Maggie’s Eva’s Shawl

Eva's Shawl blockedWith our horridly hot summers here, I like to knit or crochet in the afternoons. It’s just too hot to do anything that requires moving about or intense concentration even with a/c. To boot, California tends to stay blanketed in smoke from the many fires that plague us as summer moves on. Can’t do much outdoors. So, needlework it is.

Eva's shawl
If the item is larger, a TV tray table (breakfast in bed table) will keep the fabric off you while you knit. The added bonus of summertime needlework is that blocking anything is easy. It’s so dry that if you put something sopping wet on a towel on carpet – everything’d be bone dry the next day. I make a practice of washing and blocking any item that needs it during the summer (have I mentioned we’re dry here?).

Eva's Shawl 1
Picked Wool Ease Navy Sprinkles yarn (a discontinued colorway) out of my stash with thoughts for a shawl. I found a beautiful free pattern right here on WordPress: I love this pattern!

Eva's Shawl 2
Use markers and this is a joy to work. Very simple crochet stitches with easy repeats makes this a relaxing project you don’t have to concentrate on.

Eva's unblocked
Although Wool Eases is a predominantly acrylic yarn – you can see from the top photo (blocked) to the one above (unblocked) that blocking does make a difference. Unb
locked it almost looks like a ratty old thing – blocked, ahhh – so much better!

Eva's Shawl close up
Yes, it’s for lace but I had a pretty good idea of what it’d look like in worsted. This shawl isn’t fancy but it does go perfectly with jeans and living in the mountains – exactly what I’d wanted. The only change I’d made is that I like to add a single crochet all around the outside edge. I’ll be doing this pattern up again.

Loom Knit Baby Blanket

Finishing up some charity projects lately. As much as I enjoy crocheting and knitting, I’m a tad slower than many (especially on the latter) and wanted to get these done quickly. Enter loom knit.

Those trusty plastic “even a child can do it” looms are actually great tools for doing all sorts of items. There are many beautiful wood looms and adjustable looms enabling loom knitters to also do projects from socks to intricate lace.

For me, I’m faster with fancier stitches on a crochet hook or knitting needles. I use the loom when I want a nice bulky looking (read warm) end knit. And speed, let’s not forget the speed of simple stitches on a loom.

The blanket is made quickly using an e-wrap stitch with worsted weight yarn held double. If you loom knit – you know that makes just the cuddliest, heavy warm fabric. You make wide strips that you then join together. This one is baby size at four blocks in a 2X2. I’m so in love with it that I’m planning a 9 block (3 X 3 blocks) for me cuddling in front of the TV.

IMG_4189I went for just a bit of texture, with blocks of stockinette e-wrap and purl. Did a block of 50 rows then took the fabric off the loom and placed it onto circular knitting needles, then place back on the loom reversed. This saved me from doing a bunch of purl stitches – which is not as fast as simple e-wrap.

Pattern for four block child size

I got 1 block of 50 rows per every 4 oz skein of acrylic worsted weight yarn (older skeins that didn’t have yardage – will update to yardage as I make more). The child’s blanket took 4 skeins.

IMG_4162-1Holding 2 strands of yarn cast on 36 pegs (all pegs on my green Knifty Knitter loom). For future blankets, I’ll be doing a loose chain cast on (crochet a chain and slip it on the peg). I did crochet cast on for this one and it was a mistake – didn’t find a cast off that matched it to my liking; luckily the single crochet edge masked that. You can see the difference in my crochet cast on (the loose edge) and the crochet cast off I decided to stick with after trying two other cast off methods above.

E-wrap 50 rows back and forth (do not make a circle).

Take circular crochet needles or blocking wire and gently take each stitch off the loom and onto the wires.

IMG_4161-1Place the strip back on the loom reversed.

E-wrap 50 rows going back and forth again.

Loose crochet cast off.

Make another strip.

Don’t cut yarn. I use this double strand for joining and crochet edge (although there did end up being knots joining to the remainder from the previous strip to finish the crochet edge).

IMG_4283I joined the strips with the flat slip stitch you see for joining granny blocks with a J hook. Here’s one tute from Craft Passion . I recommend pinning your centers to one another then pinning the sides as the edges (purl joined to stockinette) will look different and you want to keep your join even. I used stitch markers, safety pins through the loops would work. Doesn’t have to be tight, just enough that you can see you’re keeping your rows even.

IMG_4282At the end of the join, start your single crochet edge, doing 3 single crochets every time you reach a corner stitch. I used a K hook on the top and bottom and switched to the J hook for the sides. You want to crochet loosely, go up a hook if you need to. When you reach your starting point, do a slip stitch to the single crochet, pull your yarn through that loop and knot, weave in how you like.

