Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Time Flies

I’ve been busy sewing up a storm for friends and family, with the occasional crochet project thrown in. Since late last fall I’ve worked on many baby projects including these drool kerchiefs.
I also had a grand time making party favors for a baby shower.

These little filet crochet chicks where wrapped up around three Spangler Candy Company’s Dum Dums and tied with grosgrain ribbon. Everyone had something special to take home from the shower, and the little cloths are actually somewhat functional washcloths. They are made of Gjestal Baby Bomull cotton (roughly equivalent to size 3 crochet thread from Royale, but much softer), and completely washable. Of course I can imagine a real interesting time when tiny little baby fingers get tangled in all those open meshes.
The pattern is quite simple if you are familiar with filet crochet. Here is the chart.
If you aren’t familiar with filet crochet, you can purchase the pattern here. It includes everything you need to know to make these washcloths and to chart your own designs. While I was at it, I made another filet crochet piece for an aunt who loves vintage sewing machines. This one I put into a frame and gave as a Christmas gift.

I also made a couple of baby quilts.

One was for a mom who was not looking for anything “babyish”.
And another for my great nephew’s first birthday
The patterns for both of these quilts are available online at my shop (Soubrette Art).
And then there is the whole Tunisian crochet experiment.  Two scarves and one pillow later I’m really in love with the technique, and can’t wait to do more. It is so simple and yet what fabulous texture. Fruits of the learning process include a couple of scarves and a pillow.
I made this one from Artyarns Silk Rhapsody Glitter is 50% silk and 50% Kid Mohair. It’s not inexpensive, but one skein made the scarf

This pillow was made of Blue Moon Socks That Rock 100% superwash merino heavyweight.
Both the scarf and pillow patterns are in Sharon Hernes Silverman’s book Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the East of Crocheting. Find it at Amazon.
Here is a close-up look at the stitch.
And I took a refresher course on knitting and made this bag. 
It’s made from Rowan big wool, which is obviously a very chunky yarn. You can find it online at Knitch, my favorite yarn shop.
Now I’m working on a project pattern so I can lead a “learn to crochet” class there.
I needed a scarf for St. Patrick’s day – since it can be quite chilly here for an outdoor celebration.
This one is made of cotton (KnitPicks® Crayon™) in Lime and Jalapeno – just one skein of each. Crayon is a lightweight and super soft boucle that is perfect for spring.
What about the Lady bags you ask? Well I have designed three new ones, and will write about those after I finished writing up the patterns.
One friend received a yarn bag and an accessory bag made of a bit of tapestry upholstery cloth for her birthday.
Another friend has been promised placemats and napkins for her new kitchen and dining room. The ideas never end. I’m working on writing up all of the original patterns, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm Not a Collector, but...

I have a new treasure. One day on my walk with Lady I noticed a friend had a very old treadle sewing machine sitting on her screen porch. When I asked her about it she told me that she was getting rid of things before they moved to their new house and offered to let me have it. What a find. The cabinet has been painted white and the machine needs lots of TLC (tender loving cleaning), but all of the parts are there and moving.

When I got it home and started researching, I found it is a Singer Model 27 with sphinx decals. This model began production in Singer’s Elizabetheport factory in Elizabeth, New Jersey on April 24, 1906!
In total they made 60,000 of them. This means they were popular and if parts are needed, its possible there may still be some around to scavenge. Better still, I was able to find a manual online, which has been duly ordered. These old singers used a shuttle type of bobbin – very different in appearance from modern sewing machines.
The best news is that no one has tried to do any restoration yet. Often these old machines have had the beautiful decals removed with harsh cleaners, or they have been modified to use modern parts and wired for electricity. This one appears to be pristine except for the normal wear you would see from actual use.  One collector told me to always beware of an old Singer will all decals perfectly intact. It might mean the machine didn’t sew well and wasn’t used as a result.
Based on the bits and pieces (buttons, thread, a few newspaper clippings, etc.) found in the drawers, I would guess that someone used this machine until the 80s and then it just sat. I will have to ask my friend if she has any more information on the history.
Of course, it’s a treadle. Using these treadle machines is an exercise not unlike chewing gum, rubbing your belly, and patting your head all at the same time. I’ve only tried it once, without much success, but I expect with enough practice I can master it. On the other hand, once cleaned up, this machine may be so pretty that I just have to keep it for show. I can’t wait to find out what it looks like once it’s all polished and restored.