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Tuesday, February 28, 2012


We all have one...or two. If you're a crafter, it may be a stash of fabric or yarn or beads or scrapbook paper. Whatever it is you use to create. If you're not a crafter, I'm willing to bet you still have some kind of stash. Maybe it's unmatched socks, magazines or TP. 

I have at least two stashes. One is yarn though, compared to other stashes I have seen, I don't have lots of yarn. I tend to buy what I need for a project, do the project and move on. I do, however, buy wool when it's on sale since I always use it. That's my stash. It's also spread out all over the house, so no picture of this stash. If I ever clean up my basement & create a craft room, then I'll have an organized stash. Until then, the only stash I'm willing to show is fabric...and it grew by 10 half-yard pieces this weekend.

I never purchased fabric online before. I prefer to look and touch before I buy. However, had a sale last week and I just could resist. I just had to buy some pretty fabric.
Yup, that's Truffula Tree fabric at the top.
Here's an up-close look at 9 of them (I didn't get a good shot of the daisy fabric.)

Aren't they gorgeous?!? These are all destined to be purse linings and I can't wait to use them. In hindsight, I should have ordered more of the utensil fabric to make new curtains for my kitchen. 
I may just need to place another order for more of this beauty!
The Truffula Tree fabric is all mine and will line my spring purse (which I haven't made yet. I really should get on that.)
Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine.
This one reminds me of my sister's kitchen.

And I just love this one with the mod houses and palm trees!
So into the stash they go. Admittedly, my stash is very tame compared to some I've seen. Though, I must admit, these are the 1/2 to 1 yard pieces I use for purse linings. I have larger pieces stored elsewhere, as they are for other projects and take up a lot of room.

Can I even call this a stash? It's more like a selection. 
It's not organized by color or anything, though I do try to fold the fabric so I can see it from the outside. This way I don't have to go through the whole pile to find the one I want. I do admit to occasionally going through the pile & "discovering" a fabric I didn't know I had. That's okay, though. I love a treasure hunt!

If you've never bought from before, I highly recommend their site. Their fabrics are exactly the same in person as they are on the website. When you browse the site, they tell you how many 1/2 yard cuttings are available so you can make an informed buying decision. (Unless stated otherwise, a quantity of '1' is a half yard, but you can get larger cuttings by ordering a larger quantity. For instance if you order a quantity of '2' you will get 1 yard of fabric.) Their customer service is superb! In fact, I received a call the day after I placed my order letting me know that one of the fabrics I ordered was no longer in stock. (Not a big deal b/c it was a sale fabric.) They gave me many options including a refund. I choose to get the same fabric in a different color. It did not hold up my order at all and I received my order a very fast 5 days after placing it.*

So, what about you? Have you ever ordered fabric online? Do you have any sites to share? I would love to hear about your sources and your stash in the comments.

*Disclaimer: Fabricworm did not pay me for this statement or review. I found them on Pinterest, checked out the site and placed an order. I found their materials to be fantastic, so I just thought I would share.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Bathroom Curtains -or- How I Spent My Saturday

I have wanted new curtains in my bathroom for a while now. I have a very small window, which tends to get overwhelmed by any curtain. In fact, I would prefer to leave it bare, but the window faces the driveway and our neighbor. I'm nothing, if not modest. So, I've been making due with cafe curtains and valance trying to find a good combo. For 10+ years, I've liked NOTHING I put on the window. (Which is why there is no before picture. Everything was hideous!)

Last weekend, Joann Fabrics had a sale on all home decor fabrics. 50% off any fabric AND I had a coupon for an additional 10% all my purchases -- including sale items. I knew it was time to strike.

