Saturday, December 31, 2016


Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog. Many thanks to all those who comment and contact me via e-mail. I really appreciate your support and encouragement!


I knew the squares would need blocking to smooth the petals out. I decided that the best time to block them would be when the short rows had been joined. That should be easier than blocking individual squares or the whole blanket!

 I'm crocheting the squares together following this tutorial. I like the way it mimics the granny square pattern. I do wonder if a chain stitch between each treble group would be a good idea. I'll have to try it.  I've joined the squares to make the short rows, then reattached the paper label to each row so that I know how to join those rows together according to my original arrangement.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Square Dance

I originally worked out that I would need 140 crochet squares for a small blanket, 10 by 14. But I'm going to use a 2 cm wide joining row, so I reduced that to 117 - 9 squares by 13. And I've done them all! So this morning I laid them out on a table and shuffled them around for a while. I tried not to get too obsessive about the shuffling, just avoid having very similar squares next to each other. I was tempted to leave them in situ, but it'll take me a while to join them up and they'd be a bit of a nuisance in that time.
So  I collected each short row into a pile and numbered the piles. I hope that will enable me to keep track of what goes where.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


I enjoyed dyeing shades of green for my blanket. Yellow plus blue makes green. How much yellow and blue? That's where the fun lies.


Corlie kindly did some research for me and ascertained that the straight stitch on the bookmark I'm copying is Double Faggot Stitch. Right. I found a diagram here to help me and gave it a go. It's quite tricky because it's worked from the back. Little boxes on the back of the work make diagonal straight stitches on the front.

I can't find much detail about this stitch and am a bit baffled about how to join in a new thread and how to turn a corner. Even starting is off is tricky because of working from the back. Hmm, I may go back to crocheting for a while!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Christmas to those who celebrate Christmas

North Star in the South

My beads are definitely not Swarovski crystals, but they're a better size than the 'pearls' I used on my first attempt. I may not have done this justice but it's a very clever and pretty pattern. Go to Frivole's blog to find a link to her etsy shop for the pattern.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Another Thoughtful Gift

I've been very spoilt this week. As well as the sewing set, I've been gifted Frivole's latest star patterns by Suneeti. It's very kind, thanks Suneeti. I'm working on the Etoile du Nord star. Whether I'll be able to do both patterns before Christmas I'm not sure, though I'd like to. Frivole's patterns are very clear, but I seldom get a tat right first time. I may need to 'go around again' on this one.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Gift

My sister-in-law kindly found this beautiful Victorian needlework set for me. Now, I know what a thimble is and I can identify the tweezers in the middle, seeing as I've been using my eyebrow tweezers recently to pull out threads in my Hardanger work. I think the top implement with mother-of-pearl handle is a crochet hook. But I don't know what the bigger hook at the bottom is for and I certainly don't know what the gold needle with a little ball on the end is. Any suggestions welcome!

The case has a lovely orange plush cover and a beautiful clasp:

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Inching Along

We use the metric system in South Africa, but centimetring along doesn't really do it! I'm working on the buttonhole edging of my bookmark. It's going slowly, with a lot of practice of outward and inward cornering. SherryL advised me to snug the thread against the needle before pulling it through. I'm doing that and it does give a neater result.

Friday, December 16, 2016


I've crocheted half the flower garden granny squares I need to make a blanket. I'll have to spin at least two more batches of wool to have enough yarn to finish, so it's going to take a while.  But I'm happy with my progress.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hardanger Progress

I'm making progress on my Hardanger bookmark. Mine is going to be bigger than the original, my fabric must be coarser. Actually, that's a good thing because the competition says the bookmark must be 20 cm long and the original is only 16 cm long. This is a practice piece, but I think the fabric I'll use for the 'real deal' is the same as this.

