December 2011 Archives
December 30, 2011
With New Year's Eve almost upon us, I realized how tired I was from the holidays and the party yet to come. I wondered how I would recover. With a toddler, down time is a luxury and recovery time is not abundant. So whether you need to recover from an abundance of champagne or from just being out past midnight, my first aid pillow will speed your recovery and get you ready to break all your resolutions (unless you resolve not to make any). The magic is in the rice filling which holds heat and settles to shape to any part that ails you. Be sure and use only natural fibers because poly blends may melt from the heat. I recommend some of our wool suitings for the pillow case and some flannel for the red cross. Here's how to make one or several for you and your pals.
Materials for one First Aid Pillow:
1-2 lbs of rice
Download your First Aid Pillow Pattern and cut out just the square. Trace 2 squares onto your pillow fabric, cut out squares and set aside. Cut out the red cross and cut out 1 from flannel
Hand stitch or machine stitch your cross centered on your pillow, matching up edges. With right sides facing and using ½ in. seam, sew the front pillow to the back, leaving a 3-4 in. gap for turning and filling. Clip corners and turn.
Use a large funnel to pour the rice inside your pillow, stopping when it is ½ full. Pin and hand sew the gap closed.
Heat your First Aid Pillow for 1 min 30 sec to 2 min and apply.
You can make smaller versions (3-4 in squares) for boo-boo pillows. Make several and keep a few in the freezer for cold applications too.
December 28, 2011
It is always amazing for me to see the uniquely creative but simple pieces of knit accessories that are increasingly popular these days. I am constantly inspired by these pieces and love to challenge myself to recreate them simply because they are so beautiful. Another small, teeny, tiny reason barely to be spoken of merely because it is so trifling, I should not even mention it here because it is such a small reason but as I am amongst friends I shall spill it: I see little reason to pay so much for something I can create myself. See a petty reason after all.
Today's inspiration is the mother of all inspirations: Anthropologie. This uppermost of all fashion icons in the handmade world is coveted for their ideas and use of color. I am not alone in my worship of this store but I am also not alone in mourning my lack of funds to purchase all of their wares. Chief among them is the Sweaterknit Strand. A beautiful wool, cashmere, alpaca and silver necklace that is priced at $198. I made my own for around $10. It took about 4 hours. Here's how you can make your own.
1 ball of worsted weight yarn (I used Caron Simply Soft Ocean because I loved the color)
1 ball of bulky weight yarn (I used Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick N Quick in Grey)
1 ball of sport weight (I used fingering weight doubled)
Several small chains or jump rings (mine are repurposed from a thrift store find)
With the worsted weight yarn, cast on 8 sts and knit in i-cord for 14 in.
Switch to the bulky yarn and continue in i-cord for 4 in.
Switch to the sport weight yarn and continue in i-cord for 1.5 to 2 in. Cut tail to 6 in and weave through remaining loops. Knot and weave in ends.
Connect your chains or jump rings to an end of your i-cord. I used jump rings to connect my chains. I made the chain 6 in. long but you could go as long as 8-10 in. I used 5 chains in total. The completed necklace length should be 28-30 in. This was a fun and fast knit and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed combining the different weights and colors. The icing on the cake was the chain. The delicacy and different textures really complete the look.
December 21, 2011
If you are looking for a quick, fun, gorgeous project for your green friends, look no further. With 1 yard of amazing Organic French Terry and 1 bottle of Rit Dye, you can create a dreamy and luxe gift that is green in more ways than one. 1 yard is the perfect size for a cozy wrap for weekend date night, weeknight movie on the couch or just curling up with a nice ball of yarn in your favorite chair. Since the fabric is knit, you don't have to hem. In fact, I dig the curled and rough cut edges, it lends well to the green and natural foundation of the project. Creating the ombre look is easier than it seems and really fun.
