Sunday, November 22, 2015

a 'how to' video

N is for Noel, Just Pins

I recently posted on my Facebook page a video demonstrating how Just Another Button Company makes the clay buttons and pins, as shown above on my woolly holiday ornament. Just in case you didn't see it there I am posting it here. It is fascinating to watch, a little slow but it speeds up near the end. A lot goes into the making of those simple buttons and pins. You get a new appreciation of them after watching this video.

I have for sale a nice selection of pins and several sizes and styles of bee buttons available in my Etsy Shoppe. Hope you enjoy the video!

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

nap riser brush

nap riser brush (not actual size)
I was signing my book at Knit'n from the Heart, a local yarn store here in Minnesota, this weekend as well as demonstrating a few needle felting/embellishing techniques. I pulled out my trusty nap riser brush, and everyone oohed and awed: What is that? and where do I get one of those?

The brush fits snugly on your thumb.
I am always surprised that everyone doesn't have a brush since I have been selling them for years. So I would like to reintroduce it to you. I use my brush for fluffing up most of my woolly sculptures: my penguins, the chicks, the bunnies, the owls, and even my snowmen. The little brush fits snugly on your thumb or whatever finger gives you the best brushing action, see photo to the right. This woolly robin was knit using Lamb's Pride worsted yarn.

As you brush the wire bristles raise the nap of the wool's surface to create a fuzzy, soft hairy creature. This is especially true when using yarns with mohair or alpaca in them, but it works on most any yarns to create a softer surface. The brushing can also help to hide some of the imperfections in felting too, smoothing out the surface to a more even consistency. 
Same bunny before and after brushing with the nap riser.
I originally found these brushes in an embroidery store. It is designed to fluff up the beards on your embroidered Santa.  How will you use your nap riser brush?

Happy knitting!

Friday, October 23, 2015

DIY matroyshka dolls, kinda

a work in progress
All these girls need are a few details like a little stuffing, a smiling face, and they will be able to stand on their own, literally! That's right, I am selling off a few unfinished samples that I have in boxes around my house. With these samples you don't have to buy the yarn, do the knitting and felt them down to size -- I have already done that for you! 

a finished work
In the process of creating and perfecting new patterns, I can accumulate quite a few samples. Some make the cut and some do not. Some require more tweaks, adding stitches here or taking them away. I never know what each felting wash will bring me. As a result of this tweaking process, I have five sets of dolls in various colors for sale on my Etsy shoppe. If you have not made a Matroyshka doll before you will need to purchase the pattern (booklet or PDF format). But if you have, and want to make another, well then, you are half way to your goal with one of these sets.

I am planning on adding other samples to my Etsy shoppe for sale such as kats, gnomes, pumpkins and a few surprises (some projects I don't have patterns for yet). I have to look what else is in that bin!

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Enjoy!

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

a book review

This past weekend I had lunch with my friend Beth, a knitting buddy of mine. She kindly asked how my book was selling thus far, had I heard anything? I told her I was clueless how it was selling. She went on to tell me she had bought a copy for her mother for Christmas. Her mom is a brilliant crafter but alas not a knitter. Beth told me her mom loved my embellishing ideas, and that I made them sound so simple and doable. She wants to use the book as a resource as she crafts to help stimulate her own creativity. I was so pleased to hear that!

Her story reminded me of a book signing I did in a yarn store this summer in Rochester, MN when the book first came out. People would come up to me excited about my patterns and to meet me. I would promptly introduce them to the book and several would say, "No thanks. I already have several of your patterns." I silently thought to myself: Oh no, but you are missing out! This is a book I would definitely buy myself for the ideas alone. The cover photo alone screams: LOVE ME!

I quickly found myself telling them out loud that this book has become my personal resource I intend to refer to time and time again. All my favorite embellishing techniques thus far are in this book. All my tried-and-true tips and tricks of the trade are in this book. Some patterns you won't find anywhere else anymore, like Matilda the Witch. In addition many of these patterns are new and improved. They have been updated to be easier to knit using yarns more accessible to a variety of knitters. Not to mention a complete felting guide which includes the portable Wonder Washer. Everything I use and love, all contained in one book, Whimsical Woollies. This book has become my own portable Pinterest board, so to speak.

