My Life On Craft Posts

Megan Nielsen Flint pants side view

Abstract:

Well-written pattern, fast and easy assembly, versatile style, fits me like a dream.

Introduction:

Woohoo – I’m back to sewing and finished my first pair of pants!! A bit of background first… I learned to sew at an early age (somewhere between 5 and 10) and have sewn on and off my entire life. I got into garment sewing more seriously when I first moved to NYC in 2003 and made a few garments, including some basic skirts, shirts and bags. I started homebrewing in 2006 and that completely supplanted sewing as my main hobby. I’ve dabbled in sewing since then, a few zippered bags, a holiday stocking, but nothing substantial. Fast forward to 2016 (where have the years gone?). I’ve written a homebrewing book and while I still brew pretty regularly, they’re all the quick and easy beverages that I wrote about. I’m only brewing beer on a commercial scale with my husband at this point and I’m craving crafting again. So I signed up for the Try Something New Every Month project and started working my way through various crafts. I wasn’t really considering any sewing projects until my friend Annika set up a private sewing class with Cal Patch for a group of us (you can read about it in last year’s TSNEM recap, scroll down to August). I was hooked. I purchased another simple pattern online (the Twist-It Blouse), whipped that up, started a fabric necklace and then stalled out. I got obsessed with embroidery, pin loom weaving, knitting tiny animals and needle felting ornaments for the rest of the year.

I started 2017 with two daily challenges, one embroidered and the other knit. I’ve continued with the Temperature Scarf (updated coming soon) but gave up daily stitching in late January. I became obsessed with mending (still stitching but not daily) and taught a few mending workshops here in NYC. I’m going to continue mending but I really want 2017 to be the year of clothing, and more specifically, deliberate fashion. I want to think more about what I’m wearing, what I want to wear and have more appreciation for textiles. Residents of NYC throw away more than 200,000 tons of textiles every year! Whoa, that’s a lot of landfill space. And while I try to donate my unwanted clothing to charity, I know that some of that eventually ends up discarded. Sigh.

I tend to be pretty eclectic in my personal style – I’m attracted to a variety of colors, fashions, cuts, decades, etc. I’m basically all over the map, style-wise. And while I have definitely found some styles, cuts and colors that work better for me, I’m still not thinking much about my overall wardrobe. I am a huge sucker for bargain shopping, from clearance racks to sample sales and everything in between, and I often pick things up because they’re cheap and easy and not because I need them and/or they work well for me. I also don’t really enjoy shopping for clothing anymore. There’s too much out there (especially here in NYC) and I find it difficult to make the right choices (for the reasons stated above). And, while I have a great job, I’m the only income right now and might be for a while. My husband is opening a brewery in LIC and while I’m super excited and completely invested, I know that it takes some time to get a new business off the ground. So I’m trying to save some money and not make impulse buys, most of which I haven’t really needed in the past anyway. This sounds silly but the easiest way I’ve found to cut down on unnecessary buying is to not go shopping. So I’ve been fighting the temptation to stop in stores in between appointments or on my way home (I walk by so many cute boutiques and shops every day). And it’s working – I haven’t bought a piece of new clothing for months. I did pick up a couple of lovely used cashmere sweaters at a charity shop a few months ago and some socks at a sample sale but other than that, nothing. I’m wearing what I already have and feeling pretty good about it.

Next steps – be more thoughtful in my clothing choices and spend some time planning my wardrobe. I’ve sorted through my to-be-refashioned or tailored box and organized it to tackle piece-by-piece. And I’ve started sewing again. One gap in my wardrobe is pants. I wear mostly dresses for work at this point (fleece tights changed my life a few years ago). I gained almost 20 lbs while working on the book and dresses, especially knit dresses, are much more accommodating to weight change. I got serious last year and dropped all of the extra weight through diet and lifestyle changes so I’m back to my normal adult weight. Granted, I fluctuate a bit, but I’m pretty stable at this point and ready to bring pants into my work wardrobe again. Especially if I can get some casual wear out of them as well. When Megan Nielsen came out with the Flint pants pattern last month, I knew that these were the culottes for me. I had purchased the Colette Clover and the Itch to Stich Emily Culottes patterns when they were on sale late last year but I have zipper anxiety – I haven’t sewn a zipper in a long time. I know they’re not difficult but yet, they make me nervous. So, the Flint culottes came through my inbox, were on sale for subscribers and they were zipper-free! And so cute.

