Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

Thanks very much to all the people who read my blog in 2014, followed it, commented on it, gave me encouragement and support!


I've been playing with adding beads to mignonette stitch. Whether these experiments will go anywhere I don't know. I saw a picture the other day of a bib necklace that might be something to aim for, but there would still be work needed. One thing I had to work out was getting from one row to the next. I didn't want to use two shuttles, so single shuttle split ring (SSSR) it was. How to add the bead to the SSSR so that it looked more or less the same as the other rings? I found it was best to add the bead from the shuttle thread, rather than having it on the back of the hand as in the other rings. There's a tiny bit of thread that shows, but it's the best solution I've found. I'm writing this down for the record so that I don't have to go through the same thought process again!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Curve

I've been wanting to tat something from 'Tatting with Visual Patterns' by Mary Konior. I thought I'd start with the Spinning Wheel place mat, which is really a wide edging for a fabric circle. I wound my shuttle with Milford Holiday Red size 20 and followed the diagram. I did a few repeats and it seemed to me that the edging wasn't curving. How was it ever going to fit around a circular centre?
Then I remembered Muskaan's post about methods to make tatting curve. Shorten chains in strategic places was one tip. I shortened the chain between the repeats, ie the one that will lie alongside the fabric, from 4-4-4 to 4-4. Aha, it worked, thanks Muskaan.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


The necklace worked out much as I visualised. Here's a close up:

The thread is one of my charity shop finds. It doesn't have a brand label, but it has a sticker saying 54 random dye mink 21. I used Starlit shuttle. It's a little awkward to work with, but is big enough to fit a lot of beads comfortably. The Swarovski crystals were on the ball thread but most of  the seed beads were on the shuttle.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Just in Time

I've finished the sleeveless pullover for Jack's Christmas present. He doesn't know it's for him. When he asked what I was knitting I just said rather vaguely that I needed an easy project to work on alongside the Frost Flowers top.

To all those who celebrate Christmas, I hope yours is full of joy and happiness.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Frost Flowers Top

Well, it's done, Frost Flowers Top, from a pattern by Lankakomera that I found on Ravelry. I hope it fulfils all the criteria of the knitting competition - sleeveless, goes over the head, lacy but without long loops....The rules did say that a crochet edging was acceptable, but I felt that it looked unfinished, so I knitted a scallop edging for the neck. I used ladder stitch to sew the side seams and am pleased that they look more or less invisible:
Outside view.
And inside, where there is a slight ridge, but nothing too obtrusive. It will be months before the judging is done, but at least now I have done my bit.

Not Yet

I finished knitting the front of my Frost Flowers top yesterday. I thought I'd be able to show you the finished garment today, but finishing off always takes longer than I bargain for. The pattern said to finish the neck with single crochet, but I wasn't really happy with that. Instead I've picked up stitches and knitted an edging. I hope it's going to lie flat, I can't really tell until I've finished.  Once I've done the neck edging, I must sew in all the ends, block the pieces and sew the side seams. I've a way to go yet then.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Delia Updated

I've been using Delia Smith's Classic Christmas Cake recipe for many years. Originally I found the recipe in a magazine. Every year I'd haul the magazine out at Christmas time and use the recipe. Since we came to South Africa, I've found the recipe on line. This year I found that the recipe has been updated. The ingredients are the same, but the method has been altered. Instead of creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs etc etc, you're told to sift the flour and spices into a bowl, add eggs, treacle, sugar and so on and beat with an electric beater. Sounds good to me! Interestingly, the cake seems more 'cakey' than before. It used to look like fruit bound together with a little bit of cake. This one has just as much fruit in it and I imagine it will taste much the same.  Oh, and here's a link to the recipe. The recipe does say to make the cake well in advance of Christmas, but I think that's more applicable to the Northern Hemisphere than here where Christmas is in mid-summer.(Or perhaps that's just an excuse for my not getting round to it until now!)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mistake Rib

This knitting stitch looks complicated but is really very simple. It's just knit 2, purl 2 rib on an odd number of stitches. That means that one stitch of each pair aligns with the previous row while the next does not. It gives a 'deep rib' that is very elastic and completely reversible. My neighbour Irma calls it 'mock fisherman's rib'. As with fisherman's rib, the knit column appears very prominent, but this is easier because you don't need to knit into the row below. I think it would be less likely to droop than fisherman's rib too.

