New feature!

So, you lucky people (if there are indeed any reading this blog, which I take leave to doubt), I’ve come up with a new idea to amuse you while I’m a) working on craft projects but don’t yet have anything to show for it, b) writing on Corn Maze Murders, and c) planning out another mystery series I might launch next year. What is this fascinating new idea, you ask?


Continue reading

Stitches over time

At the end of the summer, I made my son go through his drawers to find all the clothes he’d outgrown. Among the clothes were T-shirts that his sister is just getting big enough to wear: shirts with dinosaurs and dragons and Lego Batman — and a handful of plain white T-shirts. During the fall, it occurred to me that I had embroidery floss (from making butterflies for her sweater a couple years back) — so why not embroider one of the shirts?

Why not, indeed? Just because the last time I remember embroidery was learning how to do the chain stitch when I was six? Or because most embroidery is done on woven materials, not cotton knit? Or because I had no plan but instead was making it up as I went along?

Minor details, all!

Between Internet searches for instructions and a couple books from the library, I figured I could find my way.

I started simply — scroll stitch and feather stitch around the sleeve hems. A little cross stitch at the neck. Then more elaborate — a Portuguese stem stitch rainbow.

I started jumping around — a bit of lavender chain on one sleeve, flowers below the rainbow, a rocket, pink ladder on the other sleeve, stems and leaves for the flowers.
Embroidered sleeve and shoulder.
embroidered rocket ship and rainbow

The largest section of embroidery (and possibly a mistake to have decided to do) is black space above the rainbow, which is done with a woven fill stitch. I ran out of black embroidery floss and could not find more (always sold out when I visited the store), so I went with a reasonably thin black yarn with metallic thread laced through.
Start of the woven fill embroidery
Eventually, the shirt was done.
The finished embroidered shirt
The stitches pucker a bit in places, and if I do this again I’ll both use fused backing for stabilization and watch my tension better. Still, I’m happy with the end result — and more importantly, so is my daughter.

Second book now on sale!

. . . and it contains an error.

The second River Corners Mystery, The Miniature Golf Course Murders, is available as both an e-book and in print. However, in the print edition, there’s a mistake on page 153 — the name of the next mystery in the series is given as The Minigolf Course Murders, when it should be The Corn Maze Murders. I am correcting the file, but I do apologize for the error.

Falling for . . .

Life’s been busy, as it always is, with one thing and another. I haven’t finished any more of the major craft projects I started last year, although I have made some progress. I’ve made a couple of birthday cakes (my son got a Neapolitan ice cream cake, and my husband got a Minecraft cake complete with creeper), gotten caught up on my mending, made a couple of new dresses for my daughter, and written. Yes — good news on that front, coming soon!

Most recently, I’ve been enjoying the fruits of fall’s harvest. Lots of pumpkin scones with pumpkin butter for breakfast on the weekends. One day, I did pumpkin pancakes instead. We also harvested apples from the tree in our backyard; I think it’s a Winesap, but I’m not positive. Been doing a lot with the apples — made an apple pie and canned up some apple butter yesterday. (This morning, I had leftover pumpkin pancakes with a dollop of apple butter on each. Yum!) I’m planning on another apple pie, probably some apple dumplings, and maybe even some cider if I can figure out how to use the KitchenAid juicer attachment for it.

I love fall — the colors of the trees, the crispness, the smell of roasting pumpkin, hints of woodsmoke in the air in the evenings. I start feeling energized and planning new projects or finishing off old ones. My relationship with fall has gotten more complicated since my dad died, but every year I remember that fall holds the promise of things to come, even as trees and plants die back in preparation for the cold to come.

What’s your favorite part about fall?

Dealing with setbacks

I’m still working on the crochet skirt. As I work on each vane, I have to bind off the different colors, which leads to balls of crochet thread left sitting on random horizontal surfaces. This is reasonably safe, as we currently have no felines in residence — except when it isn’t.

