popsicle toes, a free knitting pattern for dolly

This pattern is 100% inspired by the darling French Macaroon sweater that is offered for free on Ravelry from The Noble Thread. I love that pattern so much, and have made a few, that I even designed a baby hat, Tiny Tot, also available for free, to go along with it. When I first saw the sweater and hat on my infant grandson I knew I would have to make it into a doll sweater too. I love knitting for dolls! This sweater and hat will fit an 18" American Girl Doll or similar.

The pattern is free and simple to make. It's knit in one piece in garter stitch and requires only a small amount of seaming. I think you'll enjoy it and I imagine you'll be able to knock one out before Christmas! 

Thank you to my very kind and talented testers. I put the word out on Facebook and within a few minutes I had a dozen helpers. Thank you for your valuable input.

Get the free patterns at these Ravelry links:

for an 18" doll

available in 6 sizes, newborn to 4 years

available in 4 sizes, newborn, baby, toddler, child

The free pattern for the sewn skirt is here.

Happy Knitting!
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Santa's Helpers, a no-sew tree ornament

I love to make one Christmas ornament a year and cannot wait until little Carter is old enough to help me. This year's Christmas craft is no-sew easy-peasy, but a young child will need help from an older child or adult. I used a glue gun, but if you are working with young children I recommend using a quick-dry glue rather than a glue gun. You may have these supplies already, but I'm giving you links in case you need to shop for a few items. You'll need wooden spools for the body, 1.25" wooden head beads for the head, red and white striped pipe cleaners for the legs and arms (here is the link for assorted colors), assorted beads for the hands and feet, fun colors of yarn to dress the body, white eyelash yarn for the hair, felt or ribbon for the scarf, and felt for the hat.  This would be a great school or party craft.

Cut an 8" piece off a 12" pipe cleaner, fold in half. Dab a bit of glue on top of the fold and stick into spool. Put remaining 4" piece of pipe cleaner behind spool. Wrap yarn around the spool body to affix. When he is as fat as you want him, snip and affix end with glue at the back. 

Add a dab of glue to ends of pipe cleaner and poke bead hands and feet through. Glue heads to top of spool. I couldn't find a link to the bead heads with the glasses. I must have found them at a garage sale; I found them in one of my craft boxes. 

For scarf, cut 7" lengths of 3/8" wide ribbon, or cut strips of felt to size. Wrap and tie around neck. You may need to add a dab of glue to make the scarf lie down nicely. Trim to size and snip little notches into the ends.

I unearthed my protractor and made a 5.25" diameter circle template from paper.

For hats, cut out circles in felt and into three equal pie wedges.

Make a thin line of glue around the forehead and all around the head. Wrap eyelash yarn two to three times around and affix with another dab of blue at the back. Shape felt into cones to fit head, overlapping edges and dabbing with glue to close. Place a line of glue to the inside of the hat rim and place on head. If desired, add tiny pompoms to top of hat and tiny red beads for noses.  
Lastly, glue a hanger to the top. Top it with a small circle of felt to hide the glue (not shown).

Hang on your tree!

I made a variation above and below. The hats were made by cutting a 2 1/8" square of felt, folding in half and closing sides with tiny whip stitches. The fur trim on the hat is an extra fuzzy pipe cleaner. 

Here are links to more of my Christmas crafts:

Button Snowmen

Woodland Elves

Christmas Pixies and Whosical Trees

Wooden Angels

Christmas Dollies 
A complete list of my free patterns and tutorials is here.

Happy Crafting!
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Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving and we surely have a lot to be thankful for this year! Our grandson has been with us for 3 days while his parents are on a wee vacation. They are coming back today in time for his first Thanksgiving and a Thanksgiving that we will all surely treasure. Even with him here I was able to get a lot done. The picture above is some candy made during a nap. This post writing is during another nap--thank heavens he is a good napper! Tonight when he's gone it will be pie making time and after that it's feet up, needles in hand.

It's a tradition around here to pop in on friends and neighbors for short visits the days before and the days after Thanksgiving; kids are home from school and want to see each other and folks who have moved away and are back for Thanksgiving want to make the rounds. And when there is a new baby, most people, happily, put you on the visiting list. We have never been so popular! Carter is all flirty smiles most of the time and so gave a fair amount of them to visitors during his stay. I noticed I don't really have many pictures of me with Carter and a friend took these last night. He had missed his late afternoon nap and so was feeling a bit pooped, so no smiles, but he held up bravely and would be held by everyone. This morning he woke up all smiles and so I dressed him in something cheery.

Carter is four months old now and so much fun. He is getting a lot easier and seems like a baby now and not so much of an infant. He loves to be sung to and danced with. He loves walks in the garden and wants to touch leaves and bark and moss. He pats while I talk and he listens intently. I pick lemon leaves and rosemary and mint and really just anything I think might have a scent, rub it between my fingers and hold it up to him. He sniffs and sniffs, it's so funny. He knows just what to do as we have been doing this since he was a newborn. We call it our sniffy walk and do it a few times a day. I love every minute with this little guy. We have a lot in common with both of us loving the Eensy Weensy Spider so much.

