Fair Isle Knitting – Not as Intimidating as it Looks

Projects

I have avoided Fair Isle Knitting all these years because it looked difficult. Multiple colors of yarns are used and charts need to be read, all making it seem very complicated. But as they say, looks can be deceiving.

If I could learn to skateboard, I figured I could learn to Fair Isle Knit. Turns out it only took me one sitting to learn Fair Isle Knitting. Much easier than skateboarding. I already had the basic skills I needed to do this type of knitting, the only thing stopping me was fear of the unknown.

To Fair Isle Knit, one needs to know how to knit, how to pearl, and how to read a chart. The rest is so simple that I feel silly for avoiding this technique for so long. Also, there are two types of knitting styles, English and Continental. While this technique can be used with just one of these styles of knitting, it is more efficient to use both styles at the same time. Doing so takes less time as the yarns do not cross and tangle.

I found easy directions for learning to Fair Isle Knit at: https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/fair-isle-stranded-knitting-2116385

Basically, a color is added to the knitting and then after using it, it is dropped and the other color is picked up and used. When picking up a different color the yarn goes under the last strand that has been dropped and knitted as normal. All this is done without cutting the yarn, the yarn is picked up when needed. Longer strands will form on the backs of the knitted piece (the pearl side) but the front of the piece (the knit side) will show the pattern.

To read a chart: The charts are made of squares. Each square represents a stitch. The charts are read from right to left on the knitted side and from left to right on the pearl side. The squares will be in different colors depending on the color of yarn to be used. So if there are two dark squares (let’s say dark=blue), one light square (let’s say light=pink), and three dark squares, one would knit two stitches in blue, then switch to pink and knit one pink, and then switch back to blue and knit three blue. All this is done without cutting the yarn, the yarn is picked up when needed.

Do not be afraid to try Fair Isle Knitting. It looks beautiful and is much easier than it looks.

As always, Happy Knitting!

DIY Needle Minder

Projects

Sick and tired of trying to keep track of my embroidery needles, I decided I needed a needle minder. However, the one I really wanted was out of stock on-line. I did not really care for any of the other designs. What was I to do?

I searched through my drawer and found a cute French button I had ordered but never used. The button was made of wood and painted with a sweet design. I decided to have this button made into my needle minder. I enlisted my husband to help. He purchased a very strong button magnet set and attached it to the button for me with epoxy. One magnet attaches to the button. This piece goes on top of the embroidery work fabric. The loose magnet is then put underneath the fabric and sticks to the other magnet holding the needle minder to the fabric. When taking a break from embroidering, the needle sticks magnetically to the button minder. No more lost needles! Thanks Honey!

As always, Happy Crafting!

The back of the minder. Just slip off the top magnet and place between the fabric.

Cross Stitching on Linen or What Have I Gotten Myself Into!

Projects

Feeling crafty, I ordered a cross-stitch pattern and material. The pattern is a bit folky and I thought it looked like fun. A train station at Christmas time. I have not cross-stitched in years, but used to love it when I was a kid. I have always cross-stitched on aida cloth in the past and found it relaxing. This pattern, however, called for 30 count linen. Ok. So I ordered the supplies and, after they arrived, I sat down to begin.

But where to begin? 30 count linen does not have noticable holes like aida cloth. It is a much more tightly woven material. How on earth do I even count these holes! I had to google it. Ok, now I knew to count every other hole (if one can even call these holes) and stitch my crosses. I started in. Had to take my glasses off. Had to REALLY concentrate. Oh my! What have I gotten myself into! This was suppposed to be fun but now I had a headache.

After getting into the project, I got used to the material but needed to be under a good light source to work comfortably. For cross-stitching projects, I would not recommend linen to beginners. It would be way to frustrating. I would not recommend it to older persons or people with poor eyes either. While I like the look of the linen, I just do not enjoy working that small. I had also purchased 28 count linen. To tell the truth, there is really no significant difference between the 30 count and 28 count linen. Small is small. If I had seen the material before purchasing it on-line, I may have had second thoughts from the start. But by ordering things on-line, it is extremely hard to see exactly what one is in for. Of course, I could always use the materical for embroidery. We shall see…

From this photo one can see what I was working with. The 30 count in the center. The 28 count on the right looks no different to me. On the left is (Fiddler’s cloth) Aida cloth that is 14 count and the holes are much more visable.

