Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fiddle Faddle

When I showed Corlie my practice glasses case, she said she thought it needed some sort of padding or reinforcement. To protect the glasses, that makes sense. I thought I'd do a practice run before tackling the real deal. Just as well I did, because it turned out to be much more difficult than I visualised!. The first one, with a loose stiffener, is a lumpy mess. For the second one, I ironed the stiffener to the fabric. It's better, but adding the lining still resulted in lumps. A different approach entirely was required. For the third one I used felt. I used fusible web to fuse it to the fabric and the lining. All this has taken a lot of time and I'm still not sure I've got it right. Sigh. I don't think I'm a perfectionist at heart.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Needs Tatting

It's a little strange to buy fabric based on the scraps that will be left over. I bought lilac satin to make a nightie so that I can use the off cuts to line my embroidered glasses case. I do like the colour (the colour of the jacaranda trees that are flowering here at the moment), but the nightie is very plain. Tatting, it needs tatting:
The motif, lurking in my stash, is from The Tatted Artistry of Teiko Fujito.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Crochet Progress

I'm making progress on the crochet top. I think it'll look better when it's blocked, at the moment it's rather dense and solid.

I took some time out of crocheting to practise tatting tallies or clunies and then trying muskaan's little butterfly with tally wings:

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Four Shirts

Right, that's four new work shirts for Jack. Hopefully that's the job done for a few years. I won't count on that though, because there are a lot of hazards around here, from barbed wire fences to welding sparks.
Shirt one already has some weird stain on it and it's only been worn once!

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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


I'm going to give a talk tomorrow about yarn structure. I don't want it to be too abstract (read boring), so I've been making little samples to illustrate my points. It's all about twist and balance! I also did some spinning with my spindle to make sure I still could; it's a while since I used anything but my spinningwheel to spin with. It was fine. I'm not sure I'll use the spindle tomorrow, but I needed to make sure I could. I plan to give everyone a bit of wool roving to finger spin with, to make it a hands-on experience.

Filling In The Gaps

After reading the feedback on my previous embroidery post (thanks very much!) I decided against using a completely different stitch for a frame around the flower vines. I hope these added bits are more in harmony with the main part. I'm aiming for that 'sumptuous nature' look. In my usual fashion I may well have overdone it, but there you go.

Sunday, October 7, 2018


Are you looking for labels to put on your handcrafts? Abby from The Dutch Label Shop contacted me to ask if I'd like her to send me labels to try. Not really. I used to use labels when I had a spinning and knitting business and sold yarn and garments, but now I make such a variety of things that are mostly given away that I can't see the need.  But Wendy from the umintsuro blog did take up Abby's offer, you can read about her experience here. If you're looking for labels, this seems a good place to start.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Tumbling Blocks

I like the tumbling blocks pattern. I like the optical illusion of three-dimensional shapes when it's really only two-dimensional. I've tatted a version, using Jane Eborall's diamond pattern, and worked it in beaded knitting. So when I saw a scarf that creates tumbling blocks using knit and purl stitches on Pinterest, I saved it. I had a couple of balls of cotton/silk left over from my gilet, so I followed a series of links and downloaded the pattern. You can follow the trail from here. The Papyrus yarn is good for the task because it shows up stitches well. Oh, and I really like that the fabric is the same on both sides - I think a scarf should be reversible.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Palestrina Stitch

After a few failed experiments, I decided I like palestrina stitch. I used this video tutorial to learn how to do it. I like the idea of using the flower colours in the border, to link the border with the design, so I added them using French knots. Mmm, no, I feel that they overwhelm the green palestrina part. How about running stitch? Add blue too? I have some time to contemplate before I work the border. Any suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Thread Test

Now that I've got the thread recommended for the embroidery competition, I had to see if it would work with my chosen design. It does, I like the textured effect. The thread is DMC cotton perle number 5:
The design is from 

I was advised to put a frame around the flower vine. I thought perhaps fly stitch, so I tried it out:
I think it's too spiky next to the sinuous vines. I'll try something else.


It's always good to have options. Recently I've learnt several ways to make split self-closing mock rings. Tim Kaylor tats a split chain for the second part of the ring. There's a link to his video on this post.  Randy Houtz's method is described on muskaan's post here.  This method requires three threads rather than Tim's two. Muskaan's method also needs three threads, the loop is used to finger tat the second half of the ring. Muskaan used it to tat a spectacular bracelet.

I think it might depend on the circumstances which method would work best. If you were tatting a doily in two colours, Tim's method might be best. I used Randy's method for the leaf braid with flowers , where I wanted the third thread for the flowers. For muskaan's wave braid, with three colours showing, her method is best.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Gilet Is Done

I finished knitting the gilet early last week, but then froze at the thought of sewing the pieces together. After a diversion to tat Ninetta's butterflies, I got on with the job, trying to ignore the feeling that a competition judge was peering over my shoulder. The gilet is not easy to photograph, the crumpled bits should drape when it's worn. It's done, I'm going to put it away until March and get on with something else.