Neat Stuff

Hard Core Knitters Close Your Eyes! Newbie Solution to Blocking a Cowl!

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This idea may or may not be terribly revolutionary in knitting circles. But it sure has been working great for me!

Wanting to block several cowls and not wanting to block them flat, I came up with this idea. And it works so well I thought I would share. All that is needed - bath towels and steam!

The roll of bath towels can be made to fit almost any size and the loops work great to gently hold the wool in place. (Pins could be used if desired but in my case - absolutely NOT necessary.)

Steam irons work for steam blocking; however, I have an even better tool! A "vintage", I suppose, Steamstress II - see image here! No hot surfaces - just lovely steam! I originally purchased this tool when I was sewing every garment I wore and used it a great deal when setting seams in wool fabrics and when sewing with velvet.

Don't know it something similar is still available - mine still is working like a champ so no need to find out! Many of my brides are using "commercial type" steamers on their gowns and I suppose those would work too.

Technique!

Roll bath towels to the circumference of the cowl. Don't make it so small the stitches bunch up or so big that it stretches the stitches.

Place the cowl on the rolled towel as shown above, nudging the edges into shape so that the width of the cowl is nice and even all the way around.

Place the rolled towel on a flat surface in the position shown above. Thoroughly steam one half of the roll and let the knitted fabric sit until it feels mostly dry. Roll over, steam the other side and let sit until it feels dry. 

At this point, I will usually set the towel roll on one end and let the cowl dry completely overnight. In case you are thinking the cowl will slide off - the lovely little towel loops will hold your cowl in place.

It really does a great job of wrangling those stitches into sweet symmetry!

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I used the same technique on Diane's market bag. This is the after felting before blocking shot when I was testing how much produce the bag would hold. 40 lbs of fruit and veggie goodness in case you are wondering!

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After felting, I filled the bag with plastic baggies and let it dry. It really didn't look so great! So I built an oval roll of bath towels and placed the bag on the towels so that the bottom was facing up.

Then I steamed away! I think the results speak for themselves!

And if anyone owns or knows of a newer steam tool that works without getting hot like an iron, please let me know because this much loved Steamstress may not last forever!

Impossible? NOT! First Crochet Reveal!

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Me learning to crochet! No longer impossible, improbable, unimaginable, or 'not going to happen'!

I am thrilled, and totally surprised, to share my very first crochet project!

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A whole finished project!

Colour &Stitches WINNER!

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Congratulations Maureen!

You have won a copy of the very first ever issue of Colour &Stitches!

I will be contacting you by e-mail so we can get your copy to you right away!

And a big heartfelt thank you to all of you who entered! I wish I could have given each and every one of you a copy because Colour &Stitches is absolutely beautiful and packed with stitchy goodness including color theory, seriously charming embroidery patterns, and an excellent applique tutorial!

You can order your very own copy right here!

To wind up January - fiber month on Gingerbread Snowflakes - I will be holding  another giveaway a week from tomorrow on January 29th.

In the meantime, don't miss the giveaway taking place on MegaCrafty beginning Monday, January 23. Meg is celebrating her third blogiversary!  And if her prize is anything like last year (which I won BTW), you won't want to miss the chance to win!!

I will be back tomorrow to remind you! :-)

January 2012 Giveaway! Very First Issue of "&Stitches"

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If you are into embroidery - any kind of embroidery - or hand stitching for that matter - I am willing to bet that you are going to love this brand new e-zine "&Stitches" published by Carina (Carina's Craftblog and Polka and Bloom Shop) and Nicole (Follow the White Bunny blog and Follow the White Bunny Shop.

Since I own and love both of Carina's e-books - "Small Stitches" and "Stitching Borders and Beyond", I absolutely knew the new magazine would not disappoint! The very first issue, "Colour &Stitches" is packed full (48 pages worth) of excellent, well written and thorough content that is generously and beautifully illustrated.

"&Stitches" will be published quarterly and each issue will be built around a specific theme - this first issue - all about color!

I am ready to sign up for a whole year as soon as they make that option available!

Take a minute to read more about "&Stitches" right here and also on the &Stitches blog here. Or go here to order!

Carina and Nicole are graciously allowing me to give away a copy of the very first issue of "Colour &Stitches" to one very lucky reader!

Simply leave a comment on this post before 6:00pm PST,  Saturday January 21st to be included in the drawing. Winner will be announced on Sunday, January 22nd.

Good luck everyone!

Gingerbread Snowflakes Recovered From Tech-flu!

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So sorry! Gingerbread Snowflakes has been a bit wonky the last few days as my web host has been updating the server and things happened! Imagine that!

Some of you have written to let me know you were unable to leave comments. That has been straightened out now!

Even my e-mail has been wonky,,,,,,,,,,, like I haven't been getting any - including regular newsletters. So if you have sent me anything in the past few days - and you haven't heard from me - you might want to resend.

And while I have your attention! Does anybody know what this lovely plant is called?

My neighbor rescued it from the plant nursery "dump pile" several years ago and she doesn't know what it is. It is a certainty that searching for "pretty, furry, lace leaf plant" is going to get me nothing I want to know!! :-)

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If you garden, I highly recommend this plant! Especially if you enjoy having fresh bouquets around you!

These stems were cut on November 1 and placed next to my vase of faux pepper berries! I loved how they looked together. Very wintery. And they are still this beautiful!

Thank you in advance for any help you can give me about the identity of this plant!

Back soon with my regularly scheduled programming!

Update: January 12th

Wow! Thank you everyone for trying to help me identify my plant.

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Dusty Miller taken by Kibbles

It seemed for some time that what I had might be Dusty Miller. But I have been concerned about the "annual" nature of Dusty Miller. My plant has survived some very nasty winters. And it never, in ten years has ever bloomed.

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Artemesia by Bart Everson - Editor B - courtesy Getty Images

But this morning Suzanne suggested I look up Artemesia.

Artemesia is a perennial and apparently does not flower and the plant gets larger every year - all qualities of the mystery plant growing in the garden.

Everyone has been so kind to try to help out! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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