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pattern // a royal oval sapphire for september

September Sapphire Pattern

We're nine months into 2018, and now we're nine patterns into this Birthstone Wild Olive Stitching Club! I'm a little behind once again, but I hope that if you're stitching along you're keeping up.

September's birthstone is a sapphire, and as I mentioned when I shared the wallpapers, I chose this gemstone cut based on Princess Diana's amazing sapphire engagement ring. To match the rest of the birthstones in the series, this is just the large stone. However, if you wanted to stitch a version of this that matches the ring, it would look pretty fantastic if you stitched metallic french knot "diamonds" around the oval. Just an idea!

I'm still stitching mine, and then it will get some EPP half hexagons around it, all of which are in the pattern below. Or you can, of course, stitch it larger with the full-size pattern.


And remember that these will all fit together as a special birthday celebration placemat, suitable for birthdays any month of the year!

jumping into knitting pattern design

Designing the Sylvia Poncho Wrap

A thing that I love about crafting of almost all kinds is that once you learn how to do something and follow instructions, you can learn how to design your own things. This is true for me with embroidery, English paper piecing, kids crafts, and more. But one craft medium I never imagined designing for is knitting (and crochet, but we'll get to that another time).

Most of the time I felt good if I could just follow a simple pattern, and I considered myself to be a novice knitter. In some ways, I probably still am. There are plenty of techniques that I've never tried, let alone mastered. But the more I knit and followed a pattern, the more confident I became.

So when The Spruce Crafts asked me to design a new poncho knitting pattern, I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I could do it. Spoiler alert (as if the photo above didn't give it away just yet...): I did it.

Along the way, I documented some of the process and I thought it might be interesting for you to peek into the process of what it looked like for me to design my first knitting pattern. (You can also hear me talking about this is episode 11 of the Very Serious Crafts Podcast!)

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The first step was deciding on the shape. I saw a few examples of ponchos that were basically a large rectangle, folded, and then stitched. The shape was simple, so for a first go at this, that was my choice.

Next, I knew I wanted it to have a few lace elements because I've enjoyed knitting slightly lacy shawl patterns. In fact, I started really playing with the design by using some leftover yarn from a shawl I made. (It's Unicorn Battle sock yarn from The Lemonade Shop)

To figure out the design for this, I just started knitting. I added some yarn overs and K2Togs, and looked at my mini swatch. And then I started again and again.



I also started researching some different kinds of stitch combinations I liked, and found a lace rib that was a nice combination of the lacy style I was thinking, as well as some lines of stitching that I was drawn to.

Around that time, I received some Lyonesse yarn from Blacker Yarns. One of the things I learned through the design process is that knitting designers often receive "yarn support" from companies who provide them with product to work with. Using yarn that a yarn company sends helps a TON when it comes to designing a pattern. Not only does it save designers some money, but knitters come out with a finished project that matches the sample.

So by this point I started making swatches with the actual yarn I would use for the poncho. And after several attempts, I got a swatch I was happy with.



So I started knitting! Wheeeeeee!!!!



Aaaaannnnnddddd then I realized that I wasn't doing this right. So I undid all that I had just done.

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I went back to my notes, which were starting to get really messy. I had at least three versions of the pattern written out on two pages, some as a chart, some as abbreviations, all with extra scribbles around. For the record, there are better ways to organize this process! Ha!

But I knit again and took more notes found the problems.

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Eventually, it looked right enough for me to really jump into this. But because this is knit in a ribbing-type stitch (which I modified a little), the knitting was just looking really tight. The needles for this are a large enough size to make the knit fabric lightly lacy when it opens up after blocking, but I got nervous as the piece grew.

So I partially blocked the end. To my great relief, it looked like it was supposed to! There was nothing left to do but knit.

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And that's what I did. I knit it planes, trains, and automobiles, as well as in comfortable chairs, backyard swings, faraway living rooms, and I even took my project to the mill where the yarn was made.

All the while, I was thinking of what to call this thing. It's technically a poncho, but it also looks a little like a shawl or a wrap. So I thought referring to it as a poncho wrap was a good idea. But that was too generic. It needed a name that makes it easier to find...

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Before long, it was time to bind off the end of the poncho wrap. And block it. The rectangle blocks to 24 x 48 inches, and I pinned that baby like crazy. Especially the picot edge (which is one of my favorite parts!).

When I unpinned the dry poncho wrap, I could feel how wonderful this was going to be. It really was the first time I got to truly see what it would look like! To make sure it draped right and that the opening would be large enough, I pinned one edge together and modeled it over my pajamas. This is how the pros do it, right?

I showed family members and they approved, so it came time to stitch and finish it. Yaaaaayyyyyy!!!!

Sylvia Poncho Wrap Knitting Pattern

My sister agreed to model it for the final photos (which look way better than me in my pjs with the poncho wrap!). We might take a few more now that the weather has cooled down a bit. For some reason wearing wool in 90+ degree weather isn't conducive to getting TONS of photos! Ha!

