Hello Mona Pattern

Finished Mona still on the frame.
A some of you may know, I have been working on a project to cover the bathroom walls at the shop with a giant collection of cross stitched pieces in gold frames. For about 3 years now, Ihave kept a master list of the patterns I want to use as well as a list of patterns I want to create. One of the things on my list is to do a series of cross stitch interpretations of street art, mostly local to Lexington. As one of my favorites, Hello Mona was at the top of this list. There are several versions of Mona around town, but I wanted to keep the chart kinda small so I decided to go with plain Mona in a red bow. The finished work fits in a 4"x6" frame and the downloadable chart can be found here. Big thanks to Hello Mona for letting me share the chart.

Now for the details. This piece was stitched on 14ct Aida cloth using two strands of embroidery floss, I used less than one skein each of black (DMC 310) and red (DMC 666.) If you want the black sections really solid you can switch to 3 strands of embroidery floss and add an extra skein to compensate.
A printable chart can be found here.


I am ready for 2016!!

It's time once again for my annual New Year's post. 2015 was a very difficult year for me and as I review the year I tend to focus on my failures and all of the negative, but despite all of that 2015 had a lot of goodness. My broken leg gave me extra time with friends and family and also a chance to slow down and really think about what I want (seriously, so much time for thinking.) I used some of my extra time to take a few classes, I opened my online shop, and for awhile I was blogging regularly. It was a good year for the shop and in addition to regular shop stuff, Sarah and I made a knitting-themed unnoffficial expansion pack for Cards Against Humanity called Knitters Against Swatches which did really well and taught us a lot about manufacturing and online sales (any past ideas about creating an online ReBelle are officially off the table.)

Now for a review of my 2015 goals...
1. Eat better, way more whole foods and less processed junk.
I consumed more processed foods this year than ever before. Most of it was due to my broken leg and an inability to stand and cook. On the plus side, once I was able to cook again I did manage to cut out most of the processed foods so at least I finished strong on this one.
2. Schedule one afternoon (four hours) a week of quiet time and don't let it get interrupted by people or work.
I did this for a few weeks, but work kept creeping in so it fell by the wayside pretty fast.
3. Get ahead and stay ahead of seasonal shop tasks.
I created a calendar with seasonal reminders that really helped me keep on top of things, but no matter how hard I tried there were still a bunch of last minute tasks.
4. Finish and frame twelve pieces for the shop xstitch project.
This was going to be a fail, but in my panic at not accomplishing any of my goals for the year I did a marathon week of cross stitching and completed this one just under the wire.
5. Travel more.
6. Ride my bike more.
Double nope.
7. Have more fun.

My 2016 goals...
1. Improve my handwriting.
2. Develop 4 new classes.
3. Submit 1 article and 4 patterns for publication.
4. Improve my overall health.
5. Finish and frame twelve pieces for the shop xstitch project, again.
6. Spend more time with friends, regular outings and phone calls.


DIY Cross Stitch Ornaments

Finished ornament hung with a simple ribbon.
I made this simple cross stitch ornament for a last minute gift class at the shop. The pattern is easy enough for a beginner and should take less than two hours to complete regardless of skill level so let's get started.

You will need the following:
14ct Aida cloth
1 yard embroidery floss
cross stitch needle
3" embroidery hoop
a small scrap of coordinating fabric
sewing needle
sewing thread
scraps of paperboard (a cereal box will do)
piece of ribbon (or hook for hanging)
iron (optional)

Once you have all of your supplies you can begin by cross stitching the chart below. You can either do this in the 3" hoop you are going to hang it in or you can use a larger hoop and move it into the 3" one when you are finished. If you are new to cross stitch I suggest you start with this tutorial by Becky Stern, she does a terrific job of explaining everything, far better than I could.
A printable pdf of this chart can be found here.
Once your project is stitched and in the frame you will want to sew a running stitch around the outside perimeter of the Aida cloth and pull tight to gather the excess material in the center of the hoop. If you have a large amount of excess Aida cloth you will want to trim it so that no more than an inch hangs over the edge before doing your running stitch.

Next you want to cut a 3 1/4" circle out of paperboard and a 5" circle out of your scrap fabric. Repeat the perimeter running stitch from above to encase the paperboard in the fabric.
Backsides of both the paperboard backing and the hoop.
At this point you can choose to iron the backs of both objects to make the fabric lay flat, this is totally personal preference. Once your two backs are ready to go, apply your favorite fabric glue to the outside perimeter, put the two wrong sides together, and weight with a flat heavy object, I used a heavy book, until dry. Once dry, add a ribbon or hook and it is ready to hang on your tree.

Since I am posting less than a week before Christmas and you might not get to this in 2015, I went ahead and made a 2016 version of this ornament, that chart can be found here.


