Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Travel Tatting Again

I'm going to Langebaan, near Cape Town, for the national congress of the women's group I belong to (VLVK - Vroue Landbou Vereeniging Kaap). I'm going to take Mary Konior's Curds and Whey with me, in case there are times I can tat. I'm not a person who can tat in the car ( I wish I was!) but I hope to make some progress. It's time I got on with this braid, that I started in February last year.

My cushion and socks are in Langebaan ahead of me. I don't expect them to do any good at national level, but it's good to have something to look out for in the competition room, and I look forward to seeing other people's work.

I won't be writing my blog or reading other blogs until next week,

Monday, August 14, 2017

Good Advice

One of the things about blogging that I really enjoy is getting comments and feedback. When I wrote last week about my bead experiment that was too short for a necklace, Pop Maria from Maryshandmade blog suggested combining it with other beads to make it long enough. Aha. I have used handmade glass beads, created by my sister-in-law, Clare Gaylard to make a necklace that is unique and wearable. Here's a closer look at Clare's beads:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tatting Cousin

My cousin and her husband are visiting us for a few days from Johannesburg. Kathy brought her Pony shuttle along and asked me to give her a lesson. She has the flip down pat. She's trying to get the slip and slide movement a bit smoother.

I should take down the out-of-date calendar, shouldn't I? It has a relevant calendar over the top of the upper half, which is why I didn't notice how obsolete it is until I took the photo.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

One Bag Full

A shop in town sells seed beads in small, cellophane packets. I wanted to see how far one bag of beads goes. I used a simple pattern that I've used before and used up the whole packet of blue beads. The resulting rope is 33 cm long - too long for a bracelet and too short for a necklace! I can either undo part of it to make a bracelet or make it into a necklace for a little girl. But now I know that for a necklace I would need more than one bag of beads.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Plan C

I took my samples for beret and scarf to the last craft group meeting I went to. The gurus liked the beret, but gave the hexagon scarf idea the thumbs down. They felt that it would be too 'busy'. They suggested having the flower motif just at the ends of the scarf with something plainer in between. I undid the outer row of the hexagons and reconfigured them:
I sent a photo off to the group and they liked this, so forward I go with spinning. The spinning will take a while because I'm spinning it quite fine. Corlie also suggested that I make the contrast between the two colours greater so that the flower motif will show up better on beret and scarf. I think that's a good idea, I'll remember it when I do the dyeing. The stitch I've used for the 'plain' part of the scarf is the stitch from the first beret, which goes to show that my testing and experimenting doesn't go to waste!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Easy Zigzag

This longitudinal zigzag bracelet is way easier than the round and round one I had to work so hard on. The pattern is by a Russian designer. Here's a link to the pinterest entry.  It has all the necessary charts and components. It has 6 bead circumference. At one stage, I thought I would learn on a 6 circumference and then 'move up' to bigger circumferences, but actually I like the 6. It's substantial enough for a bracelet and is more flexible than bigger ones. Design is more limited, but there are plenty of designs out there.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

25 Squares

I ran out of medium blue after crocheting 25 squares. I'll have to wait until I see Carien again before we can continue our collaboration. I'll see her at the next craft group meeting, if not before. We live 50 km apart, so collaboration isn't easy!

Friday, August 4, 2017

In The Pink

I had no sewing machine for a couple of months, while it was in for repairs and a service. I'm glad to have it back, I feel a bit lost without a sewing machine handy! I saw a picture on Pinterest here that I thought I might be able to use to convert a wide scarf into a blouse. I followed it back to Posie Gets Cozy blog, where it turned out to be a dress for a little girl rather than a woman's blouse. It also used a commercial pattern. Oh well, for the record, it's the inspiration for my idea. A rather experimental idea that I didn't want to try out on a valuable scarf. But I had a pink sarong that I was given as a freebie at a conference. It had the donor's name painted across it, I wasn't going to use it as a sarong. So I cut it up and made this top. I'm not sure if it works.  I'll have to wear it a couple of times before deciding whether to make another one.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Circle

I finished the circle consisting of 6 of muskaan's rings-only triangles.  Do the white parts look like skulls now? I had to keep my wits about me, I joined wrongly at one stage and had to start the triangle again. I figured that would be quicker than untatting and fixing the mistake.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Look Ma, No Chains

Muskaan has been working on single shuttle motifs. The first pattern in what is to be a series is the triangle.  It's really a building block. I thought I'd start by joining 6 triangles to make a circle. I'm half way. It's taking me longer that I thought it would - these things always do! I should've thought ahead a bit and made the central picot longer, but as this is a first attempt, I will keep going and try to remember all the things I can do better next time. The central rings make me think of the tumbling blocks pattern, they have a mildly 3-D effect.

