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41  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Advent Wreath on: November 27, 2011 03:42:56 AM
I made my Advent wreath yesterday. 

I used branches cut from cypress trees in our garden and twisted them together until they made a firm ring.

I added in  a few sprigs from our one blue cypress because it gave a nice bit of colour and it also had little green flowers/seed heads.

Then I bound it all with a "ribbon" that I cross stitched years and years ago for exactly this purpose.

All the decorations have memories attached.

1) and 2)  These are miniature Christmas books given to me long ago by a good friend.
3) This is a miniature nativity from Guatemala. My mother brought it back for me from a year's volunteering she did there after she finished her chemotherapy.
4)  The straw stars from Germany were given me by my late grandmother and the sisal angels from another dear friend.

Although I will be using candles with this I also twisted  a set of battery operated miniature L.E.D. lights among the branches and these were given to me as a parting gift by a friend who always used to spend Christmas with us but has now emigrated.

The little hessian boys and girl I made a long time ago following the instructions in the book Modelling in Hessian by Margaret Hutchings and the lovely leather camels were brought back from Dubai by my husband several years ago.  The little wire scooter the girl is riding on was made locally by a street vendor.  (With her skirt she can't really sit on a camel. Tongue)

Looking forward to seeing everyone else's Advent Wreaths.
42  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Asymmetric knitted cardigan on: November 25, 2011 09:57:33 AM
I bought this cotton yarn as a pack of five skeins  from a lady who spins it herself.  I loved the colours.  The pack came with a pattern for a scarf or hat but I decided I wanted to try and make a cardigan/jacket. 

I hate sewing up seams in knitting so I started from the neck with about 51 stitches.  I used 10 mm circular needles and, apart from the 4 stitches on each front edge, it was all just  "Wool Round Needle Knit Two Together"  on the odd rows and Purl on the even ones.  On the Purl rows I also increased by two stitches on each side of where I wanted  each armhole to be so each purl row increased the total number of stitches by 8.

When I thought the yoke was long enough and the armholes wide enough I switched to just knitting the armhole stitches - until the sleeves were as long as I wanted them to be.  After the sleeves were done I went back to the body and continued with the stitches  for the fronts  and back until the body was as long as I wanted that to be.  I actually only used four of the skeins. 

The interesting thing for me is that the stitch I used   Wool Round Needle Knit Two Together  resulted in this asymmetric effect.   I was quite surprised when I saw what was happening but decided I quite like it. 

I crocheted ties with some left over yarn and when they are fastened you can see the front opening spirals round to my right.

So the asymmetric effect is entirely a function of the stitch I used.  We learn something new every day. Although I guess the experienced knitters probably knew this already .
43  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / shisha embroidered tissue holders on: November 19, 2011 02:29:13 AM
I wasn't sure whether these should go in the needlework category - but they are bags after all.  I made them as presents. 

  This is the first one I made.  It is for a Christmas party gift exchange at the Needlecraft guild I go to.  The back on this one is left plain.

This is the second one for a lady who is having her 80th birthday next week.  I got quite carried away and embroidered the back as well as the front.

I used a cut up CD for the shisha mirrors and two strands of DMC 125 (green), 90 (yellow), 51 (orange), 48 (pink) and 52(purple) variegated floss for the embroidery. The fabric is just some plain calico (left over from lining curtains )
A lot of the stitches were inspired by a recent class in Dorset Featherstitch at our last Needlecraft guild meeting.

I found these  fun and relaxing  as I didn't use a pattern and just embroidered where I thought it looked nice.  I could carry the entire project in a small airline toiletry bag so could take my work with me for sitting around in waiting rooms etc.
This picture also shows the needle book I made in our Dorset Featherstitch class.
44  CLOTHING / Clothing for Curvaceous Craftsters: Completed Projects / Faux spiral skirt (and how I did it) on: September 27, 2011 01:37:23 PM

I had some black print knit fabric and used it to make a simple top  with short dolman sleeves. There was enough left over to make a very  simple straight skirt but I felt it would be too much on its own and needed a plain fabric to complement it.  Also I have always wanted a spiral skirt but
a) they use such a lot of material  and
b) I hate trying to sew inside curves to outside ones to get a flat curve.

(I have been on Craftster long enough to know that I must always take pictures as I go along - partly so I can do it again and also so if it works out I can explain how it was done. So here goes  Tongue)

I have a pattern for an 8 panel skirt and I used it to  create two types of panel. 
I folded each pattern piece in quarters from hem to the edge of the elastic casing of the waistband.  Then on one piece I drew a diagonal line from the halfway mark on one edge to the bottom quarter mark on the other edge.  The other pattern piece I drew diagonal lines from the top quarter to the halfway line and from the bottom quarter line to the hem.  All the lines slope the same way.

