Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Bit of a Blog Break

Hello all! I surely hope you've had a lovely Christmas and that the holiday stretches out for a few more days.  I had a number of Christmas things that I planned to post, but the weather on these high plains has been pretty frightful. I haven't been able to get to a library to even schedule any posts, and now that the holiday is past, those posts are no longer relevant. So, I'll save them for next year. One nice thing about a hope chest is that objects are put away and saved anyway. Getting them out to see again will be just as much fun later.

So, back to the weather. We've had snow on snow and high winds. I've just had to be patient to be at home. Thankfully I had everything I needed for Christmas, although I did have to design and draft some doll clothes patterns myself. I'm quite amazed that I could make that work! My husband is on his annual leave from work, so I don't need to worry about him on the roads. But I do get a little bit claustrophobic and when the road grader came down the road today, I followed it out. The weather is supposed to improve and the temps are supposed to rise, but that will melt all of this nice snow into mud. Seven miles of muddy dirt road is actually worse than snow.

All this is to explain that I might be taking a bit of an enforced blog break until the weather smooths out. January typically has our worst weather. So, don't be concerned - I'm just snug at home.  I hope you all are too.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Filet Crochet

Filet crochet is a method of forming picture designs with regular crochet stitches worked in solid blocks and open spaces. Filet crochet is a lovely technique and it’s easy to learn. Filet pieces are very appropriate in a hope chest. You could make framed pictures or wall hangings, pillows, table runners and toppers, doilies, coasters, edgings for all kinds of linens, and even window curtains. I want to show you how to make a small patch that I recently applied to a Christmas hand towel. I hope you’ll give this a try.

Traditional filet is a style of thread crochet and uses a steel hook with fine cotton thread. On this piece, I’ve used a size 9 steel hook and size 10 cotton thread. The simplest designs are made with the chain stitch and the double crochet stitch. Rather than written, row by row instructions, filet crochet is worked from a printed chart of blank spaces and solid squares. I’ve included four simple Christmas chart designs as a JPG image that you can print. Look for the pattern at the end of the post.

The dark gray squares of the chart indicate a filled square, the blank spaces are open blocks. An open block of filet crochet is made with a double crochet, chain-2 and a double crochet. A filled block is made with four double crochets. Each block shares a stitch with neighboring blocks.You’ll probably want to include at least one or two spaces of open rows around the edge of the design.

With any filet pattern, to find the number of chain stitches for the foundation row, count the squares at the widest part of the design, including any border squares. Each of the designs I’ve charted have a count of 11, including a border row all around. Multiply that number by 3 (33). When working from filet charts, if the first block of a row is an open block, you add 6 to the total number of chains and work the first double crochet into the 9th chain from the hook. If the first block is a filled square, you add 4 to the total and work the first double crochet into the 5th chain from the hook. These designs have an open block at the beginning of the foundation row. 6 added to 33 equals 39.

Chain 39 and put the first double crochet into the 9th chain from the hook. * Chain 2. Skip the next 2 chains. Double crochet in the next chain. Repeat from * across to the end, with a double crochet in the final chain. This makes a row of 11 empty blocks, our first border row.

Before we leave this initial row, I need to tell you something more about working from charts. Each odd numbered row is read and worked from the right side to the left. You just follow the picture. But when you turn to do the even rows, you are working from the back side, which means that you need to read and follow the chart from the left side to the right. The picture won’t turn out right unless you are careful to make the odd rows right to left and the even rows left to right. I’m using the snowman chart for this tutorial, partly because it is exactly the same both ways. It will turn out right, even if you get mixed up.

Because the second row begins with an empty block, chain 5 and turn. Double crochet in the top of the next double crochet. Chain 2. Double crochet in the top of the next double crochet. This creates two empty blocks, which is what the chart indicates. (Remember to read the squares from the left on this row. If this instruction remains confusing, just think of it as looking at the chart through the back of the paper. Maybe that will help you visualize how the process works.)

There are now seven filled spaces indicated by the chart. The first filled block is made with two additional double crochets into the space below and a double crochet in the top of the double crochet from the row below. Most people work into the middle of the ch-2 space because it is quicker and much easier. Some meticulous people work into the chains of the ch-2 space because it gives a crisper edge to the square. You can decide whichever method you want to use. I’ve crocheted into the chain stitches with this design because it is so small and there aren’t that many open spaces within the filled blocks. If I do a large filet piece, with many open spaces, I readily crochet into the space to save time and aggravation. There are no filet “police” waiting to judge your work, so make yourself happy. Just work the same, throughout the piece.

The filled blocks share a double crochet on one side, so the initial filled block has four double crochets and the remaining filled blocks have three each. Does that make sense? Work double crochets into the tops of the stitches below until you’ve covered seven blocks. Chain 2, double crochet (to make a space), chain 2. Put the final double crochet into the third chain of the turning chain 5. This makes the final space on this row. Chain five to turn. Remember that when the next row begins with a space, you always chain five to turn. You always end a row with a double crochet in the third chain of this turning chain 5.

