Friday, April 25, 2014

New Project - A Quick Hope Chest

One of the blessings of writing this blog has been to connect with people who e-mail me. I have received a number of e-mails that say something like this: "I am getting married in such and such month (about six months away), and really want to have something like a hope chest..." or "My daughter is getting married in three months and I would really like to make a quick hope chest for her, but am also busy with wedding plans..." or "I would love to make a hope chest for my daughters, but I'm not very skilled at sewing or embroidery..." The common expression is a wish for creating a quick and/or simple hope chest and they each ask for my suggestions on how to accomplish this. I've thought about this idea of quick and simple as it applies to a hope chest.

Obviously, one common aspect of a hope chest is for a young girl to develop the skills she will need to create a home, and, in the process, create items for her future use. This isn't usually accomplished either quickly or easily. But, another important aspect of making a hope chest is simply collecting and acquiring the useful items and accepting and profiting from the gifts and wisdom of older and more experienced mentors. I am all for encouraging anyone who wants to have a hope chest, regardless of the time available or who might make it!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you cannot miss the significance of what I am creating for Miss Abigail. She has made a number of lovely things for her hope chest, and I'm sure will create more as she reaches an age when her own "nesting" instincts kick in. I continue to encourage and help her. But, I'm sure it doesn't escape any of you that, because of some really magnificent gifts, even some fairly ordinary gifts, and my own steady contribution, Miss Abigail is one lucky girl! But this is what any mother might wish for her daughter, even if the time is short. You probably agree or you wouldn't be reading this blog. So, I've set myself a challenge - to produce a "weekend hope chest." To see if one could produce a nice collection of basic, necessary handmade items in a really short time. My husband thinks I'm a little crazy and my friends are doubtful. In fact, one friend thinks the idea of a weekend hope chest might defeat the purpose of a hope chest altogether. But this is my response to all those who continue to want to create a hope chest in a hurry.

So I made a list of what I think is basic. I have ransacked my resources for projects that are both beautiful and quick, and I've shopped for and collected all the stuff, including details like buttons, thread and a new blade for the rotary cutter. (BTW, I've kept track of all my expenses and I won't be revealing the totality of this info to my husband, but you might be interested.) I've organized the steps and made a work plan. I've cleaned the sewing room. Now I'm just looking for two days in a row to meet the challenge. Because I try to keep the Sabbath, and this project will certainly qualify as work, my calendar cannot include Sunday. So, stay tuned...

I would love to hear your comments about what would have to be included in such a hope chest. What do you think?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Other Favorite: Lacy Slant Stitch Crocheted Dishcloth

I have used this stitch for dishcloths many times and really like it. The fabric is firm without being dense, and that allows the cloth to dry a little faster. The stitch forms a kind of scallop on three sides but the foundation chain side remains flat. Because of this, I think the cloth requires some kind of edging. After trying several things, I think this lacy edge is prettiest.

Lacy Slant Stitch Crocheted Dishcloth:

Row 1: Ch 36. (dc, ch 2, sc) in 4th chain from hook. *Skip next 3 chs, (2 dc, ch 2 sc) in next ch. Repeat from * across.
Rows 2-17: Ch 2, turn (dc, ch 2, sc) in next ch-2 space. (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in each ch-2 space across.
Edging: Ch 3, turn. (hdc, ch 3, hdc) in first ch-2 space; first corner made. (Hdc, ch 3, hdc) in each ch-2 space across top to the last ch-2 space. (Hdc, ch 3, hdc, ch 3) in last ch-2 space; second corner made. (Hdc, ch 3, hdc) around ch-2 post at the end of the last pattern row. (Hdc, ch 3, hdc) around each ch-2 post across side to the last ch-2 post. (Hdc, ch 3, hdc, ch 3, hdc) in last ch-3 post; third corner made. Ch 3. (Hdc, ch 3, hdc) in chain spaces across foundation row, including the last space. (Ch 3, hdc, ch 3, hdc) in corner stitch – the original first chain in the foundation chain; fourth corner made. (Hdc, ch 3, hdc) around ch-2 post at end of pattern row, and around each ch-2 post across last side. Ch 3, sl st in base of ch-3.
Alternate edging: Dc evenly around edges with (dc, ch 2, dc) in each corner.

