Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Nursery Rhyme Blocks: Redwork

Stuffed in the back of one of my craft drawers, all folded and yes, just a little bit dusty, were a couple of panels of nursery rhyme quilt blocks. I don't even remember how long ago I bought them! I found them, along with several skeins of Anchor red embroidery floss and a plastic bag with a photo of the finished quilt.

I have so many other projects going right now, but I couldn't help myself. I had to find an embroidery needle, a hoop and get going. Right then. Immediately. I mean, who can resist such charming little scenes?

There's something particularly satisfying about embroidery. Now, I'm not very good at it anymore, but I hope, in time, I will be back up to speed! I started out years and years ago (when I was in 6th grade, actually). A teacher gave us lessons in the lunchroom. I really don't remember why. Maybe it was just something she wanted to do. There was just a little group of us and I was so excited about it! We started out embroidering on burlap. We sketched a design, then used simple stitches to bring it to life. I still remember mine. It was a very colorful, very large snail and I was so very proud of it!

Although there are plenty of blogs and YouTube video tutorials on embroidery stitches, my favorite reference is an old volume from The Betty Crocker Home Library called The Pleasures of Crewel. It's an absolutely fabulous book with lots and lots of photographs and stitches I had never before seen.

For right now, I must put away the new little knitting patterns I'm designing; stop working on the Quiet Book pages for my grandson; finish up the rest of the decorations for the June wedding as quickly as I can; and finally, clean the house. After that, I shall find time to finish this. Yes! I shall!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Silver Stars, Sparkling White and Lots of Paper ... Wedding Preparations!

A lot has been going on behind the scenes since my last post! Our eldest daughter got married on February 11 and, thank God, it was a gorgeous day! Although we had nothing to do with the actual reception, we had planned to host an after-rehearsal party at our house for our out-of-town family and the wedding party and friends.
When I started counting up how many people, I realized it would be about 40 guests! There were so many special touches I wanted to include ... and, making our mid-1970's home look nice is always challenging!
I started planning early.
A little background: our daughter has an interest in Japan: the language and the culture. She took Japanese in high school and college and has visited Japan several times. In fact, her husband proposed to her in a little planetarium restaurant in Tokyo. So, silver and navy, stars and Asian-inspired decorations were to be her theme.
From a sweet Etsy shop, she ordered origami flowers for her wedding bouquet and her attendants' bouquets ... and origami flowers for the groomsmen, as well. So, taking this idea, I made a few decorations, myself. I am sharing them here, along with links to the fabulous online tutorials that helped me so much ... just in case anyone would like to use these ideas.

First, she and her husband chose February 11 as their date ... partly because my husband and I had our wedding on February 7 ... and we chose that date because ... strangely coincidentally, both my parents and my husband's parents had chosen February 7!!! How wonderfully weird is that?? My parents were February 7, 1948 and my husband's parents were February 7, 1950 (yes, it was a Tuesday evening for their wedding)!!

We were able to find the original wedding invitations for all, so we framed them and put them on a little table in the hall, along with origami stars.  

I couldn't find navy-blue sparkly paper, but I still think they came out nicely. While there are many tutorials for these stars, I felt this one is really well done and easy to follow: Origami Lucky Stars
If you'd like to use the same sparkly paper I did, I bought it on Here is a link to it: Glitter Origami Star Paper I found it very easy to work with.

Okay ... so I had the front hall decorated a little and everybody really enjoyed seeing these wedding invitations that they really had never seen before! It was amazing we found them stashed away.

Next, I made paper fans to attach to the wall. Our dining room has a big, blank wall and these fit perfectly! I used lots of different scrapbook papers. They all work pretty well. The majority are card stock, but some actually feel like wallpaper samples! I bought them at Hobby Lobby, AC Moore and Michael's. Basically, wherever they were on sale. You will need quite a few, especially for the bigger fans.
Before attaching them to the wall with 3M Command Strips, I laid them out on the table, then I took a picture of the arrangement so that I could recreate it on the wall. We ended up hot-gluing the smaller ones on top of the larger after we hung the larger ones on the wall.

I tried to use a heart paper punch around the edges of two of the fans, just for something different, but I wasn't too accurate. Don't look too closely!
For the centers, I cut out round pieces of card stock and glued each down, then added another layer on top ... either a flower shape or another circle in a coordinating or contrasting paper. I added a tiny glittery dot on top of that. I also glued a card-stock circle to the center back of each fan to help stabilize it.
There are many, many paper fan tutorials if you do a search on Youtube. The basic idea is simply accordion-pleating paper segments and then gluing the segments together. I used hot glue. It was much faster.
I noticed some people used a whole sheet of paper and stapled it in the middle, as in this tutorial: Stapled Paper Fans and others started with smaller pieces, as in this tutorial: Paper Rosettes. I found those two to be the most straightforward and easy-to-follow videos. Another method uses even smaller pieces of paper: Paper Pinwheels. Whatever method you choose, they all produce the same effect. Varying the size of the papers, obviously, is what makes the end fan (or rosette or pinwheel) larger or smaller.