I bought a yard of this fabric:

and paid only $16 for it! I was so excited b/c I've been looking at this swatch for well over a month. I love this print because it coordinates well with my shower curtain and, well, it's just plain pretty. So, I made a pair of cafe curtains and, after hanging them, decided I should fancy things up a bit. I looked around the house for items I could use. Up-cycle, if you will. LOL

I found a couple of crochet bracelets I made one in peacock blue & the other in a lime color that almost exactly matches the curtain. Each is closed with a vintage clip on earring I inherited from my grandmother. After I cinched the curtains, I knew I needed something behind them. The only lace or sheer curtains I had were heavy, machine-made lace, and too long. Then I found this wonderful linen pillowcase I've been hanging on to. It came in one of the many linen lots I've purchased from auctions or estate sales over the years. There is only one, so I've never been able to use it. I kept it, though, because the lace trim is so lovely. I decided I MUST use it as a curtain. 

I very carefully picked the stitches that were holding the ends of the crochet lace together & then cut the pillow case in half. I then hemmed the pillow case, added a rod pocket & hung it behind the curtains I just made. I didn't have a sash rod on hand, and I didn't want want the curtain to protrude too far from the window, so I channeled my inner pioneer goddess and hung the curtain on a piece of ribbon tacked to the window casing. Here is the end result:
Why yes, that is an autographed Ghostbusters photo you see. In the bathroom. That's how we roll.  lol
Here's a close-up of each of the bracelets/curtain ties.

I'm leaving both bracelets on until I decide which color I want to use. Then I'll make a matching one & find the matching earring. Right now the lime is in the lead, though I'm happy for feedback.

In all, a project that cost $16 and is 50% up-cycled! I would love to hear about your projects using items you already own in the comments. Thanks for sharing!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Lately, I'm all about flowers. I've had success with my flower pins, which got me thinking about all the other types of flowers out there. First up, daffodils! After all, what's more Spring-like than a daffodil?

I looked around at all kinds of patterns. Some of the free ones were nice, and I even saved a couple. Then I found this one on Etsy:
This beautiful pattern can be purchased from melbangle on Etsy.

It's perfect! The original calls for acrylic yarn and instructions are included to make it on a "stem." I decided to make it into a pin and since I like to felt, I made the daffodil in wool.

It's funny how the flower dictates the yarn. My flower pins are made from worsted weight wool and I love them that way. They're dense and fuzzy and really make a statement. I tried making a daffodil in worsted weight wool and it looks like a dinosaur daffodil.
That's a standard size mouse - this daffodil is bigger than my hand!
Not at all what I wanted. So, I switched to fingering weight wool, and a much smaller hook. Perfection! These are petite and delicate. So far, I've made some in light yellow and a darker yellow. I also have some combos -- just like in nature! My favorite just might be the darker yellow with the orange rimmed center. Next up, white with pink centers. I'm just waiting for the yarn to get here. 

I'm thinking about fixing these up as corsages, in boxes with a ribbon & everything, and offering them as an alternative to the traditional Easter corsage that needs to be refrigerated and eventually dies. They'll be in my Etsy shop soon -- in plenty of time for Easter.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Heavy is the head that wears the crown

Unless that crown is made from yarn.

Pattern can be found here.

This is a fun pattern for a child's crown. The pink one, pictured above, was made a little larger to fit an adult's head. I made it for my 85 year old Grandmother's birthday last year. She got a kick out of it. It's made from cotton and stands up well on it's own.

I also made one this year in purple for a special little 4 year old. Stupid me forgot to take a picture.

You really need stiff yarn or else the crown droops. Cotton works well and stiff acrylic does too. Stay away from soft yarns, regardless of content. They'll just droop. Even the wool blends don't stand up well.

For the ultimate stiff crown, I recommend felting a crown in 100% wool. Of course it will shrink, so the pattern (as written) will fit a toddler. You'll need to make it larger to fit an older child or an adult, but the result is fabulous!

Made from 100% wool in white.

While not as much detail as the non-felted ones (the x-stitches melt away, for instance) it certainly does stand up well and the bubbles pop! I think I'll try this again & I'll thread ribbon through the bottom x-stitches to see if it helps them stand out. The worse that will happen is I'll have pretty ribbon as part of the crown. That can't be bad. 

