Tag Archive | knitting

Tinsel Doll Part II

Summers usually find me accomplishing far more knitting than writing. This summer is no exception. In some ways, however, I’ve still been able to hobnob with my book characters, since the items I knitted were for them. Here’s a snapshot of where I left them (and you) in Part I:

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Shortly after that post, I completed Tinsel’s face and hair…

…and then felt like I was staring at Adam and Eve.

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Er…let’s get some clothes on these kids, shall we?!

Again, the patterns I used come from Knitted Pirates, Princesses, Witches, Wizards, & Fairies, but every single item I’ve tweaked in some way.

Tinsel’s skirt (above left) came from the pattern to create the skirt in the above-right picture, but I made it shorter and added color work along the hem instead of the design in the original pattern. Then I added a snap at the back, rather than the called-for knitted bobble button (see Niklas’s lederhosen below).

I knit Tinsel’s bodice bigger around, knowing it would have to fit over part of her shirt, and I made the center ribbed section wider with the intent of later adding lacing, like real-life dirndl bodices.

The pattern called for the edge seams to be sewn together and the bodice slipped over the doll’s body, but I opted for sewing snaps on the back, instead, so I wouldn’t have to manipulate the doll or the piece of clothing.

Niklas’s shirt I knit before Tinsel’s, knowing I wanted to tweak hers. I made his longer in the body (even then, I should have knit at least another two rows) and relied on my knowledge of short row shaping to angle the top edge of each sleeve so they would come out at a 45-degree angle from the body of the shirt rather than a 90-degree angle.

And here’s Tinsel’s version of this shirt…

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For Niklas’s lederhosen, I not only knitted the pants longer than the original pattern, but I also wanted that stripe of color along the sides.

Lastly, for Tinsel’s apron, I had to make up the pattern myself, figuring out how many stitches I needed to begin with, how many stitches I needed to end with, and how many rows that would require to accomplish the overall effect. I’ll admit I calculated wrong…but thankfully it kinda worked in my favor. Nope, I’m not telling you how I miscalculated…

Yes, these kids need shoes. And coats. Clearly, a Part III’s coming at some point. The shoes look intimidating, though, and the coat I want to knit Tinsel will require a lot of tweaking…which I wasn’t in the mood to do just yet…so I started with Niklas’s coat. Oh. My. Goodness. What a huge undertaking! I’m only halfway done with it, and I’d guess it’s taken me longer to knit this first half than all these other clothes combined. :/ Let’s just say it begins with 200 stitches and slowly decreases by ten stitches every several rows. 200 tiny stitches. That’s more than I worked with when knitting my daughters’ blankets! Rest assured I’ll share the beast when I’m done.

Until then, happy crafting!

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Tinsel Doll Part I

First, let me give a shout-out to those of you who have recently chosen to follow my blog. Welcome! I’m so glad to have you join us. As you can see from the title of this blog, my posts are scattered between my passion for writing, knitting, creating paraphernalia for my 16” fashion dolls, and sharing whatever God happens to lay on my heart on any given week. So whichever kind of post drew you to follow me, rest assured there will be more like it.

But maybe not today. 😉

Today, I’m sharing my latest knitting adventure. Most of you know my debut novel, Tinsel in a Tangle, is releasing in October through Clean Reads. It will initially be available in digital form, so while I scratch my head trying to figure out ways to have a launch party and promote my book without having something physical to hold or hand out, I’m dutifully working on some mini-helpers that should bring a smile to some faces—and maybe a sale on Amazon. (Hey, I have to be optimistic, right? Hoping the act of writing it out will help cement it in my brain.) 😛

Everyone, please meet Niklas, Santa’s cocky grandson who has become skilled over the years in the art of exasperating Tinsel.

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The pattern I used for the body comes from Knitted Pirates, Princesses, Witches, Wizards & Fairies, by Annette Hefford. While Annette recommends using Light Worsted, or 4-ply, yarn and US size 3 needles for most of the work, her dolls end up being 18” tall, and I didn’t want mine that big. I also wanted to use Palette yarn from Knitpicks.com, as they offer a huge range of colors, but it’s only 2-ply yarn, so I decreased the size of my needles to US size 1. The feet are knitted first, then set aside. The legs are knitted separately, then joined at the crotch area to continue up through the torso and head.