Beth suggested to help get the word out that I tell this story by giving my own thorough book review. And so I will review each section of my book in several blog segments. Hope you will stick around. Don't hesitate to ask questions or throw in your own reviews. I would love to hear from you.

The next chapter for me to review is 'Cause I Felt Like It: The Basics of Felting

Happy knitting!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

lit'l packets of goodies!

santa snowman materials kit

I have just placed four 'material kits', like the one above, on my Etsy shoppe. Hopefully, these kits will assist you in finding some of the hard-to-find accessory items when making a few of my patterns.

woolly birds clay beaks (bird not included)
These little, affordable kits were created with my new book, Whimsical Woollies, in mind. That is, three of the kits correspond with three patterns in the book: Lucky the Leprechaun, Santa Snowman and Baby Chicks.

In addition, the fourth kit, Woolly Birds Clay Beaks, provides you with a sturdy clay beak perfectly suited to your specific fuzzy little bird. This kit consists of 3 clay beaks, hand-made by me for your woolly cardinals, robins and chickadees.

With each of these kits you still have to buy the yarn and knit & felt the items, but the kits save you some shopping time in hunting down those cool details like the black pleather and silver buckle buttons for the leprechaun's hat and the santa's belt. I love the details and now you can too!

Happy knitting!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

a nice review

Now available!

The great part about social media is the meeting of new friends online all over the world. People that share the same love of fibers and projects as I do. And so it is with my good friend Pam Harris and her blog Gingerbread Snowflakes. Pam got my book, Whimsical Woollies, and wrote a sweet review for me on her blog. I hope you can take a moment to check it out.

Thanks again, Pam. I so appreciate it!

Happy knitting!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

whimsical woollies, my book

Available June 1, 2015
Well, the time has finally come, and I can hardly wait to have a copy, a real printed copy, in my hands and not a proof sheet with red line corrections scribbled everywhere! My book, Whimsical Woollies, is available for distribution on or around June 1st, 2015, with only weeks away! I am so excited and nervous nonetheless, hoping you'll like it as much as I do. It has been long awaited, that is for sure.

Whimsical Woollies is available for pre-order online with Amazon, Stackpole (the publisher), Barnes & Noble and other wonderful and favorite book outlets. It feels good to have it completed and all those ideas, thoughts and suggestions now down on paper, a great resource even for me. Love that!

I will keep you posted when it is available in the actual stores. Be sure to tell your favorite yarn stores to carry the book as well. Thanks for making all this possible, for buying my patterns so long ago and loving knit & felt as much as I do.

Happy knitting!

PS - My copy of the book came in the mail today and it is beautiful! The cover is soft, and it opens easily as it sits on your lap while knitting. I am so very pleased. I think you will be too!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

NEW! yarns by-the-yard

novelty yarns by-the-yard

I am pleased to announce that I have a variety of novelty yarns available for sale by-the-yard in my Etsy Shoppe! That's right, no need to purchase a whole skein when you only need 3-4 yards for a Woolly Nest & Eggs pattern or a Woolly Owl. Each novelty yarn sells for $0.75/per yard. Mix and match a variety of colors at such a great deal!
woolly acorn with FIZZ novelty yarn

Yarns available for sale so far are SQUIGGLE, shown above, FLORA, JOY and FIZZ, with more yarns being added. These are available for a limited time only, that is, until the yarns sell out. In addition, I do have two of these novelty yarns available as a whole skein too: SQUIGGLE (natural color) and FIZZ (wood grain).

Novelty yarns are a wonderful addition to any felted project! Novelty yarns are added along while knitting with any felt able wool yarn and because these fibers consist of fine polyester/nylon strands, they do NOT felt when thrown into the washing machine. Thus the colorful, textured fibers 'pop-out' from the felted wool to create a unique twiggy-like or hairy-look to your nests, acorn tops, your owl's wings and more!

Happy knitting!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

old baby, new arms!

woolly snowman BHG-style

Many of you readers may already known about my Snowbaby pattern featured in the 2014 Better Homes & Garden's Holiday Crafts magazine. The snowbaby, shown above, with its roving carrot nose and packed snow-like arms are the main differences between the the magazine and my original pattern.

2014 Holiday Crafts issue
Now that the magazine is no longer available on the bookstore racks, so I am able to offer you a free PDF download with the new arm updates/changes:

Please note, the download is only an addendum to the original pattern and it is not a complete pattern. It only contains the necessary changes. So for those that want the pattern with these arms, you still need to buy the original pattern (with beaded twig-like arms) as well. But for those who already have the original pattern, simply download the addendum.

