Tag Archive | needle-felt

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. 🙂

Image result for dirndl

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.


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.


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:


And here they are pieced together.


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.



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.


Mickey–complete with shoes!


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.


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…


First, second, and third.

Finish the Ravenna Satchel: check!

I’m sure some of you might be wondering if I’m ever going to follow-up with a post about the felted bag I had worked on over the summer. Well…I finished it! Yay!


IMG_2488 IMG_2371

After I completed the needle-felting process a few months ago, the bag sat in a corner of my bedroom as life sped up around it. At one point, I sewed the zipper along the top edge. On another day, I added the feet to the bottom of the bag. And then I had to sew the handle rings to the outside of the bag. This part—the handles and how they’re attached—is where I will probably change things when/if I make another one of these bags. To offer a woman such a nice big bag (and it is big!) with such spacious real estate inside just begging to be filled and utilized…and yet to construct it with a weak handle system…well, a bag is only as good as the strength of its handles, right?IMG_2369

In order to give the handles more stability, I sewed through a square piece of fabric on the inside of the bag while sewing the rings to the outside of the bag. That way, when the bag is hanging off my shoulder or dangling from my hands, the weight is not just pulling my felted yarn, but also the piece of fabric (now hidden by the inside liner). It’s amazing the difference that created—because, yes, I attached the first ring without the fabric and my eyes bulged when I saw how it would pull on the sides of the bag!

Here and there throughout the autumn months, I worked on the inside lining of the bag—cutting the fabric, cutting the interfacing (the iron-on kind), cutting the MDF board (for the bottom of the bag), sewing everything together… Mind you, I had no pattern to follow, for a lot of the extra online information one could have found on this bag six years ago is no longer available, so I had to make up my own based on how I knew the bag itself was constructed. In the end, the liner’s girth was an inch or so wider than the interior of the bag—but with a little folding and the help of a curved upholstery needle, I was able to tack the sides of the lining to the bag in four different places with a running stitch from top to bottom. I finished that, along with my little zipper pull, during my daughters’ Christmas break.


Thus, for the past few weeks, I’ve had only the handles to complete. To make those, however (strips of suede cloth wrapped around cotton belting) I needed my sewing machine—which lay under a mound of stuffed snowmen. Last weekend I finally unearthed the machine and joyfully made my two straight-sewn lines (yep, that’s all I needed it for). The incredibly difficult part came after I slid the belting inside the suede cloth sheath—I needed to hand-sew it around the handle rings.

Sigh. It helps to have the right tools when doing a specific task.IMG_2479

Somehow I managed to sew one side of a handle around the first ring with your run-of-the-mill sewing needle—and also managed not to injure my fingers in the process. Try as I might, however, I could not get that needle to go through the belting and suede cloth for the second ring. So off to Joann’s I went the next day to buy a needle specifically made for working with leather. After that, the sewing went easier. Easier, but not necessarily easy. My middle finger suffered a nice puncture wound from that needle (anyone seen the tip of a leather needle? It’s huge compared to the teeny-tiny points of your average sewing needle!), but thank the Lord for Neosporin. That stuff is amazing at numbing the pain!

And so it was this past Friday, with a fresh Band-Aid swathing my finger and just minutes to spare before having to pick up my girls from school this past Friday, that I finished a project begun around the time school had let out for summer vacation in 2014. 🙂

In time I might embroider my initials on the back of the bag...

In time I might embroider my initials on the back of the bag…

I’m hoping the bag will be able to come with me when we travel this upcoming summer…since that’s why I set out to make it in the first place. I say “hope,” though, because the thing is bigger than I anticipated and we’ll be traveling by airplane, so I have to wonder: will the flight attendants let me take it into the cabin of the plane?

Because after all the work I’ve put into it, it sure as heck isn’t going into the belly of the plane!

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.


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.



