Of the many ways to use up scraps, I think making fabric twine is my favorite. I can do it when I am watching television, thus satisfying the part of me that has been indoctrinated from an early age by capitalism to always be occupied*. It’s also a meditative process. And you end up with yards and yards of a new craft material without having to go to the store.
In my book, Sew Witchy, I included a craft project using fabric twine to make altar offering bowls. Since then I’ve been working on the other projects to use the copious amount of twine I have on hand. In fact, I have a major project I’m working on that I’m not quite ready to talk about just yet. However, I do want to share with you one of the projects I’ve been making: fabric twine trivets.
We drink a lot in this household. I don’t mean we are alcoholics. We are just a thirsty bunch. Tea, coffee, water, energy drinks, soda, milk, lemonade, hot chocolate, and even whiskey and wine, there is an endless parade of beverages through the house. Besides keeping us busy with cleaning mugs, cups and glasses, our constant hydration means we need lots and lots of coasters, especially since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic when we’ve been housebound.
Years ago I made a couple of coasters from linen scraps. And then I put together a couple more when I was taking pictures for Sew Witchy. With four total not being near enough to protect furniture from water circles and scorch marks, I set out to make more.
Sunday’s new moon on June 21 will see the release of a new tutorial: the My Pretty Tarot Bag.
This is based off of the My Pretty Dice Bag pattern (which you can find in my book Sew Witchy). The bag holds two tarot decks and has interior pockets for crystals. It has a flat, reinforced bottom to help the bag stay upright, and a drawstring closure.
The tutorial will be unlocked for Bodkin and Shuttle tiers.
We are a month into the shelter-in-place order here in Illinois. It’s been a long month of finding ways for everyone to work from home, learn remotely, and not drive each other to distraction. That’s no easy feat when you have four adults, two kids, three cats and a snake all in one place 24/7.
This has been hardest on my nine-year-old, Ben. He is a highly energetic, extremely extroverted kid. He misses his friends and he is struggling with not interrupting the working adults. To fill the time he has been playing a lot of Skyrim. Currently, his PC is a dark elf with two adopted daughters. This has prompted him to tell me all about how hard it is to be a single mother.
I decided to approach this as a challenge: using only what I have on hand. Seeing how we’re stuck at home I guess that’s less of a challenge and more of a necessity, but we’re gonna go with “challenge”. I dug out a yard of dark blue denim that I had been gifted from a friend’s destash. I found a vector image of the Skyrim logo online and a bottle of gold fabric paint from the Chris Gerrib commission in a basket for the stencil.
Making the sheath was simply a matter of measuring the sword’s length and width to make a fabric tube. I made sure to add an extra inch to the width so the sword could be sheathed easily. I tried to include Ben in the planning stage, but he got bored of the math pretty quickly, muttered something about needing to check in on his daughters, and left me to my work.
I sewed the opening hem, and then attached the belt loop. The stencil was the most difficult part. I spent probably an hour sizing the image and then cutting it out with an xacto knife. Once the paint dried I sewed the side and bottom seams. I decided, after the fact, that I wanted the bottom pointed, so I traced the sword point onto the fabric, and sewed on those lines. It was the most slap-dash part of the whole project and I’m not happy with how that turned out.
I made a matching belt. If I had my preference I would have used a belt buckle, but all I had on hand were D-rings. After Ben had played with the sheath for the day, I went back and added a bit of fabric to the top of the sheath to help him hold it steady when sheathing the sword.
Overall the project took only a couple of hours. Ben is already asking about sheathes for his other swords. I bet there’s a show out there where crafters have to make something with just the materials in their stash. If not, there should be. I’d rock it.
I love unicorns. Love them. Looooooove them. And I love cursing almost as much as I love unicorns, so it’s no wonder that both show up in the pep talks I give friends:
In the comments a friend wanted to know what it would cost to turn that into a needle point. And thus the following cross stitch design was born.
The cross stitches and french knots are done in two threads. The back stitches are done in one thread. The design pictured above was stitched on 14 pt white Aida cloth and the final measurement of the design is 9″ x 6″.
If you end up stitching this design let me know in the comments below.
