He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist. ~St. Francis of Assisi

May we each strive to do ALL that we do as an artist working as unto the Lord for His glory! Thanks for stopping in to visit! ~Cara Louise

Friday, August 24, 2012

Royal Pineapple Seraphim Crocheted Treetop Angel

all white with red and burgundy roses
I am just so in love with this angel! The pattern is called 'Royal Pineapple Seraphim' and was designed by the wonderful Cylinda over at Crochet Memories. This angel may be custom ordered in any color combination you desire. She stands about 11 inches tall and is $45 plus shipping. You may order at my webstore.

The beginning of one angel in white.
the top of another angel in natural and antique white

the bottom of the angel's gown before starching
after trimming and starching
angel stands about 11 inches tall.

detail of sleeve and wing

bouquet of crocheted roses
such graceful curves

lovely from all directions

detail of wing

pretty curved flare to the wings

so peaceful

not just for Christmas!

Please visit the NEW HOME of my blog and website!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blocking- crochet, not football!

Just posted a picture of a doily-not-quite-done on my facebook page (Cara's Handcrafted Crocheted Ornaments) and received and EXCELLENT question- is the blocking necessary?

Here was my post with the photo:
"I've been crocheting with thread for a few decades now, so I have learned to remind myself that just because a crocheted piece is 'done' doesn't mean it's finished! The crocheting part of thread crochet items is the first step; washing, blocking and starching is the last step. This 'wedding lace' doily has taken every single one of my pins to hold the pretty delicate loops open so they can be lightly starched to perfection- that's a lot of pins on one piece! But oh it will be so worth it- just you wait to see. ♥ Pattern from Crochet Memories."

and my reply to the question:-
"oh, most definitely! I just buy a can of ordinary spray starch from the grocery store laundry aisle, then depending on how intricate your design is, you might be able to get away with just smoothing it into shape with your fingers and let to dry, or if more detailed like this one you'll want RUST-PROOF pins to hold it until dry.

You don't want to iron though- that smooshes the stitches, unless you can hold a steam iron just above but not touching.

Blocking makes thread crochet go from ordinary to wow!"

That, along with the size of course, is one the differences between yarn and thread crochet. Most yarn projects require perhaps only a light misting with water and a bit of tugging here and there to 'finish' them. But thread crochet definitely benefits tremendously by some careful attention and 'polishing' before proclaiming it complete. I have seen some photos of thread crochet work which hasn't had this attention to detail performed and I just want to reach through the computer and pour some LOVE onto the poor thing!

I very rarely take photos of my pieces before blocking, so I don't have much to show you by way of before and after shots, but here is one example:

Before blocking.
Note how the leaves are trying to curl,
and the loops are crooked.

After blocking-
leaves are nice and flat,
loops are all even and open.

So, PLEASE, take the time to properly finish your thread crochet pieces. You will not regret the extra time it took you.

Love and prayers,
Cara Louise

Please visit the NEW HOME of my blog and website! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Starching Thread Crochet Pieces

HI! You may have headed here because of a reference on one of my thread crochet patterns, and I am very glad you came! I will be leaving this info up, but the rest of my blog has now moved and you are cordially invited to visit me there when you are done here! "NEW BLOG SITE"

After trying umpteen different starching methods over the past 20 plus years, this is my favorite...and it's cheap besides!

Simmer one tablespoon of cornstarch in 1/2 to 1 cup of water until it becomes transparent, stirring continuously.

That's it!

I do NOT recommend microwaving this, unless you have an extra large container to do it in, and cook for only 30 seconds at a time, stirring often. There's really too much of a chance to boil over in there, and it does indeed somehow end up much hotter than on the stove.

This starch can be kept in the fridge between uses, but it is so easy to make up that I don't bother.

I dump my crocheted pieces in the starch while it is still quite hot and use a spoon to squish them all around. Carefully (hot- remember?) give them a bit of a squeeze, you want them thoroughly wet with the starch but not gloppy. It may take a few experiments before you come up with the right amount of starch to leave on. I have found that it is much easier to UNDER-starch, then if the piece isn't as stiff as you would like after it dries just repeat the process. If you over-starch, often the only remedy is to try to wash it all out and start over.

Pin piece flat to your blocking board or form 3-D pieces over an appropriate plastic covered mold. PLEASE make sure you use RUST-PROOF pins!!! I learned that the hard way and it is very discouraging to find rust marks on your beautiful pieces! It is SO worth it to invest in a package of good rust-proof pins- trust me on this! If there seems to be too much starch in the little nooks and crannies just use a good paper towel to dab the extra away.

Do let dry completely before unpinning. I often set my pieces in front of a fan to help speed up the process a bit, but drying does take time, so don't be in too much of a hurry.

This works as a refresher to any other method you have tried that hasn't worked quite how you wanted... just smooth some on with your fingers and let it dry.

I have been using this starch for years, and the earliest pieces done (like this little angel which is 20 plus years old now!) are still holding their shape extremely well with no yellowing occurring.

I have not ever experienced dulling with the cornstarch either, unless I mistakenly put too much on... years ago I used a cooked sugar water solution which I think does perhaps give a bit more shine but it takes longer to dry... Here's a new angel with cornstarch and you can SEE the SHINE.

There's a lot of great information about other starching methods (and tons more info too!) on both the 'Snowflakes and Thread Crochet' and the 'Crochet Memories' websites.

Hope this helps!
Love and prayers,
Cara Louise

Please visit the NEW HOME of my blog and website!