Megan Nielsen Flint pants
Plenty of room to put my hands in the pockets

Materials & Modifications:

Fabric: red stretch cotton sateen from my 10+ year-old stash (probably purchased at Chic Fabrics as that was always my go-to for cottons)

Version & Size: I cut Version 1 in a small, no grading as my measurements matched up.

Modifications: I made a few simple mods. First, I wanted the length to be somewhere between the two lengths in the pattern. I ended up cutting the fabric 8.25″ shorter than the longer length. I basted everything together to check the fit first and decided that the crotch was a bit too long for my body and that I wanted a bit less width in the legs. The sateen is a heavier fabric and was pretty bulky in the pattern width. I ended up stitching a wider seam allowance on the seam that runs from the bottom of one leg to the other, around 1″ at the crotch seam and grading out to around 1.5″ at the hem. I thought I had written this down, but nope, totally didn’t. I must get better at note-taking during sewing.

Working on the Megan Nielsen Flint pants
Clockwise from upper right: large clips to finish the waistband, small clips and pins to attach the waistband, turning up the waistband with the Clover hot ruler and edge-stitching with my generic #5 foot

Methods & Results:

After trying out an overcast foot to finish the edges of the pockets, I broke down and got my serger down from our storage loft. Yes, it took some time to rethread, adjust and figure out how to use it again but totally worth it in the end. It is so much faster and all of my seams are finished neatly. I used a fusible knit interfacing for the waistband. I’m not sure if this was the right thing but I wanted to maintain the stretchiness of the fabric and build in some give and it worked. I used clips more than I used pins – I bought these on Amazon last year and they work beautifully. They came with some large clips which I couldn’t imagine using but they were perfect for use on the waistband.  I tried out the Clover Hot Ruler that I picked up recently and love it – makes it so easy to accurately turn up edges. I used the very clever dart method that Pamela Leggett teaches in her Craftsy Class, Fashion Sewing & Serging Techniques. I used a hidden button and hook closure, which was suggested in the pattern. I finished by serging the bottom hems, then fusing them with 1/2″ fusible tape and blind stitching a 2″ hem. I used a generic edge-stitching foot (#5) that I bought off of ebay to edge-stitch the waistband and do the blind hem and it worked really well for both. I was nervous about generic feet for my Bernina machine but I am loving them so far.

Megan Nielsen Flint pants
L to R: hidden button and hook-and-eye, edge stitching on the waistband (thanks, generic #5 foot!)

Conclusion:

I love this pattern! It was fast, easy and fits really, really well. It’s very versatile as the length can go from shorts to full-length pants and the width of the legs can be adjusted quite a bit. The pockets are quite generous, though the left pocket is only partial as that is how you get in & out of the pants. I printed the paper pattern at home and it was easy to match up the pieces and tape together. The instructions were great, with clear illustrations and many tips included. I think that this pattern is suitable for a beginner but would also be satisfying for more skilled sewers. I can see myself making these even after I get over my zipper angst.

Megan Nielsen Flint pants from the side
Side view (it was super windy yesterday)

Wardrobe: these pants work with at least 5 of my current blouses plus a couple of t-shirts and a turtleneck. They look great with heels but work with flats as well. Work appropriate but comfortable and casual enough for nights & weekends – can be dressed up & down. A nice addition to my wardrobe.

Shortcomings: I need to take notes while sewing and work on my blind hem stitch.