As always, Happy Crafting!

Finished Just in Time for the Holidays

Projects

As I said in my previous post, (Cleaning-up the Pieces and Putting Them Back Together) I had begun a quilt that had been shoved to the back of the cabinet. I am pleased to say that after way too many years of procrastination, I have finally completed the Santa quilt! That is one task I can check off my list. One down, about four more to go. I’ll get there.

The Santa quilt was not hard to do, but it did take a bit of time. I, of course, had to change a few things along the way. First off, I left off the text. I decided I did not want the quilt to “say” a message. I did not feel it necessary. Also, my outer border is not as wide as what was called for. This is because I wanted to use the fabric I had on hand and I did not have enough for a wider border. But the biggest change I made was to what Santa is carrying in his hand.

“What do you think this is?” I asked my husband.

“A mouse,” he said.

I knew it! That is exactly what I thought it looked like too. The pattern is titled, Teddy Bear Santa, however, the “bear” looks more like a mouse. Its ears are too big and the snout is not quite right. So for my quilt, I made the teddy bear ears smaller. I also embroidered a mouth onto the snout. I am happy at how it turned out. I think those small changes make it look like the teddy bear it should be.

The Pattern
My finished quilt with my version of the teddy bear

One great benefit of making something oneself is that things can be changed. The pattern can be altered slightly to ones own taste. Why make something that will not please you, after all.

Well with that project finished, I will be off to the next one. Perhaps I will share it in a future post. As always, Happy Crafting!

How Not to Store Embroidery Floss

Projects

I think we have all been guilty of putting things away without care. Stuffing things into a drawer, closet, purse, under the bed, wherever it may be, without worrying to much more about it at the time. Later, sometime down the road, the snowball effect happens and things become out of control. This is exactly what happened to my little bag of embroidery floss.

Honestly, I should have known better. Stuffing embroidery floss in a bag is not a good idea. The strands can not keep to themselves. Soon there is a big party going on in the bag and they are all playing twister. Now it is up to me to untwist all the strands!

Oh, why does she bother, one might think. Well, I do not like to waste, so I feel obligated to save the mess I have created. Plus, the cheapskate side of me says this is not only embroidery floss thrown out but money as well. So onto my task.

This lovely bag of floss would have remained as is had I not recently decided to make some new projects requiring said floss. That is what led to my motivation. So I spent a good amount of time yesterday untangling the mess. I will admit that there were a few casualties, but that can not be helped as the floss was in quite a state.

After entangling the floss, I decided to properly store them on plastic bobbins that are meant for floss to be wound around. These bobbins have holes in them that can be strung unto clips for individual projects. Genius! Now I feel all organized and am ready to start on my embroidery.

As always, Happy Crafting!

Fun Little Paper Mache Craft

Projects

I saw these cute little “bell” people and decided I had to get crafty. Some were made of ceramics and some I think paper mache. I decided to make my little bell person from paper mache. But I needed company, so I asked the kids if they wanted to make one as well. Everyone was on board.

We started by making a form to paper mache around. Ours were wadded up paper and fruit stuffed into a ziplock bag. Next, I poured glue into a yogurt container and added water to thin the glue and gave it a stir. Then we all tore newspaper into strips, dipped into the glue mixture, and squeeged the glue from the paper with our fingers and arranged the strips around our forms to create a bell shape. A few coats of this is recommended.

My son making the form for his person.

I then used magazines and paper mached the colored pieces onto the bell as if I were painting the piece. In this way I did not have to paint the piece in the end. I did paint my little guy’s facial features when he dried with black acrylic paint.

The kids decided to paint their guys with acrylic paint instead of using magazines. After they dried overnight, we put on a coat of clear varnish. Then it was time to string them up. I strung my little guy but his feet kept hitting each other and turning around. My son, on the other hand, had a perfectly aligned little man. So I asked him to string mine for me. He also finished his sister’s guy as well.

These bell people did take a while to make. However, we were having such a good time that we really did not notice just how long we were at it until we had finished.

My little man.

I really liked how my little man turned out. He makes me laugh. He is so cute. I have hung him above my desk so I can look at him. As I am writing this, I am amused that he is such a good dancer. With my fan blowing on him he has quite the moves.

My son’s man. So sofisticated.
My daughter’s man dressed in swim trunks.

We had fun using our imaginations to create unique guys with interesting personalities. Let us know what you think. As always, Happy Crafting!

