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11  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Somerset Star pot holders or hot mats on: June 04, 2015 11:34:46 AM
At one of our monthly Needlecraft guild meetings a few months ago we had a tutorial on these Somerset stars.  Our committee members had put together kits of ready cut pieces in lovely fabrics. The kits were $3 each for guild funds and were very popular. Lots of people wanted more than one kit.  I ended up making 3 of them.  

It is a very simple pattern and can mostly be done by hand. The only word of warning I have is to be wary of using thicker fabrics particularly on the pieces that will be around the edge.  My dark blue with the pink bias edge had thick chintz pieces for the outer edge and although they were a very pretty pattern they were murder to sew through all the thicknesses. And I had to stretch the bias tape; as you can see it does not look very neat at all.

This is a great way to use up scraps of leftover fabric from other projects.

(The pictures jump around between the three stars as I didn't always remember to take in-progress photos for every stage.)
Two Circles: Cut one large 19 cm or 7 inch diameter circle in any plain fabric such as calico, to be the foundation.  Cut another large circle in pretty fabric to be the back of the Somerset Star.
Optional : Cut one small circle (9 cm or 3 inches diameter) in pretty fabric. This will go in the middle on top of the foundation circle and underneath the central four points to show through any gaps between the central points.
Oblongs (20 altogether):
small  10.5 by 6 cm (4 ⅛ by 2 ⅜ inches)
medium    11.5 by 8.25 cm ( 4 by 3 inches)
large  13 by 10 cm (4 by 5 inches)
In three contrasting fabrics:
Cut four of the smallest oblong and 8 each of the two larger oblongs.  Using different fabrics emphasises the star especially if you choose alternating dark and light or patterned and plain fabric.
Tack or pin the small circle to the centre of the foundation circle.

Fold each  rectangle in half lengthways and then fold to a point in the middle.  I tacked mine down but you could probably get away with just ironing them flat.

The small circle is pinned to the centre of one of the large circles and then the four smallest points are placed in the middle with the tips  meeting in the centre. Catch each tip down in the centre with one or two tiny stitches.  Catch the pieces down again at the centre fold of each point and where the edge of each point touches another.
The picture shows the centre points stitched in place with the second layer being pinned into position.

Pin the medium points with their tips about 1.5 cm ( inch) out from the tips of the centre points. The tips lie along the folds or between the edges of the centre points and can either overlap clockwise/anti-clockwise or in an alternating pattern. These are caught down with tiny stitches at the tips, folds and edges.

The last layer of the large points is again placed 1.5 cm out from the tips of the medium points and caught down as before.

The square edges of the large points will stick out beyond the edge of the circle.

This picture shows the back of the work after all the points are stitched down and before the overhanging edges have been trimmed off.

Tack or pin the backing circle to the back of the foundation circle and trim off the overhanging edges of the last layer of points.

Machine stitch bias tape around the edge on the front and finish off with small hemming stiches on the back.

I attach a pdf of the templates.
12  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions / What is the best needle to use for a seam that varies widely in bulk? on: May 25, 2015 03:31:01 AM
I needed to sew a double welt pocket with flap in a pair of stretch denim breeches.
The final seam starts out on a double layer of lining fabric but then goes up and through the clipped corner and end of welts which amounts to about 8 layers of stretch denim, plus interfacing as well as the lining fabric.
The very thick layers needed a size 110 needle as anything less would break, but this size would have punched huge holes in my satin lining fabric.
I ended up changing needles part way through the seam on both sides of the pocket but it was messy and I wish I knew a better way to do it.  The pattern of course, while full of helpful diagrams was absolutely silent on that sort of practical advice.

This picture shows how untidy the whole thing turned out even though I tacked the seam by hand first.  It was very difficult dealing with both the slippery lining and the very bulky stretch denim.