Next Steps: I picked up some metallic grey stretch denim at Chic Fabrics for $2.99/yd that I think will work as a full length Flint, though I will likely narrow the legs a bit. I also have some railroad denim in my stash that would be super cute for this pattern, too – length & width TBD. Basic black and brown pairs would be nice somewhere down the line.


Next project: a (hopefully wearable) muslin of the Sewaholic Belcarra top, in a green gauze that I picked up at Chic for 99¢/yd. I have several lovely silk fabrics in my stash and I would love some spring/summer blouses to go with the skirts that I own. I’ve only sewn with silk once and am excited (& a wee bit scared) to tackle it again.

 

Art & Craft DIY Sewing

1 Year of Stitches Week OneWell, 2017 isn’t quite off to the start that I wanted, unfortunately. My creative staycation morphed into a sickcation as I came down with a virus that turned into bronchitis and has kept me down for the last couple of weeks. I’m on the mend, though, and I managed to make pretty good use of my sick time. I rewatched/watched A LOT of movies – all of the Harry Potters and the complete Marvel Cinematic Universe plus a few more. I usually have a very hard time sitting still for movies so this was pretty unusual and quite fun. And as knitting takes minimal energy, I did quite a bit of it. I don’t have pics of my knitting projects yet, but I managed to finish a scarf, two hats, a pair of fingerless mitts and begin a necklace/scarf project. I also got underway on two different daily challenges for 2017.

I came across this article around the same time that I embarked on my 25 Days of Handmade Ornaments project. And while I didn’t complete an entire ornament every day, I did do a little something creative every single day. And I continued to do so for the rest of the month, even though I was pretty darn sick. And I have to agree with the study cited in the article – my overall life satisfaction and happiness is increased when I’m doing a little making every day. And I feel less stressed, too. And that makes me an overall more productive person – more able to stand up and fight for what I believe in, to bring/spread happiness to other people and have higher functionality in just about everything – my job, my hobbies, my marriage, my friendships, etc. But I also know that I’ll need some structure to help me be a little bit creative every day. Big projects, like sewing a piece of clothing, take time and aren’t always suited to working on for only minutes at a time. I needed a small, ongoing project that continued to capture my interest and might only require a couple of minutes at any given time, something that can be picked up and put down easily. The 1 Year of Stitches caught my attention pretty quickly. I really enjoyed embroidering last year and it’s the perfect quick pick up kind of project. So I signed up for it. There are 2,379 members in the Facebook group as of writing! It’s pretty fascinating to see the different approaches, materials and progress. My approach is free-form – I’m stitching whatever comes to mind. I’m trying new stitches, practicing stitches I already know and trying a bit of drawing with thread. I’ve been saving it until right before I go to bed and only doing a small bit. But it’s really fun so far and definitely energizing. I suspect that I’ll switch to different times of the day once I’m well but who knows? I’m going with the flow here. I’m posting daily updates on Instagram and I’ll post weekly updates to the Facebook group and here on the blog.

2017 Temperature Scarf Week One UpdateI also stumbled upon something called a temperature scarf while browsing through projects on Ravelry. The basic idea is that you knit or crochet a row or two every day in a color that represents a certain temperature range. Now this sounded interesting. I tend to drop knitting when the weather warms and this might actually keep me going throughout the entire year. The idea apparently originated on this blog back in 2013. Now there are over 500 projects on Ravelry alone. Pretty neat. I had picked up a bunch (well, all of the colors) of Léttlopi when I was in Iceland last year. It’s quite inexpensive there and they sell a bunch of colors exclusive to the Handknitting Association of Iceland, which is where I bought all of my yarn. So I dug into my stash and chose colors for my palette, decided on a temperature range for NYC, found a cool pattern on Ravelry and cast on. I’m using the high temp for the day, as recorded at Central Park by the NOAA. I’m knitting 2 rows per color/day with a US #3 needle so it doesn’t end up hella long at the end of the year.
2017 Temperature Scarf Palette

So far, so good. It’s only been one week but these are both great challenges to bring a little creativity into my life on a daily basis. They’re easy to fit in regardless of the other projects that I have going and only take a few minutes every day. I’ll post pics of my other knitting projects soon and add some other updates – I’ve got a bunch of stuff that I want to try this year, from machine sewing to felting and everything in between.