Another decoration I thought really interesting is the "manzanita" tree or "wishing tree." Whatever name you'd like to call it, it looks like simple branches decorated with hanging crystals. When I looked around for these, I was amazed at how expensive they are! "Why," I said to myself, "I have white latex paint in the shed! And silver glass glitter! I shall make my own!"
So that's what I did. I found an old branch that had blown off a shrub. I'm sure you have a few lying around your yard. Winter is the perfect time to find them. It doesn't have to come from any special tree or shrub. The branches just have to be attractively spaced and they need to be sturdy enough to tolerate holding a little decoration.
I took my branch and laid it on newspaper outside. With a sponge paint brush, I brushed on the latex paint, then, while still wet, sprinkled the glitter on it to make it look like a frosty, sparkling tree. I might not recommend glass glitter, though. Yes, it's lovely, but it is sharp. I cut my fingers in a few spots while turning the branches and sprinkling.

When dry, I put the branch in a vase and filled it partway with little glass stones that are sold in the floral sections of all the craft stores. They didn't have any navy. These were the closest to clear that I could find that day. They actually have a greenish tint, I think.
The ornaments are very easy. I bought a few Swarovski crystal charms (a few hearts and a few teardrops). I also bought a little container of silver bugle beads, a package of end-crimp fasteners, some very fine, 32-gauge wire (but you could use thin string, really) and a strand of glass beads.

I just threaded a crystal with wire, then used a crimp, sliding it down the two ends to hold the charm in place. I then threaded the doubled wire through a bugle bead, a glass bead, etc. You can alternate them any way you'd like. Yes, the wire is so very thin that, even doubled, it can pass through the bugle beads. After I made the ornament as long as I wanted, I used another crimp fastener, then made a loop of the wire for hanging. I twisted it around several times to secure it, then cut the ends with a wire cutter.

Here is the tutorial I used to help me: Jewelry Christmas Ornaments

I decided I wanted a couple of vases of origami flowers to echo the bouquet my daughter had ordered. I mixed in some silk flowers, as well.

I used the same papers I had used for the fans, so that it would all kind of coordinate. It took a bit of practice. I found these tutorials the most helpful: Origami Kusudama Flowers and Origami Iris
I used hot glue to hold my Kusudama petals together.

After these decorations were completed, I started thinking about what to do with the paper napkins and disposable utensils ... how could I possibly make them look good?

Well, I found a great paper-napkin folding tutorial here: Folding Paper Napkins. Luigi Spotorno shows many excellent ways to fold a paper napkin, but the one I wanted for this event begins at 3:21 on his video. This man is really a great teacher!

I purchased these silver-and-white napkins at Party City. Using grosgrain ribbon, a little bit of silver-bead string, a couple of heart charms and a glue gun, I was able to make little napkin-ring like decorations. I think they came out pretty well.

I used Mr. Sportono's folding method, then measured the folded piece all the way around. I cut both a strand of the beads and the ribbon to this length. I hot-glued the ribbon at the back. I then threaded one of the heart charms onto bead strand, then wrapped this around the ribbon. I hot-glued it at the back, as well.

I didn't fold my paper napkin quite as long as the knife; however, I think the utensils still fit nicely into the little pocket.
Once those were made, I put them all aside. I then had a bit of a dilemma when I thought about the guests actually eating. Although we were serving a simple buffet of assemble-yourself deli sandwiches, we don't have enough room for everyone to have a place at a table to eat. I have never liked juggling a glass, along with my plate. The solution: trays from Ikea!
I purchased these Smula trays, which I found very economical, then bought paper doilies to fit over top. The paper plates and the utensils fit nicely. There was even room for a glass. The best part? The trays sat neatly on laps, and there were no drinks set down on the floor!
We decided for dessert we would have a groom's cake. My daughter's husband is a League of Legends fan, as well as a German-chocolate cake lover. So, I decided to make a German-chocolate sheet cake with his favorite character on top! Amumu!
Because one of the guests has a tree-nut allergy, I did not make the typical pecan-coconut icing. I filled the cake with a modified version, leaving out the nuts. And, because we wanted Amumu to show up in all his glory, I iced the cake in chocolate first, and smoothed it out. Using piping gel, I traced a picture of Amumu, put it on the cake and then filled in with piped icing.
We modified cake pulls a little to be non-gender specific, as we wanted the entire wedding party to be able to participate. So, before icing, I placed the charms under the cake, the ribbons hanging out. I was able to pipe a shell border right over the ribbon.
Everyone thought the cake tasted really good! And the groom certainly enjoyed seeing Amumu!
All in all, the party was a great success. Phew!
Now, onto making the decorations and planning for my son's wedding ... scheduled for this June!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Frosty on the Outside, Warm on the Inside!