 edit:  Alice Rowden sent me a great tip for overcoming the flat foundation row. It would eliminate the need for an edging and save time overall. Check it out in the comments! --km

Monday, April 14, 2014

Great Grandma's Embroidered Lace

This is a picture of my Great Grandma. Her name was Marian Bell Anderson. She was born on January 17, 1864. The eyelet lace pictured at the bottom of the post was made by Great Grandma as part of her trousseau. In 1885 she was 21 years old, living on the frontier of Idaho and preparing to get married to Olaf Anderson in November. Marian and Olaf lived in the area of Rexburg, Idaho for the rest of their lives. I am just amazed at the skill that went into this embroidery and the amount of time it must have taken Grandma. I'm certainly glad some of her talent passed into my own hands.

My grandmother, Irene Anderson Clements was a devoted genealogist and wrote a history of  her own life and the lives of her parents and other ancestors. It is a blessing to me to know so much about my father's family. Grandma wrote this about her mother, Marian and the lace:

"Mother liked all kinds of hand work. It is hard to say what she liked best. She enjoyed making quilts. She made many, from heavy camp quilts, to fancy embroidered and silk quilts. The Relief Society does a lot of quilting and she was anxious to help. She soon became known as one of the most skillful quilters, and was made head of this department on work day at Relief Society. Then as she was particular and liked to have things just right, she became an almost perfect marker especially for the most complicated patterns. Her fame spread all over town and some expensive quilts were brought to her to be marked by well-to-do people, some she scarcely knew. They were glad to have her mark the quilts, even though it was impossible for her to help with the quilting. It would be hard to estimate the number of quilts that she helped quilt and also quilted alone.

She enjoyed knitting very much. She knit hose for her father, brothers and sisters, husband, children and grandchildren. She knit many pairs of gloves and mittens, also a number of sweaters. She especially was good at making knitted lace. Every one who has some of her knitted lace prizes it very highly. In her early married life she knitted a full sized bed spread with no. 8 thread. She did crochet work. She was an expert at dressmaking, etc. Besides the sewing for family and friends that she mentions in her history, she did most of the sewing for her children and helped as long as she could with sewing for her grandchildren.

She enjoyed making fancy pillows, pin cushions, and any other knick knack that she saw. She made a variety of rugs. In fact, she was always interested in new patterns and ideas. She watched for ways to use material she had on hand to make her family more comfortable and her home more attractive.

At the time of her marriage, it was popular to do eyelet embroidery in lingerie, household linens, baby clothes, etc. Her skill with the needle is shown by the petticoat she made to wear when she was married. This petticoat was 37 inches long, 90 inches wide and gathered onto a band at the waist that was 26 inches long. It fastened with a button and button hole. She embroidered a scalloped flounce which was 9 inches wide at the scallop. Then she made five groups of tucks, two in each group, arranged above the flounce. This scallop is one of 18 cut from that petticoat. Mother wore this petticoat until it was worn out."

Because I know what it takes to embroider even the simplest eyelet, I am in awe that Grandma embroidered eighteen of these scallops on a garment that would never even be seen! She is my handwork hero!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Garden Series" Crochet Edgings: #3-Jonquils

I love this third edging. "Jonquils" is a little more difficult, but not much. The picot stitches on top of the double crochets remind me of the ruffled heads of jonquils on long thin stems, hence the name.

Note: The front and back of crochet stitches look different, as you would expect. I want the smooth front side of the double crochet in this edging to show on the front of the towel, so I am careful to begin the foundation row with the back side of the towel facing me. If mark the towel and start on the back, I'll be ready to turn the towel and do Row 1 on the front. Row 2 shows the back of the picot stitches, but I think it is prettier to show the front of the double crochet. It may not matter at all to you which side of which row shows...

