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It’s all about the knitting at the moment

I know I have been totally MIA here for a loooooonnnggg time.  Life has been pretty full.  The crafting I am doing is pretty much limited to knitting – something I can do in the car, in waiting rooms, while catching up on my endless film queues etc. I will also say the knitting is almost 90% socks.

I thought I would just do something I have been thinking of doing for a while, and that is using my blog to document those projects.

I made these a couple of months ago – the wool is from a bag we unearthed from under the table at my local knitting shop (very sadly soon to close) All Ewe Knit is Love in Shaftesbury.

This sock is using the pattern Slip Stitch Lines and is free on Ravelry.

I formed the sock-blocker from a coathanger, using the printable pattern here and the info here.

The heel is as nice a FLK heel as I have ever done.

And I have been experimenting with other versions, like a traditional slip-stitch version

and an Eye of Partridge version!

So that is what has been keeping me busy.  I am still also sending out 10-20 book folding pattern every week and a fair few DASH planners as well.  I may be back soon. But it’ll likely be a knitting post so papercrafters be warned!

 

 


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Still here. A bit about Dementia Dolls…

Settle in. This is a long one.

I am still here, just not up to much blogging.  Still sending out book folding templates, still knitting, not scrapbooking or doing much papercraft at all really.  Spent a day in A&E After Maddie shoved a pitchfork right thru her foot at the garden centre of her college. Fun.

But for my little bit of social interaction I pop over to the local Library every Friday morning for a couple of hours.  Mostly I knit there, and chat.  Jack is coming over from LA for a visit and he wants socks, so I worked out a way to knit 2 pairs of socks at the same time, at first on two circulars and then all four on one, once I no longer had to wrangle the 4 balls of yarn.  No photos, sorry, but I’ll probably do it again.

As part of the craft club, we had a presentation from the local Dementia UK group.  They needed Twiddle Muffs and we made lots of them.  The also showed a large, floppy doll and said that they would like a few of them as well, if anyone was so inclined.  No one really was but I like a challenge so I decided to make one.  The first one was done in the normal way, although I did abandon the complicated and all-in-bits pattern and adapted it to an in-the-round version.  She was sweet, but she’s gone now – again no photo. Again, sorry.

The Dementia lady came back the next week to find me.  She told me a lovely story about a woman in one of the care homes who has never been responsive, or engaged, and who has never spoken, since they have been visiting.  Apparently when she saw the doll she gasped and dashed right for it.  She grabbed it, hugged and cuddled it, then started singing it a lullaby while she rocked it.  She is much more engaged in the … meetings? Sessions, maybe, now that she has the doll.  I was asked very nicely if I could make another.

About this time I had gotten a couple of knitting machines.  Circular ones, that I thought would be helpful for twiddle muff making.

Finally, a photo!

I started with the toy one, then got the proper Addi, and at the same time ordered the Sentro via Amazon, but I suspect from China.  It was cheap, versus the Addi Kingsize (£30 vs £115!) None of them are EASY to use to make flat panels (the Sentro is best) but they all make pretty reasonable tubes. And fast. My plan had been to use up all my scraps of yarn to make the boring inside of the Twiddle Muffs then shift to needles to complete them with special stitches, odd yarn, beads, etc. Here are a few samples of the ones I’ve done.

I have a whole PDF on those which I may share at some point.

But then I thought I could possible use them to make Dementia Dolls if I took a minute to think about it.

These dolls are meant to be quite long-limbed and quite floppy.  I think they are more of a suggestion of a child than a real depiction of one.  Not at ALL like the last doll I made.  Anyone here remember Jasmine?

She was a LOT more complicated.  I am …. doll parts ….

Basically, the dolls are made of five tubes: one tube for the head and body, two for the legs and two for the arms. The head & body is 65 rounds on the 48-stitch machine and the legs are 65 rounds on the 22 stitch machine.  The arms are 28 rounds on the 22 stitch machine.  Sometimes I think more length on the arms would be better but when I have made them longer, 30 or 35 rounds, they look weird.

That yarn is aran weight (equal to worsted in the USA and what the machines like best) and much more beige than the weird grey it seems here.

I gather the top of the head&body tube

Then stuff the head and do a running stitch around to gather again for a neck.  It varies but generally I do between 25 and 30 stitches down from the gather.

I usually do the nose so I don’t lose track of where the face goes while I position the arms and attach the legs! I just build it up with stitches on top of stitches.

