Knitting at the Movie Theater Part II: Blatant Self-Promotion

When I was writing my last post on “Tips for Knitting at the Movie Theater,” I had originally intended to include a list of some of my favorite patterns for knitting at the movies, but since I had already included links to Jen Reilly’s “Super-Fast, Ultra-Cozy Scarf” and TenTen Knits’ “Snow Cowl,” I figured that was enough. However, my Midwestern guilt continued to gnaw at me until I realized that by far the most common patterns I knit at the movies are my own, the “Lucky Horseshoes” scarf and the “Stardust Variations” cowl. Both are quite simple designs which can be completed in a couple hours, and both are very popular as patterns and finished items on my Ravelry and Etsy shops (links in right-hand column). So please pardon the blatant self-promotion (decidedly un-Midwestern; must be my California side showing through) as I recommend my own patterns.

“Lucky Horseshoes” involves some simple cabling, but if you’re comfortable with cabling (especially cabling without a cable needle), it should be a piece of cake. The pattern is sized for cowl, medium scarf, and long scarf, and if you can really adjust the look completely with your choice of color and statement button.

“Stardust Variations” is a simple cowl pattern knit in the round, but the bonus is that the pattern is calculated for several different gauges so you can make one in any gauge from sport to super bulky, depending on what’s in your stash. It’s a great way to use those random skeins of hand-dyed yarn you purchased because you just couldn’t live without them or that you have lying around left over from another project. The super bulky version (shown below on its own) would be particularly great for knitting at the movies.

Thank you for looking at my designs!

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Tips for Knitting at the Movie Theater

Let's_All_Go_to_the_Lobby
Let’s all knit at the movies, let’s all knit at the movies…

Like many knitters, I like to knit while watching TV or listening to an audiobook or podcast. In other words, I like to have something else to occupy my brain while I knit. Also, of course, knitting is a great way to pass the time when you’re waiting somewhere, having a conversation, traveling or, depending on your work environment, attending a meeting. I haven’t done any official research but I suspect it’s the rare knitter who regularly knits without doing something else at the same time.

But, unlike many knitters (again, going by my completely informal assessment of “things I’ve seen while in public” and an equally unscientific survey of my friends and acquaintances), I knit at the movies all the time. Just yesterday morning, I knit Jen Reilly’s “Super-Fast, Ultra-Cozy Scarf” while watching Murder on the Orient Express:

Super-Easy Ultra-Cozy Scarf
This scarf is so much prettier in person. Big purple shadows courtesy of my photography skills, not the yarn.

I actually cast on during the previews and bound off just as Hercule Poirot was telling the police who the murderer was (spoiler alert: read the book). It was the perfect movie knitting experience.

Knitting at the movies takes a little planning and I wouldn’t recommend it for every beginner. You should be fairly comfortable with touch knitting before you try knitting at the movies since you will be working largely in near total darkness. Ask yourself how comfortable you are knitting without looking at your hands. How often do you need to look down at your knitting while you work? Can you tell the difference between a purl and knit stitch by touch alone? Can you count stitches on the needle in the dark? How adept are you at fixing minor boo-boos and how comfortable are you living with the minor errors that will inevitably occur at some point?

Here are my tips for making your knitting time at the movies more productive and enjoyable:

