Category Archives: The Designing Day

Make It Your Own

Using Ravelry projects for HeartStrings patterns as an inspirational resource

An underlying principle of my HeartStrings patterns has always been to offer “Yarn-generic patterns for creative freedom using yarns you like”.

Of course, for the sample model(s) pictured in the patterns, you might initially be swayed into envisioning the project in only that yarn. But please don’t feel locked into that — I whole-heartedly give you my permission to use something other than the specific sample yarn I show. In fact I ENCOURAGE you to make the look your own in the yarn YOU like.

Thanks to the many knitters who take the time to share their project information and information on Ravelry, you can use these as inspirational resources for ideas of making HeartStrings patterns your own, in your own way, with the yarns and colors you like, and more!

Here’s an example to demonstrate a few of the many features offered by Ravelry to help you.

Below is a snippet of an example pattern page at Ravelry. This one happens to be for the Scotch Thistle Lace Stole.

suggested yarn

Note: One way to pull up any HeartStrings pattern page at Ravelry is to go to the Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer Designs/HeartStrings FiberArts store on Ravelry at

The “Suggested yarn” field is usually the yarn that was used to knit the sample model pictured in the pattern. By no means does this limit you to using only that particular yarn in the color shown though!

Click on the “yarn ideas” tab to see all the yarns used for this pattern by Ravelry members who have posted their projects.

other yarns used by Ravelry members for this pattern

Click on the “projects” tab
to see the actual projects for this pattern that Ravelry members have knitted or are knitting. Note: If you are not a Ravelry member, you might need to join (it’s free) to view other members’ projects.

Most members post pictures so you can see the colors they used and other insights to knitting the project, or how the article can be used or worn.

projects for this pattern shared by Ravelry members

If you use the Stash feature of Ravelry, the “In my stash” field even identifies possible yarns for this pattern that are in your stash!

Ravelry identifies possible yarns for this pattern that are in your stash

Ann F. wrote: “Thank you so much!  The Ravelry site gave me ideas, showing me that I have some latitude in the yarn I choose. I’m heading now into the basement to check out my cabinet of stash. ;-)”

Thoughts on What Leaf Is This

Carole wrote: “So — I’ll bite! What kind of a leaf is it?”

A couple of months ago while watching the leaves change color in Colorado, I envisioned the design for a garland of leaves that would change color auto-magically while knitting with a ball of yarn in slow-changing colors (I used Crystal Palace Mini Mochi yarn). That was the concept behind what eventually became Fantasy Leaves Scarfette.

I had a lot of fun playing around with designing the leaf-like shape that incorporated a bit of lacy holes, some veiny texture, and hint of serrated edges. Then I realized I had come up with a leaf that I could not identify in nature as we now know it. I guess that is what “art” is about – ha! ha! At a loss for any specific leaf name(s), I simply went with them “Fantasy Leaves” which, after all, was a true statement.

John humored me by suggesting I should have a “name that leaf” contest. Sounded silly at the time, but then I thought — sure, we can do that. That is how the “What Leaf Is This” Weekend Giveaway came about.

So many good answers (I wish I were as creative with words as some of these!) — I thought it well worth pulling them all together here so we can all enjoy them. I was rolling with laughter with some of these.

  • Diana said: This is obviously a BeLeaf. I believe I can knit, I believe I can create, I believe things made by hand are the most beautiful. I am full of BeLeaf.
  • Knittingdancer said: It is the last leaf to fall off the yarn bombed tree.
  • Sydnie said: Evidently it is the Greta Garbo leaf. . . leaf me alone. . .
  • Carolyn said: Black walnut. Definitely black walnut. See them every year at the end of fall all over my back yard. You may come pick the rest of them up if you wish:)
  • Girliefriend said: It’s one of many leaves I see with my rose colored glasses.
  • Susan said: Related to a pear tree leaf, which is one of the earliest trees to bloom (beautiful white blossoms) in our neighborhood in the spring, so if I knit this, I can “beleaf” that spring is almost here (I am so not a dreary days winter person). It could be one leaflet of a rhododendron, but I don’t have those in my yard so I wouldn’t think of the scarf as that. But yes, a pear tree leaf would work for me.
  • Andrea said: this is the most beautiful leaf to fall this year
  • Kay said: As my husband says about ANY plant he doesn’t know … “It’s a curly leaf ligustrum!”
  • Saunya said: Tough question, since it could be many, but I’ll go with Magnolia.
  • Judy said: The real leaf
  • Ron said: The Diamond Leaf
What Leaf is This?
What Leaf is This?

