Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

Thanks to all of you for knitting the dress dishcloths.  Part of the pattern sale proceeds have gone to purchase chicks and ducks through Heifer International.

Dress Dishcloth Knit Pattern Purchasers
This gift to Heifer in your honor is a driving force for change and will help to end hunger and poverty worldwide.
A family in need will receive:
  • Gift of a Flock of Chicks Gift of a Flock of Chicks
  • Gift of a Flock of Ducks Gift of a Flock of Ducks
I made a gift in your honor.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weaving Potholders during National Craft Month

 March is National Craft Month and seems like the ideal time to share the story of my potholder loom.  It was the first opportunity I had to create using textiles.
loom and potholders.jpg
I’ve had this loom for more than 50 years.  When I was a child, I spent a lot of time with my teenage cousin.  He and his girlfriend took me along with them many times and babysat for me often.  Several years later, they would be married and I would be their flower girl.  I received my loom for Easter while visiting his girlfriend’s parents when I was 5 years old.  I was thrilled to receive it and treasured it from the beginning.
My mom and her sisters crocheted, knit, and sewed and I was about to carry on the tradition and discover my lifelong passion.  I can’t say I actually remember being taught to make a potholder on the loom but I’m sure my mother sat with me and helped me master the over, under technique with the loops and the hooks on the loom.  And then the “casting off” of the loops, one at a time, using my fingers to secure each loop though the center of the last.  This was before I learned to use a crochet hook.  As I got a little older, mom would teach me to sew and my aunt would teach me to knit.  I tried crochet but couldn’t master it.  But my earliest memory is the pure joy and excitement of creating a square mat, mixing and matching the different color loops to create fun patterns. I’d choose several colors to combine; I practiced my math skills by making sure that the colored pattern would be even.  I spent many hours at the kitchen table or in my room creating potholders for my mom, aunts, and grandparents.  I sold them to our neighbors and friends.  It was my first realization that my passion could be profitable.
My loom made its first move with me when I was 9.  My parents were thrilled to move us to a brand new home in a town with excellent schools.  I wasn’t so sure.  I didn’t know anyone and the kids at school weren’t very nice to the “new girl”.  But I had my loom and we had a new kitchen and so I made potholders. Those times past, I adjusted to my new school and made friends.  I learned to love my new home and town.  Busy, my loom went back into the container and sat safely on the shelf in my closet.
As a teenager, life was full of friends, school, and dating with all the drama a teenager encounters.  I sewed most of my clothes during those years, I knit several blankets and a few scarves and I continued to use my loom to make potholders.   My loom and a supply of colorful loops were kept safely in my bedroom closet.  When I was alone, I’d turn to my loom.   I’d sit and once again arrange the colors of the loops and weave several potholders.  Then the loom would go safely back in its place in my closet.  I was not very neat as a teenager but my loom and loops had a space in my closet and were always put away with care.
I moved to my first studio apartment in my 20’s and on my own for the first time, it was very Mary Tyler Moore Show. I’d spend time at home in the evening knitting and dreaming of my future. Occasionally, I’d surround myself with small piles of the blues, yellow, green, red, and white loops arranging patterns with the colors as I would weave a potholder.   It was relaxing after a day at work and gave me a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
I married in 1977 and moved into my home.  Of course, my loom came with me.  I didn’t do much sewing or knitting during those years.  I did  hook a rug and do some cross stitch but being a wife and having a full time job took up most of my time.  My loom stayed in the closet for several years.  When it became obvious that my marriage was not going to last,  I moved into a small rental with my three year old son and in an effort to re-focus my life, I began to knit again.  Soon, the loom was out on the table and I was planning my future again as I made potholders.  I returned to college and finished my undergraduate degree while working full time and raising my son.  Life was hectic being a mom, student, and full time employee.   I didn’t have much time for my needlework passions.
My son went off to college and then to live on his own.  I made potholders for his first apartment in his favorite colors.  His question to me was ‘Where do other people get potholders because you make all of ours?’  I laughed.  Was it possible that he didn’t know that potholders could be purchased in a store? My parents moved to their retirement home and of course, they got new potholders.
In recent years, I’ve been able to devote more of my time and energy to my passion for all things hand made.   I knit and sew daily, I’ve designed and had several knitting patterns published, I maintain this blog about my knitting and sewing experiences.  I’ve taught many children and adults to both knit and sew.  I’ve created a variety of household items and clothing.  I’ve sold some and given many as gifts.  I’ve knit gloves, hats, scarves, and sweaters for myself.  I’ve made blankets and tote bags, pillows and drapes and countless other items. I began recreating doll clothes from vintage patterns and designing clothes for several different types of dolls.  But still, I return to my potholder loom.  
When I’m deciding what my next knitting project will be or when something is on my mind, I take out my loom with its supply of loops.  I sit and arrange the colors, creating different patterns, enjoying the simplicity and satisfaction of a useful project completed.  I have no idea how many potholders I’ve made through the years, but I still have the same feeling of contentment as I make each over and under motion and complete each mat.
Harrisville Designs has become my supplier of loops.  The quality is excellent.  Last year, I discovered the Pro Size Loom and loops.
Large grey on loom.jpg
This loom makes a much larger potholder.  I’m now enjoying weaving on this loom too.