The head&body is 48 stitches around and the legs are 22 – that is determined by the machines.  There is some variation in the larger ones (there is a 40 stitch, a couple of 46 stitch ones and this 48) but all the small ones are, I believe, 22 stitches.  To attach the legs in the easiest way possible, I load 11 stitches from each leg tube onto a needle, then load 24 stitches from the front of the body onto another.

I do  a 3-needle bind-off to join those with a neat edge.  I decrease away the extra stitches from the body side by doing one from the leg and two from the body on the last stitch of the first leg and the first stitch of the second

This gives me a nice neat join. Make sure you put a locking stitch marker on the last stitch from your bind off, as you will load that back on the needle when you do the back half join to the back of the legs!

I stuff a little bit of toy stuffing in the bottom of each leg and gather them about 8-10 stitches up, to make a bit of a foot. The SUGGESTION of a foot anyway. Stuffing first means you don’t have to push the stuffing all the way down that long leg.

I load the leftover stitches on to the needles the same, 22 from each leg, 24 from the back of the body.

and slip on that last held stitch where I will start the 3-needle bind-off

This is the tricky part.  Now you have to stuff the legs and the body, pretty full.

It is impossible to get right-sides-together to do the same sort of 3-needle bind-off so I simply do it as you see it.  There is usually a gap where the extra stitches from the body are and that allows you to stuff it a bit more if need be.  The join looks fine for this doll’s purpose.

The arms are made by gathering each end of the arms and folding the tubes lengthwise.  I do a mattress stitch along the edges and stuff the tube lightly.

Sew the arms on and done.  I made this doll in about three hours.  With that kind of speed I can make many more dolls and hopefully help many more people.

I tend to dress them in whatever I have doll-clothes wise or what I can get in the charity shop from the baby clothes section.  3-6 month sizes work best.  I always do a simple face, just half-circle eyes and a half-circle mouth.  Like I said, they only need to be the suggestion of a child. I am experimenting with hair, trying to balance looks against speed.

Well, that is what I have been doing. Oh and I am finally knitting a summer top with some yarn I bought when Jack was a baby, from John Lewis in London.  It came back to me with our shipment of house stuff that had been stored back in the States for decades.  I guess maybe that is why I don’t blog much – my followers really aren’t knitters, primarily, so I feel they might be a bit bored.  If you made it all the way to the end, well done you.

Maybe I’ll be back sooner than my once every month or so schedule.


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My Nearly No-Sew knitted stuffed heart pattern. Again

I have been tweaking this pattern since I first posted it some two years ago.  I think I am happy with a couple of improvements so I am adding it again.

The biggest improvement is a little hack for making smooth KFB.  I have seen it a few times in various places – I think it is abbreviated as KFSB, or Knit Front, Slip Back.

Basically, you knit the front of the stitch then twist and insert your yarn as if you will knit into the back loop

Instead of knitting, you simply slip that loop over to the right needle.

You have still made another “stitch” (see the three loops where once there were two?) but it looks so much better and it is just a bit faster! The resulting increase is also a bit smoother that the usual KFB.

The harsh straight bars that you get with a KFB (and you can see a little trio of them in the smaller heart-tip) are instead a more gentle, angled bar.

I have taught this heart to a few people, and one aspect that occasionally give people trouble is working on the two “heart bumps” so I thought I would redo the photos for that and practice with my new phone’s camera.

Once you have completed the increases and are ready to do the heart bumps:

Knit the first 10 stitches on the front needle. Slip the last 10 stitches onto some scrap yarn – in this case scrap yarn is a better choice than a stitch marker!

It is a lot less likely to get in your way, because now you will knit only the 20 stitches on the right, 10 on the front needle and 10 on the back.

Once you knit to the end of the heart bump section, cut a long tail and thread a big-eye needle. Run the end thru the live stitches but DO NOT GATHER.

This is where you will stuff.

Now, thread the new yarn end onto your needle and (here comes the sewing bit) make a stitch or two to close the gap in the V of the heart.

Secure this so when you begin knitting it doesn’t loosen up. Now, working on the final 20 stitches, knit a round then repeat the instructions for the original heart bump.  If you are struggling to keep the final few stitches from gathering, slip a fat marker into the opening.

Stuff the heart and gently gather the two tops.

Either secure and weave in the ends OR thread each one thru your needle, insert and exit thru the centre V to create a hanger.