The original pattern has two additional hat styles, the beaded arms and a little cherry nose alternative.

As far as I know, the magazine is still available but can only be purchased online. It was a fun issue with lots of snowman ideas using so many different mediums.

It's never too early to begin your holiday knitting, eh?

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Part 4: needle me this!

floral design needle felted woolly egg

Last year I started a series on decorating your woolly eggs, sharing ideas and tips to aid the embellishing process. Today I would like to add a few more tutorials to finish up the series. Be sure to check out the older series to get you and your eggs caught up:

A quick and easy embellishing technique is the use of a little needle felting and roving, acrylic felt pieces and yarn scraps to create simple designs. Below are a few examples of this technique.

The trick is simple, simple, simple. Did I mention simple? Why? Because you don't need a huge amount of 'wow' factor, especially if the effect is cumulative, meaning a bowl of decorated eggs. One or two highly decorative eggs is Grade A perfect!

So, let's say you've made your striped and solid eggs, and now all you need is a little decoration to make that dozen eggs CRACK (so to speak)! The orange egg's floral motif, above, was all needle felting using pink and orange wool roving. Wisps of roving were needle felted into a simple flower shape. Layers of color can be easily added by pulling thin pieces of roving and laying it atop of each color. I blanket stitched along the flower's edges to give it additional color. I also embroidered several French knots in the flower's center for color and texture. The leaves are acrylic felt cut into leaf shapes, then needle felted onto the egg. I embroidered these too, giving more detail but it isn't required. The curly vines are fingering weight yarn needle felted into curls and squiggles about the egg. These can be added at any time in the design.

polka dots added using wool yarn plies pulled apart
Another fun needle felting technique is to create simple polka dots using either wool roving/yarn and/or larger circles cut from acrylic felt.

The polka dotted eggs shown on the left were created using all the same yarns they were knitted with: embroidery and polka dots. To achieve this look, cut several one-inch lengths of same wool yarn and pull the plies apart for each length. Rub the plies between your fingers creating little pieces of wool fluff. The more fluff the larger the dots. Roll the fluff in the palms of your hands to dorm a small dot. Place the dot on the egg and using the felting needle, poke the roving into position. The dots can either be left slightly raised or flattened smooth with the wool underneath.

To create even larger dots, trace coins (pennies, dimes, quarters) onto a piece of colorful acrylic felt and then cut them out. Using an all-purpose felting needle, poke them down onto your wool egg until the felt lays flat and even with the wool. Your friends will think you knitted them like that! The secret is ours.
cookie cutter leaves

Fancier designs can be added using small cookie cutters traced onto felt and needle felted to your egg. The Woolly Pumpkin, shown right, used large leaf cookie cutters.  Cookie cutter designs are usually simple, making the dough easier to manipulate and get the desired results. The simple lines and detail give the illusion of a leaf and its overall shape. The vein lines were embroidered afterwards on top of each leaf, adding further detail, texture, as well as further secure the leaves to the pumpkin. Remember to secure the felt or roving to your eggs to insure your eggs can be touched, admired and bring delight for many years to come!

Happy knitting!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

NEW! woolly bunny kits!

woolly bunnies kits

I have just listed these new Woolly Bunny Kits on my Etsy shoppe. Each kit contains all the materials to knit and felt TWO cream bunnies, shown above, in either or both positions: laying-down and/or sitting-up. This kit with its whimsical tag would make a great addition as is to any knitter's Easter basket.

This kit obviously includes the pattern, but if you already have one and just need the yarn and materials, I will also have another kit available with only the yarn, color roving of your choice and floss to make at least 6 more cream bunnies.
Tan or pink? Which do you prefer?

I did a quick survey on Facebook, asking which bunny people liked: a bunny with pink or tan ears and cheeks, and it was pretty much a tie. So I will be offering kits for both colors.

These bunnies are not limited to just cream yarns though. They make a great stash buster. The Woolly Bunnies pattern is a quick and easy knit and felt.  It comes in either a PDF download or 12 page booklet style pattern.

Just remember though, these bunnies seem to multiply like all little bunnies do. Soon you will be gifting bunnies to everyone you know!

Happy knitting!