Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Pom Pom Ornaments

Want some really cute, easy-to-make Christmas ornaments? How about some pom-poms. I made all of mine in red because I had a bunch of red yarn, but you could make them in pretty much any color. You could even use some of the sparkly Christmas yarns if you want. They are a great way to add a little pop of color to your tree.

Oh, and they'd be great for decorating wrapped packages, too.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My First Socks

I've had this stretchy sock yarn for an embarrassingly long yarn. When I started knitting in my 20's, I knew that at some point I wanted to learn to knit socks.

Then there was the 2010 sock fiasco where I tried to learn to knit socks, use dpns to knit in the round, and learn cables all in one project. I only finished one sock and it was so bad that I didn't even bother starting the second one and I've been terrified of socks ever since.

This pattern was actually supposed to be an open-toe pattern, but I decided to add toes anyway. I love my socks. No, they are not perfect. I still have to figure out how to get rid of the ladders between stitches. But, they are super comfy and, "Yay!" I finished my first pair of socks and can actually wear them!

Check out my Ravelry page here.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Crochet Bag

So I love Lucy from Attic 24's crocheted bags. She has a Crocheted Bag pattern as well as a Jolly Chunky Bag pattern. I had chunky yarn leftover from my needlepoint pillow. So, of course, I planned to make the Jolly Chunky bag. I got the right size hook out and put it with the yarn. Well, when I went to make the bag, I accidentally downloaded the Crocheted Bag pattern. As I finished up the bottom in the above picture, I realized this bag was going to be monstrously big so I started to make some adjustments.

Here the bag is finished except for weaving in all the ends. There were a lot of ends!
Peanut the dog is jealous that the bag is getting my attention instead of her.
And, it turned out terrifically. About halfway up, I started decreasing about every other row. I just kind of eye-balled it and decreased as it needed.
Crocheted handles seem to stretch too easily with my overloaded bags so I used some recycled nylon handles. I also added a green shoestring to the top so I can close it.
And I love the little flowers that were part of the pattern. I'm really happy with this bag.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Cozy Wooly Blanket

As fall weather turns cooler, I bring out this blanket made from thrifted wool sweaters that I washed and shrunk before sewing together. It is backed with cozy flannel made from old flannel twin-size flat sheets that I had turned into a duvet cover before converting them to blanket backing. And, it is tied with scraps of yarn.

This is the coziest, wooliest blanket ever and my absolute favorite for cool weather cuddling. Mochi the cat and Peanut the dog seem to agree as they frequently take their naps on its wooly goodness. In fact, it might be time to start considering making a second blanket!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Redwork Towel

Here in China, the threads available, or, perhaps I should say, the threads I've found are fairly limited. DMC floss can be found in the cross-stitch shops at about twice what it costs in the US. Of course, here it's also sold by the yard if you prefer.

I found balls of this single strand, thick, cotton thread in black, white, and red from different street vendors and decided to see how it worked with redwork. I used the black and white threads to crochet art quilt embellishments.

This thread was not especially smooth to work with and knotted easily, but since I was stitching on a never-been-used flat diaper, that wasn't a major concern.  (Note: those new flat diapers are terrific art cloths!)

I used a single strand and did not double it for stitching. Also, because of the slight patterning of the cloth, the design did not transfer well and was really light in spots. Can you find the error I made because of this? Again, since it's going to be used to mop up spills and dry dishes, I wasn't too concerned.

Overall, crocheting with this thread turned out better than stitching with it. It worked fine for this project, though.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Crocheted Charger Cord

I saw this pattern on Through the Loops and since I had a very small portion of Koigu yarn left I  decided my charger cord needed embellishment. It wasn't quite enough to cover the whole cord, but it still brightens up the cord, uses up a tiny scrap of yarn, and makes me smile. It also makes it much easier to find on my creatively crazy desk.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Turmeric Pillowcases

This was a pair of lavender flannel pillowcases that were quite old and worn which I dyed with turmeric. One of them had a hole in them, so I wasn't worried about ruining them in the least. I loved the coloring. They actually look much more yellow in person than they do on-screen. The triangular embroidery pattern was done with 3 strands of DMC and took an inordinately long amount of time to complete. I tried drawing the pattern with several different marking pencils, but none of them showed up well and left me trying to guess where each stitch should go.

The bottom pillowcase I finished in less than an hour. I used a single strand of indivisible cotton thread and just did 3 rows of running stitches. I think I like how it looks better than the other one, too. The red also looks better with the yellow in person. The pillowcases don't seem so washed out when I look at them as they do in the picture. But, updating the pillowcases was pretty easy and worked out well so it was worth it.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


The last of the summer hollyhocks. So pretty and pink. And, I just love saying the name. Maybe it's because I always liked Holly Hobby, but hollyhocks are just so much fun. We had such a cool summer it seems as if it's already been fall for a few months. But, these lovelies are proof that summer was here even if it slipped by unnoticed between spring and fall this year.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Turmeric Dye

 Boiling turmeric powder in water on the stove.
 Steaming the yarn.
 Pillowcases and Aida in the simmering water.
Turmeric yellow is such a happy color! Now, what to do with all my yummy yellow goodness!

