Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Gifts from my Tatting Friend

What a sweet surprise! Through this blog I have gained a long-distance tatting friend named Carollyn who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. We've exchanged emails off and on, and recently I sent her a couple of the paper magnets with tatting that I've been making. Today a package from her arrived with lots of goodies. The key in the center is one that she has embellished with tatting and beads. She sent me four keys that I can try for myself. (As followers of this blog probably know, I like to tat on metal as well as more traditional materials.) The tatting shuttle is sterling silver and has a ring so I could attach it to a chatelaine if I had one.

I think it's fun to get materials from other crafters and challenge yourself to use things that you might not have chosen on your own. I used to participate in thread exchanges which was a good way to play with threads and colors that I might never have picked for myself. Years ago, a friend gave me a small bag of beads, and it was fun to incorporate them with others in my stash to create a necklace. I think such input from others can challenge your creativity and that's a very good thing to happen.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Paper Magnets -- 2016 Edition

Last year I made paper heart magnets with tatting for the 2015 North Carolina Regional Lacers Spring Lace Day goody bags. It was so much fun that I volunteered to do it again this year with a new design. This year I used a star shaped paper punch to punch out the shapes using Strathmore 300 Series Watercolor paper. Each star is 4 cm across or about 1.5 inches.

Since I had to make about 100 magnets, I tatted a very simple design:

  • Make a ring of 5 ds p 2ds p 2ds p 2ds p 2ds p 5ds 
  • Close ring
  • Don't turn the work
  • Repeat 2 times
I tatted the individual motifs in long strings and cut each one apart when I was ready to mount them on the paper. That way I didn't waste time starting and stopping the tatting, and the strings are easier to keep track of until I've finished making enough.

I used two different shades/brands of gold size 80 threads. The darker motifs are Lizbeth in color #699 "Harvest Gold." The lighter motifs are tatted with vintage J&P Coats tatting thread in color #43. 

The stars are painted with a coat of Mod Podge Extreme Glitter. After this coat dries, the tatted motifs are glued on with more Mod Podge. Later one final swipe is added to make sure all the thread is securely tacked down and all the surface has glitter. I cut pieces of peel and stick magnets into small squares and affix them to the back of each star to complete the project.

Here's an enlarged closeup of the final magnet. Came out pretty well, I think.

Fun with Mod Podge: Decoupaged Stool

This stool began life as a boring wooden oak stool which I later painted orange enamel because my kitchen has a lot of orange accents -- orange bowls, orange KitchenAid mixer --along with dark mustard walls and window valences. After a while I got tired of the color, and besides, it was looking a bit scratched and in need of a new coat of paint. 

This time I decided on shiny black enamel as a backdrop for a packet of flower stamps I bought many years (30? 40?) ago at a museum shop in DC for, according to the package, the big sum of $2. 

This is the result after many coats of Mod Podge Gloss and Outdoor Mod Podge. To add more protection and gloss, I've also finished with a couple of coats of Martha Stewart High Gloss Finish. Maybe all this is a bit of overkill, but I'm hoping that the final result is extremely durable so no future changes will be necessary.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 Tatted New Years Card

This year I made New Year's cards by tatting around punched paper hearts. The paper is a dark green card stock. The punch is Martha Stewart's "Enchanted Heart" punch. I've used this punch a lot and am glad I bought it when it was readily available. It's now discontinued, and if you can find one for sale, it usually costs a ridiculous amount. I saw one source for this punch for sale at over $70! This seems to be typical for this brand's discontinued punches. However, you can cheaply buy quantities of the paper pieces sold by people who own the punches and who sell the shapes on eBay or Etsy.

The thread is DMC size 80 in bright red (#666). The pattern is just rings and chains of groups of 5 double stitches. I used dots of glue to attach the hearts to folded blank greeting card stock. I think the gluing was minimal enough that, if desired, the hearts can be detached and used as hanging ornaments.

I started this project in mid-December, but quickly got behind in my tatting. I wanted to make and send about 30 cards, but only had about half finished by the end of the year. So I finished the rest by printing one of the hearts on the white card stock I was using. When I folded the cards, the hanging thread continues over the back of the card...a design element that I hadn't planned on but do like.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Off the Needles: Last *Finished* Knitting Project of 2015

Since there are only 2 more days left in 2015, I think I'm safe in saying that this will be the last knitted item that actually gets finished this year. (I have several that I've finished the knitting part, but still need to do the sewing part...the part I always put off as long as I can.)

A friend of mine gave me her stash of yarn and other knitting stuff saying, "I realize I'll never be a knitter." Given her age (mid-to-late 70s) and all the other things going on in her life, I think she's right, and I salute her for accepting reality (unlike some of us who believe we'll live long enough to take up every craft that's ever interested us).

I felt that although she would never own anything she had personally knitted, she still deserved to have something from her effort to take up knitting. Looking through her donated stash, I found 3 skeins of wool that seemed sufficient to make a scarf. The yarn, Emu Naturally Double Knit, is a discontinued 100% wool yarn from England in a heathery oatmeal color. The yarn has a rather rough texture (or maybe I'm just being overly sensitive) so I hope hand washing will soften the fibers.

