Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold weather knitting

With winter weather here, I love to get out the knitting needles and make warm things for gifts or our own use.  This year I have some wonderful Misti Alpaca yarn that is Suri Alpaca and Silk.  It is so soft and warm.
My sister-in-law, who is also a dear friend who lives too far from us, gave me a wonderful batch of soft Corriedale fiber to spin.  All I have to do is add angora bunny fur and spin them together and I will have some wonderful yarn to make into something really soft and warm.

All these deep greens put my in mind of the Pine Tree's in the Rocky Mountains of my youth.  Now I am going to be busy designing a new lace design of Pine Trees.  I think I will make a scarf, new fingerless gloves and maybe some leg warmers to help keep me warm.  I can hardly wait.  What winter projects are you working on? 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Season

With all the activity in the past month is has been a while since I have posted.  The Thanksgiving holiday was wonderful and my husband had a week off of work.  I love having him home.  I have so much to be thankful for as God has been so good to us.

My favorite holiday is Christmas.  I love the lights and carols and colors.  (Red is my favorite color and I will go into stores and just be mesmerized by all the shades of red.)  I love the reason for the holiday which is the birth of a little Jewish baby boy in Bethlehem.  What an amazing God that would allow His son to be born in such a broken world.

This year I decided to make Victorian Carolers for ornaments on the tree.  My first was the female caroler which took some research on how their clothing looked. I love the muff and the little cape.  She even works as a bookmark

With all the research I naturally came across men's outfits and of course, I had to try my hand at this outfit also.  I love the top hat of the era so I knew I wanted to include this in my ornaments (or bookmark).
Now I was on a role.  I had to try designing a scene with snow and a period lamp post to read the music by.  The lamp post itself made a fun ornament (or bookmark).  This was a much bigger project but I really love how it came out.

Now my house is ready for the Christmas season.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Favorite Crochet Designer

One of the best things about designing crochet and knit patterns is getting to know some of the other wonderful designers out there.  One of the nicest and most helpful to me in getting my design business going has been Ann White.  I met her through Ravelry.com after I had favorited some of her designs.

I don't have any Fall colored designs but Ann has some wonderful Lovely Thread Ladies doilies that can be found on her web site http://www.bellacrochet.com/  Her newest (above) is called Double, Double Toil and Trouble Doily

My Favorite is Lucy and Jack's Afternoon Stroll Doily

What wonderful Wall Hanging these would make.  She has so many wonderful Thread designs with vintage and three dimensional look that I adore.  She also has some wonderful Wraps, Capes & Shawls for people who prefer to use yarn along with many free patterns such as this festive gingerbread boy and girl .

Ann Says:  "I have been a professional crochet designer for over 20 years. I will never forget the day in 1988, when I nervously walked into the Annie’s Attic design department, carrying a black plastic trash bag full of my original designs. I am lucky they did not mistake me for a bag lady! Instead, they bought all the items I had brought in that day, and sent me home with a list of ideas for other items they would like for me to make. My career as a crochet designer was launched; I was ecstatic!

 I worked as a free-lance designer for the next several years, then was offered a position as a technical editor in the Annie‘s Attic Editorial Department. I quickly found out that designing crocheted items and writing crochet patterns are two different things entirely! I trained as a technical editor for the next two years, where I learned to write accurate and easy to follow crochet patterns in what was called the “Old Annie“ style. When a position for in-house designer for Annie’s Attic and its sister company, The NeedleCraft Shop, became available, I happily moved to the Annie’s Design Department, where I worked for several more years.

I am grateful for the time I spent working for these companies, as it allowed me to learn many new crochet techniques, stitches and skills relating to crochet, as well as pattern writing and designing skills. I was also able to meet many other talented crochet designers, and gained much valuable knowledge from my association with them.

In 2008, I left DRG Publishing where I was the crochet pattern book coordinator. I am thrilled to now be in the position of self-publishing my original designs. I love creating vintage- look thread designs- I am a doily and potholder girl! I am the proud mother of 3 daughters and 3 sons, and the grandmother of 10 sweet and wonderful grandchildren (with 2 more on the way!) I live on a farm in rural East Texas, with my darling man, David."

I have bought several of her patterns and they are well written and very easy to follow.  I am so glad to have met her and had her help over the years.  I can hardly wait for her next design to come out.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Special Long Half Double Crochet Tutorial

One of my designs calls for a long half double crochet stitch and someone who was doing my pattern let me know that she couldn’t find a tutorial on line on how to do this stitch. So I am going to try to show how to do this stitch.

I use half double crochets a lot in my designs as they make an excellent transition from single crochet (sc) to double crochet (dc) without an apparent jump in size. They also make an extra thick sc in designs that need the bulk.

The half double crochet (hdc) is a cross between a sc and a dc. It has two wraps like the dc.

The hook is then put through the next stitch; the thread is caught from behind the working fabric and pulled through, resulting in 3 loops on the hook. Then the working thread is pulled through all three loops on the hook.

The hook is then put through the next stitch; the thread is caught from behind the working fabric and pulled through, resulting in 3 loops on the hook. Then the working thread is pulled through all three loops on the hook.