I used about a 1/2 cup of turmeric powder and steamed/simmered my items for approximately 30 minutes. I didn't use any kind of mordant so I'm not too sure how lasting the color will be, but we'll see.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Wooly Pincushion

A few years ago, one of my best friends presented me with a large bag full of thrifted wool sweaters. I added to it and then felted all of them and cut out squares to make a large, felted wool blanket for the bed. Later, I added a flannel backing and tied the whole thing into a quilt. That blanket is the coziest thing ever.

Well, I saved the bottom ribbed section from one of them to turn into a pincushion. Would you believe that I just now got around to doing just that? I never could quite get the look I wanted until now.

The ribbed sweater bottom was from a man's sweater, so even felted it was almost 3 feet in length. I rolled it up with each edge slightly lower than the last to form a domed shape. Then I sewed the edge to hold it in place.

I used thread from my large spool instead of color coordinating thread. I bring good thread with me, so I save it for special projects and a scrap pincushion did not make the cut. But, the visible stitches just give it a homemade scrappy feel that I actually like.

I cut a round out of another, thinner, felted sweater sleeve and rolled the edges as I stitched it to the bottom. The crocheted motif I used for the top, was a crocheted hexagon I tried to make that came out more circular. It has been laying in my scrap basket for a few years until I decided it would make the perfect pincushion top. I also added a small, crocheted flower to the top.

Finally, I sewed some recycled lace to the top edge and doesn't it look like a scrumptious albeit woolly cupcake? The moral of the story? Never, EVER, throw away scraps, because you never know when they will make the perfect addition to a project.

I'm really loving this pincushion, too. It's got a bit of weight to it that makes it stay put. Also, I don't have to worry about poking myself with a pin while I'm trying to hold the pincushion in place.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Finished Object: Heartfelt Hat

Ravelry Page
This Heartfelt Hat was made with Maureen O'Doogan's pattern. She is an amazing designer and her color combinations are simply glorious. I did make a few changes including using wool yo-yo's instead of hearts.

I also completely messed up the color work part. I've been reading up on color work and charts and wanted to try a project. Nowhere had I read that the last square of the chart is not to be worked because it's actually the first stitch of the next row. The first two rounds, I also thought I was supposed to repeat the entire chart over and over again. I kept thinking my gauge was off.

Why didn't I swatch? For one thing, the swatch would have been about as big as the color work part of the hat. Additionally, I have not learned to swatch in the round, yet. Then, there are times when I consider it more beneficial to jump in and try a small project learning as I go versus doing a swatch. By doing the project first, now I'm ready to play around with swatching in the round because I can compare them and figure out which things will be the same and which will be different. I also have a whole new set of questions about how color work goes together and I've also learned some things.

But, I also have Mastering Color Knitting now. That should help clear up some questions.

One of the things I learned is that color work comes out really, really tight. This definitely came out child size. My assumption was that it would actually be very loose. Another thing I learned is that knitting with two colors is deceivingly easy at least as far as manipulating two yarns back and forth. Now, if I can just conquer charts, I'll be set.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pretty Purple Pansies

 I just love pansies. Especially the purple and yellow ones, and the maroon and pink ones. But, all of them are pretty.
 Pansies are planted all over the city and always brighten everything up.
Just look at that gorgeous bougainvillea in the background, too!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Finger Knit Coaster

Some time earlier this year, I taught some little girls to finger knit and we all made lovely finger knit necklaces. I brought my necklace home, but a fuzzy purple necklace didn't really go with my wardrobe. Still, I hung on to it. Then, the other day, I decided it would make a lovely coaster. I used some extra stretchy sock yarn (I am almost done with my second sock.) to crochet over the finger knit chunky yarn and made this lovely little coaster. It is just right for my mug of tea.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Clay Crochet Hooks

 I had seen adorable crochet hooks made with bake clay online and picked up a couple of these on sale in the US. My favorite clay-covered crochet hooks were red with white dots so red and white were the logical choices for colors.
 I used a bamboo handle crochet hook to judge how far up the crochet hook the clay should go. My work area is lined with wax paper to avoid mess and color transfer and I had a packet of wet wipes nearby to clean my hands between color changes. Here you can see two piles of clay dots. The smaller ones were the best, but oh-so-hard to get just right.
 I lined a 9x13 baking tray with aluminum foil because you probably shouldn't have the clay in direct contact with things you plan to use for food later. The directions on the package were a bit sparse and I judged the "per inch" part to refer to the length. Since I sort of scorched my hooks, I'm thinking it was actually referring to thickness.
But, even with a few scorch marks, my hooks came out lovely and are so much easier to work with now that they have built-up handles. Two packages of clay made eight crochet hook handles in case you want to try it. Also, I rolled the clay into handle size first and then inserted the hook rather than wrapping the clay around the hook. I also kept the flattened piece on each hook free of clay just like it was on the bamboo hook. The tutorials I found online all seemed to cover this up, but I think it is important to leave it as is for comfort's sake.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Plastic Canvas Circle

 I've had this large plastic canvas circle for a while and I thought it might make a nice hot pad to set things on. I used a single round of color on the outer edge. The next five rounds were the teal, then four rounds of pink, three rounds of violet, two rounds of green, one round of orange, two rounds of rose, three rounds of grape, four rounds of lavender and then the center is yellow.