I did find the joining strips to be a pain as I went slowly to stay even and had to pay attention in the crochet edge (again purl blocks to stockinette blocks edges look different). But, overall this is fast and easy and I just love the finished fabric.

Given that it’s 100°F and July, I’m holding my box of knits to mail at the end of September. Some places don’t have a lot of storage or they’re dusty, don’t want to mail too far in advance of when they can use it. Mailing charity knits is an exercise in math – I don’t doubt that if you could buy and ship 5 blankets from Walmart for the price of shipping your homemade one, most charities would rather get the 5 to keep more people warm. But, you can ship baby things, hats, scarves and such relatively reasonably so if there’s a non-local charity you want to support, for me this is the way to go. It always makes sense to try to accommodate local charities first for many reasons, mailing costs in the U.S. included.

This blanket and a few other items are slated to go to one of the poorest counties in the U.S. – that encompassing Native American reservations in South Dakota. My quid pro quo on that is California has a nasty habit of burning in the summer and fall. My donations may be re-directed locally should a need appear before I mail them.

I’m looking at putting together a post for hand knit / crochet donations and will link to that if you’d like more information on knitting for charity.


Easy Crochet Market Bag

Rainy day so I decided to just crochet a quick project. California has banned all free bags at checkout and I’m a thrifty sort. Had been carrying my own green bags before the ban and always have an assortment in the car (unpack, put the bag on the doorknob leading to garage, put it in the car on the next trip to garage). However, being home to too many cats, some plastic bags are necessary for basic cleanup of the indoor cat owner’s bane – the litter box. So, I’d been on a ‘sometimes use my green bags, sometimes take their bags’ pattern until the ban. Once you get your habits down, the bag ban is easy to adjust to and you can train yourself to never purchase a bag again. At the same time, you can never have too many market bags as it seems some don’t always make their way back to the car.

I chose the Crochet Market Bag by Tiffany Roan. I love this easy pattern and have made a few since this post 🙂 .

The pattern is easy to follow and should you add or delete a stitch by mistake – it doesn’t matter. No row or part of the pattern is stitch number dependent. Just keep going!

IMG_1862 (2)

For those who follow my blog, I am sorry for the absence. We all know that every living creature is born, will live and then the sun will set on them one last time and they will die. Unfortunately, there’d been a bit too much of that latter part in my life over the past year. I have continued to make things, grow things, bake and read voraciously. Just hadn’t taken that extra step to share here. Let’s see if I can get back into the swing of things.

This post is participating in Sundays in My City over at Unknown Mami, check out what others around the globe have been up to.


Christmas Stocking Tags

I haven’t blogged much about it, but just a wee bit ago I thought I would foster kittens. An opportunity arose to bottle feed the cutest four little cuddly meowers you’ve ever laid your eyes on – and I jumped in. I thought I’d keep two and put two up for adoption (cough, cough). Living rurally, there aren’t as many good homes and we may have more un-neutered cats than other areas and lack the resources for no-kill shelters. So, you guessed it, I’ve added four rowdy beasts – much to the chagrin of the existing two – to my family. Crazy cat lady status is full blown here.

I LOVE decorating with Christmas stockings. They’re just one of my favorite things and, on the practical side, take no room to store and require no heavy lifting at all. As much as I love, love, love living rurally – there are a few things – like curbside Christmas tree pickup – that just don’t happen here. Generally, you have to saw it up, pack it up and take it to the green recycle during that time in normal years where it’s raining (sawing is an outdoor activity). Not a fan, also not a fan of fake trees (well, except for some colorful tabletop versions). So, full trees are only here in years that I host Christmas eve or day.

This is not to say that decorations don’t abound – everywhere. And, stockings figure in prominently. I’d seen this concept of tags instead of stitching the name on the cuff – and loved it. I loosened up my hoop screws and just hooped a sandwich of the back fabric, cut away stabilizer (to keep them stiff once done – the sandwich didn’t really need stabilizer for any other reason), Warm n natural Batting and the top fabric. Edited text and put four tags in each hooping – moments later, name taggies 🙂 .


These are the easy fleece unlined stocking I’d written about here , here and here.


A few of the boys checking out their name tags, photographing items is always an exercise in holding back cats while balancing a camera.

Nasty Woman free cutting files


With a Brother Scan n Cut (or Silhouette or Cricut) cutting machine you can cut heat transfer vinyl (HTV) and iron it onto a shirt, sweatshirt or whatever. I created some files  and shirts for friends and family and I’m more than happy to share the files for free with anyone that wants to use them. The fonts I used are free for personal use. If you want to nab these files and sell something, see the info (for the shirt above the guy would just want $5 for commercial use of his font – the other font in that one is ok for commercial use). The files are .fcm (for brother Scan n Cut, file flipped for use on HTV) and .jpeg (the newer Silhouette and Cricut machines have ways to use jpgs). If I need to load them up as .SVG for you to use, just let me know.img_1432

The Bad Hombre is so cute on my adorable little 20 month old nephew 🙂 I prefer Siser Easy Weed HTV, although I’ve used others (you can pick some up at Joann, Michaels or the major craft stores – just make sure it’s heat transfer vinyl if you want it for cloth application, not regular sticky vinyl folks use for labels and such).


