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41  Sleeping mermaid in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by elderflower on: April 12, 2014 12:29:45 PM
Still working on my cloth doll skills.

Here I was experimenting a bit.  The eyelashes are made from white satin folded double and then the fold was machine stitched with a very small tight zigzag satin stitch. (As for a buttonhole.) Then I frayed the edges to try and make them look like eyelashes – white to match her hair. I don't think it was entirely successful.

The tail was also white satin.  I took two strips and wet them thoroughly and then painted stripes of green, crimson and blue fabric paint and used water to let them run and blend until I liked the look of it. 

After drying, and heat setting by ironing, I quilted the scales in a tail shape.  You can't see it well in the photos but I stitched on the wrong side and used a spool of Gutermann Sparkle Metallic Thread, Aqua shade, underneath so that I would get a glittery outline for the scales.  It sort of worked but I had problems with the thread catching and breaking – maybe my tension was wrong.

The buttons for her shoulder joints are mother of pearl (of course) from my grandmother's button box.
Her wide awake fluffy pet octopus is based on this Octopus  pattern from Red Heart.  I used Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe by Kaffe Fassett and a very small crochet hook – I think a .75mm.

I'm not entirely happy with her face. The profile is too flat and I think I got the proportions wrong but she is  part of the learning curve and I like the way her hands and opposable thumbs turned out.
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42  Fox fur - the vegetarian option in Knitting: Completed Projects by elderflower on: March 23, 2014 12:45:13 PM
I saw this stunning "fox fur" by luckdragon and I just had to make one for myself.  Thank you so much for the link to the pattern luckdragon.  I did alter it a bit to suit my yarn.

I used an eyelash yarn called elle Plumé – 1  x 50g (60m) ball of 501 Zebra for the tail and face (I would have preferred a plain white but choices are limited where I live and I was lucky to find the Zebra which is mostly white), and 2 x 50g (60m) balls of 254 Chimney Smoke for the body on 5 mm needles. Tension was about 18 stitches and 26 rows over 10 cm. (I also used 3 ply black acrylic yarn four strands together for the nose)

I started with the ears.

Garter stitch
Inner ear. Cast on 2 stitches with White. Increase at beginning of each row until there are 11 stitches. put these onto a stitch holder.
Outer ear. Cast on 2 stitches with Brown. Increase at the beginning of each row until there are 12 stitches.
With the inner ear slip alternating stitches of brown and white onto a stitch holder.
Repeat for the other ear and set both ears aside.
Starting with garter stitch in White and 2 stitches increase at both ends of every alternate row until there are 28 stitches.
Change to Brown and continue in garter stitch for another 26 rows.
Next row decrease 6 stitches evenly across the row to give 22 stitches.
30 rows of knit 2 purl 2 rib for the narrow part of the tail.
Next row increase 6 stitches evenly across the row to get back to 28 stitches.
Continue across these 28 stitches in garter stitch for about 80 - 90 rows - measure it against your neck to see when it is long enough.
Adding the ears
On the next row
Knit one, then knit 2 stitches from one ear together with the next stitch (3 stitches together) Repeat until all the ear stitches have been knitted off ( the last ear stitch will be on its own so you only knit 2 together. Knit 2 stitches.  Take the second ear and knit the next stitch together with the first ear stitch.  Then knit 2 stitches from the ear together with one from the body until all the ear stitches have been knitted off.  Knit last stitch.  Make sure that the inner ear is facing away from the tail as you do this.
I knitted  the face in garter stitch using this chart.  I hope it is self explanatory. You start decreasing on every alternate row in the brown and then add in the white on either side as you continue to decrease at both ends of every alternate row. So you end up with a long brown nose and white cheeks.

The four rows of four stitches for the nose are done in stocking stitch using 4 strands of black acrylic 3 ply.
(I got the graph paper from  http://www.tata-tatao.to/knit/matrix/e-index.html  A wonderful site where you input your tension and it creates a graph paper that you can print out and use for designing motifs directly.)
Once you have finished the last black row change to white again and garter stitch and increase at each end of next and every alternate row until there are 28 stitches. Cast off.

Fold the face and stitch underneath the row where you joined in the ears.
Sew the fronts of the ears to the backs.
Sew two buttons for eyes.
Wrap the fox around your neck and slip the tail through the mouth.

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43  Cottage Teacosy in Knitting: Completed Projects by elderflower on: March 16, 2014 04:51:31 AM
This year the theme for our Needlecraft Guild annual competition  is Out of Africa.
So for the knitting and crochet category I decided to do a variation of the knitted cottage tea cosy by taking inspiration from traditional Ndebele thatched cottages.

This is the front.

And this is the back.

I hadn't much experience with intarsia before and I wouldn't like to attempt it on a larger piece. 
You can see from this picture I took when I was part way through the back wall how many balls of wool I was using at one time.

I used butterfly bobbins as they were much easier to use than yarn wound on cards etc.
I knitted front and back separately and grafted them at the roof.