Cheers!2017 Temp Scarf yarn

1 Year of Stitches Art & Craft DIY Embroidery Knitting Temperature Scarf

TSNEM 2016 collage

I joined the Try Something New Every Month challenge in January of this year. TSNEW is a very cool  challenge that Stephanie from Swoodson Says and Rebecca from Hugs Are Fun co-hosted. They had a list of suggested themes & communication was through a private Facebook group.

I signed up for TSNEM because I needed a good kick-in-the-pants to get me back into regular crafting. Making things, particularly in the world of textiles and craft, is really important to me. It brings me happiness and a sense of well-being that is different than pretty much anything else I have going on in my life. I currently have a full-time job in pharma sales and co-host Fuhmentaboudit, a weekly live podcast on fermentation, almost every Monday for the last four years. I wrote a book on fast fermented alcoholic beverages (Speed Brewing) in 2014 (60 different ferments going at a time that summer) that was published in 2015, got a major job promotion in the same time period that the book came out and started a gypsy brewing company with my now-husband in January of 2015. Oh, and I got married in October of 2015. So, it’s been a pretty crazy last few years and I really needed to answer that siren call of crafting.

That’s where TSNEM came in. I had not done an online-based, timely challenge like this before and it was pretty exciting. And it gave me exactly the push that I needed to bring crafting back into my life on a regular basis. Let’s take a look back at everything I tried this year (organized by month and suggested theme):

January – Quilting

I tried paper piecing 1/4″ hexies. I have done paper piecing and hand quilting before (years ago) but never anything this tiny. Blogged here. Upside: super portable and commuter friendly (I ride the subway, buses and ferries somewhere around 8-12 times every weekday so this is important) and pretty darn satisfying. Downside: I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel in my right hand after this and I’m pretty sure that this project contributed to it. I didn’t require surgery though I do wear a wrist brace every night but I don’t think I can go back to anything this small in the near future. I never did anything with this piece but that’s OK, it’s really the process of making that I seek.

Mini hexie piece

 

February- Tactile Craft; paper mache, clay, soap, candlemaking

I tried sculpting tiny creatures with Creative Paperclay.  I’ve worked with regular clay and polymer clay before but never paperclay. Holy cow, this was super fun. I freaking love Creative Paperclay now – it is super easy to work with, is inexpensive for small projects and air dries. After it dries, you can manipulate it by wetting it, carving it, sanding it and painting it. I got completely hooked on making these tiny creatures. This is a great project to do in front of the TV or while listening to an audiobook or podcast. I used some basic plastic pottery tools (similar to these) to sculpt the moist paperclay. After they air dried, I sanded, painted with inexpensive acrylic craft paint and finished with a matte sealer. Upside: fun and easy – this is a project for anyone. Sculpting might take some practice but it’s really fun to see something emerge from the paperclay. Downsides: not a commuter craft and while paperclay is perfect for small projects, I’m not sure how durable it is for larger pieces. I’d like to incorporate them into mini dioramas or jewelry or something but again, maybe in 2017? This was one of my favorite tries of the year and I will definitely be returning to paperclay in the future.

Mini Paperclay creatures

Tiny creatures

March- Painting

I didn’t stick to the theme on this one (and I painted the tiny creatures in February after all). Instead, I tried weaving on my mini Jim Hokett loom & also tried tissue paper mache. The tutorial for the tissue paper mache light shade is here. Upsides & downsides: the Hokett looms are perfect commuter craft tools. I really enjoy weaving small pieces. I haven’t returned to weaving but I enrolled in Rebecca Mezoff’s online class, Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms, in late November and working my way through it is on my to-do list for 2017. Tissue paper mache is an at-home craft but was a lot of fun and very practical – there are tons of useful home lighting shades & other accessories that can be created with tissue paper mache.