I went old school with my table and used my aunt's Lenox Harvest. The kids said they like it and want to take it one day, so this table setting is a little reminder that it's theirs for the taking! If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope your day is special and you find it easy to find things to be thankful for. If you are hosting, don't get too pooped out! Best, Kristen

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Needlepoint Christmas Stocking Tutorial

Carter's needlepoint Christmas stocking is finished and I really enjoyed making it. Knitting, you have a rival.

My stocking kit, The Hugging Penguins by Dimensions, arrived fully stocked with lovely 100% wool yarn, cotton floss, needle, color printed canvas, and instructions including stitch chart and color chart. I was amazed at the quality, the organization of the materials, and the price (unbelievably less than $25!). I would definitely use a Dimensions kit again and I'm happy to recommend it to you. But now that the stitching is done, it needs to be turned into a stocking. Blocking and finishing a stocking does not have to be done by an expert seamstress (I'm definitely not); a confident seamstress will do just fine. Below is a step by step tutorial on how I block and finish a needlepoint canvas into a stocking. 

But I may as well start at the beginning. Everyone in our family has a needlepoint stocking, and of course our newest member needed one too! Carter's parents ordered this kit from Amazon. The first thing I did was graph Carter's name out on paper using this free alphabet chart. After finding the center of both the name and the stocking, I worked out from there using the counted stitch technique. I gave the project it's own basket. I found it easiest to work one color at a time using the basketweave stitch because I find it distorts the canvas the least. But as careful as I am and as even a tension I try to maintain, my finished canvas has some bias distortion and is rumpled. Perhaps a frame would avoid this but I don't like to use them. Anyway, all that will come out in the next step. 

The canvas above is completely covered in the basketweave stitch, but the stitching is not complete. The final top-stitching will be done after it has been blocked and dried. To block the canvas, submerge completely in lukewarm water until it becomes fully wet. Gently squeeze out excess water, lay flat on a terry towel and roll into a jellyroll to remove even more water. On a blocking board and armed with T-pins or tacks, stretch and pin the wet canvas to shape. Tug and pull and it will eventually succumb! Let dry in a warm shady spot; it may take a few days.

Now that it's dry you can add a few decorative stitches on top of the finished canvas. Outline stitches and French knots help define the intricate details such as the faces and snowflakes, and adding beads and trinkets make it uniquely yours. Above is the unembellished piece. Below, it's dry now and the top stitching has been added.

Now for the sewing up. You'll need bias piping tape; either make your own or purchase ready made as I have. Also, you'll need 100% cotton velveteen for backing (or sturdy wool felt or upholstery fabric) and 100% cotton fabric for lining. The kit comes with felt for the backing, but I prefer velveteen, also, I prefer to line my stocking. Fabric that is suitable for quilting is perfect for lining. Do not wash them. Cut the canvas to within 1/4" of the stitching. I didn't take a picture of this step but above you can see a little corner of what the trimmed canvas looks like.

With a zipper foot, machine baste the piping to the right side of your stocking, down one side, around the toe, and up the other side. Do not add the piping to the top quite yet. Stitch as closely as you can to the piping stitching going one stitch in to the needlepoint itself.

With sharp scissors, snip the curves every 1/2" up to, but no into, the stitching.

Cut the velveteen backing to shape leaving a generous 1/2" seam allowance all around to give you some wiggle room when stitching. With right sides facing, carefully pin all around.  Slowly machine stitch both sides and toe using the same stitch line as the piping, leaving top open. Trim and cut curves of backing. (Please don't look at the messy back of my needlepoint! In less than an hour it will never see the light of day again!)

Turn right side out and it will look like this.

Cut the lining, see above, making it 1/8" smaller all around as this will help it to fit inside the stocking a little better, however, do leave a few inches at the top for a cuff to fold under. With right sides facing, machine stitch lining all around leaving top open.  And this is where my pictures get sparse. I guess I got carried away with the task at hand and forgot my camera! But from now on you are on the home stretch. Next, you'll pin the piping to the  top of the stocking, all around, neatly overlapping at the back. Machine stitch in place.  Make a loop or folded tab for hanging. This goes on the "heel" side. Machine stitch in place. Fold down the lining cuff, slip lining fully down into stocking.  Carefully hand baste the folded lining edge to the top piping then slowly machine stitch this in place. Remove basting stitches. It is finished!

Using fabric glue I affixed some plastic snowflakes and a fuzzy pompom. Hugging Penguins is in the can!

The fabric glue is not completely dry in this picture, but it will be invisible when fully dry.

The link for Hugging Penguins kit from Dimensions.
A sweet little stocking for my sweet baby grandson.

Edited in 2019: The darling penguin stocking is still available here! I did a search for reasonably priced needlepoint kits, and while the pickins' are slim, I did find two more I love. This one is so dear with a bird perched on Santa's cuff. Aww, I just love him. Here's a handsome nutcracker, although a bit more expensive, he's very nice. It uses embroidery floss, not yarn and is quite large.  There are gorgeous hand painted canvases available but they are more expensive because they are painstakingly hand painted and not machine printed. I know they are worth it, but if you are on a budget, these kits are very beautiful.

For a tutorial on how to hand finish a needlepoint Christmas ornament,
please visit this post.

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