If you make this pattern, I would love to see the results. Be sure to post a picture or email it to me at and I'll include it in a follow-up post.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blocking Your Finished Item

I confess. I don't have much experience with blocking my finished crochet pieces. I'm a felter, so most of my items are made, felted and dried. Sure I'll shape an item as it dries. Hats go on to bowls and purses gets stuffed with plastic shopping bags or bags of poly stuffing (those work SO well, btw!) I don't make a lot of items that get blocked without first being felted.

Lately I've been making lots & lots of flowers. While I want to try this pattern in wool & felt it, I first made it in a wool blend -- just because I like the colors. I'm glad I did. It's pretty, but it's a mess.It is crying out to be blocked.
Pattern is #3 on this page.
To block an item, you need  pins & a piece of styrofoam:

Make sure your item is wet. I washed mine & rolled it up in a clean towel to get out most of the moisture. Then pin the item to the styrofoam making sure to pull it into the shape you want.

Use lots of pins & make sure the item is exactly how you want it. For this flower, I pinned each petal down so it came to a point. Now walk away & let it dry. 

A couple days later, and I have this:

Lovely! And ready to be sewn onto....something. I don't know what yet. Maybe a pillow or maybe I'll use it as a highlight on a round purse. I have no idea. I just wanted to make it. 

I think I'll go make another. 

Reading a Crochet Pattern

I've noticed a lot of posts on FB lately from people asking for help reading a pattern. So, I wrote up a pattern to make a simple poppy flower. We'll go through how to read the pattern and understand the abbreviations.

This is what we'll be making. I should add that this is my own, untested pattern, inspired by all the flowers I've been making lately. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
Most patterns start out with a materials list which looks something like this:

     Small amounts of yarn in black & red
     Hook sized for yarn used  (check your yarn label for the recommended hook size)
     stitch marker  (optional, but we'll be crocheting in the round, so this is a good way to mark the first stitch)
     blunt needle    (to weave in the ends)

This is just a list of what you will need to complete the project. The pattern will tell you exactly the type of yarn used to complete the finished project as seen. If you don't wish to use the yarn specified, you can substitute a different yarn. In order to ensure you buy enough yarn, I like to look up the yarn used (Google comes in handy here!) and calculate how many yards were used to complete the project. When I buy the yarn I want, I now have an idea of how much to buy. If you're unsure what yarn to substitute, bring the pattern to your local yarn store (LYS) for advice. You can also google "yarn substitutions" for ideas.

For this project, you just need small amounts of the colors used, so it's a great stash buster. For the flower pictured, I used 100% wool in red and black because I plan on felting the flower.

Next, most patterns will list abbreviations used when writing the pattern. This is helpful so that you know how to read the pattern & it also tells you what stitches you'll need to know in order to complete the pattern. If you see a stitch you don't know, search for it on YouTube. YouTube is a great resource to learn a new stitch as you get to watch someone make it and you can bookmark the video & refer to it when needed. For this pattern, we will be using the following abbreviations:
     ch = chain                                                                           
     hdc = half double crochet                                            
     RD = round                                                                        
     sc = single crochet
     ss = slip stitch
     st = stitch
     tc = treble crochet

If there is a need, some patterns will list notes before the instructions. What you might find here are the special stitches you will be working or anything the author feels you should know before beginning the pattern. For my pattern, I have listed the following instructions:
Notes:  You will need to know how to work a magic circle to use this pattern. I used    worsted weight 100% wool (#4) and an “H” hook for flower about 3.25” before felting.

If you don't know how to start with a magic circle, you can chain 3 and slip stitch to form a loop. You can then work the stitches from Round 1 (below) into the loop. I do recommend looking up "magic loop" on YouTube and learning how to do this. Once you learn the magic loop, you will never want to chain to form a loop. The magic loop is so much easier and it allows you to completely close the center, so there is no hole. With that said, if you're making a pattern that needs a hole in the center, do not use the magic loop (or don't close your loop the entire way.)

