needle arts

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I’ve written up a knitting pattern for a newborn baby hat. It’s a simple top-down beanie knit from about 100 yards or meters of fingering weight. I’ve done the increases in such a way that there is very little counting or marker placement which makes it easy to memorize and fast to knit, good qualities for gift knitting! You can download the pattern here or on Ravelry. I’d be happy to hear from you if you knit it! I handpainted the wool for the sample myself with acid dyes.

Countless – newborn baby hat knitting pattern

hand dyed hand knit baby hat countless knitting pattern

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Sometimes I get an idea and even though I know it’s crazy, I can’t get it out of my head so I do it anyway. This was one of those ideas. Not only is the skirt of this baby dress made from fabric, the bodice portion is both knit and crocheted. I’m not an expert in either knitting or crochet but I’ve done enough of both that there are certain usages that feel more comfortable in one or the other. So it was easier for me to switch back and forth between knitting and crochet rather than to make the whole bodice in one or the other. I’m not explaining this very well am I? Anyway, I’m pleased with how it turned out and you can see a picture of the dress modeled by the recipient on my Ravelry project page. There are also some more pictures and detailed notes there.

fabric skirt knit crochet bodice baby dress and bloomers

This is sized for 6-12mo. Making baby clothes for a baby you have never seen is always risky business so I poured over clothing measurements and knit and crochet patterns to figure out the right dimensions. I remember that when my girl was that age you didn’t want a dress that was too long because it got in the way of sitting up and crawling. It was also mostly useless to have any dress that didn’t have matching bloomers or tights because by the time you found something to cover the diapered bum that didn’t clash, she’d grown out of the dress. So the matching diaper cover was made from a Simplicity sewing pattern.

back of knit and crocheted dress bodice showing buttonhole straps

I’m rather proud of the little detail I thought of for the straps. I crocheted them with buttonholes along the entire length. The smallish buttons are on the inside of the back of the bodice. This way the straps are fully adjustable and can be worn crossed or uncrossed without looking like overalls. Don’t misunderstand, I love overalls on babies, but the regular overall style closure on the front wouldn’t have been suitable for this dress.

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I guess they missed me. : )

A few pictures of things we’ve done over the last few months.

For Valentine’s Day we made corner bookmarks like this lighthouse one I made for our dear neighbor E. I cut 2.5 inch corners off of envelopes (red ones left over from Christmas cards were especially useful) and then attached 2 inch triangles of a different color or patterned paper to each side. The kids had fun mixing up colors and decorating with stamps, stickers and cut-outs from magazines and catalogs. We found the nursery/seed catalogs and the quilting fabric catalogs to be gold mines for this activity. You can find instructions for a similar corner page marker here at Tally’s Treasury.

lighthouse collage corner page marker bookmark

Then we stuck the bookmarks into these Valentine cards. I think I made up this sentiment myself, but it’s possible I heard it somewhere. In any case I found some free clip art online and made this card. I printed out enough copies for all the students in both of the kids classes and they colored and decorated as desired, making each one special for the recipient.

all occasion card for readers books world bookmark earth

I’m including links to the printable pdf version here if you’d like to use it, just print on cardstock or regular paper, fold in half and in half again. original Valentine’s Card. And the write-your-own-occasion card pictured above.

knitting a tapered skinny scarf with novelty yarn

I knit several skinny scarves out of novelty yarn. This is the sort of yarn that looks pretty or fun but you really don’t know what to do with, or at least I don’t. But I finally figured something out that is easy to make and looks good. With extra large needles, I knit loose garter stitch scarves about 3″ wide with a single ball of novelty yarn, about 75 yards, for a long accessory scarf that can wrap around the neck and hang down fashionably. These won’t keep you warm at all but they are fun to wear. Rather than making a blunt end I figured out how to increase and decrease to make tapered ends that give a little extra finishing touch. My construction notes are on my project page in Ravelry.

hand knit skinny scarf with tapered ends novelty yarn

rock candy crystals homemade kitchen science

The subject of gems and crystals came up and on the way to explaining how crystals grow, I decided we needed to do an experiment. This falls under the category of what I call kitchen science—real experiments you can do with stuff you already have around the house. Even though I know I’ve done this before, it took two tries to produce a sugar solution that grew several of these rock candy sticks. I used the instructions from Our crystals did not retain either the flavoring or coloring that we added to the solution. Nobody complained when it came time to eat them.

smashed pansy bookmark flower ink

I cannot remember why we did this but we had fun. The girl and I picked pansies out of the garden to make some smashed flower art. The colored juices from the plant are transferred to soft paper by force. I used some bookmark sized pieces of heavy paper left over from another project. We used a regular hammer, sandwiching the flower face down on the paper between a piece of paper towel on top and wax paper on the bottom, on top of a scrap piece of wood. I cut the green fleshy calyx off the pansy with sharp scissors after positioning it on the paper. You could use this technique to make cards, placecards for a summer meal, or even art to frame. Get more details on how to make prints from botanicals from this great post by Wendy of Build/Craft/Make/Bake. Too bad I read her post after we did this project but there is plenty of summer and plenty of blooms yet to try!