1 bottle of liquid dye (I used Kelly Green Rit)
2-3 gallons of hot water
1 wire hanger
To begin, soak your fabric in warm water- don't start with dry fabric. Next, heat your water and add 4 capfuls of your dye plus 1 tbsp of salt. Stir until the dye solution is hot. You can either move your solution to a larger receptacle or if your pot is big enough to hold the solution and fabric then keep it at a simmer on your stove. Fold your yard of fabric in half lengthwise and wrap the folded end (the middle) around the hanger to help you manage it (I secured my hanger on my microwave right above the stove- helped relieve some of the weight) and submerge 1/3 of your fabric into the dye solution and hold it for 5-6 min, swishing it around the entire time. Next add another 1/3 of your fabric into the solution by unwinding it from the hanger. Keep this submerged for 3-4 min. Next, you can either submerge the remainder of your fabric for 1 min to give the whole shawl a base color or you can slowly pull and wring out your fabric, leaving the middle white. Rinse out your fabric starting at the lightest end and letting the water and dye run down towards the darker color. Rinse until the water runs clear and no more dye is rinsed off. Wash your shawl in warm water and ½ the usual amount of detergent. Dry on warm in the dryer and you are done. You have created a one of a kind piece that was fun and green. Use this technique to create other Ombre pieces- just remember all natural fibers except dye differently but artificial fibers are the toughest to dye.
December 20, 2011
Mes amis, the night before Christmas is so busy. It is time to put the children to bed so Santa Claus can put the finishing touches on the presents. Santa always must assemble a bicycle, a train set, a doll house or a Barbie set. La Barbie, she gets around. Perhaps you will be hosting a Christmas party. This is not the time to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen. But, of course, you will want your friends and family to think that you have labored for hours to prepare this delicious meal. Chef Bubba is here to help you.
Beef in Wine Sauce
Broccoli Au Gratin
Ice Cream Sundaes
Beef in Wine Sauce (4-6 servings)
24 oz. beef sirloin, trimmed of all fat
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 envelope onion soup, dry mix
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 ½ cups Merlot
¼ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1. Cut beef into bite size cubes.
2. Chop onion.
3. In a slow cooker, combine beef, onions, mushrooms, onion soup mix, wine, garlic and pepper.
4. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.
5. Add cornstarch ½ hour before serving to thicken sauce.
6. Serve over egg noodles if desired.
Bon Appetit and Merry Christmas!
December 19, 2011
You may remember my last adventure with Pajama Pants with a pattern from Amy Butler's InStitches. It was not as successful as I had hoped. That was not my first pair of Pajama Pants and certainly won't be my last. I love 'em. I wear them all the time because I am very cold natured. I have flannel pants for the winter and cotton for the spring/summer. They are great for late night runs to the nursery and the sleepy walk downstairs for my morning cup of coffee. I have been on the search for the pattern to make the perfect pair and I am very close. This go-around I made the Kwik Sew Sleep Pants (KP-3882) and I am very impressed. First, these were quick and easy. Second the fit is pretty close but I erred on the side of caution and made the Medium when I was between the Medium and the Small. I think I will make the small next time. Third, the length is pretty good but if I make the small, I will make the pants 1 in. longer since I have a bad track record with too short pajama pants and I would rather them be a smidge too long than too short. The only issues I had were that the waist was too high. I tried on my pants as I made them and realized that if I added the casing and ruffle at the top the pants would go over my belly button. I like mine to sit an 1-2 below my belly button. I did not add the casing and ruffle and instead made a waist facing that was the same length as the waist and 1 1/2 tall. I stitched it to the top of the pants and then folded it toward the wrong side and stitched along the bottom, leaving a 2-3 in. gap to add the elastic. I also did not add the drawstring. My modification still left my pants on the high but not enough to go back and adjust it further. I really love the contrast cuff at the bottom and think it is a fun and easy detail that should not be left off.
These pants feature straight legs and are roomy in the hips and backside. If you are taller than 5 foot 6 inches I recommend adding an 1 to the length so you stay warm while curled up on the couch and lowering the waist. I will be making this pattern again because it has so much going for it.
The fabrics featured in this pair of pajama pants are:
December 17, 2011
Knitted goods can bring a softness and splash of color- be it bright color or a neutral- that can really make a house a home. One unexpected place is a lampshade cover. Here is a free pattern for a delicate but bright lampshade cover that compensates for the increase in diameter by increasing needle sizes instead of increasing stitches. You can easily modify this pattern for a straight shade by not increasing needle sizes. The small ribbing at the top holds the shade in place.
