Sunday, September 28, 2014

Link to Updated Version of Grace Tan's Cross

Grace explains here why she has put watermarks on her pattern diagrams and photographs. I have replaced the link on the right of this page with a new link to the updated pattern. It is also here    

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Travel Knitting

I spun this wool with the intention of knitting it on my journey. I'm about to set off by bus and plane to go to England, to visit friends and family. I'm going to use a circular needle for the main  part, back and forth, in the hope that it is less likely to be confiscated as a potentially lethal weapon than a regular needle. Fingers crossed. I hope I have room in my suitcase for all the gifts of scarves, mitts etc that I have been making. Time to deliver them. I won't be blogging until November. Cheers for now.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Classic Pincushion

As soon as I saw this tutorial for making a classic pincushion, I put it on my to-do list. There are some magnificent embroidered examples on the fiberluscious site. Worth browsing. This is my second attempt. I did the first one in satin with dragonflies, then realised that was a poor choice because pins and needles damage the fabric. This quilting cotton is much more practical. The beaded butterfly is Maltese tatting. A one-off!  The buttons in the middle on each side are handmade from glass. I think they should be protected by the padded cushion around them and safe there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dragonfly Pond

The dragonflies have been lurking for a while, but this morning I introduced them to their pond. That is, I sewed them to blue organza to make a food cover. The centre dragonfly with tally wings is Carollyn's. The beaded dragonflies in the corners are Corina's and the little ones are mine.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

And Sew A Flat Seam

On Friday I bought some denim fabric to make myself a skirt. I thought I'd do the seams in classic flat seam style. First I had to practise, using scraps left after cutting the skirt out.
Sew the pieces together, wrong sides facing, which feels a little strange.
Trim one seam allowance close to the stitching.
Fold the other seam allowance in half and press it.
Fold again so that it encloses the trimmed allowance and pin.

Sew along th edge of the fold.
The other side looks neat too.
I practised for a bit, then made my skirt. I did try to take a photo of me wearing it, in a mirror, but it just didn't work.
The heading reminds me that while I was teaching tatting in a habedashery shop in Upington, some customers came in and had a look at what we were doing. I heard one lady whisper to her friend, 'It's just for  people who sit around the house all day!'

Monday, September 22, 2014

Crocus Mitts

I used a sock pattern called 'Crocus Toe-up Socks' by Wilma Becker to knit these mitts. Same number of stitches as the pattern. My own border, then wrist the same as the pattern, then my own palm with the back of the hand continued in pattern. I hope the ribbed palm means they are stretchy enough to fit bigger hands. My hands are small, it'd be a mistake for me to make gifts that fit me!

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Maureen is right, it's amazing how the vibrant yellow and orange colours toned down when they were combined with brown.  Plying with natural toned them down a bit more too. The resulting yarn is a lot more subtle than I visualised, which is fine, I'm happy with it. Now to card and spin the rest.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Not Even

I'm using my drum carder again, not to even out one colour as I did last time but to mix three colours. After dyeing yellow, orange and brown, I divided the colours into 8 piles.
I didn't do it very precisely. I just don't want to get near the end and find I've used up all the yellow. I carded each pile twice.
I hope I haven't muddled the colours too much. Here's how it looks spun:
I'm now spinning a bobbin of natural. Then I'll ply the three together. I'm not sure the yarn is going to look exactly how I visualised, but it's a one-off project, so it doesn't matter too much.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Flower for Linda

Linda felt that her tatting is not yet up to this pattern, so she asked me to tat it for her. She saw it on The Tatting Box, but the pattern comes from Cariad Tatting. You can find it here. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Emptying Bobbins

 As with tatting, I sometimes have to empty bobbins before beginning a new project. I had a little blue and brown left from the last lot of spinning I did. So I spun half a bobbin of natural and  plyed it with the blue and then the brown. There's very little of the brown mix, but I should be able to crochet a few flowers with it. With the blue/natural I'm making fingerless gloves, adapting a sock pattern. My spinningwheel is now all set for the next project:


I hurried and scurried to finish spinning my multicolour wool before I went away. I took it with me and made some progress on the front. I finished work on the jersey this morning. I know it looks absurdly skinny, but the fabric is very elastic. The scarf pattern I took the stitch from calls it 'mistake rib', though my neighbour knows it as 'false fisherman's rib'. It's just a misaligned knit two, purl two rib. I like patterns that look tricky but are really very easy!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Report Back

