Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spiral scrubbies & dish cloths

Crocheting and knitting are very relaxing, and if I pick small projects, I don't get bored before the end. So that's what I've been doing in addition to a stitched project that I can't show yet.

These cute little spiral scrubbies have always intrigued me. You can use them for your face or your dishes. The small one is knitted and the other two are crocheted. I much prefer the crocheted because you get those nice ridges by crocheting in the back loop only. I haven't figured out how to make them as neat in the end as all the tutorial photos, but how neat do they need to be really? But if anyone knows a trick they can share, I'd appreciate it. They are all done with worsted weight cotton yarn.

Click here for the crocheted tutorial.

Click here for the knitted version.

I haven't been keeping up with the Monthly Dishcloth Group, but I checked in and found a couple of designs to try.

The first is 'April Showers'. Supposed to look like raindrops I guess. Fun to knit.

The second cracks me up. The pattern is called Log Cabin, as if you couldn't guess. It's kind of hard to see the pattern in the photo. I could use a good lesson in photography I think.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Too much snow!

The DC area is still recovering from the record December snowfall we had last Saturday. We're now in that miserable cycle of melting by day, re-freezing by night. Personally, I only like stitched snow, not the real thing. But in honor of reality, I finished up this little ornament, Snow Merry, by Homespun Elegance from the 2009 JCS ornament issue. I used a hand-dyed 32 count evenweave and added a simple buttonhole stitch for the border.

I had one final holiday card to mail and realized I better use this one before the year ended. The design is the 2008 freebie from Rosewood Manor slapped on top of a piece of wrapping paper for a background. And the crop-a-dile helped me touch it up with a few eyelets. Kind of funky, not my favorite, but it's always fun to experiment.

Happy Holidays to everyone. Enjoy and stay safe.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe

Only a little more time left to celebrate the year of Edgar Alan Poe's 200th birthday. I remember so many Saturday afternoons as a kid when, with all my friends in the neighborhood, we walked to the movie theater, and our parents could be free of us for several hours. Those were the days when it wasn't so risky to allow the kids to go off and do this kind of thing without parental supervision. We saw the giant cartoon show followed by a double feature. So often one of those feature films was a Vincent Price horror movie based on a Poe short story, like "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Fall of the House of Usher".

So, in need of another 'boy' design, always a challenge, I chose this Plum Street Samplers pattern based on "The Raven" for my last altoid box of the season. Again, over-one stitching on tea colored Monaco. And I tucked a thumb drive inside.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Plum Street card and goodies in the mail

Gina and I decided to do a personal card swap since we were the only two to express interest in it on the Stitchin' Fingers Cross Stitch Group. Gina has received mine so here it is for show and tell. It's a freebie from Plum Street Samplers that I changed a bit. I also added the little crocheted bird. He was my own invention. I tried to write down my steps so I can make more of him, but if past experience is any indication, I suspect my scribblings will look like so much nonsense when next I go to use them.

The mailman brought be some goodies in the last few days. Mylene sent me a surprise pinkeep. She does such exquisite stitching and finishing. I am so honored to have one of her pieces.

My gift package from my partner, Janeth, for Sue's 123-Stitch ornament exchange arrived also. What a fun set of gifts! Janeth chose a beautiful Lizzie Kate design. It looks so gorgeous on that blue fabric. She also enclosed a variety of pretty floss, plus snowflake embellishments and stickers.

And to top it off, she added the most adorable little chicken pin cushion. This photo doesn't really show its super-cuteness, but it is a real treasure.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Doll Alphabet Altoid Tin

The half-doll silhouette alphabet found here by Meridel Abrams has always been one of my favorites. But until now I had never found a way to use those letters. Turns out they were the perfect size for over-one stitching on 28 count Monaco for decorating an Altoid tin top. This one was made as a gift for my friend Jenny (initials JW). The 'J' doll is just especially charming to me!. And kudos to the postal service. Took less than a week to get from DC to Sweden.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

American Pie

One of my friends just passed her citizenship test and has now become a full-fledged citizen of the U.S.A. No self-respecting stitcher could pass up this opportunity to commemorate the occasion. I picked out a Bent Creek design called "Made in the U.S.A.". Changed the lettering a bit and added a few little crocheted touches.

The little heart crochet pattern can be found here.

The little bow crochet pattern can be found here.

The fabric is 32 count Jobelan in Bay Rum.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pink Altoid Tin

Hope everyone had a nice turkey day. I spent mine with family and had a wonderful time with excellent food and company.