The reason for making the tea cosy in this shape is because the rules of the competition say the work must measure at least 30 x 30 cm and, although it is more than 30 cm wide, if I had stitched the sides together it would only have been 25 cm tall.  So I have used horn toggles and crochet loops to fasten the sides and this also means it can fit a range of teapot shapes.
I used 3ply yarn double on 3mm needles for the patterned side, switching to 3 ¾ mm needles for the roof, and for the lining I used chunky yarn on 6mm needles.  The reason for the odd mix of yarns is that I was using up all kinds of oddments and I happened to have a couple of balls of chunky yarn that I wanted to finish off.
I attach a pdf of the charts I used and instructions  in case anyone else wants to make one.  The charts are working drawings so not entirely complete or finished as I didn't bother to draw a motif that was repeated twice but just copied the one I had already done.
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44  Re: Embellished Quilt Square in Needlework: Completed Projects by elderflower on: March 08, 2014 04:04:53 AM
Thanks for the kind comments.  Unfortunately I already handed it in so I can't take any more photos yet.
But I re-cropped one of my earlier ones to show slightly more detail although the camera seems to have trouble focussing on glittery thread and beads.
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45  Embellished Quilt Square in Needlework: Completed Projects by elderflower on: March 07, 2014 11:09:54 AM
I really don't know where to put this. The butterflies are crochet, the caterpillar is bullion stitch with a bead eye and the whole thing is going to be part of a quilt. 

Our Needlecraft guild is having an exhibition this year and one of our members is making a quilt to raffle.  She handed out squares of floral printed fabric for us to embellish and return to her by next Thursday.  This is my contribution.

The butterflies were crocheted in single strands of DMC floss. The red and purple glitter is E130, the silvery blue is E317 (5287) and the white is luminous E 940.  I didn't get a picture of it in the dark. The pattern is by Apak.
You can't actually see it very well, but for the butterfly feelers I just tied a thick knot in the starting and finishing ends of the thread they were made from.
The bodies are three long stitches of five stranded floss couched down in the middle to separate the abdomen and thorax.
 I have to say that although they are small it was a lot of work to crochet these. One of the hardest parts was separating out the single strands as I did not want to have to join any thread so it had to be continuous. Also the glitter thread is quite hard to work with at the best of times and the luminous floss kept catching on any slightly rough skin on my fingers.

The caterpillar is bullion stitched in single stranded DMC 4050 with a tiny green glass bead eye.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else does and I'll try and post a picture of the finished quilt and some of the other squares here too.
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46  bethntim's chocolate mayonnaise cake in Dessert by elderflower on: October 20, 2013 01:49:11 PM
Just to say how thrilled I was at the way this cake turned out.  I normally have no luck with cakes.  Unless it is a very rich fruit cake they always collapse in the centre.  I do keep trying new recipes all the time but without great hope.  They usually taste great but, without exception, flop.  Sad

But for our Silver wedding anniversary I made bethntim's mayonnaise cake and it was wonderful, such a success. I didn't have a ring cake tin so instead used two victoria sandwich tins. Also I used self-raising flour.  As you can see all this did not affect the success of the recipe. It rose beautifully and was so moist and chocolatey. I can't praise it enough.  At last I have found a cake that works.

Many many thanks bethntim.
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47  Polish star cafetière cosy in Crochet: Completed Projects by elderflower on: October 20, 2013 12:17:58 PM
The larger cosy was my entry in the crochet section of our Needlework guild annual competition in May. The theme was stars. The smaller cosy was a practice for the bigger one.

This is not done in proper Polish Star stitch.  I changed the way of doing it to make it easier (for me) but it still uses the same basic technique of weaving the loops to achieve the same star effect.

For anyone who wants to try this I have attached a pdf pattern. I had to include a lot of pictures in order to show the method of weaving the loops.  It is a bit complicated until you get the hang of it so I hope you can follow my instructions.  Other people have posted videos of the weaving of the loops on the web which may be easier to understand.

Also, although I took pictures as I went along - mainly for my own records - I didn't write down the method until afterwards so I hope there are not too many glaring errors.
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48  Star pillowcases in Needlework: Completed Projects by elderflower on: October 14, 2013 01:37:30 PM

A pair of pillow cases were my entry for the embroidery section of our Needlecraft Guild annual competition earlier this year.  The theme was "Stars"

I was inspired by the geometric string art designs of my schooldays.    Since this involved counted thread work I used waste canvas to stitch them on the cotton pillowcases.

A few in-progress pictures

The white thread in the centre of some stars is DMC glow in the dark floss.
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49  Re: Quivers in Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General by elderflower on: September 08, 2013 11:10:25 AM

...it would be nice to see one in action with the arrows inside...I am still not quite sure how it is carried...

Finally got my son to send me a couple of pictures of one of his club mates using one of the quivers.

My son made wire clips that hook the nylon cord to the archer's belt or waistband.
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50  Dimples and Opposable Thumbs in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by elderflower on: August 31, 2013 11:40:23 AM

I wanted to move on from the cloth dolls I have made from socks and try some new techniques.  In particular I wanted to have a go at a method of defining the mouth shown in Sunnhild Reinckens' book Stoffpuppen Wie Kinder Sie Lieben.  And also a way of making thumbs opposable that my mother told me of some years ago. 
Of course the day I decided I wanted to do this I had no suitable fabric in the house except a pair of sleeves cut off a blue t-shirt that I'd turned into a vest.  Being impatient I didn't want to wait and buy some fabric just for something that was going to be experimental and might not turn out well at all. 

These photos show how I stitched the inner head to give the face a bit more shape than the usual Waldorf type face.

All the body parts are marked onto the fabric using templates and stitched before cutting out. The pattern for the hands is squared off instead of rounding over the fingertips.

The opposable thumbs are done by stitching the arm seams including the thumb,  but  leaving the finger tips open. You may be able to see that in the photo above. Then you fold the tube of the arm/hand so that the seams move  to become the lines demarcating the little finger  on one side and the index finger on the other (instead of being directly opposite each other)

This pulls the thumb round into the palm. You have to make sure before you sew that you don't make two left or right hands Roll Eyes

My sewing of the fingers isn't all that neat.

The shoulders and hips are button jointed so she/he can be posed a bit.

In the end I thought he/she turned out quite cute if an odd colour.
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