A Very Merry Christmas Town – Complete

Yay! I finished the Frosted Pumpkin Christmas Town stitch-a-long in plenty of time for Christmas!

Christmas Town cross stitch

Sadly, I have no idea what I’m going to do with it now. It’s roughly 11″ by 6″, so a standard frame isn’t going to work, and I don’t really want to pay for custom framing. I think it would look pretty cute stretched over a canvas, so I may see whether I can track down some appropriately sized stretcher bars or fake having woodworking skills well enough to make my own.1

Or, I may bribe someone with a sewing machine and some sewing expertise2 to see whether it can be made into a wall hanging.3

Regardless of how it ends up finished, I’m really pleased with the stitching – it couldn’t be cuter. And the photo does not do justice to just how beautiful the Picture this Plus hand dyed crystal fabric actually is.


1I actually had to Google ‘woodworking’ to see whether or not it contained a dash. That demonstrates the extent of my woodworking skills.

2I have neither of these things.

3I’m looking at you Mom (hint, hint).

Frosted Pumpkin Stitch-a-Long Sept. – Nov.

I have been so caught up in posting about Creativ Festival projects that I have quite a back log now of other projects that need some blog love!

First up is the Frosted Pumpkin Story Time Sampler, which, apparently, I haven’t given an update on since August. So here are the characters from September, October, and November, which happen to be based on three of my very favourite books: Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women.

Cross stitch scenes from Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women

I think my favourite detail is Jo’s crooked smirk.

It’s hard to believe there is only one month left to go in this stitch-a-long. And harder still to believe that I’ve actually made it all the way through!

Wire Beads

Another post based on a project from the Creativ Festival! This one is from a wire bead workshop by Giovanna Paz. I’ve never worked with wire, so I was completely taken with the photo of these beads when reading the workshop descriptions in the registration book. Here are the earrings and pendant I made in the class, aren’t they fascinating?

Silver and black wire bead earrings

Silver and black wire bead pendant

Turns out they are the easiest things in the world to make. All you need is a coiling tool. I picked up the Artistic Wire Coiling Gizmo at Micheals with a 40% off coupon for less than $10.

Artistic Wire Coiling Gizmo

Clip it on a table and you’re ready to go:

Coiling gizmo set up

I’m using 28-gauge, coated copper wire. Holding two strands together you simply wind the wire around the rod piece by turning the crank bit:

Partially coiled wire

Here’s the finished coil, still on the rod:

Finished coil

Pull the coil off the rod and stretch it apart like a spring. The coil on the top hasn’t been stretched yet, the one on the bottom has.

Stretched vs. unstretched coil

Once the coil is stretched out, just start winding it into a ball by hand. It’s the same motion as you’d use to wind up a ball of yarn – work for a bit in one direction and then turn and wind in another direction. The goal is to get the little individual coils to fit together to make a fairly compact ball.

Starting to roll up the coil

Voila! Gorgeous wire beads that look at lot more complicated than they actually were.

Red and black wire beads

You can really vary what the final beads look like based on the gauge of coil rod you use, how long a coil you make, and how tightly you compress the bead as you form it. And of course, the colours of wire you choose!

I seriously can’t stop making these things. Here are the smaller red ones from above finished into earrings. And a pair of green wire beads made using a finer gauge of coil rod.

Wire bead earrings

And a few more (mostly pendant sized) beads with a ruler for size comparison.

More wire beads

If you’re interested in making these, Giovanna sells a YouTube video tutorial through her Etsy store, as well as many colours of 28-gauge wire.

I couldn’t resist buying a huge pile:

28-gauge wire

Or, if you prefer, Giovanna sells the finished earrings as well!

Reversible Image Crochet

I’m still working through projects from the Creativ Festival. This one is reversible image crochet from a workshop by Sonja Hood. The concept is similar to double knitting in that it creates matching images on both sides of the work. I was completely blown away by this technique and can see a lot of great uses for it. It’s worked using two contrasting strands of yarn together making a very thick fabric – perfect for dishcloths or really warm blankets.

Below are the samples I stitched followed by a detailed tutorial on how to crochet reversible images.

Reversible crochet heart

Reversible crochet skull

Reversible crochet butterfly


Reversible image crochet is created using double crochet with two strands of yarn held together. For best results choose two yarns of highly contrasting colours. The image portion is created by working the front loop and back loop separately, using a stitch that I’m going to call puffy double crochet, because I don’t remember what it was actually called. It’s essentially worked as if you were making a double crochet two together but into a single stitch instead of across two stitches.


Holding two strands of yarn together, chain your desired number of stitches and complete a row a double crochet. I’m making the skull above, so the pattern is 12 stitches wide. With worsted weight yarn I used a 6mm hook.

Double crochet row

The second row of the skull pattern has 4 regular stitches, 4 image stitches and another 4 regular stitches. Work the first four double crochets up to the point where the image begins.

