Friday, October 19, 2018


I've almost finished the third shirt:
It's pretty much the same as the first shirt, so here's a picture of Jack's climbing roses for variation:
I also took a photo of a weaver's nest in the tree outside the diningroom window. The weaver builds an intricate nest. It's fascinating to watch the male fly back and forth with grass fronds to weave with.
Mine is not a great photo, you can see some better photos here or look up weaver bird on youtube, to see the bird in action.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

I Give Up

On the Post Office, that is. My daughter kindly posted me thread to redo the crochet top that is too small,  That was in June, and I still haven't received it. I suspect it is languishing in a parcel mountain, formed when post office personnel went on strike. I need an 'evening project' to work on, so I've started redoing the top using a thread I bought locally.

 It is labelled as 'microfibre'.  I assume that means it's completely synthetic, which is not ideal for competition, where natural fibres are 'recommended'. On the plus side, it is shiny, which I hope means makes it suitable for 'evening wear'. When, or if, the other thread turns up, I'll make another top using a different pattern.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


I took some time off shirt-making to sew myself a Summer nightie. I wanted to bind the neckline with wide ribbon, instead of using facings, but couldn't for the life of me work how to do that neatly. So I had a look on the internet and found this tutorial  on So-sew-easy. I followed the directions and voila, perfect binding. Isn't the internet marvelous?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


At our meeting on Thursday, Corlie showed us how to use an ordinary paper sugar or flour packet to make a gift bag. The secret it to iron it before adding the handles! Then it looks like new, not a raggedy old packet that you've finished using. It helps if you have an unusual packet, like Corlie's stone ground flour one, but even a very ordinary sugar packet looks good after the treatment.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Work Shirts

Jack needs a new batch of work shirts for Summer. When I made the last lot, three years ago, I had the brilliant idea of making the pockets and collars different on each one, for variety. Problem was, the pockets and collars wore out long before the main part of the shirts did. So this time I've bought a very sturdy contrast fabric for the pockets and collars, but all the shirts will be the same. At least they won't be as boring as the monochrome ones Jack complained about. My plan is to make four shirts, this is the first one.

PS Maureen asked whether S twist or Z twist yarn is better for tatting. I did some tiny samples and I think the answer is Z twist, where the thread is twisted anticlockwise. With an S twist, the thread gradually unravels as you work, whereas with Z twist, the twist increases. Either way you probably have to drop the shuttle periodically to let the thread revert to original.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Twist and Balance

Yesterday afternoon I gave a talk about yarn structure to a small group. Maureen asked if I'd write here what I said there, so here goes.

All fibre crafts, such as knitting, crochet, embroidery et c need a continuous thread. Otherwise you're restricted to the length you can cut from a hide or strip from a plant. A long time ago (before ancient Egyptian and Greek times) mankind worked out how to form a continuous thread by twisting fibres together.

It doesn't matter what the fibres are, animal, plant or synthetic, the thread is created through twisting. The method doesn't matter either - fingers, spindle, spinning wheel or machine all twist fibres together.

An interesting thing about twist is that the more you twist the fibres, the stronger the thread. BUT: there's a downside because the more you twist, the less soft the yarn will be. So you sometimes have to weigh these factors against each other. On the plus side, it means you can vary the twist according to the purpose of the yarn. So if you want strong sock wool, you put in a lot of twist, but if you want a soft, snuggly yarn for a scarf, you put in less twist:
So that seems simple - put in enough twist for your purpose and off you go. Not so fast....

If you twist your fibres clockwise and then knit the resulting thread, the individual stitches and the whole piece will slant badly:
Yesterday we had a go at straightening it out, but it quickly sprang back to this shape. You can twist your fibres anticlockwise and then it will slant in the other direction:
Overcoming this bias and creating a 'balanced yarn' involves plying, or combining threads. So for the example below, I spun two threads clockwise, and then combined them anticlockwise:
The skein hangs straight and the knitted stitches are straight. Plying doesn't necessarily have to combine the same or even similar threads. When I hand spin cotton, I often ply it with a fine commercial thread. And of course more than one thread can be combined. There are infinite possibilities, but the aim is to create a usable thread or yarn.

There are other factors that affect how much twist is needed, eg short fibres like cotton need more twist than long fibres like mohair; thin thread needs more twist than thick. But the principle remains the same - it's all about the twist.

Thursday, October 11, 2018


I've finished the tumbling blocks scarf, just working on it in the evenings. Blocking it helps show up the pattern:
Or maybe not. It doesn't have a home yet, I just wanted to try the pattern and had left over yarn that would work well for it. But I'm sure I'll soon find someone to give it to.