Out of all the pieces to this doll, the hands were the hardest to knit and sew, but they went fast–and they weren’t the most difficult things I’ve had to knit (my Ravenna satchel was far more cantankerous). Still, I wouldn’t recommend this project to a beginner knitter.

The hair is actually a wig, knitted separately using a double-loop stitch. I will admit my hands ached after the first few rows. You can see from the picture below how much bigger the wig looks compared to the head, and I was worried I had done something wrong, though I couldn’t have told you what. But once you run a gathering stitch around the edge and pull it snug to the head…it works beautifully! (Cut the loops for straight, wild hair, or keep the loops for a “curly” effect.)

Stuffing the legs and arms was quite the feat, as well, given how small an opening I was working with. I had to use the eraser-end of a pencil to stuff the filling, and at times I rolled the limbs as though rolling play-dough into a snake.

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The opening at the top of the arm…

And it took me so long to finally sit down and write this post, that I can actually introduce you to an almost-completed Tinsel:

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To keep her legs from looking too chunky, and knowing I wanted her to “wear” stockings, I decided to knit her legs as just that: stockings. I also knitted her legs, body, and arms in-the-round, using the Magic Loop Method, rather than knitting them flat and having to sew up the seams afterward. You can see the difference here in their arms:

Later today, I hope to embroider Tinsel’s face, and this weekend, I hope to start on (complete?) her wig.

What about their clothes, you ask? Ah, yes, well, that’s where Part II comes in. Once I complete both dolls, then I get to move on to knitting their shirts, shoes, lederhosen, dirndl, and, of course, their coats, hats and mittens. Because living as far north as they do, winter gear is kind of a necessity. 😉

Tinsel à la Phone Case

Last week I shared some of the things I worked on this summer when I had limited writing time. But I saved the best for last. Well, best in my opinion. 😉

If you’ve followed me for a while (or know me in person), then you’ve come to realize I love Christmas. Which is part of the reason I want to stay in my Christmas manuscript rather than emerge and hop into something new. (I’ll get there, don’t worry.) And because I’m kinda smitten with my elf, Tinsel (as creator-created kind of way, thankyouverymuch), I’ve been wanting to bring her to “life” in phone carrier form. 🙂

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Traditional dirndl

Now, Tinsel wears a dirndl, a traditional dress worn in Austria, Bavaria, and South Tyrol, so first I drew out how that might translate on a knitted/felted phone carrier, and then I knitted it in bright colors (it was summer at the time, go figure) to make sure it would actually come out looking right.

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No, it’s not a headless doll. 😉

My girls say it looks like Disney’s Rapunzel—which got me thinking of ways I could knit carriers to reflect Disney princesses, but that’s a feat for another season.

Knowing I had the design as close as I was going to get it over a set of 18 stitches and 45 rows, I got right to work on Tinsel. Just kidding. I didn’t start on her until last month, since I was busy with all those other projects.

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Tinsel before needle-felting.

And because there’s a team of Scottish-accented reindeer that play a significant role in my story, they had to be reflected in my phone carrier somehow, right? So here’s my token reindeer:

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And here they are pieced together.

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After needle-felting and sewing.

Though neither of these characters took long to knit, I think it took me almost as long to sew on all the different pieces of the reindeer as it took me to knit them. And sewing the apron string around Tinsel’s torso was not an easy task. Nevertheless, they were fun to make, and since I have lots more yarn…well, a red dirndl-clad elf is calling my name.

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Though Writing Ebbs, the Creative Waters Keep Flowing

I didn’t get a lot of new writing done this summer. With the lack of a schedule, the kids being home for summer break, a family vacation, and the fact I wanted to focus more on querying agents when I did get time to write, fresh words just didn’t make it on the page.

But I stayed creative.

Few words are making it to the computer screen even now that school has started and vacations are over. I’m still querying, but I’m plum dried up and uninspired right now to delve into a new world/new manuscript. Honestly, I’d rather roam around the streets in my imaginary Christmas town, peeking in windows on the lookout for a sequel, but I don’t have enough of a plot to get started. Yet. (Yet–right, Lord?)

