Denise's NeedleWorks

Denise's Needleworks

Location: Ames, Iowa, United States

I am wife to Jeff, homeschool mom to 8, a knit and crochet teacher and totally addicted to knitting, crocheting and other fiber arts. After knitting, crocheting and sewing my own clothing from the age of 10 on, I studied textiles & clothing in college. That lead me to 25 years of custom dressmaking and alterations work, while sewing, knitting and crocheting for my growing children. I have worked in the yarn industry for the past 3 years and have been designing my own knitting patterns. Visit my web site at Find me as DeniseInIowa on

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Classes and finishing up

I am really excited about all of the classes that we are able to offer this month at the Rose Tree! I hope that the shop's customers are just as excited. It will be a really fun month for those of us that are teaching.

I am teaching the EZ Pelerine class how to make the basic stockinette version of this poncho but I would like to start a lace version for myself to give the class an idea for further projects. I like to work on something while I am teaching that is either related to the class or for a future class. It keeps them coming back for more I hope!

I have been trying to finish up some projects lately so I don't have anything new to report on. I love to start projects and work on projects but I am not fond of finishing and the sewing that it entails. I am trying to get some things done for the auction fundraiser though. Some of the items are finised but a few are not yet. I am hoping that I will remember to get photos of it all before I take it to the church. I often get in a hurry and forget that task.

I also need to finish the Baby Surprise Jacket for my youngest. He has been so patient. I am on the final rows now. Then we will need to pick out buttons. He loves buttons!

Oh, it has been a very busy weekend! I almost forgot! A new box of yarn, mostly Lamb's Pride is waiting for me. I haven't even had time to fondle it yet. I found the box at the door Friday as I was leaving for Iowa City to see our Daughter's play. Going to have to find time tomorrow to play and plan!

Keep on Knitting!

October/November Classes, Part 2

The Rose Tree Fiber Shop
2814 West Street
Ames, IA 50014

I’m proud to announce our newest teacher, Barbara Plakans. Barbara is a veteran knitter with expertise in traditional Latvian designs and stranded color work. She will be teaching a multi-colored mitten class starting Saturday, October 28.

Its hard to believe, but Christmas is less than 3 months away, and the time to be knitting presents is now! Denise will offer 2 Christmas stocking classes to get us in the holiday mood, as well as the Pellerine poncho, another great design by the immortal Elizabeth Zimmerman. The Wallaby class starts next week and is filling up fast. Diane’s skein-dyeing workshop will give you the opportunity to dye your own chenille yarn and make it into a one of-a-kind gift. Last but not least, felted bags make great gifts any time of year. Samples of all projects are on display at the store!

Wonderful Wallaby Sweater
Thursdays, Oct. 5, 12, 26 & Nov. 9 (4 classes over 6 weeks) 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Instructors: Diane Corson and Mary Isely

Cost: $40, (Additional supply costs will very depending on size of sweater inquire at the shop regarding necessary supplies.)

Skills needed: Cast on, knit, purl, bind off. You should feel comfortable working in stockinette.

Knit this easy, bottom-up “hoodie” with a marsupial pouch in sizes to fit everybody from babies to linebackers. In this class you will learn how to work in the round on circular and double-pointed needles, and how to construct sleeves, the hood and the pouch. Skills taught will include increasing, decreasing, picking up and grafting together stitches. You will need to purchase the “Wonderful Wallaby” pattern book. This pattern covers a worsted weight pullover with sizes ranging from infant to an adult XXL, so your yarn costs will vary. Several circular needles and double-pointed needles are required—please inquire at the shop for specifics!

Christmas Stockings

In October and November we will be offering 2 Christmas Stocking classes! The first class (2 sessions) will be an introduction to Fair Isle where you will start the cuff and leg portion of a stocking and learn how to incorporate colorful designs. Note: You will not complete the foot in the Fair Isle class, so you may wish to take the Basic class as well. The second class (3 sessions) will make a complete basic stocking.