This gave me one two-patch panel and one three-patch panel. I added seam allowances and labelled the paper pieces before cutting them out so  I would know which panel they belonged to and where they went on each panel and which way up.
Then I cut out each piece twice from both fabrics so I had two in the plain and two in the patterned of each piece.  It is important that all the pieces face the same way in order to make the spiral, so you can't fold the fabric in half to do it -  as that would give a mirror image which you don't want.
I also labelled each piece of fabric before I took off the paper pattern so as not to get them muddled up.
Then I assembled the pieces alternating the two fabrics so I ended up with four types of panel.  The picture explains it better than I can.
       Joined the panels together in pairs and then joined the pairs together until I had my skirt. 

The waist is just elasticated and I folded under a narrow allowance and did a lettuce edge for the hem.

The obligatory twirly photos.
Now that I have seen how it works out I will probably try it again with more contrasting colours.  I might also try reducing the panel size and making it a 12 or 16 panel skirt.
45  CLOTHING / Clothing for Curvaceous Craftsters: Completed Projects / My Butter Yellow Crochet Dress on: September 20, 2011 12:07:49 PM

I love yellow and when I found some bright yellow crochet cotton I bought two 200 gram balls even though I had no idea what I would use it for. A couple of months ago I saw a nice pattern for a crochet tunic on Ravelry

I liked the stitch - but not the design for the  top of the tunic, so I used a doily pattern from an old Anna Burda as a yoke. 

I first made a chain that would go over my head and joined it into a circle.  Then I did  a row of trebles (UK)  and started the doily pattern at the row which had the same number of stitches - if you see what I mean.  This was made easier by the fact that I was following a chart.  I continued the doily until it was large enough that I could close it under the arms and formed a nice yoke.   It actually ended up almost at my waist.

The next row I did part way round and skipped the bit I wanted to be the armhole and continued on around the back until I came to the next armhole which I skipped again.  I then started the crochet motif for the Ravelry tunic and just carried it on down until I ran out of thread.

I am afraid I didn't think to take any pictures of this process while I was doing it.

I crocheted a chain to be a tie belt and threaded it through around where I want the waist to be. I crocheted circles on the ends to stop them slipping back.

The crochet cotton  is called 3 ply and using a 3.5mm crochet hook the individual motifs for the main body of the dress ended up about 4cm by 4 cm

I see from my pictures that the sleeves/armholes  gape a little  Embarrassed  so I must sew them up a bit. Also I need to make a yellow slip to go underneath.  Otherwise I am really happy with how it turned out.  Being made of crochet it hangs very nicely and is a very flexible garment so I didn't need to have an exact size when I was making it. Tongue
46  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions / knots in thread - rant on: September 19, 2011 01:03:47 PM

If there is one thing that really annoys me it is this sort of thing finding a knot in my thread when I am midway through some top stitching.  On this occasion when I stopped to cut the thread and remove the knot I found another two  knots within a short distance.


Altogether three knots in the space of half a metre.  You wonder what the factory workers are thinking about or maybe they don't sew or at least not with sewing machines and dont realise that you can't run even one knot through a sewing machine needle, let alone three in quick succession.

Of course now I am halfway through the reel, I have long ago discarded the band with the makers name so I can't even vow to never use that brand again.

GRRRR  Angry
47  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Discussion and Questions / Tutorial - Starting a Stitch on: September 10, 2011 01:57:00 AM
On Thursday I went to a demonstration/class in Blackwork, at the Needlecraft Guild I belong to, and the teacher, Dee Appel, showed us how to start a stitch.

It assumes you are using a double strand of embroidery floss.
You first take a single strand which is double the length you want to use.
Fold it in half and thread it onto the needle so that the folded end with the loop is farthest from the needle.

Next you pass it up from below (Fig. 1) and then back down through the next hole (Fig. 2)

Now pass it through the loop at the end of the thread (Fig 3).
   When you pull it up you have a neat first stitch (Fig 4) and no loose end to worry about. 

I thought it was a great idea as I am all in favour of anything that neatens the wrong side of my work.
Maybe this is all old hat to the serious embroiderers out there but it was new  to me.

48  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Nyan cat cell phone slip case on: September 07, 2011 10:16:29 PM

This cell phone case was made for my son who likes Nyan cat.  Although I took in-progress pictures I forgot to take one when it was done so had to get him to take one with his phone and send it to me. 

I was inspired by modgeeks nyan cat cross stitch although the pattern I actually used was by moon princessluna at deviantart.
I copied  the stars from this picture at Know Your Meme

I didn't have any dark blue even weave fabric and I couldn't find any in the shops.  So I used some 18 count  Aida and fused navy blue chiffon to it with iron-on bonding web.  I could still clearly see the holes for making the stitches although  only in good light. 