The pattern where I first encountered this stitch was a scarf, or perhaps a cowl, from Interweave Press. It had narrow garter stitch borders. When I 'converted' the pattern into a sleeveless pullover, I kept the garter stitch edges. They form an edging to the armholes, so that when I've finished knitting back and front, I just have to sew shoulders and side seams and knit a neck band. This gives a very neat finish to the armholes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Trying out an idea

Like Lace-lovin' Librarian, I feel the need to tat, though I have knitting projects with deadlines. I didn't have to take much time off knitting to tat these. I have an idea for a necklace, but thought I'd try it out on earrings first. I think my idea will work, though it will mean having a lot of beads on the shuttle. That project will have to wait until the knitting is done though.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Self Striping

I've finished knitting the front of the sleeveless pullover I'm making my husband for Christmas. (Yes, I know it's midsummer, but that's the right time to prepare for winter!) I really like this pattern, can you tell? This is the third one I've knitted. The 'mistake rib', which I think should be called 'offset rib' creates a very elastic fabric, which means that stitch count is not crucial to a good fit.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Natural Texture

My two knitting projects are progressing but it's more of the same. So I thought I'd show some photos I took in England in October. I like the textures. The one below I took after a hail storm just after I got home:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

On The Edge

I've made a start on the front of my lacy top. It was easier second time round. When I started the back, I stupidly didn't realise that the chart for the edging shows only the right side rows, unlike the main chart that shows every row. I got myself into a big muddle and had to start over.  I knitted a swatch, as I should've done in the first place, and then cast on the 138 stitches again. This time there was no starting over, though I did have to unknit (or tink) a row after making a mistake. The pattern is pretty simple, but I do have to pay attention!

Friday, December 12, 2014


Yesterday I finished spinning the yarn I showed you here, washed it, rolled it into balls and started knitting. The colours are more definite and 'stripey' than in the top sample. That uses the same dyed wools, only I carded them together before spinning. The result is much more subtle.

There was some orange/natural and yellow/natural left on the bobbins after the brown was finished, so I Navaho plied them. That's a nifty technique to turn a single ply into a three-ply. You make loops with the thread, as in finger crochet, twisting with the wheel at the same time. That means that each colour is plied with itself, which makes for a much more intense result.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


I've finished knitting the back of my Frost Flowers Top. I think the armhole and neck shapings look fine. I followed the chart for the neck shaping but then knitted an extra pattern repeat for length. My 'straps' are wider than the original, but I can live with that.


I sold several of these boxy little pouches at the Christmas market. I made them following this tutorial on three bears blog. I think I'll have to make one for myself, but in the meantime this one is for a gift. It has nail care products inside, but as three bears point out, there are all sorts of possibilities for what to put in such pouches. The tatting is Rainbow Hearts by Betsy Evans. Links to the pattern don't seem to be working, which is a shame because it's a lovely pattern.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


The cotton yarn I am using to knit the Frost Flowers Top is thinner than that used by Lankakomero in the original. To compensate, I cast on an extra pattern repeat, which was easy enough. But when I got the armholes, I realised that I'd have to make adjustments or the armholes would be too small. Hmmm. Casting off an extra half pattern repeat would be too much. But the cast off needs to take the pattern repeats into account, I can't just cast off any old number. What I've done is to cast off an extra 3 stitches but make the garter stitch edging 5 stitches wide instead of 8, so that the pattern stitches start at the same place as the chart. I'll have to finish the back before I really see whether this works. Fingers crossed..

Monday, December 8, 2014

Colour Combining

I need a simpler project to work on alongside the frost flowers top, so I decided to do some spinning. I had some dyed wool left over from the muted yarn I spun in September - yellow, orange and brown. I decided to combine it with natural wool to make enough yarn for a project, but didn't want to card the colours together as I did before, worried that the colours would be so muted as to be just about silent.
Instead I spun one thread alternately orange and natural, one yellow and natural and the third brown and natural, then plied them together:

Wound into skeins, this is how it looks:
Random is what I wanted and random is what I got. Or should that be hit and miss? I still have another batch to spin and then will see how it looks knitted up.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Close Up

Here's a closer view of the frost flowers knitting. I am making progress, though I had to undo several hours work yesterday when I realised that I'd started the day's knitting on the wrong line of the chart. Lucky I noticed when I did. And a still closer view:

