The Little Elves – freebie embroidery pattern!!

I’m excited enough that I can’t really contain it for as long as it would take to write an elegant intro: today’s a big day for us! It’s December 1st and the countdown to Christmas begins (I had a serious flutter of panic just before, oy vey) and it’s also the day we can begin to announce the plans we’ve been working on quietly in the background.

I suppose this post here marks the official beginning of Little Dorrit & Co., the name we — and when I say ‘we’, I’m referring to myself and my mother aka Chris (or Chrissy, as I like to call her, just ’cause it’s funny) as a design team — will be using for the little collection of embroidery patterns we’ve been working on. We’re very excited to have them almost ready to release on the world – and hope, hope, hope that someone out there will like them!

The Little Elves (freebie)

In the meantime, here’s a little Christmas pattern for you to stitch while you wait for Santa — I guess it’s a little taster of what our style will be like, but also an update of an idea we tried out last year, in cross-stitch, that just didn’t quite work out right. This embroidered illustration is based on the original Brothers Grimm tale of The Little Elves.

The Little Elves (the version linked there is slightly different than the copy we have, including its title, but is the same story) is a very short tale about a shoemaker “who, from no fault of his own, had become so poor that at last he had nothing left, but just sufficient leather for one pair of shoes.” He got all of his materials ready to start but, when he awoke the next morning, the shoes were all made up for him! They were so beautifully crafted that he was able to sell them and buy enough material for two more pairs. This continued until one night near Christmas, he and his wife decided to stay up late to see who was helping them. Much to their surprise, “in came two little mannikins, who squatted down on the board; and, taking up the prepared work, set to with their little fingers, stitching and sewing, and hammering so swiftly and lightly.”

So grateful to the tiny elves for all the work they’d done to help them, the shoemaker and his wife decide to make “a little shirt, coat, waistcoat, trousers, and stockings for each” – and shoes, of course – to keep their little elf selves warm. When the elves come back that night to work, they find the pile of gifts laid out for them in place of leather, and they sing and dance with pleasure. And swear never to do any more cobbler work because why would they once they had such lovely clothes? Anyway, it all works out rather well for the shoemaker as well; because of the help the elves gave him, he was able to build his business back up and he and his wife became quite prosperous.

The Little Elves (freebie)

The Little Elves (freebie)

The real Grimm tales are, on the whole, very odd and very funny, and often quite different than the versions that are popular nowadays. But The Little Elves is just sweet and perfectly Christmassy – a simple story about helping someone selflessly and getting some unexpected help in return. It’s really quite charming. So we chose to make this our freebie Christmas embroidery: The Little Elves and their gifts, looking rather dapper in their new threads, dontcha think?

We did ours in a selections of red and greens, of course, and silver and gold Anchor Lame thread (the best metallic ever, really, it’s lovely to use!) to give it that little extra magic for the holidays. (Click through to see bigger versions on Flickr.) We happened to have this gorgeous antique frame handy, but it was designed to fit nicely into a 12″ embroidery hoop without any resizing. We thought painting a hoop red or gold might look pretty, no? There’s a lot of stitching going on there, we love to cram as much detail as we can in — but if that wreath is a little more than you can squish in alongside all your other holiday crafting, you can always leave off the wreath and stitch just the elves and their gifts.

Update: we’ve made a new (clearer) version of this pattern. The pattern is laid out on one A4 sheet but was created to be larger, spanning an A3 (or two regular sheets of paper taped together). To enlarge it on your home printer, open the file in Adobe Reader (which is free!) and, in the print dialog, chose to ’tile large pages’, ‘scale’ to about 130% (or however large will fit on your paper / how large you want to stitch it), and ‘overlap’ by .25″ or so. The overlap doesn’t have to be that large, but is very useful for piecing the pages together. And because this is our first intended-to-be-enlarged embroidery pattern (and won’t be the last!), we’d be hugely grateful if you’d let us know about any downloading or printing problems you run into.

The Little Elves (freebie pattern)

Download: The Little Elves – free embroidery pattern (PDF)

This pattern has been removed to be added the Little Dorrit & Co. Embroidery Pattern Shop in July 2014. It will include a color and stitch guide and a tutorial for making it into a Christmas wall-hanging! I hope you’ll come back then to check it out!

* U.S. downloaders, remember to choose to scale the pages when printing to fit letter size paper!!!

Flurries! (A new knitting pattern by me)

Flurries, a cowl and fingerless mitts set

When my laptop died, or passed out, I had just set up my first knitting pattern for sale on Ravelry. I’d been working on it in little bits for ages, had it tested by some generous and kind knitters, uploaded it and set a price and then a few hours later … pbbbt. Jacques (the laptop, obviously) just had enough.