 When I made the previous bookmark, I had some difficulty removing the marking threads without distorting the embroidery stitches. So this time I've been removing those threads as I go. The blocks are worked in relation to each other now, so I shouldn't need those markers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Back of the Square

This is what the back of the flower granny square looks like.  I learnt how to create the 3D flower effect when I was researching my mandala cushion. Here's how it's done:
A chain is crocheted behind the flower petals. The work looks very contorted at this stage, but you have to persist! Then the next round is worked into the chains:
On the ends: I crochet over the starting yarn of each round and sew in the finishing end, working each round as I finish it. Here's the right side:
It still looks a little distorted at this stage, but the next two rounds sort it out:

I think joining the squares will straighten them out even more. Some of the patterns I've seen use the chain technique multiple times to create complex 3D effects. Clever!

Monday, December 12, 2016


I'm working out the design of the Hardanger bookmark on graph paper. It's more difficult than I expected! This is not my first attempt. I started originally with the outer pointed part:
I realised eventually that my blocks are entirely wrong - they should be five stitches over four threads, I have four stitches over four threads. "Go around again," to quote Dr Seuss. I sent a message to Corlie, asking her whether I could start with the outer row. She replied that I could, but she would advise starting with the centre blocks. Right. I think I'll do more paper work before I begin. The temptation is to begin stitching at once, but it will surely be better to make sure it all works out on paper first.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A New Batch

I've spun another batch of wool for my squares blanket. I dyed two shades of pink and two different greens, leaving four skeins natural. The third round of each square is green, to represent leaves. I considered dyeing enough green to make all the squares the same, but decided to use different shades of green through the blanket. Here are a couple of squares in the new colours:


Aha, I found the photos of my strawberry food cover. Don't ask... Thanks to Ninetta for her Mediterranean Tatting Diet, I really enjoyed it. I used a fancy stitch on my sewing machine to sew the hem. I think it complements the tatting.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


I finished sewing strawberries to pink organza to make a food cover for a wedding present. I took half a dozen photos before parceling it up and posting if off, together with placemats and serviettes. This morning I came to download the photos onto my computer and, horrors, they're not on the camera! How annoying is that? Anyway, for the written record, the food cover is finished and has been posted off.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Counting Squares

I found myself counting squares. Now, when you have 140 squares to make and have done 12, that is clearly absurd. But to counteract the tendency, I'm tying squares together when I've done 10. I'm not adding to the count at the moment because I'm spinning more wool for the blanket.

Gathering Strawberries

Ninetta cleverly encapsulates the ending threads to create stems. I like her tassel, but it probably won't work for a food cover. I'm thinking of snipping the encapsulated threads and then securing the outside thread onto the fabric.

For the second batch of leaves I made, I used Stephanie's suggestion for starting CTM. I fully wound one shuttle and then wound off enough for one leaf onto the second shuttle for each successive leaf. It worked like a charm. Thanks Stephanie!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Strawberry Flowers

I've reduced the stitch count for the petals of the flower because I think (IMHO in text speak!) the flower is a bit big in proportion to the size of the strawberry leaves. The flower with the dark green centre is made with Ninetta's stitch count, the ones with lighter green centres with mine. I love the zig zag in the middle of the petals, so clever.

Friday, December 2, 2016


I considered winding two shuttles for each leaf separately so I could start each leaf CTM, but that was going to waste thread and probably time too. So I wound the two shuttles full of green thread and after the first leaf, hid the starting threads in rings A and B. I printed out Ninetta's chart, it's clear and easy to follow.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I thought I'd make my next blanket a squares one. I vaguely visualised a flower motif in different colours to use up the yarn left over from the last blanket, but when I saw this modernised granny square, it called to me. The original pattern by Hiromi is for a bag, but there's no reason the squares can't be joined to make a blanket. I like that the main colour will be natural (undyed) and that I can use the different left overs for the 'background' round. And I like that it's a updated version of a traditional pattern.

Ninetta's Diet

I'm embarking on Ninetta's Mediterranean diet.  I started off using size 20 thread, much bigger than Ninetta used. It may be too much of a good thing. So I worked the elements again with size 40 thread. Interestingly, the pieces are not all that much smaller, but they look more delicate. I don't have the right colours in finer thread, so I think size 40 it will be. It occurs to me that I can combine the elements differently to how Ninetta combined them. Ah, that's good, I like a flexible diet.