Weaving on a Hokett loom
Tissue Paper Mache Light Shade

April- Edible Crafts

I tried several new fermentations (sourdough tortillas, cashew cheese & Gjetost cheese) & blogged about them here. I had to get back to fermenting at some point in this process. It’s been the mainstay for the last few years and while I’ve fermented far more beverages than foods, it’s a similar process. Fermenting is very satisfying but in a slightly different way than crafting. I also made my first embroidered button, a sheep, for a good friend’s bday.

Fermentation Feast
Embroidered sheep brooch

 

May – Hand Sewing

I tried visible mending this month. My husband is a professional brewer (he’s opening his own brewery, Fifth Hammer Brewing Co, in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens sometime in 2017) and quite hard on his jeans. Being a brewer, he doesn’t need fancy work clothes (outside of his boots) so I decided to mend several pairs of his holey jeans instead of buying new ones. This was a ton of fun – jeans are a bit bulky for commuter crafting but visible mending is a great free-for-all embroidery exercise. Downside is that denim is a bit tough to stitch through – I actually had to use a rubber jar opener pad to help me pull the needle through the areas that had several layers. I’m happy with how they turned out and he’s been wearing them regularly since and they’re holding up well. Visible mending is another craft that I will definitely revisit. I have several moth-eaten sweaters to mend as well as several other projects in mind.

Visibly Mended Jeans
Visibly Mended Jeans, Before & After
Visibly Mended Jeans

June- Heavy Craft; leather, wood burning, glass etching

I spent the month collecting all colors of plastic jugs on recycling day in my Brooklyn neighborhood. I had planned to make some jewelry with them but never got around to it. Instead, I upcycled plastic water bottles into beads. I chopped the bottles up, colored them with Sharpies, wrapped them around chopsticks and hit em with a crafter’s heat gun. Pretty neat. Still haven’t figured out how I want to assemble them into a necklace or something but maybe I’ll be hit with inspiration one of these days. And I still have a giant bin of colorful plastic jugs in our storage loft waiting to be turned into jewelry.

Upcycled plastic beads

July- Yarn Craft; knitting, crochet, weaving

I ended tried thread crochet. I’m a pretty decent knitter but I find crochet a little more challenging. I made a garland (could be a necklace?) from dollar store craft twine and made the parts of a necklace from perle cotton. I didn’t finish either but probably will at some point. I still don’t love crochet as much as knitting, weaving or embroidery but thread crochet is another skill in my toolkit. And it’s a great commuting craft.

Thread crochet
Thread crochet

August- Printmaking; fabric or paper

I started going off-project here, trying multiple things and losing a firm monthly time frame. Which was great – I really hit my crafting groove this month (thank goodness for the iPhone’s Moments view – it made figuring out when I made what easy, phew). A good friend had set up a private shirt sewing class for a small group of us – two full days with Cal Patch in my friend’s Brooklyn apartment. I’ll admit that I wasn’t too hot on sewing structured shirts (I hadn’t sewn in a while and prefer simpler machine projects) but I signed up knowing that it would be a fun experience, would get me back on the machine and most importantly, reacquaint me with a group of dear crafty friends that I hadn’t seen in awhile. I had a blast! I drafted my own shirt pattern, something I had not done before, and sewed a muslin. After attaching the first sleeve late afternoon on day 1, I knew that I wanted to veer off-course and make some simple sleeveless shirts. So I tweaked my original drafted pattern and cut out my first shirt. I finished it on day 2 and started two more shirts. It was so, so good to get back to sewing that on the following weekend, I downloaded and assembled my first PDF garment pattern and whipped it up: the Twist (it) Blouse by schneidermeistern (purchased via Kollabora). This was my sewing style – one pattern piece, one piece of fabric, no sleeves to set-in, extremely fast & easy. Yes! I also stopped by the Hester Street Fair one Saturday that month and got to try shibori dyeing with indigo dye. I made three pieces and fell in love. I started my own indigo dye at home in early September and made some more samples. I haven’t gone back to it but definitely another craft that I want to get back to at some point.

