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21  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.
22  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
23  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.
24  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.
25  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.
26  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Blackwork map of Africa on: May 12, 2014 12:11:26 PM
I have finally finished my glow-in-the-dark blackwork map of Africa. This is my entry in the Intermediate Embroidery category of our Needlecraft Guild's annual competition. I am pleased with how it turned out.
Day light picture

In the Dark 
I couldn't get the camera to work very well in the dark so it is rather grainy.

The theme of the competition is Out of Africa.  I took Pliny's quote and did a blackwork map of Africa to go with it.  I have wanted to do a blackwork map for some time. I did it in glow-in-the-dark DMC floss on black aida as I thought glow-in-the-dark thread would be the "something new"  – at least our grandmothers didn’t have it.  Also Africa was often referred to as the Dark Continent so I wanted to signify that it has its own light.

After it was all finished and I showed it to my daughter on Skype she pointed out that I had left out South Sudan  Embarrassed.  Actually I had a few problems with the map, as the outline map I found on the internet didn't have Lesotho, Swaziland or Eritrea.  So there may be other countries I have missed.  Oh well,  it is supposed to be Embroidery not Geography.

For Zimbabwe I did a couple of the stonework patterns from Great Zimbabwe – herringbone and chequer.  Then I had to add two strips of fabric to the sides of the piece because the competition rules say it has to be at least 30 by 30 cm.  My bit of black aida was irregularly shaped and only 30 cm in one direction but I had enough of the rest to cut two strips to make up the difference.  I joined them using the Great Zimbabwe chevron pattern.
To transfer the map to the black aida I printed it out and traced the mirror image onto white muslin which I tacked onto the back of the black aida and then stitched all the country outlines in running stitch. Once that was done I cut/frayed away the muslin and did the fillings.
I got most of the blackwork patterns from String-Or-Nothing  A wonderful resource for blackwork patterns.

The fill I used for Madagascar I made up myself. I wanted to do the traditional technique where you do simple running stitch in various directions and it all comes together into a pattern at the end.  It was fun seeing how it all looked more and more confusing until the last vertical pass turned it into a pattern.

1    Completed First Diagonal pass
2    Completed Second Diagonal pass at 90 degrees to the first pass
3    Completed Horizontal pass
4   Completed Vertical pass

The glow-in-the-dark DMC floss was a real pain to sew with.  It slips out of the needle, knots itself and it snags on any skin roughness. The outlines were worked in double stranded floss which I achieved by using a long single strand and doubling it through the needle so there were no ends to slip out.
The fill in blackwork is traditionally done with a single strand of floss and the only way I could do that and retain my sanity was to split the single strand into its two component fibres and double one of those through the needle to give a single complete strand of floss. 

The whole piece is backed with cream "barkcloth" and the edges bound with black satin bias tape.
27  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Sleeping mermaid 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.
28  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Fox fur - the vegetarian option 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.

29  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Cottage Teacosy 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.
30  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Embellished Quilt Square 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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