I’ve been stuffing them with lavender from our garden!  Did you know lavender repels the clothes moth?  I have spent too much time knitting socks only to sacrifice them to a hungry moth!

Here is the new pattern.  Hope you enjoy it!

 


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2019 One-sheet calendars, Landscape mode

A week or so ago I had a request from Niki, who wanted my one-sheet calendars in landscape rather than portrait/  It sounds like an easy process but it … isn’t.

The originals are here. You can go to that link and grab them if you prefer the portrait versions.  They look like this:

Changing the layout isn’t as easy as just shifting things around.  I recall doing a lot of work creating the chunk of grasses and flowers from the original file of elements.  I didn’t save it as a working file, so the landscape version is not the same. Also, it is not as easy to arrange the 12 month blocks landscape.  Anyway, this is what I came up with:

And as I was doing that one, the other one in the folder was the cherry blossom one.  So I did that landscape as well:

If I’m honest, I prefer the cherry blossoms, which is a surprise, as I prefer the watercolour one in portrait orientation.

Grab the WATERCOLOUR one here

Grab the CHERRY BLOSSOM one here

 

Enjoy!


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Mount for unmounted stamps – my best use for the Creative Palette (and a cheap alternative)

So there is history here.  You might like to go back and read a few previous posts (or not, as you prefer.)

  • My review of the CP v the Gelli plate and where I die cut it with my Sizzix

That last link is full of warnings – press the stamp HARD onto the CP.  Don’t use it in this way if you worry about messing up whatever you are stamping on to. Shake the mount.  Wash the backs. blah blah blah.

I kept finding that, with every use, the CP surface got less and less sticky and washing it was too much of a bother if I had to do it every time I wanted to stamp an unmounted stamp.

I store most of my unmounted stamps like so:

In binders, and then in baseball card sleeves:

I have not ever wanted to go to the expense of mounting all the stamps, and bulking up the binders.  So over the years I have come up with a few different methods that work for me.  Generally, a strip of strong double-sided tape on a clear mount will do the trick.

I bought a bottle of Aileens Tack It (over & over) cause lots of people recommended it as a good way to make the red rubber, unmounted stamps into “cling” stamps.  It works, sure, but then you have to store all these sticky backed stamps. Ah … No.

Fast forward to the post of CP as mount and….an idea!

Yep.

Why this works – first, the CP is just a bit spongy.  Not too spongy, but enough that it acts as both the mount and the cushion and gives a nice image (might have been nice had I actually shown that – sorry, I’m out of practice at blogging) especially when stamping on to my cork-floor-tile-in-a-big-ziplock-bag stamping mat. Second, there is only the couple of CP chunks that are sticky. Easy to store.  I keep a lot of plastic packaging.  This is from a Spellbinders die.  I just flipped the halves so rather than tightly encasing the die, there is a slim open area that fits two of the sticky CP bits.

Perfect fit.

Now, this makes sense for me because I already own a (mostly useless for the kind of monoprinting I like to do) Creative Palette.  But the CP is not widely for sale anymore (or not that I could find) and if you don’t already have one, this is not a good enough reason to go buy one.

As a cheap alternative, I had a go at coating a piece of sticky-backed fun foam with the Tack It.  It worked just fine.

There is a slight issue with the fun foam being quite thin.  When you press to stamp the sticky surface can just grab the paper – I found this to be most problematic with tissue paper, not at all an issue with a paint-coated journal page, for example.  I did not find it as much an issue with the CP-as-mount.

In hunting for my CP package, I unearthed a nice gelli-print, so I can add at least one decent looking image for you LOL!:

Now I must decide what to do with it.

If you have a Creative Palette gathering dust, why not turn it into a set of stamp mounts? If you don’t have one, try the sticky-backed fun foam.  Let me know if it works for you!


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Forgotten calendars – worth adding? 2019-22, Dogs, Cats and Project Life.

In rummaging thru some of my folders of half-forgotten work, stuff I abandoned for one reason or another, I found a few things that I thought MIGHT have an audience. Some of them I updated in my Tall Box calendar style.

I made another set of One-Sheets for 2019 thru to 2022.  They use a similar sketchy design as the cards here.  Links to both the Sunday to Saturday and Monday to Sunday options in that post.

It could either be a plain, simple B&W one OR you could opt to colour it in.  You can download that here.