And now my pattern is officially launched into the world. You can find it at The Spruce Crafts and on Ravelry. It's called the Sylvia Poncho Wrap, named so because my grandma Sylvia taught me how to knit.

(Since then, I also made another pattern too...this time for a much smaller and easier project: a dishcloth!)

calendar // a royal sapphire for september



September already? I guess that means it's time for a new set of birthstone wallpapers!

Honestly, this is the time of year when I really start to go into denial. Even though autumn doesn't officially start until the end of September, and even though Labor Day is considered the end of summer in the US, September 1st signifies the start of the new season. And even though this is my favorite season, I'm not quite ready this year...

So in an effort to delay September a little more, or at least delay the September wallpaper links, enjoy a few things that I made and shared in August:

Happy Mail Pencil Case

You might know how much I love kawaii cuteness, and it was so much fun to make some literal happy mail with this envelope style pencil case for Handmade Charlotte!

Animal Pocket Folders

I also designed some printable faces that you can use to create some fun pocket folders that look like colorful animals!

Alphabet Sampler Embroidery Pattern

In the embroidery category, I shared this free alphabet embroidery sampler pattern. It's a great way to practice a bunch of stitches or even make a simple monogram.

Sylvia Poncho Wrap Knitting Pattern

My biggest project of August was actually my biggest project of the entire summer. Because that's how long it took me! The Sylvia Poncho Wrap is my very first knitting pattern, and I'm so pleased with the results. I'll share more about the process in a whole separate post soon.

Very Serious Crafts S1E10

And lest I forget to mention it, new episodes of the Very Serious Crafts Podcast released this month too. Episode 10 felt like a milestone for us, and we hope you'll give it a listen!

Now, how about a new set of wallpapers with an oval-cut sapphire? I debated on what shape to make this month's birthstone, but opted for something a little nostalgic. Although it's turned the other way, you might recognize this as the stone from Princess Diana's amazing engagement ring, which Kate Middleton now wears.

How could I resist making it cute? And how you can resist adding this new calendar to your phone, tablet or desktop?


touring the natural fibre company yarn mill

The Natural Fibre Company

Just over a month ago I was in England, visiting my friend Katie. The trip was amazing, and we visited all kinds of great places, many of which had a crafty theme to them. In fact, I saw so many craft related things that they'll get their own blog post. But one particular part of the trip deserves a post of its own.

While I was in the western part of England, I got to visit where Katie works. Going to someone's workplace might not always be exciting, but in this case, it was. Because Katie works at Blacker Yarns, which is part of the Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall, England.

They made the beautiful yarn in my latest knitting project that's pictured above (more info about that soon!), and I got to tour the mill where they do this. It was loud, it smelled like wool, and it was magical. Let me show you around...

The Natural Fibre Company
The Natural Fibre Company

As soon as I stepped through the door from the offices to the mill area, I was met with bags full of wool, ready to be processed. These fleeces come in big bags and bigger bags. The Natural Fibre Company works with suppliers in different ways and from different areas, but it's mostly local fiber.

The Natural Fibre Company
The Natural Fibre Company

If you didn't already know, fleeces from sheep aren't just fluffy beautiful wool. They come with a lot of debris and bits that just aren't suitable for yarn. So they get hand sorted. What a job! You can see some of the rejects on the floor. Plus a trash bin that has collected a number of wooly pieces!

The Natural Fibre Company
Touring a Yarn Mill

Sorted wool goes on the carding machine, which processes it, leaving it in long, thick sections that look like roving ropes. If you click the lower image above, it will load the video of one of the machines working.

The Natural Fibre Company
The Natural Fibre Company

The processed wool "ropes" are then spun. I didn't get to see this part actually working, but I did spy some cones and spools of single ply wool!

The Natural Fibre Company
The Natural Fibre Company

Spun wool is dyed (sometimes...Blacker Yarns sells a fair amount of natural yarns) in these enormous vats. They were empty the day I visited, but I did spy some recently dyed secret yarn nearby. (Of course, I can't share secret yarn pics!)

The Natural Fibre Company

Yarn then needs to head to the drying room. Which was filled with yarn that was relaxing before it goes on to the next step...

The Natural Fibre Company
The Natural Fibre Company
Touring a Yarn Mill

From large hanks of yarn, it goes onto this machine that transfers the wool onto cones. This machine works FAST, and someone is constantly replacing the hanks. Again, you can click that last one to load a short video of it working.

It seemed strange at first that they would take these hanks that are practially skeins and make them into cones. But I learned that cones are needed to go on the ball winder. That makes sense!

The Natural Fibre Company

Even with all these photos, I wish I had taken more. I wandered through aisles of wool, explored knitting and crochet samples of many of Blacker Yarns' free patterns, and was in general, like in kid in a wooly candy store.