Ready for first image stitch

To get ready for the first stitch of the image, extend the loops that are currently on the hook.

Extended loops

Remove one colour loop from the hook (in this case grey) and tighten up the loop of the other colour (in this case pink) so it is ready to use.

Pink loop ready to use

Yarn over and insert the hook into the front loop only of the next double crochet.

Insert front loop only

Yarn over and pull up a loop (three loops on hook).

Yarn over pull up loop with pink

Yarn over and pull through two loops on the hook (two loops remain).

Pull through two loopsYarn over and insert into the same front loop of the same double crochet to pull up another loop (4 loops on hook).

Yarn over and pull up another loop in same stitchYarn over and pull through two loops (three loops remain).Pull through two loops againYarn over and pull through all three loops. This completes the first half of the puffy double crochet.

Pink half of puffy double crochet complete

To get ready to complete the second half of the stitch, extend the pink loop that is currently on the hook and remove it from the hook. (Extending the loop is just to make sure it doesn’t get pulled back into your work and unravel the crochet). Put the grey loop back on the hook and tighten it up so it’s ready to use.
Pink loop removed from hook, grey loop ready to useYarn over and insert the hook into the unworked back loop of the same stitch the pink stitches were worked into.

Yarn over and insert in back loop

Yarn over and pull up a loop (three loops on hook).

Yarn over and insert in back loop

Work the rest of the stitch the same way as the pink stitch:

Yarn over and pull through two loops (two loops remain).
Yarn over and insert into the same back loop to pull up a loop (four loops on hook).
Yarn over and pull through two loops (three loops remain).
Yarn over and pull through all three loops.

That completes both halves of the puffy double crochet stitch.

Yarn over and pull through two loops

Continue working the rest of the image stitches in this same way. Once the needed number of stitches are completed (a total of four stitches in this case), place both loops back on the hook to continue on.

Four image stitches complete

Work the remaining stitches as normal double crochet stitches using both strands of yarn.

Here’s what the piece looks like from the front at this point. There are four pink stitches between two sets of multi-coloured stitches.

Row two pink stitches

On the backside, you have four grey stitches between the same two sets of multi-coloured stitches.

Row two grey stitches

Chain your turning stitches and turn the work.

On the wrong side rows, to create the puffy double crochet stitches, the grey yarn will be worked into the front loops, and the pink yarn will be worked into the back loops.

Here’s the next row worked up to the first puffy double crochet. I’ve extended the pink loop and removed it from the hook. The grey loop is tightened up and ready to use.

Ready to work grey row 3

The next grey stitch is worked into the front loop of the next double crochet, but the following grey stitch is worked into a puffy double crochet.

The puffy double crochet is actually made up of two separate stitches. Here’s the top view.
Top view puffy double crochet

In this case, the ‘front loop’ is considered to be the two strands of the grey stitch and the ‘back loop’ is considered to be the two strands of the pink stitch. So, the grey half of the next stitch will be worked into the grey loops.

Working into grey loops

If you are working a normal double crochet into a puffy double crochet, the stitch is worked through all four loops of the puffy stitch (both the pink and grey stitch in this case).

When working multiple puffy stitches in a row it is possible to work all of the front loops before working all of the back loops. This is much faster than needing to switch colours within each stitch.

Here I have finished the first half of each of the six image stitches using the grey yarn.

Front loops of next six stitches worked

Here’s a top view where you can see the grey stitches towering over the ledge of unworked back loops where the pink stitches will be worked.

Grey stitches

As you work the pink stitches into the back loops you will notice that a pocket forms between the pink and grey stitches.

Pink and grey pocket

This is normal. As you continue working an image, regular double crochets will eventually be worked over the image stitches. As already stated, these double crochets are worked through all four loops of the puffy double crochet. This closes up the pocket to complete the image.

A couple of final tips:

Some people find it easier to work the back loop of the puffy stitches before the front loop. Give it a try to see what works best for you.

You can change which colour shows on the front or back of the work based on which yarn you work into which loops. This allows for the creation of two colour images. (See the butterfly above where the body is one colour and the wings are the other).

Have fun!


Next up from my adventures at the Creativ Festival is a workshop on sashiko, taught by Alma Laidlaw of Sew Fancy Inc. I had no idea what sashiko was when I signed up for this workshop. All I knew was that it was a type of embroidery, and I’m always game to learn a new embroidery technique.

Turns out it’s a Japanese technique that uses small running stitches to create geometric designs. The craft dates back to the Edo era (1615-1868) and was originally used to help strengthen fabrics or patch together worn out pieces of fabric. Although it is unknown exactly when or where in Japan this craft first emerged, during the Edo era laws prevented the lower classes from wearing bright colours or large patterns so small stitch designs of white thread on indigo fabric became common place. Today sashiko is prized for the beauty of these geometric patterns and many stitchers enjoy the relaxing, repetitive action of creating the designs.

