Saturday, April 28, 2012

Brown Twist Dishcloths

I recently completed these dishcloths to go into the brown and aqua “Utensils” hope chest kitchen set. I spied the soft brown cotton twist yarn in the craft store when Miss Abigail and I were shopping for yarn for her 4-H knitting project. I tried to talk her into using this for her project, but she had other ideas. So, I bought it for myself. The brand is "I Love This Cotton" and I really did enjoy working with it. It just felt good in my hands! I liked that this particular multi-colored twist seemed a bit thinner than the usual worsted weight cotton yarn. It worked up more like sport-weight, even though the size is listed as 4. This meant that I could use a stitch for a solid crochet fabric, but still have a dishcloth that is not quite so thick. I used the the Seed stitch in a simple square and then put a semi-detached scalloped border around the edge. I made two dishcloths out of the 3 oz. skein and had about 2 yds of yarn left at the end -just barely enough!

I’ll try to work the pattern again, do some math and compose the directions and then I can share. That just means that I’ll end up with two more dishcloths! ;o)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Color Strategy for Kitchen Linens

Crochet brightens up the edge of these pretty handtowels in the "Sunflowers" set.
My strategy for hope chest kitchen linens is a little different. We may wish to do something other than timeless or classic, and I think one can be a little wilder with her dishtowels than, say, a bed quilt. There are so many appealing paths to follow with fun kitchen themes and cheerful colors. So, for me, any color goes when it comes to a kitchen towel. These linens get so much use that they are likely worn out before you could ever change your mind or get tired of them. Miss Abigail and I have several themes and colors going on for her hope chest kitchen linens and even some sub-sets within sets. Many of these colors overlap and items could fit into several different sets. Some sets are started and some are merely planned. Most of our sets start with a piece of fabric for an apron. But some have begun because of a cute towel, like the sunflower towels shown above, or an appealing skein of yarn.

This was the first fabric I purchased for a kitchen set. Abigail and I have been working on things for this "Floral" set for quite some time. Green is my favorite color and I love florals. Abigail has always loved red and pink. Yellow is a strong color in this set also and there is just a bit of plummy purple as an accent. Okay, I have to admit that I picked this fabric because I liked it. Abigail is not strong on florals right now, but I'm counting on changing her mind one day.

Miss Abigail says her favorite color is blue (at the moment) so this next fabric answers that. Yellow, green and white expand the possibilities. The fabric is actually much brighter and more cheerful than this picture shows. Abigail has made a number of items to go into this set. We have a set of "daisy" printed hand towels that match this fabric, so daisies are a sub-set of this "Plaid" set.

Miss Abigail has grown up on a homestead, and I want her to take "Country Memories" with her when she leaves home. So, naturally I'm working on a denim and rusty red country theme set. Straw yellow and mossy green colors overlap both of the previous sets as well.

Miss Abigail has always liked pink too. Hmm, another floral. I sure hope she changes her mind about that. I guess, if she really hates it later, we can do a fabulous giveaway! I like the colors "Pink and Brown" together.

Finally, a really pretty aqua, turquoise and brown fabric. I love these "Kitchen Utensils!" Since Abigail loves to wear these colors, I knew she would like them in the hope chest.

We have a couple of other themed sets, as well - a red, white and black "ladybug" set, the "sunflowers" set (because I saw those cute sunflower hand towels!) and a "garden" set. And, of course we couldn't leave out all of the holidays... (sigh) My husband thinks we're running a hope chest factory! He says Abigail will need a hope chest U-Haul and heaves a big sigh of sympathy for her long-suffering future husband. I know it seems like I'm carried away by all of this kitchen stuff. But, in the end, whatever is excessive will be passed on to others as gifts. I have neices, and friends, and there are always grandchildren. No worries! Right!?!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Color and Style Strategy

As I explained before, I expect that Miss Abigail's future household will be quite eclectic and jumbled in color and style. Early households invariably are. Almost everyone I know sets up housekeeping in a space in which color is already present, and most often, there is no opportunity to make changes. In the case of an apartment the color scheme is usually off white, beige or some variation of brown. Kind of boring! But, one can only hope for such a nice, neutral apartment, since in other cases, the colors might be even less appealing. We rented a duplex once with a hot pink candy striped bathroom. It felt like Mary Poppins! My sister, early on, lived in a small rented house with a multi-colored carpet which she called the "cow" carpet. I'll let you use your imagination. You could probably tell me other stories. Furniture is a second issue. My sweet mother-in-law generously provided a mossy green couch and a wild green and yellow floral recliner when I first married my husband thirty some years ago. We were very thankful to have them, but it is a good thing I didn't expect anything to match.