Self-drafted shirt made in class with Cal Patch
Twist (it) Blouse
Shibori pieces made at Hester Street Fair
Shibori samples made at home

September – Machine Sewing

I continued with some machine sewing, turning scraps (leftover from a friend’s shirt in the August sewing class) into fabric tubes and assembling them into a necklace. Not yet finished but fun. I used a fabric tube kit called Turn-it-All that helped a ton. It’s still pretty fiddly but far more doable than without the tools. This is something that I’ve wanted to try for years and finally got around to it – woohoo! I was heavily inspired by these wonderful necklaces by Keenon/Shaw (you can see one here) that are sold at the American Folk Art Museum here in NYC. They’re made from kimono silk and are beautiful. Toubab Paris has also made a lot of wonderful tube-based necklaces over the years. I also tried a bunch of embroidery stitches – I made a few embroidered buttons in April and returned to them this month. Super addictive, free-form creative crafting. I made all of them with perle cotton, which is a thicker thread and fills the fabric quickly. I’m far more comfortable with embroidery at this point. Embroidered buttons make an excellent public transportation commuting craft.

Tube necklace from scraps
Embroidered buttons

October- Needlework; embroidery, cross-stitch, crewel, needlepoint

I continued with the embroidered buttons, switching to regular embroidery thread (a finer thread than perle cotton) and embroidering some actual designs. I ended up making custom buttons for friends that donated to a charity walk that I did that month. I tried my first embroidered pet portrait this month. And now I’m even more comfortable with embroidery and still really, really enjoying it. I went to the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival with some friends this year, one of which had just returned from a weaving class in Washington state. It was a traditional weaving class on floor looms but we were admiring the pin looms at the festival as easy ways to scratch the weaving itch until she ordered her own floor loom. Well, I googled pin looms when I got home and quickly fell down the pin loom rabbit hole. I made my first pin loom (my husband added the nails), headed to my friend’s apartment and wove a few samples. Surprise – so much fun! And a fabulous way to use variegated yarn, which I love on the skein or in the ball but don’t love nearly as much knit up. And I have a lot of variegated yarn in my stash, some of which I dyed over 10 years ago and has just been languishing. There’s a pretty great pin loom group on Facebook if you decide to get into it.

Embroidered buttons

Embroidered Ralphie button

Pin loom samples

November- Papercraft; origami, scrapbook, calligraphy

I realized that the first pin loom that we made had less pins and wider spacing than my friend’s vintage pin loom so I made another 4″ loom and a 2″ loom as well, all by myself this time. Those nails are actually easier to hammer in straight than I thought. I made all of them with inexpensive canvas frames that you can purchase at art & craft supply stores – remove the canvas and you’re ready to start hammering. I used a grid pattern that I found in the book 100 Pin Loom Squares (thanks, NYPL!) for the regular 4″ loom and adapted it slightly for the 2″ loom. You can also purchase vintage looms at garage sales, online, etc and Schacht makes the Zoom Loom, which is pretty sweet. I went the cheap route – all 3 of my looms cost around $10 to make, in total. And they work just fine. I split the wood a bit as I didn’t drill holes first but a little wood glue fixed it right up. And you can definitely weave on a pin loom on the subway – I made most of my squares there and quite a few people were really interested in what I was doing. And again, a fabulous way to use variegated yarns. I dug into my stash, coming out with several yarns that I had dyed over 10 years ago, got to weaving and made my first pin loom project, a scarflet. I love it!! Pin loom weaving is something anyone of almost any age can do – there are some helpful videos to get you started and it is really quite addictive and quite versatile. I recently bought some yarn from the annual Manhattan Smiley’s Yarns Sale (such bargains!) specifically for pin loom weaving and am really looking forward to getting back to it. I’ve seen some lovely projects combining pin loom weaving and knitting and have some designs brewing in the brain. At the very end of the month, I tried needle felting with cheap synthetic felt (acrylic? polyester?) in anticipation of my December project (photos are in the that month’s section) and also tried making paper houses, using a template from Delia Creates. Quite enjoyable and I’d like to pursue more paper buildings in the future, for sure. There are a lot more templates out there and these little houses are a perfect blank slate for all kinds of creative embellishments. So many possibilities!

