Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Digitally Downloaded Delights !


Smart designers of digital patterns know that to prove their worth, they must give something free of charge. I loved getting free books when I wrote “The Eye of the Needle” (my newspaper column) and wrote book reviews.

Free patterns enable the potential client to try out the product, write reviews and spread the ‘word-of-mouth’ to friends.

Software allows the illustrator to “tile” a large pattern into one that can be printed on A-4 or letterhead sized paper, matching the pages with “registration marks”: Often, circles divided by 4.

Older digital patterns may not match up exactly as the author intended – in which case, you get what you pay for. It may still be good but requires a little more work on your part.

What follows is my way of working with digital patterns:

 Tools and materials:

·         Double sided tape

·         Scissors

·         Push pins

·         A surface that a pin will penetrate: Foam tiles, insulating ceiling tile, cork,                                             or corrugated cardboard layers

·         A straight edge for lining up long edges

·         Paper cutter or rotary blade and mat (optional)

After printing you must trim 2 edges, to be able to overlap pages.

           Exception: Trim only one edge of first row.

Don’t rely on the edge of the paper to line up the cutter.

Instead, use the registration marks, and connect one end to the other with the ruler or blade.

Printers may not feed paper at exactly the right angle.

Apply tape within the margins: for example, between the page edge and the registration marks. Do NOT remove the paper backing from the tape. That comes later.

Burnish tape to paper with a card, bit of wood, or bamboo folding tool.

On the “edge” piece, the push pin is placed within the margin in the upper left. Thereafter, the pin is placed in the lower left. Left- handed people may do the reverse.

~I like to do the first row, taping the side as I add each page, then running the tape along the entire bottom edge of the row, without removing the backing paper. Then I cut the tape and paper backing separately, as explained below.~

With page positioned and push pin in place, pivot the page to expose the area within the margin, and apply the tape.

Do NOT cut the tape as yet.

Return the page to the correct position.

Hold page in place using a “spider leg” stance to prevent the page from sliding, pressing down firmly.

Grasp the tape backing and remove it from under the page.

Note that the pattern lines of the 2 pages connect, even if the registration marks do not. Check straight lines with a ruler for accuracy.

Do not cut the tape yet.


Burnish the page to the tape, just as you burnished the tape to the page underneath.

When everything is in place and secure, cut only the tape and not the backing. You may leave an inch or so of backing beyond the tape and cut it.

If you cut the tape and backing together, it may be difficult to separate them when you next use the tape.

If the tape sticks to your working surface, you can put down baking parchment paper, or a Teflon™ sheet under your work.


When my pattern is complete, I trace it onto 24” or 36” tracing paper, and ‘true’ the pattern:

Measure adjoining seam lines for matching as the pattern indicates. Some patterns will instruct you to ‘ease’ a seam, in which case one edge will be slightly longer than it’s mate.

Check that adjoining corners are at right angles for a smooth join.


The Jade shirt pattern is a free download. It is a great basic block for lady’s shirt making. I plan to use Jade to practice techniques outlined in David Page Coffin’s The Shirtmaking Workbook.

Supply Sources: Jade shirt pattern, free download

Amazon Books: David Page Coffin, The Shirtmaking Workbook Foam tiles Double stick tape, and other paper craft supplies

As always, Have fun !

Monday, September 13, 2021

Sewing Season by the Sea

 The day after Hurricane Sally, we moved into the camper

on our lot on Mon Louis Island beside a bayou of Fowl River. 

It has taken some time.

It has taken much time to get settled enough to be able to sew

again. But the interval was worthwhile.

I am working again, and adding projects to the queue.

Among them are:

    Does cotton thread shrink?

    Fun with corded bias binding

    How to use digitally downloaded patterns

    Explore shirtmaking with David P. Coffin

    and what to do with multiples of one-yard of fabrics.

That's all for now, folks !!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Benefit of...

                                     …Knowing the Size of your Belly


My mother used to say “Elaine, your eyes are bigger than your belly”

Babies and their bellies

I didn’t have to look in the mirror to see that my belly was way bigger than my eyes. But that wasn’t the point.