Which are your favorites? Or if you have another take on “What Leaf Is This”, let us know your thoughts, too.

7 Ways to Gift It With A Handmade Touch (plus a bonus)

Giving handmade is a way of showing love and appreciation for others. It means something special.

But sometimes there just isn’t enough time to make completely handmade gifts for everyone on your list. Or at least it isn’t for me!

Here are 7 ideas (plus a bonus) for making it special with handmade by complementing ready-made commercial items with small, quick knits. Each is a nice handmade touch with just a little time and materials invested.

Note: You can click on the pictures to visit the HeartStrings website with more details about each of the handmade touch projects shown.

Bitty Beady Christmas Tree

Idea #1: Knit a gift tag that can be kept as a collectible momento or ornament decoration.

(Kits and Supplies Paks for Bitty Beady Christmas Tree are available at the KnitHeartStrings Store.)

Pinwheel Flower Face Cloth

Idea #2: Arrange a small hand-knitted bath spa cloth plus fragrant herbal soap in a pretty basket. giftalong


Quick Lace-edged Baby Socks

Idea #3: Make hand-knitted edgings to sew to the cuffs of ready-made socks.

Shown here for baby socks; works for kids and adult socks, too. Just knit the edging to fit around the cuff when moderately stretched. giftalong

Knitted Snowflake

Idea #4: Applique a hand-knitted medallion to a ready-made sweatshirt or tote bag.


Idea #5: Knit a bookmark and pair it with a book.

(Check out the entire collection of Bookmark patterns at HeartStrings.)

Knitted Ribbon

Idea #6: Wrap your gift with the handmade touch of a knitted ribbon. It’s a gift in itself.

10 Reasons for Ribbons

Three Eyelets Sachet

Idea #7: Include your hand-knitted sachet, filled with your lavender or other favorite potpourri, along with a pretty handkerchief or lingerie. giftalong

Candy Filled Mini Sock

Yes, I know I said 7 ideas. It’s hard to stop coming up with ideas! Here’s a Bonus
Idea: Knit a mini-sock and fill it with candy favors. (free pattern)

What are some of the ways you like to gift with a handmade touch?

p.s. What’s the sparkly gold gift tag for? I am featuring 10 popular quick-knit small projects for heartfelt gifting during the 2013 Indie Design Gift-A-Long (GAL) at Ravelry running through December 31st. I just wanted to let you know that 3 of the above patterns are eligible for the Indie Design Gift-A-Long group. Get any of these patterns and you can  participate in the GAL, have chances to win any of hundreds of prizes to be awarded throughout the GAL, see beautiful projects by your fellow knitters, rub shoulders with your favorite Indie Designers, and enjoy heaps of friendly, giftie chatter.

Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2013

Repairing a hand-knit sock with a knit-in-place patch

Counteracting a throw-away society

Considering the time and expense of making hand-knit socks, it is well worth the effort to repair them if you eventually wear through a hole. You say you don’t know how to darn a sock? Let me help with these photos and brief explanation of steps for the method I use to to repair a sock with a knit-in-place patch.

Although I usually get years of wear from my hand-knit socks, I am especially hard on the toes of socks because I have such a difficult time keeping my toenails short enough. But eventually, the inevitable happens (the pair of socks I photographed below to show are over 10 years old) and the yarn will wear thin and develop a hole.


I could remove the toe area totally, and re-knit it. But I am going to show you how to darn this sock with a knit-in-place patch. This method is handy to know, because it also works well for repairing socks with wear areas in other places like the ball of the foot and heel.

Note: In the photos below, the socks from the pair I am repairing are slightly different (this is one of those self-patterning yarns that was popular in the early 90’s). I wanted to get the best photo for each major step in the process, and so sometimes the photo was of one of the socks, and sometimes the other.

Making a knit-in-place patch

1. Place a darning egg in the sock.


Don’t have a fancy sock darning egg? An old-fashioned incandescent light bulb works, too. (The light bulb doesn’t even have to work any longer, so think of this as another way of using something that you might otherwise throw away, lol.)

2013-08-11 12.55.09

2. Onto a short double-point knitting needle in same size as used to knit the sock, pick up the loops of stitches in an undamaged row below the hole.