Caron Simply Soft (1 skein for a 15 in. by 8 in. round shade) in Ocean
US size 7, 9, 11, 13, 15 cable needles in 16 in. and 24 in. lengths
To calculate the number of stitches to cast on for your shade measure the top subtract 4-5 in. and then adjust based on your gauge. Example: 10 in. shade diameter -4 in.= 6 in. Gauge is 4 sts/in. so cast on 24 sts.
Eyelet pattern: *yo, k2tog; repeat to end
The pattern is worked over an even number of stitches
With US 7 needles, Cast on and work in 2x2 ribbing for 1 in. Switch to US 9 needles and continue in eyelet pattern in US 9 for ¼ of the height of the shade (if your shade is 8 in. tall knit with US 9 for 2 in.)
Switch to US 11 needles and continue in eyelet pattern for another ¼ of the height. Switch to US 13 needles and work in eyelet pattern for another ¼ of shade height. Finally switch to US 15 needles for the remainder of the shade. Bind Off in pattern. Weave in ends.
Since the yarn is acrylic you can pull it off and wash if it gets dusty and there is no need to block. Slip if on over your shade and enjoy your new, warm, comforting atmosphere!
December 14, 2011
Here is my latest knit creation designed with window shopping, coffee breaks, cuddling on the couch and a general chill in the air. My Telfair Capelet is perfect to add a layer over a long sleeved tee or sweater, throw on over PJs to get the paper or to wear to grab coffee before the morning soccer game. Take your wardrobe up a notch with this striped and lace accented capelet that is tailored to your shoulder with ease through the chest and bust.
The Telfair Capelet was worked holding two strands throughout of Lion Brand's Martha Stewart Merino (100% Merino Wool) in both Peacock and Artemisia using 4 balls of each color. The increases along the shoulder line begin a subtle detailing that is extended down the remainder of the capelet. The lace edgings at the collar and bottom can be lengthened to make it extra cozy or dramatic. The Telfair can also be knit using one strand of bulky or heavy weight worsted yarn but stick to majority natural fibers since this capelet must be blocked to size and to achieve the best drape.
December 12, 2011
Here is another quick and relatively simple kids' Christmas present by Noodlehead: Bicycle Bucket Tutorial. I say relatively because if you read the directions as written and trust that the author recommends the right products and don't try to "make it better" it will be a fun and easy project. That said let me tell you why I had to cut mine out 3 times and spent the better part of the day making one. Let me add that the mistakes were all mine and I regret using my phone to view the tutorial instead of printing it out so I could read the instructions.
First I decided that I wanted my bike bucket to be SUPER strong and durable so I decided to use Peltex to interface both the lining and exterior. This makes it too stiff and unsewable. I was seconds from smashing everything and jumping up and down on it (begin recut #2). Do not use Peltex at all. The medium weight is perfect even for quilting/light weight cotton. Also, if you do not have double fusible medium weight interfacing you can use one side fusible interfacing but make sure you interface the exterior and not the lining (begin recut #3). Please follow Noodleheads instructions and do not follow my example. Once I had it assembled according to the tutorial I discovered that it is very stable, durable and just right for holding rocks, sticks, buddies, and snacks. Oh, one more tip, sew on the handle bar attachment after you complete the top trim. It is much easier to navigate the around the top of the basket if you don't have the handle bar part getting caught up on your machine. If you want to add a monogram or name tag on the front like Noodlehead's boy version do it on the exterior piece before any assembly. It is easier to center and sew on when you don't have to worry about the basket structure. I really love the wide trim at the top. It really helps to hide any cutting errors but also adds extra color and pattern to make it extra special.
Overall I am very pleased with my bike bucket and next time I will print out the instructions and haul them up to my studio. If you follow the instructions it is a fun and worthy project that any kid will love to call their own. Thanks Noodlehead!
December 10, 2011
Rarely have I had so much fun in my studio and the cause was the Molly Monkey Doll by mmmcrafts. My Molly Monkey came out just as cute as the original thanks to some very well written instructions and an excellently drafted pattern. I was able to place the eyes just so and get just the right angle of Molly's secret half smile. I loved picking out my fabrics: a combination of chocolate velvet and designer quilting cottons as well as felts in various colors. This project combines a variety of sewing skills from machine to hand sewing and embroidery. I loved each step.
