Featured Artist: Barbra LaBosco


This month I'd like to introduce you to my friend Barbra from All About The Buttons. Like me, Barbra dabbles in a lot of different crafts, including knit and crochet. If you love to knit and crochet too, you definitely need to get your hands on a few of her tape irresistible measures.

Tell us a little about yourself.

It’s never been easy for me to ‘talk’ about me because I never think anyone is interested but you asked, so here goes! My father was a leather designer and my mother sewed a great deal & had an artistic leaning. My brother tinkered and built things & still does today. He is just about ready to sell his photography work which is extraordinary. My nephews, are also very creative and sell their work. (My own son, not so much but wonderful in other ways!) We were a creative bunch and still are. I taught myself how to knit at 8 and shocked my mother and her Mahjongg friends. My loving to create continued as I was an art major in college. I sold many things from cards and scarves, to posters for fraternity parties and sporting events. After college, I chose to go into elementary school teaching and did so for 33 years while still creating on the side and always in my classrooms.


In 1993, I inherited my mother’s/grandmother’s cookie tin of buttons and I just sat and played and imagined and All About The Buttons was established at my kitchen table. In 2002, my husband and I moved from New York to South Carolina…a bit of culture shock! The motivation to come here was my son and his family which now includes his 3 boys, the light of our lives and also life without snow! Upon the move I gained a dedicated studio. No more cleaning up just because someone wants dinner! It’s the “not for public viewing” space that I don’t have to clean up if I’m not in the mood. In the mid 90s, it was suggested that I sell online but doing so for one-of-a-kind items was not feasible then. In 2006, it became possible for me and here I am!

What inspires you?

I have always made “stuff” and loved to sketch. I started with macaroni pictures as a young child to tape measures now! There’s barely any craft or material that I haven’t tried but a few are on my wish list. I have done extensive beaded flowers but the old eyes won’t tolerate that today. I dislike painting and anything with clay but have worked with both. I am in awe of quilters and one day I’d like to have the quilt in my head materialize. I have only made one stained glass piece and would love to give that another go for personal pleasure, not for sale.


I am inspired by basic supplies-buttons, yarn, paper and ribbon-which are often purchased with no goal in mind. Those materials began as someone else’s creations and I make them mine. I don’t make buttons, or spin yarn but taking them from a kind of raw state to a useful and beautiful item is so enjoyable. Often a material will sit for months but eventually will get used somehow. Actually, that’s not true! My button and yarn stash could keep me and several others busy for years! I also love to recycle and repurpose, whether it’s for sale or my private use. Making clocks out of old CDs, trays and dishes has been great fun.

What do you create?

As I said, the knitting was started very young and was quickly followed by crocheting and needlepoint. They came from a desire to emulate my Mom, Aunts and Grandmother who all indulged in activities requiring needles and I still enjoy them all. Working with buttons came from a desire to highlight them, rather than just use as garment closures. To me, they are often little works of art.



Tell us about your product line especially for knitters and crocheters.

The tape measures evolved from embarrassment! I pulled mine out in a store to measure a small stool and it was so grungy, it gave me the shivers. “Make it pretty” it said to me, and they have been an amazing ride ever since.


A knitter or crocheter must have one. It’s such a practical, useful item for anyone but I’m shocked that I’m not bored making them. Each one is just that different to keep my interest. Knitters and crocheters love all the sheep themes but have other interests as well and the tapes make great “I don’t know what to get her” gifts. Everyone can use them! I still get excited when another one sells and am always looking for new ideas for them.

Do you accept custom design orders?

I love custom tape measure orders and find my customers are very creative. The latest custom order was for a graduating pharmacy student from her aunt! People, buttons, yarn and fabric are constant inspirations.

What is a typical day for you?

A typical day consists of the mundane and ordinary household responsibilities. I fit in at least one hour of creating whether it’s tape measure construction, knitting or making shipping envelopes and cards. Much time is also spent on promoting online, a necessary evil. A great day may include gardening if my body and weather permits!

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful career and phase two has been just as exciting. I love what I do!

Anything else you would like to share?

One of the side benefits and joys of selling online is meeting great, creative souls all over the world. Creating can be an isolating endeavor but the internet has opened up the world for us all. I love that I can say I have friends in Texas, Oregon and New Hampshire, Germany and Australia. We may never physically meet, but we share passions, goals and intensity. It’s something no one anticipated with online selling and a wonderful bonus.


Stay Connected with Barbra



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Knitting Pattern: Simply Striped Christmas Stockings

Free Easy Knitting Pattern: Striped, felted wool Christmas stockings

Can you believe that Christmas is just five months away? For years I have wanted to make felted knit Christmas stockings for our family, but it's something I have just never got around to until now.

To make an extra sturdy, stuffable stocking, I decided to knit with 100% wool yarn and then felt the stocking in my washer/dryer. The pattern is very similar to a normal knit stocking, but it is made on a much larger scale. It is worked from the top down with a German short row heel. Rounds begin at the back of the leg/bottom of the foot.