Share the spirits of the season with this whimsical snowman bottle cover! 
Knit in the round on double-pointed needles, then fulled in the washing machine, this sturdy cover is as practical as it is fun. 
A cleverly concealed insert knit within the head fits perfectly over the top of the bottle. 
It makes a unique gift cover for most 11-12-inch bottles (wine, liquor or sparkling ciders).

The free pattern is available as a pdf download at The Pattern Box shop! You can also find it on Ravelry.

I'll be posting more photos and how-to details soon!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Calling All Knitters! Knit a Chow for Charity!

The other day, I received one of the best emails ever from Jeri Sayer in New Jersey.

"I have special needs kids, so spend lots of time with therapists," Jeri wrote. "Our youngest has speech issues. Her therapist had a great plastic mouth that everyone borrowed ... and one day, it turned up missing. Being a great knitting fan, I found CHOW on Ravelry ... knit it up and gave it to her. She was beyond thrilled, to say the least."

The therapist shared a photo of Chow on her Facebook group page, and suddenly, the idea for a charity fundraiser was born!

The Chow Hand Puppet
"Believe it or not ... my speech therapist says she has 100 people that want one," Jeri exclaimed, "which is amazing, as she also knows of a disabled kid who has a mom who knits in hopes of raising funds for a van to transport [her]. "

What started out as a thoughtful gift, has turned into a wonderful opportunity. The clients and staff of the Kireker Center for Child Development, part of the Valley Health Care System in New Jersey, have spearheaded a fundraiser, knitting and selling the Chow puppet in the hopes of raising enough funds to purchase the special-needs van.

This is where you come in! If you would like more information, or if you'd like to volunteer to knit a Chow to help raise funds for the special-needs van, please email Jeri at: It would help her stay organized if you could put "Knitting Volunteer" in the subject line. If you would like to purchase a finished Chow, please email Jeri and put "Chow Purchase" in the subject line. Jeri is hoping to set up a Facebook page for knitters, so please let her know if you'd like to be added.

Click here for my Chow Pattern, available for free on the website.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Making and Selling Finished Pieces

Recently, I have been overjoyed with the wonderful notes I have received from people who have knitted up my Chow Hand Puppet design.
I have been asked what my policy is on selling items made from my designs. I am truly honored that so many people have found joy in my humble toys and decorations!!
I do believe in promoting handmade toys, and I want to be as supportive as possible. However, I also want to protect my designs. So, I ask, if you would like to use my patterns to make toys, decorations or novelties to sell, you will need to purchase and attach a hang tag onto each item sold to identify it as an Anita M. Wheeless design.
The hang tag on the item will serve as my licensing requirement. You can purchase a package of 24 hang tags for $5.00, plus the cost of actual postage (unless you are making and selling them for charity ... in which case, I will pay the postage). It will look like this, measuring 2" x 3 1/2" ... and it will come with a pre-drilled hole to the left ... and a little string and tiny safety pin for attaching.

Please contact me: for more information about ordering. And thank you so much for your kind notes and enthusiasm!

Monday, March 14, 2016

A New Use for Yarn!

A new use for yarn ... pom poms!
 Here is Bif enjoying his pom pom ball pit ...

 Introducing a happy chick, bearing a little Easter lily! He's my first attempt at pom pom animals ... I stitched the smaller pom pom onto the larger ... glass shoe-button bead eyes (size 5mm) sewn in ... I used an awl to open a path for pipe cleaner arms and legs and needle felted a bit of orange roving for his beak.
 Pink rabbit has pipe cleaner arms and legs, too ... but I needle felted a bit of pink wool over top ... pink ears cut from felt ... whiskers are waxed thread  ... 4 mm bead eyes sewn in.
 I really made the pom pom body of the swan too small, so I tried to compensate by needle felting wings and tail feathers! 4 mm glass bead eyes.

Monday, February 15, 2016

My First Waldorf-Style Doll ...

Okay, so he's definitely not perfect. All in all, though, I have to say I'm pretty pleased with this little guy! I haven't used my sewing machine in years ... so, yes, his stitches are awkward looking ... and his crocheted cap for his hair leaves much to be desired. But already he's got a little personality! I'm trying another first ... a tiny sweater knitted up just for him. Of course, he'll also get a little pair of pants!!!

I'm calling him "Bif" ... in fond remembrance of a Little Kiddle doll my sister gave me when I was about 6 years old.