Saturday, December 6, 2014

a DIY series of little ornaments

woolly bird holiday ornaments

Advent is upon us, and Christmas is just about a block away it seems. Wow! Where did this year fly by to? But it ain't over yet.

I thought it might be fun to have an DIY, An Ornament Series to help those who truly desire to make something for gift giving, but don't have a lot of energy to come up with a simple, sweet gift. So I feel like playing, would you like to join me?
Frog Tree Alpaca in all four colors

Today's first ornament is from the Woolly Bird Holiday Ornament pattern: both in PDF download or booklet styles. The pattern comes with instructions to knit & felt  4 little birds: an owlette (shown above), a cardinal, a tufted-ear owl, and a penguin chick. I will be featuring one or maybe two more of these little guys within the weeks to come.

This owlette literally takes 15 minutes to knit. I timed it! It consists of a little knit ball made from sport weight yarn. My favorite yarn for this project is Frog Tree Alpaca sport #000 cream, but anything with alpaca will work beautifully. The alpaca makes it ideal for vigorously brushing with a nap riser brush. The brush pulls out the surface hairs to create this fuzzy little creature in the end.

The eyes are little buttons and the beak a quick, needle felted nose made from grey wool roving. Each time I make an owlette, once I sew on those eyes and needle felt that beak, while brushing I begin to smile as if I am viewing him for the very first time. Don't know how to needle felt? This pattern will give you the simple know-how to fall in love with another new hobby, if so desired.

The pattern gives instructions for making the wired hook for hanging, but you can also thread a simple ribbon or twine through the head, giving the ornament a more rustic feel.

Simple and sweet! That's what I'm interested in these days. A little creativity with big results in the end. Enjoy!

Happy knitting!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

something 'woolly' new & old

woolly gnome & mushroom pattern

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all of you!

I am in the midst of editing a book, and am in the throws back and forth with my editor. So far so good. The book is scheduled to come out spring of 2015, just around the corner!

One of the patterns in the book is my Woolly Gnome & Mushroom with all its adaptations, with more details and photos to stimulate your creativity. As a result of this though, as of the first of the year (January 1, 2015), I will be pulling the free downloads off of my website and the only way to get them will be through my new book. So, head's up, get 'em while they last! I had some technical problems with putting Matilda the Witch on there, so if you want her just email me and I will send it directly to you.

But stay tuned because I have two new gnome PDF versions I'm playing with now for next year. I am excited to share them with you soon.

Happy knitting!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November MN knitters' guild meeting

I have been asked to speak at November's Guild meeting. If you find yourself in Minneapolis on the 18th, come on by!

November Knitters' Guild Meeting
November 18th, 7:00 - 9:00 PM

As the days get cooler and that wooly skein looks even more inviting, why not try felting? Come join local designer and teacher Marie Mayhew as she dazzles us with her amazing felted projects. Marie will have you looking at your wool in a whole new way with some tips and tricks for successful felting.

Textile Center
3000 University Avenue SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

Happy knitting!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

halloween BOO pins

black pumpkins

I found these wonderful pins, perfect for my black pumpkins! The set consists of 5 pins, the black star is missing from this photo. They add such a whimsical touch, the finishing touch.

The 'boo' pins are available on my Etsy shoppe: Marie Mayhew Designs. Come check them out!

Now all this little frightful pumpkin needs is a few polka dots or curly cues, don't you think?

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

NEW! black pumpkin kits

medium-size pumpkin kits
I finally put together my Woolly Black Pumpkin Kits, and they are available in my Etsy shoppe for a limited time. I had planned to include white felt and/or yarn in each kit for needle felting 'BOO' on them, but in the end liked the simpleness of the pumpkin just the way it was. For those interested in a stencil, I will put a 'BOO' template here on the blog for you to use and instructions.

I have two kits available: a medium and large-size pumpkin. The medium is about 4-1/2 to 5-inches tall (includes stem), and the large, about 6-inches tall. The curly vine is made from brown kraft wire and the leaf is stenciled paper. This pumpkin would look cute covered in polka dots, wouldn't it? 

large-size pumpkin kits

I knit and felted a pumpkin in one night, a quick and fun project! I just ordered some "BOO" pins from Just Another Button Company that will look spook-tackler on these little guys. I will display them on my pumpkins when the pins arrive, hopefully this week.

Gets you in the pumpkin mood, doesn't it?

Happy knitting!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

gettin' in the pumpkin mood

harvest pumpkin
I have been writing a book, have I mentioned that before? The book's distribution is scheduled for next spring, but first we have to go through winter again. Argh! But I digress here.

I have been busy writing, revising patterns, and taking photos for this book and looked up to notice the leaves changing color already. Pumpkin time! Have you felted a pumpkin today?

