Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Winter Tomatoes

The tomato crop that Jack planted in late Summer was still very green when frost threatened. If they froze, they'd turn to mush and that would be that. So Jack picked them, even though we weren't sure they'd ripen. It took a while, but they are ripening splendidly on the kitchen windowsill.  I must admit that they don't taste quite as good as Summer tomatoes, but they're acceptable and I'm glad the crop was saved. ( 'Crop' is an exaggeration, it's only a few plants.)


Monday, June 18, 2018

Making Progress

I have made progress on my crochet top. I'm working on the second sleeve, having finished the bodice and the first sleeve. I'll have to put it together and then work an edging on the bottom edge, so there's still some way to go.  I added little beads to the bottom of the sleeve edging, because I have to make clear this is an 'evening top':

Saturday, June 16, 2018


I do like Carollyn's Kiss Kiss Fish! The third part of her tat-along is here. It's a good pattern for emptying shuttles, since it doesn't use a lot of thread. Though it's important to heed Carollyn's advice and leave a long enough thread for the padding. I was a bit mean the second time round, and it shows. The bottom fish is not as neat as the top one because I struggled to hold the inner threads in place. Thanks Carollyn, it's a lovely pattern.

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Fishy Tale

Or tail. Very clever use of beads to create the pointy part of the fish tail. Instructions are here on Carollyn's blog, day 2 of her tat-along.  Funnily enough, I noticed a similar structure on a Japanese blog the other day, using small rings rather than beads - here.  Both give a bigger 'triangle' than just three beads or rings.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Of Skipping Ropes and Fish

I thought I'd start another curds and whey lace as a 'handbag project', but when I was looking in the book, Tatting with Visual Patterns, for the pattern, I came across Mary Konior's skipping ropes edging and decided I'd work that one instead. I scribbled a copy of the diagram so that I can take it with me instead of carrying the whole book. The pattern is worked entirely in chains, so that one shuttle full of thread should go a long way. The thread is a charity shop find, I don't know what brand it is, but the colour is mink, subtly variegated.

I also wound thread for Carollyn's fishy tat along, which is here. It's a small project, the perfect diversion from my crochet.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Pecan Pie

Not far from us is a big irrigation scheme called the Vaalharts Scheme. Here's a link to a Wikipedia entry for it. They grow a lot of pecans there, most of which are exported to China. As a local, it's possible to get hold of the best quality if you know who to ask! Perfect for pecan pie.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Spot The Difference

I did try to make sure that all the balls of crochet thread I bought the other day were the same size, but an odd one sneaked through. The one on the far right is size 5, the others size 8. It's not too serious because I bought way more than I'll need for my crochet top. It's firmly spun, I think it'll tat up well, so perhaps there are apricot bookmarks in my future.

I am making progress on the top, I've got to waist level:

Friday, June 8, 2018


I decided to use the 2 mm hook, so that there isn't too big a difference between this section and the central panel. I like the more open look, though some of yesterday's commentators say they like the denser fabric. It was easier to get going this time round because I made the mistakes on the first version! One thing I like about this pattern stitch is that all the shells are worked from the same side. Crochet definitely has two different sides; working back and forth they usually alternate, but in this case the mainly chain row is worked on the 'wrong' side.

Thursday, June 7, 2018


I'm making heavy weather of this. I've done some work on the main body of my crochet top, but it feels very stiff to  me, it isn't going to drape well. I crocheted some samples using different size hooks. 3.5 mm is clearly too big:
The next sample uses a 2.5 mm hook on the bottom two rows and 2 mm on the top two rows:
Dither, dither, not sure how to choose between those two. I'm hoping that I can keep the central section I did using a 1 mm hook, and use that hook for the edging that is in the same pattern.

On Tuesday we had an 'information day', where experts gave us tips for the competition articles. The crochet fundi says an evening top should be in black or red, or perhaps grey. Hmm. Apricot not on her list!

One of the examples shown on Tuesday used an interesting asymmetrical shell pattern. I made a sample of it in the hope that I will remember it:

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Here Be Dragons

Well, a dragon anyway.  I knitted this beaded dragon some weeks ago for my daughter Penny, who likes dragons. Penny reads my blog, so I didn't show it until she had safely received it.  I didn't really think in terms of usefulness, but Penny has put the dragon to work:
Good,  I like the idea of it being useful as well as decorative.

Monday, June 4, 2018


Another skirt cut according to my (insufficient) cloth. Crafty Sylvie commented that no one but me knows what skirt I originally intended to make. Good point!

