Crochet, Cross Stitch, Karen's Korner, Lace Making

A Little Bit Of Everything Over Easter

A Little Bit Of Everything Over Easter

I was lucky enough to find time to dabble in a little bit of everything over Easter this year. I managed to get a few small crochet novelty items made for my grandchildren in plenty of time to accompany their Easter Sunday chocolate treats. Unfortunately the yarn I had available for the beaks of the chickens resulted in them looking more like ducks, but the grandchildren still seemed happy enough to receive them.

A Little Bit Of Everything Over Easter A Little Bit Of Everything Over EasterI have finally managed to make a bit more progress with my needle lace sampler (see “Update On Lace Sampler”). The next box is now about half-filled with “cloth stitch”. The lower third will have some variation worked in as part of the stitching and, once the background stitch is completed, the middle third will have some extra details stitched on top. It has been a lot slower than I had originally planned, but I am enjoying learning new things when I am able to spend some time on it.

A Little Bit Of Everything Over EasterThe third project I was able to get to was the fine cross stitch birth sampler that I also started last year (see “Two Extremes Of Cross Stitch”). It is a little easier to do now that I have upgraded my glasses, but I still struggle with it a bit. I can only do it during the afternoon in good lighting conditions which is quite a disadvantage when I am working. I will continue to persevere though as I think it will be well worth the effort once it is finished.

As if those three weren’t enough to keep me occupied, I also picked up a knitting project that I started early in the year. It is a sleeveless vest for me which I will post photos of once it is finished. I find it relaxing to knit in the evenings as it is something I don’t have to concentrate so hard on.

Easter is a very special and significant season for me and, although I was able to get quite a bit of craft work done, the most special times were spent attending church services and catching up with family. I hope you all had a very special Easter season too.

Cross Stitch, Karen's Korner, Knitting

A Busy Start To 2018

I don’t know about you but I have had rather a busy start to 2018. It has involved family, friends, knitting and cross stitch, so it has also been a very good start.

One of the special things about Christmas is being able to catch up with family, and this year was no different. Following that, on the 6th of January, our elder son arrived with his two little dogs to stay with us for a few weeks. He has just completed “The Longest Walk New Zealand” during which he walked just over 5000 km around the country to try to help raise awareness of animal welfare organisations. You can find out more about his adventures on his website (see link above).

A Busy Start To 2018I have been spending quite a lot of time in the last few weeks with two of my grandchildren who live locally. The weather has been lovely for most of the time and we have been on a number of “adventures”. These have ranged from a paddle in the local stream accompanied by a crowd of curious ducks, to a bush walk and a walk along the shoreline of the local harbour. It is great when kids enjoy doing simple, outdoor things. I feel very blessed to have this involvement with them.

A Busy Start To 2018On the crafting front, I have knitted a couple of little hats for some twins girls who were born prematurely to a young couple from our church. I also made a larger version for their three year old sister. It was fun to do such tiny knitting, especially knowing that the twins and their mum are all doing well.

A Busy Start To 2018Over the last couple of months I have also been busy with three more cross stitched cushion covers. These are for the three grandchildren who live locally. They all have their birthdays within a few weeks of each other at the end of January / beginning of February, so it is good to have them finished. I just need to put the backings on them all now.

I hope you have all had a good start to the year and look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Karen's Korner

Special Occasions and Family

 

Do special occasions bring family together, or does family getting together make occasions special? I think the answer is probably a combination of both of these. Even gatherings which may have a sad focal point, like funerals, can still turn into really special family occasions. Remembering the past together can strengthen our sense of identity and belonging.

I was lucky enough to be part of a very special family occasion recently, so have been thinking again about the importance of family. My husband and I have our birthdays just over three weeks apart, and this year we both turned sixty. Our lovely daughters did a great job of organising a surprise party for us. We had no idea what was going on and it was wonderful to catch up with so many family members, plus a few special friends, so unexpectedly.

I have mentioned on my “About Me” page that we have four adult children and five grandchildren. It was lovely to have all the grandchildren together for a couple of days, getting to know each other a bit better. The two families live quite a distance apart, and travel between the two locations can be a bit difficult and expensive. The five grandchildren got on really well and shared some very memorable times.

The girls had managed to get our younger son and his partner over from Melbourne without us knowing, and my husband’s brother over from Brisbane. Unfortunately our older son was not able to join us as he is still on “The Longest Walk NZ”, but he did manage to talk with us on the phone during the party. I am the oldest of five siblings, and it was great to have everyone together for the first time in a long time. I have always wondered what it would be like to have a surprise party and it was GREAT!

Our families are such an integral part of who we are. Whether we come from really good families (which I am lucky enough to have done), or not so good families, the things we experience growing up help shape the people we become. Special family occasions bring groups of people together who share a common history and knowledge of background which people outside the family can never fully understand. This creates unique bonds between them.

I really value family and special family occasions. I feel truly blessed to have grown up in the family I did, and to now be able to watch my wonderful children and grandchildren living their own unique lives. I hope that you are as blessed as I am.

Cross Stitch

Two Extremes of Cross Stitch

Two Extremes of Cross Stitch
I currently have two main cross stitch projects on the go, not counting a couple that have been sitting around for a while. These projects are both intended as birthday presents for grandchildren, and they represent two extremes of cross stitch.

Two Extremes of Cross Stitch Two Extremes of Cross StitchThe one I am making the fastest progress with is a kit set cushion cover. It is the first one I have done and I am finding it very enjoyable to be able to race through it. It is worked on 4.5 mesh Sudan canvas using acrylic yarn. The design is painted on the canvas and uses only 13 colours. The big needle is easy to thread, and I seem to be flying through the pre-cut threads at great speed.