  • Choose your project carefully. I cannot emphasize this enough. The movie theater is not the time to do your intricate cabled sock pattern on Size 1 needles, or, on the other end of the spectrum, that big afghan project you like to do in front of the TV. Pattern: choose a pattern that is easy to memorize or has a simple stitch repeat, one that calls for thick yarn–the bulkier the better–and big needles. I recommend at least size 11.  Cabling can be done at the movies, but it does require a lot more attention (don’t forget you’re there to watch a movie!). Yarn: your entire experience will be a lot less stressful if you choose a light-colored yarn (easier to see in the dark) and if you avoid novelty yarns which can make counting stitches and differentiating between stitches more difficult.
  • Keep it small and relatively shapeless. This is a good time to make an accessory like a scarf, cowl, hat, whatever–anything that doesn’t require a lot of sizing or shaping. Try to use circular needles or 10″ straight needles so you won’t be bumping elbows with the people next to you. For example, this “Snow Cowl” by TenTen Knits is one of my favorite movie projects:
Snow Cowl by TenTen Knits
Snow Cowl by TenTen Knits
  • Make sure you are well into the project before the movie begins. Get to the theater on time and do a little knitting during the previews. You should at least have cast on and worked a few rows before the lights go off. By working a bit of the project first, you’ll have worked out most of the kinks (we hope), including any problems or confusions about the pattern. It’s the rare project that you can cast on during the previews and just forge ahead without any unexpected issues. Personally, I tend to do the same tried and true patterns over and over again.
  • Avoid attempting new techniques for the first time. If you haven’t ever knit in the round before, for example, it’s probably not a good idea to start with a project you’ll be working primarily in the dark. Again, it’s a good idea to get quite comfortable with knitting by touch before you try knitting at the movies.
  • Choose an appropriate movie and seating location. Some movies are better suited for knitting than others; some require constant attention to every detail and a lot of “mental and emotional space” in order to fully appreciate them. This can make it hard to pay attention to what row you’re on or what stitch you’re supposed to work next. Personally, I find it nearly impossible to knit during a film or television show with subtitles. If possible, try to find a seat a little distance from others so your knitting doesn’t create a distraction. I’ve never had a real problem with this, but I can imagine that some people might find it annoying to hear the click-click of needles or whoosh-whoosh of yarn being pulled out of your bag. Expert tip: aisle seats have little guide lights on the floor that can give you some illumination should you need it. Also, you have more room to move your arms.
  • Make sure you have all the gadgets and tools you’ll need: scissors, tapestry needles, stitch markers, whatever. I bring my Knit Kit everywhere; they’re even TSA-approved. (Seriously, I love these little kits and I’ve already worn through three of them. I’m a little worried because they seem to be having some trouble with their web site. You might want to grab one while you can).  Expert tip: cut an emery board into a piece small enough to fit in the Knit Kit just in case you need to file down your nails during the film.
  • Be prepared to stop if you need to. Inevitably, even with all this preplanning, something may go wrong. You could lose count, forget the pattern, drop a stitch, run out of yarn, have a popcorn- or soda-related catastrophe…  Don’t attempt to fix the problem during the movie. Unless you are willing to take the knitting out into the lobby (and I’m the kind of person who hates to miss anything), just listen to what the song says and let it go. Wait until the film is over to deal with the problem. Likewise, be prepared to stop if the movie becomes really engrossing–after all, that’s what you’re there for.

And most of all, just enjoy the show. The knitting is merely the frosting on the cake.

“A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear”: A Brief Meditation on Unconscious Sexism

See this photo? Notice anything?

Hygge Sweater
Hygge Sweater by Verena Cohrs

How about this one?

Kiuru Sweater by Sari Nordlund
Kiuru Sweater by Sari Nordlund

And, finally, how about this one?

Hay Sweater by Clare Mountain
Hay Sweater by Clare Mountain

These are three new beautiful sweater patterns from the most recent issue of Laine Magazine which describes itself as “a high-quality Nordic knit & lifestyle magazine for knit folks.” They emphasize natural fibers, neutral colors, and simple but compelling designs specifically suited for Nordic tastes and northern climes. As someone who used to write patterns for a Swedish knitwear designer and whose yarn is stored almost entirely in IKEA Expedit bookcases (now replaced by the Kallax), I appreciate the simplicity and clean lines of Scandinavian tastes and I’m glad my attention has been drawn to this magazine.

But did you notice it? The “it” that many knitters seem to have not just noticed but commented upon (if my Twitter feed is anything to go by) is the fact that the model isn’t smiling. In fact, in the first photo, she looks downright grumpy, and in the second two she looks a little anxious and unhappy. And apparently, Laine Magazine has taken a lot of flak for showing models who aren’t smiling or razor-thin, who look a little kerfustillated (my own made-up word), and are even slouching a little. Coming to their defense are Kate Heppell, Ysolda Teague, and Kate of A Playful Day, amongst others. Brooklyn Tweed, makers of Shelter (the yarn the sweater model is knit with), also received some negative comments on their Instagram account (although their Twitter feed seems free of nastiness–maybe they scrubbed it?) but have–rightfully so–stood by Laine’s editorial choices.

When I saw the Hygge Sweater photo cross my Twitter feed, my initial and almost instantaneous reaction was something like “Boy, she looks like she’s in a bad mood!” Then I noticed the moody, cloudy atmosphere, and only then did I notice the sweater. While it’s probably true that we are trained almost from birth to focus on faces, it’s equally true that we judge those faces based on our cultural expectations and that, in particular, we judge facial expressions based on our gender biases. For instance, we seem to expect women–and by extension, female knitting models–to be cheerful, upbeat, and, most of all, smiling. After all, there’s no male equivalent for “resting bitch face” and there’s a reason “Don’t Tell Me to Smile” T-shirts are so popular.