Monday, July 31, 2017


A friend of mine, Carien, asked me if I'd help her crochet a blanket. She wants it finished before Summer. The days are beginning to lengthen, Summer is on its way, so we had better get on with it. Carien bought yarn in shades of blue. First step was to decide on a colour scheme and stitch count. Then we each made a square and measured it so that we can work to the same tension. So far, so good, we both have squares that measure 13 cm across.  I'm not sure how big the blanket is to be, but I'll work until I've finished the three balls of yarn I have.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Zigzag Bracelet

I've finished the zigzag bracelet. It took me a while, but I learnt a lot in the process. Note to self, another thing I learnt is that a rope with a bigger circumference is stiffer. When this blue bracelet was stiff, I thought the thread must be thicker than my usual thread, but now I realise it was just because of the bigger circumference. Aha.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Zigzag Progress

It looks as though I've reversed the zigzag pattern on successive repeats, but in fact it's the same sequence repeated over and over. I'm sure there's a logical, mathematical reason for that, but it boggles my mind!

Thanks to crafty sylvie who gave me the tip to include some white in a photo to improve the colour. The photo above was taken with my camera, here's one taken with my phone:
I think it's better than the one I took yesterday, so I'll keep that in mind in future.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

One Solution

One solution to yesterday's zigzag conundrum is to separate the zigzags. It still took me three attempts to get it right, but I think this will work. I might give it a go, using different colour zigzags against a constant background.

My camera battery died this morning. I wanted to write this before I go to town, so I decided to use the camera on my new phone instead of the camera. Hmm. The camera has 13 megapixels and the picture is clear, but I'm disappointed in the colour. It has a blue tinge, where the camera picture is clear. I wonder why that is.

Deconstructing the Pattern

I decided to see if I could sort out the pattern that was faulty. (By the way, the link to the pattern on a Russian site no longer works, so perhaps the designer realised it's not a good pattern) I'm a beginner at beaded crochet, so this was rather rash. Patterns are tricky because what you see is not what you get. Beads are pushed slightly to the right as you work, so the grid that shows you which bead to put where doesn't look like the final result. A zig and a zag looks like this:
Anyway, I gave it a go. I started by drawing the pattern from scratch. Hmm. What happens is that at some point the repeats run into each other and you end up with 4 beads of a colour in a row, which disrupts the zigzag pattern:
I revisited the original pattern and removed one row of the chart, so that the second repeat would follow on from the first. The designer has made adjustments to compensate for the effect I've described:
I don't like the look of that. I thought perhaps I could make the circumference 10 round instead of 9, but that doesn't begin to work. It's a fatal flaw. Or do you think you could carry on regardless?

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Beaded Rainbow

This is a much better pattern, which can be found here. I would have liked to have done one more repeat, but I ran out of orange beads. I had counted the remaining orange beads carefully, but didn't take into account that a few of them had holes too small for a beading needle to go through! No problem, I think it's long enough to make a necklace for a small girl.

I did learn that size matters. You can crochet different size beads together, but it shows, so is best done for effect. When I worked a trial piece, I chose beads purely on their colour. The light green ones are slightly bigger than the others, and the red ones slightly smaller:
I didn't like the unevenness this caused, so I changed beads for the final version.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Pattern Pitfalls

I'm grateful to all the designers of beaded crochet ropes who have made their patterns available online. Without them, I'd not have been able to learn the craft. But patterns are not all created equal. Yesterday I printed out a pattern that showed the sequence for stringing the beads, but not the draft of the pattern showing which bead goes where. No problem, I thought, I'll make my own draft. I worked one pattern repeat, it looked good, so I spent a couple of hours stringing several repeats. I should have looked more carefully. The pattern repeats didn't follow on from each other. It wasn't going to work.
I spent half an hour this morning unstringing beads. My advice would be that before you print a pattern, make sure it has Draft, Corrected, Simulation and Report, or at least Draft, Simulation and Report.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Five Lizards

Or perhaps geckos. Can you see them? They look as though they're clinging to the bracelet. I thought this pattern was fun. It's only 6 beads in circumference, so it's pretty easy. At first I put them nose to tail, but then the lizards were really hard to see, so I put a space between them. The space could've been greater.  Here's a link to the pattern.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Testing The Idea

I spun a bit of wool and  dyed two shades of brown, similar to the colours used in the original pattern, Beret Cup Cake Rose by Wedina Schmidt. The beret has white in its outer rows, which is why I've used white to join the hexagons. I think hexagons do show the flower pattern better than squares, thanks for all the feedback. I'll take these along to the next craft group meeting and run it past the experts. Fingers crossed they don't think it'll be too outlandish for the rather conservative judges.

Monday, July 17, 2017


I did this one just for practice. I like the contrast between the colourful flowers and the black-and-white 'trellis'. The pattern is by LBeads and is here.