The pattern I used was "Diagonal Ribbing" from Barbara G. Walker's Learn-to-Knit Afghan Book (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974, pp. 45-46). It's a 16-row repeat pattern that works up quickly as it is primarily combinations of pairs of knit stitches and pairs of purl stitches and is completely reversable. I made it about two and half yards long, using up all but a few inches of the 3 skeins. (Interestingly, it is not the same pattern as one with the same name in Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.)

All that's left to do is sew in the tails and give the scarf a washing and blocking. Hope she enjoys using it when our weather finally turns cold.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Two Baby Blankets Awaiting Nephew

A few weeks ago, a knitter friend and I took part in our area's Yarn Crawl. As knitters we are blessed with an embarrassment of riches with no less than eight yarn shops within easy driving distance. We quit our tour after the fourth shop, but not before I had done some damage to my credit card and made some increase in my yarn stash. Fortunately, I had plans for much of what I bought and decided this week to put some of the yarn to use.

My niece and nephew are expecting their first baby in January so finally I have a relative to make baby things for as well as for those babies at charities that my knitting group donates to.

So far, I've finished two baby blankets.

Knitted Blanket

This one is knitted out of three skeins of Plymouth's "Encore Colorspun" worsted weight in colorway #7659 "Grape Ombre." The pattern is Lion Brand Yarn's "Knit Diagonal Pattern Baby Blanket," a free pattern on their website. I especially like this pattern because if you're not sure how much yarn you need for the blanket you just divide what you have in half, knit the first half of the pattern's increases, then knit the second half of the pattern's decreases. I used my scale to determine when I had used up half the yarn so I would have enough to finish the piece.

I still had some yarn left so I crocheted a scalloped edging. The pattern is "Shell Edge" from 150 Crochet Trims by Susan Smith (St. Martin's Griffin, 2007, pg. 48). I like adding a crocheted border to a knitted piece as it helps to stabilize the edges and to keep the piece's shape. Of course, the edges on a garter stitched item usually behave and don't roll like stockinette does so this time the crocheted edging was mostly to add a bit of interest to an otherwise simple square.

Crocheted Blanket

The other blanket is crocheted using Plymouth's "Encore Colorspun" worsted weight in colorway #7722 "Very Bright Kids." Do you see a pattern here? Encore is my goto yarn when I need the easy care of acrylic but want the yarn a bit nicer than 100% acrylic. Encore is 75% acrylic and 25% wool and is machine washable and dryable, making it perfect for baby things. And I think the wool softens the feel of the yarn.

The pattern is a simple one of rows of double stitches with occasional chain skips to create holes in the middle of three rows. The completed blanket is approximately 36" by 36".

Here's my pattern info (I realize since I'm not a professional crochet designer, some instructions might confuse...feel free to ask me to clarify anything):

In my example the number of stitches I used are multiples of 12 plus 10 more stitches plus 3 stitches for beginning row 1. For my blanket I chained enough stitches to have 94 stitches on each row, plus I included 3 extra chains to begin the first row of double stitches.

Row 1: ds in 4th chain from the hook and ds in all the remaining stitches, chain 3, turn.

Row 2: ds in stitches 2-10, skip 2 stitches, chain 2. Continue 10 ds, skip 2, ch 2, ending with 10 ds. Chain 3, turn. This results in 7 holes separated by groups of 10 ds.

Row 3: ds in stitches 2-10, 2 ds over previous row's ch 2. This closes the hole you made in row 2. Continue in this fashion to the end, chain 3, turn.

Repeat Rows 1-3 to desired length.

You can be as flexible as you like: put more solid rows between the hole rows, put more stitches between holes, put fewer stitches between holes, put holes randomly through the piece, etc.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Off the Needles: Grey and Silver Dropped Stitch Scarf

I'm back to working on non-State Fair projects. While working on another scarf that didn't quite turn out the way I wanted, I learned this design technique. Putting aside the disappointing project for a later time, I knitted this scarf to incorporate this interesting ribbing design. 

The mid-weight (sport? DK?) grey and silver yarn is Studio Samples by Nicole purchased at A. C. Moore and the fiber listed on the label is "mixed fibers"... probably the grey is acrylic with polyester silver thread adding sparkle. I used five 50-gram balls of the yarn for my scarf.

The scarf is knit in garter stitch with some of the stitches dropped on the last row, and then picked back up with a crochet hook in a fashion similar to making a crocheted chain. After all the dropped stitches are chained and back on the needles, the last row is bound off as usual.

I cast on 37 stitches using the long tail cast on method. 
For the first stitch of each row: move yarn to front, slip 1 stitch as if to purl, move yarn to back, and knit to the end of the row. This gives the sides of the scarf a smooth, neat edge. Continue this pattern to the desired length. 

For the last row (knit 5 stitches, drop 3 stitches from the needle) 5 times, and then knit the last 5 stitches. Pull the dropped stitches all the way to the beginning of the piece so that you have wide strands of yarn separated by the columns of garter stitch. The dropped stitches will be chained up to meet the stitches remaining on the needle. The dropped stitches are worked in groups of 4 with just the first 4 given a half twist before being chained to the next 4 strands.

The result is a thick line of V-shaped stitches lying against a garter stitch background that makes for a more interesting scarf than simple garter stitch.