So I never got to tell you about it! It’s been so long, I kind of can’t even remember where the inspiration came from initially, but I do know I’ve always loved thrummed mittens. I love the tiny little hearts of color polka dotting the surface and the endless adorable color combinations you could knit. However, I have never lived anywhere even remotely cold enough for thrums. I’d be sweating through them in minutes here in the southern-ish UK, and Holland was no different.

Re-creating the cuteness of thrums with stranded colorwork was a no-brainer: easy knitting and adorable?! Awesome. Reluctance to use a regular old ribbing pattern for edging led me to wee tiny cables, adding a little delicate detail to an otherwise very simple-and-quick knit. All together, it reminded me of the gentle quiet of the first snow of the winter: Flurries.

Flurries, a cowl and fingerless mitts set

This pattern includes instructions for a cowl and matching fingerless gloves set. You’ll need to know how to knit stranded colorwork and cables, but both are just about the simplest of either you could ask for, so this set would be a great project for beginners of either (or both) skill. The cabled edging and colorwork stitch patterns are charted only but, again, because the stitch patterns are fairly simple and intuitive once you get started, this might be a good project to learn that on too.

Rowan Pure Wool 4 Ply 50g/160yd per skein
3 skeins main color (MC), 1 skein contrast color (CC)
This amount will make full set of cowl and mitts.

Approximate amounts per item:
Cowl: 75g MC, 15g CC
Mitts: 50g MC, 10g CC

Cowl: 2.25mm & 3.0mm circular needles, 16”/40cm
Mitts: 2.25mm & 3.0mm preferred needle type for knitting
small diameters in the round
Or sizes needed to obtain gauge

Finished Size:
Cowl: 10.5” tall and 21” circumference
Mitts: to fit hand circumference (measured around
knuckles) of 7.5”

Use the button above (you do not need to be a Ravelry member to purchase the pattern) to get your own Flurries pattern and knit away. Of course, if you do knit it, pretty please add photos to Ravelry or come back here to show them off. I’d love to see how your Flurries turn out!

1915 Austrian Sunflower: freebie embroidery pattern

Album Praktischer Handarbeiten

This giant volume was passed down to me, prematurely, from my mother – though I say we just share it now – and was given to her by her own mother. It was found by grandmother at a thrift shop, must’ve been in the Pittsburgh-ish area in the 60s or 70s. My mom always says it was one of the most thoughtful things my grandmother ever did for her, to have recognized it in a store-full of junk as exactly the kind of thing she would love.

So what the heck is it?! It’s a self-bound, presumably, collection of crafting magazines from Austria-Hungary. I can’t be sure of the exact dates since they’re not bound in chronological order, but a quick survey shows dates that span between 1912 to 1918. The pages are dry and crumbly – you have to turn each one so carefully – but every one is an inspiration.

Album Praktischer Handarbeiten
Album Praktischer Handarbeiten

These magazines have projects and ideas for every kind of crafter, or at least those involved in any kind of needlework: crochet, knitting, sewing, cross-stitch, needlepoint, embroidery, projects for children, for the home, for men, for soldiers. Since I vaguely speak Dutch and took some German in high school, I can pick out simple words here and there, but for the most part, I can’t understand it at all – though it really doesn’t matter. The illustrations are so clear, most ideas being shown rather than described, I think I could quite literally spend years recreating and modernizing projects from these pages.

So you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’m already working on another reproduction embroidery pattern to share, have a couple of cross-stitch patterns lined up (planned for wintertime because they involve, eep!, deers and mooses), and have many more pages marked to go back to later.

1915 Austrian Sunflower Embroidery Pattern (freebie)

Here’s a simple little pattern I’ve worked up for you all to enjoy, just as a little taster of what this book has to offer. I picked this one for two reasons: the original drawing (above) shows it done in specific stitches, so I was able to recreate it exactly, and I was struck by how modern a design it is, though the original is from an issue dated 1915! If you check out the bottom right corner of the photo above, you’ll see that the original intention was to repeat this flower into a full, leafy border, but I think it would look great done simply on a pillowcase, or tote bag – or anything, really!

1915 Austrian Sunflower Embroidery Pattern (freebie)

I’ve included the photo of the original in the PDF so you can follow it as a stitch guide if you so choose. Download away just below, and as with any freebie I have or will pass on, pretty please show off your results if you stitch it yourself!

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