The bonus is not only do you get a very large, 24'', super cute moneky doll but you also get some fashionable accessories to dress your Molly: a smart pair of Mary Janes, one sassy beret and a twirly skirt. The accessories are even easier to make up and simple enough to embellish (rick rack, more embroidery or appliqués) but you can also choose different fabrics for special outfits. I am dreaming of mary janes in faux leather, a plaid skirt and Santa hat for Christmas; black shoes, a lace overlay skirt and basket for Easter; a birthday candle skirt in bright colors and hot pink shoes for birthday parties.
I do have just one tip to make your Molly Monkey last through the years, interface the cotton pieces of your doll. If you use corduroy (as recommended) or velvet as I did, there is no need to interface these fabrics as they are thick, but the quilting cotton is thinner and interfacing it will make it more durable and help reduce a lumpy appearance when stuffing.
My Molly took about 2.5 naps to complete which translates to about 6 hours. This may seem like a lot but there is a good bit of hand sewing and embroidery. However, it is all worth it as you will be creating one of the cutest dolls ever. The hand sewing and embroidery can also be done with a nice cup of Hot Cocoa and a good movie nestled into the couch as I did. I cannot wait for Christmas morning for my little one to open her first Molly Monkey. Thank you Larissa for sharing this wonderful pattern!
December 8, 2011
We have a variety of new products to share with you today. Let's get started with a couple of Cotton Print/Quilting collections. We were so excited when the Good Night Moon collection from Quilting Treasures hit the dock. We practically ran it through the building to be photographed and added to the website. Based on the popular children's rhyme, the colors are bold and the graphics are sophisticated, but still child-like. We have also recently added an organic cotton collection from Clothworks called Safari Sweet. Vickie, our Quilting Merchant, loves a good animal print. She likes the colors - not too bright, not too pastel. And, she likes the fact that it could work for boys or girls. That's always a plus!
It is difficult for me to say ''beautiful'' and ''fleece'' in the same sentence, but this collection of Micro Fleece in Nicey Jane prints from Heather Bailey is beautiful fleece fabric. Even those who are not ''fleece fans'' might be persuaded to have a vest or a throw made from these modern prints in contemporary colors. Since it is micro fleece, the weight is really nice for climates like the Beautiful South, too.
I love wearing luxurious fabrics in the colder months. I am the type that wears sequins to the office. Not full on Miss-America-1975-evening-gown sequins, but I do like a little sparkle and shine even for an every day office look. I think that's why I have always loved the look of Chinese Brocade . I have a little collection of silk ones that I've had for years. I use bits and piece from them in special projects. The rayon/poly ones we have are worthy of a fabulous project for day or night! I'd suggest a small handbag or a great vest. Of course, a jacket would be superb, and perfect to wear with jeans anytime anywhere!
December 7, 2011
Beth Ganse Kronlund How to cast on dpns, getting the stitches spread onto the other needles. And -- is there a difference between using 4 or 5 needles? (These questions came up at our knitting group last week.)
Beth: This is surprisingly simple and you will be shocked when you read this. I cast on all my stitches to one DPN and then slip them from the end (starting with the first cast on stitch) onto my other needles, ex: Project calls for 40 sts, cast on 40 sts onto needle #1. Then take needle #2 and slip 14 sts from #1 onto #2. Drop #2. Slip 13 sts from #1 onto needle #3, drop #3. Slip 13 sts from #1 onto needle #4. Take needle #5 to knit with. It is much easier then casting onto 3-4 needles.
The difference between 4 or 5
needles is up to you. If you have a lot of sts you will want to spread them out
over 4 needles instead of 3. Some people prefer less DPN because it can get
tricky handling them all. Still others only use 4 because they have lost number
Carol Jacobs Which cast on do I use when?
Carol: I am not alone in trusting the Long Tail Cast On for 95% percent of my cast on needs. However, some patterns will ask you to use a specific cast on. There are still those 4.5% of projects that need something special to make the project really come together. You will know when you have one of those projects and here are some examples from my history.