I also had requests from different people, for a DOG or a CAT calendar.  I always had dogs growing up, never been a cat person at all, but having had more than one person ask about them I figured I might give it a go.  I had found a font that I thought was cute, that had some really quirky little drawings of cats and dogs.  To be honest, for some of them I found it hard to tell which was which! I mean, look at this:

I added the whiskers cause I thought that was what made it look more cat-like.  Flipped it looks more bulldog-like, sort of.  Anyway, I had made the calendars but never added them.  I will.  Comment and tell me what you think. Cat:

 

 

And Dog:

Lastly, I’ve kinda jumped off the Project Life bandwagon.  I used to do a lot of designs for cards, not just calendars, but they seem much less popular at the moment.  As my time (and energy level) is pretty limited, I generally tend to do things I know (or at least think I know) will be useful.  This is a set of calendar cards I made ages ago and never added.

I liked them pretty well, I just didn’t LOVE them.  If YOU like them, grab them here.

I have a few others that I might update (like a little cartoon monster one for kids – thought it would be cute printed BIG for their wall each month) but any thoughts you have feel free to comment them here.


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2019 calendars – some musings, and some calendars

I have been making calendars for quite a while.  I learn new things about the process every year.

I was testing out a new process (boring, work-flow stuff) and had a thought I might do a calligraphy style calendar.  Luckily, just as I started working on it, I got a ping-back request from Lolly Jane for their yearly round-up.  And guess that? of the calendars they feature, a ton of them have calligraphy month names.  Maybe even the majority of them.  (Of course they featured the doily one – I am so tired of that one, but people do keep asking for it so I guess I’ll keep making it.  Actually that has given me an idea…) While I thought the font I picked was super cute (and not a freebie one so not common) it was such a crowded field no one needed yet one more in the same style.

Saved myself a ton of work there then.

Instead, I decided to do something totally different – and because I really wanted to test out this work-flow process, I had to make two. Here they are – one black and white, but definitely not at all calligraphic:

and one bright and colourful:

Now, these will print at any size you like.  When printing, look at your dialog box.  Expand the Paper Size option.  Here you can see all the native options for my (new A3) printer.  Yours will have similar.  At the bottom thee are my own specified “custom sizes” like coin envelopes or a 1/2 US letter size:

So if you want to print this as a sheet for your planner, you can.  You can print it as a Project Life size card or as a huge wall calendar:

Virtually any calendar can be printed in virtually any size, if it is a PDF – some jpgs might work but if the resolution is low they might not be as crisp and clear as you would like.

My process seemed to work OK so I may explore a few other options throughout the year.  Probably NOT a calligraphy one ‘tho.  LOL!

Time to update my own page of 2019 calendars – I’ll probably try to do that and post in the next day or two.  Now, about that idea….

 


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Can it legit be called a “technique” if it works only 25% of the time?

I’m thinking NO.

I was super excited when I discovered that it is possible to pull a resist print from the Gelli plate by stamping with pigment ink onto glossy paper from a magazine, then pressing that to a gel plate covered with paint.

From yesterday, this was literally the first one I tried:

I think we can all agree there was, upon seeing that, reason to be excited.

I tried a fair few prints later in the day, using many different ink and paint combos and had nothing like the success of that one. Even the other ones from the same session were good, but not as impressive:

So, I thought I needed to sit down and do a rather orderly series of attempts to see what happened.  Try to come up with a set of rules that would, if not guarantee success, would at lease make it more likely.

Not bloody likely, more like it. This is the array of stuff I tried – and it looks like I cut out the Crafter’s ink pad and the Studio G one:

This is what I got:

For the most part, a pretty appalling array.  I did discover a few things.  First, and most disappointingly, the only pigment ink that works consistently was the one from the Greetings Card kit.  None of the ColorBox inks of any kind worked at all – not the pigment (tried a few colours) not the Chalk ink, not the Cats eye ones.  The Studio G left a very very faint hint and might be worth trying again with a jucier pad.

In all cases, at least some of the magazine text transferred.  So I feel confident the paper is not the problem.

What worked 95% of the time was:

There’s the Crafter’s ink!

The rules, so far as I can determine thus far are:

1. The paint on the plate must be thin – almost thin enough to be called transparent.

2. The pigment ink must be wet.  Ink, stamp on the glossy paper, then flip it over on to the plate and burnish the back right away.  Don’t dawdle. If the ink is too dry it seems to work less well.