Again, however, I’m staying creative.

I’ve come to realize that when my writing well has run dry, the other inventive parts of me flare to life to fill in the void until my well is full again. So…here’s what I’ve been up to over the last few months.

First, I finished some projects that had carried over from the summer of ’15.

Alas, though the tunic top fits great, it doesn’t look great on me. Not my first knitting #fail, and I can always either sell this or reclaim the yarn for a different project, but it’s extremely frustrating to have spent all that time knitting something I won’t wear. :/ The market bag is huge—cuz that’s how I intended it to be—but I keep forgetting I need to sew a liner to the underside of the handle to give it more strength. So…I have yet to use it. #fail again—but only for the time being. 😉

But here’s a #success…

From this:

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As usual, I got too project-happy and forgot to take a pic before taking off the trim pieces!

To this:

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This project had been in the mental plans for at least two years, and last summer I ripped off (gently) the trim pieces and painted inside the cupboards…and then got lost in the plot of my Christmas story and progress careened to a halt. Because who can think about refinishing furniture when there’s a world of characters shouting in your head?

Once I found the fabric I wanted to use for the drawer fronts, I went on a hunt for new drawer pulls. The brass ones I found at Lowe’s, and the two funky ones I found at an Anthropologie store in MA. (And yes, it meant I had to fill in old holes and drill new ones, but the end result was well worth the effort.)

The trim pieces bordering the fabric I cut to size from 8’ trim lengths I bought at Lowe’s. Again. And I might as well say here that the paint I used is Valspar, sold at…yep, Lowe’s. (Love that store.)

After priming the surface, I then painted on three coats of the Valspar paint. I probably would have gotten away with only two coats if my mind hadn’t gone on vacation, because I forgot about my little sponge paint roller I use for furniture and was using a brush, instead. And that doesn’t coat as well as a roller. Thankfully, my mind returned in time for the third coat.

I’ll confess that on my first coat, I did try a DIY chalk paint recipe I found on someone’s blog via Pinterest, which called for some Plaster of Paris. I don’t know how that stuff worked for the woman who claims to have used it successfully, but I should have known things wouldn’t go well when I read on the plaster box that it begins to harden within ten minutes after one adds the water. Say what? But the chalk paint recipe calls for water! Um…don’t use Plaster of Paris if you try a DIY recipe. Thankfully my faux pas isn’t too noticeable. Just don’t get too close!

I’m going to try this chalk paint recipe next time (on a smaller piece of furniture). I’ll let you know how it goes. As for the fabric, I did the same thing here that I do for my doll backdrops: Mod Podge! One coat to glue it to the drawer front, let it dry, then two coats on top to give it durability. I usually sand in between the last two coats.

But my favorite project…the one I finished last week…

I’ll show you next time. 😉

(Hint: it relates to my Christmas story and involves knitting.)

Until then, stay creative in whatever venue God has given you a passion for.

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It’s a Knit World After All…

This summer my family and I are headed to Walt Disney World in Florida. In honor of Mickey Mouse, I thought I would knit and felt a phone case in his colors. I sent a picture of it to my niece before I’d completely finished knitting it and she liked it so much, I decided to give it to her when completed.

Original phone case for Brooke

Original phone case for Brooke

Which meant I had to knit and felt another one for me. 😉

By the time I finished the first Mickey, I had the idea of knitting floppy legs and attaching them to the bottom of the case. When I shared this idea with Hubby, he suggested I knit arms, too. Hmm. More knitting and sewing than I wanted to do, but in hindsight the appendages knit up extremely fast in i-cord. It wasn’t until I had felted my Mickey that I realized something: I forgot to make him with his yellow shoes!

Barefoot Mickey

Barefoot Mickey

So…when my mom mentioned she’d like a Mickey, too, I figured three time’s a charm and added those yellow shoes.

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Mickey–complete with shoes!

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Embroidered on the left; needle-felted on the right.

Other than the shoes (and the fact I made hers to fit an iPhone 4 verses mine that fits an iPhone 5), the one difference between my mom’s Mickey and mine are the black lines on the white gloves. I needle-felted mine after the felting process in the washing machine. With hers, I embroidered the lines into the gloves before tossing the case into the washing machine. I think I like the needle-felted lines better (sorry, Mom), but I did try to even out the lines on my mom’s phone case as best as I could by bracketing the black lines with white yarn. Live and learn, right?

