Monday, November 25, 2013

It's a crewel, crewel world!

Recently I was commissioned to complete some custom crochet work quite unlike anything I've ever done before.  My client sent me a link to this ebay listing.  She wanted 3 stars like the one featured in the listing but she wanted them done in 100% mercerized cotton instead of yarn and 8" instead of 12".

So after a fair amount of scrutiny, I reverse engineered the pattern and got to work.  If you're interested in making some of your own stars, it goes a little bit like this.  Depending on how tight you crochet, you may want to add a chain or 2 between each set. 

1) Chain 4 to create a "magic loop". 
2) Crochet 19 HDCs into the 1st chain to create your first round (19 + 3 chains = 20 total).
3) Crochet 4 HDCs in every 2 HDCs of the previous round (10 sets of 4).
4) Crochet 4 HDCs after every 4 HDCs of the previous round (10 sets of 4).
5) Crochet 4 HDCs in every 2 HDCs of the previous round and increase by 2 sets (12 sets of 4).
6) This is where it starts to get a little tricky and you need to pay close attention to your counting.  Crochet 4 HDCs after the 1st 4 HDCs, crochet 10 HDCs in the next 2 (center of 4), crochet 4 HDCs after the 3rd set of 4.  So the pattern is 4-10-4 x 5.
7) The next row you increase 4-11-4 x 5.  Then you tie off.

To create each star's leg the pattern is:

1) 4-10-4.  Flip the star and crochet backwards to start the next row.
2) 4-9-4.  Flip...
3) 4-8-4...and so on until you reach the top.  The last row is just 4-4.

Joining/finishing all the legs:

Chain 3 in the last row (which is 3 chains) of every row and connect with a single chain.  3-1-3. 

So now your star is complete and the real work is just getting started.  This was my first time ever attempting crewel work.  It's not hard but it's definitely a pain in the ass.  It takes forever and it's very tedious work. 


Crewel work:

Cut 10 2 foot long strings.  Bundle your strings and always keep them twisted tight.  Cut another 4-6 foot long string to embroider with.  Initially you will double French knot your string bundle to the center of the star and then you will blanket stitch the bundle all around the star.  French knot when you return to the center and start a new leg. 

While the results are amazing and a true testament to old fashioned handicrafts, I do not recommend this project unless you have a truckload of patience and time on your hands.

Finally, my client is going to embroider the finished stars onto her own pillows.  This last image gives you an example of what they'll look like.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

1960s US Philately

Business-wise, this is generally the beginning of the busiest time of the year for my etsy shop.  However, admittedly, this year has gotten off to a slower start than usual.  I shouldn't and don't want to complain though since on an annual basis, my business continues to grow.  I mainly just blame the shaky economy.  I'm extremely thankful for the steady business that I have and I'm especially appreciative of my loyal and enthusiastic customers.  But let's not forget the new customers either!  In spite of all of the competition out there, I know I've created something really special and unique and I'm so pleased that 930+ Etsians have favorited my shop.  Now I wonder how long it'll take me to break 1,000.

I recently acquired a fairly comprehensive collection of US philately from the 1960s.  I've spent the past weeks sorting through everything and after endless hours of sorting, labeling and organizing, I've finally processed the bulk of the collection.

Can you blame me for drinking a little wine in the process?

Here's a few close ups of some of my favorite sets.

Wood Ducks, Scott 1362.

Johnny Appleseed, Scott 1317.

Mississippi Statehood, Scott 1337.

Homemakers, Scott 1253.

Bill of Rights, Scott 1312.

I'll be back very soon with an update on a really cool custom crochet project I've been working on!