Change begins with self-awareness. I was honest enough to admit my unconscious sexism (my momentary lapse in feminism) to Kate Heppell in a tweet, and she was generous enough to give me a “like.” Sisterhood is powerful.

Heppell justifiably pointed out that male models are not only allowed to be grumpy, it seems to be their default mode of expression. Here are two representative samples of the many she posted to her Twitter feed, McQueen and Thorpe by Rowan:

Take a moment to look through your patterns or your queue on Ravelry and you’ll probably notice the same phenomenon. Women are expected to look happy, or at the very least blissfully contemplative or waiting hopefully (I saw a lot of gazing off into the distance when I did my own brief survey). Male knitting models, on the other hand, may not have all looked grumpy, but many did, and the vast majority certainly seemed… um…tense. And while knitting models in general are more diverse in terms of body shape than runway models, racism and ableism still seem to be big factors in choosing models. Sadly, I’d bet that what diversity there is has more to do with budget (indie designers certainly can’t afford professional models) than a sincere effort to expand our cultural definitions of beauty.

A brief aside: Heppell also reports that while the Hygge sweater photo got many unsavory, sexist, and even transphobic comments, the Kiuru sweater photo did not. Same model, similar expression–what gives? Any theories why that might be?

For a detailed analysis of the male gaze and knitting photography, you should read this smart and sophisticated series by Kristen Hanley Cardozo, a.k.a. KnittingKninja, of the Dainty Beast blog (and she’s a Victorianist like me!).

And in case you’re interested, the title for this post comes from one of the most popular results when I searched Google for quotes containing the word “smile.” Fitting, eh?

 

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s some new DMC, and I’m feelin’ good!

New DMC Colors ChartBig news, stitchers! DMC, one of the most popular cross stitch embroidery thread manufacturers, has just released 35 new colors! Yeah, it’s like Christmas in November! Crikey, it’s like Christmas in November! It’s November, for floss’s sake! I’d better start stitching and knitting! Who’s idea was it to start blogging every day in November? Oh, yeah, that was me.

The new flosses are all numbered from 01 to 35, which is a little weird to me, since I’m used to my DMC floss coming in numbers of three and four digits only, but I think I’ll adjust (that’s a joke, by the way). They are not replacing any of the old colors, just adding new ones, which brings the total DMC collection to 500 even. And, yes, I have every one. And, soon, these will be mine too. Oh, yes, they will.

New DMC Colors 2017
And you can even get them in a super cute gold box!

These are the first new colors in four years, which is great, but I’m still getting used to the old colors and I can probably count on one hand the number of patterns featuring  the 2013 colors that I’ve stitched since their release. By the way, in researching this blog post, I found it extremely difficult to follow the trail of new and discontinued DMC colors. In particular, it was frustrating that the DMC site doesn’t have a master list somewhere. Are you listening, DMC?

In fact, until I started poking around to write this post, I didn’t even realize that some of their colors had been discontinued several years ago. Mercifully, I found this handy-dandy chart on someone else’s site (sadly, I now can’t find the site again or I would definitely give credit where credit is due — you, sir or madam, are a beacon of light in the darkness, and grateful stitchers everywhere thank you for your service):

 

New Number Color Name Old Number Old Color Name
3813
Blue Green, Light
504
Blue Green, Very Light
732
Olive Green
731
Olive Green, Dark
3326
Rose, Light
776
Pink, Medium
782
Topaz, Dark
781
Topaz, Very Dark
3760
Wedgewood, Medium
806
Peacock Blue, Dark
740
Tangerine
971
Pumpkin
407
Desert Sand, Dark
3773
Desert Sand, Medium

But back to the latest additions… In short, while all new colors are welcome, the new set makes three great contributions to the DMC line-up that are worth pointing out:

  • there’s a nice set of grays that don’t have a purple (or any other color) tinge to them. Just a straightforward mix of white and black. Anastasia Steele would approve.
  • there are more options in the purple range, particularly reddish-purples
  • there are now many more yellowy-green and greeny-yellow options. Although why they needed to add another shade of “Nile green” (whatever that is), I’ll never know. I think I’ve had my skeins of 561-564 and 954 since far back into the last millennium and never ever used them. Oh wait, there was that one disastrous Chinese dragon project. What the hell was I thinking? (I was young, it was the eighties, and the the color wheel hadn’t been invented yet).
Chinese Dragon Cross Stitch
Clearly, we hadn’t heard of the iron either.