The Purple and the blue of the rainbow were done by candle light during a power cut and they are very scruffy.  I do not know how our grandmothers managed to sew by candle light.  I certainly cannot.

The colours I used were ones I already had. 
For the rainbow:   Red DMC 666; Orange Semco S.118; Yellow Coats Anchor 290; Green Coats Anchor  number unknown (because the number band is missing); Blue DMC 995; Purple DMC 792
The biscuit:   Fawn outer edge DMC 437;  Base pink unknown make or number;  Sprinkles  Clarks Anchor 842
Cat:   Grey DMC 169; Cheeks Coats Anchor 08; Black outline and features DMC 310;  Eye and Stars  white Clarks Anchor 402

Modgeek complained of puckering of the fabric and I also found this with my first rows of purple and blue. 

I then changed my stitches so that going one way I stitched across and going the other way I stitched down.  The back view shows how the threads form a square  and I think that worked a bit better. Having said which, when it was all finished and I ironed it all the wrinkles disappeared anyway.
For the lining I cut up a hotel shoe polishing mitt.

He didn't want any fastening over the top so I made the case to fit the phone quite tightly as it is only held in place by friction.  I'm tempted to make another one for myself as I like the way it turned out.
49  FIBER ARTS / Weaving: Completed Projects / Another ribbon weave QR code on: September 04, 2011 10:47:46 AM
 Many years ago, soon after we were married, my late mother-in-law bought us this winnowing basket from a street vendor.  She liked the sentiment but also the spelling mistake.
  We also loved  it and it has been beside our front door ever since.

I recently took a ribbon weaving class and, inspired by Trekkys QRcode, I decided to up-date the basket by replicating the message, complete with misspelling, in a ribbon weave QR code. http://azonmedia.com/qrcode-generator was used to create the QR code from the text.

I pinned  a piece of iron-on interlining with the glue side up onto a cardboard base, pinned my white ribbons on top and then wove the black ribbons going the other way.

I found it quite difficult as the QR pattern did not really lend itself to regular weaving.  Some of the white ribbons were left hanging for several rows.  This picture shows where I cheated and cut the black ribbon and attached white to either end just so I could weave it on top of the white to hold it down.  Also the satin ribbon was very slippery and really did not like to stay put if it was not being held down by regular over and under weaving.

When I had finished I ironed the ribbon while it was still pinned, to fix it to the interlining.  I then removed the pins and carefully flipped it over to iron on the reverse side, to make it more secure, and finally used some black satin scraps to make a border.  It is backed with some old calico and the edges are bound with black satin bias tape.  It needs ironing again and I will need to frame it  if I am going to hang it outside next to the original.

The silly thing is that, whereas the basket can be read by anyone even with its misspelling no one in our household has any way of reading the QR code.  Huh  So I don't even know if it has worked.

 Perhaps the old ways were better after all.   Undecided

P.S. The spider is not real. It is a metal work spider my daughter put there to scare me.
50  FIBER ARTS / Weaving: Completed Projects / Ribbon weave evening bag on: August 22, 2011 11:58:47 AM

A few weeks ago I attended a ribbon weaving class and this is the fabric I created. 

I am afraid I havent any pictures of the weaving process as I didnt take my camera.  All the pictures I have were taken after I brought the work home.
Each person used  a base board which was either something like a large 40c by 40 cm cake board, or one made by stapling three layers of corrugated cardboard together.  (Not expanded polystyrene as you need to iron on it afterwards)
Onto this was pinned a 30 by 30 cm piece of iron-on Vilene with the glue side uppermost. 
Then we pinned the ribbons to make the weft (or is it warp I can never remember Undecided) and cut them short before weaving in  the ribbons that go across, using pins to secure the ends of the ribbons.
When we finished we first ironed the ribbons on top with the pins in place and then took out all the pins and carefully removed the piece from the cardboard, flipped it over and ironed on the back to set the  interfacing.
After I got it home I also machined around all four edges to secure it further.

This is the back view showing the iron-on interlining.

I had no idea what to make with it but when I got it home and thought about it for a bit I decided a little evening bag would be nice.  I  lined it with a scrap of black satin I happened to have, and used some leftover ribbon scraps to make little loops for the chain.

  I had to buy the chain and lobster claw catches. The fringe of ribbons happened because there wasnt enough brown ribbon in the kit supplied but that was okay. I think it is pretty that way.

I couldnt decide how to make a fastening so in the end I just left it as it is.  I dont intend to use it for anything important just as an evening bag for holding tissues and a comb perhaps.  If I have to close it I might use something like a butterfly hair clip
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