How to Care for Handknit Wool Items

Christmas is just a couple of days away. Perhaps your sister-in-law, or mother-in-law, granny, mom or aunt thought you were special enough to knit/crochet something for this year.

First, let me say handmade/homemade is NOT cheap. Your relatives/friends are not trying to slide by on the cheap side by knitting/crocheting gifts. A skein of yarn, whether it is acrylic or Merino wool, can cost from $6 to $50+++ per skein and it will take at least 2 skeins to make a gift. Now add in the time spent to create said items and multiply by at least minimum wage. There, got it? Not cheap, is it.

Now, that being said, lets get to the care of said knitted/crocheted item. If it is acrylic, more than likely it is machine washable and dryable. Great for kids’ items.

If it is wool, or any other natural fiber, care is a little more involved. Most will involve washing by hand. This does not mean you take the item and scrub it against an old washboard. That will just cause the item to felt and shrink enough to fit your youngest child. What that means is to SOAK the item in warm, soapy water. Then rinse in cool water. Gently squeeze the water out. Roll item in a towel to remove more water. Then lay the item on a flat surface, shaping as you go, and allow the item to dry. This will take a day or two.

Granted this is a little time consuming, especially in our society where most folks want instant gratification. But keep in mind your relative/friend felt that you were knit/crochet worthy and felt in their hearts that you would take care of the item that took them hours to create.

I can guarantee you if you don’t take care of said item, you will be OFF their knit/crochet worthy list.

Merry Christmas!

cmd a


gcm 1


Dead/Alive Fish MITTENS!! Yeah!

I did it! I finally came up with mittens to match my dead/alive fish hat! And it’s is so SIMPLE!

First choose your favorite BASIC mitten pattern. I chose an after-thought-thumb, round top mitten and knitted the basic mitten in colors to match the fish hat. Then I added eyes and fins.

Eyes can be crocheted or buttons or felt, whatever you want. Sew on about 1 inch from tip of mitten.

For the Dorsal fin, I cast on 10 stitches, knitted one row, then increased in each stitch for a total of 20 stitches. Then Knit 1 Purl l for 5 rows. Bind off. Sew to center of mitten about 1 inch away from eyes. The Pectoral fins are a cast on of 5 stitches. Knit 1 row. Then increase in each stitch for a total of 10 stitches. Knit 1 Purl 1 for 5 rows. Bind off. Make 2. Sew to sides about 1 inch back from beginning of Dorsal fin.

Simple and cute!

Don’t have enough of this particular yarn to finish the second mitten. Will try to find some, but may not be able to as it is discontinued. Anyway working on another hat and I will have enough yarn to make matching mittens and maybe even a scarf.

Another Pincushion Tutorial

I found this site on YouTube with a fabulous pincushion tutorial. You can use up some of those pieces of fabric you have and not feel guilty about saving them. That empty tuna can or cat food can makes a great base. Just make sure you clean it well to get the fishy smell out.

You will need a glue gun, some scrap lace, a bit of felt, a decorative button and some feathers or other decoration. You will also need something to add weight to the can, some fiberfill, and some rubber bands.

Here’s the site for your viewing pleasure:

And this is the one I made this morning. My lace is a little wide, so I had to add a base to the can. I used an old rubber stamp base and glued it to the bottom.

Angel Doll Tutorial


Download and print pattern.


Sewing machine


Scissors (very sharp)

Upholstery thread

Yarn (Hair)

Rubberbands (hair)

Pigma Pens or marking pens or paint or embroidery floss

(facial expression)

Air erase marking pen (the purple one used in quilting)

2 large eyed needles

2 tiny buttons

2 Pieces of Felt (shoes)

Embroidery Floss or yarn (shoe lacings)

Hemostats (clamps for stuffing/holding thread in place)

Knitting needle or long dowel (for stuffing doll legs/arms)


Muslin (doll body)

Fat quarter (doll dress)

Scrap fabric (dress facing)

1 chenille stem/pipe cleaner Gold (halo)

2 1/2 wide wired ribbon (wings)

Pins (holding fabric/body parts together)

Cut out the body, legs, hands and feet. Tape the leg section to the body section matching the little triangles and tape the hand section to the arm section . Do NOT tape the feet to the leg section. They will be easier to do the darts if they are kept separate.

Place the body section on the fold of the muslin. Draw around it with the air erase pen. Cut out approximately 1/4 inch from the drawn lines. You will need two body sections.