No one can possibly anticipate the colors of their first few homes. Even trying to use a favorite color scheme may not work, since clashing colors may already be present. I really think the solution to all this uncertainty resides in choosing a deliberately patchwork kind of style - non-decorating to begin with! If we use a wide variety of classic colors blended with neutrals, items should "match" each other pretty well. I love patchwork quilts and my favorite "style" is the all-over scrappy quilt. When fitted into an overall plan, all the colors end up blending just fine. You simply count on the neutral colors of the sashing and borders to bring it all together and make it whole.

So, my plan for the hope chest is for aged and comfortable, a sort of purposeful mis-match style that seems accommodating and is always less than elegant. If we go for the "dime-store decorating" style to begin with, whatever we make will match whatever comes along next. Abigail may have other ideas later, but this is my current working plan. For everything except kitchen things. I'll talk about that next.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Color Question

“How do you choose colors or patterns for the hope chest?” “Won’t color preferences and fashions change over time?” The inability to answer these two questions might inhibit having a hope chest altogether, since such uncertainty constrains making choices. It may seem easier to wait.

I do understand the problem. Fashions change and certain colors and patterns can reflect certain time periods. When I began this project, Miss Abigail was still quite young and simply didn’t have an opinion about much. At this point in time, Abigail knows a bit more about what she likes when it comes to color and style, but she is still very changeable as to which color is her “favorite.” The following facts help me resolve this problem.

1. Because favorite colors change throughout your life, choosing the one particular color cannot be the primary consideration in creating a hope chest. Rather, many classic colors and traditional patterns will always be fashionable.

2. Our family tends not to be particularly fashionable anyway. I am certainly more practical than trendy and I admit that my own household reflects this. Our limited resources flow in directions other than fashion. I’m actually hoping to pass this value along to Abigail. So, if some items seem a little dated by the time she uses them, I'm hoping that it won't matter to her.

3. In my experience, most early households feature a pretty big mix of collected items and have a kind of characteristic mingling of different colors and thrift-store style. Some objects might be deliberately chosen, but just as many are gifted or scrounged from relatives. Early marriage certainly illustrates the adage that “beggars can’t be choosers.” I assume Abigail’s first household will be quite eclectic, just like all the others.

4. I don't intend for most of these items to last Abigail through her whole lifetime. I certainly hope the bulk of the kitchen linens will be used up and replaced after some time. I only want her to have beautiful things to use in those early years when resources like time and money are tight. Miss Abigail will have plenty of time to collect or create what she loves later, when she is more established and secure. I do recognize that silverware or patterned china are a little different. We're waiting on these items for now, and I will certainly urge Abigail to choose the classic and timeless.

So, in my mind, at least, the issue of color and pattern doesn’t have to be such a big problem. And a hot pad is just a hot pad, after all. One colorful quilt keeps you just as warm as another. Although you may make a different choice, I’m banking on the fact that Miss Abigail will enjoy using a beautiful, handmade hot pad, whether or not it matches her current favorite color scheme.

I actually do have a kind of organizational scheme for the hope chest, at least for those items that I’m making now. Miss Abigail may take things in a different direction as she comes to “own” the hope chest more, but for now I’m driving the train. Stay aboard, if you’re interested. The hope chest color strategy is coming up next.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tutorial - Herringbone Embroidered Border

Waffle cloth towels are marvelous! They’re wonderfully thirsty and just get softer with washing. Plus, they have perfect little squares with raised threads - just right for this woven embroidery technique. This tutorial shows how to take advantage of these raised threads by using a simple Herringbone stitch and an extra easy Running stitch to make a pretty border on the edge of the hand towel.

This project is really easy! It takes just a few minutes to complete the towel. You will first need a waffle weave hand towel. The brand of my towel is Dunroven House. If you are very ambitious, you can sometimes find waffle weave cloth and make the towel yourself. You will also need a large, blunt tapestry needle and a skein of Perle cotton - size 5. Six threads of the regular cotton embroidery floss, or even a sport-weight acrylic yarn will also work. Caution: Cotton waffle weave fabric shrinks! You will want to pre-wash and dry the towel and then iron it well. The microfiber waffle weave towels don't cause quite the same problem.

Measure a length of thread four times the width of the towel. Tie a knot and hide it at the back of the side hem of the towel. Bring the needle up on the front of the towel a few inches above the hem, and at the left side of one of the small squares. Make a diagonal stitch, picking up the vertical threads laying on top of the fabric of the square in the next row over and two above the row you started on. Always push the needle from the right to the left, each time you make a stitch.

Bring the needle diagonally back to the starting row and catch the vertical threads of the next square over, again taking the needle under the threads from the right to the left. Alternate the stitching in this same way. Keep the tension snug, but be careful not to pull the thread too tight. The fabric should remain flat and the thread should have a bit of a curved loop, rather than a tight X. Don’t worry about the long diagonal thread - it will be tacked down later. Repeat the Herringbone stitch across the width of the towel.