I’m also fond of the new mocha browns and the oranges (because, you know, pumpkins), although they do remind me of some of the old colorways. In particular, the browns remind me of the 838-842 range, but then, those have always been some of my favorite browns, so OK. (Full disclosure: like every other stitcher in North America, I am still awaiting my very own set of the new colors, so I am writing this post based on the pics on the interwebs).

A more thorough and informed discussion of all the new colors is available (from someone who has seen the threads in person) on Lord Libidan’s blog. I’ve been out of the cross stitch loop for a while now, so I wasn’t familiar with Lord Libidan, but I will definitely be following his work from now on even though  He is, according to Mr. X Stitch, the “Jedi master of video game cross stitch.” I love that many of his designs create 3D robots and Transformers and lots of other characters I don’t know precisely because I’m not a member of the gaming community (I have enough trouble keeping up with the communities I am a member of). However, you don’t have to be a gamer to know that cross stitch desperately needs an infusion of youthfulness and trendiness in order to thrive in the same way that knitting and other crafts have been.

Cross stitch finishing, of course, has always had an element of 3D (ornaments come instantly to mind), which brings me to an uncomfortable final thought: I wish more contemporary female designers were getting the kind of attention garnered by these two “manbroiderers”  [Yeah: no granny count! Yuck: why do men need their own special label anyway?]. Seriously, I looked. But I will save my extended thoughts on this subject for a later post. After all, winter is coming and the long, dark night of NaBloWriMo is full of terrors.

All the News That’s Fit to Stitch — Part the Fifteenth

Well, we’re only five days in and somehow I’ve managed to miss a day during my own personal NaBloWriMo. I could say it’s because I was getting so much grading done, but… I think you see where this is going.

  • Guy Fawkes
    The Guy himself

    Remember, remember the fifth of November… these Etsy shops sell Guy Fawkes cross stitch patterns in the style of V for Vendetta. And here’s one from Sew and So which offers a little history lesson while you stitch.

  • And if you hate doing Kitchener Stitch, here’s a tutorial from Interweave Knits on an alternative. After all these years, I’ve made my peace with the dreaded stitch but I’m still eager to try out this technique which seems to work kind of like a three-needle bind off. Bonus: this includes a link to some free sock patterns from their magazine.
  • A funny riff on the stages of grief with “The 7 Stages Every Knitter Goes Through” from the LoveKnitting blog. Don’t worry; it ends with Joy.
  • The next featured item on Stephen Colbert’s Covetton House: Vicuna Royal.
  • Some adorable Mochi Mochi patterns.
  • Tea at Bletchley Park and a chance to see their famous museum collection of vintage knits while learning about the women who helped break the Nazi codes during World War II? Yes, please.
  • The new Alexander McQueen Fall 2017 collection features outfits with Jacobean sampler motifs (à la Merry Cox or C.A. Wells, for example). I swear that I own some of the patterns they borrowed ideas from. Scroll about three-quarters of the way down the page.

That’s it for today everyone–happy stitching!

 

It’s the Sexy Setting Goals Song: NaBloWriMo November 2017

Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes and Coffee--what else does a gal need?
Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes and coffee–what else does a gal need?

First, let me start by saying that I know that National Blog Writing Month (NaBloWriMo) was last month, but in late September I experienced a close family loss which understandably threw all my lofty plans into the proverbial crapper. Two days before this loss, I had recommitted to my stitching and knitting, to my two design “companies” (Wordsmith Designs cross stitch and Moon & Sixpence Knits), to this blog, and to my moribund writing career.

So, rather than scuttle the whole idea, I’ve decided to move my writing and crafting goals forward to this month.

My writing goals are simple: a blog post every day, 1000 words a day on another project I won’t go into detail about here, and a letter a day (and yes, I know that National Letter Writing Month is April).

My knitting goals are likewise simple: to complete the test-knitting (already underway) and pattern-writing (nearly complete) for my fingerless glove and baby cardigan patterns; and to complete the Thora sweater for my Aunt Janet who has been patiently waiting for it for more years than I care to admit. Anything else is gravy.

