Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Load Shedding and Lightning Strikes

South Africa is experiencing severe problems with power supply at the moment, so we are having power cuts for part of each day. In addition to that, our wifi router is not working after a lightning strike. So getting onto the internet is difficult. I am also in the throes of moving house. So things are in a muddle: 'deurmekaar' is a wonderful Afrikaans word for 'in a muddle', it translates literally as 'through each other'. So I'm going to take a break from blogging until next year some time, when I have everything lined up again - 'agtermekaar'.

Happy Christmas to those that celebrate it, and all the best in 2020. Thanks to everyone who read my blog through the year, and those that commented.

I'll go on reading blogs when I can, so I won't be disappearing altogether!

Monday, December 9, 2019


We got back late Friday evening after a long drive. Since I did no handwork at all on our trip, I was keen to get back into things and spent Saturday sewing. When I looked at my stash of Sweshwe fabric, I thought I had enough for two bags. Hmmm. I need three for gifts. Well, with a lot of wangling, I managed to cut out the pieces for four bags! My mother would be proud of me.

 I've already given away one bag, it used the same fabric as the one above but in reverse order, with the diamonds on the outside and spots on the inside. I have two more cut out and ready to sew:

Sunday, December 1, 2019


I'm not sure why this colourway makes me think of Ancient Egypt, but there you go. This is a pattern I've used several times before in different colour combinations. It's simple but effective, with a circumference of 8 beads.

We're going away again for  a few days, I won't be blogging again until next week. I've finished my knitting, but I'll have my tatting with me.

Friday, November 29, 2019


I like working one pattern in different colourways. The black and gold one is not very photogenic - it looks much better in real life than in the picture. Still, I think I prefer the multicoloured one.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


I did wear the red top shown in the previous post to the Christmas party. I think Melanie is right, bamboo is less likely to be uncomfortable in the heat than a synthetic fibre would. There were 12 of us there. We all took along a gift and then drew lots to see who got what. Oddly, Riekie and I ended up doing a straight swap. I had made a drawstring bag with clear pockets. I use mine as a tatting bag, but of course Riekie can put whatever she like in hers.
From Riekie I received a covered clothes hanger, always useful for hanging a special garment:
The beads are a nice touch. Here's a closer view:

Monday, November 25, 2019

Knitted T

I've finished knitting the top in bamboo yarn. I think the colour shows better in this photo than the previous ones.  I plan to wear it tomorrow to a Christmas party, I just hope it's not too warm.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Frost Flower

This is muskaan's frost flower. Muskaan is tatting up a storm of snowflake designs. I really like this one and have been wanting to give it a go. I like the 'Eastern' shape of the arms. It's a small snowflake, 6 cm across. I wound on way too much thread! It's size 20 Milford thread.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


There are quite a few patterns for beaded crochet ropes with poppies on Pinterest. I decided to do this one with a 7 bead circumference. I was worried that it would be one of those patterns that look better in a flat pattern than in the round, but I think it look quite effective.

The pattern didn't print very well. I could see the figures on a screen, but not on paper. After fiddling about, I decided the best solution was just to make another beading scheme, putting the screen figures on paper.

Trying Another Pattern

I'm trying out different crochet rope patterns. This one, 8 beads in circumference, comes from Here's a link to the blog.  It covers a lot of different beading techniques.

I didn't get my join as invisible as I'd like. I do one well and think, "Yes, I've got it!" and then the next one isn't so good and I realise I still need more practice. Ideally it should be impossible to tell where the beading was begun.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Travel Knitting

I did get some knitting done while we were away. I'm knitting myself a short sleeved top. I'm using a scarf pattern by Christine Vogel from Ravelry, though obviously I have to adapt it heavily! The yarn is a bamboo/cotton mix. The balls look big, but that's a bit misleading because there's a large cardboard core in them:
The yarn is a bit thick for crocheting and I was worried that I wouldn't have enough for a top, so decided to knit instead, even though the inspiration is this top I crocheted.
I've done the sleeves and most of the back:

Sunday, November 10, 2019


I've finished the necklace I was working on.  I think it worked out pretty well.  The green is a more 'classic' grass green than it looks on my screen.

We're going away for a few days, I'm not sure when I'll be blogging again. I'm taking my knitting with me, so I should be able to show some progress on that when we get back.

Friday, November 8, 2019


Bev asked me how I go about threading beads for a crochet rope, so here it is. First I assemble everything on a tray, so that if I'm interrupted or finished for the day I can just put the whole thing down:

The different colours I'm using are put into separate jam jar lids - they work well because they're shallow.  I have a beading needle with a loop of sewing thread on it. I thread the crochet thread through the loop:

I put my left forefinger on the threading chart to keep my place. Top of the chart shows 8 black beads to go on first (well, it actually shows 8 brown beads, but I'm using black where the pattern uses brown):

Now comes the bit where I need three hands. To the alarm of onlookers, I grip the needle between my teeth and use my right hand to slide the beads onto the crochet thread, while my left hand keeps my place on the pattern. So I work my way down the chart and then start again.

It's perfectly possible to thread all the beads for a bracelet or necklace at once. But the longer the 'train' of beads the harder it is to control. Since joining a new thread in is very easy, I think it makes sense to thread just a short section at a time. It depends on the pattern, but here I'm threading 3 repeats at a time:

To join in the new thread, I use a small hook to hook the new thread through the base of the last stitch, so that the new thread is on the hook with the last loop:

Then I can just carry on crocheting round and round!

