Monday, July 30, 2018

Skipping Along

I've worked on the Mary Konior skipping ropes braid in odd moments and it's beginning to look like something.  My shuttle still looks full, so there's a long way to go!

Friday, July 27, 2018


Embroidery, like tatting, is not done in a hurry, as Mary Corbet points out in this post. But keep at it and progress is made. I'm over half way on my skirt.

Thanks to advice from Margaret, I'm not using a ball point pen to trace the pattern. I experimented with different pencils until I found one that showed up better than the first one I used. I trace out one complete pattern repeat at a time.  I'm on the fourth one out of six.

I don't know if there's such a term a 'embroiderer's finger, but I have it
It's on my left hand, not from pushing the needle through, but from taking too deep a 'scoop' when I make a stitch.  I guess a thimble or superglue might help, but it doesn't bother me that much.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

I Won!

There's a give away over at Umi and Tsuru blog and I won a pearl bracelet. Thanks very much. The give away is ongoing, three bracelets altogether, so have a look.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


Nalu is the name of this pattern by sparrowhawk on Ravelry. Apparently Nalu is the Hawaian word for wave, so it perfectly describes the pattern on the back of the fingerless gloves. I enjoyed knitting these as a break from embroidery, using a skein of handspun left over from my hooded scarf project.

Practical Practice

I need plenty of practice before I embroider the glasses case for competition, but the thought of randomly embroidering flowers and leaves isn't appealing. So I'm working the design around the bottom of a rather boring pencil skirt. The embroidery at the end should (I hope!) be better than that at the beginning, but I don't think anyone is going to peer closely enough at a skirt hem to notice. It's very much a work-in-progress, so I haven't yet ironed out the marks of the sewing hoop. 

Friday, July 20, 2018


I was  hoping for some sort of epiphany about which stitch to use for the flowers, like yesterday's one for the leaves, but no. I tried long and short stitch (or short and very short stitch perhaps) but it was just a mess. I made even more of a mess when I tried to undo it. I think the chain stitch outline works better. The centre of the flower is worked in buttonhole stitch. So there are four different stitches in the little flower - chain stitch, buttonhole stitch, straight stitch and French knots.


I'm very excited about my leaves in fishbone stitch. In the past I've struggled with satin stitch, fishbone stitch seems to go better. Of course I'll need more practice, but I think this will work well.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A New Journey

I'm hoping to enter items in four categories in next year's competition - knitting, crochet, beaded knitting and beginner embroidery. That's a lot of work, which is why I've had to start early. I'm still waiting for the postal service to deliver my daughter's parcel with thread for a new version of the crochet top and a magnetic clasp for the beaded bag, so I'm making a start on the embroidery.

The brief is to make a glasses case (brilhuisie in Afrikaans, literally a little house for glasses) decorated with surface embroidery. What is surface embroidery? Mary Corbet explains much better than I can in this article  on NeedlenThread. Basically it is 'free style' embroidery, as opposed to a counted thread technique like cross stitch.

 NeedlenThread is my go-to resource for this project, beginning with the pattern. I scrolled through the pattern section until I found a design that was the right size and 'from nature' as per the brief. It was easy to print out.

I looked through my fabric stash and I think this lilac linen will work. With surface embroidery, the fabric is going to show, so it's important that it is attractive. I have plenty of it, so I can use it for practising as well as the finished piece.
Now to get the printed design onto the linen. I rigged up a rather Heath Robinson arrangement so that I can trace the pattern onto the fabric on my glass table:
On my first attempt I used a pencil, but it was so faint that I was a bit dubious when I was stitching. Second time I used a ball point pen. I think I must get one with a fine nib, to be sure that the lines won't show once they're embroidered over.

The thread. At the information day last month we were advised to use perle cotton number 8. But I don't have a range of colours in that thread. I do have a lot of stranded embroidery thread. I'm going to use three strands, being sure to strip them, that is, separate them and then put them together again. I experimented with a thread that I have for tatting bookmarks, but I think the three strands of embroidery thread works better.

