Monday, October 5

Even More Knitting Adventures...

A little while ago I decided to try my hand at knitting again. I saw a Cowl pattern in Knitting Smitten that I really liked but first I needed to learn how to do a Moss Stitch. I watched a few Youtube videos until I found one that 'clicked', one that made total sense to me. Anyway, after a few failed attempts, I got the hang of it! It's really not that hard to master and it gives a lovely textured effect. I only need to make a note after each row to make sure I continue with the right stitch. :)

In the book circular needles are used, but even though I did buy them I ended up using regular needles. This meant that after I had finished I had to sew the ends together, which went ok but I can imagine a seamless cowl is nicer. I used wooden needles, size 9mm and just knitted until I was happy with the fit around my neck.  The yarn, Katia Inca in a green/blue colourway, was lovely to work with. The colours remind me of peacock feathers, and the variegated effect is delightfully random :)  The next project is to knit a scarf for my husband with a ribbed effect. After that I'd love to move away from the cowls and scarfs and try something a little more challenging. I was thinking maybe a very simple cardigan? Suggestions are welcome!

More knitting news. Only a few days ago I found out about a great Kickstarter project from Leah Coccari-Swift and Teresa Gregorio called the Great Northern: Knitting Patterns inspired by Twin Peaks.  If you like Twin Peaks, knitting or both then why not support these creative ladies and their fabulous project!

Friday, October 2

Villains Only Stitchalong

Over on the &Stitches blog we are hosting a super fun Villains Stitchalong! That's right, only bad characters and nasty individuals from books, comics and movies, are allowed. Check all the details (and prizes!) here.

I'm sticking to my original choice: the 10.000 Volt Ghost (Watt a Shocking Ghost) from Scooby Doo. Over the years I probably have seen all episodes of the old and new Scooby Doo series and this is one of my favourite villains. Of course, the villains from Scooby Doo always turned out to be a 'normal' person wearing a monster or ghost suit. :)  I must admit that I was very much tempted to choose a Game of Thrones character, they are nearly all villains aren't they? Although Joffrey Baratheon really takes the cake in terms of nastiness...

Anyway, it would be so much fun to have lots of people stitching up their favourite villain this month. So please read the details on the &Stitches blog (there are very few rules) and start stitching along today! Use the #VillainsSAL tag when you post on social media so we can see what everyone is up to.

Friday, September 25

New Work

Working on a series in this style (or similar) with various subjects. These will all be put on sale in my shop over the next months. I've used many different stitches on this piece, which made it very enjoyable to make. I started out with a simple anchor shape and improvised, because that's how I like to work. :)  
Questions/offers/commissions? Please get in touch! 

Wednesday, September 16

Curiouser & curiouser: a very special offer!

I have just started reading Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland again (or rather Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) and what a curious story it is! If you haven't read it yet, you can find free downloadable e-books in various stores and apps. The book is 150 years old this year and, because my 'pen name'  (or rather 'needle name') obviously was inspired by Alice's White Rabbit, I felt it was appropriate to celebrate with a special offer. You can now purchase all my patterns with a 25% discount. Just like the White Rabbit you need to hurry a bit, because the offer ends this Friday. On your way out, use code ALICE.  A good opportunity to stock up on patterns to stitch for Holiday Gifts, I think! 

Monday, September 7

Lost and Found

I was thinking of finishing the bear I was stitching a while ago, using sewing thread instead of embroidery thread. The problem is: I'm not quite sure where I put it. It's quite small too so it really could be anywhere. Anyway, when I was looking for my Bear project, I came across lots and lots of unfinished projects, try-outs and doodlecloths. Including the one pictured above. I remember taking out some stitches and damaging the fabric by accident, creating a small hole (above the pink round thingie). Which is why it ended up in a drawer most likely. The good news is: the hole is now covered with the Heavy Chain Stitch!

The Heavy Chain Stitch is a new to me stitch, I saw demonstrated when I was attending the Crewel and Goldwork class at the Royal School of Needlework. The stitch isn't new of course, I just never got around to trying it out. Possibly because I'm not a huge fan of the regular Chain Stitch, I find it hard to keep the stitches even and round and usually just ignore it. :) The Heavy Chain Stitch however is a very tidy looking stitch. At least when you practise it a bit. Mine still looks a bit clumsy (it's the tentacle-like shapes on my doodlecloth) but I've got the hang of it now, I think.

