New Pattern: Seussian Christmas Stocking

Posted in Christmas, crafts, fiber, holiday knitting, knitting, knitting pattern, needle arts, Uncategorized, yarn with tags , , , , , , on December 15, 2009 by firefly8868

I just completed this Christmas Stocking for our dear little Sweet Pea.  This will be her official Christmas Stocking that will stay on the farm with Grandma and Grandpa.  When I first showed it to her, she let out a happy squeal and leaned forward to look more closely with a big grin on her face … at 9 months old she already appreciates knitting projects!

We have also been having fun introducing her to Christmas lights, Santa Claus, the tree, pine cones, snow … so many iconic symbols of holiday joy.  She shows excitement over each new discovery!

You can find this pattern as a download in my Etsy store and at Ravelry.  Within a couple of days I will add it to my website pattern catalog and will add a printed version of it.  If you want a printed version, let me know and I will let you know once I have added it to the store.

Happy holidays!

~firefly

Reaching out from the past

Posted in crafts, crochet, fiber, fiber arts, hobbies, knitting, knitting pattern, needle arts, Uncategorized, yarn with tags , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by firefly8868

hooksRecently I received an email from a man who thought we might be cousins. He had read an article on my website that my mother wrote about a piece of our family history. He was correct, we are cousins and it was a nice surprise to meet him. He had stumbled upon my website somehow, read my mother’s article and recognized the names of our great-grandparents and my grandmother.

He told me that his great-aunt, our great-aunt, had been an avid knitter and crocheter and that when she passed she left all of her handmade items, patterns, and tools to him. After visiting my website, he wanted to share some of the items with me because he felt I should have them.

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It was a great treat a couple of weeks later to receive a box in the mail with a number of beautiful handmade items made by a very talented lady who came before me. He also included some her tools in the package; I think I will create a shadow box display of the tools along with at least one of her handmade items.

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Although these are not knitted items, I wanted to share some photos of her gorgeous, detailed hand work. I am amazed at the fine detail and if you look at that one metal crochet hook (I suppose it is a crochet hook) the hook on the tip is so tiny I cannot even make it out very clearly without holding the hook up close to my eye, with my glasses on, and squinting quite vigorously.

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The thought of using such an implement to create with astounds me, and to use it years ago when perhaps the lighting was not very good … how did she do it? How did her eyes survive it? When did she make the time?

Her name was Jestin, she was born in the late 1800′s in Virginia, and through the magic of the Internet I have been entrusted with a bit of her creative legacy for which I am humbly grateful. Thank you Great Aunt Jestin, and thank you cousin Joe for helping her reach out to me from the past.

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Meanwhile, my own needlework has been on the back burner for the past several weeks. Finally, after this long hiatus I have three or four projects in various stages of “the works”. The first one I need to finish is a long overdue chemo hat designed and knit for my sweet mother.

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After that, I will get going on a new Christmas Stocking design for little Sweet Pea. I am actually going to design and knit a pair of old-fashioned Christmas Stockings for mother and child using these beautiful, soft sock yarns I recently purchased from Fiber Optic Yarns. I love her low contrast sock yarn colorways, they suit my taste because I am not a fan of high contrast multi-colored yarns. For this project I bought Tomato, Watercress, and Pale Violet. The Watercress will be in both stockings, Tomato will be used in my daughter’s stocking and Pale Violet will be for Sweet Pea.

After the Christmas Stockings, I will be on to baby leg warmers to go with the Magic Tutus my daughter creates. Patterns for the above mentioned projects will be available sometime after the first of the year; I believe I will be able to get any of the patterns available before that time. If you want to know when the patterns are released, be sure to join my mailing list.

One other thing of note, I am selling my new line of firefly’s Country Cotton yarns at I Live on a Farm in 2.5 oz. balls and 14 oz. cones in ten pretty colors chosen especially for the things I love about the country and the farm. The yarn is available by itself, or in two kits: The Biscuit Blanket Kit, and The Sweet Pea Baby Blanket and Soft Block Kit.

What are you working on for the holidays?

Hope you have a great week!

~firefly

Copyright © 2009 J. L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Getting back in touch

Posted in crafts, fiber, fiber arts, hobbies, knitting, knitting pattern, needle arts, Uncategorized, yarn with tags , , , , on July 27, 2009 by firefly8868

Life with a baby in the house is unpredictable, joyful, random, and beautifully engaging. Add to that the many temptations and demands of a brief beautiful summer and little time is left for knitting and posting updates about knitting. Nevertheless, I do have some knitting specific news to share.

