Monday, March 21, 2016

Latch Hooked Butterflies for Summer, and a Pattern for You

Iris Wall Hanging
Iris Wall Hanging
Those of you who follow these posts regularly know that I like the theme of the Four Seasons. I have previously shown a latch-hooked snowflake wall hanging for Winter and provided a pattern for you to follow if you like (January 28, 2015). For Spring, I did a hanging with three iris flowers and gave you an iris pattern to do in colors of your choice (June 18, 2015). My choice for Summer was to do pictures of three butterflies. All are different species, so I have put a pattern for a ‘generic’ butterfly for you at the end of this article. The black or dark brown border is given and you can the fill in the wings with any colors you prefer.

First Latch-hooked Butterfly
First Latch-hooked Butterfly (bottom)
I have discussed latch-hooking before (June 16, 2013), and you may want to look at that post. On re-reading it, however, I thought of a number of suggestions and/or cautions that I would like to pass along to you. I have done so in this post. The best canvas for most latch-hook projects is a jute canvas. I have used the nylon mesh for soft projects like pillows and for items that have to be washed, but it is too fragile for rugs and most wall hangings. The best jute canvas is marked off with horizontal and vertical lines so that areas are outlined that contain 100 squares of mesh (10 squares x 10 squares). If you must use unmarked canvas, take the time to use a yardstick or meter stick and a permanent marker to put these lines on the canvas. It will make the placement of your designs much easier. The canvas is very sturdy, but it is also very rough on the surface. To protect my hands from this roughness, I wear crafting gloves with the ends of the glove fingers cut off. If you don't have such gloves, you may want to wear adhesive bandages (such as Band-Aid®) on the parts of your hands that come into contact with the canvas.

Second Latch-hooked Butterfly
Second Latch-hooked Butterfly (middle)
I begin my work at the bottom of the canvas and work upward one row at a time. As I make a row of knots, I examine each knot to make sure the two cut ends of the knot are even. If they are not, I pull gently on the shorter end until they are the same length. Sometimes I need to remove a knot. To do so, I press the cut ends upward against the unworked canvas and pull the loop of yarn at the bottom gradually until the knot releases. If the yarn is undamaged, I use it to re-make the knot; if it is damaged, I discard it. Once a row is complete, I use the back of my hook to press all the knots downward evenly. This gives me another opportunity to look for and correct imperfect knots. As the project grows long enough to come close to my knees, I want to protect it from any lint, dust, hair from the shop cat, etc., that might brush off of my clothing. For a wall hanging, I tape an open pillowcase or plastic trash bag to the edge of the work surface and slip the work in progress into it. When I'm working on a rug, I can keep a clean tablecloth spread across my knees.

Third Latch-hooked Butterfly
Third Latch-hooked Butterfly (top)
Once a section with a butterfly was completed, I took the time to put away the pattern for that butterfly and any yarns that I would not use again, I discarded damaged yarn. I brushed the loose fibers from the surface of the butterfly. To do this, I use the side of my hand or a soft hairbrush. I begin at the top center of the work and brush the surface of the work in long strokes to the edge of the canvas and off onto the worktable. I work my way to the bottom of the panel a few rows of knots at a time. Then I repeat the process from the center to the opposite edge. I'm always surprised by the amount of “fuzz” I need to remove! Then I clean the tabletop and check the floor for stray yarn. Finally, I put out the next pattern and the colors of yarn I will need to use for it. This keeps the table relatively uncluttered and puts everything within reach.

Back of First Butterfly
Back of First Butterfly
Once the design was completed, I turned the work over and examined the back of the canvas. I was looking for knots I might have missed or put into the wrong place in the pattern, damaged ones, and anything else that needed to be corrected. The tops and bottoms of wall hangings have the most stress on them. I fold these edges under for several rows of mesh and make the knots of yarn through both layers. You may do this with the sides, too, but it isn't really necessary. The raw edges can be turned under and sewn to the back of the finished knots. I back the finished hangings with felt, leaving enough of it at the top to make a pocket for a dowel or other type of hanger. J.D. then completes the hanger.
Now, here is a butterfly pattern that you can download for free and work in any colors. The pattern will also work for cross-stitch, tent stitch, blackwork and a number of other techniques. The outlined squares should be worked in black or very dark brown, unless you are doing a fantasy butterfly (in which case you should use your imagination). The bodies, marked with an X are usually some shade of brown or gray, but black also works well. The row of dotted squares indicates where the wings meet or overlap. If you are doing a solid-colored butterfly, you may want to do this row in black or dark brown to match your outline. If you are using different colors for the upper and lower wings, chose one or the other to do this row. (In Nature, the upper wing is the one more likely to overlap.)

May your summer be bright with butterflies,

Finished Butterfly Wall Hanging
Finished Butterfly Wall Hanging

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