These stockings will be knit in the round. Much of the work can be done on a 16-inch circular needle but the toe will need to be done with double-pointed needles or 2 circulars. We will be using bulky yarn and large needles, so the knitting will go fast. Stop in at the shop to see the sample stockings!

Supplies needed: A 16-inch circular needle in size 11, size 11 double-pointed needles, and at least 2 colors of (about 5-6 ounces) of Lamb's Pride Bulky yarn.

Necessary skills: For either of these classes, you should feel comfortable with cast-on, knit, purl, basic decreases and casting off. You will need a good understanding of knitting.

Fair Isle Christmas Stocking
Wednesdays, October 11 & 18; 6:30-8:30 pm
Instructor: Denise Balvanz

Class Fee: $20 for this class only, $40 to take this class with the Basic Christmas Stocking class (SAVE $10!!) Cost of supplies will vary, Denise's basic pattern will be provided.

Description, supplies, skills needed: See paragraph above.

Basic Christmas Stocking
Wednesdays, October 25, November 1 & 8; 6:30-8:30 pm
Instructor: Denise Balvanz

Class Fee: $30 for this class only, $40 to take this class with the Fair Isle Christmas Stocking class (SAVE $10!!) Cost of supplies will vary, Denise's basic pattern will be provided

Description, supplies, skills needed: See paragraph above.

Pelerine (Elizabeth Zimmerman's Poncho)
Tuesdays, October 17, November 7 & 14; 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Instructor: Denise Balvanz

Class fee: $30 Additional costs: pattern + yarn and needles (see italics, below)

Necessary skills: Cast on, knit, purl and bind off.

This is an elbow length poncho which is done in stockinette on circular needles. There are 4 increase points and you will be learning EZ's double Make 1 increases. It is done in worsted weight yarn and the possibilities are endless. Try a variegated yarn or use up your scraps on this one if you wish.
You will need a copy of the pattern, about 600 yards of worsted weight yarn of your choice and a size 9-10 circular needle that is at least 24" long, though longer is more comfortable because of the number of stitches at the bottom of the poncho.

Felted Tote Bag
Wednesdays, October 18, 25 & November 1 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Instructor: Diane Corson

Cost: $30, (Anticipate an additional $30-$35 for class supplies.)

Skills needed: Cast on, knit, purl and bind off.

Back by popular demand, this class is for felted bag newbies and veterans alike. You may choose to make Diane’s basic pattern or purchase one of the great patterns available at the store—do check out the patterns by Two Old Bags and Fiber Trends! Diane will teach you how to pick up stitches, knit on a circular needle, circular needle bind-off and the I-cord. The class will also cover the basics of design, color, yarn selection, bag construction, felting and putting the bag together. If using Diane’s pattern, you will need to purchase 2 skeins of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky yarn in contrasting colors, Size 11 circular needle, 24’ or 26” length; Size 11 double-pointed needles, any length, and a yarn needle.

Skein Dyeing Workshop
Thursday, November 2; 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Instructor: Diane Corson

Class fee: $15 + $10 materials.

Learn the magic technique of microwave dyeing. In this one-evening class you’ll dye a skein of rayon chenille yarn, which you can use to create a unique hat, scarf or other accessory for yourself or to give as a gift. Tips and techniques for working with other fibers will be discussed, and pattern suggestions for your projects will be included.

Beginning Knitting
Mondays, November 6, 13, 27 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Instructor: Jennifer Horejsi

Cost: $30 (Anticipate an extra $15 for supplies)

Learn all the basics to confidently tackle any project. Techniques covered include casting on, the knit stitch, purl stitch, binding off, increasing and decreasing stitches. You will also learn about fibers, and how to read patterns. This class emphasizes the learning process instead of a finished project. Lots of diagrams and instructions are provided to guide the new knitter as well as a bibliography of best books, magazines and online resources for knitters. You will need one ball of worsted-weight yarn and size 8 needles, available for purchase at the start of class.

