn't matter if you can't understand Chinese because her video demonstration is so good.
The technique is intended to be used on short nylon socks but works well with any nylons.

These little dears are so quick to make.  Easily done in a leisurely half hour.  I don't think they are really suitable as toys for small children but I love the cute little faces and how quick they are to do with a few stitches.
There are also more instructions for similar dolls at https://picasaweb.google.com/116996913647993481187/CandySockDollies#

A great way of using up old stockings and tights although for  the first one I made the girl in pink the nylons were perhaps a bit too old.
17  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Daisy - stitch sampler and colour wheel on: June 24, 2014 11:46:47 AM
I belong to a Needlecraft Guild which meets once a month.  A year ago we started on these daisies.  Everyone had a square of fabric and copied the daisy design.  Then each month someone would demonstrate a new stitch to be used to fill in one of the petals.
Everyone interpreted this differently.  Some used one colour palette throughout. Some used a variegated thread.  Some made theirs to match their home colour scheme.  I chose to make mine a colour wheel as well as a sampler.

It has been a great learning experience and I have discovered several great new stitches that I would probably not have thought of trying. 
I used to think I hated satin stitch  - however I have discovered that my feelings for satin stitch are mild and benevolent compared with my loathing and utter detestation of bullion stitch.  I completed that petal and if I never set another bullion stitch it will be too soon.

It is signed in the centre using with my initials and the year in french knots. But I used Glow-in-the-dark-thread so you can only see it in the dark.
I haven't decided what to do with it yet. One lady turned hers into a clock but that would mean cutting out the centre.

Details of the stitches used

1 Variations on Herringbone stitch
2 Trellis work
3 Triangular seed stitch
4 Raised stem stitch
5 Bullion stitch   6 Net stitch
7 Portuguese stem stitch   8 Sheaf stitch
9 Feather stitch
10 Chain stitch variations
11 Pekinese stitch 12 Sprat's head stitch
Centre - French knots and beads
18  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Sophie and Doufi on: June 12, 2014 01:13:32 AM
This is my entry in the Miscellaneous/Mixed media section of our Needlecraft guild annual competition, Intermediate category.  The theme is Out of Africa.

Starting out I just planned to make a traditional reversible rag doll, like one I had from Swaziland when I was little, but I kept getting ideas and adding things.  Sophie, with her apron (entirely hand sewn because the power was off and I needed to get it finished) and  bonnet,  looked a bit like an  old-fashioned Boeremeisie (Afrikaans farm girl).  So I made her a slate in her apron pocket for doing her school work.
Sophie's apron has drawn thread work at the hem and on the pocket took me ages. I don't know why I decided it would be a good idea.

And it occurred to me how much our modern tablets/iPads  etc. resemble the slates of my childhood in shape and size - So Doufi became the 21st century African girl and she has an iPad and a  computer bag to keep it in.

Sophie's future might have been "Kinder, Kuche, Kirche" but Doufi could end up Prime Minister.

Back Views

Both Together

Technical details
IPad and slate
I used old X-ray film for the iPad screen and, although at first I was going to paint the slate, in the end I used X-ray film for that too.  The piece of "slate" is actually a thin slice of balsa wood sandwiched between two pieces of X-ray. The frame either side is also balsa wood old scraps left over from when my husband and his brother were boys and used to make model aeroplanes.

Concealed Joints
The arms are button jointed, like previous dolls, but this time I wanted to conceal the buttons. 

So I made an inner arm of calico identical to the outer arm but minus the thumb. (1) It was stuffed firmly and the outer "skin" of cotton jersey - with the thumb already stuffed - fitted over it.
I have tried to show in the pictures that the button was stitched to the calico arm and inside the skin  on the side that is away from the body;  but the thread then passes through the skin that is against the body (2). It does the same in reverse for the other arm (3) and is tied off on the second button (4).  I put a little stuffing to cover the button inside (5) and give a smoother finish to the arm.  The outer skin is mattress/ladder stitched to finish off (6).


I also tried a new technique for the hair.  Both dolls have a crocheted wig base with strands of 3 ply acrylic yarn hooked through it using a rug making latch hook.  In Doufi's case the yarn was first knitted up double 100 rows over 31 stitches.  The piece was then wet and ironed dry to set the curls. Then I cut off both edges which gave me 200 strands of curly hair.
Next time I will make the crochet base denser.  It needed a lot of hair  to make sure the scalp didn't show through.

Gele or African Headdress
The traditional ways of tying Gele are a bit bulky for doll size so I used a matching satin ribbon to edge the piece of fabric and added two ties for tying.
19  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Ribbon embroidered garden on: June 05, 2014 12:02:48 PM

I was given this kit as a Christmas present in December 2010. I'd never done any ribbon embroidery before so I went to embroidery class once a week and took about a year to finish it. 
I have to say it is one of the easiest ways to do flowers and much quicker than any thread work. It also often makes a more realistic flower and foliage.  The  silk ribbon is not cheap but it does cover the picture very quickly.

The reason I am only posting it now is that it has taken me this long to getting around to mounting it and having it framed. Roll Eyes

Here are a couple of close-ups of different parts of the picture.

The little half flower pot was bought extra. It was stuffed with nylon stocking and then embroidered with turkey knots before being attached to the picture.
20  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Cloth Doll in White and Green on: May 25, 2014 10:49:04 AM

I am continuing to experiment with cloth dolls.   For this one I used a different technique for the hair.  Instead of stitching each double strand from the crown to the hairline and back to the crown I reversed this and went from hairline to crown and back to hairline. Then swept the hair up into a ponytail.  I think it gives a fuller hairstyle and frames the face more softly.

I also experimented with making shoes.  I found that difficult but perhaps I shouldn't have used satin.

As in a previous doll, she has opposable thumbs and I used button joints to make the arms and legs moveable.
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