Another cliché: “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

Then there’s cliché plus metaphor: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”


Clichés become cliché by over-use. Sadly, we hear them so often; in so many different instances, we forget what they meant in the first place. What is the difference between a cliché and a metaphor?

One difference is:

The cliché becomes corrupted by repetition. 

The metaphor by being dismissed as fantasy.


My favorite short, sharp object comes from the author of

7 Habits for Effective People, Stephen Covey:

“Sharpen the saw”

How did the saw get dull? By using it.

How do you sharpen it? by learning.

There are many ways to learn. Learning is basically problem solving.

We have a need we need to fill, what do we need to fill it?

“Location, location, location” 

“A horse, my kingdom for a horse!”

“Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.”

“You can’t see the forest for the trees.”

“The devil is in the details” aka “The Money is in the Details”


“Perfection is for Publication” 


The lesson is true of any endeavor, but especially of classic fiber disciplines. 

The history of man using fibers in his battle

 to survive goes back to the days before history was recorded.

Context is everything.

Learn their code, then write your own code.

Young and Idealistic

When we know too little, every idea is grand, every thought profound. Eventually, we become aware something is lacking. Yet, we don’t know enough to know what we need. That is: Our eyes being bigger than our belly. In the early days of the journey, our vision exceeds our ability.  

Sometimes, we give up. The best times are when we rest, with an air of persistent uncertainty.

I may not know the answer, but if I ask the question, the answer might be provided. If I never ask the question, the dilemma fades along with yesterday’s clouds. We only discover the appropriate question by studying the problem and asking: What if I did this...what difference would that change make..?

Asking the wrong question is choosing the wrong tool. We discover our error all too soon and make mistakes. We stop – do we give up or do we rest, with an air of persistence?

We’ve been taught that mistakes happen. They can have consequences that turn our best efforts into a quagmire, or they can be happy accidents. How do we know the difference? Do we give up, or do we rest persistently, in the knowledge that science will prevail.

Science has checks and balances. Unlike ideas, science can be proven by more than one idealist coming up with the same answer using different perspectives. The more checking and balancing, the more precise science becomes. Sometimes the consequences of the wrong question are so insignificant, the best place to put them is among a great many facts. It won’t make them true, but it will make them so difficult to see, they don’t change the overall outcome.

Pure science doesn’t put food on the table. We forget ideas, while ideals are sustainable.

By applying those ideals to present day problems, creativity happens.

That is the time

 when mastery is discovered

 to have developed.

Then you publish.



Saturday, July 3, 2021

Great Fashion...

 ...for discerning women

My long time internet friend Terri has a delightful post on her blog today. She always does, but being in a nostalgic mood this morning, it especially resonated.

Her brand is MeadowTree Style.

Tea Towels as Inspiration!

To quote Terri,

"One of my favorite designers of all time is Lucienne Day. 

 A prolific and incredibly talented British designer,

she left her mark  the design world in the 50's and 60's. Today, 

I'm going doing a small review of all things; 

her tea towels."

Check it out!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

That Rascally Lifeline...

 There is much being said about lifelines in knitting. Always one to grab hold of help, I have been trying it, researching it, hating it, and loving it. 

I just hate it when I must avoid that line with my working needle while making a stitch. That's no problem after the first row.

The most interesting tip I found was to use interchangeable circular needles and tie the (thinner, contrasting) thread to the needle through the holes of each needle. You will find the hole near where the needle tip screws into the cable. I thought, sounds good, I tried it. I was right about the 'but.'

If you tie the thread to both needles, you need double the amount of thread, because the line will go through your knitting twice. Instead, try tying the thread to your working needle, and not cutting it off the ball until you're at the end of the row. Be sure to leave a nice long tail and tie the ends to a "non-opening" marker. I imagine the person making the suggestion was thinking of a lifeline as you cast-on, but I see no point in that. If I am going to rip out to the cast on, I may as well start over.