The Craftsman title pageAnd my stitching goals are even simpler: to complete the pattern and test-stitching for a chessboard design I’ve been working on intermittently for more years than I care to admit; and to complete the finishing for some Dawn Lewis Christmas ornaments I stitched more years ago than I care to admit. It’s time to stitch or cut floss. Anything else is, as they say, gravy.

These goals are simple but time-consuming and I’ve probably bit off more than I can chew, but a stitcher’s reach should exceed her grasp or what’s a heaven for, right?

And as a “thank you” for anyone who has made it to the end of this list: it’s the “Sexy Getting Ready Song” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the best female-driven musical comedy series about an emotionally troubled lawyer in West Covina airing on television today (warning: NSFW).

 

 

 

Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, almost… but we’re definitely close when the annual Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issue comes out. I’ve looked forward to these issues every year since the mid-1990s, and I own every single one. I even have a loosely prioritized wish list of ornaments from the yearly issues that I’d like to stitch one day. But, frankly, as each year passes I’ve become less and less excited about each issue, and I’ve added fewer and fewer recent patterns to my wish list.

I think my enthusiasm has waned in part because I haven’t been keeping up with the latest in cross stitch as much as I used to and in part because a lot of the designs have started to seem like they have a “been there, done that” quality to them. This issue just didn’t seem as vital (in all senses of that word) as past issues.

However, that’s not to say that there weren’t many bright spots, including some newcomers (at least to me) that I hope to follow in the future. Cross stitch definitely needs some new blood.

The first grouping is called “Frosty the Snowman” (by the way, shouldn’t that be “Frosty the Snowmen”?). I’m partial snowman designs and my two favorites are ” Frosty Friends” by Blue Ribbon Designs (which probably would have “popped” better if it had been stitched on a slightly darker fabric) and “Hats Off to the Holidays!” by SamSarah Design Studio. OK, first I complain that the designs aren’t taking enough risks, and then I pick the two most “conservative” designs of the bunch. Go figure.

The second grouping is “The Friendly Beasts,” featuring ornaments depicting mostly birds (cardinals, a partridge/robin twofer, and even a penguin) as well as a sheep, a deer, and a surprisingly unChristmas-like dragonfly (see cover photo above). My favorite is “Red Bird” by Elizabeth’s Needlework Designs; second favorite is “On the Runway” (deer with a red scarf) by Snoflake Stitchery (it’s taking me every ounce of my strength not to put the “w” back in “Snowflake,” but damn my unwavering commitment to accurate citations!). I am usually a sucker for all sheep designs, but even though Amy Brueken’s “Rocking a New Holiday Hat” had a sheep wearing a chullo (a chullo! yeah!), the sheep just looked a little lumpy to me.

Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament Issue 2017 Here Comes Santa ClausThe third, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” is a pretty good bunch and the finishing on Mani di Donna’s “Prim St. Nick” is fantastic; it’s an off-center pillow and the hanging cord runs through two small thread bobbins. Again, my favorites are “Santa 2017” by Needle Bling Designs (in photo, upper left) and “Ho Ho Ho” by Angel Stitchin, a simple, off-center Santa face with a puffy Hercule Poirot mustache worked with Rainbow Gallery Wisper Thread and the words “Ho Ho Ho” surrounded by snowflake buttons. I’ve seen similar patterns before over the years but this one is really well done–bright and cheery (in photo, bottom center).

The fourth grouping, “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” is, like its title, a kind of catch-all category. There’s an ambitious “Quartet of Country Ornaments” from Always Time to Stitch, for example, and,  for some reason, there’s a dragon in a Santa hat hanging from a sign that says “Balance.” Huh? Unexpectedly, there’s even one ornament with no cross stitch at all, a gingham wool oblong. It’s cute but I don’t know what it’s doing in this issue. My favorite is another very simple, straightforward design, “Warm Hands, Warm Heart” by The Little Stitcher, two red mittens with snowflake designs which reminded my of knitted mittens (on the cover: left hand side, center).

Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament Issue 2017 Joy to the World“Joy to the World” offers several designs incorporating the word “Joy” and some others with phrases like “Believe,” “Halleluia,” and “Peace.” The weakest design in the entire issue is Faithwurks Designs’ “They Followed the Star” which is just a plain circle with a star button and the backstitched words–you guessed it–“they followed the star.” Most were a little too religious for my tastes, but I liked the Renaissance tone and the finishing of “A Savior Has Been Born” by My Big Toe Designs (see photo, center left) . “Beaded Joy” by Gracewood Stitches and ” Modern Nordic Ornament” by Ink Circles (love Ink Circles! see photo, top center) are both bright, colorful, ornate, and, well, joyous. Time out: “Modern Nordic Ornament” is neither modern nor Nordic. Discuss.

The sixth grouping “Jingle Bells” is one of the strongest and includes some blackwork and hardanger which work so well in Christmas ornaments. Particularly beautiful are Blackwork Journey’s ” Silver & Gold,” Patricia Ann Designs’ “2017 Christmas Bauble,”and Giulia Punti Antichi’s “Little Purse” (see cover photo, lower right). I’ve long been a fan of Giulia Punti Antichi–their designs look like no one else’s–but I’d especially like to mention whomever did the finishing for this piece. It’s exquisite.

“O Christmas Tree” highlights designs featuring rabbits on snowmobiles. Just kidding! I wasn’t that excited about these offerings although the finishing on Gentle Pursuit Designs’ “Mannie & Zeb” was really cute. The top and bottom of the triangle-shaped ornament was covered in little gold jingle bells. “Hardanger Tree” by Lisa LeAnn Designs (both design and finishing) was just too much and made me rethink my “hardanger and Christmas go together like Stewart and Colbert” philosophy. I do admire that it was different and new, however.

To me, this issue saved the best for last. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” had a great combination of traditional and contemporary designs and colors. I could see myself stitching most of the designs on this page. A special shout-out to Turquoise Graphics & Designs for their “Rustic Noel” which used unusual (at least for Christmas designs) colors like brown, aqua, mustard, and rust and finished the ornament as a kind of gift tag with a copper wire hanger with multicolored beads (by the way, the other great gift tag-style finishing in this issue is Swallick Stitchery’s super cute “Santa’s Coming”). I’ve never heard of TG&D before, but I will keep an eye out for them.

In fact, I’d like to revise my earlier pronouncements: the greatest benefit of the annual Just Cross Stitch ornament issue is that I learn about what’s new and upcoming in the cross stitch world, and that’s not at all a bad thing. We just need a lot more of this in our community.

My top five, in no particular order:

  1. “Rustic Noel” by Turquoise Graphics & Designs
  2. “Little Purse” by Giulia Punti Antichi
  3. “Warm Hands, Warm Heart” by The Little Stitcher
  4. “Modern Nordic Ornament” by Ink Circles
  5. “Silver & Gold” by Blackwork Journey

I’d love to hear what some of your favorites are too!

 

 

 

It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherstitchers!

As I mentioned yesterday, pumpkins have long been one of my favorite motifs to recreate in fabric, fiber, floss, murals, poetry slams, bronze, slime, skywriting, performance art pieces… whatever. And every year I have plans to stitch up a bunch of pumpkins to  celebrate this time of year. I’ve managed to stitch a few Halloween-themed pieces, but I’ve never been able to commit the time to fully indulge my pumpkin love. But, if I were, it would look a lot like this:

  • Heart’s Content’s, “French Harvest: Cinderella’s Pumpkins” is probably first on my “To Stitch” list. The main thing keeping me from stitching it right now (besides my sad, uninsured, middle-aged eyes) is cost. For some reason, Heart’s Content only releases its patterns in kit form, and I just can’t bring myself to buy more fabric and floss that I already own. Maybe one day… or maybe I’ll just wait for a used version to show up on Ebay.

hearts-content-french-harvest-e1509642157758.jpg

JBWDesignsFrenchCountryIVPumpkin
If I stitched this, I’d stitch “Citrouille” instead of “Pumpkin,” ’cause I’m fancy.