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. 😉

Summer Knitting…

Ravenna Satchel by Marta McCall

About six months ago, I realized I could use a new travel bag—you know, something to bring on a flight or the occasional overnight trip—but I wanted to knit one for myself rather than buy one. So once again I visited Ravelry.com (love that site!) and I stumbled upon the Ravenna Satchel by Marta McCall. I swear the Halleluiah Chorus started playing (or maybe that was just the Christmas music in the background at the time), for even though it would take another several weeks before I purchased the pattern, I pretty much knew that was the bag I wanted to knit.

blossoming hues

Color scheme I chose from design-seeds.com

I hesitated forking over the money for so long because the pattern itself is $12—a hefty price tag for me when it comes to a knitting pattern. The written instructions, however, arrived on thick, heavy sheets of paper, almost like cardstock, with large, glossy pictures; I’m hopeful these sheets will survive the dozens of shoves and pulls they’ll undergo in my knitting bag as I refer to them over and over again. The other reason I took a while to make a decision was because I had to be sure I wanted to spend sixty-plus dollars of my birthday/Christmas money on wool yarn. (Very thankful for Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, otherwise the cost would have been higher!) In the end, because I really wanted to do another felting project that included needle felting and the bag looked soooo inviting and original, I just could not say no.

Before I ever ordered yarn, however, I did what many knitters decide to do on a project: change the colors to better fit my style. So to the Internet I turned for ideas, where I stumbled upon design-seeds.com (I highly encourage anyone who is contemplating colors and their complements to check out this site!). Amazingly enough, once I chose my color scheme, I was able to match all six colors with skeins of yarn from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes—which has over one hundred color choices!

Probably the easiest part of the pattern: knitting what will be the bottom of the bag

Probably the easiest part of the pattern: knitting what will be the bottom of the bag

I’m excited to undergo a new knitting challenge, and this time I thought I’d take you on the journey with me, so every few weeks (give or take a week depending on how often I get to knit, now that my girls are on summer vacation!) I’ll share my progress with you, along with any woes I’m certain to have. Because a project isn’t a project if it doesn’t have any woes, right? 😉

Bottom is finished and I've picked up the stitches to continue the body of the bag

Bottom is finished and I’ve picked up the stitches to continue the body of the bag

To be continued… 🙂

“Needle” little felt in your life?

In a previous post, I mentioned how much I’ve enjoyed the process of felting, but even though I have a running list of projects I’d like to attempt in the future, the concept itself recently began to lose its luster. And that’s when I remembered the embellishing power of needle felting!

First attempt at needle-felting

First attempt at needle-felting

Almost six years ago now, a friend of mind had introduced me to this intriguing craft, which is the method of bonding wool fibers together via a barbed needle. Projects can be two-dimensional, as in pictures or symbols on a previously felted backdrop, or three-dimensional, as in stand-alone sculptures. At the time, I eagerly bought a package of barbed needles, brought them home, tucked them away in my knitting cart…and ignored them for the next half-decade. A few weeks ago, I finally gathered up my courage, removed one of those “brand-new” needles from its plastic home and put it to good use. Now I’m wondering why it took me so long to give it a whirl! Though the prospect of jabbing a needle into a woolen foundation may sound intimidating (don’t prick your finger!), it’s actually quite easy and somewhat cathartic. It’s also hard to mess up, because until you’ve thoroughly bonded the different pieces of wool together, you can pull them apart and start over. (At least, that has been my experience.)

iPhone case, 2nd attempt

iPhone case, 2nd attempt

Once I conquered my initial trial run using wool yarn (see the above picture), I took a deep breath and embellished my iPhone case, which I had previously knitted and then felted. The brown and green colors are pieces of yarn and the light and dark blues are pieces of roving. When I wore it to Bible study a few days later, one of my girlfriends liked it so much, she asked for a case of her own. A week later, I gave her the one featuring a cross, a heart and a purple lily, which is a blend of two pictures I came across on the Internet (her case has a pocket for ear buds, thus the break you see in the pattern).

Phone case for my girlfriend

Phone case for my girlfriend


I find these phone cases make the perfect project to have at hand when I’m in the car for a measly ten-minute drive or when I don’t want to (or don’t have the luxury to) think long and hard about my stitches: Using the Magic Loop method, they are quick and easy to knit and once felted, they provide a great “canvas” upon which to try more needle-felted embellishments!

Still quite the novice at this craft, I prefer to work with yarn as opposed to roving, for to me it seems more controllable and malleable. That said, I’m sure a future project is out there just waiting to entice me to change my mind.

After all, I have yet to try my hand at a 3D sculpture.