In honor of National Craft Month, I urge you to share your creative talents with others, especially children.  The skills that they learn will be with throughout their lifetime bringing them the joy of accomplishment and the satisfaction of knowing “I made this”.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dressing for Spring 2015 Dress Dishcloth

 Just released! A new dress style dishcloth for Spring.  This pattern is a simple knit with enough texture to make it an interesting skirt. The pattern is available on Craftsy and Ravelry.   As with the other dress dishcloths, you'll need U.S. Size 7 knitting needles and worsted weight cotton yarn such as Bernat , Lion Brand, or Lily Sugar n Cream.

As I did last year, this pattern is only available through the end of April and part of the proceeds go to Heifer International to purchase chicks and ducks.

If you enjoy this pattern, look for the original collection published by Leisure Arts

or the Let's Travel collection.

Here's to a lovely, sunny, warm Spring and A kitchen dressed for the occasion.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Spring Outfit for American Girl Doll

These cold, cloudy winter days have me dreaming of lovely Spring days.  This outfit is a new one for my American girl doll.  I display my dolls and their handmade clothes each summer at a local library and I wanted to make some new outfits.

The dress is from Simplicity pattern #0107.  A plain shift that is made of just a front and back.  Double fold bias tape is used at the armholes and neckline.  I used a zipper instead of velcro for the back closure. A cream colored baby rick rack (.25 inches wide) from Wrights trims the hemline.

The sweater was a pleasure to knit.  The pattern is from a Plymouth Yarn book that is out of print.  It is called Dolly Mixture.  The yarn is Plymouth Encore DK.  One of my favorites for doll clothes.  I cast on with the white and continued to knit with the turquoise.  The buttons are 3/8 inch white by Blumenthal.

The purse was fun to make.  I used felt and the purse from Simplicity pattern #A2108 another out of print pattern.  I found this several years ago at a Florida Walmart.   I sewed it by hand using embroidery floss.  The bead is from my travels.  I think the colors really compliment the outfit.

I really enjoyed sewing the purse.  I'm going to look at my other outfits and make purses for those too.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Favorite Photos of 2014

Happy New Year.  2014 was a busy year.  Lots of travel and fun knitting and sewing projects.  Here's some of my favorite photos of the year.

My beautiful doll from Whales.  Here's their website.
Bonnie and Pearl Doll Sweater by Debbie Trainor
Bitty Baby Outfit

Pierre the Bear Pattern by Leisure Arts
Cotton Market Bag
My incredible trip to Britain and the Provence Region of France.

Fabric Bag from Cath Kidston Fabric.  Here's more information

Can Can Shawl

Pro Size Potholder and Dishcloth Dress

Vero Beach, Florida
I have lots of ideas for 2015. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Knitting Themed Knick Knacks

I love to Knit.  I spent at least a few hours everyday knitting.  When time allows, I love to sew too.  I love everything about knitting, the yarn, the tools, the patterns, the endless choices of things to create.  I also love being surrounded by things that remind me of knitting.

Here's a few of my favorite knitting related knick knacks
Hallmark ornament

Memento from a trip to Lancaster, Pa

TBC 1997 #25651
TBC 1997 #36501-1

The Quilting Bee by Goebel 1999

Yarn Shop with Knitting Classes
Boyds Bears #392104
#392104 Open

Sunday, December 7, 2014

My Fall 2014 Sewing Class

Before Thanksgiving, I finished teaching Learn to Use your Sewing Machine for the second time at my local community school.  The first time was in the Fall of 2013.  Here's the link to the results from the first class.  Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching this class and working with the students towards completing their projects.

This class had 12 individuals enrolled.  8 beginners and 4 students who enrolled for a second time.  The beginner's each made a tote bag and the repeat students made pillows and learned to install a zipper.  Having 2 groups going at the same time was a little challenging but it all worked out.  Also, this time, I had my youngest students, 2 young woman aged 12 and 13.  They were very eager to learn to sew.  Here's their finished tote bags

In order to complete this project, we started with learning to wind a bobbin and thread their machines.  Then learning to sew a straight stitch and pressing open the seams.  These tote bags are lined.

My advanced students made pillows with a zipper closing.  Several of them made more than one.

The class was 5 two hour sessions and we spent the last week trying out making buttonholes and learning to use the machine to sew a blind hem.

My next class is Winter of 2015.  This time, I'm splitting the group into 2 separate classes, a beginner and an intermediate.  My intermediate class will consist of students that have already completed the beginner class.  I'm picking out 2 patterns for them to choose from.  One clothing piece and one household piece.  They'll learn to layout the pattern pieces, read the instructions as they sew their project, make a casing for elastic, and sew a hem.  My beginner class will be limited to 8 this time.  I've found that more than that is just too much of a challenge.  Especially in the first two weeks.

I use I Can't Believe I'm Sewing by Leisure Arts as the book for my beginners.  Their practice project is the coaster on pages 14-17.


So where is your sewing machine?  When was the last time that you used it?

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