My latest decorated altoid tin is for my pink-loving friend. I turned this one into a scissors case following Vonna's tutorial more or less. My friend is not a stitcher, but she does a lot of crafts involving paper cutting so I think this will work for her. The design is a freebie by Claire, stitched over-one on blue Monaco. I changed a few colors to be more pinkish. I added the little charm on the side to cover a bad glue spot. The inside is a brighter, hotter pink than the photo shows.

I won't quite say I'm addicted to making these. But there was a sale on Altoids at the drugstore last week, so I did buy I few just in case.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cable-stitched Neckwarmer

These neckwarmers are so quick to knit. I made this one in one evening of TV watching for a holiday gift. It's made with Wool-Ease chunky yarn, an 80% acrylic, 20% wool blend. Very soft feel on the sensitive neck area. The pattern is free on the Lion Brand site. You need to register to see it. Search for "Lion Brand chunky cable scarf" to find it. I just made a shorter version with two buttonholes just before the garter stitch border. I also made it slightly narrower, casting on a couple of fewer stitches that surround the cable. I really wanted to make a pink one, but A.C. Moore didn't have that color in stock and I didn't want to order just one skein online. But I like this berry color also.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Warm Winter Altoid Tin

I'm having fun with Altoid tin stitching now. I finished one I really like that I can't show yet since it's a gift for a regular reader. But I also made another I can show now. This one is a slight variation on Barbara Ana's "Warm Winter Welcome". I just changed the wording a bit and a few colors. It's stitched over-one on tea colored Monaco. I'm planning to make this into a winter survival kit by filling it with lip balm, a hand sanitizer packet, travel soap leaves, and anything I can find in a small enough size to fit that follows the theme. Still finding the gluing to be messy and hard to do. Sometimes the glue seeps through the ribbon no matter how careful I try to be. The colors are much richer in real life. Can't figure out how to get the camera to understand that!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

monsterbubbles Day One

The monsterbubbles ornament in the JCS 2009 Ornament issue really caught my eye. It must be so hard for designers to come up with something original. Seems like it's all been done before. But this stylized partridge was just so inventive. And I love the little colored blocks that appear as a kind of trademark now. This called for fancy hand-dyed threads, but I used all DMC. For the partridge, I picked 3 colors of tans and for the pear 2 or 3 colors of green and just tried to duplicate the look in the magazine. I'm pretty satisfied with my substitutions. And I just used seed beads for the plume and the highlight on the pear. I loved the border stones in the magazine, but not enough to used that finishing. I settled for 4 little buttons in each corner and pretty rainbow colored ribbon for the hanger.

The fabric is a piece of Vikki Clayton's 35 count linen. She is offering 32 count now and I plan to try some of that.

Monday, October 26, 2009

4 Seasons Kitties Luggage Tag

These little kitties from The Cats Whiskers are just the kind of design I look for when I want to make a luggage tag. This is the first one I made using Jobelan fabric. The color is Bay Rum and really makes a nice background. I like when I can find a design to stitch on each side better than using a backing fabric on one side. This will be a little holiday gift.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I don't usually go for these internet games, but when I saw this on Tanya's blog, I just had to give it try. The idea is to type your first name preceded by the word "unfortunately" into Google and see what you get. With a name like Annie, you get a lot of Annie Get Your Gun and Little Orphan Annie references. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Unfortunately Annie's unorthodox, self-taught knitting style wasn't - at that time - well received by the more established knitting world. ...
  • Unfortunately, Annie is left to realise a man isn't always interested in a woman who can beat him at his own game.
  • Unfortunately, Annie's more into anthropology, and to be honest, she isn't even sure who she is.
  • Unfortunately, Annie is a full nine years younger than Wilber; even had he wanted to make a move, the age gap alone made him restrain ...
  • Unfortunately, Annie's evaluation of Gone With the Wind ended on this enigmatic note.
  • Unfortunately, Annie doesn't seem to grow up at all as the story progresses.
  • Unfortunately, Annie's lustful eye fell upon the young man, and he was soon called upon to pleasure the mistress of the house.
  • Unfortunately, Annie isn't very interested in revealing secrets about herself.
  • Unfortunately Annie loses all the money they win betting on horses!