Down East Mittens
Saturdays, Nov. 11, 18 & December 2 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Instructor: Barbara Plakans

Cost: $30 (Additional costs will vary, see supply list below in italics)

Skills needed: Casting on and off, knit stitch, purl stitch and basic increasing and decreasing. Some experience knitting on double-pointed needles will be helpful.

Make a pair of colorful mittens just in time for Winter! While making a pair of Fox-and-Geese Mittens (adapted from Robin Hansen’s Favorite Mittens), and pick up a fistful of useful techniques such as casting on by the Maine (twined) method, knitting 2-color double stranding—using both left and right hands; hiding floats and twists on the inside as you go; making left- and right-hand thumb gores; and decreasing in pattern. You will have many options in individualizing your mittens through cuff style, lining, enlarging pattern so it can be felted, or making a Latvian braid to connect child’s mittens through the sleeves. You will need 3 colors of worsted weight yarn, such as Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride or Nature Spun, a set of both size 2 and 4 double-pointed needles, yarn needle, tape measure. Barbara will supply handouts with directions, and tips from various expert mitten-makers. Although not necessary for the class, Robin Hansen’s book Favorite Mittens will be available for purchase at the shop as well.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Garterlac Dishcloth finally finished!

I was so excited to have finally knit the last stitch of this cloth that I had to take a photo before I even cut the tail and wove the ends in. It helps that I finished it here at the computer!

It is the Garterlac Dishcloth from Criminyjickets . Thanks Dave!

I am not sure quite why, but this pattern really had me stumped for a while. I feel so very accomplished! This is actually the first entrelac type project that I had tried before. I love the way the verigated yarns look with this pattern.

October Classes at The Rose Tree, Part 1

The Rose Tree Fiber Shop
October Classes, Part 1

Happy Autumn, everyone! We will be sending out the October class schedule in several messages this month. The Wallaby class is back by popular demand, and starting soon, details below. Don’t delay in signing up, as space is limited!
Business is picking up due to the cooler weather. Lamb’s Pride is flying off the shelves at our less-expensive prices. We are waiting with eager anticipation for some brand-spankin’ new fall lines to arrive—any day now! Stay tuned for Part 2 of our October class schedule—it should arrive in your inbox in the next week.

Wonderful Wallaby Sweater
Thursdays, Oct. 5, 12, 26 & Nov. 9 (4 classes over 6 weeks) 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Instructors: Diane Corson and Mary Isely
Cost: $40, (Additional supply costs will very depending on size of sweater inquire at the shop regarding necessary supplies.)
Skills needed: Cast on, knit, purl, bind off. You should feel comfortable working in stockinette.
Knit this easy, bottom-up “hoodie” with a marsupial pouch in sizes to fit everybody from babies to linebackers. In this class you will learn how to work in the round on circular and double-pointed needles, and how to construct sleeves, the hood and the pouch. Skills taught will include increasing, decreasing, picking up and grafting together stitches. You will need to purchase the “Wonderful Wallaby” pattern book. This pattern covers a worsted weight pullover with sizes ranging from infant to an adult XXL, so your yarn costs will vary. Several circular needles and double-pointed needles are required—please inquire at the shop for specifics!

The Rose Tree Fiber Shop
2814 West Street
Ames, IA 50014

There will be more classes announced soon. I am going to teach Christmas Stockings and Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pelerine. Should be a fun month!

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Knitting is finished!

I am really pleased with how this came out! It was really hard to keep the floats long enough so they would not pull the finished stocking in especially through the snowflake area. I still need to weave in ends and make a loop for hanging it. Then it will probably go to the Rose Tree for display for a while.

I have really enjoyed making the stockings. They are really easy and fun. Try it for yourself!