I'd love to know how the professionals manage.
13  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Asymmetric Cowl in the 'Hunger Games' style - now with pattern on: May 24, 2015 01:50:04 AM
My son is on the committee of his University  Archery club.  At the beginning of the year they had a kind of fair for all the new first years to see what clubs are available. For the Archery club some of the members manning the stall wanted to dress up a bit and I offered to knit an asymmetric cowl like the one from the Hunger Games film.
I had to make up the pattern (and guess at the sizing since I didn't know who was going to wear it) I couldn't find any large gauge circular needles in my local shops but, inspired by this craftster tutorial, I got my son to make me a pair.

It all worked out in the end and I also learned a new stitch Herringbone stitch which is very attractive.

This is the young lady who dressed up as the character from the Hunger Games.

And this my circular 13 mm(-ish) needle.

I started writing the pattern down as I was going along but find I have forgotten one or two  things so I'll work on those and try and get a pattern up here later.

Okay. I have added the pattern as a pdf file attachment. I realise that this means only Craftster members can see it or download it but it is really  much too long to put in this post as it also has several pictures to illustrate things.
14  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Stitcher's Alphabet on: May 17, 2015 07:22:53 AM
This was my entry for this year's Needlecraft Guild competition. We were having a fun competition this time to celebrate our 25th anniversary. So the theme was just '25' and people interpreted it anyway they wanted.
I decided to do an alphabet using the Gothic Alphabet which has 25 letters, making one letter do the job of 'I' and 'J'.

Technical details
Most of the squares came from the wonderful Stitcher's Alphabet by Brooke Nolan at http://www.brookesbooks.com/CrossStitchFreebies.html 

I had to design the I/J square myself of course, as hers was a 26 letter alphabet. I made a filet crochet Gothic I/J in variegated blue machine thread.  I stitched it into the centre of the square, first with a blue cross stitch that was pretty invisible and then with the decorative stitching and then I cut away the fabric behind the crochet. (And used lots of Fray Check because I just didn't trust my join).  Around the crochet I drew out threads and wove them back into the fabric at the corners and inserted a 2mm wide silk ribbon.

I also made a different design for 'O' as she had O for Over-dyes and I thought O for Openwork was more interesting although I did use over-dyed thread for the Hardanger. It was also a more difficult square  as aida-type fabric is really not the best for cut work.  Again I used a lot of Fray Check. 

The upper case letters I got from a sampler my grandmother did in the 1920s at a college for missionaries' wives.  Her work didn't have all the letters so I had to design  some in a similar style.  The lower case letters in the title are from an antique DMC booklet 'Bibliothèque D.M.C. - Alphabet de la Brodeuse' downloaded from  http://www.antiquepatternlibrary.org/

The hem has mitred corners and is done in what is called by some, Danish hemstitch.  There is a picture of the stitch here.  https://theshopsampler.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/new-years-resolution-so-far-so-good/blackwork-danish-2a/

The fabric I used is not actually proper Aida. I've no idea where I got it from as it has been in my fabric hoard for years. The thread count is wider than it is long which worked out okay because the individual images were actually oblong so in my version they came out more square.

I include thumbnails for all the other letters in case anyone else is doing this design, because when I was stitching this I would have liked to have been able to look at clear pictures of how some of the designs would look when completed.  I did change some colours and I didn't use as much beading as the pattern called for because sewing on beads takes forever and I got bored with it Wink

15  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Red-checked apron with crochet motifs. on: December 08, 2014 06:38:18 AM

I made this as a gift for our Needlecraft Guild Christmas dinner where we each bring a hand-made gift and these are randomly assigned to guests.
The fabric is not a true gingham but a fabric printed to look like gingham.
The hem is finished with five motifs crocheted in Coats Red mercerised cotton size 8 with a 1.25 mm hook. I ran out of red and used white to finish the bottom edges of the motifs. 

Close up of one of the motifs.
The pattern comes out of an old handicrafts book that I borrowed from our Guild library.  Unfortunately I can't remember the name of it but I can find out if anyone is interested.
16  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.

17  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.
18  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
19  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.
20  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
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