Our trip to Upington and Kuruman went well. There are a few more people in South Africa who know how to make a double stitch, or a dubbelknoop. In Upington a group of 15 met in a well stocked habedashery shop, as you can see from the photos. One lady decided half way that tatting is not for her and left. I was quite surprised because she was doing well, but hey, no one is obliged to tat! Everyone else learnt how to flip and made good progress. It was quite a big group, so just as well Linda was with me to help. In a big group, some learn quicker than others, which has the  advantage that learners help each other.
The Kuruman group was smaller, only 6, which meant it was easier to help individually.
We enjoyed the trip. I don't know whether all the  participants will carry on with tatting, but some certainly will.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Another Group

This week I will be teaching two groups of would-be tatters. Tomorrow I'll drive 500 kms westwards with Linda, my tatting pupil, to Upington, a town on the Orange River. On Wednesday we'll show a group of 14 or 15 how to tat. On Friday we'll drive back, stopping at a town called Kuruman on the way, to teach a group of five or six. I've tatted this bookmark, which comes from Burda magazine, for each participant, starting with 15, which I showed here, and then another six.  I'm going to be pretty busy for the rest of the week and won't be blogging until I get back.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


I have knitted some of the Spring colours wool. For the fingerless gloves I used a pattern called 'Leaves', designed by Valentina Georgieva. It's a nice, easy pattern that I've used before. The idea for the headbands came from a young neighbour, who is moving to a very cold part of the country and has been making headbands to keep her ears warm.  Yesterday I made two little headbands for another neighbour's daughters. They have a new baby sister, for whom I made a kimono shirt, using a pattern from The Purl Bee . The flower is Martha Ess's pattern, using folded rings. It neatly hides the velcro closure.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Getting Even

When I dyed wool before spinning the other day, it was very uneven. So this time I wet the wool thoroughly before dyeing and used a much bigger container. I dyed blue first and wow, the result was not bad.
Then I dyed brown, but it was much more uneven.
I think the blue dye is just absorbed more slowly. I spun the blue as it was, but put the brown through my drum carder.
This resulted in big fluffy batts to spin.
I spun a bobbin full of blue and a bobbin full of brown:
Then I spun a bobbin full of natural and plyed the three together. I forgot to take a photo before I washed the final yarn, but here it is hanging on the line outside to dry:
I've only spun half the wool I need to make a sleeveless pullover. I think I'll run the other batch of blue through the drum carder too. It doesn't take long and then spinning is easier than when I try to spin a bit of this shade and a bit of that so that I don't end up with too long a stretch that's light or dark. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thumbs Down!

 Yesterday I got back my entries for the national competition. No hardware this time. There were nice comments about the Tunisian crochet bag, but the strap isn't stiff enough. Right. The judges didn't like my tatting. The pink bookmark is too long, they don't like the backing fabric, my tension is average and the yellow centres detract from the design..... Right. I saw pictures of the winning entries and the question of whether I should enter a traditional doily next year or a progressive one is answered. I may still enter Under an African Sky, but I won't expect a favourable response.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Art Noveau Dragonfly

I had another go at Carollyn's Art Noveau dragonfly. You can find her pattern here. Not perfect, but an improvement on yesterday's one. The yellow thread is Milford 20, the green is Cebelia 20 that I dyed myself. I wanted the two colours to be different but not too different.

Carollyn's Dragonfly - First Draft

I'm very rusty on tatting clunies or tallies, but I really like Carollyn's Art Noveau dragonfly, so I'm happy to revisit the technique. First I visited Jennifer Williams's Cariad  website to remind myself of the process. I did a bit of practising, but not really enough before I tackled the pattern. I decided to continue so that I could see how it went. I've left off a ring, blah, blah, but I'm happy with it as a first attempt. Thanks Carollyn. I hope to do it more justice next time round.

Monday, September 1, 2014

My Dragonfly

This dragonfly is very much simpler than the beaded one. I like it though. I like the texture that inverted tatting gives to the wings. It's my pattern, which you can find  here or on the side bar. Usha suggested that I use bigger beads for the eyes, so you can see the green and red ones are a bit more bug-eyed than the others.