My homemade pin looms
Samples from my 3 different handmade pin looms
My first pin loom project

Paper houses

December- Choose your own!

I chose a 25 Days of Handmade Ornaments project, trying to do something creative every day for the month of December. It was a bit stressful at times (particularly as I worked the majority of the month and had quite a few evening events) but I actually managed to work on a little something every day and make a bunch of ornaments. And I have continued making every day. I’m on staycation this week and have been hit with the flu, unfortunately, but have managed to knit every day this week. I’ve made a pair of mitts, finished a scarf, and knit a hat (pics coming soon). This has been a splendid learning experience – for one, I focused on making instead of buying this month. I also shared the ornaments via my personal Facebook page and on Instagram and got a really good response. I’ve enjoyed making things so much this year and I truly feel that everyone can benefit from regular creative practice, whatever it may be. Crafting isn’t for everyone but I’ve had a lot of people tell me (virtually and in real life) that they’ve enjoyed my ornament sharing and a few have even been inspired to start their own projects, whether they be in a crafty medium or something else. Creation and the act of making can be so satisfying for the soul and excellent therapy for stressful times. I am a better person in many ways after this year of making. Oh, and I also tried fancy pom poms.

Handmade ornaments 1-4Handmade ornaments 5-8Handmade ornaments 9-12Handmade ornaments 13-16Handmade ornaments 17-20Handmade ornaments 21-24Pom poms

A huge thank you to the organizers of TSNEM, everyone in the Facebook group and everyone that has encouraged me to move forward with this project! I am going to continue to craft on the regular, revisiting some of what I’ve learned this year and continuing to learn new things. I’m keeping an ongoing list of ideas and projects that I’d like to work on and my Pinterest boards keep growing, too. I wish I had more time but have learned that making good use of small amounts of time (like between subway stops) can go a long way.

I’ve signed up for a new challenge for 2017, 1 Year of Stitches, hosted by Sara Barnes of Brown Paper Bag. We’ll be making at least one embroidery stitch every day. You can learn more about the project here and sign up for the Facebook page here (it’s closed so you’ll have to send a request to get access).

Cheers!

Art & Craft DIY Embroidery Felting Knitting Needle Felting Paper Mache Tree Ornaments Try Something New Every Month

Knit Koala. Pattern by Sarah Gasson of Knitables.This was an extremely easy knit. This a free pattern by Sarah Gasson of Knitables, downloaded from Ravelry. I added a little scarf as our apartment is a bit chilly for a koala.

Art & Craft DIY Knitting Tree Ornaments

Knit Llama. Pattern by Luciana Jorge.I am a bit behind so I’m sharing an ornament that I made last December: a llama, pattern by Luciana Jorge, purchased on Ravelry. This one was a little more challenging but addictive enough that I made 3 of them last December.