Sashiko thread today comes in many different colours and sashiko can be stitched on many types of fabric, however, white cotton sashiko thread stitched on indigo cotton fabric is still a common and popular combination.

There are two types of sashiko so the workshop focused on creating two small samples. The first is moyōzashi, which is made up of continuous, uncrossing lines of running stitch.

Moyozashi sashiko stitch sample

Notice how even in the corners of this design the stitches don’t actually meet. Your eye naturally fills in the spaces to make it work.

The second type is hitomezashi which is also worked as running stitch but the stitches meet or cross to make up the design.

Hitomezashi sashiko fan stitch sample

In this particular sample, the outline of the fan is moyōzashi and the design filling the fan body is hitomezashi.

It was interesting learning about the history of sashiko and getting to try out this historical technique, and I may even do some more of it in the future. But to me it’s pretty much just blackwork with more initial set up effort. First you need to find the specialty sashiko thread and needles and an appropriate piece of fabric. Then you need to meticulously transfer the design to your fabric using transfer paper or stencils. I’d much rather just grab a piece of counted fabric and some standard embroidery floss from my local craft store and be on my way. The advantage of sashiko of course is the beautiful curves that are so difficult to create on counted fabrics. And no one wants to wear a piece of aida.

Lilies Biscornu

Biscornus seem to have exploded in popularity over the last few years. For those unfamiliar with these strange needlework creations, a biscornu is essentially an eight-pointed pillow made by stitching together two offset squares of fabric. They are primarily used as pincushions. Since I’d never made one before, and I have done very little actually embroidery (I’m mostly a cross stitch girl), I decided to take a Punto Antico biscornu workshop at the Creativ Festival. The workshop was taught by Kathryn Drummond, the designer behind Gingerbread Girl Designs, and an active member of the Embroiderers’ Association of Canada. The project in the workshop was Kathryn’s Lilies Biscornu pattern.

Here’s my final result. For a first attempt at Punto Antico I’m pretty pleased!

Punto Antico biscornu top Punto Antico biscornu side

I’m not always great with the finishing end of my stitching projects. Many of my stitches end up stuffed in the cupboard in an unframed or ‘this was meant to be a pillow cover, but I don’t really sew’ state. It was a refreshing change to stitch something where the finishing was as simple as whipstitching together two backstitched borders. No additional materials or skills required. I can see why biscornus are so addictive! However, a girl only needs so many pincushions. (In my case that number is zero – I use the magnetic dish that came with my screwdriver set and love the heck out of it). If any one has any innovative uses for these neat creations I’d love to hear about it!

HyperLynks Chainmaille

Hands down, my favourite thing I did at the Creativ Festival in Toronto was a chainmaille workshop with Michelle Brennan from HyperLynks. Michelle is a former high school teacher who left her teaching career to follow a passion for chainmaille and co-found the company HyperLynks. She is the designer of many beautiful chainmaille jewellery kits, while her husband makes all the jump rings.

With a background in education, Michelle has the talent and patience (as well as the incredible sense of humour!) needed to guide even the most novice chainmailler through the steps to create complex weaves. In this workshop she taught her Clockwork Weave as we created a bracelet using bronze and aluminum rings. Here’s the final product:

Clockwork weave chainmaille bracelet

I’ve done a small amount of chainmaille before and enjoyed it, but this class really got me excited about the craft. I think it’s impossible to take a class with Michelle and not have some of her enthusiasm wear off on you.

After the class I immediately headed off to the HyperLynks booth in the exhibit hall to spend all of my money. I picked up three more of Michelle’s kits as well as three pairs of Xuron pliers. I was previously unfamiliar with Xuron pliers but they are absolutely wonderful for crafting. They are small and lightweight making them very well suited to intricate work. Michelle even worked with the company to design a pair of bent-nose pliers with a 90-degree bend, so of course I couldn’t leave the expo without those!

I’ve been chainmaille-ing like mad since returning home from the conference. First up is the Trellis necklace. I’ve never worked with scales before but these small (1/2 inch long), black scales make for an incredibly striking necklace:

Trellis chainmaille necklace

My favourite of the items I’ve made is the Micro Cogs bracelet. It’s not for the novice chainmailler (my husband had to deal with a lot of grumbling and a few unlady-like exclamations while I was working on this one). Each of the the cog units are only a 1/2 inch across.

MIcro cogs chainmaille bracelet

This kit also came with the instructions and materials for a matching ring. The band on the ring is made from rubber rings in addition to the aluminum jump rings. I’m not in love with the band as I think it somewhat distracts from the cog, so I may come up with another band option. But I love the concept, and it’s surprisingly comfortable to wear.

