Thursday, October 31, 2013

Have A Very Happy Hallowe'en!

Just a quick note to wish you much Happy Haunting! 
The October issue of Stitchy News will be up later this week :)

UPDATE - A Special Spooky Treat!!!

Make like a bunny and hop on over to Serendipitous Stitching for Jo's super fun Hallowe'en Trick Or Treat Blog HopVisit all the participating blogs and collect letters to form a special Spooky Mystery Phrase - and be entered for a chance to win a prize :) 

I haven't started my own Hallowe'en Hunt yet, but I will definitely be playing along! There's plenty of time if you'd like to join in too - the competition closes on November 7th, 2013!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fine Crochet: A Pumpkin Pincushion!

Hello, hello! Surprisingly, I spent my Thanksgiving weekend not on stitching, but on hooking up this cute little pumpkin :) This is my first attempt at "amigurumi", which is the very popular craft of crocheting or knitting stuffed toys. Most "ami" patterns are worked in regular yarn, but I recently thrifted this lovely orange crochet thread that was just perfect for a pumpkin! And so a pumpkin I did make :)

While searching online for patterns, I stumbled across Planet June, the wonderful site of amigurumi artist and author June Gilbank, who offers lots of tutorials and free patterns! I knew I was in the right place when I saw her amazing Discworld, inspired by one of my all-time favourite authors, Sir Terry Pratchett :) This is her Pumpkin:

And here is mine, without the pins:

For the pumpkin, I doubled the recommended stitches in the free pattern, and did the same for all but the very bottom of the stem where I made a few changes. The vines and the leaf are my own design :) I took some pictures as I went along, and I thought I'd share them for anyone else interested in the process! So this isn't a real tutorial but more of an inspiration for anyone else who would like to try making one:

Fine (Thread) Crochet "Pumpkin" Variation
From Free Pattern - "Pumpkin" - by June Gilbank of PlanetJune

~ Crochet Thread #10 in Orange, Brown, and Green
~ Size 7 (1.50 mm) fine crochet hook
~ Polyester Fiberfill for stuffing
~ Darning Needle
~ Scissors

Pattern Adjustments:
June's pattern is very clear and easy to follow, and contains an explanation of all the US stitch terms at the start :) For the pumpkin, I just doubled all the given amounts and also doubled the size of the stitches. So I started with a chain of 32 (16 x 2), and substituted HDC for the SC and DC for the HDC. So on Row 1 which reads like this:

" sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in next 2 ch, hdc in next 9 ch, sc in last 3 ch (15 st)"

I made the stitches double-high and also doubled the number of them, like this:

HDC in 2nd ch fr hook, HDC in next 5 ch, DC in next 18 ch, HDC in last 6 ch (30 st)

And so on for the rest of the rows until the end. I wrote these replacements right above the original ones on my printout of the pattern, so I wouldn't forget :)

The stitches are ribbed, meaning that they're worked in the back loops only, which gives it the lovely raised ridges! When you reach the end, you have a rectangle:

Which you then fold over and crochet up to close, which makes an open-ended tube:

For joining up the tube, the pattern recommends to "Sl st through both layers (Row 26 and the starting chain)". I found that this looked a little flat, so I only slip stitched through the back loops on Row 26 and the front loops of the starting chain to close.

Then it was time to draw the bottom of the tube together and stuff it!

I used WAY more polyfill then I thought I would need! It's got to be packed in firmly to round out nicely, otherwise you don't get that pumpkin shape :) Once I closed up the top, I followed June's instructions for shaping, just enough to get an indent at the top and bottom. Admittedly, at this point, it looks more like an orange!

And then it was time for the stem! This is worked in a spiral fashion (which was new to me!), and so you don't join the rounds. I did NOT double the stitch height here, but I doubled the stitch amount again. When I reached Round 6 (the base), I did 1 sc, a ch 3 picot and 1 sc in each of the five stitches around. This gave me sharper points.

I also poked a small bit of stuffing up inside the main part of the stem and then shaped the bottom of the stem slightly so that it tapered realistically:

When I was working with the stem, especially as I was shaping it, I kept thinking that I had stitched a tiny chocolate octopus who was missing three legs LOL!

This in the end of the PlanetJune pattern. I could have left my pumpkin here, but it was looking a little plain ;) June includes suggestions for turning it into a spooky Jack O' Lantern with felt features or a Cute (Kawaii) Pumpkin with eyes and a smile.

But I wanted a realistic looking pumpkin, so I decided to add some vines and a leaf :)

The vines came to me easily, I got them to look how I wanted on the first try. But the leaf, oh the leaf! It took me so many tries, and I honestly don't know what I did last going off, but it looked as good as it was going to get so I stopped fussing LOL :)

I joined the leaf and the vines to the pumpkin with the thread tails left on each one, darning through the bottom edge only so that all three are still moveable. I was going to fix them down, but decided I liked the look, especially the way the leaf curls up ;)

And that's it :) My pumpkin worked up in an afternoon, and I had a lot of fun making it! I stuck some sewing pins in for the photos but it will probably end up holding some of the darning needles I use for crochet work. Or it may end up holding nothing at all and just looking pretty, since it looks very cheerful as an Autumnal decoration too!

This is the first time I've shown crochet here at ES, and this is *not* the introductory post to my Fine Crochet work I've long been promising. That's still in the works, but I couldn't resist sharing my first amigurumi today :) What do you think?!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Have A Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Thank You To All Readers For Supporting ES!

Among the many blessings I count, I'm very grateful to all my stitchy friends and the stitchy bloggers who continue to inspire me! And for your interest in this site, which keeps me writing and pushing myself to try new techniques and be a better stitcher ;)

I'm taking this long weekend off :) Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in some stitching! And some blog reading too ;) I have lots to share in the next few weeks, and some site changes to make too, but it's taking longer than expected. Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stitchy News for September!

UPDATE: Many thanks to Karen for letting me know that some of the links in this edition weren't working! As of today, October 2nd, they should be working again :) So sorry for any inconvenience!

Autumn is in the air and Hallowe'en is on its way, but there are still some bright and colourful projects well worth making too :) And Giveaways! Without further ado:

Special Event: "Pumpkins For Cathey"

On Friday, September 27th, pumpkins started popping up all over the Blogsphere with the mysterious title "Pumpkins for Cathey". This was a special surprise event organized by Daffycat for her friend Cathey, also known as Pumpkin at Pumpkin Patch & Co. for her 7th Blogoversary! Sadly, along with the happy congratulations for this wonderful achievement, this event had a serious purpose - Cathey is suffering from end-stage cancer, and Daffycat wanted to raise Cathey's spirits.

Cathey has written two posts well worth reading: A Much Needed Rant and What Cancer Is Not.... Although I'm late and do not know Cathey, I'd just like to add my best wishes - there are links to all the blogs that participated in the comments on Daffycat's post, and you can still visit and offer your own best wishes if you'd like :)

Learn How To Stitch Small Leaves + Stitch A Tiny Pumpkin!

Over at Needle N' Thread, Mary Corbet has recently added a quartet of great posts with stitching suggestions for miniature leaves, perfect for little floral motifs, as part of her awesome Stitch Fun series! So far, there are Fly Stitch Leaves, Cretan Stitch Leaves, Buttonhole Stitch Leaves and the unusual and very pretty Rose Leaf Stitch.

While you're there, you might also want to visit Mary's great tutorial showing how to embroider a cute little pumpkin with bullion knots!

Why Not Embroider A Whole Pumpkin Patch?

Speaking of embroidered pumpkins, Annet at Fat-Quarter has an interesting guide showing how to make a needle-woven one! This stitch is very dimensional, with great texture, just perfect for the Great Pumpkin in your patch :)

Stitchy Inspiration: Beaded Pumpkin Pins

Paulette, who blogs at Beedeebabee, does absolutely amazing work with felt, and her adorable pumpkin brooches - adorned with beaded flowers - are gorgeous! Also, the beaded picot edge is easy and elegant, a wonderful technique I'd like to try! She kindly shares a yummy recipe for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies too ;)

Beautiful Finish: Harvest Moon House

Over at the always-amusing Spinster Stitcher blog, Coni has just finished an amazing Autumnal canvaswork design called Harvest Moon House by Laura J. Perin. See the finish in this post - be sure to click on the photo to see all the lovely details! And if you like the project, you can find lots of update posts by scrolling through her blog :)

Free Pattern: "Autumn Is Here"

Thanks to Ingrid's lovely finish (her beaded rick rack trim is amazing!) at her Mii Stitch blog, I discovered a freebie of a very cute yellow birdie on a branch full of changing leaves! Called "Autumn Is Here", the pattern is available here at The Snowflower Diaries. The designer also offers several other free primitive patterns.

Get Ready For Hallowe'en Stitching With Fun Freebies!

Emma Broidery at the DMC Threads blog has a great round-up, including a host of cute Japanese "kawaii" style monsters. And Jo at Serendipitous Stitching compiled a wonderful list last year! Cyberstitchers also has a spooky Hallowe'en Alphabet (with "Halloween" word chart) and several small frightful freebies, perfect for ornaments.

Tutorial: Two Tiny Embroidered Coin Purses, With Patterns

Bev, who blogs at Flamingo Toes, has little project for using up scraps of fabrics and threads: two cute miniature coin purses! The projects are really made by the vintage-looking purse clasps she used, but the sweet little patterns she provides - an umbrella raining hearts and a bicycle holding flowers - could be used anywhere!

Sew A Patchwork Of Memories!

Amy has written her first tutorial at Cloud CouCou Crafts, and it's a really lovely idea that makes for a beautiful project! She had been saving some clothes from her young daughter's early years for a special project, and made a very cute cushion of simple squares from the material :) It's sewn on the machine, but the idea is easily adaptable to other family members and to hand sewing too. A wonderful keepsake gift to give!

Great Gift Idea: Embroidered Jewelry Pouch!

Speaking of gifts, over at Feeling Stitchy, for Tutorial Tuesday, there is a guide to hand-sewing a small drawstring pouch. Suitable for storing jewelry or other small items, it would also make a lovely personalized gift bag! A link is included to the free monogram frame pattern, which is very pretty, but the lettering is done by hand.

Stitchy Inspiration: Embroidered Magazine Cover

(Found via DMC Threads) Donatella, at the fashion blog Inspiration & Realisation, recently tried embroidering on paper and she shares her results! The image she picked is gorgeous, and the simple running stitch adds a lovely textured overlay :)

Take A Virtual Tour Of Scotland's Textile Treasures

Susan Elliott, of Plays With Needles, recently went on a trip to Scotland and has posted a trio of wonderfully detailed posts about the historical needlework that she saw at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow: Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, A Tisket, A Tasket, and A Tale of Two Coifs. Her post on The Great Tapestry of Scotland is also very interesting, and Susan also has some lovely photos of the Scottish scenery too!

Quick Lesson: Stitching "Over 1"

Veronica, at Veronica's Stitching Vault, has stitched up an excellent example of "over 1" options for stitching on linen! These smaller scaled stitches are often used for fine detailing, including skin shading, but the terminology is so confusing :)

Stitchy Books To Learn From

Over at &Stitches, the team has been sharing their favourite embroidery books, the ones they turn to time and time again for stitchy inspiration! I'd never heard about any of these three previously, so it's very interesting to learn about the contents:

Carina chose Mary Gostelow's "The Complete Guide to Needlework Techniques and Materials", Julie picked the French edition of Mary Thomas' classic "Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches" and Nicole opted for Jacqueline Enthoven's "The Stitches of Creative Embroidery". Do you have a favourite stitchy book? I'd love to know!

"Stitched Blooms" Blog Tour With Giveaways!

Carina Envoldsen-Harris, who co-hosts &Stitches and blogs at Carina's Craftblog, is releasing her first craft book! "Stitched Blooms: 300 Floral, Leaf & Border Motifs to Embroider" comes with digital versions of the motifs on a CD and 20 suggested projects. Carina is currently hosting a Blog Tour for the book, which is almost over, but the full schedule is here and she noted still open Giveaways at the bottom of her most recent blog post. The dates run from October 1st to 6th, so hurry on over and enter to win your own copy! Disclaimer: I have entered one of the Giveaways!

Some of Carina's larger patterns are available for FREE on the DMC site, in the "Pearl Cotton Embroidery" section! My favourites are Summer Days and Bird of Paradise :)

Perfect for Hallowe'en: Historical Dracula Pattern Giveaway!

Fellow &Stitches co-host Julie (of Button, Button) designs as Little Dorrit & Co. and has just released a new Dracula pattern for Hallowe'en. Not your typical vampire, this bloodsucker displays his literary heritage proudly! You can find the full rules and enter to win a copy of the pattern on this post, contest closes on October 9th!

Stitch A Sweet And Simple Bunny With Felt Applique!

Bridgeen Gillespie at Cherry & Cinnamon has a guide for a quick and easy Spring Bunny, but the background fabric is actually quite Autumnal :) The free pattern is more of an inspiration than a real template, but this is an adorable idea that is very adaptable! It would be supercute stitched on a floral print with lots of lazy daisies ;)

Quick and Cute Stitching: Felt Owl Brooch

Laura (aka Lupin) at Bugs and Fishes has an old but wonderful tutorial on making a cute little owl brooch, perfect for brightening up your Fall coat, scarf or bag :)

While you're visiting, Laura also has a great tutorial for a larger feathered owl and templates for an assortment of felt Autumn leaves with 15 project suggestions!

Fine Crochet: A Lovely And Unusual Rose

Olga at Lacy Crochet has a wonderful pattern and tutorial for a very unique one-dimensional rose! Inspired by traditional Irish Crochet roses - which are commonly three-dimensional - she designed this modern yet elegant flower with asymmetrical petal layers! This motif would be look lovely in a table runner, as Olga suggests, or as a doily and would be practical too, since you could actually lay items on top of it :)

Fantastic Fairy Tale Finish!

Miss Lilly, from the great stitchy blog Back On The Wall, posted an amazing finish at the end of August that I've been impatiently waiting to share with you ever since :) Called "Once Upon A Time", it is a JCA kit designed by Michael A. LeClair, and it is shaped like a real open book!!! Unfortunately, this design no longer appears to be available, but as a finishing idea, the open-book concept is simple and stunning :)

Catch Up With Crafty News From Across The Pond!

Finally, I'm very excited to share that Emma Lenton (good friend of ES and host of EveningEmma) and Michael Westgarth (of the gaming blog MegaWestgarth) have started an exciting new venture called CraftiHub! CraftiHub is devoted to providing daily updates about all kinds of interesting things going on in The United Kingdom. My favourite article so far has been about NeuroKnitting, which is amazing!

The site is in its early stages and could use your support :) If you like what you see, you can follow Craftihub on Bloglovin' like I do, or add it to your favourite RSS reader. I'm really looking forward to watching this site grow!

Thanks Very Much For Reading!

Please feel free to share your favourite crafty/stitchy book in the comments below!

If you have an item of interest for Stitchy News - including your own - please e-mail me! My address is in my sidebar at right (>) under the pretty postage stamps :)