Finished Measurements


7 ½ inches wide, 18 ½ inches from the top edge to the bottom of the heel and 14 inches from the back of the heel to the tip of the toe

Gauge

Materials

  • 1 skein of Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Wool (3.5 oz/100 g, 220 yd/200m) in each of four colors (shown above in Real Red, Azure, Woodsy and Plum Dandy) - It is very important that you DO NOT USE SUPERWASH YARN or the stocking will not felt.
  • US Size 8 (5.0 mm) dpns
  • 7 inches of 3/8 inch wide ribbon
  • needle and thread

Abbreviations

CO - cast on 
DS - double stitch - With the working yarn forward, slip one stitch (purlwise) from the left to the right needle, bring the working yarn over the top of the right needle and pull firmly. 
k - knit
kpno - knit one stitch and return it to the left needle, pass the next stitch over it and return the stitch to the right needle
p - purl
RS - right side
skpo - slip one stitch knitwise, knit one, pass slipped stitch over
WS - wrong side

Directions


As shown, Color A is Real Red, Color B is Azure, Color C is Woodsy and Color D is Plum Dandy.

Leg

With Color A, CO 80 sts evenly around 4 dpns.

Rnd 1-14 (Color A): K all sts.

Rnd 15-28 (Color B): K all sts.

Rnd 28-42 (Color C): K all sts.

Rnd 43-56 (Color D): K all sts.

Repeat Rnd 1-56 once more.

Rnd 57-63 (Color A): K all sts.

Heel

The entire heel is worked in Color A across 40 sts.

Row 1 (RS): K20.

Row 2 (WS): DS, p39.

Row 3: DS, k to next DS.

Row 4: DS, p to next DS.

Repeat Rows 3-4 twelve more times.

Row 5 (RS): DS, k6 (at this point there should be 14 Double Stitches on each side of the heel) k6, [k all strands of the next DS tog] twice.

Row 6 (WS): DS, p to next DS, [p all strands of the next DS together] twice.

Row 7: DS, k to next DS, [k all strands of the next DS tog] twice.

Row 8: DS, p to next DS, [p all strands of the next DS together] twice.

Repeat Row 7-8 eleven more times.

Row 9: DS, k19. At this point you should have one remaining double stitch on each side of the heel.

Foot

Do not turn your work.

Rnd 1 (Color A): K19, k all strands of DS tog, k40, k all strands of DS together, k19.

Rnd 2-7: K all sts.

Rnd 8-21 (Color B): K all sts.

Rnd 22-35 (Color C): K all sts.

Rnd 36-49 (Color D): K all sts.

Toe

The entire toe is worked with Color A. Make sure your sts are divided evenly around 4 dpns.

Rnd 1: K all sts.

Rnd 2: On Needles 1 and 3, k to last 2 sts, skpo; On Needles 2 and 4, kpno, k all sts to the end of the needle.

Repeat Rnd 1-2 until 40 sts remain.

Work only Rnd 2 until 12 sts remain. Knit 3 sts from Needle 1 onto Needle 4. Slip sts from Needle 2 and 3 onto a single dpn.

Break yarn leaving a long tail. With the yarn tail use the Kitchener Stitch to graft the Toe.

Felting

Before felting, your stocking will be very large.

To felt your stocking, machine wash and tumble dry (warm water and medium heat) with a medium sized load of similar colored items. Do not over-dry.

Make sure to slightly roll the top edge of the stocking before drying. It may be necessary to wash and dry a second time for the stocking to felt to the desired size.

If needed, lightly spray the stocking with water and block so that the stocking is 7 ½ inches wide, the leg is 18 ½ inches from the top edge to the bottom of the heel and the foot is 14 inches from the back of the heel to the tip of the toe.

After felting and blocking, hand stitch a loop of ribbon onto the stocking so it can be hung.

A printable version of my Simply Striped Christmas Stocking is available in my pattern shop and includes additional information about yarn requirements and felting tips for making a set of four coordinating stockings.

Free Easy Knitting Pattern: Striped, felted wool Christmas stockings

Happy knitting!

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How to Make a Niddy Noddy to Skein and Measure Yarn

A pvc niddy noddy costs less than $5 to make and helps you measure yarn as you skein it.

Until I recently started spinning, I never really had the need to skein my own yarn. (Unless, of course, you count that time I had to rewash a cake of indie dyed yarn that was bleeding.)

There is a simple tool called a niddy noddy that can help you quickly wind up a skein of yarn. You may be able to purchase a niddy noddy at your local yarn store, or even online, but making one ridiculously easy and costs less than $5.

I did a little math when I was making my niddy noddy so that I could use it to measure my yarn, as well as skein it.

Materials

  • 5 feet of 1/2 inch pvc
  • 2 - 1/2 inch pvc T connectors
  • hacksaw or pipe cutter (optional)
  • ruler (optional) 

Directions


If you have a hacksaw or pipe cutter, it's easy to measure and cut your own pvc. If not, your local hardware store can usually cut it for you for a small fee.

Cut four 5-inch lengths of pvc for the ends of the niddy noddy.

The shaft length of the niddy noddy determines how long your skein will be.
  • 7 1/4 inch long shaft = 1 yd skein
  • 13 1/4 inch long shaft = 1 1/2 yd skein
  • 16 1/4 inch long shaft = 2 yd skein

I cut one of each length. If you only want one of the sizes, you'll be able to purchase a shorter length of pvc.

Dimensions to make a niddy noddy to measure and skein yarn in 1, 1.5 and 2 yd lengths

The 5-inch pieces slide into each side of the top of the "T" and the shaft goes in the middle. Then twist the ends so they are perpendicular to each other.

Wind your yarn as close to the center "T" connector as possible remembering not to pull you fiber too tightly. Secure the yarn ends and twist your yarn into a neat hank.


Happy spinning!


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