Earlier this summer I knitted this pretty new Biscuit Blanket for a special friend of mine.

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I did a couple of things to dress it up:

1.  Added a single crochet stitch border in a contrasting accent color.  The main color for this blanket is, appropriately enough “Biscuit”, and the accent color is “Old Blue Cupboard” (two of the ten colors of super soft cotton yarn I offer in the Biscuit Blanket kits).
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2. Made the I-Cord tie out of the same Old Blue Cupboard color. I also sewed three old blue buttons (I had three very cool antique wood buttons in my supply of magic buttons) on the I-Cord (one is sewn on at the exact middle of the I-Cord, the two others are sewn one inch on either side of the first one). I did this so that the I-Cord could be buttoned right onto the Biscuit Blanket using the knitted button holes. It makes for a bit of a nicer closing and is kind of a cool feature, I think.

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Speaking of Button Holes … I have posted a Biscuit Blanket Errata for the Button Hole Row — my apologies to anyone who knitted this item and experienced some frustration with the Button Hole Row.

To make up for it, here is a link to a free pattern for the cute little Leprechaun hat pattern I made for Sweet Pea back in the spring.

4. I noticed when this Biscuit Blanket had the I-Cord buttoned on it and tied in a bow,  that it is very easy to pick the piece up in the air and have it fold itself neatly for storage in a drawer or basket

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I also noticed along the way that a Biscuit Blanket could be used to wrap up more than just food …

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Well, there you have it … the Biscuit Blanket updated for Summer ’09. Hope you enjoy these ideas.

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All Content on this blog: Copyright © 2009 J. L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Biscuit Blanket Revisited

Posted in crafts, felting, fiber, fiber arts, hobbies, knitting, knitting pattern, needle arts, needle felting, Uncategorized, yarn with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2009 by firefly8868

20may09_biscuitblanketI am in the midst of (and nearly complete with) knitting one of my own Biscuit Blanket™ as a gift for someone who will, for now, remain unnamed.  I’m adding a pretty crocheted edge in a pretty colonial blue and have some other ideas of embellishments I made add.

20may01_yarncolorsAlso in the “Biscuit Blanket” category of creativity I am putting together some kits for them. So many people have been making these Biscuit Blankets as gifts for people that I thought it might be nice to offer a kit with the pattern, yarn, recipe for my Blue Ribbon Biscuits on a bookmark, a gift card featuring one of my photographs, and a gift bag all together as one package.  The yarn colors in this photo (above) will be available for the kits, and each kit will include the main color of yarn plus your choice of accent yarn for edging and a decorative I-cord.

I might even offer an option of ordering the kit with my recommended needles for the project (if needed).  A few of the kits will be available with a jar of my homemade preserves to make the gift even more special. For those of you who have already purchased the Biscuit Blanket pattern, you will also have the option of buying the kit but substituting a different pattern to add to your library.

I am enjoying putting the kits together but I could use your help with something.  I would like to survey my readers and the people on my mailing list to find out more about the knitting needles you have on hand already, what brands you like to use most, and whether or not the option of choosing a kit that includes needles would be needed and wanted.  This will help me decide whether or not to make the investment in inventory that would be necessary.  If you are willing to participate, here is a link to the survey.

As my way of saying thank you, at the end of June I will hold a drawing from all survey participants (who wish to participate in the drawing) and send one Biscuit Blanket kit (without needles) to the winner.

20may09_crochetbag3Other creative projects I have been designing include this 2″ tall crocheted sachet necklace and matching teeny tiny knitted “envelope” purse to go inside. It is embellished with a very small needle felted flower. I hope to create a kit for this project that would include everything needed to complete it too. I made this one for my sister-in-law as a little, “Just because I Love You” treat.

20may09_needlefeltedflowerHere is a needle felted flower brooch I made for use as a shawl/wrap closure or hat embellishment. It features a silver kilt pin securely fastened on the back side. This one will probably end up being offered for sale in one of my Etsy Stores (patterns / studio).

There are plenty more, but I have to run so will have to post again early next week to try to get more up to date with my readers.

