Out with the Old, In with the New

It’s been a chilly windy end to the year up here on my mountain.  I have spent a good part of yesterday and today tidying my work areas in preparation for the busy months ahead.  Sort of my own version of out with the old and in with the new.

Sarah had been helping me, but today had to take a rest since she caught the stomach bug I had nearly a week ago. So we are keeping her curled up on the sofa with warm blankets and a cozy fire in the wood-stove.

I will have some new designs in my M2H Design line to show all of you early in 2012.

In the meantime, I’m wishing all my readers a very warm healthy and  Happy New Year.

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Happy Holidays

Wishing everyone a beautiful holiday week-end and a wonderous New Year in 2012.

Little Snowflake Ornament / Copyright 2011 M2H Designs

In celebration of this time of year I am sharing a fun little snowflake pattern with you.  For now it is just a stitch diagram, so my apologies to those of you who can’t read those yet.  Maybe a good New Year’s resolution is to learn that skill as it does open the whole world of international patterns to you.  If you have trouble reading the chart because of size, click on the photo and it should enlarge it.

Once you’ve stitched up your snowflake and tucked in the ends, pin it out and use your favorite fabric stiffener to make it into an ornament. I prefer to brush the stiffener on once the snowflake is pinned out, instead of dipping the fabric in the solution first.  Once one side is dry I un-pin the flake and if needed will brush more stiffener on the back.

You can also sprinkle a bit of glitter over the flake while the stiffener is wet to create a sparkly snowflake.

Enjoy!

It’s a White Christmas

Last night we had a big snow storm and woke up to 2 feet of powdery white stuff.  Timing was perfect as my in-laws had arrived earlier in the day.  Now we have a nice fire going in the wood-stove and we are watching Christmas movies.

I did have to wonder if the snow came because I’ve been crocheting lots of snowflakes out of cotton crochet thread.

I’m not usually a “threadie” when it comes to crochet.  But there is something about snowflakes worked in crochet thread that really makes it feel like Christmas time is here. Plus they are wonderful quick gifts that can be mailed easily or used as a decorative element on greeting cards and packages.

Snowflakes can be very simple or extremely complex. Personally I like to play with different ideas, sort of riffing with the hook and thread. My only guide being that I need to keep the flakes 6-sided.

Generally I start off with an adjustable slip knot, then chain 2, work 6 single crochet in the 2nd chain from hook. Pull on the beginning tail, slip stitch into the first sc of the round and I have a nice little center for my snowflake, from there out any thing can happen.

The best bit of snowflakes is that you can make lots of open spaces, then when you use the stiffening material they suddenly become beautiful crystalline looking miniature works of art.

I like to pin my snowflakes out with blocking pins on top of wax paper with one of my foam blocking pads or a piece of cardboard underneath.

Then I brush the snowflakes with my stiffening solution. I use the product “Stiffy” that I purchased at our local Michaels.  But there are lots of options out there such as Alene’s glue mixed with water or laundry starch.  Sometimes you need to experiment to see what works best for your climate.  I want to saturate the fibers enough that the flake will be strong, but not so much that it gets blobby looking.

Once the flakes have completely dried I remove the pins carefully and may use a tiny bit more solution brushed lightly over the flake and sprinkle with some glitter.

A bit of nylon line to make hanging loops and my flakes are ready to decorate the tree or hang in the window.

I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday visit with your friends and family too.  Happy Holidays to all my lovely readers.

The Beauty of Beads

I love beads.  If I could I would completely cover projects with beads.  Even though I know that 1) the project would be very heavy and 2) it might really not be in good taste.

Beaded Bracelet for Crochet Club

A recent fun project I did with my Crochet Club kids was to make chains with beads.  We used plastic pony beads. They are easy to thread onto worsted weight yarn and come in a variety of colors.

I decided it would be fun to make a “fancier” version for myself.  I purchased some Czech Glass Beads Size 2/0 in rainbow colors and some Patons Silk/Bamboo #3 thread to string them on.

I’m sure there are other ways to string beads on thread or yarn, but the method I like is to use a dental floss threader. You can find them in the toothcare area of most pharmacies.

Making a Beaded Chain Stitch

To make my necklace I strung a bunch of beads on the thread, though I ended up only needing 25.  Using a H-8 (5 mm) hook, I chained 8 then slip stitched into the first chain, after making 10 more chains I slid the first bead up and chained around it (first bead chain made). I alternated bead chains and regular chains until I had used 25 beads up.

My length of beaded chain now measured approximately 15 1/2 inches from the loop at the beginning.  I made 11 more chains and fastened off with a 6 inch length.  Using the ending length I sewed a button to the chain and wove the end in.  Then wove the beginning length around the loop to act as reinforcement for the buttonhole.

Less than 30 minutes after starting this project I have a lovely necklace.  If you are needing a quick gift during this holiday season this is a fun one that can be made with a wide variety of beads and thread or yarn options. Have fun experimenting.

Snow-spiration

Well the first day of December has begun by dumping a load of snow up here on the mountain (a bit over a foot at the moment).  I guess Mother Nature heard me complaining that I wasn’t feeling very Christmassy (is that a word?).

Pinecones in Snow

It now looks like a classic Christmas card out my window.  A steady flurry of flakes in the air, a foot of fluffy snow on the ground and un-plowed roads have contributed to the overall effect. All I need is a horse-drawn sleigh and I’m set.

Of course it could be Santa’s doing.  I’m guessing he really didn’t want to wreck his nice sled on our dry snowless roofs. The weather dudes are promising at least a week of the wintry temperatures we are currently enjoying.  16F in my backyard at the moment.

Living here on my mountain is beautiful, but definitely makes it difficult to think about designing garments or other crochet items for warmer seasons.

Currently my design brain is thinking about fluffy warm lap afghans and throws that are quick to stitch up. One of the Christmas gifts I want to make is a throw, but I need something that won’t take too long.

I’m thinking Caron’s Dazzleaire will be perfect.  Because the yarn is rated a “bulky” yarn with a recommended hook size of L (8 mm).  With the fluffy “halo” of this yarn I’m thinking that I might be using an even larger hook, say a N or P hook (10 -11 mm).  Worked in a simple open stitch pattern the halo of the yarn will fill in the open spaces and help create a warm breathable throw that can be enjoyed even when the weather isn’t quite this nippy.

One item on my gift list started, hopefully this “snow-spiration” will last long enough for me to make some real head-way on the rest of my planning for the festive season.