DIY Toothpick Container

Projects

The toothpicks I bought came in a thin cardboard box. The typical packaging for toothpicks. I thought this annoying and a bit messy. What to do? The DIY toothpick container of course!

The thought of making my own toothpick container came to me as I was cleaning out the spice drawer. I came across a plastic spice container with a shaker lid, the kind with holes punched in the top to shake the spice out with. I decided to use this container to shake out my toothpicks instead. It was the perfect size to hold the toothpicks. So I washed it up and inserted my toothpicks. When given a little shake, the toothpicks pop out of the holes and I am able to grab however many I want.

For me, this DIY container is a much better option than the box the toothpicks came in. I am no longer finding toothpicks scattered about the drawer as they fall out of the flimsy box. I also like the fact that I did not have to spend money on a special container. It is always good to feel a bit more organized in the kitchen. As always, Happy Baking!

DIY Grab-It Potholder

Projects

Another day of making potholders. Today it is the grab-it potholder. It slips on and looks like a puppet. Handy for grabbing a cookie sheet or muffin tin from the oven. Let’s get started…

Supplies:

material

quilter’s batting

thread

sewing machine

scissors

needle

thimble

copy paper (for making the pattern piece)

pencil

ruler

self-healing craft matt

rotary blade tool

Step 1: Make the pattern. This piece is basically an oval that fits your fingers. Fold a piece of paper in half then in half again. Make one side of the fold the width and the other the length. When unfolded all sides will be the same. My dimensions are roughly: 2.5″ width x 4.5″ length with a curved side. See photos.

Width 2 1/2″
length 4 1/2″

Step 2: Unfold pattern piece. Pin to fabric and cut 2 pieces. Pin to batting and cut 1 piece.

Step 3: Make the pocket pieces by folding the pattern piece in half (widthwise) and then folding down 1/2″. Pin to fabric and cut 4 pieces. Pin to batting and cut 2 pieces.

Step 4: With right sides together, sew two pocket material pieces together. Iron seams open. Place one batting piece inside and fold over. Repeat making one more pocket piece.

Pin pocket pieces together
Press pocket pieces, add batting, fold over

Step 5: Sew 1/2″ seam around pocket piece and keep going to quilt a maze design on pocket pieces. This keeps batting in tact through use and washing.

quilted pocket piece

Step 6: Sandwhich the main piece of batting between the two pieces of oval fabric with the right sides out. Stitch 1/2″ seam allowance around the edge. Quilt a bit on this piece as well. Simple straight lines will do just fine.

Step 6

Step 7: Now take the pocket pieces and pin to the oval. Sew around curves leave the straight sides open.

Step 7

Step 8: Cut a long strip of fabric 2 1/2 ” wide. The length should be longer than the oval…don’t worry about making it exact. It is better to have this too long so that it can be fitted and cut when almost finished sewing. After cutting the strip, fold one end 1/4″ under on width side. Now fold it in half lengthwise and press. Then pin just the start of the binding to the edge of the potholder with raw edges together. Do not pin the whole thing as the binding will have to be stretched and shaped to fit as it is being sewn. Sew in place with a 1/2″ seam. When almost to the end, cut the binding with an overlap and fold under 1/4″ and finish sewing.

Cut binding 2 1/2″ wide with self healing matt and rotary cutter or by hand is fine too
Fold and press
Pin just the beginning of binding to potholder
Cut binding when almost finished leaving an overlap. Oh and don’t forget to turn the end under (not shown in photo) for a finished look.

Step 9: Almost done! The machine part of the sewing is finished. Get out a needle, thread, thimble, and scissors to complete the potholder. Turn the binding to the back. It should just cover the seam stitch. Hold in place and with a threaded needle grab a tiny amount of fabric from the potholder and from the binding and whip stitch all aroung the potholder. Press the potholder to flatten it out and bit. Voila! Now you are ready to take those cookies out of the oven. Happy crafting!

DIY Pot Handle Potholders

Projects

I am back to making potholders. Now that my pot lids are cozy, I decided my pot handles should be dressed as well. I drafted a pattern and made it in two ways. The first way I tried has a band to finish off the edges. The second and easier version has the edge finished first. I will give directions for both. My favorite is the second version. It is faster to make and takes less fabric. These can literally be sewn up in less than five minutes.