Use what you now know about working filet to complete this next row. Each space is created with a chain 2 and a double crochet. Each filled block is created with 3 double crochets, provided you don’t count the initial double crochet, which is the final double crochet from the previous block. I hope you can understand that. I can’t think of a clear way to explain it. Hopefully, the pictures help.

The fourth row has the first open space within a filled block. Make this with a ch 2, skipping two double crochets and then double crochet into the next stitch. Then, just carry on with the filled blocks and blank spaces.

The fifth row has spaces on both sides that “indent.” You make this space just like previous spaces, with (ch 2, skip 2, dc) Follow the chart to complete the remaining rows. The pictures help show where the stitches should be.

The final row should all be empty spaces to create the bit of border around the design.

Many filet pieces are crocheted without an edging, but it is nice to add one. I’ll show you how to add a very simple edging worked with single crochet and the picot stitch. Without fastening off, chain 3. Make a picot with a slip stitch into the bottom of the chain. Work 3 single crochets into this first space and then again, chain 3.

You can also work the picots into the side of the last single crochet that you made.

Yarn over and bring it through both loops with a slip stitch.

Then go on to make 3 single crochets and a picot in the next space.

Make (3 sc, picot) in each space down the side of the filet piece.

Turn the corner with (3 sc, picot, 3 sc, picot).

Continue the edging all around the piece.

End with a slip stitch in the bottom of the first picot. Leave a 2-inch tail and clip the thread.

Use a tapestry needle to weave in the ends of the thread. Work on the back side of the piece and weave first in one direction and then reverse for a short space. Make sure the thread doesn’t show on the right side of the piece.

Block your finished work by spreading it on a flat surface with the right side up. Smooth the piece to the correct size. If necessary, use glass head pins to make it square. Hold a steam iron above the piece and let the steam penetrate for a few minutes. Then let the piece dry thoroughly.

I centered the patch at the bottom of a terry hand towel and hand stitched around the edging. In general, filet crochet looks best with some kind of contrasting background in order to notice and appreciate the picture. This ecru colored block, on the contrasting red towel, looks great. If you plan other filet pieces for your hope chest, using some kind of background behind or under the filet piece will make the design more obvious. Here is the chart. Merry Christmas from Miss Abigail’s Hope Chest.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Just a Thought...

This thought really helped me today and I'm very, very grateful to this sweet blogger who posted the reminder some time ago. I've been stirred up and frustrated, ever since Tuesday, when I was in a minor car accident in Santa Fe.  A young girl, driving without a license, ran into the back of my car while I was stopped at a light. She had not taken the time to clean the ice from her windshield and apparently couldn't see well enough to stop. She actually couldn't see anything at all and I can't imagine how she had come so far down the road! Anyway, these things happen and they just disrupt our lives. Now I have to deal with insurance adjusters and car body shops and being without a car at Christmas time.  But I am thankful to be on my feet and because I am believing in a loving Heavenly Father, I am reminded that I am in His hands. I just wanted to pass the thought along and express my hope you all are having a good day!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Star Dishcloths

I've made these cute dishcloths for a new Christmas kitchen set for Miss Abigail's hope chest. As soon as I saw this new pattern from Maggie Weldon, I wanted to make some. They are called Christmas Star dishcloths. Follow the link if you want this lovely pattern for yourself!  I've also made hand towels and dishtowels for this set. Watch for upcoming tutorials.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Our Advent Tree

There are so many different ways to use the Advent devotional in family worship. I wanted to show you one of the best things our family has done to try to keep Christ in the midst of our Christmas celebrations.

Many years ago, I made a careful study of the Advent scriptures that I thought would be the most meaningful to our family. Though not strictly traditional, I chose twenty-four scriptures that focus on the redemptive Plan of Salvation. (Several of these scriptures come from the Book of Mormon, which our family testifies is a second witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.) Then I used Sculpey clay to make a small ornament that would represent each of these scriptures. You will notice that I had to be pretty creative in my representations - you may not be able to recognize some of these items at a glance, but my children quickly learned to identify the symbol and the teaching that each small object portrays. We also have a small tabletop tree to hang the ornaments on and it sits next to the dining room table during the Christmas season. It really isn’t big enough, or sturdy enough, and every year I try to remember to get a bigger one.

The intention is to have a devotional reading each night and hang the ornament for that day. Honestly, we sometimes don’t have the time in the evening, so some nights we have to double up. There have been some years, when our older boys were teenagers, when we just had to catch everything up on Sunday. But it is still a special tradition to read through these scriptures and to remember the gifts and promises of a loving Heavenly Father.

 1.  yellow singing stars - Job 38:4-7  (morning stars sang together)
2.  globe with clouds - Abraham 4:24-26, Genesis 1 (the creation of the world)
3.  blue stars with moon - Psalms 8 (the Creation Psalm)
4.  apple - Alma 12:22-24 (the fall of Adam)
5.  baby - Luke 2:7-16, Mosiah 3:5 (birth of the Savior)

 After we recognize the birth of our Savior, we take several days to read about His attributes through the “I AM” scriptures.