Micro cogs chainmaille ring

Last up is the Infinity Weave. I love the intricacy of this one and the subtle wave shape.

Infinity weave chainmaille bracelet

I’m incredibly happy with how all of these pieces turned out, and although some of the kits were challenging, the instructions were fantastic – detailed and full of a ton of full colour photos.

HyperLynks don’t sell any products directly through their website, but they do list the stores where the products are available. And if you happen to live near Newmarket, Ontario, Michelle regularly offers chainmaille workshops at That Bead Lady. Sign up for one. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Although once you try out this amazing craft, your wallet might!

Creativ Festival

Sadly, between a terrible cold that has left me wanting to do nothing for three weeks, and a debilitating addiction to Story of Seasons for the 3DS, there hasn’t been much crafting happening in the last month.

Luckily, I was able to spend three days last week at the Creativ Festival in Toronto, Canada, which was a great way to get the crafty juices flowing again. The festival featured five days of hands on workshops and lectures, as well as a three day exhibit hall packed full of craft vendors. The workshops were definitely the highlight for me as I attended a wide range of classes on a number of different techniques, including chainmaille, crochet, needlework, and jewellery making. (More to come on all of these later!).

For now, here are a few pictures of my favourite parts of the exhibit hall.

The crew at the Crochet Crowd made a stunning Winter Wonderland display, complete with two huge Nutcrackers made completely out of yarn:

Crocheted Nutcracker

Crocheted Nutcracker

(I think my favourite detail is the tiny Christmas trees on the second nutcracker’s feet!)

As well as the crocheted igloo I helped create snowflakes for:

Crocheted Igloo

All of the Crochet Crowd’s workshops were held inside the igloo, which was a really neat idea, and gives you some idea of the scale, since it was large enough to easily accommodate chairs for 10-15 people.

Yarnspirations showed off its incredible Narnia-themed display, Yarnia, which featured a large number of creatures and characters from the Narnia world. My favourites were the small woodland creatures, who contain a ton of detail and show off a wide range of techniques.

Knit/Crocheted Owl and Fox

Knit/Crocheted Beavers

Knit/Crocheted Owl

The last thing that caught my eye was a Christmas tree covered in hedgehogs. I didn’t catch who made it, but it was part of a competition where exhibitors were asked to decorate Christmas trees and attendees were able to vote on their favourite.

I didn’t manage to get a good picture of the entire tree, but here’s a close up to give you an idea:

Christmas tree decorated in knit & crocheted hedgehogs and snowflakes

I absolutely must have a tree like this. I best get working on the hedgehogs!

Annie’s Simply Beads Kit Club – Mystic

I’m a sucker for surprise bags. Despite being well into my thirties I still find myself occasionally purchasing the mystery grab bags full of candy and toys that are made for small children. Inevitably they are disappointing, but the potential for wonder and excitement always draws me back in.

It should come as no surprise then, that with the rise in popularity subscription boxes have seen over the last few years, I have wholeheartedly jumped into their world. A surprise bag of themed items delivered right to my door? What’s not to love about that? Sadly, I’ve tried a number of different boxes over the last couple of years (primarily make-up or geek themed), and although finding them in the mailbox always fills me with excitement, I must admit that most of what I’ve received in them has gone unused. A box of craft supplies, however? Now that’s a potential win.

When I stumbled across the Annie’s line of monthly craft kits I had to at least give it a try. Annie’s offers a number of different monthly kits themed for various crafts including card-making, knitting, crochet, and beading. I chose to try out the beading kit.

Here’s what arrived in the mail this month:

Kit, multi-tool, beading guide, and beading mat

The first month gets you the Mystic bead kit as well as 3 bonus items – a multi-tool, foam bead mat, and a short beading guide. The first kit is offered at 50% off making the cost only $9. Since I’m in Canada, it was an additional $7 shipping for me.

The bead kit included a nice assortment of beads and findings and the instructions to create a necklace, bracelet, and pair of earrings.

Annie' bead kit Mystic

The bead guide, which provides an overview of the basics of beading, including tools, types of beads and findings, and beading techniques, also contains some additional images of necklaces that were obviously created using this set. Since I don’t wear earrings very often, I opted to make just a necklace and bracelet. Rather than follow the designs laid out in the kit instructions I worked off a picture of an asymmetric necklace from the beading guide.

Here’s my final result:

Bracelet and Necklace made from Annie's Mystic bead kit

Overall I thought this kit provided a good basic intro to beading kit, but I do hope that the kits eventually cover some more advanced beading techniques. At 50% off, I thought this kit was well worth the cost and I’m very happy with the necklace and bracelet I created. I’ll stay subscribed for a least a couple more kits, but my guess is that I won’t find them worth the $20 + $10 shipping they will cost at full price. But maybe this time I will finally find the wonder and excitement I keep looking for in a monthly subscription. You never know!