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I started with some handpainted Blue-Faced Leicester wool I received in a trade.

Spun it into a single and then chain-plied it to preserve the colors.
handpaint BFL spinning wheel chain plied navajo

Knit the yarn into these baby socks, based on Cat Bordi’s pattern.
hand spun knit baby socks

And this sweet hat, based very loosely on the Munchkin Hat, pattern by Jeanne Kubricht. See my project page on Ravelry for notes on my version.

newborn hat handspun hand knit

This hat does a great job of staying on our little gnomey’s head and keeping him warm!

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The ballerina kitty and the black ghost ready to trick-or-treat in what’s left of a rather early snowfall. Last year’s ninja masks got reused with a few minor changes. Most everything else came out of their closets or from the Goodwill store. Ballerina kitty was inspired by the cat eared headband and got a black tail sewn on from a length of black feather boa from the craft store.

adult Luigi and Mario hat costume

Here’s Rich coming home from work wearing his Luigi costume. One of his co-workers was Mario. I made their hats. Rich’s was made from tee shirt material leftover from turning a short sleeve tee into a long sleeve tee.

And here’s the candy corn wig I made for answering the door. The pattern is Hallowig by Megan Reardon.

candy corn wig hat


And because I’m obviously behind on posting what I’ve been doing so I might catch up a little faster if I just dump a bunch of pictures into one post. Not as much story but you get the idea.

This is a basket/bag (Ravelry link) knitted in the technique called mosaic knitting which I did for a KAL (knit-a-long). The boy has claimed it for his own. The technique creates a thick two color fabric without the usually gyrations required of colorwork.

mosaic knitting two color basket

I had a black tee-shirt left from the boy’s Ninja costume last year. The boy has always liked owls, but we recently watched the movie Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole which refueled the owl interest in our house. I handpainted just the eyes, top of the head, beak and a bit of shoulder to suggest an owl staring out of the darkness. I really like how this turned out.

hand-painted owl in the dark tee shirt

owl face hand-painted on black T-shirt

And another skirt for the girl, recycled out of a pair of my old corduroys. I used the fabric but I only kept the hem and side seams and carefully recycled the back pockets. There are pleats in the front and elastic in the waist. It’s in a longer length as requested. I also used some of the fabric from the pants to lengthen a favorite pair of pine green corduroy pants that still have a lot of room in the waist. No picture of that, oops! but similar to what I did to the boy’s pants here.

hand sewn brown corduroy girl skirt

back patch pocket detail on handmade corduroy girl skirt

And the reason behind all the sewing? Besides the motivation of school starting and cooler weather, I spent about a month and a half knitting a sleeveless sweater for myself that turned out . . . well, about the way I expected but I didn’t care for it at all. Sort of turned me off knitting for a bit. I’ve also been working off and on with a bench the boy and I rescued from the side of the road. One corner was in quite poor shape but the rest of it was well made with good quality hardwood so I decided it was worth some work. I’ve cut mortises and tenons, drilled holes of all sizes and mixed and shaped epoxy type filler and sanded, sanded, sanded. I’m not quite done yet but there will be a post with pictures of the transformation when it’s done, since we have about a month left to enjoy it before it gets too cold for this year.

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paper hat worn by cat

Paper hat made in the “French style” according to the boy. He had just finished reading a version of the fairy tale, Puss in Boots, with lots of froofy clothing. Hat modeled patiently by Duke the cat.

plumber's tape and water bottles

I have these small water bottles that don’t leak when they tip over and are just the right size for the kids. Unfortunately with much use the lids no longer screw down tightly. On a crazy whim I pulled out the plumber’s thread seal tape, read the box (it is food-safe), and wrapped a length around the threads of the bottle. I screwed on the lid and tested it out. Super, watertight once more. They’ve been through the dishwasher twice and I haven’t had to replace the tape yet. I think they’ll make it through the rest of the summer.

hand knitted lunch bag

I knit this “lunch sack” from a pattern I found on Ravelry. The pattern was written to be knit flat and then sewed up after. Although I don’t mind sewing, one of the things I like about knitting is the ability to create shaping without having to sew seams. So with a little math I converted the pattern to knit in the round, preserving as much of the original details as I could. It turned out pretty well although it is a little too stretchy to hold a full water bottle and a piece of fruit. But it would be just fine for a sandwich and a snack.