I hope all of your creative juices are flowing, and that your spring is sliding right on into a beautiful and relaxing summer up ahead!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Posted in crafts, felting, fiber, fiber arts, hobbies, knitting, knitting pattern, needle arts, needle felting, Uncategorized, yarn with tags , , , , , , , on March 17, 2009 by firefly8868

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Our dear little Sweet Pea was due to be born today, St. Patrick’s Day.  We all thought it was quite an appropriate due date, because Sweet Pea is Irish on both her mother’s side (my ancestors) and her father’s.

Being Irish at heart, Sweet Pea is mischievious so she played a prank on us all by arriving eleven days early.  She is home, she is lovely, and she is perfect.  A perfect little emerald gem, a treasure to her parents, uncle, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

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Last October I knew her due date was March 17th, so I set out on a mission to find some scrumptious emerald green yarn to make her a little something for her first St. Patrick’s Day.  That day I bought three different hanks of green yarn from two different places: a gorgeous emerald green hank by Noro from The Wooly Lamb in (East Aurora, New York) and a hank of hand spun green wool from Knox Fiber Farm.  I also bought a hank of Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca in a green heather colorway (not sure the exact color name right this moment) that same day also at The Wooly Lamb.

For St. Patrick’s Day I used the Noro to make a special little green hat for the wee lass.  I embellished it with gold coins I needle felted and hung from the points at the hat top using pieces of the green hand spun yarn from Knox Fiber Farm.

As a side note, this needle felted miniature Easter basket was made by my daughter. I listed it (and several of her Easter baskets) in the Firefly’s Studio Etsy store along with the Easter bunnies and chicks I’ve been making and selling lately. This week her basket is featured in the Spring Equinox poll at Etsy, “Which items are making spring come early?” If you care to cast a vote for her, have a click.

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I also embroidered a purple flower on the band area of the hat, with a center French knot made of the Knox Fiber Farm yarn.  The purple I used to the embroider the flower is from some of my leftover stash of Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca Lavender Mix colorway from my Lavender Hat and Scarf project.

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I used a pattern stitch for this baby hat that forms a pretty horizontal leaf pattern.  This is an easy stitch pattern utilizing only knit and purl stitches, nothing fance at all and yet the design is quite pretty.

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The other touch I added in the embellishments is that I felted a little violet onto one of the gold coins, and a clover on another.

I will be publishing this pattern for free sometime in the next few days.  I made Sweet Pea’s hat in green, but it is a lovely little pattern that would be sweet in any color you choose, for any day or holiday of the year.

This Noro yarn is very soft, although I would have liked for it to have a bit more spring to it so that the finished hat would have more spring as well.  Nonetheless, it is a very special and soft yarn that you would probably enjoy using for a project sometime.

Hope you enjoy the photos, and if you would like the pattern for free please be sure to come back within the next few days to get it.

Happy St. Pat’s!

~firefly

Little Bird is Complete

Posted in crafts, felting, fiber, fiber arts, hobbies, knitting, knitting pattern, needle arts, needle felting, pets, Uncategorized, yarn with tags , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by firefly8868

The set isn’t complete, but the sweater and hat are both complete and I just had to show you. I am in the process of designing a cute little pair of newborn booties to go with the outfit, so will show those and the mittens next week.

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How do you like the doll I am using as my Sweet Pea model? I think she is quite cute, and she is very willing to pose for shots.

Another item complete this week is the pattern for Sweet Pea’s Blanket and the matching Soft Block. I just released the pattern yesterday as a download or as a printed version. This blanket is so pretty, and actually would work for an adult throw or afghan (sized differently of course). The pattern is available three places: 1) on my website, 2) in my Etsy store, and 3) in my store on Ravelry.com.

What I love about it also is that, if you use 100% worsted weight cotton yarn you can make the baby blanket for less than $20, or an adult sized afghan for $30 (excluding the knitting needles). The stitch pattern on this blanket, along with a nice wide seed stitch border looks wonderful in cotton yarn. Worked up on Size U.S. 10 needles it is a quick knit, inexpensive and yet beautiful to behold.

One more point, the stitch pattern might look complicated but is actually very easy to knit so even a fairly new knitter would be able to make this very special piece. (I included instructions in the pattern to size it as an afghan in addition to the baby blanket instructions.) Excuse my enthusiasm, but I got very excited when I was publishing the pattern and realized how affordable this project could be as an elegant afghan and so doable.

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Sweet Pea, the actual baby, is going to be here so soon. She might come as early as a week from Monday and of course we are not as ready as we would like to be. My daughter and her husband are working together to get everything ready that they can, within the limitations of how she is feeling. It is fun to see and hear them, to observe them building this part of their lives together.