Let’s start with my favorite version first…

Supply List:

a sheet of copy paper (to draft the pattern)

pencil

ruler

scissors

pan (to make the potholder fit)

material

quilter’s batting

sewing machine

thread

Length of my pattern: roughly 6″
Width of my pattern: roughly 2.5″

Step 1: Cut the pattern piece for the pot handle. My pattern is roughly 6″ long x 2.5″ wide. I folded the rectangle in half lengthwise and then cut rounded corners. This can be adjusted to fit any pot or pan handle. Just measure the handle and make adjustments as needed.

Step 2: Cut out pieces. Material = 2 pieces / Lining = 2 pieces / Batting = 2 pieces

Step 3: For the batting pieces only…trim off 1/4″ from width on top edge (edge with squared corners).

Step 4
Step 4: press

Step 4: With right sides together, pin one material piece to one lining piece with right sides together at top edge. Repeat with the other piece of material and lining. Set batting aside for now. Sew a 1/4″ seam. Press open seams.

Step 5: Place the two material/lining pieces right sides together.

Step 5: Now to sandwhich the layers. Place the two material/lining pieces right sides together.

Step 5b
Step 5b

Step 5b: Place one batting piece on top of material. Fold over lining. Hold and Flip over. Repeat this for other side. Pin in place.

Step 6

Step 6: Sew a 1/2″ seam from top around to other side of top leaving opening at top width.

Step 7: Turn and place on handle of pot.

—————————————————————————————-

Now for the more complicated version with the band trim….

If using this method, a contrasting fabric will be needed for the trim. Not much… a tiny piece… Also needed is a needle and thimble as hand sewing is required.

Step 1: Same as above

Step 2: Same as above

Step 3: Sandwhich pieces together. (Do not trim the batting in this method.) Place right sides of fabric together. On top of this place a batting then a lining. Flip and place a batting and a lining on the other material piece. Pin together.

Step 4: Sew a 1/2″ seam around from top around to other side of top leaving an opening at width end. (same as step 6 above)

Step 5: Turn.

Step 6: Pick out a contrasting fabric for trim
Step 6: Cut trim fabric double width as pattern fold in half lengthwise then fold in half widthwise and sew seam1/2″
Step 6: Place trim over pot holder with raw edges together.

Step 6: Pick out a contrasting fabric for the trim. Cut a rectangle that is the twice the width as the pattern (5″) x however wide the trim is desired to be then doubled and allow for seam allowance of 1/4″ (1 – 1 1/2″). Fold trim in half lengthwise and press with iron. Next, fold the trim in half widthwise and press with iron. Stitch a 1/2″ seam allowance on width of trim. Slip this over the pot holder with raw edges together. Pin in place.

Step 7: Hand sew trim to pot holder with raw sides together
Step 7: Turn trim to inside and pin in place
Step 7: Whip stitch trim to lining
Pot handle potholder with trim

Step 7: Hand stitch the trim in place using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Turn trim to inside and pin in place. Whip stitch the trim to the lining only covering stitching. Place on pot handle.

My pots and pans are all dressed up and ready to use. No more burnt hands for me! The best part of this DIY projcet is that the potholders take very little fabric and can be made very quickly. The fabric I used were scraps leftover from other projects, so it did not cost me anything to make them.

Be sure to check-out my previous DIY post on making potholders for pot lids as well. As always, Happy Crafting!

Spanish Village Art Center – Balboa Park

Travel

The Spanish Village Art Center is located in Balboa Park in San Diego, California. It is an art collective where members can create and sell their work. Artists can become members in the collective and share studios at the center. The studios are like a little village, each having a welcoming colorful door. It is a good place to catch artists at work and also be able to purchase original art from local artists. Woodworking, painting, collage, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, glass, tile, greeting cards, enamel, gourds, etc… can be found at the Spanish Village Art Center. The different art guilds also hold sales in the center at different times throughout the year. This is a super place to go for original art and gifts for family and friends. They are open seven days a week from 11 am to 4 pm.

My favorite thing about the Spanish Village Art Center are the colorful stones that lead through the center.
Beautiful glass vases, paperweights, and even pumpkins for fall! My favorite studio!
Glass ornaments
Potter’s Guild – Watch a potter throw on the wheel
Pottery for sale
Watch glass blowers in action
An outdoor studio
An iguana bench in the outdoor studio
Grab a cup of coffee and a snack at Daniel’s Coffee