Again, you'll begin the Foundation Row as in the Garden Fence edging. Use a washable marking pen to mark 3/8-inch marks across the edge. Push an embroidery awl through the first mark to make a tiny hole. Pull up the thread and make the first slip knot. Chain 4. (Use the awl to make several more holes at the marks. Stay ahead of your crochet about 8-10 holes.) *Sc, ch 3 in the next mark. Repeat from * across. (See the pictures in the tutorial at the link above if you need help with pictures of this foundation row.)

Row 1: Ch 1; turn. Sc in the first ch-3 space. Ch 3, 4 dc in next ch-3 space. Ch 3, sc in the next ch-3 space. [Ch 3, 4 dc in next ch-3 space. Ch 3, sc in next ch-3 space] across, ending with the sc in the end space.

Row 2: Ch 3 and turn. Skip the ch-3 space. Sc in the first dc of group of 4 dc. Ch 3, sc in next dc. Ch 3, sc in next dc. Ch 3, sc in last dc of group. Ch 3, skip ch-3 space, sc in next sc.  Repeat [Ch 3, skip ch-3 space, sc in first dc. (Ch 3, sc in next dc) three times. Ch 3, skip ch-3 space, sc in sc] across. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

Hopefully, the following pictures expand the directions for Row 2.

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Garden Series" Crochet Edgings: #2-Posies

This is the second thread crochet edging in my Garden Series. "Posies" has just two rows with a very simple scallop. Prepare the towel and begin the Foundation Row as in the Garden Fence Edging. Use a washable marking pen to mark 3/8-inch marks across the edge. Push an embroidery awl through the first mark to make a tiny hole. Pull up the thread a make the first slip stitch on the hook. Chain 4. Use the awl to make several more holes at the marks. (Stay ahead of your crochet about 8-10 holes). *(Sc, ch 3) in the hole at the next mark. Repeat from * across. (See the first part of the tutorial at the above link if you need pictures for this foundation row.)

Row 1: Ch 3; turn. 2 dc in first ch-3 space. Ch 1, (3 dc, ch 1) in each ch-3 space across. Ch 1; turn.

Row 2: Skip next dc. Sc in middle dc. [Skip next dc, 3 dc in ch-1 space, skip dc, sc in middle dc] across to last stitch. Sc in last stitch. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

"Jonquils" is the third edging in this Garden Series. Watch for it in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Garden Series" Crochet Edgings: #1-The Garden Fence

This edge is quite similar to the crocheted edge on the gingham towels in the last post, but is crocheted directly onto the towel and is narrower in width. The benefit of crocheting directly onto the towel is that the process is much quicker than making the lace and hand-sewing it on. A sad fact is that the lace will be discarded along with the worn-out towel. Crocheted lace is extremely durable and will far outlast the towel, but the process of unpicking hand stitching, fitting the lace to a new towel and then re-sewing the lace by hand may truly be more work than most people would find time for. So, I simply use patterns that are quick to crochet and try to remember that my work will bring happiness during the time in use and let go. The stitch used in this edging is double crochet which goes very fast for me. It reminds me of the pretty wire fencing around our front yard.

Garden Fence Edging:

Foundation Row: Use a washable marking pen to mark 3/8-inch marks across the edge. Push an embroidery awl through the first mark to make a tiny hole.

Pull up the thread and make the first slip knot. Chain 4.


(Use the awl to make several more holes at the marks. Stay ahead of your crochet about 8-10 holes.) *Sc, ch 3 in the next mark. Repeat from * across, ending with a sc in the last hole.

Row 1: Ch 3; turn. 2 dc in the next ch-3 space, ch 1. (3 dc, ch 1) in each ch-3 space across to last space. 3 dc in last space. Ch 3; turn.

Row 2: 2 dc in next 2 dc, ch 1. Skip next ch-1 space. 3 dc in next 3 dc, ch 1. Repeat [Skip next ch-1 space. 3 dc in next 3 dc, ch 1] across to last group of three dc. 3 dc in last 3 dc; turn.

Row 3: Skip next dc, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in same dc. Sc in next ch-1 space. Repeat [Skip next dc, dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in same dc. Sc in next ch-1 space] across to last group of three dc. Skip next dc, (dc in next dc, ch 2, dc in same dc). Sc in last dc. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

I have two more edging patterns designed for this set of towels. Check back for these tutorials next week.

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