Backward Loop Cast On: I use this when there are over 150 sts because I am not good at estimating how long I need my tail to be for Long Tail Cast On and I find when I try to estimate for over 150 sts I end up casting on more than 3 times and that is no fun. I don't like knitting the first row of Backward Loop Cast On but it is worth it
Provisional Cast On: Use this when you need your cast on to be invisible or to match your bind off. It is easy to pick up stitches from so you can knit match scarf ends starting in the middle. This is also a good substitute for Backwards Loop since you don't need a tail.
Cast On: This is a very flexible cast on well adapted for use with cables
because it is not as tight as Long Tail can be. It can also be used mid-project
to add additional stitches. Best to use this only when you do need since it
doesn't give as nice of a finish as Long Tail.
Em Komiskey What's a good source to learn what all the codes and abbreviations in knitting patterns mean? What the best resources for someone who has never picked up a knitting needle before? Any suggestions on first projects that won't discourage the learner?
Em: Many abbreviations change from source to source but there is always a key. However, once you learn them from one source you can see the subtle changes when used in another source, ex: Knit 2 together might be "k2tg" in one pattern and "k2tog" in another. I would use a trusted source to learn a list of standard abbreviations and codes and work from there. I learned from Knitty.com and Interweave Knits magazine. I find Knitty is easier when I am by a computer because I can access it anywhere and Interweave Knits is good when I am on the go without internet access because one issue can fit in my purse. However, if you find a pattern that has a code that is not referenced and is unfamiliar to you, you can always email the author or message them on Ravelry, email me or try the Knitty.com Coffeeshop (Knitty's forum with swarms of helpful knitters).
I would suggest Knitty.com as the best resource for a new knitter because they have tons of technique articles, the patterns are rated for difficulty and each issue is small so they won't be overwhelmed. When the aforementioned knitter is ready for more, show them Ravelry!
I always recommend dishcloths
for first projects because they are completed quickly so the knitter can show
off the goods and not be bogged down with a scarf which is LONG. They are easy,
make great gifts, usable and can be sewn together to make blankets. Dishcloths
are also a great way to practice new techniques.
Patti Linder LOL! How do I keep my daughter's cats from playing with my yarn when I'm knitting at her apartment?
Patti: You have 2 options- either establish dominance early on via staring contest or bribe said cats with hand knit toys. Of course, you can always choose to keep your yarn balls in zip top bags (the bags your yarn from Fabric.com is shipped are my favorite) or you can make a Stash Bag like I use when knitting on the go.
December 5, 2011
Our Blog of the Month is back by popular demand but before I introduce new blogs, I would love to take you back and revisit our previous Blog of the Month winners. First up is StacySews.com. Stacy Sews is one of my favorite blogs because Stacy has sewn everything and sewn it well. But it is not just the knowledge that Stacy keeps in her sewing kit but that she freely shares her knowledge on her blog. Stacy has made Thursday popular because it is Linky Thursday. I love to discover new tutorials and products on Thursday and I am sure many bloggers covet a bump in statistics from Stacy.
If Stacy has made it then she has blogged about it and with her blogs posts come modifications and recommendations but also a cost break down including cost of pattern, notions and fabric. You can also find a reference to where Stacy purchased her fabric in case your stash is in need of some of the same. Stacy has introduced me to many new patterns and pattern companies in the several years that I have been a faithful reader. You can also find more from Stacy in popular sewing magazines such as Sew News, Sew It All, and Sewing Republic.
The latest in our "From Film to Closet" series is a warm-as-toast fleece hoodie inspired by my favorite Disney princess.
As the weather turns cold, I always find myself despairing at having to dig out coats and jackets. Even though I love the coziness of fleece, and I am a die-hard fan of solid black everything, something about having to wear warm layers because Mother Nature has decided it's frost time always gets me down.
This year, I thought I'd try turning my winter doldrums around by making a warm jacket that will make me giggle a little every time I put it on. It's no secret that Snow White is, sans doubt, my very favorite of all the Disney princesses. She's the original, she's raven-haired, she's kind and she can cook. So I decided to overlay the design lines from her iconic dress onto my cold weather gear.
I used a basic hoodie pattern similar to this Kwik
Sew gem, but any hoodie pattern that you like will do. For the sleeves, I dug a
princess costume pattern with a puff sleeve out of my stash and used that in
lieu of the sleeve that came with my hoodie pattern. From there, it was just a
matter of using an assortment of yummy Winterfleece velours, selecting a sport
zipper and voila! Winter princess, at your service.