In my design of the Rose Budding Hearts Doily I use this stitch with a variation. I have named it a Special Long hdc stitch. Two buds have been made by folding a working fabric in thirds and secured by a row of sc, connected by a chain. The thread is then changed to a stem color with a sc to start the row


The next stitch is the Special Long hdc. Instead of inserting the hook in the next sc it is inserted in the first burgundy row (skipping the pink row). There are no Back Loops to work in the previous row because the stitch is poked through all three layers of fabric and worked.

This helps further secure the folded fabric in place and makes a small leaf on the front side. A second Special Long hdc stitch is then worked in the same hole as the first one.

The sc behind the special long hdc is skipped on the working row and a sc is worked in the last sc on the working row. Then a chain is made and the first sc is worked on the second bud. The next stitches are again 2 Special Long hdc.

The row is completed with a sc in the last sc on the working row. The buds are turned for the next row and you can see how the pretty little leaf looks on the buds.

I hope this tutorial has explained the Long hdc stitch and especially the difference of my Special Long hdc required to make these cute little rose buds.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Making faces for LoisLeigh's bookmark patterns

I am currently working on a series bookmarks from fairy tales, fantasy stories and nursery rhymes. It combines two of my loves, reading and three dimensional crochet. I am using size 10 cotton crochet thread because of all the fantastic colors available with crochet threads. I use a Boyle size 1 (2.25cm) or size B. This is a larger hook then is usually used with this thread but it gives me the size piece I want and makes it easier to see the holes to.

All the heads are basically the same. They are worked in the round. The head hangs outside the book and helps the reader find their place easily.

Here are some tips that I have found for adding sculpture to crochet heads. Most sculpture crochet patterns create the sculpture with the stitches as these patterns do, but to add a little more depth and height to the sculpture there are a few things that can be done.

I am not an expert on embroidery but I know some of the basic stitches. I use simple straight stitches for the eyes as this give me the look I want, although I am sure a French knot would work for more rounded or dot eyes such as the Raggedy Ann and Andy Patterns.

For the more sculptured faces of the other bookmarks, I knot the thread and start at the back of the head where much will be covered with the placement of hair on the doll or in this case bookmark. Sending the needle through a hole between the stitches in the back of the head (opposite the eyes in the front), I pull the knot through the head to just past the stitches in the back. I do not pull it all the way through the stuffing to the front but leave it just underneath the back of the head.

I do a few straight stitches on the front over the eye holes. I try to come out at the same spot on the part of the eye closest to the nose and fan the stitch out a little bit on the outside of the eye. When I have the eye the shape I want, I add some additional depth by sending the needle all the way through the head and coming out the back. I go back through the head to the other eye hole on the face making a stitch on the back outside by going over a crochet stitch. (This stitch will be covered with hair.) I pull this stitch really tightly which pulls the front of the face at the eyes toward the back. Then I make another eye using the same method as the first eye.

Since the nose should be higher than the rest of the face, the nose needs to be built up. Using the skin color, I again make a hidden knot by going in through the back and pulling the knot through to just below the surface. Bringing the needle out the front to a point exactly in between the two eyes, I do a series of straight stitches from between the eyes down to a row above the mouth. Again, I bring the needle to the same point between the eyes and fan out the stitches at the bottom of the nose. I continue to build on top of these with straight stitches until I have a large enough nose for the face.

The lips are again simple straight stitches. I found that trying to do a smile just makes the piece look silly so I do a single straight stitch on the row below the nose and two smaller straight stitches just above this.

I hope this helps explain some of the techniques I have found in making simple faces on small crochet pieces such as the bookmarks.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A little bit about me

I live in a small town in Kansas where the wheat fields are more plentiful than the homes.

I am passionate about the wonderful art forms that are made with yarn or thread. My interest started young when my mother taught me to make a chain stitch in grade school with some crochet thread and a hook. She taught me to read crochet patterns and then knitting patterns and I began going through all her patterns to make as gifts.

When I would accompany her to antique stores, I saw so many different types of beautiful lace work made by generations before us. I began looking for sources to teach me some of these techniques and over the years I have found some wonderful books that explained the art forms.

Here are a few items I made of Assisi embroider.

I love the look of this cross stitch embroidery because of the fanciful creatures that are used and because the design is actually made from the area that is not embroidered.

In the antique store, I saw knitted lace doilies. I found this pattern but could was not able to find the small knitting needles in our local store. My wonderful husband was able to make me some double pointed needles using a needle gauge to get the write circumference.

I was amazed at the wonderful artwork involved in Irish Crochet and finally found some books that taught me this process.

As our children came along. we got pet angora bunnies who are loved and well cared for. Their wool, (the warmest wool available) is brushed and then I mix it with dyed Moreno Sheep wool (a wool that is almost as soft as my bunnies wool. I spin the wools on a replica of an old Irish Hearth Wheel. This is usually done in the evenings and my daughters loved to go to sleep to the sound of this relaxing activity. I then ply the wool to make yarn for knitted lace garments.

I have done spinning demonstrations on "old settlers days" and other history re-enactments to help others understand how knitting is done help bring the history of this garment making process in to the present. My work has also been shown in a Kansas Art Gallery.

My children are gone out of the home now and I have time to design my own patterns for knitting lace and crochet. I am amazed at the challenge my own but it is a challenge I love.