6.  candle - John 8:12 (I AM the light of the world)
7.  crook - John 10:11 (I AM the good shepherd)
8.  vine - John 15:1 (I AM the vine)
9.  bread - John 6:51 (I AM the bread of life)
10.  door - John 10:9 (I AM the door)
11.  Greek signs - Revelation 22:13 (I AM alpha and omega)

 Then we pick up again with the atoning death of the Savior,  and the assurance of a redemptive plan through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

12.  cross - 1 Ne 11:32-33 (death of the Savior)
13.  empty tomb - Matt 28:1-7 (resurrection of the Savior)
14.  blackness - Isa 60:2 - (apostasy foretold)
15.  angel with trumpet - Revelation 14:6-7 (promise of the restoration)
16.  milk & honey - 2 Ne 26:25 (promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ)

The remaining scriptures help us feel the joy of continued expectation and promise made to the followers of Jesus - to us, to our family! I really love all of these scriptures.

17.  eagle feather - Isa 40:31 (promise of strength as wings of eagles)
18.  hand - Isa 49:15-16 (promise to be remembered in the palm of His hand)
19.  sheaf of wheat - D&C 31:5 (promise to be laden with sheaves)
20.  sheep - Psalm 95:6-7 (promise to be the sheep of His hand)

 21.  trumpet - D&C 45:39-59 (the second coming of Jesus Christ)
22.  book - Revelation 20:12 (promise of a name in the Book of Life)
23.  crown - 1 Pet 5:4 (promise of the Crown of Life)
24.  harp - Isa 35:10 (we will bring songs of everlasting joy)

I would love to hear what you all do with Advent or how you use scriptures or symbols of Christ during the Christmas season.

Miss Abigail is our last child, so this Advent set may go with her as she begins her own family. I have had vague plans to make such a set for my daughters-in-law, but I don’t want to interfere with their own ideas and plans. I’m still kind of new at being a mother-in-law and each of these girls is capable, accomplished and creative. But I can certainly remember having so little time, when my children were small. For a more mature girl, I think that some kind of Advent teaching would be the perfect item to prepare ahead and save in a hope chest for her future home.

Shared on Raising Homemakers Wednesday Link-up

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tutorial - Puffy Patchwork Ornament

I love these styrofoam patchwork Christmas ornaments. I thought I understood the basic design strategy. You clearly push the edges of small fabric patches into a styrofoam ball, make a ribbon bow for the top and hang it on the tree. But I’ve tried to make this ornament so many times in the past and always tossed my pitiful attempts in the trash.  I’ve never been able to identify what I’m doing wrong. But I keep trying and this is my latest effort.

I'm sharing a basic tutorial, plus what I’ve learned about this ornament. This will make more sense if you actually try to make the ornament.You’ll need very simple materials and tools: a 2.5-inch or 3-inch styrofoam ball, scraps of Christmas fabric, scissors, and a thin table knife or fingernail file. The knife tool needs to be very thin so that you don’t make too wide of a space in the styrofoam. You might want one or two extra balls and some scraps of fabric to practice on! You may also need some clear-drying glue.

Cut the fabric into small squares about 1-inch or 1.5-inches in size. Include a variety of colors. The visual contrast between different fabrics seems to help emphasize the puffy edges.

Begin with two patches with right sides together. Push the edges on one side of the patches into the styrofoam. Try to push the edges of the fabric straight down. Then, open them up and gently smooth the patches.

Continue to add patches this same way. You’ll find that, even though you cut the fabric the same size, your patches don’t always come out even on the ball. I can’t explain this, except that this styrofoam process is way more variable than sewing the fabric! Just keep adding patches. Some will come out square and some will only loosely resemble square. As you come up around the curve, some of the “squares” will need to be more triangular in shape, and you may need to start over, once or twice. But if you redo more than once or twice, the space in the styrofoam becomes too wide, and the fabric won’t stay in the space. If the ball gets too ragged, you may need to begin with a new ball.

You will need to trim excess fabric on some patches to fit the space between two other patches. Just be careful to leave enough fabric to turn a nice edge. Turning the corner is the most difficult part of creating this ornament. This difficulty has always defeated me in the past. There is a lot of fabric in the corner and nowhere for it to go. You can try trimming a little off, but be careful of trimming too much, because it may pull out a few minutes later when you push in the other side of the patch. Then the styrofoam is showing and there is no fabric to fix the problem. You can also try tucking some under, which works sometimes, but not always.

It seems that no matter how careful I am, I always have both edges and corners that pull up or are loose. This year, rather than throwing the ornament away, I decided to simply use a bit of clear-drying glue (Elmer's or Alene's) to keep things where they are supposed to be. I added a tiny bit to some edges that were ragged and put some in the corners that just wouldn’t stay put.

I added the ribbon bow to the top of the ornament and a gold thread hanger. Then I let the whole thing dry overnight, hoping that the glue would truly dry clear. Thankfully, it did. Now that I’ve finally had one sucessful attempt, I may try to do a few more. If anyone knows anything more about the process to make this ornament, I hope you’ll leave a comment. Thanks!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...