No projects to show, just basic time wasting activity!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quick cover-up

A bad spot on the kitchen wall was crying out to be covered with something. So I did a quick stitch of a section of "The Cafe" by Country Cottage Needleworks that would fit in a small frame I had. Not the world's greatest framing job, but I wasn't in the mood to go more slowly and carefully. The photo makes the frame look bowed, but it is not in reality. It serves the purpose for which it was intended, but it's not one of my favorite finishes. I do like the little menu board though. That was such a cute touch by the designer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Wicked Accident

The cute Halloween chart that I won from Aury was perfect for a 'teachable moment' to use the current vernacular. I had never successfully covered an Altoid tin. My gluing skills leave a lot to be desired. But I wanted to try again. This design was a little large for the purpose, so I stitched with one strand over one thread on tea colored Monaco, 28 ct. I usually don't like to do over-one because it's hard on the eyes. I'm not sure if I would have attempted it if I had considered how much black I would be doing, but it worked out pretty well. The spider is my addition. The broom was stitched in DMC variations 4140 on the diagonal (sort of like doing the needlepoint basketweave stitch but doing x's instead of just half-x's) to give it the striped look that Aury's sample had. I had the Halloween ribbon in my stash for the border. And I lined the box in orange felt.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wizard Redux

About two years ago, I stitched a bookmark for the 12 year old son of some friends of mine. He is a voracious reader and an avid Harry Potter freak. I thought I had found a reasonable design for him when I discovered a pattern for a Wizard in the Mark That Spot collection by Cross My Heart. But I never expected how much he would grow to love that thing. After all, who would think a 12 year old boy would really want an embroidered bookmark anyway? He always has a book with him and always used the bookmark. All his friends were envious, wanting to know where they could get one, so I guess that added to the fun.

The family went on vacation this summer, and sadly, he lost his beloved bookmark. He wrote me a lovely e-mail asking if I would make him another one. His parents had offered to pay me for it.

Frankly, I detest stitching the same design more than once. And this one was so detailed, with confetti stitching, fractionals and backstitching, that I was almost sorry I had saved the chart.

But what stitcher could resist when someone actually loved her work that much? I did offer to stitch a different design this time, but he insisted that he wanted the same one.

So finally, it's ready. Ta-da! If he loses it again, I'll offer to teach him how to cross stitch and let him make his own!

Tuesday was my birthday so I guess it was my lucky day as well. I won the cutest chart on Aury's blog. I know I said I was done with Halloween stitching, but I just might have to stitch this one too.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Neck warmer/Pidge/Scarflet

The little mini-scarves seem to be all the rage on the knitting and crocheting internet sites. Makes sense since they are so quick to make. You can use up left over yarns and finish up the piece before you get bored with the pattern. And when you really just want to keep your neck warm without the baggage of a really long scarf, these work perfectly. Of course, unlike a full-length scarf, when you want to take it off, you can't just drape it around your coat collar. You need a pocket or bag to put it in so you don't lose it.

I'm particularly sensitive to wool, so I need to find soft yarns to make this work for me. I had a leftover skein of Lion Brand Homespun in Tudor from a sweater I made a few years ago. The sweater was supposed to be 'over-sized' and was true to the pattern. Except it turned out to be over-sized for a large elephant! So the sweater has been abandoned, but the 'pidge' remains as a memory.

I just made up the pattern after looking at a bunch on various sites and blogs. I used size 8 needles with about 23 stitches cast on. I knit a rectangle that turned about to be 7" x 24" long. The pattern is a 10-row repeat, 6 rows of stockinette (K1,P1) followed by 4 rows of garter stitch (knit every row). This helps to keep it flat since stockinette wants to curl up (good for roll neck collars). About an inch before the end, I made two buttonholes. After binding off, I added 2 buttons to the opposite end on the long side.

I think I might try this with some other soft yarns. They would make good gifts.

Here's a photo I took of myself wearing my new scarflet:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blackbird Peace

I've been working on a design that is driving me crazy with confetti stitching, so I took a break to make a little holiday card. This is the Blackbird Designs ornament from the 2009 JCS Ornament issue, the first I've stitched from this issue. The design is in the same style as the Blackbird ornie from the Halloween issue, and I really liked the concept. I replaced the date with a little birdie since I never know when I might use the card. Otherwise, I used the DMC colors provided as the alternative to the hand-dyed fibers. The fabric is tea-dyed Monaco.

The crocheted snowflakes come from this pattern for earrings.

The bunny's job was to hold the card down while I took the photo.

And now it's back to final third of the squint-inducing design!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Even more Halloween tags

I think this will be the last of the trick or treat bag tags for the third graders. I still might stitch another Halloween design or two, but this will close out the set to send off. I did have a lot of fun with this and now I have to replenish my floss supply with all those fall colors.

Clockwise from the top left:

"Happy Jack" from Knotted Tree Needlearts, JCS Oct, 2009 issue, stitched on antique white Monaco

"Boo House" by Helga Mandl stitched on 32 count parchment Jobelan

"Autumn Stars" by Blackbird Designs, JCS Oct, 2009 issue, stitched on antique white Monaco. A few modifications to suit my tastes.