If there is any information on gauge you will see this information before the instructions. This flower doesn't have a gauge because the size will be determined by the type of yarn & size of hook used. However, if you see a pattern that does recommend a gauge swatch, please take the time to work the swatch. This is when you will see if you need to make any changes to the hook size or tension you're using to crochet. The last thing you want to do is complete a pattern and find out it's the wrong size. Been there, bought the t-shirt. Now I ALWAYS make a gauge swatch before starting any new pattern or if I'll be working a familiar pattern with a different kind of yarn. It really doesn't take long and it's soooo worth it!

Next come the instructions. Since this post is intended to help someone learn to read a pattern, I thought it would be best to post the instructions & then break them down. I did not take pictures of the steps as this post is not intended as a tutorial. If there is a need, later on, I can create a tutorial post to make this flower. I promise you, it's very easy!

This pattern is only 6 lines long. We'll take each line (or round) individually.
     RD 1: With black yarn: 5 sc in magic circle, ss to join 

You've looked up magic circle & tested it out. Now you're ready to start. Using your black yarn, work a total of 5 single crochets into your magic circle. I recommend using a stitch marker to mark the first single crochet, so you know which stitch to use to join the stitches. Once you have make 5 single crochets, close the circle by slip stitching to the first single crochet. Now tighten the circle by gently pulling on the magic circle tail until there is no hole. 

     RD 2: sc in each st, ss to join. Fasten off black & switch to red.

Continuing with your black yarn, you will single crochet in each single crochet you just made. To start, remove the stitch marker and make the first single crochet. You may wish to mark this stitch as, once again, this is the stitch you will use to join the circle.

After you make all your single crochets, you will slip stitch to the first single crochet to join the circle. You can either slip stitch using the black yarn and then join the red yarn in the next round or you can join the red yarn in the last stitch (this is what I do.) To join the red in the last stitch:

Make all 5 single crochets. When you come to your slip stitch, insert your hook into the first single crochet DO NOT PULL THE BLACK YARN THROUGH. Instead, drop the black yarn and pick up the red yarn and pull the RED yarn through to complete your slip stitch. Cut the black yarn leaving a long tail which you will weave in later. Your red is now attached & you can continue to round #3. In Rounds 3 & 4, we're going to use the red yarn to make the foundation for two rows of petals.

     RD 3: (*ch2, 1sc in next st*) repeat around from * to *

To read these instructions you need to know that the information in the parenthesis is meant to be read as a complete set of instructions. Also, when you see an asterisk (*) that means the stitches given between the two asterisk will be repeated. So, for this round using the RED yarn, what we're going to do is chain 2 stitches and then make 1 single crochet in the first single crochet of your circle. This completes the instructions in the parenthesis. You can now move on to the next set of instructions, which tells us to repeat these instructions in the next stitch. So, you will once again chain 2 and make 2 single crochet in the next single crochet in your circle. Complete this process until you've come to the last stitch. Since you're ending with a single crochet, you will single crochet in the stitch where you started the chain 2 process.

     RD 4: repeat RD 3 in same stitches. You will have 2 st and 2 ch2 spaces in each sc
              – one set in the front & one in the back.

These instructions are read as:  Repeat round #3 using the same technique & stitches. Something that is different for this row is the additional information in italics. You will sometimes see this on instruction sheets if the author feels additional information should be given. In this case, the additional information is to assure the reader that they should be making two stitches in each single crochet, as this is not something that would usually be done.

So, to complete Round 4, you will chain 2 stitches and work 1 single crochet in the next stitch. Repeat this process until you come around and single crochet (you're ending with a single crochet, remember) into the last stitch. You will now have two "rows" of chain 2 spaces. One that sits in the back & one in the front. With Round 5, we will start making petals using the front "row" of chain 2 stitches. 

     RD 5: ss into closest front ch2 space (*ch1, 5 hdc, ch1, sc in next ch2 space*) repeat   
              around from * to *

You should read this line as:  slip stitch into the closest (next) chain 2 space (remember, you're working in the front "row" of chain 2 stitches.) After the slip stitch the next cluster (in parenthesis) of stitches is: chain 1, 5 half double crochets (IN THE SAME STITCH AS THE SLIP STITCH,) then chain 1 and single crochet in the next chain 2 space. Repeat this cluster of stitches all the way around the circle. When you get to the last single crochet, we will move to Round #6, where we will create the back row of taller petals.