 

Compare and contrast: pre-felted on the left; post-felted on the right.

Compare and contrast: pre-felted on the left; post-felted on the right.

In the process of needle-felting the buttons.

In the process of needle-felting the buttons.

 

Here’s another phone case I made for a friend who loves yellow and loves Tweety Bird (and it just so happened I had a lot of yellow yarn left over from another project).

Tweety Bird

Tweety Bird

Lastly, here are two cases I made just for the fun of trying new things.

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Both of these cases have eyelets instead of knitted i-cord to hold the chain, but you’ll notice with the Paris case that the eyelets didn’t grab onto the felted wool like they should have.

The eyelet popped out.

The eyelet popped out.

I anticipate the same thing will happen to the dragon case with the passing of time and use. Because of this, I’m contemplating making a fabric top edge for these two cases, in which the eyelets should hold and do their job. 😉 I have another reason for sewing a fabric edge on the Paris case, as well. In order to get the vertical stripes, I knit the case sideways—but my calculations were off, so it came out too long in the end. Thus, I had to cut off the top inch or so. That shouldn’t pose a problem…but one never knows, so a sewn edge will keep it from fraying or tearing or whatever felted yarn might do.

Now that I’ve mastered this size phone case, I guess it’s on to figuring out the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus…uh, after I make a case for my daughter’s iPad mini, of course.

But first, Disney World awaits…

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First, second, and third.

Laptop bag…er, sleeve

IMG_2804My MacBook’s back. I got it back that same evening after I sent it off in the morning with my hubby to the authorized service provider. Guess what was wrong with it?

Nothing.

[Insert sheepish grin]

If I had applied my iPhone knowledge to my MacBook and forced a shutdown by simply holding down the power button for several seconds, I might have saved myself a rant. But in my frustration and disappointment and a little panic, I forgot I could do that (I’m sure there’s a another lesson in there for me). I only remembered I could put it to sleep with a quick press of that power button, but a full “shut down” required a click under the apple symbol—and I couldn’t click at the moment. So what was the first thing the technician at the store did? Forced a shut down by depressing the power button for several seconds. And when he turned it back on…voilà! Bye-bye glitch, hello working trackpad.

Next time I’ll know better.

And when your MacBook trackpad doesn’t “click,” you’ll remember my embarrassing oversight and know how to fix it without the panic. 🙂

Ahem. Moving on…

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As I mentioned in my last post, I was excited at the thought of having an excuse to knit and felt a new laptop bag—a sleeve, I believe, is the technical term for what I made. I had a lot of yarn left over from my Ravenna Satchel, colors that continued to speak to me and worked well together, so I decided to use up my stash for this new sleeve. Because I use Wool of the Andes yarn from KnitPicks.com for most of my felting projects, I have a go-to formula that serves me well when I’m trying to figure out a project’s dimensions before felting to ensure it shrinks to the correct dimensions after felting.

IMG_2795For any interested knitters/felters out there, here is what works for me: Using Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn on size 10 needles, I have found that 30 stitches and 23 rows (plus the cast on and bind off) equals 7″ x 4 1/4″ before felting and 5 3/4″ x 3″ after felting twice in a top-loading washing. Knowing those dimensions, I calculated I’d need to cast on 115 stitches and knit for 106 rows to create a simple fold-over laptop sleeve for the 13” MacBook. Normally I would have knit in the round, then bound off half the stitches and continued knitting the flap back and forth, but I wanted to knit stripes, so I worked it flat (allowing me to deal with just one color at a time) and then pinned it together on either side at the 90th stitch mark and closed the sides with a single crochet stitch. I then carried that crochet stitch around all edges save for along the bottom. I meant to take a before and after picture to show the size difference, but as usual, I got over zealous to felt it and forgot all about the picture until it was too late. One of these days I’ll remember to take it slow.IMG_2935

Simple project, right? Well…yes and no. As you can see in the above pictures, my MacBook has a fun decal on its cover and I found out on the first try that the pointy edges of the decal snag on every felted fiber as it slides in and out of the laptop sleeve. If I left it like that, the decal would be peeling off in no time. Can’t have that, can we, Miss Perfectionist?