 The two ends can be threaded in later. If the rope starts to look 'hairy', especially if I've made mistakes and had to cut the thread to correct them, I thread the ends in as I go. I use an easy thread needle to sew about three large stitches into the rope, taking care not to put the needle through the centre of any beads:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Using The Beads

Of course I must start using my new beads straight away! It's not practical to deal with one pound packets of seeds continually. So I scratched around in bathroom and kitchen for empty containers and poured a small amount of beads into each. I taped a single bead to each lid to show which colour is where:
And started crocheting:

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

En Masse

I did some research online and discovered that buying beads from a wholesaler is way cheaper than buying small packets in a local shop. It varies, of course, but I worked out that one small packet of poor quality beads that I bought here was seven times more expensive than if I'd bought wholesale. So I ordered from a shop in Johannesburg. They come in packets of 450 g, a pound. The colours were a little limited, but even so, a range of colours makes for a slightly alarming number of beads!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Little Ones

Two repeats of the rainbow rope measure 18 cm. Three repeats would be 27 cm, which is much too long for a bracelet. So I decided to make some small bracelets. The 'flowers on a stem' one, lower right, is made using size 11 beads, instead of the size 8 that I usually use. I made a bracelet with small beads a couple of years ago and found it very tedious. But now that I'm more efficient at the process, it was fine. It made me think of a quotation from Elizabeth Zimmerman (I think) that I read once. She said that when she's asked why she knits with fine yarn and small needles she says that she enjoys knitting and so is happy to prolong the experience!

Friday, November 1, 2019


Using the invisible join means it's essential to finish the work at the end of a repeat. I worked the dark necklace as six repeats with three colours. The size is okay, but on the big side. I worked the pattern again, working four repeats of four colours. Completely different colours. I like to see how using different colours with the same pattern gives a different look. Here they are together:

Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Winner

Frivole's Astrila snowflake pattern is certainly a winner. My tatting of it, not so much. This is my third attempt. I was half way round the first time when I realised that I'd missed the join at the base of a chain on each repeat.  I carried on working in the same way. The result is fine, but not quite the same as the original snowflake Frivole was aiming for:
So I thought I'd tat another one, correctly. I was just about finished number two when I realised I'd missed out a ring early on. That was a fatal flaw, no way of sorting it out, I won't show you the result. Here are numbers one and three side by side:
I used size 20 thread and they measure 9 cm across.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

More Thread Testing

I saw this crochet thread in a local craft shop last week, so I bought a ball each of black and white to try out for beaded crochet. It's not cotton - it's acrylic with a thread of lurex. It's more loosely spun than the thread I tried out before and works well for a 6 around bracelet, giving the bracelet a good structure.

I don't think it'll be a good thread for tatting, which is a shame because the lurex thread would give a good sparkle to Frivole's Astrila snowflake. (I won the pattern yesterday, how lucky am I?) I might try it, but I think closing rings will make the thread go fuzzy. 

Monday, October 28, 2019


Jack's roses have been magnificent, but they're beginning to fade now. Luckily muskaan's hidden rose won't fade at all! Here's a link to the pattern.  I used size 40 thread and it measures 6.5 cm across. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Flowers On A Stem

That's what Google translate tells me this pattern is called. It looks better in person than it does in the picture, with the stem winding between the flowers. The red beads are very light, which means the bracelet doesn't have a good heft, but they're also very even, which gives a good appearance.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

A Visitor

It's a good thing I'm not afraid of spiders because there's a large one resting his legs in my mixing bowl. Lucky for him, I won't kill him, I'll just throw him outside. I do suck up the ones that make messy cobwebs with my vacuum cleaner, otherwise my house would soon look like Miss Haversham's, but these flat ones don't spin webs.

On a more conventional note, I've finished the beaded crochet necklace:

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Longer and Longer

I've been working on my tatted lace on trips to town. Last week, I opened my tatting bag and realised I'd left my hook at home. Oops. That's why I prefer to use shuttles with hooks attached. I had a pin, so I used that to hook the thread through for joining, possible but not ideal. I got on better today except that the car was rather hot for tatting, as I sat outside a shop, waiting for Jack. A reminder that the pattern is here. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Simpler is Better

I tried out a beaded crochet pattern that looked good on paper, but was too complicated, so the piece I worked looked muddled. I didn't think it was worth working more than a couple of repeats as a sample. As Mary Corbet says in this post, trying something out and finding it doesn't work is by no means a waste of time. I did write myself a note on the pattern, because if I tried it out again, that would indeed be a waste of time!

I'm working on a simpler pattern, which, to me, works much better:

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Cupcakes Revisited

When I was shopping yesterday, I found some paper cases for cupcakes in the supermarket. Aha, I can have another go at the Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes that I baked last month and do it properly this time. Muskaan tells me that there are a lot of differences between cupcakes and muffins, so just leaving the paper case off did not turn my cupcakes into muffins! Still, I think they look better encased.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Blanket and Beads

The term 'blanket' might be a bit misleading for the lovey elephant I showed on yesterday's post, though that's what the pattern says.  I hope that showing it here with my hand in the picture will give a better idea of its size. It's just a little thing for a baby to cuddle.

I gathered my wits, as well as some beads, and had a go at muskaan's version of a tatted rope with beads. Scroll down a bit on this post for the method. It's very clever, and not too difficult to grasp. Obviously it would take some work to get good at the method, but this is a first attempt.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Lovey Blanket

I came across 'lovey blankets' on Pinterest. It's a variation of amigarumi, an animal head with a small blanket attached, meant for a baby to cuddle. I've seen rabbits and sheep and various other animals, but since I live in Africa, I've chosen an elephant as more iconic! The pattern is here. I gave him a hat rather than a flower because he's to go to a little boy. The yarn is  cotton, easily washable. It's a fun make.