Thank you, Katie, for giving me the tour! And for helping me add to my list of knitting projects that I must make!

pattern // a noble marquise peridot for august

August Peridot Pattern

Ready to stitch another birthstone? This month we're stitching a marquise-cut peridot, and as with all the other Wild Olive Birthstone Stitching Club patterns, it's free!

Occasionally my life feels overwhelming. Does that happen to you too? The result of that overwhelm is that I work on all the things I've promised to other people and I let my own projects sit on a back burner. Sometimes I pull them off the stove entirely. And while that's sometimes the right thing to do, it creates its own problems.

To remedy this, I'm trying to work on Wild Olive projects one day a week before I work on all the rest. My commitment to all the rest means it will still get done, but hopefully, I'll make progress on my own work...which means more things to share with you too!

All of this to say, I actually stitched this month's pattern AND sewed the EPP pieces together! It feels like a huge accomplishment, even though it only took a few hours all together.


Whether you've been stitching along all year so far, or if this is your first time encountering these patterns, I hope you enjoy this one. AND I hope you share your pics with the world! Tag them #WildOliveStitchingClub so we can see.

calendar // a noble peridot for august



Hello, August! I've got a pretty new peridot birthstone calendar wallpaper for you!

July felt like the shortest and longest month. Shortest because I think it flew by. But longest because I squeezed in so much during the month. And now we're here in August and I'm just not sure how it happened.

Regardless, I'm charging full speed ahead. August is my sister's birthday month, and I'm pretty sure she wasn't a fan of her birthstone growing up. Now she has a better appreciation for this bright and bold green. As do I!

The cut this month is a marquise cut, and so I'm calling this a noble peridot. Grab the calendars for your computer, tablet, and phone!


I'm kinda loving the look of this gem, and I might need to hurry and make a bonus project with this one. Perhaps as a gift for my sister?

Oh, and happy birthday to all the August babies!

project // sew a softie wobbly piggy toy

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball


Sew a Softie is a fun campaign to encourage kids (and others!) to try sewing simple soft toys. My contribution is this squishy piggy that's also a wobbly ball! It might look a little more advanced, but I promise you this isn't difficult.

This project is perfect for kids who have a little sewing machine experience, or for those who are new to sewing and have some help from a grown-up.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

I made this little piggy with a sewing machine, which speeds up the process, but you can sew it by hand if you want. If you're sewing by hand, use small backstitches to stitch the seams. The small stitches will prevent any of the weighted filler in the bottom from escaping.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

You will need:

Pink Anti-Pill Fleece - 1/4 yard
Black Felt - scrap
Pink and Black Embroidery Floss
Weighted Pellets or Beans
Stuffing
Basic Sewing Supplies

THIS LITTLE PIGGY SOFTIE PATTERN

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

Cut out 7 body pieces. Fleece stretches more in one direction than the other. Make sure to cut the pieces so the arrow on the pattern matches with the stretch of the fleece.

Cut out the 2 ears and nose from fleece. Then cut two eyes from black felt.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

Embroider the tail on one of the body pieces. The pattern includes a tail pattern, but it's pretty easy to freehand this. Just have it start at one edge, which will be the center of the piggy's back.

Attach the nose to another body piece. Use 3 strands of pink embroidery floss and back stitch to attach it. Then, stitch the nostrils.

Attach the eyes with 3 strands of black embroidery floss and whip stitch around the edges. Then, stitch the mouth.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

Pin the ears to the face with the straight edges on the sides and the points facing in.

It's often hard to tell, but anti-pill fleece has a right and a wrong side. Try to make sure the ears are placed with the right side down.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

Pin and sew a body piece to each side of the face panel. Use a 1/4-inch seam allowance and be sure to catch the ears as you sew.

Again, try to make sure you pin the right sides of the fabric together.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

Keep adding plain body pieces on, first adding to the left, then adding to the right. When you have two pieces left, add the piece with the tail so that the edge with the tail ends up in the center of the back. Add the last piece.

Then, sew the two open edges together a little at the top and the bottom, leaving an opening near the middle.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball
This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

Before you turn the ball shape right side out, check to make sure the top and bottom are sewn closed without a hole. If you have a little gap like this, hold the ball flat and sew across the opening.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

Turn the piggy right side out and add weighted pellets to the bottom. Use enough to give it some good weight. I added almost 1 cup.

NOTE: If you want to give this piggy to a small child, skip this step, as the pellets or beans could cause choking if they get out.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

Next, fill the piggy with stuffing. Add it in small pieces, which helps it look even. Keep adding stuffing until it's full.

Because fleece stretches, it will probably take more stuffing than you expect it to.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

Stitch the opening on the back closed.

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

This little wobbly piggy is ready to play!

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

I just love the little tail!

This Little Piggy Wobbly Softie Ball

Give your piggy some hugs, then try rolling him on the floor. Because of the weight in the bottom, he'll always land right side up!