Friday, June 1, 2018


So I made a test skirt to enable me to work out how much fabric to buy for the next one, made a miscalculation and came home with insufficient! How daft is that? I decided to fudge it, knowing that the skirt wouldn't hang as well as the original because it's not cut properly on the cross.  I figured that if it was really bad, I could just wear it at home. But I think it'll do. No one is going to stop me in the street and say, "Excuse me, your skirt is not hanging correctly".
The fabric is a teeny tiny houndstooth. 

I'd still like to make a skirt according to the pattern, so I will have to buy more fabric, calculating more accurately.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

With Curds And Whey

The Mary Konior curds and whey edging has been in my stash for a while. Luckily it is just the right length to go around the new skirt, and the pink in the variegated thread picks up the pink of the fabric.

 I've been asked if sewing a lace decoration on is a boring job. No, not to me anyway. It does take time, but I feel rather elegant doing hand sewing - for some unknown reason my pinkie finger crooks like a Lady drinking tea!

Yesterday I bought fabric for two more skirts. Four pieces of fabric because I plan to line them. Sewing is on the agenda. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

In the Pink

I was given this fabric. The colour is fine, but the texture is horrid, an old fashioned crimpalene. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, of course, I decided to use it to try out a skirt pattern I found on Pinterest. Here it is here.  I want to make a warm skirt, but warm fabric is usually expensive, so I want to be sure  the pattern will work, and  know exactly how much fabric to buy.

I traced the dimensions of the skirt out on newprint, as per the diagram. I had to sellotape a few pages together to get a big enough sheet, but it worked fine. The seams didn't need neatening, so it was a quick sew. I think it works. I'll need fabric that is at least 150 cm wide, and without a one-way pattern.  I hope I can find some in town tomorrow.

Monday, May 28, 2018


I scribbled a whole lot of calculations and worked out that I needed 54 pattern repeats. Right. So multiplied by 5, I needed 270 chain. Wrong. There should be 6 chains per pattern repeat, not 5.  Hmm. This is not my first attempt at getting the foundation row right, I'm running out of oomph. I've decided to go with the reduced number of repeats. The top won't fit me, but the proportions will probably be better. I'm carrying on regardless:

Friday, May 25, 2018


The oranges on the little tree on the front lawn are ripening rapidly.
Time to make marmalade. I don't have a really big pot for jam making, so I had to 'make a plan'. I cooked the peel until it was soft, then drained it, added sugar to the liquid, and cooked that to jell point.

 I used a digital thermometer, a first for me. Since the recipe seemed to have a few inaccuracies, I checked online that it was right about the temperature for jell point - everyone said 105 degrees Celsius, so I aimed for that. Then I mixed the two and bottled it. I finished up with 3 and a half jars. I reused jars that  originally had pepperdews in them, if anyone is wondering why it says 'hot' on the label!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Starting Over

On Tuesday afternoon I showed my crochet and beaded knitting to the competition fundi(expert). She says the pattern I'm using for a crochet top will work, but I'll have to add beads and ribbon to make sure it qualifies as 'evening wear'. Right. I decided to start over, mainly because I realised that my crochet is smaller than the pattern, so I will need to make adjustments. I'm going to use an existing top as a template. I'm doing 10 repeats on the front panel instead of 8. I've made the central 'ladder' bigger to make it easier to thread a ribbon through it. Let's hope I"m on the right path now and this is the real deal!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Well, my demonstration of beaded crochet yesterday was not really a success. The lady who had asked me to do it wasn't there and I lost the others early on by being over complicated. Ah well, there are a few more people in the world who know what a beaded crochet rope is.

Some knitting instead. I saw this pattern on Pinterest and I had to try it. The pattern calls it a dishcloth, but I'm sure it could be used as a pot holder or mandala or something.
The pattern said 7 repeats, but when I'd done 7, my circle was not complete, so I had to do some more. That may be because I left the 'holes' caused by turning for short rows as a decorative feature.

I used 4-ply cotton for this. I bought it thinking that it was double knit. I still haven't learnt that in the low cost yarn shop I need to check the label of every single ball, because the different thicknesses are muddled on the shelves. I do like the colour and of course I can always find a use for a ball of yarn, whatever its thickness.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

All Set

I hope I'm all set to demonstrated how to crochet beaded rope this afternoon. I've chosen a pattern that is easy but interesting, with a repeat that is not too long. I've worked several repeats and threaded some more beads. I scribbled myself a few notes to guide me, but I'll see how it goes and where ( if any!) the audience interest lies.