'Fright Night' Just Pins
The pumpkin in the photo was knit using Berroco Ultra alpaca yarn. It felts beautifully. I left a long tail at the end of the stem and let it felt like that. The attached vine look is what resulted. The pins are from Just Another Button Company, their 'Fright Night' set, are they not perfect for this pumpkin? I have one set available for sale still in my Etsy shoppe, but can get more.

I am in the works for selling a limited supply of black pumpkin kits this fall. A black pumpkin with a funky green stem and brown florist's wire for a curly vine. And either white felt or yarn to needle felt "BOO!" on its front. I will keep you posted. Don't have a photo yet, still working on the sample, but soon.

Happy knitting!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

a simple correction

2014 Holiday Crafts issue

A big 'thank you' to the person that brought to my attention the errors in the Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Crafts roly-poly snowman pattern. I am grateful that they are minor, but nonetheless, here are the simple corrections:
  • Small red jingle bell for the stocking cap’s pompom (it was omitted from the materials list)
  • White roving (on the materials list, but not needed)
  • In the abbreviations section, ‘inc 1’ was omitted. This increase method is knitting into the front and then into the back of the same stitch, increasing one.
  • Stocking cap: round 19 should read *k2, k2tog*

I never got to proof the copy after I had sent it to the magazine, but mistakes happen. Sorry for any inconvenience. 

Happy knitting!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

roly-poly snowman

roly-poly snowman aka snowbaby updated

August 2014
I am excited to announce that one of my patterns is featured in the Better Homes & Gardens 2014 Holiday Crafts issue! 'Roly-poly snowman' is what the magazine calls it, but it's still basically my snowbaby pattern updated. I changed out the arms to woolly ones rather than twig-like. Now you will have two options to choose from.

BHG did a beautiful job with the layout and photography. It inspired me to knit a snowbaby, believe it or not! This issue has several fun loving projects that have intrigued me, like the snowman made from fast drying clay atop styro-foam balls sprinkled with glitter. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Just wanted to share the good news and say 'thanks' for supporting me and my patterns throughout the years.

FYI, The falling snow is optional to this design!

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

an edible bunny mix!

bunny mix
I love edible mixes such as this one! I love texture and color and a variety of shapes. This bunny mix satisfies all of that and just in time for Easter. A sweet hostess gift: a hand-knit Woolly Bunny along with a little bag of bunny mix tied with a springy-color ribbon!

cheddar chickadees
This recipe comes from the blog, Bubbly Nature Collections. The blog's author, Rachel, gives her readers two recipes: Bunny Mix and 'Sweet' Bunny Mix. The first being more savory and the latter obviously, more sweet from the added marshmallows and chocolate eggs. I gave up sugary items for Lent, so the salty version bunny mix recipe was my first choice. FYI, here is the original link to Rachel's blog: Bunny Mix.

The recipe is a simple one. No baking. No fussing. It only requires opening up packages, dumping them into a large bowl, and a little mixing. Once I got into the stores and saw all the fun shapes of crackers out there, I changed up Rachel's recipe slightly, adding a few new finds of my own. Below is my new version of the Bunny Mix.

Bunny Mix

1 cup Annie's Organic Cheddar Bunny Crackers
1 cup Annie's Organic White Cheddar Bunny Crackers
1 cup Annie's Organic Pretzel Bunnies with sea salt
1 cup Target's Market Pantry brand Cheddar Chickadees
1 cup Veggie Straws, broken in half
1 cup original Kix cereal

Mix all the ingredients together in a large serving bowl. You may want to double and triple the recipe cause it goes that fast! Enjoy!

Happy knitting!

Friday, March 21, 2014

part 3: how to stuff a woolly egg

woolly stuffing
Another 'egg-stra' special tip I have come to like to do once the egg is boiled (felted) to perfection is in the stuffing. I stuff my sport and DK weight eggs especially with Woolly Stuffing. Wool stuffing aids in stabilizing the egg's shape. After the egg is stuffed, I re-wet it (stuffing and all), so it's completely saturated. Then I squeeze out the excess water and reshape the egg like you would a piece of clay, molding it into a perfect egg shape and allow it to dry completely in this position.

Wool stuffing like wool yarns has memory to it, so once it dries in a desired shape, it stays that way with the emphasis on 'stays'. You have to love a trained piece of yarn!

The larger-size eggs I still use polyester fiberfill to fill the eggs mainly because of the size. It would take a great deal of woolly stuffing to fill a dozen larger-size eggs, so economically, the fiberfill is a cheaper fill. If your eggs stuffed with fiberfill lose their shape, they too can be saturated with water and reshaped year after year.

Happy knitting!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

part 2: how to fill a carton of eggs!

striped and embellished woolly eggs
Hope your hands have been busy knitting and felting a carton of eggs by now.