While this version is an adult garment, just think of the adorable possibilities you could come up with for a child's jacket! Your kid could stay warm through winter's chilliest days dressed as their favorite fairy, monster, cowboy, animal -- you name it!
A few tips for adapting an animated character's look to a hoodie of your own:
- First, identify the primary design lines of the look. What are the details that define the character's design? Those are the key elements to include in your plan.
- If you adapt a princess-style design to a hoodie, be careful about the placement of your sleeves. Since most hoodie patterns have an armscye seam that sits just off the shoulder, a detail like a puff sleeve can become very bulky looking and give the a linebacker effect you probably don't want.
- As always, have fun! A project like this is a perfect chance to really get creative -- let your mind soar, and resist the urge to censor yourself!
December 2, 2011
I have no idea why but whenever I plan to decorate for Christmas my first thought is: Pillow covers. I guess it is because being a knitter I spend a lot of time curled up on or staring at the couch so of course I want to decorate it first. AND I love a good cozy pillow, so this year when I planned my pillow covers for Christmas I was drawn to flannel. Flannel everything- background, appliqués, you name it. And no zippers as well, they ruin the coziness. No need to take notes, you can just add these pictures to your Pinterest boards. Last year I made a pillow from Velvet with I-cord embroidery and it was soft and squishable as a pillow should be but I was always worried about my little one pulling off the I-cord so this year I went all out. We are talking Heat n' Bond and zig zagging all over the place. I even managed to couch on some yarn for the ornament hangers. All easy and all so soft and cozy.
1 yd of Flannel for pillow cover (I used Quilter's Flannel 90 in. Wide in Natural)
½ yd of flannel for ornaments (I used Cozy Cotton Flannel Grid Marine)
A smidge of wool felt for the hangers on ornament in Red
10 yds of wool yarn in Navy
First find an image of an ornament that you love and print it out. I did a quick search of Ornament Clip Art.
Trace this image onto the back of your Heat N Bond 3 times and cut out all images in one big piece (don't cut out each ornament shape yet) and apply, according to instructions, to the back of your green flannel. Now cut out each ornament, peel off the paper and arrange on your pillow cover made from Hot Patterns Giving Thanks Pillow Cover Pattern in White Flannel. Once you have an arrangement you like, iron your pieces in place. Cut out little squares roughly ½ by ½ in. from some wool felt. Wool felt is a little too thick for Heat n Bond so I like to keep it in place with a glue stick. Zig Zag stitch around your complete ornament. Finish off by pinning some navy wool yarn from your ornament to the top of your pillow. Slowly Zig zag stitch over your yarn keeping an eye on it so it doesn't creep out of place. Trim all loose threads and enjoy!
December 1, 2011
The year is winding down to a festive close, and yet we are still adding some of the most fabulous fabrics we have received all year. Let's take a look at some of the highlights from the last couple of weeks.
Speaking of the year winding down, the cold weather is winding up! Even down here in the Beautiful South, we are finally feeling the chill. Don't get me wrong, the chill in the air means all good things to me like hot chocolate, holiday parties and great clothes! We have a terrific collection of Quilted Ripstop Nylon to line your winter coat. The colors are so great you could wear it on the outside as a quilted vest lined in something soft and warm like flannel.
I like to spruce up my home this time of year, and also create a few gifts made by hand. We have a fantasic fabric line from Kokka called Ruby Star Rising that is imported from Japan. The prints are fabulous especially if you like a quirky or retro vibe. I'm not into all the time, but I like a little kitch now and then. These fabrics are printed on a cotton/linen blend. They are medium weight so they are great for anything from pillows to tote bags to jackets. My favorite prints are the View Master Slides. I see something in my sister's stocking made from those prints.
My other print obsession these days has to do with anything Paris, France, French or Parisian. My husband and I were lucky enough to spend our honeymoon in Paris ten years ago. I was in love with the art, the style, the food, the music and the fashion before. This trip sealed the deal. Our newest desinger, Stella Dot, has brought us a collection called J'adore Stella. I j'adore this collection all the way down to the stripes. Since I am not a quilter, these fabrics represent things like napkins, aprons, pajamas and the like. Do you dream in French, too?