I am hoping to go back to some unfinished projects now so I can clear out some of the many tote bags that they are in. The Baby Surprise Jackets, washcloths for an exchange and a Cotton-Fleece T-shirt to be sewn up are just some of them. There is also a prayer shawl that is calling to me. Our ministry group meets tonight. Then I have some sweaters that I have been wanting to make.

There is more yarn coming from Carol's Super Specials at the Sheep Shed!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fair Isle Stocking

This is my design. I am having such fun with these stockings! I decided to try some Fair Isle on this one for something different. The white at the bottom will be a snow flake, I hope. I think I charted it right.

I was going to put some blue in that rose and white section but I was talking while knitting instead of thinking about what I was doing! Oops! Oh well, it made a nice design the way it is so I decided to leave it.

We are going to dd's college band concert tomorrow. I will have 3 hours in the car to knit! I might be able to finish this one. I think I am running out of steam for the Christmas Stockings finally. That's good, because I need to get back to some sweaters for the family and Christmas presents.

Happy Knitting!

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I joined Soctoberfest . I don't do very many of the knit alongs but I thought I could handle this one after seeing this in the information:

"if you plan on even looking at your sock needles this month, join up!"

Hey, I can do that! Do Christmas stockings count?

I have a lonely sock that I started way back in March or April when the weather was still a little cool. I turned the heel on it finally earlier this month. Since it is going to get really cold here soon... and I could really use more wool socks... I am hoping that Soctoberfest will get me thinking about knitting socks know, the kind that go on your feet? Instead of the really big ones that I have been making so many of lately!

Click the button in my side bar to see what it is all about.

Christmas is a coming

At least at my house it seems to be!

I have the bulky stocking almost finished. It went really fast! My dd, Rosie, decided that it should have rose and white stripes and green cuff, heel and toe. She also decided that she really likes this one so I am going to put her name on it.

I have lots of the yarn left so I was going to make another stocking maybe including some Fair Isle designs? I was teaching last night at the Rose Tree so I couldn't resist looking at the Lamb's Pride yarns again to see what might go with these other colors. I found this winter blue that blends beautifully with the others I have. Now to decide what this stocking should look like!

Mail Call!

The postman brought a big box of yarn from Smiley's today. I got Phentex Chunky to make a sweater for me. It is a turquoise which is really a different color for me. I was afraid that I might get tired of it eventually but since the yarn was not very expensive it will be alright.

There is a big pile of Red Heart Shetland Chunky in a dark blue to make a sweater for DH. I am planning on trying that Interweave Knits pattern with the Fair Isle design. He wanted some wool in it but it had to be machine washable too.

The purple Lily Elite Cotton is for a top. I won't need cotton tops this winter but it was such a good price for a nice cotton yarn that I couldn't pass it up. In fact I wish I could have bought several colors.

I ordered the Red Heart Tweed just because it is so pretty! I am sure I will find a use for it too. There are a couple of crocheted sweater patterns that I have been looking at trying. I think this may work for something like that.

Now I think I will have enough yarn for those long, snowy, winter days that I know are coming!

Monday, September 18, 2006

More Christmas Stockings

I am still not feeling very well due to a cold. I have been doing a lot of knitting though as I rest. Don't have much energy for anything else but DH gets worried when I quit knitting!

I almost have the Gansey Christmas Stocking finished. It still needs to be grafted at the toe. I need to pull out the instructions for that. I am knitting I-cord for a loop at the top of the stocking. I will need to find some scrap yarn to add my son's name to the top of the stocking.

I was thinking that I should make some stockings for our youth fundraiser so I pulled out some Red Heart worsted and started a very basic stocking yesterday. This worsted weight yarn is much heavier than the Nature Spun that the Gansey is made in. I went from size 8 needles on the Gansey to a size 10 for this stocking. I just need to add the loop to the top of this one and it is finished. I made a star toe on it so I wouldn't have to graft the toe. Only about 5-6 hours of knitting time for it I think.