The different number of rounds for each color helps guide the eyes toward the center. So, far, it makes a great hot mat. That is, when the cat isn't sitting on it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Doodled Page

I hate sitting still. Usually, I keep some form of needlework in my bag, but I also carry this small doodle book and a pen. Sometimes I add to a doodle I started before or I may start a new one. Other times, I sketch something or make a pattern sketch.

It's an easy way to pass the time and you never quite know what you are going to end up with. The flower sprouting from a leaf is my favorite part of this particular doodle. A surprise.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: Crafting a Colorful Home

 When I saw that Kristin Nicholas had written another book, I couldn't wait until it came out. I have loved her colorful style for a number of years now and Crafting a Colorful Home is no disappointment.

The entire book is filled with color from a wide variety of craft styles such as knitting, crocheting, sewing, painting, and embroidering. Her home exhibits a warm, cozy vibe that is cheerful and vibrant at the same time. It is just the place I'd like to spend a cold winter's day, curled up with a book or some knitting.

Unlike most decorating books and magazines that show pictures that look as if no one has ever lived there and where children and pets would have to be barred, Kristin's home has a welcoming lived-in feeling that invites all to come in and soak in the joy.

There are no projects in this book that I do not want to try. There are some that while I would not make the same project in the same colors, I would definitely use colors I like instead to accomplish the same thing.

Even people less inclined to use every color in the rainbow in their homes and on their walls can find projects of interests here. But, if you love color and yet have beige walls because you aren't quite sure how to use it, then you need this book.

I can't stop flipping through the pages for a feast of color. It is definitely my favorite craft book ever. Be sure to check out her blog.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Homemade Center-pull Yarn Ball Winder

 Supplies needed:
  • Kraft Parmesan Cheese container, wash and remove label and lid
  • sharp scissors that will cut through plastic
  • emery board
  • 1 rubber band
 First, cut the top and bottom off the container. Then, make a hole near the top. Use the emery board on the cut edges to smooth them out. Add the rubber band to the top, just under the hole you made.
 To use, thread the yarn through the hole from the outside to the inside and tie a looped knot to keep it from being pulled through the hole.
 Wrap the yarn in varying directions to form a ball. The rubber band helps to hold it in place. When you have all the yarn wrapped around the cylinder, use a crochet hook to draw the end under a layer of yarn. Then, cut the knot to release the ball of yarn and slide it off the end of the tube.
There you go, a center-pull yarn ball. Incidentally, I've found that balling yarn this way is also easier on my hands.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Asian Coleslaw

This is a somewhat healthier version of coleslaw.

Asian Coleslaw:
1 head of cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 cup of sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp nuts, flaxseeds, walnuts, almond slivers, etc.
2 TBSP honey or sugar
3 TBSP of soy sauce or to taste
3 TBSP of kombucha or apple cider vinegar or to taste
1/8 tsp ground ginger or 1" grated fresh ginger or to taste
1/8 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic, minced or to taste

Combine ingredients using the nut/seed mixture of your choice. Adjust the flavors to suit your taste keeping in mind that they will strengthen as the slaw marinades. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Keep in mind that the flavors may be too strong if left overnight. I like the leftovers the next day, but not longer than that.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Art Inspiration

 There is no scarcity of art inspiration where we live. So many different patterns and color combinations to try. The above makes me think of fish and would make an interesting fabric stamp.
 This one would make an interesting quilt or cross-stitch pattern. Maybe it could be a nice coaster or potholder?
And this one just makes me want to start doodling. It would also make a pretty repeating design in blackwork.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hani Looms

 The Hani people are known for their weavings. At a museum in Jianshe I was able to get pictures of two types of Hani looms. Shops selling woven products usually have a loom set up at the front of the shop and someone working on it to draw in customers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kitchen Cabinet Curtains

Before: The glass panels fell out of this cabinet along about 2007 or 2008 and I added this pink dragonfly seersucker to help keep dust out. At the time, it was the only piece of fabric I had that was large enough to cover both sides. I've been wanting to change them for quite some time.
A few weeks ago, my husband helped me switch to this love blue sunflower print that makes me smile every time I see it. It's so cheerful. And, with all the rain and cold weather we've had this summer, it's been nice to have a spot of sunshine in the kitchen. Maybe I'll use the fabric scraps to make a new dish mat.