3. Let it dry 100% before adding the next layer of paint and trying to pull the print off.

4. Again, this layer needs to be thin, but don’t overwork it.  Load the brayer off the plate, roll on the paint and brayer just enough so you can see the image thru the paint.  Pull the print quick – don’t let they paint get too dry!

That process resulted in these:

The lower right image used the Crafter’s ink and the Basics paint.  The other two used the Greetings Card ink and Basics paint for the upper right and Crawford & Black for the left one.

As for the most part you are going to only have ONE CHANCE to get a good result, this might just be a little too frustrating to actually try to justify as a technique.  To my mind, if 90% of people, using 90% of common variations on the basic supplies can’t get a good result at LEAST 50% of the time, it just might be filed away as interesting, but annoying and potentially wasteful.

But it sure has been fun!

 


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Gelli plate play – it’s been tooooo long

NOTE:  Might be worth reading the next post before you embark on the stamping technique!

I have not really felt up to much crafty play for quite a while.  BUT I have been dreaming about the Gelli plate and remembering how much fun it was to play with.  I watched a video – well more than one, I’m sure – about resist transferring of a magazine image on to the plate, which you then pull off by doing a basic, heavy-bodied paint pull.  This one is the first one I saw, I think.

There was mention in some videos about the combination of the ink and glossy paper quality making a big difference.  Looking thru may magazines, which are mostly scrapbooking ones, I came across my ancient Rubberstampmadness mags.

The paper seemed thick and glossy and it also seemed that the image weren’t fashion shots but art and stamp samples.

There are a lot of stamp catalogs full of cool images, and some printed art work, like the BEAUTY image here that would all make very cool prints or additions to other art.

 

And guess what?  They worked a treat.

One video mentioned that some people had success with printing on an ink jet printer and doing the same process.  I did not.  I tried printing on pain paper, photo paper, on coated matt cardstock, on sticky label paper, etc. etc.  and nothing worked.

So that gave me a bit of an idea.  If I stamped on to the glossy paper, might that transfer? I experimented with about 8 different inks and a stamp.  The ones I had the highest hopes for (Archival Ink, Clearly Better clear stamp ink, Staz-on and Memento) were all fails.  Not expecting much I tried Distress ink, Distress Oxide ink, Adirondack and Kaleidoscope.  Also all fails.

Just on a whim I tried PIGMENT ink.  Crazy, but it worked.

I did have a few fails using cheaper paint but the Basics was good pretty much every time.

The process is simple.

1. Stamp the image using pigment ink. Get a good coating of ink on the stamp.

Sorry for the poor quality there – I had already used the image before I realized the photo was crap.  Doh! I suspect things like Versamagic or maybe even chalk ink MIGHT work, and COLOUR pigment ink will add a different dimension to it if it works! – I’ll try that next and see. But this is very generic black pigment ink.

I let the image dry but when I tried to dry it with the heat gun then transfer it, it didn’t work.  So I think the ink needs to by dry-ISH but not super dry.

2. Roll the paint onto the gelli plate.  I find the darker colours work best for this stage. You need a thin coat but not too thin.  Press the stamped image into the paint – I burnished one with a teflon spreader. one with my fingernail, one with a spoon.  Just make sure you get good contact.

LET IT DRY.

Remember the old Creative Palette that I hated?  I used one of the bits to roll out the white paint and get a thin coat on the brayer.  But you can also load the brayer by rolling in in paint on scrap paper.  Not too thick a coat.

As mentioned in a few of the videos, if you can SEE the image slightly, it’ll be a good print. Pull it.  Give the back a good rub.

And the coolest thing is that the text from the magazine transfers too!

I am so happy to have had a play.  It was seriously fun.  And now I know I can use my stamps as well as magazine images I am looking forward to more playtime!

Maybe even more regular blogging?  Maybe…..


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Cute Christmas Tags – easy cut for a change!

Hello and Happy Holidays!

Every year I create Christmas tags for my own wrapping.  I often create circles, because I have the punches and they are easy.  But some people have told me that not everyone has a circle punch of the right size, and dies are too hard to do many cuts quickly.

SO, this year, I made a simple grid of tags.  Not a lot of white space except at the edges, and it should print on any size paper, A4, US Letter, even smaller, if you want teeny tiny tags.

Cute, hummm? You can download the sheet here

Hope they help with your holiday wrapping!