The bad thing about doing it this way, is the thread will go through all your markers. That's OK if you have plenty of lifeline. Otherwise, after a row or two your markers will bind your knitting. To get around that, cut one end of the lifeline and add to it using a "Magic Knot" - I learned how to do that from Laura Nelkin. The 'Magic knot' really does work. If it doesn't, then you haven't made the knot correctly. If you use opening markers it would work - but who wants to "fix" all those markers? I have used the nearly spiral markers with the sharp little ends. They hurt my hands, and are easy to lose. 

Additionally, you need twice as many markers, or more, in the event that each row changes the position of the marker on the cable/needle.

Another way to add a lifeline is to thread your lifeline string into a tapestry needle and thread the line through the loops on the needle (or cable). The advantage of this way is you can avoid going through your markers.

The disadvantage is you can accidentally miss a stitch, which is no big deal, unless you just happen to miss that stitch with your needle as well. If you are ripping back to the lifeline, you could possibly lose the stitch.

"Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures!" ~Anon.

Little Jack Hero...

 What does Little Jack Horner have to do with heroes?

He taught me how to make a ball of yarn. I know it sounds silly. Anyone can wind a ball of string, but Jack's way is better. 

In the first place, I don't drop it. Secondly, it is wound firmly, but not so tight as to take all the lovely crimp out of the fibers, and third, it is fun to do.

Start by loosely winding around a finger. After a few wraps, remove the yarn from the finger and wind in the opposite direction, so the yarn encloses those loose loops. When you have a nice wad, transfer it to your thumb, and hold it there with your other fingers. Start to wind, giving the wad a slight turn as you wind. 

As you wind the yarn, it will build up around your thumb. Excellent!

If you are untangling the yarn as you wind, you can remove it from your thumb and put the small ball through any loops in your lap that want to make a knot. 

When you are done winding, pull the yarn off your thumb - and knit.

"Little Jack Horner

Sat in a corner,

Eating his Christmas Pie.

He put in his thumb,

and pulled out a plum!

And said

What a good boy am I!"

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

What if A Corrected Pattern is not like the original...

 It happens...

Sometimes a correction actually changes the pattern. Given that knitting is like geometry, and there is a right and wrong way, what do you do?

Most patterns have variety in them, be it stripes, or simply a change in texture. Therefore your change in the pattern may work out just fine. Maybe not. The only way to know for sure is to try it. Make a swatch if you're unsure of the outcome. Or, simply take the risk.

1. If you keep corrections near the beginning or end, the selvedges (in the case of a right side and a left side) and the outer edges of the center, you are less likely to have a mess.

2. Remember that there is a right and wrong side of the fabric. If the main background is a stockinette stitch, follow that pattern in your subsequent rows. Likewise any other obvious background pattern.

If you have used markers to note the pattern stitches, follow the pattern within that area. Be aware that the pattern itself may gain more stitches as rows progress. A careful study of your original pattern, or the chart will reveal that progression. If your pattern doesn't have a chart, I suggest you make one. Learning to make a chart is essential if you choose to master advanced knitting techniques. 

3. Lace patterns may be difficult to discern the exact background. In that case, whatever change you make, be consistent in following stitch sequences and rows. 

    I like to use blue markers for wrong side rows, and red markers for right side rows. The reason for this is simple: Red is my favorite color, and I love to go sailing. The markers in the Bay are designated:  "Red right, return." It makes it easy for me to remember. You may choose a different system.

    One way I am consistent is to always start a wrong side row - after the selvedge - with a purl stitch, and a right side row with a knit stitch. There will often be increases or decreases in lace, and the system may seem to cause an inconsistency. However, if my increases and decreases create a pattern my choice of  knit or purl will also lend a feature to the pattern. For example, if I increase 4 stitches on every wrong side row, and 6 stitches on every right side row, the knits and purls will be consistent, if not exactly like the original pattern.

   As Elizabeth at Radiant Earth Studios says: "You can always add a touch of magic.  It never has to be an either/or situation."