Art & Craft DIY Knitting Tree Ornaments

Cape BuffaloSmall Cape Buffalo, knit up in brown tapestry yarn with #3 (3.25 mm) needles. Pattern from the book Mini Knitted Safari by Sachi Ishii. Quick to knit, a bit slower to sew up but I’m getting the hang of this type of structure now so I anticipate it moving faster in the future. Horn and ears were improvised instead of following the pattern. The horn was knit as an i-cord (something like cast on 2, K for a couple of rows, KFB, knit a couple of rows, KFB, knit a few rows, then reverse, K2T to decrease, etc) and then stitched on. Ears began with 2 picked up stitches, then K2, P2, K3, P3, bind off. Eyes and nose stitched with black worsted weight yarn. He was impossible to photograph – I did the best I could but definitely cuter in real life. Another great little pattern.

Art & Craft DIY Knitting Tree Ornaments

Star-nosed mole ornament

My fourth original felt ornament design. I used inexpensive acrylic felt, needle-felted with a #40 triangular felting needle. I used fabric glue to adhere the needle-felted layers to a piece of inky blue felt to finish. I stitched details using 2-strands of embroidery thread.

I’ve been fascinated with Star-nosed Moles for awhile. Their 22 pink appendages contain more than 25,000 Eimer’s organs (sensory receptors), which allow it to hunt very effectively. The species holds the Guinness World Record for world’s fastest forager, deciding whether something is edible or not in only 8 milliseconds.

Art & Craft DIY Felting Needle Felting Tree Ornaments

Vulture Ornament

Yet another quick & easy creature, knit up in brown tapestry yarn with #3 (3.25 mm) needles. Pattern from the book Mini Knitted Safari by Sachi Ishii. The vulture is knit flat and seamed. I followed the pattern except for the beak, which I picked up stitches from the head and improvised. Eye is stitched with a scrap of black yarn. Vultures are fascinating birds, particularly in their ability to consume bacteria that would kill most other birds and mammals. Read more about their unique microbiome here.

Art & Craft DIY Knitting Tree Ornaments

Wee Eurooean BadgerAnother fast & relatively easy animal, knit up in a mystery grey yarn (prolly worsted weight) from my stash with #2 (2.75 mm) needles. Pattern from the book Mini Knitted Woodland by Sachi Ishii. The badger is knit flat and seamed up at the end. The construction is slightly different than I’ve seen before but the book has excellent instructions with photos and it went pretty quickly once I figured it out. Many of the creatures in the book are put together the same way so once you’ve made one, you can easily rock through the others. I knit the body as instructed but made slight changes for the tail and ears. I picked up four stitches on the back and knit the tail on the body using yarn from finishing one of the legs. I lengthened the tail slightly (maybe by 2 rows?). I picked up one stitch for each ear, using yarn from the nose to kFB, then finished by running yarn through the stitches and stitching down. I embroidered the eyes with a regular stitch instead of a French knot and also embroidered a nose using black 6-strand embroidery thread.

Mini Knitted Woodland is a book that I’ve had on my wish list for awhile but couldn’t quite justify. I received an Amazon gift card for my birthday recently and that was the perfect excuse to pick it up, along with another of Sachi’s books, Mini Knitted Safari. So glad I did – the badger really did work up quickly and is so cute! I’ve already started the vulture from the Safari book and am looking forward to making a bunch of others from both books.

Art & Craft DIY Knitting Tree Ornaments

Tiny Window CatAnother fast and clever little knit, the Tiny Window Cat from Rabbit Hole Knits. I knit her with #2 (2.75 mm) needles from a mystery grey yarn (seems like worsted weight) from my stash. Details embroidered with 6-strand embroidery thread. I also knit the tail with 4 stitches instead of 6, using the icord method. The only thing that I would change is to do a provisional cast on with waste yarn to eliminate the need to pick up stitches for the base (I really dislike picking up stitches). Otherwise, great pattern. I’ve knit a couple more of her patterns (Bluebird of Happiness and My Little Goldfish) and have enjoyed all of them. And she has a new book out, Knits for Kitties, that has 25 adorable little knits. And while I’m sure my cats would love them, I’m pretty sure that I would love them just as much. On my wish list.

Art & Craft DIY Knitting Tree Ornaments