"Halloween House" (sans house!) by Drawn Thread stitched on 35 count linen from Vikki Clayton

Monday, September 14, 2009

Snow Bunnies

My partner, Janeth in Missouri, has received the winter ornament I made for her in the 123 Stitch exchange, so I can present the photo of it here. This design by Little House Needleworks is from the JCS 2007 ornament issue. It had been on my to-do list for some time, and since Janeth likes to decorate for winter and not for just the holiday season, it seemed very appropriate. I even sprung for the 36-ct Rue Green Edinburgh linen. No other color in my stash seemed right.

The crocheted snowflakes were my own design. I used modified versions of simple flower and star designs to get something resembling the snow motifs in the tree foliage.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Halloween tags..

I've been making trick or treat bag tags out of all my saved small Halloween designs. I'm planning to give them to a friend to use as prizes for the kids in her third grade class. Here's the latest collection:

Clockwise from top left we have:
- Just Nan's Fraidy Frog, JCS Oct, 2009
- Cat's Whiskers' Halloween Kitty
- Barbara Ana's Boo
- Bent Creek's Blackbird house

I'll make a few more until I OD on Halloween and then send them on their way. It's fun to do the little designs, and I love all the opportunities for designer creativity with so many Halloween symbols available.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Batty and the Spider

Here is my version of 'Batty' by MonsterBubbles from the 2008 JCS Halloween issue. I loved the way they did the finishing in the magazine with lots of pins around the edge strung with different beads. But that was just too much for me. They used a dark tobacco colored fabric that I loved, but I used a piece of Cafe Mocha from enchanted fabrics that I had in my stash with some Moda fabric trim.

The hanger is crocheted from these directions for a leaf chain. That orange crochet cotton was tough to find. Even on-line a lot of stores were out of stock. A lot of Halloween crocheting going on I guess.

I crocheted the spider from a design at Kreinik. My version is a modification of theirs. I skipped the web and mine is much smaller. Their directions for the head are what I used for the body.

This was fun to play with. I'm on a Halloween roll now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Satire for some, brilliant idea for others

"Richard's Poor Almanack" by Richard Thompson is a satirical cartoon series published in the Washington Post. It often deals with political issues, sometimes very local issues. Last Saturday, the cartoon was a spoof of Country Fair Prizewinners. Take a look at the one on the bottom left, "Worst New Home Handicraft - Tweets rendered as samplers". Sounds like a great idea to me!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Halloween tag & birthday card

Last year's JCS Halloween issue had two cute pumpkin designs, each about the same size and using similar colors. Seemed perfect for a two-sided tag/fob. I used Monaco fabric and sewed up the two sides with no padding or interfacing. That fabric had plenty of body without anything extra. And the crop-a-dile worked great for attaching the eyelet with the with back washer.

First side is a design by the Sweetheart Tree:

Second side is by Jeannette Douglas:

And for a special young lady who is turning 15 shortly, I stitched up this cute high heel shoe from Joannne Sanderson for a birthday card design. And always on the look-out for a place to add a bit of crochet, I topped it off with a little quickie flower. The fabby is little piece of hand-dyed from Miek. Just ignore the part where I didn't notice that the hearts on the background paper are all upside down til it was a bit too late to do anything about it. Sigh....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Holiday previews...

In these very hot days of summer, it can be hard to think about stitching for fall holidays. But I didn't have anything else on my 'urgent' to-do list. I've been scouring the web for little Halloween crochet motifs. Tons of them exist, but crochet instructions can be difficult to interpret, even from professional publishers, much less from amateurs who generously share their work. But I still love this little bat that I used last year and decided to use again. I thought he made a nice accompaniment to the Night Owl design from the Sept/Oct, 2008 issue of JCS. This was also my first stitching on 32 count Lugana. I liked the fabric, but not as much as I liked stitching on Jobelan.

I experimented a little on this card just to try something different. The design is from the July/Aug, 2008 issue of JCS. I changed the word from "Joy" to "Peace", but otherwise it's stitched as charted. The fabric is 36 ct linen from Vikki Clayton.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It pays to exercise!

My Jazzercise team of two, the 'Jazzerinas', attended 60 classes between us since June 1. As part of the summer promotion, that entitled each of us to receive this beautiful tote bag and cosmetics case. It's like getting paid to exercise (almost). Isn't it cute?

The little jazzhead magnets are my personal exercise gurus. Modeled after the designs at All That Glitters.

And maybe the exercise acts as brain food too. Today I completed my first Saturday Washington Post 'hard' Sudoko puzzle. I'd only managed to solve the 'easy' and 'medium' ones from earlier in the week up til now.

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. Mine is off to a great start!