I am planning to teach a Christmas Stockings knitting class so I went down to the Rose Tree to show off the stockings I had thus far and get more yarn of course! I think bulky weight yarn and big needles will make for an easier/faster to make stocking so I picked up some Lamb's Pride Bulky. I think I will teach the class how to make the basic sock and then embellish it with duplicate stitch. Rosemary suggested that I could do a Fair Isle stocking as a second class. The Gansey is also very fun. So there will be lots of ideas to work on!

Keep on knitting!

Friday, September 15, 2006

My buttons are up!

DS helped me get buttons made and they are on my sidebar now. All you have to do is click on the one you want for your blog. It will bring up a box with instructions and the html code for you to copy. So help yourself!

Rose Tree Fiber Shop

I wanted to introduce you to my LYS(Local Yarn Store). It is the Rose Tree Fiber shop located on West street in Ames, Iowa. Rosemary, the owner, started the store 18 years ago. I took a spinning class from Rosemary a few years before she started the store. She has such a wealth of knowledge about fibers, yarns, spinning and weaving! I will include some photos for you to drool over. Watch out for your keyboard it doesn't like drool!!LOL

Rosemary just got in a huge order of Brown Sheep yarn. The shelves out front are full as well as a big shelf in the back room. There are also boxes filled with this yarn. I think she might have every available color of Lambs Pride worsted and bulky and Nature Spun worsted. Want to do some felting?

There are always new yarns to check out too. Some of the newest are made of soy, bamboo, corn, silk and hemp. So intriguing!

She also has a big variety of fibers for spinning and weaving. Spinning wheels and looms and all of the accessories you might want. Check out the hanks of handspun yarns too. Amoungst them you will find yarn spun from the fur of a Samoyed dog. It is the most beautiful white curly yarn!

Of course there are books, books and more books. This picture is only a portion of those. There is so much to look at I can spend hours. I always find something that I hadn't seen before! But to make a decision about what to take home with me? Well....I want it all!!!

Christmas Stocking

I have been working primarily on the Christmas Stocking this week and now have it just past the heel turn. This is a fun project! I already have ideas for other stockings that I would like to try. And there is no problem with SSS (second sock syndrome)!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My New Logo!

Did you notice the logo at the top of my blog? My son, Philip, made that for me! He took photos of my felted, knitting bag and my business name spelled out in a big, bright yarn and created the animation. I am so proud!

He has been bugging me about a web site. I really need to find time to decide what I want on it. Philip has written a computer program he would like to put up for sale. I have been using it for simple knitting designs. It can also be used for filet crochet. It is really easy to use. I would also like to get some patterns up for sale and some free ones, just because I love those myself. So I guess I have my work cut out for me, huh?

He is also working on some buttons for me to put on this blog so you can take my button if you wish. I hope we can get those up soon.

Lots of new knitting and some old

My sewing class with the homeschool kids went well today. They will all be sewing like pros before we are done!LOL Well, I think they enjoyed themselves at least.

My crochet class was a no-go tonight because of lack of sign ups. I hope things pick up soon. I really enjoy teaching the classes.

I have added more new projects to my ever expanding list of things to do. But I have also finished a couple of things. I made a hat for our youth fundraiser over the weekend. I forgot to take a photo of that. I got the knitting done on the Pelerine. Just need to get the ends woven in and then I can get a better picture of it. I also finished the Monthly Dishcloth September KAL. It is an Oak leaf cloth, in case you can't tell from the picture.

A sweet, elderly lady from church asked me if I would be able to finish a sweater for her to give to a grandchild. How could I say no?

This sweater has some history. She bought it at a garage sale, partially knit and finished the body of it but she was not sure she could do the cable down the sleeves. The stitches were all on holders so it is just a matter of putting them on needles and continuing on with the instructions.

I remember having some patterns like this one when I was in high school. They were often advertized in the newspaper and you had to send a letter and money to get them.