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I know this is not the only thing I’ve crafted in the last few weeks but I’m really at a loss as to what else I’ve been doing! I suppose we’ve been outside more. We are really full swing into spring now and it’s lovely to hear all the little birds and see all sorts of shoots coming up out of the ground. Sometimes I can’t remember what I planted where!

cast-on with handspun handdyed wool yarn

This project began with some yarn leftover from a hat I made for the girl, along with some other remnants that I used as dye sops. A simple but interesting construction, the pattern of paired decreases produces the soft scalloped edge. The finished knit looked like a crumpled mess.

knitted flower bowl ready to be felted

With faith and several runs through the washer and dryer it shaped up nicely into this sweet little felted flower bowl (link to Ravelry).

felted fulled knit wool flower bowl

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I don’t know where the boy got this idea but he came to me with this sketch and a promotional toy ball and requested that we cover the ball in yarn and “knit” the body. My kids often come up with ideas they really can’t accomplish on their own and I generally fall for “helping” them make their creations. They do make plenty of their own creations with very little help.

In the advertising world, the production artist is the person who makes the creative or art director’s sketch into reality. Although they are usually at the bottom of the org chart, a good production artist is worth their weight in gold. I am not a good production artist. But I suppose this was good practice. The art director seemed pleased with the results and was even persuaded to help with some of the production.

orange skeleton mohawk dude kid drawing

We have recently acquired a rather large collection of worsted weight acrylic yarn balls in all colors from a neighbor and I have found these quite useful for occasions such as these. He quickly picked out the desired colors and I went to work on crocheting a cover for the toy ball. Yes, I could knit this but I’m better at winging it with crochet and I find it easier to get a firmer fabric with crochet, so better for dolls and animals.


Boring part over we moved on to the body. I started each foot and then had him sit in front of me and helped him through single crocheting the stripes. It’s just a matter of sticking the hook through the right hole and pulling out a loop of yarn. We joined the legs into a body with more stripes, I did the decreases toward the neck and crocheted the arms and the blue eye rounds. He helped me sew on the arms and the details on the face. I did about one row of hair and he did the rest, styling as he went.

amigurumi mohawk skeleton striped dude

He took it to class for share day with a cardboard guitar he made. Rock on, mohawk dude.

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I’m doing my first test knitting. Am I qualified for that? I don’t know but I volunteered. This is one of those kinds of projects that you probably have to have kids to appreciate. It’s not necessarily the warmest or most practical winter hat, but I think it’s going to be very popular at school.

Knitting Ninja’s Shark Hat – new version to be released soon on Ravelry.

Pictures below of my version. There were some parts I was unclear on so it could be I got some things wrong but it’s still awfully cute and definitely wearable. Nom, nom, nom. I think I’ll be making more of these.

hand knitted shark hat

And surprise, surprise, girly girl thought it was the best thing in the world. She begged to wear it to school (sorry, not yet) and chased her brother around the house wearing it.

knitting ninja's shark hat pattern hand knitted shark hat with button eyes

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hand-knit pink sweater dress

Over the last month I have been knitting on this project nearly every night after a certain princess went to bed. The free pattern is the Oriental Lily dress by Georgie Hallam and I followed it pretty closely except for using size 3 for the width and size 5/6 for the length. Not only is this the biggest project I’ve knitted but it is has also been one of the most interesting, not because of any detail of the pattern but because of the way in which it came together.

In so many ways this dress (Ravelry project link) was a group effort. Two different members of the Ravelry community gave me the two yarns I knit together for the main color. My dear neighbor E. gave me a huge bag of odds and ends in which was the perfect contrasting berry color. I read through the notes on Ravelry from the other knitters who have made up the pattern before me, allowing me to make the perfect size. When I was done with the bodice but having a mental crisis on whether the dress was hideous or Pinkalicious, so many people on Ravelry responded to my forum post. They gave me the overwhelming support I needed to go on and finish with confidence.

The girl was quite pleased and came bounding into our room this morning full of thanks. She whirled and twirled all day and then proclaimed that she wants to wear it every day, forever!

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This is the hat I made from that PURPLE yarn. I am enamored with it. I’m usually relatively satisfied with the things I make but this one—this one makes me happy.

hand knit earflap hat handspun hand-dyed yarn

I really, really like how this project (Ravelry link) turned out. Did I already say that? It probably has more mistakes than anything else I’ve knitted but I decided it was more important to keep on and finish it rather than get bogged down in fixing little mistakes and lose my momentum. I made a few minor modifications to the Monarch Lyon Hat by Veronica O’Neil. I used the sizing from another hat pattern by the same author. In the original pattern the earflaps are detachable using buttons but I decided that the girl did not need one more thing to lose since part of the reason I knit this hat is because she has already lost several hats and mittens this winter. I’m wondering what we will find in the spring when the snow melts.

knitted snowdrop flowers

The main modification I made was to integrate knitted snowdrop flowers into the bottom of the i-cord ties. I chose snowdrop flowers since they are a delicate winter/early spring flower and they natural hang down in real life. I used a pattern by Lesley Stanfield from the book 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet, although I was able to download it from the Lion Brand website for free. It was a bit fiddly but after trying several other flower patterns, this is the one I liked best. I think I’ll have to put this book on my wishlist, I like the variety and realistic look of the flowers in this book. The girl would probably prefer I put all 100 flowers on the same hat but she’ll have to live with my preference for simplicity for now. I guess she likes it, she graciously posed for a number of pictures.