You can size the files however you like, right now they’re as pictured with the one above a small size placed near the hem on the shirts I’d made up.


The election is fraught with emotion on all sides, so I’ll take the files and pics down come mid-November (or whenever election results are finalized and accepted …).


I put the files in Google drive.

Go and make up some shirts folks!

Rainy Sunday, so fussing a bit more with fonts, images and vinyl – we’ll see what’s next 🙂 . To see what others around the world do on their Sundays, stop by Unknown Mami’s Sunday’s in My City.

Sites with free military machine embroidery designs

For some of the different groups I’m in, I’ve created different lists of free sites (like my post with all the awareness and awareness ribbon designs here). One of the popular requests in the group was for military designs.

I’m not including generic patriotic designs here – those about for July 4th and other US holidays. These have some specific military association. Some are non-U.S. .


AnntheGran – her search in free will also show for sale designs, the search link doesn’t copy over on the left under Free Designs – use that search box and key in military to see the largest selection. Free designs are 3 free per week.

BFC Creations – Free plane at bottom of a sale page (they’ve removed some free military designs)

Brother – Words “In Honor Of” in the Special Designs checkbox of Free Designs, Sewing and Embroidery

Cindy’s Embroidery Designs – Aussie support our troops

Embroidery Affair – Multiple designs and multiple service groups, US 

Embroidery Designs (3 free per week) – USe the Search Within box to find different designs for ARMY , NAVY, MARINES, AIR FORCE – they don’t all show in a search for military.  



BFC Creations – various replica planes (Marine, Air Force and more). BFC has recently updated their website, you can always query Suze for more as Fred has designed a bunch no longer showing on their new site.

Blasto Stitch ARMY

Digitized Embroidery Designs DEA (not heard of them, but have a lot – just scroll down)

Great Notions has a Military Category

PINTEREST Board of Military Machine Embroidery Designs 

I believe there are some military machine embroidery designs on Etsy as well.

Whew, just finished checking the links – sadly some had gone away. This is most likely a partial list  🙂 . You can always turn to trusty Google to turn up more for sale designs – just search machine embroidery design military and click images for pages of choices.

Shine a little light

IMG_0437Decided to join the fray and tackle my own set of Mason Jar Solar Lights using Walmart 99 cent solar lights (folks also use Dollar General and such lights). The bottom just pulls off the purchased lights easily. For Mason Jars, Classico spaghetti sauce comes in a mason jar – although where and when you got it means a different size jar. The grocery store has the new smaller one on the left above and the standard mason jar lid no longer fits that narrow one. The middle is the size it was forever and the big ol one on the right is a new bigger size in the Costco 3 pack they started last year – wider jar but still fits the basic mason jar lid.

I’d spied a few versions running about on Pinterest and tweaked the concept to get something I like. For a good tutorial, start with the This Old House version. I can never let anything be simple enough, so instead of the acrylic they used, traced the solar charging cell’s top square opening on a piece of paper, cut that out and drew it on each lid, then dragged out my Dremel tool to cut into the lid (with my handy safety glasses as I don’t need bits of metal in my eye, thank you very much). I just cut an opening – if you don’t go really slow there are sparks, so after I had an opening in the lid I used my meal snips to cut out the rest of the square. Spray painted the lids black.

Got out the E6000 glue and put a bit around the inside of the lid where the square cut is – I want to glue the lights but not get the glue over the solar panel. Craft wire is wrapped tightly around then lid, then heavier copper wire from Lowes (#6, the same that I used for the bird feeders) makes a lovely hanging loop. Pliers will help you get that loop tight and clean looking AND you do need good wire cutters to cut through the number 6 copper.


I decided to leave the plastic light covers on to refract the light in the jars.13331116_1363113813704185_7424668232788152522_n

Pretty metal hanging hooks complete the look.


I LOVE how bright these lights are at night! And, they are solar!! I have them on every other fence post and can now see across the yard easily even in the wee hours of the night (remember, rural here – we have a few bears, rather large mountain lion and other critters – if you hear a noise, so much safer to peer out than step outside with a flashlight!). Only one was dull and shut off earlier than the others – for the 99cents, I just replaced it. The next step I may need before the winter rains is to go over each one and coat the edge of the cut lid with a bit of outdoor silicone – otherwise, with a wet winter they could end up with a bit of sitting water in that spot. This is one project I highly recommend to those of you who enjoy crafting.

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sunday in My City – pop on in to see what other folks are up to when they have a bit of time off.