Monday, May 21, 2018


I made a couple of  bright bracelets to add to my stock of beaded crochet bangles. In this stocking up exercise, I've stuck to patterns that I've used before. Sometimes patterns don't work up as well in practice as they looked on paper. I'll do a couple of repeats and then decide I don't like them and abandon them. But I didn't have time for that, so I used patterns I knew would be successful.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Couple More

I've made a couple more beaded crochet bracelets. The one on the right is 5 beads in circumference, the other one 8. The 5-beader works up very quickly, but the 8-bead is more substantial.

Friday, May 18, 2018


I'm going to demonstrate how to make beaded crochet ropes on Tuesday. I've given away most of my beaded crochet bracelets, so I thought I'd better make a few before Tuesday. I've threaded beads for a third one:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Shaping Up

I was a bit worried about the shaping required for my crochet top. The top is worked mostly in one piece, apart from a front panel, so the thought of getting it wrong and having to rework the top (using a 1 mm hook!) was daunting.  I decided to do a practice piece. "Spend time to save time" perhaps. Turns out it wasn't too difficult. Though I think next time I will shorten the chain that replaces the missed shell when reducing. That should make the reduction less obvious.

This little piece also serves as a sample to work out how many repeats and rows I will need. I realised that my work is much smaller than the pattern. So I checked the front panel and, sure enough, I need to do a couple more repeats to make it workable.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

One Repeat

I've finished a complete repeat of Kaffe Fassett's chart, tulips facing this way and that. I'll need at least three repeats for a clutch bag, perhaps four. I'm going to see what the 'fundis' in my craft group think before I carry on.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Another Start

I've made a start on the crochet top, using size 1 mm hook. I found the pattern on Pinterest here. The instructions are a little skimpy, I hope I can manage to follow them. It looks as though there are darts of a kind, to shape the sides. I like the shaping, but it'll require some thought!

Friday, May 11, 2018

'Just Start'

I took the advice that God's Kid gave in a comment on my previous post and made a start on my beaded knitting project. The pattern is from Family Album by Kaffe Fassett and Zoe Hunt. I followed the instructions to photostat the graph and then colour in with pencil crayons. The original is intended to show different coloured yarns, but it works for different coloured beads too.

I had a set back when a bead broke when I was doing the following plain row. Drat! Nothing for it but to undo the whole beaded row, cut the thread, add a bead and redo the row. Last week I experimented with making a join in the middle of a row, but it doesn't work. It's not possible to leave it as is either, the space glares out.
My plan is to make an entire pattern, tulips facing both ways, and then show the experts at the next meeting before going any further.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Prepare To Crochet

The brief for the crochet section of competitions for the women's organisation I belong to, is to crochet a top suitable for evening wear. Right. I managed to buy mercerised cotton when we went to Kimberley a few weeks ago. It was a bit of a mission because there were two shelves with a muddle of sizes and colours and I had to sift through them to find 10 balls in the same size and colour.
The next step was to look for a pattern. I found hundreds of crochet tops on Pinterest. Some of them didn't have patterns or charts, some of them were completely unsuitable, but even so, there was plenty of choice. After a lot of dithering, I printed out a couple of patterns and crocheted samples using a 2 mm hook. It seemed to me that the fabric was a bit too loose and loopy, so yesterday I looked for a smaller hook. I couldn't find 1.5 mm, but I did get a 1 mm hook. I worked another sample of the pattern I'm leaning towards, and I do think it looks better:
So now I have the beaded knitting project and the crochet top 'ready to roll', but a certain reluctance to get on with them! The deadline is many months away, but I don't want to leave things to the last minute and if I want to enter other sections too, I had better just dive in.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


My do over is done. I was working with rather short lengths of wool by the time I finished, but Jack  now has a second sleeveless pullover to wear, and my spare room has fewer useless garments cluttering it! Now I just need to wash it to take the crinkles out.  Here's the post where I read that washing a garment made from previously knitted wool would smooth is out. It's really about sock blanks, an interesting concept that I haven't come across before.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Pretty Butterfly

This muskaan's pattern. I think the headline is intended to be 'make me pretty, please', but when I look at it I see 'make me, pretty please'. Make it I did, but not as pretty as Ninetta's version. There are a lot of possibilities for decorating this butterfly, but it is pretty in any case.