Do the same for the feet…draw around the pattern and cut our 1/4 inch away from the drawn line.

You will need to cut our 4 feet sections….a top and a bottom for each foot. Again draw around the pattern and cut 1/4 inch away from the line. Separate each foot so that you can mark the darts.

Using a piece of foam, pin the pattern to one of the feet. Place straight pins in each end of the top foot dar(the horizontal one) and the middle of the dart.

I know it’s difficult to see in this photo, you will be able to see it better in the vertical dart photos.

Gently lift the end of the paper pattern and make a dot with your air erase pen at the first pin you come to. Remove the pin and lift the pattern a little more. This should reveal the two end pins. Make a dot at each of these sites and then remove the pins. Do the same for the final pin.

You will need two foot sections marked with a horizontal dart (the top one on the pattern). These will be the tops of your dolls feet.

Mark the bottom dart the same way. Place the pattern over a foot section (one that has no marking on it) and place pins in the end and middle of the vertical dart. Lift the pattern and make a dot at each pin site.

Sew the darts:

For the top foot sections fold the top of the foot down, matching the dots. Sew from dot to dot, a half moon shape.

Sew the top foot sections to one body and the bottom foot sections to the other body.

Mark a straight line, about 2 – 3 inches on the back body section, the one with the verticle dart in the foot. Sew a rectangle around this line 1/4 inch away from the line on all sides. Use a very tiny stitch length.

Pin, right sides together. You will probably have to manipulate the fabric at each foot so that it fits together correctly.

Sew all around using a 1/4 inch seam and a tiny stitch length. Clip all curves almost to the stitching line. Trim the corners at the neck at an angle. Don’t forget to clip between the thumb and hand and the crotch area. Turn right side out with the use of your hemostats.

Stuff the doll body firmly with fiber fill. Use your dowel or knitting needle or hemostats. Use small amounts of fiber at a time. This will keep the doll from being lumpy.

Sew the opening closed using upholstery thread. Put your needle in the fabric just beyond the stitching around the opening.

This is the finished body.

This is a video tutorial on how to sew a dart. This particular dart is straight, wide end to pointed end, on a skirt. But this may help you if you have never sewn any darts before.

Now for the head.

Place your pattern on two layers of muslin. Trace around it with the air erase pen. Cut out about 1/4 inch away from the drawn line.

Take one head and place over your pattern. You can trace the facial expression using pigma pens, or markers or an ordinary pencil if you want to embroider or paint the face on.

I used pigma pens in black for the eyes, brown for the eyebrows, peach for the nose and red for the mouth.

With right sides together sew the head pieces together leaving an opening at the top. Stuff the head firmly making sure you have stuffed the ears too.

Almost forgot, before turning your doll’s head right side out, clip all curves.

Fold the top in about 1/4 inch and sew a running stitch (using upholstery thread) all the way around. Pull as tight as you can. You may have to use your hemostats to hold the thread tight while you knot it off.

Sew a “C” in each ear so that it gives shape to the ear.

Attach the head to the neck. Pin the head to the neck at ear level. Hand sew the head to the neck.

Now for the hair.

I used a 12 1/2 inch quilt ruler to wrap the sock yarn around. I wrapped until the width of the hair was approximately 4 inches wide.

On a sheet of paper, mark a 4 inch wide section.

Take the yarn off the ruler and lay it on the paper, between your two marks. Tape the ends down.

Now take your paper and yarn to your sewing machine and sew a line down the center of the yarn. Remove the tape and paper after you have sewn your line.

You will have to be careful so that the yarn does not get caught on your presser foot. Sew a straight line.

Place the hair on your doll’s head. Make sure the back of the hair covers the head/neck join. Hand sew in place. Make two pigtails and use rubber bands to secure.

Sew a few extra strands at the front for the bangs.

You will need front and back dress pieces. Then you will cut out two dress facings from scrap fabric.

Fold the fat quarter as shown above. Then place your pattern pieces on the fold of the fabric and cut them out. A 1/4 inch seam allowance is already included in the dress pattern.

You will have front and back pieces to your dress.

Now you will need to cut out two dress facings. Fold the scrap fabric as shown and cut out your two dress facing pieces on the fold of the fabric. Sew a 1/4 inch hem in the dress facing pieces.

With right sides together, place a dress facing on a dress piece. Pin in place. Sew from armhole edge up and around the dress strap, around neckline and back down to armhole edge. Do the same for the other dress pieces.