Itty Bitty Trio of Pumpkins

  • And this classic from Bent Creek, “Autumn Row.” I love the entire “In a Row” series and I have a dream of completing one for every season–you know, right after I finish stitching the entire “In My Garden” series by Mirabilia (see progress bar on right if you want a good chuckle). I’ll let you know how that goes, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Autumn Row by Bent Creek

 I love Bent Creek’s “In a Row” series so much, I designed and stitched my own tribute, “Celtic Alphabet in a Row”:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I think we can all agree that my photography skills have improved since then….
  • And finally, this little gem is tied for first place on my “To Stitch” list (hey, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds). I’ve seen so many beautiful variations of “Pumpkins Three” by La-D-Da online that I just can’t decide what colors of fabric and floss I would choose. Indecision, thy name is Kate! Here are just three of the many possibilities:

 

Pumpkins Three Official Version
“Pumpkins Three,” the official Twisted Threads version
Pumpkins Three from Stitching by the White River
“Pumpkins Three” from Stitching by the White River (blog)
"Pumpkins Three" from the La-D-Da Lovers Blog (laddalovers.blogspot.com)
“Pumpkins Three” from the La-D-Da Lovers Blog (laddalovers.blogspot.com)

And, last but not least, no tribute to stitching pumpkins would be complete without a shout-out to my friend (and the first person who made cross stitch seem cool), Stitch Bitch, whose August 1, 2007 blog post originally inspired this one. You can see her collection of pumpkin patterns here–she’s got great taste! And I suppose, by extension, I should give a shout-out to Adrienne Martini of martinimade.com for inspiring her.

Have fun stitching those gourds, my friends!

 

 

Happy Halloween 2017!!

So, I’m still working on “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherstitchers!” but I thought I’d just do a quick post today featuring this piece I stitched last year as part of the Smalls SAL Challenge 2014, “Rotted but not Forgotted” by Plum Street Samplers from the 2012 Just Cross Stitch Halloween issue. The last time we saw this piece, it looked like this:

"Rotted but not Forgotted" by Plum Street Samplers

 

As part of National Craft Month last March, I finally finish-finished it into a gravestone-shaped standalone, with a lot of assistance from Twisted Stitcher’s amazingly detailed finishing instructions (this is “The Cube”). Now it looks like this:

Since the design is supposed to look like a tombstone, I finished it in a tombstone shape with some wilted-looking flowers on top. In my version, I used Gentle Arts Sampler Threads in “Carriage Black”, “Adobe” (light variegated salmon color), “Cornhusk” (light green) and “Banker’s Gray,” and the fabric is 32-count Vintage Country Mocha linen. I love the mottled look of this fabric and the muted green/grey color combinations which just scream decay and aging. I can’t believe I found a fabric that matches these wonky colors.

Speaking of decay and aging… this stitched piece is riddled with minor errors where the stitches are off by one linen thread. This is perhaps most obvious at the very top of the design between the decorative trapezoid (???) with the skull and wings and the dark gray outline; where there should be a full stitch between them, there’s only half-a-stitch. My sad, uninsured middle-aged eyes find it difficult to navigate between my stitching and watching TV, which I do almost always while I stitch, and I need much better light than I used to. Overall, though, my first cube finish went well with only a few minor hiccups.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Tomorrow, the pumpkins!

It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherknitters!

Pumpkins have long been one of my favorite things to recreate in fabric, fiber, floss, paper, wood, crayon, papier maché, goo, interpretive dance… whatever. And every year I have plans to knit up a bunch of pumpkins to display at this time of year. But the closest I’ve ever come is making pumpkin hats for my nieces and the babies of some of my friends:

You’ll have to take my word for it that the Jack o’ Lantern hat is a lot less creepy in real life.  Jinkies!

Anyway… in the meantime, here are five pumpkin patterns on my wish list of knitting  patterns (and the first three on the list are free!). Someday, I will knit these up and they will be mine. Oh yes, they will.

Pumpkins by Jordana Paige

  • I also really like this variation on the standard pumpkin pattern. “Fall Pumpkin” by Sarah Hawkins of Lavenderlime Knits calls for variegated, chenille,  and novelty yarns, and then you add actual cut-off stick as the stem. Finally a way to combine gardening and knitting–I know we’ve all been waiting for that! Lots of possibilities here, and a great way to use up that oddball yarn (or odd ball of yarn) you can’t figure out what to do with.

Pumpkins Fall

Pumpkin Pie Amigurumi

  • This “Pumpkins on a Vine” stranded colorwork cowl by Thea Eschliman is gorgeous and I love the variegated orange yarn. The pattern calls for an inside sleeve which you can do in any contrasting color you want, which is like having a reversible cowl. For sale on Ravelry.Pumpkin Cowl
  • And, finally, a twofer from Erin Black: Chevron Pumpkins and Cable Knit Pumpkins (for sale on Ravelry and Etsy). These are my absolute favorites.

Tomorrow, I will bring you part II of my two-part series: It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherstitchers!