Tuesday, July 31, 2012


My mother-in-law, Dora McLellan, died yesterday, aged 92, in New Zealand. She had eight children; 19 grandchildren; at least 23 great grandchildren, ranging in age from 26 years to a few weeks; and two great-great-grandchildren. 

Mum was a prolific knitter. The toys in the picture are all her work. Her first love was knitting baby shawls. She gave me the pattern for my first lace knitting, a shawl I used for my children, which my daughter is now using for hers. And Mum gave me my spinningwheel, the one I still use to spin yarn for socks etc. 

The picture below was taken in 1994, when Mum visited us in Zimbabwe.

Monday, July 30, 2012


I used acid dyes to dye the sock wool, setting it in the microwave. Pretty, isn't it?

Friday, July 27, 2012


I plyed the wool yesterday and wound into into skeins on my niddy noddy, pictured here. There were five and a half sock-sized skeins, which is fine. There should be plenty for two pairs of adult socks and one Livi-sized pair. I left the skeins over night to 'relax'. They're now soaking in a basin of hot water and liquid soap. When they're clean, I'll dye them. There's an icy wind blowing, but the sun is shining, so the skeins will dry quickly.

Two Bobbins Full

Right. Next job is to combine these two threads to make a stronger, smoother yarn. Plying is quicker than spinning, but it always takes me longer than I imagine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Instructions and Take Along Knitting

Instructions for Brioche Stitch, for Crazy Mom and anyone else who is interested:

Cast on an odd number of stitches. I have 15.
Knit a foundation row.
Row 1: (wrong side) K1,* yarn forward, slip 1 purlwise, K1, repeat from * to end.
Row 2: K1, *Knit slipped stitch and yarn over together, K1, repeat from * to end.
Row 3: K2, * yarn forward, slip 1 purlwise, K1, repeat from * until 1 st remains, K1.
Row 4: K2, *Knit slipped stitch and yarn over together, K1, repeat from * until 1 st remains, K1

Repeat these 4 rows. It takes a while for the pattern to 'emerge'. Do a few repeats before studying it!

Yesterday I knew I would  have to wait for Jack when he was in the dentist, bank etc. So I took along a boot sock I'm knitting as a special request. It's good take along knitting, small and not requiring too much attention. At one stage, Jack came back to the vehicle and asked me if I'd seen a neighbour passing by. Er, no. Unsurprising, as I was reading a magazine as well as knitting the sock. Perhaps I should pay more attention to the real world sometimes!

Brioche Stitch

I have heard of brioche stitch, but haven't knitted it before. It creates a fabric with an  interesting honeycomb structure. It's easy enough, involves slipped stitches and yarn overs. I can give the instructions if anyone is interested. I think the reverse side of the fabric is good too:
I bought some cotton yarn today that  should show the pattern up very well. I have a number of ideas in my head at the moment. I guess I must tackle them one by one.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Spinning Progress

This picture was taken from a rather odd angle, but I wanted to show that I have filled one bobbin and started a second. When the second one is as full as the first, I will ply the two threads together. I'm taking it slowly, there's no hurry and I'm savouring the process!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Designing a Yarn

I like to spin for a specific project so I can choose the characteristics of the yarn I want. Here I'm spinning wool for socks, so I'm spinning a thin, firmly twisted thread. There's always a trade off between strength and softness - more spin makes a thread stronger, but less soft. So if I was spinning for a scarf, say, I might put less spin in, which would make the yarn softer than this thread, but less strong. There are other factors that affect how much spin you need to put in, such as the fibre being spun - cotton needs more spin to hold together than wool, for instance. In any case, the idea is to spin a yarn that is 'fit for purpose'! 

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I thought it would be a good idea to wash and iron my tablecloth before I sewed the tatting on. It wasn't. Ever since I washed it, the linen has become more and more creased. I seem to have destroyed some sort of crease protection. Can anyone tell me anything about that? What should I have done? The edging is partly sewn on, but not yet complete.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Bookmark Story

A few weeks ago, I took a book off the shelf in the library in town and found this Hardanger bookmark. It's so pretty that I imagined someone frantically looking for it. So I took it to the Library Assistant to ask her if anyone had been asking after it. No, she said, but she'd keep it behind the desk in case someone came in search. Yesterday I went to the library and the Librarian in charge promptly produced the bookmark and asked if it was mine! The assistant and I between us told her the story. Oh well, she said, no one had come looking for it, so I could have it. At the bottom of my book bag was lurking, for no good reason, a Jane Bookmark, so I gave it to the assistant. I figured she could have taken this bookmark home instead of keeping it behind the desk, so she should have some compensation!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Winter Parcel

Months ago I had the idea of sending a parcel to son No. 1's family  in New Zealand to brighten up mid-winter. But somehow I've had trouble getting it all together. There's still a gap between idea and reality, but if I don't post it off today, winter will be over before it arrives! Mostly knitting, but a bit of tatting, of course - the daisy pin is by Jon.

The right yarn for the pattern

I gave up on the top scarf in the reversible cable pattern. The tweedy brown yarn made it uninteresting to knit and to look at. But in this thicker, crisper blue yarn, the textured seed stitch and the cable show up much better. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More socks

I found this pattern when I was looking for a heel for my boot socks. It's called 'Crocus Toe-up Socks', by  Wilma Becker, 2009. The lace pattern is interesting. It's very textured, but is much easier to knit than it appears.

Monday, July 16, 2012


This is Quantiesque snowflake by Jon. Great pattern, thanks Jon. I give away a lot of my tatting, but this one I am keeping for myself. It looks great under a glass vase of flowers. This is made in size 20 thread, and is 12cm in diameter.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I give up

I still think it's a good idea to use Catherine wheel joins for Wally Sosa's hibiscus, as I wrote here, but they're very time consuming. Even if you're good at Catherine wheel joins, which I patently am not, they have to be slower than the lock joins I resorted to. The original crochet chain is probably neater as well as quicker than either of them.

One good thing about this project is that I finished off the thread on several spools. I have great numbers of spools with just a smidgeon of thread on them, just as I have jam jars with only a smear of jam in them, and wine bottles containing a mere slurp!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A sock and a toe

I finished the leg part of my toe-up sock yesterday at the cattle sale and started the second sock. I was a bit reluctant to begin a sock in public. It's a messy business, with a thread for the provisional cast-on and a long tail for grafting later and four needles.  I'm bound to get tied up in knots.   But with all those weaner steers in the auction ring, no one was taking any notice of me anyway. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Toe-up socks

Son No. 2 is coming to visit, so I want to make him another pair of boot socks. I thought I'd knit them from the toe up, so that I don't have to judge beforehand how long to make the leg part and still use only one ball of yarn per sock. I haven't knitted socks this way before, but it's just a matter of doing everything in reverse, right? Right. But when I got to the heel my head boggled and I could figure out how to go backwards. I've used the heel directions from Crocus Toe-up Socks by Wilma Becker, which I downloaded some time ago from Ravelry. Aha. We're off to a cattle sale now, I should be able to finish knitting the leg while I watch the sale. Tomorrow I will undo my temporary cast on stitches and graft the toe. Then, of course, I will have to make another sock the same!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Just butterflies

My plan was to put yesterday's hibiscus in the centre of this food cover. I still intend to tat the hibiscus, but it will have to be for another project. I need to complete this today, so I've decided to stick with butterflies. Each corner has one of Jennifer Williams's butterflies with daisy picots, while Jane Eborall's very small butterfly is scattered over the rest of the cover. I've sewn dangly beads to each corner to hold the cover down. The edging is machine stitched with a stitch that looks like flowers and leaves. Instead of wrapping paper, I have made a muslin bag, decorated with Frivole's happy heart to put the cover in as a gift, which you can see on top of the cover.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hibiscus in progress

This hibiscus flower was designed by Wally Sosa. The outline of the flower is crocheted, picking up the long picots. I didn't want to use crochet, mainly because I don't have a hook of the right size. So I thought of using the Catherine Wheel join. I battle with the Catherine wheel, had to get the instructions from Jane Eborall's pattern page again, but I think it does work. It's just taking me much longer than I planned for! This is strictly a practice piece, which is why I haven't worried about the correct colour thread.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Glenys tagged me. I haven't done this before and be warned, I won't do it again. 

The Liebster Blog Award is given to upcoming bloggers who have 200 followers or less.

The word 'Liebster' is German and it means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

Here're the Rules:

1. Each person must post 11 random facts about themselves
2. Answer 11 questions the tagger has given you and give 11 questions for the people you tagged
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post
4. Tell them you've tagged them. Remember, no tag backs! 


1.    I was born in Zimbabwe in 1960.
2.    I’ve been married to Jack for 33 years – gosh!
3.    I have three children, two sons and a daughter.
4.    Five children call me Ouma (Oh-mah), soon to be six.
5.    I’ve lived on farms for most of my life.
6.    I hate brussel sprouts.
7.    I’m a cancer survivor with a colostomy called Fred to prove it.
8.    Books and libraries – essential.
9.    Colour, I  must have colour and  light.
10.  I like to cook.
11.  I’m hopeless at anything that involves glue or paint!