Now to experiment with different stitches and put in plenty of practice before I attempt the final article.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Another Collaboration

Carien asked me to help her with another 'comfort blanket', to be given to a family whose daughter has died. Carien had done the white and medium blue rounds. Since the outer rounds had still to be done, I decided to take the opportunity to try out the Coco Bellas way of joining as you go.
I'm pleased with it. Sewing the squares together would probably be neater, but this goes quickly and gets the job done. I've joined all the squares Carien gave me, which is three quarters of the blanket.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Double Dyed

The hooded scarf is not easy to photograph - I roped in the broomstick as a model, but the result is faintly sinister! I finished knitting the hooded scarf and then did the dyeing. I put the whole thing into a pale blue dyebath. with the i-cord and a skein of wool to make the pom poms with:
After half an hour, I mixed a darker blue dye bath, and then suspended the garment, cord and skein over the bucket so that part of them was in the dye bath:
After another half an hour, I removed some of the dye water and added more plain water, without disturbing the coat hanger, to get a medium blue. I could have had a deeper layer of medium blue, but it worked more or less as I hoped:
It's a while since I made pom poms. I wound the first one rather tightly and then had trouble cutting the cardboard rings apart. Two and three were easier, I wound more gently:

Friday, July 13, 2018

Wrong Choice

I like the look of this stitch, but it's difficult to knit it without pulling in a bit. As a result, the hood of my hooded scarf looked skimpy and ungenerous:
Ah well, if you experiment, you have to expect that some experiments don't work. I undid most of it and am reknitting the hood in moss stitch
I left the pick up stitches the same, but made a row of eyelets above them and then increased the number of stitches. Hopefully the hood will be snuggly and capacious! When it's done, I'm going to dye the whole garment. Let's hope that's more successful than my choice of stitches, it won't be as easy to undo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


While I was waiting for my spun wool to dry, I had a go at Ninetta's treble tatting. Hmm, I'll need a lot more practice before I have anything worth taking a picture of.

I'm knitting a hooded scarf for my youngest granddaughter. I saw a picture of a crocheted  hooded scarf on Pinterest and liked the look of it. I couldn't get the pattern, but looked at similar garments on Ravelry until I could see how they were structured. I decided I was in the mood for knitting, rather than crocheting, and that I'd use the project to try out various stitches I have saved to Pinterest. After some sampling and experimenting, I decided to use this stitch from, but I modified it, doing two rows of knit instead of 3 so that the fabric looks the same both sides. I had a 'leaf edging' saved that I've been wanting to try. It didn't work as well as I hoped, I think my yarn is too thick. So I experimented with different edgings until I found one I liked, which is here, number 1866 on Free Vintage Knitting. I'm going to use a different stitch for the hood part, I think the hood should be more solid than the scarf part needs to be. Watch this space.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Change Of Pace

I enjoyed knitting with beads, but it's good to turn to the more relaxed occupation of spinning wool - no peering at charts or checking bead sequences. Ideally, I'd have liked to do the two projects simultaneously, knit during the day and spin in the evening. But wool fibres have a nasty habit of finding their way into everything, and I couldn't risk having a fuzzy beaded bag. So I finished the knitting and put it away carefully before getting my spinningwheel out. It's so long since I did any spinning that it was covered with cobwebs, like something from a fairytale!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Tulips Mark Two

I've finished the second version of the beaded knitting tulips. Here it is alongside the first one:
And both folded:
The second one, on the right, looks better not only because the tulips are the right way up, but because of the extra white rows between pairs of flower rows.

I eventually found that the most efficient way of working the beaded knitting was to thread a row of beads, following the chart, then check it by looking at it differently - check all the flower colours and then the leaf colours, say, rather than checking it beginning to end. When knitting, I'd slide the beads for one row up and knit without looking at the chart - all being well, the beads and the end of the row coincided. This 'count twice, knit once' method worked better than my original way of threading beads and then checking the chart as I knitted a row.

Statistics - the chart is from Family Album by Kaffe Fassett and Zoe Hunt; the knitting measures 22 cm by 36 cm; there are 3696 beads knitted in! I won't make the clutch bag itself until I get the right clasp.

Friday, July 6, 2018


It should be clearer now that I've changed the direction of the tulips again, for the front of the bag, so that when I fold the fabric they'll all be correctly oriented. One more row of tulips to knit. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Up Again

I've knitted the flap and back of my clutch bag, so now I have to turn the chart around again to knit the front.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


I did have a false start - it boggles the mind a little to work the chart upside down - but now I think I'm on track to work the tulips for the back of the bag. I worked two rows in plain white where the fold will be.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Count Twice, Knit Once

I've made a start on my second version of the beaded knitting tulip bag. As I've said before, the most time-consuming part is fixing mistakes. A join can't be made in the middle of a row (trust me, I've tried!) so if a bead has been wrongly placed, the row must be unpicked, the beads restrung correctly and the row reknitted. This necessitates cutting the yarn, so a lot of mistakes results in a lot of ends to be sewn in. So....  I'm trying earnestly to avoid mistakes by checking each row of beads strung before I slide it down.