I visualised a scarf with raised 'petals' to match the beret. I crocheted several swatches, but soon discovered that front post crochet creates a rather stiff fabric. That's fine for a beret, but not so good for a scarf, which requires more drape. I decided to take a look at Ravelry. I typed 'crochet scarf' into the pattern search and came up with 386 pages, with 50 odd patterns per page! After a couple of hours of browsing and scribbling down possibilities, my eyes glazed over and I decided to read tatting blogs for a break. On muskaan's blog there's a link to a crochet blog called ergahandmade Crochet, and there I found what I was looking for! I think. The pattern is not for a scarf, it's for a woman's top, but it uses a hexagon motif with a 12-petal flower, just as the beret has a 12-petal flower.
I crocheted a sample and in the process realised that the motif could easily be changed into a square by working four corners instead of six. Squares would be easier to join, though I did see scarves on Ravelry made of hexagons. I'm hoping I can use colour to reinforce the connection between the flower on the beret and the more lacy flower on the scarf. I'll need to spin and dye a couple of skeins to test the idea.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


I finished Isabel's blanket at the beginning of March and posted if off to her on the 5th. I remember hurrying to get to the Post Office before it closed for the day.  The blankets I posted to New Zealand took about three weeks to arrive, so I hoped that Isabel would get hers in Perth, Australia, before her birthday in early April. Mmm, no. It was delivered on Thursday, more than four months after I posted it! I'm just relieved that it has been delivered.  I was beginning to wonder whether I'd best start making a replacement. Now I must post Annika's blanket. I have no confidence that it will arrive before her birthday at the end of August!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Back To The Drawingboard

I took my beret to show the craft group. The fundis gave it the thumbs down. They said they don't think it's what the judges will be looking for. They want something warmer, something made in wool. That's fine; that's exactly why I asked for advice. Now I'm looking at a pattern called Beret Cup Cake Rose by Wedinas, that I found on Ravelry. First step is to practise some techniques that I'll need for the pattern, such as crocheting into the second back loop of a stitch, and crocheting a 'front post double crochet':
The green one is much too stiff, so I will have to spin a yarn like the peach one, not like the green one. Before I begin to spin though, I had better see if I can work out how to turn the beret pattern into a pattern for a matching scarf.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Crocheting with plarn (plastic yarn) is a slow business. Perhaps my hook is a bit small for the job.  I had visualised making the whole shopping bag in trebles, like the bottom of the bag.
But eventually I got fed up with the slow pace of progress and decided to work a mesh pattern instead.
I probably should have found a pattern to follow because I'm struggling to get the sides of the bag even. When I was working in all trebles, the circumference seemed to be getting bigger and bigger. Now in mesh, it's getting smaller! The plarn is difficult to unravel, so I've just been compensating as I go along, which gives a rather wobbly result.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Magic Square #2

This is Robin Perfetti's second magic square. You can find a link to the pattern by clicking on this post on Tatting by the Bay. I used size 40 Coats thread for this one, it measures 14 cm across. There are a lot of lines of symmetry in here!

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Better Way

The 'magic trick' I described in my last post is not the best way to turn a plastic bag into 'plarn'. StringyDogs sent me this link to a tutorial showing a better method. I'll show it here, using a small plastic bag, though you'll get more detail by clicking on the link.
Cut the bag in strips, stopping just before the end. Then arrange the bag so that the uncut section is flat on the table:
Cut diagonally from one strip to the next, rather than straight across:
Then the bag will form one continuous strip:
Aha! Now I need to actually make something with plarn. I knitted and crocheted samples:
I'm thinking of crocheting a shopping bag. I must say it's rather noisy stuff to work with. I want an evening project, but rustling plastic is not the best accompaniment to an evening film!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Recycling Magic

There were interesting comments on my earlier post about turning plastic bags into plarn. Some referred to ways of using plarn - sleeping mats, shopping bags... Stringy Dogs commented that there is a way of cutting bags so that they form a single big circle, rather than a lot of little circles. She didn't give any details. But I remembered a 'magic trick' that we used to do as children, folding and cutting a piece of paper in such a way that it opened into a big circle that could be put over your head. Several bags and pieces of paper later, it was clear that I had forgotten how to do it! I looked up on the internet and found this post. Aha. So I cut the bottom and handles off a bag, then cut one side open, so I had a single, folded piece, and cut from this side and that:
The middle bit on each 'pair' has to be cut, (except the first and last!) otherwise you get a concertina shape:
And then it can be opened up into a big circle:
It's a bit jagged and I'm not sure it's the most practical way to cut the bag. And it's probably not what Stringy Dogs was thinking of! But there you go, it's possible.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Lot of Error!

I'm trying to turn Anne Bruvold's  flowery triangle into a magic square. There are a lot of scraps and a lot of 'Duh, of course that won't work' moments, but I am making progress. I scribbled the diagram down years ago. Anne didn't provide a pattern but gave permission for her motif to be copied.