What is also fun is that my daughter watched me needle felting, and then she took it up. Then, her husband was watching her needle felting and then he took it up. He’s a dude, but he’s needle felting … how cool is that?

So far he has made a Easter egg that looks like Planet Earth and he has made a glass of Guinness Extra Stout complete with a clover in the head just like they serve it at our favorite Irish pub in one of the nearby villages. The “glass” even has a green Irish harp on it.

I have started including some of their needle felted items in the Firefly’s Studio Etsy store to help them raise money for some of the things they need for the baby. Mostly I just think it is so cute that they sit together needle felting some evenings. Look at all the recent items the three of us have created … and there have been more. All of these items are currently up for sale at the Etsy store if you have a hankering for something cute and furry today. :)

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Well, I have to run now because somehow or other I have to get more knitting done and also get some new paintings going … oh, and I have to get the house ready for the baby, make some special goodies to take to the hospital for after the delivery, take care of some business for some clients, and — oh well, you get the picture. It’s a good thing I drank too much coffee this morning.

Have a great weekend,
~firefly

Progress, progress …

Posted in crafts, felting, fiber, fiber arts, hobbies, knitting, knitting pattern, needle arts, needle felting, pets, Uncategorized, yarn with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2009 by firefly8868

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It is President’s Day and I have just settled myself into a cozy spot on our vintage sofa in the sitting area by the fireplace with a laptop on my lap (of course), a cup of hot tea within easy reach on the coffee table, and pretty scented pillar candles burning nearby.

Just beyond the candles I have a beautiful vase of flowers given to me by my dear husband for Valentine’s Day … he orderes them especially for me, one week in advance at the florist in the village where he works. He tells them some of my favorite flowers and especially requests daffodils, and then has the florist get creative.

Each time he brings me a flower arrangement, it is a new surprise to see what the girls at the flower shop have done. This bunch of flowers has lots of white daisies which make me think of snow. The golden, sunny daffodils are there as well as some tiger lillies and tiny little violet-like flowers. They are all so very pretty.

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This week in knitting I have completed the back of the Little Bird sweater for dear little sweet pea whose arrival now seems eminent. I have started the sleeves, and am knitting them simultaneously on one circular needle so that they will come out exactly the same.

The back of the sweater shows the stitch pattern particularly well, and I am very pleased with my choice. It is a simple to execute slipped stitch pattern and creates a visible texture that seems perfect for a newborn’s sweater, in my opinion.

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I am about to publish the pattern for Sweat Pea’s first blanket (next week sometime) but first I needed to complete the building block I knitted that goes with it. The knitting on the block was all complete, but I wanted to sew a liner for it so that the stuffing would not ooze out through the knit stitches.

I made the liner this week and the block is 100% complete now. The blanket has been complete for some time, but I had not given the set to my daughter yet because of the block. So, now she has the blanket hanging on the side of Sweet Pea’s crib, and the block is inside along with other toys — all waiting anxiously for the big day.

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Another item just completed is this luscious black scarf for my daughter to match one we made last year for her husband, the “Toastie Scarf” (available printed or as a download in my pattern directory). The woman’s version is slimmer and longer than the man’s. The yarn is Baby Llama Designer’s Choice by Elsebeth Lavold, a totally scrumptious yarn that makes a heavenly full-bodied scarf both warm and soft. His scarf is the envy of all of the other guys he works with, and it is nice they now have matching scarves.

In the photo with the scarf are two needle felted items my daughter made this week. She made felted heart shaped box of “chocolates” for me as a Valentine (so sweet, and no calories!), and the owl is something she made for herself. She just started needle felting last week one night after I had gone to bed, and is already making items such as these.

Speaking of needle felting, notice that little gray bunny in the first photo at the top? That is another of the little bunnies I have been making. The Purple Valentine Bunny I wrote about recently and was offering for sale at Etsy has already been purchased, but I have put up three more bunnies for sale this week and that little guy is one of them.

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Here is a sneak peak at a pattern for a pair of knitted baby slipper socks I will be offering for free sometime soon. I need to complete the second sock, and then I’ll write up the pattern for my readers. These socks are knit from some super crazy soft Oh My! yarn by Plymouth I had left over from a blanket I made for my son last year.

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In closing, I will share a couple more photos of recent needle felted bunnies … I am loving these little guys, perhaps a little bit too much for my own good.

Have a good day and evening,
~firefly

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