Two Extremes of Cross Stitch Two Extremes of Cross StitchThe second project is a huge contrast to the first. It is a birth date sampler which also came as a kit set, but is a counted cross stitch design worked on 18 count Aida fabric. The pattern is printed in a 10 page booklet, and the dozens of colours of pre-cut lengths of embroidery thread are sorted onto two cards. I am really enjoying this project as well, as counted cross stitch is a real passion for me, but I must admit that it is rather a challenge.

One of the things that the counted cross stitch project has confirmed for me is that I should really go and get my eyes retested. I am overdue for a check-up, and the tiny stitches and intricate design are definitely a strain. For this reason it has been great to have both projects on the go together as I can do the more difficult one in the more comfortable light during the day, and relax with the easier one at night.

So long as everything continues to go to plan, I should get both projects, plus a second cushion cover, finished by the middle of August. Fingers crossed!

 

Crochet, Karen's Korner

Easter Eggs and Baskets

Easter Eggs and Baskets Easter Eggs and Baskets
It seems a bit strange to be talking about Easter eggs and baskets when it feels like we have not long had Christmas, but Easter is now only a few weeks away. I have come across a number of free patterns lately with an Easter theme and thought I would do something a bit different for my grandchildren this year.

I decided to get started a bit early, so over the last couple of weeks I have been busily crocheting multi-coloured mini Easter eggs and baskets. The first batch, pictured above, has been finished and sent away. Needless to say they were accompanied by some chocolate eggs as well. I also sent the two jerseys I had recently finished (see “Using Patterns as a Guide”) which I had decided to hold back so that everything could be posted together. Now I need to keep going with the rest of them.

I know I shouldn’t be, but I am constantly amazed by the variety of things which people are able to make with crochet and knitting. The patterns I have seen for Easter projects include baskets ranging from simple to very ornately decorated, all sorts of eggs and egg shaped items, and a large number of bunnies. One thing which comes to mind that I would never have thought of is Easter egg shaped dish cloths. I guess they add a bit of fun and colour to the rather mundane tasks of cleaning and washing up.

I have to admit that I struggle with the commercialism of Easter (and Christmas). The true meaning and significance of Easter has been pushed into the background. Sitting down and spending time hand making gifts provides an opportunity to also think about the reasons we celebrate Easter. This is something very important to me and I hope that you find time for some quiet contemplation whilst making a few special gifts for some of the special people in your lives.

 

Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

Using Patterns as a Guide

Have you ever thought of using patterns as a guide? Do you have a few favourite patterns that you keep returning to? Sometimes it can be fun to get a bit more creative and change things up a bit, but it pays to start doing this with patterns you have used before and know work well.

I want tUsing Patterns as a GuideUsing Patterns as a Guideo emphasise before I go any further that patterns are actually very necessary. Beginners in particular need to find clear, easy to follow instructions which will help them become more confident and familiar with the craft they are starting on. The ideas I am presenting here are aimed at people who are more experienced and are looking for some creative challenges.

The idea for this post came from a couple of projects I have done recently. In both cases I only made small adjustments to the pattern, but I was really pleased with the finished articles.

My crochet bunny was a request from my eldest granddaughter. The pattern was in a small book I purchased from Spotlight and was supposed to be done in two colours. My granddaughter asked if I could do hers using some rainbow coloured yarn that I had.

Going from two colours to one is, on the face of it, very simple. I found though that I had to check the pattern very carefully for the pieces that were originally two coloured. I realised that there were actually two rows involved in the instructions for the changeover so I had to go back and double check my counting to make sure I had the correct number.

Obviously this situation was not a critical one, and a row here or there would not have made a noticeable difference. I am only using this as an illustration of little things to look for when making changes.

Using Patterns as a Guide Using Patterns as a Guide Using Patterns as a GuideI have also just finished two jerseys. They are basically the same pattern but the girl’s one has a lacy panel up the front while the boys one has a cabled pattern in a contrasting wool. The important thing I needed to remember here was to add in a couple of extra stitches in the centre of the front for the cabled pattern. I then had to decrease the same number at the top so that the neck band would have the correct number of stitches.

These are a couple of simple ideas for adapting patterns. I plan to continue this theme in later posts.

Lace Making

Update on Lace Sampler

Update on Lace Sampler
My Lace Sampler project got put on hold for a while over Christmas and the school holidays. Now that the grandchildren are back at school, and there seems to be a little less going on, I have managed to pick it up again.

Progress has still been slow as I have a number of other things “on the go” as well, but at least I am starting to see some progress. I was a little surprised that the thing which has been the most time consuming so far has actually been whip stitching all the tapes which form the grid to the backing fabric. This has finally been completed however, and I have just finished filling in my first section.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when “Murphy’s Law” struck again when I went to start the actual lace stitching. I got all set up with my pattern in front of me, and a nice length of no. 60 crochet cotton threaded onto my needle. I carefully attached aforementioned thread to the side tape and then discovered that I had managed to choose the only section that I had managed to miss attaching the top tape on!

After detaching the thread from its initial anchor point I temporarily solved my immediate problem by turning my grid around and using the corresponding section at the other end. Once I had got my stitching established I retrieved my smaller needle and thread and attached the last tape.

Update on Lace SamplerIt has been a steep learning curve getting the feel of a new stitching action, and also working out how to gauge the tension required. You will see from the photo I have included that it took me a couple of rows with each new stitch before the tension became reasonably even. There are also some variations where I put down the work and had to resettle when I started again.

Overall I am finding it very enjoyable, and it has been a lot easier to pick up than I thought it would. I am very excited to move onto some increasingly more complicated stitches. I will try to keep up my momentum and will keep you up to date with my progress.

Remember, if you are feeling inspired, you can pick up a copy of the “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlecraft” for yourself from Amazon.