When creating a basket or bowl full of eggs for myself or a client, I usually like to knit and felt at least a dozen eggs in various sizes, colors and embellishments. Here is the formula I like to use: 2-3 striped versions, at least 4 solids in various colors and sizes, 2-3 highly embellished beauties, and 1-2 polka dot-like versions using needle felting, felt applique or buttons. This creates a bowl with plenty of variety and interest.

I like to also knit my eggs with 3-4 colors in mind and adding a good feltable cream as a perfect neutral color, like Cascade 220 #8010 Cream. Then I can use the same yarns when embellishing my eggs, such as in needle felting squiggles and curly cues, roving-like polka dots or even using the same yarns for simple embroidery stitches like French knots.

Do you have a hard time picking out colors? I suggest finding a piece of cloth or upholstery fabric with your favorite colors in it. Then take this fabric swatch to the yarn store with you and use it to pick out coordinating yarns pulling the color combinations from the fabric. Another idea is to take the sofa pillow and create a bowl of eggs that coordinates with your living room color scheme. And finally, when in doubt, take a child along with you and have them pick out 3-4 colors that love. You will be surprised how many compliments I have received from the color combinations of eggs or ornaments that I have created from my kid's color selections.

Remember to have fun playing. You can't make a mistake with knitting Woolly Eggs

FYI, Part 3: how to stuff a woolly egg.

Happy knitting!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

woolly eggs egg-stravaganza!

woolly eggs
Let the Woolly Egg season begin in all its wonder!

In the next couple of weeks, I will share a few of my favorite woolly egg decorating tips and ideas, plus a few fun ideas for decorating the good ol' hard-boiled kind too. But let me start with the pattern in general.

The pattern consists of instructions to make both a Grade A Large-size egg using worsted weight yarns and a Grade A Medium-size egg, using sport or DK weight yarns. It is basically the same pattern with the differences coming from the yarn weights and needle sizes used. FYI, I still have a few Woolly Eggs Kits consisting of worsted weight yarns still available for sale in my Etsy shoppe.

The pattern instructions are quick and easy, only 30 rounds of knitting! You can knit an egg in 15 minutes plus or minus. Everyone knows though the real fun is in the embellishing: no two eggs EVER need be the same! But more on the embellishing later.

I have improvised my Woolly Eggs pattern slightly since it was printed. That is, I have cut out a few rounds to make the egg less long-looking. This is a recent change I have been playing with and I like the end results. I knit the egg according to the pattern, but when it comes to Rounds 9-23, I only knit 10 rounds instead of the called for 15. I really like the shape of this new size egg.

Remember to play with stripes and bigger blocks of color to create a variety of eggs. The key word here is PLAY. When doing stripes, remember to knit at least 2 rounds for a stripe, otherwise the stripe 'disappears' in the wash and melds too much into the other stripes. A two-round rule stripe is a good one to keep, unless the color yarn is dark and the overall desire is super thin. A one round dark stripe will show up but be fuzzy, if you know what I mean. When creating stripes I carry the yarns up rather than cut each one. Unless you choose to have several colors then cutting them is okay too, just a little more work in the end, but still well worth it.

FYI, Part 2: how to fill a carton of eggs.

Happy knitting!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

NEW! woolly eggs kits!

woolly eggs kits
For a limited time I will have Woolly Eggs kits available on my Etsy shoppe for sale. Just in time for a little Springtime cheer!

Each Woolly Eggs Kit includes the pattern and yarns you need to make either 5 solid-color or striped felted eggs or a mixture of both, your choice. The yarn colors are those displayed in the photo. The yarns are all 100% wool in either DK or worsted weights. Once knitted and felted, the eggs will create a medium-sized egg, about 3-4 inches long from base to top. Size 8 double point needles are recommended for the DK weight and size 10.5 for the worsted. The needles are NOT included in these kits.

The pattern includes instructions for knitting and felting the eggs as well as lots of embellishing ideas to decorate your eggs, such as needle felting polka dots or squiggles, simple embroidery and beading and more! No two eggs ever need be the same!

I am starting a series of Woolly Eggs posts on knitting and embellishing. Check it out!

FYI, Woolly Eggs Egg-stravaganza.

Happy knitting!

Friday, January 31, 2014

a sweet little interview

woolly nest & eggs

An interview with your's truly was just posted live on Robin Hunter's blog, How to Become a Professional Knitter. I don't know if I furthered the cause any, but it was fun to capture my thoughts down on paper, so to speak.

Here is the direct link if you want to read it: Interview with Marie Mayhew. Thanks for helping me get my name and patterns out there. If it wasn't for all of you, my knitting friends, I would be mainly in my basement drowning in felted ideas and yarn! Happy reading!

Happy knitting!