Watermelon Scarf

 I've finished knitting the watermelon scarf, in bamboo yarn. It was a good project to have alongside the frost flowers top because it required less concentration. I can work on the frost flowers for a limited time before I start making mistakes; and I avoid knitting it in the evenings when my mind has switched off a bit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Brief

I'm knitting for a competition. The brief is to knit a lacy top for a teenager. It must be sleeveless and put on over the head. Some months ago I looked for patterns, knitted swatches, did some mental work... Now to put the idea into practice! The pattern is Frost Flowers Top by Lankakomero on Ravelry. The chart seems overwhelming at first, but because it consists of only two motifs, repeated within rows and sequentially, I'm getting the hang of it. My cotton thread is a bit thinner than the original, so I am using smaller needles and repeating the pattern four times instead of three to get the right size. I think the firmly twisted cotton yarn should show the lace up well once it is blocked.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

More Bamboo

I wrote my blog rather hurriedly yesterday because Jack was wanting to use the computer. I should've said that I'm knitting a scarf with the bamboo yarn. I should've said that the fabric drapes well, is very soft and has a lovely sheen. The fibres of the yarn are not very twisted. I don't know if that applies to all bamboo yarn or just this brand, but it means you have to take care not to split the yarn as you knit.  The yarn does seem quite 'dense'- these four balls are going much further than I expected. The open, drop stitch pattern keeps the scarf light though. I like the idea that these are watermelon colours, so watermelon scarf it is.


I like to try out different kinds of fibre, in spinning or knitting, so when I saw this bamboo yarn, I bought four balls to try out. A friend of mine told me that bamboo knits up quite 'heavily' compared to wool of the same thickness, so I thought I had better look on Ravelry for a pattern specific to bamboo. There were several patterns that used this wavy drop stitch pattern and I thought it would work well with the four colours. I'm pleased with the result. The pattern is easy, but requires some concentration. I started knitting the evening before I went to the fair, so that I could take it with me. But when I had knitted and unpicked a row three times, I realised that conditions were not right for knitting right then!

Monday, December 1, 2014


This is my table at the beginning of the Christmas fair on Saturday. It didn't look all that different at the end, but I did sell some things - pincushions, earrings, little bags, baubles.... I also bought things from other stalls, supported the community and had a pleasant morning. A fair result!

Friday, November 28, 2014


I reworked the  flower, following Corina's example more closely, and I think it looks a lot better. Less cluttered.

Pink Crystals

Corina made her flower for a hair clip and kindly gave instructions for making it. Looking at her flower again, I can see where I have gone wrong with mine. Just because I was putting a bead in the middle didn't mean I had to have six petals. Five would've been less crowded. Then I could have made the petals a bit bigger. I think I'll have to try that again. The bottom necklace uses the same technique Corina used to make free standing stamens in the flower, to make a bib necklace.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I love my tatting bag with Anne Bruvold's dragon attached to it. It's not going anywhere. But I decided to copy it to make a couple of drawstring bags for market.

The bug material doesn't need embellishment, but the plain denim looks a lot better for the addition of Jane Eborall's  gecko. Both bags have 4 clear pockets inside, as does my bag. Good way to hold shuttles, beading needles, et cetera, et cetera separately and still be able to see them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Many years ago I was given a roll up toiletry holder with a lot of clear pockets. I travelled more then than I do now and found it marvellous. So much easier than scrabbling around blindly in a bag. I made myself a replacement a few years ago, which I'm still using. I planned to make two for the fair, but it's such a fiddly job that I've decided I'll see what reaction I get to this one before considering making another.

Beaded Pearl Tatting

 The big beads are glass beads handmade by Clare Gaylard, with beaded pearl tatting above them. I worked the earrings downwards, leaving the ends as 'tassels'. Here's another pair, using disco ball beads as yesterday:

And a beaded 'ribbon':

Monday, November 24, 2014

Disco Ball Earrings

It's a shame that a photo doesn't really show how these big beads glitter. I thought that such spectacular beads should have a simple setting. But the one on the left turned out to be a bit too simple. It didn't do the disco bead justice. I used the technique from Jane Eborall's Winsome drop earrings instead and like the result a lot more.
And a red pair:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Not For Sale

As a change from showing the things I've been making for a Christmas market, I thought I'd show this picture that I took a couple of days ago. We've had an invasion of dung beetles. Those that come into the house are going to be unlucky, no dung here. But this pair in the garden has a good ball to  bury with their eggs inside. They moved the ball along quite fast and every now and then one would climb on top - to look about, presumably.