No, I can’t.

IMG_2936Thus I quickly cut and sewed an inside lining and attached it to the sleeve along the top edge. Of course, it was only after I sewed it in that I remembered I had first wanted to needle-felt a flowered vine or some such in the thick green stripe. Sigh. This is why I’m not a professional.

Thank goodness, then, that functionality doesn’t hinge on one’s professional status.

Do I hear an “Amen”? 😉

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Have bag. Will travel. Almost.

Illustration of a cartoon style about summer and beach holidayser time vector

I’m on vacation for the next few weeks. When you think of the word “vacation,” what first springs to mind? Maybe relaxation. A time to unwind. A yummy drink in one hand and a good book in the other. Or maybe it means going to new places, seeing new sights, doing something different and fun each day. For my family, it means heading back to New England to visit friends and relatives. And for me specifically…it means not having to worry about what we’re having for dinner, because I don’t have to cook it! 🙂 It also means time to knit (since one can socialize and knit at the same time).

What is doesn’t mean is time to write–hence why it’s been just over two weeks since my last post.

Nevertheless, today I’m squirreling away here and there in order to share my progress on the one thing I’ve been able to work on this past week: my Ravenna Satchel.

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Last row of intarsia panel complete!

Roughly a week after I published the last post about the satchel, I finished the intarsia panel—yay! As the end came in sight and the number of color changes I had to make began to dwindle, the knitting process naturally sped up and it became a breeze to finish one row after another in one sitting.

And oh, the smile that lit my face when I knit that last stitch!

Then I saw the loose ends.

Yikes!

Yikes!

I can’t say my smile entirely disappeared. After knitting intarsia for so long, I found it rewarding to do something different. It took me a few blocks of time, but one by one those loose ends got weaved in. Once I fixed some random holes left by unwrapped stitches, I turned my attention to knitting the back of the bag.

In the original pattern, the back is solid black—a bit of a letdown, given the rest of the bag is so beautifully patterned with flowers and such—but I had long ago decided I’d carry the blue background all the way around and ordered yarn accordingly, buying more skeins of Clarity (light blue) and less of Currant (deep red).

Apparently I did not have my fill of intarsia, for I had knit no more than a few rows into the humdrum straight-stitch back panel when I decided to design a couple of flowers and possible leaves to liven things up a bit. Common Sense returned in time to [redirect] my grandiose plans into a more manageable one: one flower and one leaf. That kept me happily knitting for another couple of mornings, until I finished the specified number of rows and joined everything together again to knit the upper section of the bag in the round. That went quick and just before leaving for vacation, I had completed everything but the bind-off edge.

Finished bag just before felting...

Finished bag just before felting…

So I sacrificed a critical couple of pounds in my suitcase and took the satchel-in-progress with me.

I felted it within the first few days of arriving in New England. During the knitting process, I had been concerned about possible puckering in the areas behind which I chose to carry yarn; however, I’m pleased to report that puckering did not occur. Some of the darker colors did bleed a tiny bit, but it’s nothing the needle-felting can’t hide.

After felting. No, the picture is not out of focus--that's the blurry effect of the stitches.

After felting. No, the picture is not out of focus–that’s the blurry effect of the stitches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which is really what my fingers have been busy with this week.

Following the pattern instructions and taking needle in hand, I outlined each flower and leaf twice with the corresponding yarn and now I’m currently outlining the outline twice with my background color. (Long car rides and evening chats afford great opportunities to stab away at strands of yarn.) As you can see from the flower and leaf I knit on the back panel, it’s the process of needle-felting with the background color that really makes the pattern pop. Once I finish the outlines, I’ll fix any last troublesome areas by needle-felting over it with the correct color.

After needle-felting...

After needle-felting…

And when I’m done with that…uh, no, I won’t be finished. There’s a zipper to add and handles to make, feet to apply…and a search for the perfect fabric to line the inside that will make me smile every time I open my bag.

I suppose those details will have to wait until after my vacation. In the meantime, I can once again look people in the eye while I socialize. 😉