Remove the darning egg temporarily.

3. Using yarn in a similar weight as the sock, knit across the row of stitches on the needle, then purl back across the row. If you happen to have some of the original yarn leftover from making the sock, all the better. But if you are like me, you won’t be able to find it after 10 years or so, lol. A yarn in a coordinating color, or even a bright contrasting color, is fine to use. The patch is likely not going to be seen when worn anyway, and if it is, a bright-colored patch could be quite fun. The important thing is that you want the yarn used for the repair patch to be a comparable weight (and of course sturdy enough so that it holds up to wear for another 10 years or so again <g>).


4. Now you want to continue to knit back and forth to make a square or rectangular patch to cover the hole. At the same time, attach the patch to the original sock at the beginning and end of each knit row as follows:

k2tog the first stitch of the row with a stitch loop of the original sock 2 rows above, k until one st remains in row, ssk the last stitch of the row with a stitch loop of the original sock 2 rows above.


Tip: If you have difficulty picking up the stitch loop of the original sock to incorporate into the k2tog/ssk attachment at either end, you can use a crochet hook to assist pulling the loop onto the knitting needle.


5. Continue knitting back and forth on the patch until it covers and hole entirely and you have completed a purl row. Cut yarn, leaving a long enough tail to graft the stitches of the patch to the original sock.


6. Insert darning egg into the sock again. This will give a good foundation for grafting the stitches and assure that you don’t catch any of the underside of the sock when sewing.


7. Thread a tapestry needle with the yarn tail and begin grafting the undamaged row of stitches above the hole to the live stitches on the knitting needle.

IMG_1281Continue grafting until all live stitches have been removed from the knitting needle and are now attached to the sock.


8. Remove darning egg. Bring yarn ends to inside of sock. Turn sock inside out. Insert darning egg into the sock again temporarily, and weave in yarn ends invisibly. (I always like to insert a darning egg for weaving in ends on toes of socks, so I don’t mistakenly catch the underside layer of the sock! — you probably don’t need to ask me why, lol)

The repaired sock with the completed patch


I’ve already been wearing these socks for 4 months and they are holding up great. It makes me feel good about giving new life to an old friend (my socks, that is).

Americana: The 39-star Flag that Never Was

History Trivia – Do you know why there never really was a 39-star US flag? Read on about why it never became official …

At the same time as I was designing Mini Lace and Beaded Flag way back in 2001, I had charted a larger-scale version with half-embroidered stars. I went ahead and published Mini Lace and Beaded Flag (the 50-star beaded mini version) in 1991, with the intent of completing the design of the 2nd version shortly afterwards. As many other things in my life, that project got set aside for many years. 12 whole years in fact!

So here it is 2013, and I stumbled across that 12-year old chart I had made. Excited to get back to working on this, I arranged with Crystal Palace to use their Cuddles yarn for the sample model.

The knitting went along quickly with no problems. Glad I was so smart 12 years ago and had charted all the details perfectly so that I could just enjoy making the project without having to re-figure anything. Love the Cuddles yarn, too. No bleeding — an important factor when putting red and blue yarn right next to white.

I was in the process of completing the embroidery on the “stars” before I realized I had 39 stars rather than 50. Duh! I am sure I knew about this 12 years ago. But I had forgotten. It is a design constraint within which I was working so that the feather-and-fan stitch pattern for the wavy red and white stripes would align properly with the blue union. No problem — this isn’t a real flag, of course.

But it did get me to thinking about whether there ever had been an actual 39-star flag. Excerpted from

” Q: When did the U.S. flag have 39 stars?
There never was an “official” 39 star U.S. flag. However, flag manufacturers betting on early sales misjudged in 1889 by believing the two Dakotas would be admitted as one state and the others would be delayed until after the 4th of July. Both Dakotas, Montana and Washington were made into states in November, 1889 and Idaho was admitted July 3, 1890! … “

Thus the next official U.S. flag had 43 stars, not 39 (or even 42, since it surprised everyone that Idaho was admitted just under the wire of the July 4th cut-off).

There are pictures of a couple of 39-star flags that manufacturers had designed in anticipation of the entry of the Dakotas as one state in 1889. Neither is anywhere close to the arrangement of stars I happened to come up with for my Americana pattern. I wonder if there is a little bit of Betsy Ross in me? hee hee