I experimented with colours, different number of strands and making curves. If you have an embroidery handbook, look the Heavy Chain Stitch up and give it a try. It's also sometimes named the Braided Chain Stitch.

Thursday, August 27

Easy Applique Tutorial

As I was adding applique balloons to my Party Bear Embroidery,  I thought I'd make a quick tutorial for easy applique. It's really an applique tutorial for embroiderers-that-don't-sew. Combining applique and embroidery can give such fun results and it's very easy to do, even if you don't have any sewing tools or materials. I used some materials from my sewing cabinet for the tutorial but I will suggest alternative supplies that most embroiderers have in their tool kit. And yes, I know 'applique' is spelled with an 'acute accent' but I can never find those quickly enough on my keyboard! (Tips are welcome)


For applique I use:
- Fabric to sew your applique on (obviously!).
- Fabric for your applique
- Heat 'n Bond Iron-on adhesive (or a pin)
- Scissors
- Needle (regular sewing needle or small crewel embroidery needle)
- Thread (or Embroidery Floss)

Attaching applique to fabric

You can simply cut out the applique shape you want and temporarily attach it to fabric with a pin. However,  I almost always use Heat 'n Bond because it holds your applique perfectly in place which makes the end result neater. It's an iron-on adhesive that you use on the back of your applique fabric. Iron on the Heat 'n Bond, making sure the side that feels rough is facing the wrong side (back) of your applique fabric. You can either cut the shape you need from the Heat 'n Bond paper before you iron it onto the fabric. Or you can cut out the shape afterwards (which is what I did). Put an old tea towel underneath to be completely sure the adhesive doesn't stick to your ironing board. 

Peel off the paper and you end up with an applique with a sticky backside. Put the applique glue side down, onto fabric and iron it on. It's a really quick method and it probably takes more time to read my instructions than to prepare your applique piece this way. :)

There are more complex ways of preparing an applique, where you fold sides under so you are not left with unfinished edges on your fabric but as this is an Easy Applique Tutorial we are going to leave the sides as they are. So please know that depending on the fabric and whether you use and adhesive the fabric can unravel a bit. The Liberty fabrics I used on the blue balloons didn't unravel at all but the quilt fabric I used for the lighter balloons did look a bit rougher on the edges. That is, before I used the Blanket Stitch to sew around the balloons. 

Sewing the applique on

I like to use Blanket Stitch to sew appliques onto fabric. It's a versatile, decorative stitch that is also used in embroidery. It's also a nice way to finish your unfinished fabric edges.

Let the needle and thread come up on (not through) the edge of the applique fabric (A) and insert it into the fabric at B, diagonally from the point where the needle came up first. 

Pull needle and thread through, but not entirely. Make a loop, and let the needle come up again from underneath, through the base fabric (not the applique fabric) at C

Pull needle and thread through and you've made the first blanket stitch! Continue all the way around the shape. The next step is to make the diagonal stitch again, then the loop etc etc. To follow the curves of a shape neatly with your stitches, take care not to make space between stitches too wide.

You should end up with something like this! I hope this tutorial was useful to you. If you have any questions let me know....You can find the Party Bear Embroidery Pattern in my shop. :)

Friday, August 21

My Bernina Minimatic

Best buy ever. A couple of months ago I read about the Bernina 707 on Kerry's blog. Out of curiosity I checked a popular Dutch Market place website to see if I could find any locally and there it was: for just 50 euros. Even though I didn't need an extra machine, I couldn't resist the bargain and I'm so glad to have acquired this little gem of a machine!

The Bernina 707 Minimatic is an incredibly solid, reliable avocado coloured machine. I had no idea that I could actually sew neat, straight seams until I got this machine. My new-ish Husqvarna produces seams with a slight wobble and I always thought my sewing skills were to blame. Apparently not. This 40 year old machine simply does it better. And with about 8 years of sewing experience I now know I don't need a machine that can do 463 different stitches that I'll never use. Just the regular ones will do, thank you. I have also learned that I should have looked (and tried) other brands before instead of sticking to the one I happened to have had my first sewing experience with!

I'm still in the process of getting to know the machine. I've already replaced the light bulb (the only non-working bit) which wasn't that difficult. But I still frequently need to look in the manual to check how to wind the bobbin and put it in the bobbin case in the correct way. I've used this machine quite a lot in the past few months, for piecing the blocks of my Spider Web Quilt (it's coming along nicely!) and it's been great so far! As to the colour, well avocado and cream has a nice retro-feel to it doesn't it?  :)