At the other side, after you bring the diagonal thread down, bring the needle up in the middle of the row of skipped squares. Catch the vertical threads just under and above each of the previous crossed stitches. This will tack down the long diagonal thread in the stitch and make it less likely to snag with wear.

Continue this Running stitch back across the width of the towel. As you pick up the vertical threads in the squares of the towel, make sure that each of the long diagonal threads of the Herringbone stitches are caught and tacked down.

To finish, bring the needle up on the back side of the hemmed edge and take three small back stitches to tack the thread. Then, bring the needle out at the edge of the hem and clip the thread.

You can call the border finished with just one row. One row is very quick and looks simple and elegant.

Or, you can repeat the process with another row, if you wish. Two rows are also very pretty.

I put three rows on this towel. Because it is a single hand towel in a bigger set, and, because it is going into the hope chest, I wanted a more elaborate border. I think it is lovely!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another Freebie!

I just found a link to a beautiful new e-mag, published by Homestead Drying Racks. I immediately wanted to share it with all of you who are as interested in self-sufficiency as I am. The Homestead Community Post is available as a free download, for a limited time. It covers many topics related to homesteading and provident living. Don't miss it!

To promote their new magazine, as well as the other products they carry, Homestead Drying Racks is sponsoring a big giveaway as well. You can join in by following this link to the giveaway.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A New Resource - Clementine Patterns Co.

I'm happy to add another great resource to my sidebar: Clementine Patterns Co. Because of her recent post at Raising Homemakers, I discovered Robin's etsy site and realized what a great new resource for beautiful hope chest embroidery projects. I love the fact that this is a mother-daughter endeavor! I love that the pattern comes already printed on the fabric and that there is an effort to accomodate both beginning and advanced skill level. I especially love that the patterns reflect home and family. Truly tailor-made as a project for the hope chest.

Each pattern comes pre-printed on 100% cotton fabric, with a second cotton panel for backing and stability. Accompanying instructions give a list of stitches and color suggestions for floss. You will need to provide your own floss, hoop, needle and finishing materials.

The lovely beginner sampler seems just perfect to learn basic stitches. If necessary, mamma could do the more difficult words in the sampler and daughter could practice the various stitches. I know you'll like it - follow the link quickly and tell me what you think!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Link- A Free Emboidery Pattern - Limited Time

A week or so ago I read a lovely post entitiled Cultivating the Fruits of the Spirit: Love at Raising Homemakers. This post is the first in a series that Robin, who is a regular contributor at Raising Homemakers, will write over the next several months and I'm now looking forward to each post! I was struck by Robin's question if I stopped to think about what my family would look like in five years, perhaps because Hannah just recently asked me what I expected to be doing in five years time. I'm currently so busy that I hardly have time to project my thoughts at all, but after reading Robin's post, I recognize that there is more I can do to cultivate the spirit of love in my relationship with Miss Abigail. Five or six years is about the length of time I have left before Abigail should be ready to leave home. I think she knows that I love her, in fact, I'm absolutely sure that she does. But because of the frantic pace we sometimes chase, I don't always "recognize and anticipate the frustrations that provoke you to unloving responses." In fact, my sweet Abigail often takes the brunt of my frustration, even and especially when I am trying so hard to teach and train her. What a wretch I am! Robin offers five gentle suggestions that I think will help me, if I can apply them. So, I thank her for that --and for the lovely embroidery pattern that she and her daughters have designed as a reminder. Please don't miss the post link, which includes a limited time offer for this free pattern from Clementine Patterns Co. Robin promises a free pattern for each of the articles in her series. What a lovely thing to look forward too!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Special Easter Egg

Eggs! You stumble around and over them at Easter time. My little family will color them tomorrow and I miss the times our older boys hid colored eggs for Abigail to search for. I need to do something special for Easter, I thought, for the blog. Could I find a beautiful picture, somehow compose and share my tender and personal testimony of Jesus Christ? How could I possibly explain how much I treasure His grace, His blessings, His watchcare and help...

I've mentioned before how much I enjoy Michele's blog, Simply Scaife Family Farm. I was recently mining gems in the depths of her labels, when I read her post about One Tiny Gift. I knew I wanted to share it with those that I love this weekend. This is my testimony as well, that small efforts combine to bring about the purpose of God. That Jesus Christ loves and appreciates all who bring even one tiny gift, to make His kingdom -even the world, better and brighter. Thank you, Michele for such a lovely reminder of this truth. A Blessed Easter to all of you.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Peek Inside - Toy Duck

I unpacked the hope chest this last week, in order to take some more pictures for the "Peek Inside" posts here on the blog. I found a little duck. I made this toy many, many years ago, when we lived in Ohio. I used to sew to make extra money and sold these stuffed toys at Easter craft shows. I put this last little duck into Abigail's hope chest, hoping her own daughter will enjoy it someday...
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