     RD 6: ss into closest back ch2 space (*sc in next ch2 space, ch4, 5tc, ch4, sc in same 
              space*) repeat around from * to *.  Fasten off and weave in ends.

This round is, actually, very much like the previous round except we're going to be making more chains and doing a different stitch. You should read these instructions as:  slip stitch into the closest (next) chain 2 space in the row behind the row you just worked. After the slip stitch the next cluster (in parenthesis) of stitches is: chain 4, 5 treble crochets (IN THE SAME STITCH AS THE SLIP STITCH,) then chain 4 and single crochet in the next chain 2 space. Repeat this cluster of stitches all the way around the circle. The last single crochet is your ending spot where you can fasten off your yarn and weave in all your ends.

Lastly, these instructions include information on finishing which reads:

     Finishing: You can use the flower as is and sew to a hat, purse or garment. You can
                     also attach a pin back and use as a brooch. If you use 100% wool, you can     
                     felt the flower before using. The flower will shrink about ½ to 1” in size.

The finishing instructions here are very simple. For some patterns, such as purse patterns, garments or afghans, the finishing instructions will tell you how to put your item together. Be sure to read through these instructions before you start to assembly your project.

That's it! I know it seems like a lot, but that's because we went through each line and each stitch. I hope this is helpful in teaching you how to read a pattern. 

Lastly, if you ever have trouble with a pattern, there are a number of sources you can try. You can google a stitch, look it up on YouTube, post a question to a forum or contact the pattern author. You can also leave a comment here or email me at with your question. I don't claim to be an expert, but I can read most patterns and would be happy to help. 

Happy Crocheting!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


If you've ever shied away from a project because you're not sure how to sew the finished pieces together, then this tutorial on seaming from Knit Simple is for you.

Examples & instructions are given for:

woven seam
woven seam

whipstitch seam
whipstitch seam
backstitch seam
backstitch seam 
single crochet seam
single crochet seam
slip stitch seam
slip stitch seam

Very informative! What's your favorite way to seam your crochet projects?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Science of Felting

The first time I saw a handmade, felted, item I decided this was something I wanted to make. I started to read everything I could about felting. I was fascinated!

One of the main things I kept hearing (or reading) is that felting is an art, not a science. Sure there is definite science involved. After all, you take 100% wool, agitate it in hot water & you make fabric. It's not magic that felts the item. It's science. 

Still, I understood what they were saying. Felting is unpredictable and it will appear differently depending on how much you agitate the yarn, how heavily it is agitated, the composition of the yarn, the temperature of the water, etc. However, after felting well over 100 items, I was feeling confident. After all, I have this down. I knew exactly how long to agitate the item. My results were pretty consistent.

Then I got an order for 30 flower pins. Instead of felting a few at a time, I decided to make the whole batch & felt them all together. Sounds like a good idea, right? I've felted multiple items in one batch before. Usually purses. Which are bigger than flower pins. And, apparently, they don't move around much. 

I did everything the same as I always do.
     Hot water. Check.
     Tiny bit of Ivory detergent. Check.
     Half the flowers in one zippered pillow case. Check.
     Other half in the other zipper pillow case. Check.
     Towel for agitation. Check.

So far so good. The flowers should come out like this:
Before felting on the left, after on the right.
I'm ready. 30 flowers, let get this done!

Two cycles in the washer later, the flowers were felted all right. They were also very fuzzy! I never saw anything like it. Each flower needed a hair cut.

This flower looks like it's been camping for 2 weeks. Haircut! Stat!

So I spent the next hour trimming each flower until it went from the picture above to this:
Much better!

What do you think happened? Too many pins in one pillow case? Just a quirk in the felting process? 

I would love to hear if this has ever happened to you and if there is something I can do to avoid this in the future. 

Happy Crocheting Everyone!