Finally, a shop update

Two of my goals for the year were to relaunch my blog with an entry every week and to reopen my online shop, then in May I broke my leg. It was my first broken bone and it wasn't just a little break, it was a complicated break. I was able to avoid surgery, but as a result my recovery time was long. I was unable to bare weight, walk, or drive for the first eight weeks and I was unable to sit with my leg down for longer than a few minutes at a time. Basically I spent the entire summer on my sofa with my leg elevated. I knitted, read, and watched Netflix, not much else. My recovery was long an while I am still not totally healed, I am finally to the point where I can stand for reasonable periods of time and my leg requires minimal elevation. Last weekend I taught my first dye workshop all summer (well, technically I taught three back-to-back workshops) and I survived so I decided that now it is officially time for me to get back to my dye experiments and start blogging again.
Handpainted Panda Top available in my shop.
It's been awhile, but I have started selling my handdyes again. I dyed the fiber above for the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival and some for the shop. Since I am walking and driving now, I am ready to sell online again. With all of the controversy surrounding etsy, I decided not to reopen my etsy shop, instead I am using Square's marketplace and hosting some of the items here. It's better for me which makes it better for you.

Over the coming weeks I will be adding several updates to my shop with a bunch more items. This week I am starting with some handdyed Panda top. Panda is a blend of 60% superwash merino, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon making it a perfect blend for spinning sock yarns. As a variation, I spun some a little thicker to make the yarn for a version of Woolly Wormhead's Abalone. The bamboo and nylon content make this hat perfect for the transitional weather between winter/spring and fall/winter. 

As a thank you for being one of my first online customers, use the promo code FibulaReparo for 15% off any order placed before September 15th.


Sheepies in Love Pattern

For Valentine's Day at the shop this year I designed a free embroidery pattern of two sheep in love for our customers. Valentine's has come and gone and since this weekend is the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Fest, I thought I would offer it up here. The sheep love pattern can be downloaded here.

Also, if this is your first embroidery project or your first hard copy transfer, I highly recommend Jenny Hart's tutorials, they are how I learned. For this project I used the tracing paper and transfer pen technique, but if you don't have a transfer pen or carbon transfer paper, you can get away with tracing it lightly onto your fabric with a thin graphite pencil. Have fun!!


Dyeing with Dandelions, part 1

Dandelion heads in the dyepot.
I have to admit, I have never understood the appeal of a manicured lawn and find grass boring. It could be due to this or my laziness that I allow dandelions to grow freely in my yard, much to the dismay to my neighbors. I love dandelions, they are bright and beautiful and are one of the first glimpses of the warm summer days to come. Spring started late this year so the dandelions didn't start popping up until the beginning of April, but within a week of the first flower they were everywhere so now seemed a good time to try out their dye capabilities.

I use mason jars for the copper and iron
baths. They are marked so I can reuse
them in future dye experiments.
I read a bit about dandelion dyes before I started so I knew that the results would be yellows, greens and browns. I decided to experiment a bit with dye concentrations so instead of sticking with the standard 1:1 ratio of dyestuff to fiber I did an additional 2:1 batch to see how deep the colors would go. I am only dyeing with the dandelion flowers this time around so after gathering the dandelions I decapitated them and weighed the heads. Dandelions need to be used fresh and according to one thing I read, the best color is achieved later in the season when they are getting more sun (it has been rainy and overcast here for a few weeks now so I might try another batch later in the summer to see if that actually does make a difference.) To make the dye liquor, I boiled the dandelion heads for 30 minutes, removed them from the liquid and then threw in my mordanted fibers to simmer for about 40 minutes and let them cool overnight before rinsing.
Final results- alum mordant, alum mordant with copper bath, alum mordant with iron mordant.
Now the specifics- I mordanted all of the sample skeins in alum and cream of tarter (12% alum, 6% cream of tarter.) The first skeins of each set were dyed with a 1:1 dyestuff to fiber ratio and the second skeins in each set were dyed with a 2:1 dyestuff to fiber ratio. I am absolutely in love with the lighter version of the green and plan to try some larger skeins. 

Next week I will dye with the leaves, stems and flowers of the dandelion to see if I can get more greens. 


Dyeing with Hibiscus, part 2

Last week I wrote about my hibiscus dyeing experience and how I was pretty disappointed with the color results. Since hibiscus is supposed to be very sensitive to tap water, I used distilled water for the entire process. The results I ended up with were pretty boring so I decided to try again using tap water to see if that might shift my results more towards the lavender I desired. Unfortunately, the tap water just produced slightly browner results, also something that did not interest me.

I wrote about indigo dyeing last month after I taught my first class on the process. I mentioned that pre-reduced indigo is reduced enough to be used with just water, but it makes for a more delicate one-time-use vat. While that process is completely inappropriate in a group dyeing setting (I spent a good chunk of my class time dealing with vats that kept getting oxidized by students not used to dyeing with indigo,) it is perfect for me when I need a quick vat. I made up a two gallon vat and was able to get multiple dips in the indigo before it was oxidized which was more than I expected out of such a simple vat. I also found the fibers dyed in the water vat rinsed clear much faster than those in a more traditional vat (which might have also been because all of the fibers going into this vat were mordanted in alum.)

From left to right- hibiscus in distilled water, hibiscus tap water, hibiscus tap water with one dip in indigo, hibiscus with two dips in indigo.

Now the specifics- the recipe I found called for 2 tablespoons of prereduced indigo to one gallon of cold water, but it mentioned that you can use as little as one teaspoon for lighter colors. I ended up going with 1 tablespoon in two gallons of water since I was only dyeing 8 sample skeins and 200g of fiber. I still didn't get the results that I wanted, but I really like the greenish blues that happen when you overdye the hibiscus skeins with indigo so there is a slight chance I will do this again.