Last week a bottled drink was opened on a table with half a dozen such balls on it — and the bottle fizzed over, leaving the balls a tad sticky and in no condition to crochet with. I didn’t want to throw them out and replace them, so I knotted them into a pair of nylons (amazingly, I have some, although its been at least a year and a half since I’ve worn them) and put them in the washing machine, then through the dryer twice.

knotted nylons

After the nylons have been through the laundry.

Now, the downside of this is that cotton thread is wrapped on cardboard cores, and cardboard doesn’t do too well in the washing machine. When I took the nylons out, the balls were noticeably smaller than they’d been previously. When I took the balls out of the nylons, they had some interesting patterns from the way the thread had compressed.

Ball of crochet thread

Standard ball of crochet thread

Laundered ball of crochet thread

Laundered ball of crochet thread

Laundered ball of pink thread

I love the way the whorls of thread look on this.

My husband reminded me that we do have a stock of cardboard tubes around (I save toilet paper rolls for our daughter’s daycare to use in crafts. One of these months, I’ll even remember to take them in!), so I began re-rolling the thread onto the new tubes. Unfortunately, the balls are so thick that even two trips through the dryer hadn’t managed to get all the thread dry, so after I wound some of the thread onto each tube, I had to just pull the rest of the thread off the remains of the original cardboard and leave it piled up to dry.

Crochet thread, half on new tube

Orange crochet thread spread to dry

Crumpled cardboard tubes

Remains of the cardboard tubes from a few balls of the crochet thread

Now I’m in the final stage of this process, finishing the winding onto the new tubes — with lots and lots of untangling and unknotting along the way. In a week or so, I should be able to get back to the crocheting.

Skirting the issue

Yes, that weekly thing . . . didn’t quite work out, did it? No matter. I shall try again.

Today, I’m going to talk about the skirt I’m crocheting for my daughter. I saw a photo of a rainbow doily with a dual-spiral shape on Facebook, and in the comments for that photo, the person who had crocheted it pointed to the pattern on Ravelry she’d used (Fractal by Essi Varis). My daughter loves rainbow colors, and it occurred to me that if I just made the center circle bigger, I could turn the doily into a skirt.

It’s been a little more complicated than that, of course. I added a few extra rows to the central portion, to make certain it’s going to be long enough to cover her at its shortest proportions. Because it’s wider around, instead of doing two vanes, I’m doing ten (currently working on the third one, which should give you some idea how long this project’s going to take to finish). And, of course, I’m going to need to line the skirt when it gets done. The biggest complication is that the vane is crocheted in such a way that I’m working with all the colors simultaneously, binding off each as it grows in length.

Also — it’s going to be heavier than I was expecting. That’s a lot of crochet thread.

So now, to the pictures:

open-work crochet

I’ve posted this before — the start of the central portion of the skirt. The plan is to run ribbon through the pink at the top, making it somewhat adjustable in size.

close-up of color mistake in skirt

Sometimes I goof, as I did with the purples here. Once I realized I’d made the mistake with one color, it was easier to make it symmetric, with the other color swapping, too, than to take it out and fix it.

crocheted skirt panel

A complete vane for the skirt, running from barely there pink to rather long purple. There will be ten of these in the final skirt. (Also, you can see more clearly why the central portion needs to be lined.)

Have you ever taken on a project that turned out to be much bigger than you’d thought it would be?

Tatting efforts

Last year, The Knitter’s Edge (a local yarn shop) had monthly meetings at the library. I think they were supposed to be learn-to-knit gatherings, but I’d never been, and I thought I’d check them out as a way to get out of the house and meet new people.

Of course, this year, they’re not doing that.

However, I looked at their website and saw that they had a variety of classes on offer, including one on tatting that started up in February. I’ve thought off and on about learning to tat, and this seemed like a good opportunity. So off I went on Wednesday evenings, learning to turn crochet thread into lace edgings and medallions.

I need to work on my tension still — my curves sometimes curl up from the plane, and as you can see from the photo of the bookmark, the consistency isn’t there yet. However, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve managed to learn in the past month or so.