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I’m blogging about finished projects to make myself feel better about all the unfinished projects. I did work on Works-In-Progress today but I also suddenly stopped to work out a sewing construction idea which resulted in making a pair of jeans for the girl’s doll. It’s a bad habit I have—I get an idea and suddenly I’m elbow deep in the making without even realizing it.

Anyway, back to recent finished objects. A hat crocheted from a super soft bamboo/acrylic blend for a charity crochet-a-long for chemotherapy patients. You can see the pattern I used and notes on my leaves and berries embellishment on my Ravelry project page.

bamboo/acrylic crochet chemo hat cap leaves berries

I’m rather pleased with these fingerless mitts (Ravelry project page) which I just sent off in a mini care package to a friend who has just gone off to college. I knit them from a 50/50 blend of Cormo wool and angora (from Gabe) that I blended myself, spun and finished into a two-ply worsted weight. I’m grateful to my husband who took the lovely picture that captures the wonderfully soft and fuzzy squishiness.

the yarn:
cormo/angora handspun yarn

the mitts:
hand knit fingerless mittens mitts gloves angora

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wool felt ball eyeball toy

I admit that I shamelessly copied this oogly eyeball from a picture on the internet. Unfortunately I cannot find the original source now to give credit but I see it’s not as unique as I first thought. I did make my own pattern and chose my own colors and my version is likely smaller than the picture that I looked at but it’s pretty much identical. I rarely if ever do that. Mostly because I’m not good at copying when I want to and moreso because I always have my own ideas on what and how I want to do things. The boy had wanted to make some monster stuffies and knowing how popular those are I thought we’d look around on the internet for images that we liked and then combine our favorite features into our own monster stuffie pattern. Along the way we saw these fabric eye balls that were just perfect the way they were. So we made wool felt eyeballs. This was the first and unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the second which the boy did most of the sewing on because he wrapped it up and gave it away about as fast we got it finished. Made with wool and rayon felt and a little embroidery, and filled with wool stuffing and poly pellets. I still want to make the monsters but these were more fun than I would have guessed. Sewing a sphere is never an easy proposition but felt makes it fairly painless.

pouch style baby carrier for doll

Here’s the girl carrying a baby doll in a pouch style baby carrier that I made for her cousin. Don’t worry, I made the girl one too. Now I’ve made so many baby pouches I could practically cut one out without a pattern and that’s exactly what I did here. But the style that came to mind as particularly appropriate for a doll carrier, was inspired by a real pouch style baby carrier idea from my friend Jen. I traced the finished pouch so that I’d have the pattern for keeps. I may post the pattern here after I try it out on a few more kids and different sized baby dolls/stuffies. I’m also going to “stick a pin” here to remind myself to tell you a little trick I thought up regarding handmade presents.

groovy girl doll and handknit doll sweater

Just last week my neighbor shared with me several bags of yarn she’d received from someone else. The girl had seized on a small ball of pink and white novelty yarn which I decided to turn into a sweater for her favorite doll. (Don’t ask about the “dress” she has on.) My first top-down raglan sweater, ha ha. Maybe I’ll feel better about starting on a person-sized sweater now. I accidentally left the little sweater out and the girl saw it. I thought the surprise was ruined because of course she asked who it was for. But I answered with the name of her doll. The girl replied very seriously that she would wrap it up so that said doll would not see it before Christmas!

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hand-knit stocking cap seed stitch self-striping green

I originally bought this self-striping yarn to make socks for myself. I did but they were a little snug so the boy happily took possession. Then I made the girl socks out of the leftover. Then their Nana requested a hat made from the same yarn. Now discontinued. Ravelry saved the day—I posted an ISO on a Wednesday and had another skein in hand on Saturday!

I wanted to make something that showed off the self-striping yarn but didn’t look like just any storebought hat. So I used seed stitch, random texture and the stocking cap shape. I think it turned out fairly well. More details on my Ravelry project page.

It can also be worn with the seed stitch brim up or down and the point to the side or to the back. I also tried sticking the point down into the hat and wearing it like a slouch. I’ll make some modifications the next time I make one but it turned out to be the general shape I intended. All in all, I’m pretty happy with my improvised design.


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