Q & A

a  Would you be so kind as to explain the meaning of platonic?
No sex involved?
b  Can't we have more than two eggs a day?
Go right ahead, chicken farmers need the business.
c  What do you collect?
Salt and pepper sets, though I don’t have room for them in my life right now.
d Is there any other things that you rather spend your time on than answering these questions of mine? I sure have.
I could think of quite a few, yeah.
e  Are you sleepy right now? Cause I certainly am.
No, it’s 12 noon.
f  Which do you like best - sparkly glitters, unicorns, rainbows or fairies?
Sparkly glitters, I guess.
g  What do you do for a living? I you're a paranoia like me, the question being to personal, tell me what will you be doing after this instead.
I keep house. The pay’s lousy, but it’s what I do at the  moment.
h  What's your favourite difficult word? Nerdy, i know.
Hmmm, I’m very aware of words, I’m the person who notices that the sign on the book shop says Stationary, but a favourite? It varies.
i   I like to keep my fingernails and hair short. What stuff do you like short?
j  How much do the yarns of the wool variety cost in your country? The ones here cost a bomb.Expensive  here too, and completely unobtainable in my nearest town. If possible I like to spin my own.
Questions I have
1.    Do you know where Zimbabwe is?
2.    Do you have children?
3.    Do you prefer hot weather or cold?
4.    Do you think that becoming a vegetarian will save the planet?
5.    What sort of car do you drive?
6.    Do you talk on the phone while driving?
7.    Are you a dog-person or a cat-person?
8.    Do you cook from scratch?
9.    What’s your favourite dessert?
10. Are you a teacher?
11. Do you have green fingers?

Tagging people I don't know

Jess        Sharon         Arial     Soleil      Gunhild          

Friday, July 6, 2012

Daisy Picot Butterfly

This is Butterfly with daisy picots by Jennifer Williams, of Cariad tatting. I saw this butterfly on someone else's blog recently, but I was blog-crawling and not keeping track of where I was. Thanks for the inspiration and the link! I had to revisit Riet's book "Daisy Picot Patterns' to remind myself how to do daisy picots, because it's a while since I used this technique. I'm planning to do another teashower or food cover for a wedding present, with butterflies of different sorts. 

I scanned this butterfly instead of taking a photo as I usually do.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sewing the Edging

I did contemplate sewing the edging invisibly, putting the needle under the hem turn up, but that would be a bit pointless, considering that the embroidery has a wrong side, so the tablecloth has a wrong side. I haven't yet quite got the rhythm of sewing each repeat on, but I've made a start.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pinning the Edging

I had a moment of panic when it seemed that the edging was far too long for the tablecloth. What was I thinking when I decided how many repeats to do for each side?? But I marked the half way and quarter way points of one side of the cloth, using pins, then worked out the quarters of the edging and eased the edging to fit. I've pinned half of one side, yes, it works. I've pinned it so that one chain hangs off the edge of the cloth, while the rest of the edging will be sewn to the cloth.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An Easier Way

In May I made myself a winter skirt, inserting triangular panels to add fullness to the bottom of the skirt. I was pleased with the skirt, but it was quite a palaver to make. On Sewdaily from Interweave Press, I saw a way of achieving a similar effect more easily, by altering the pattern.

The instructions said to slash the pattern and spread it, then paste it to another piece of paper. Can you see that in the picture above?

It took me a while to get my head around it. I realised that of course I would have to have at least 4 seams in  my skirt, I couldn't cut it on a fold. My material is a checked brushed cotton. I needed the stripes to line up on all 4 sections, so I tacked the material carefully before cutting out, matching the stripes.

Once I'd done that, the skirt was quite quick to make, 4 seams to be sewn and neatened, narrow hem, casing for elastic at the top. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lost and Found

In 2009, Jane Eborall posted my pattern for this bookmark on her blog, here. The pattern has proved really popular in Tatland. Yesterday Jane e-mailed me to say she couldn't find the pattern, could I resend it. Hmmm, I couldn't find it either! I had a bookmark on hand, and the original Anna Burda article that I adapted it from, so I took a photo and rewrote the pattern. Later on Jane found the link to the original post. I see I didn't put a tassel on the new version. I guess that's optional anyway. Jane has put the pattern on her Guest designer part of her Pattern Pages, thanks Jane. I'll put a link to the pattern on my side bar too. It's all over Tatland already, but now it should be easy for anyone to find! By the way, I have used this pattern in a size 40 thread to make a pretty braid too.