I noticed that the sweater has some blue spots where the ink of the pattern has bled onto it. The yarn is from Montgomery Wards, 50%wool/50%nylon. Is there any way to get that out?

I stopped in at the Rose Tree Fiber Shop yesterday, where I teach, to find out about class sign ups and look for some new class project ideas. The owner, Rosemary, and I came up with a good one I hope. I brought home yarn to make one of the stockings from Christmas Stockings: 18 Holiday Treasures to Knit by Interweave Press. This is the start of the Snowy Night Gansey Stocking. I already have more than this photo shows knit. It is going really quickly. This one will go to my youngest who doesn't have a special "mom made" stocking yet at the tender age of 4. Oops, I may have to make another. I just remembered that his 9 yo sister doesn't have one either! Being the youngest of 8 can have its disadvantages as well as advantages.

I got this just for fun. Elespeth Lavold Hempathy yarn. I had seen these washcloths in Knitter's Stash. The linen yarn it calls for is the same weight as the Hempathy. It is such soft yarn that it should make a wonderful washcloth.

Well I better take my cold off to get some rest. Hope you enjoy! Happy Knitting and Crocheting!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Not much knitting going on

This weekend has been busy with other things. I did get the extra skein of yarn I needed to finish the Pelerine. I had ordered it at Hobby Lobby on Tuesday. They called Thursday night and said that it was in. It was even the same dye lot! I have been working on the bottom band tonight. Only a couple of rows to go.

I am also trying to get things organized for a sewing class that I am teaching to a bunch of homeschool children. And it is a bunch. We have one class of 10, mostly 5th and 6th graders and the other class is 15 with a wide variation from 5th to 11th grades. Fortunately I do have helpers!

We only have six, one hour sessions so we won't be able to teach very many skills but we are hoping to introduce some simple hand stitches and have them use the sewing machine for some easy projects.
I still need to make up some samples of the projects and gather all of the tools we might need. I may not get much knitting done in the next few days...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Baby Surprise Class

I had 2 students last night for the Baby Surprise Class that I am teaching. Sign-ups for the classes have been really low lately. I am hoping it will pick up more next month.

We all agreed that the hardest part of starting this sweater is counting all of those stitches! Once everyone was sure they had the right number it was smooth sailing. I am knitting yet another of these sweaters along with the class. This one will go to a fundraiser for our church youth trip to Orlando next summer.

Monday, September 04, 2006

September Classes

My September classes start on Wednesday. I will be teaching how to make EZ's Baby Surprise Jacket on Wednesday evenings. I am really looking forward to that! I love this sweater! I also have a crochet bag class on Saturdays and a beginning crochet class starting on Tuesdays a week from tomorrow.

I hope that people have signed up for all of the classes. This summer we didn't have much interest. I am hoping that the cooler weather we are having will get people thinking about knitting and crochet again. I really have enjoyed teaching even though sometimes it can be hard to decide what classes to offer. I am totally addicted to knitting and crochet and have trouble understanding why other people aren't?!?!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sweater Weather

It is starting to get colder here in Iowa so I have starting looking more closely at sweater patterns. I would love to make the cover sweater from the Fall 2006, Vogue Knitting-Knit Simple magazine for myself. I love cabled sweaters!

I am having a difficult time deciding on yarn though. The pattern calls for worsted weight Blue Sky Alpaca which I really can't afford so I think it will have to be plain wool or a wool blend. I like the burnt orange color though.

For DH I have been thinking of making the Spartan Pullover from Interweave Knits, Fall 2006. The Fair Isle design across the waist of the sweater is just enough design to keep me interested (I hope) and tame enough for DH to feel comfortable wearing it. It calls for bulky weight yarn so it should knit fast. Colors for this one are still up in the air. He suggested black. "But dear all of your sweaters are black!" I would love to do something more colorful for him if I can get him to agree to it. The true test will be if he will wear it...yeah, he will, he is not fussy about his clothes most of the time.