Clip all curves. Turn right side out using your hemostats. Iron the dress piece flat.

With right sides together, sew the two dress pieces together down the sides. Also sew a 1/4 inch hem in the bottom of the dress.

You will need to determine which side you want to be the front. On the front straps sew a small button hole and on the back straps sew tiny buttons.

The underwear/pantaloons you have made before. Place pattern on double layer fabric (right sides together). Cut out. Sew sides and crotch are, clip to corners at crotch area. Hem waist and legs. You will add yarn or embroidery thread later to gather waist area.

The shoes are a little difficult. You have to manipulate the pieces and pin to the bottom of the shoe. Sew the black felt curved pieces to the pink felt shoe back and top.

I pinned the back part of the shoe on first, then sewed it to the bottom. Then I pinned the front part to the shoe bottom and sewed it. I used pinking shears to trim around the base of the shoe. Then I turned it right side out.

I added lacing by using a long piece of sock weight yarn with a needle at both ends. They served as the stiff end pieces to shoe laces when lacing shoes. It was just easier for me to do it that way. I removed the needles and left the yarn long until after I had put the shoes on the doll and tied a bow with a double knot. Then I trimmed the lacing.

If you do not want to tackle making shoes, you may be able to buy them at JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby or a toy store that sells doll clothing.

To make the wings, cut 2 strips of wired ribbon, 2 1/2 inches wide. These strips should be approximately 17 inches long. Twist them together in the center, and angle them downward. Trim the ribbon at an angle with the longer point/side being on the outer edge of the ribbon.

Sew them to the back of your doll.

To make the halo, bend one end of your gold pipecleaner in a circle and twist end to secure. Then bend the long end downward. Insert this into the hair at the back of the head. Trim the bottom of the pipecleaner and bend the end up just a little.

That’s it!

You are all done with your angel. You can use her in your holiday decorating scheme or add her to a wreath.

Thanks to Judi’s Dolls Free Projects for the pattern.

Angel Doll

This is my latest creation. She is a large doll, about 30 inches tall. I used muslin for the body, felt for the shoes, a fat quarter for the dress with scrap fabric for the dress facing, some scrap fabric for the underwear, sock weight yarn for the hair and shoe lacings, pigma pens for the facial expressions, 2 1/2 inch wide wired ribbon for the wings and a gold pipe cleaner/chenille stem for the halo.

The pattern can be found here:

There are no instructions, so you must know something about sewing and doll construction. It is a free pattern.

Mother’s Day…Another Pincushion Tutorial

Mother’s Day is this Sunday!  OMG!  Better get crackin’ on making a gift!

Here’s another pincushion tutorial that is quick and easy.


Heart Shaped Ceramic Tart pan (I got mine at the Goodwill)




Embroidery thread

Pins and needles


Paper & pencil

Fine Tip Permanent Marker

Rubber Bands


Emery sand or regular sand


Place the tart pan face down on your paper and trace around it.  Then draw freehand around that about an inch out.  Draw a smaller heart shape freehand.  Cut out.   Place the larger shape on 2 layers of fabric and cut out.  Place the smaller shape on 2 layers of felt and cut out.

With right sides facing, sew the larger heart pieces together beginning on the side.  Do the same for the felt shape.  Of course, felt doesn’t have a right/wrong side. 

Clip around curves on both and turn right side out.

Stuff the large heart with fiberfill until firm and sew the opening closed with tiny stitches. 

Fill the smaller heart with emery sand (or regular sand).  Sew opening closed.

Using embroidery thread (all 6 strands at once), go through center bottom of large heart up through center top and through small emery cushion heart.  Go back down through the 2 hearts again, pulling embroidery thread tight.  Repeat this one more time.  Secure with knot on bottom.

Now to add trim.  Select your trim and pin to seam line around large heart.  Glue in place. 

Add the same trim to the smaller heart and pin in place.  Then glue.  Allow both hearts to dry thoroughly.

In the meantime, turn your tart pan over and using the permanent marker, write a message to your Mom.

Now add glue to the bottom of the tart pan.  Yes, that’s correct.  You are going to glue the pincushion to the bottom of the tart pan.

Center the pincushion over the tart pan and press gently in place.  Secure with rubber bands until completely dry.

When dry you can add other trims or beads, etc. if you desire.

Now you have created a pincushion for Mom with a personal note that she will cherish forever.