Cross-stitch was one of my first hobbies. I’ve never gotten into crochet and knitting (I could never get my stitches tight enough), and sewing came much later. I enjoyed picking out new skeins of thread (back when one could buy four for a dollar at the local Pamida). They were little brightly colored threads of potential. Winding them on little cardboard bobbins was incredibly soothing. The limited number of stitches and the structure of the Aida cloth were less intimidating to me than freehand embroidery (I could never get my stitches even enough to look right).
At some point I stopped stitching. I got busy with the sewing, and then the publishing, and then the stress of just getting through the day. Sitting down and working on something just for myself seemed indulgent and irresponsible. The boxes of thread, the Aida cloth and cross-stitch books got pushed to the back of shelves to make room for bolts of cloth and serger thread and depression.
In November, as we reorganized the garage into a workshop, I found all of my cross-stitch supplies. They were dusty and wrinkled, but no worse for wear. I sat down one evening with some linen and waste canvas and my Celtic Cross Stitch book by Gail Lawther. I had an idea to create something I could hang over the front door, a pouch I could fill with herbs, stones, medallions, whatever represented to me safety and love and protection. I have an affinity for Hestia, who is often represented by a circle, and Stephan has a strong connection to his Celtic roots. I picked a design that was circular and got to work.
The actual stitching took a week or so, working in the evening. The whole time I had to remind myself that it was okay to take this time for myself. And as the pattern emerged, as I looked from design to fabric and back again, as my hands worked, I stitched pieces of myself back together. Those parts of me that had been torn away because I felt I didn’t have the right to self-care were reattached with careful rows of Xs. Breathe, I told myself. This is okay. You get to do something solely for the joy of it.
And it worked. It was soothing to concentrate on the rhythm of the needle going in and out of the fabric. I had to give all my attention to keeping the thread from tangling, to the number of stitches, to the tautness of the fabric. There was no room for other concerns. I made sure to tell Stephan several times how much I was enjoying this one simple act, to reinforce the good feelings.
After the pouch, I embellished my bag with a design of Hecate’s Wheel. I started having issues with leaving the house last year. Not so much agoraphobia, as anxiety about being around people. I thought that carrying a reminder of Hecate, a goddess that I associate with strength and protection, would help with my feelings. I am taking medication and am in therapy, both have helped with this particular issue (among others), and I think that the cross-stitch has aided in my healing.
Me being me, though, I started playing around with the idea of creating my own cross-stitch patterns. I’m also working on another book with Stephan, and I am looking to incorporate the cross-stitch into that. To those ends, I pulled out some graph paper and started with a topic that seemed easy enough: the Elder Futhark. The runes are all lines, with definite proportions. I wanted to design something that could be repurposed for various projects, and thought of all the alphabet samplers that one finds in various cross-stitch project books. I researched various viking design elements for the borders. The actual drafting took several weeks of graph work and then stitching out the designs to see how they looked. In the end I drafted two samplers, both on the small side so that they can be completed in a single sitting.
The first design you can see above, the runes are four stitches high by one or two stitches wide (depending on the rune). The finished design is approximately 2 1/4″ tall by 3 1/4″ wide on 14 count Aida cloth. It has been worked with two threads: the runes in red and the border in red and black.
The second design (below) is even smaller, the runes two stitches high and one or two stitches wide (again depending on the rune). The finished design is approximately 1 1/8″ tall by 2 1/8″ wide on 14 count Aida cloth. It has also been worked with two threads in the black and red colors.
Both designs are done in back-stitch (making them less cross-stitch patterns, but that’s the term I’m going with). The stitches include half and quarter stitches, so you have to work between the weave at some points.
I used the program KG-Chart LE to make the charts. I will definitely be buying the program as it very easy to use and does exactly what I need it to do. I highly recommend checking it out if you want to make your own patterns. You can view the designs by clicking on the links below:
I’m a word nerd and a science fiction geek. I also love to swear. Like, really fucking love to curse. My swearing is sometimes a problem (like when my children started dropping f-bombs as toddlers). But mostly swearing offers me a release for frustration. (Also, swearing has its benefits.)
Which is why I love science fictional swearing. You get to express your anger in a way that won’t lead to judgmental looks from those around you.
This cross stitch sampler is my love letter to the swears used throughout fandom. The pictured sampler was stitched on white 14 count Aida cloth using two strands of floss. Download the free chart by clicking on the download button below, or clicking here.
If you get your stitch and bitch on, please post a picture in the comments. I’d love to see how it turns out for you.