Friday, March 29, 2019

Round 6

Here's the link to round 6.  I plan to work the next few rounds in green. I do like seeing all the different versions of the Spring doily. Different colours, different sizes thread, each one is individualised.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Start Stitching

I spent some time researching smocking. I have pins with examples; tips and tutorials; even an interesting article about the history of smocking. There were some interesting side excursions, like learning about Canadian smocking, an entirely different, but interesting, beast. Eventually I had to actually start stitching.

I used this article to guide me in putting the gathering stitches in a piece of gingham:
I think it might have been better to use a more contrasting thread, even though I have the gingham lines to guide me.

I drew up the gather lines, possibly over enthusiastically:
The best tutorial I found for the different stitches used in smocking was this one from I just worked my way down the examples, leaving out feather stitch, which didn't appeal. One thing I struggled with was starting and finishing. None of the tutorials explained how to begin or end! Luckily,  I did find an article from maggiebsmocks explaining how to start off. Finishing I had to figure out for myself.
I think it should now be blocked, I'll have to do more research on that.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


Peaches in syrup, my cupboards are now well stocked. This was a team job - Jack peeled and sliced the peaches, I did the cooking and bottling. I was rather generous with the syrup, so there was some left over, which Jack boiled up to make toffee - definitely no waste!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Taking Shape

I'm making progress on the second flower blanket, joining as I go. I think I might keep this one. If there are going to be power cuts during Winter, I'll need an extra blanket! Here's a closer view of the squares:

Friday, March 22, 2019

Round 5

Round 5 of the Spring doily was released yesterday and I started on it promptly. I'm less prompt with  blogging about it because our power was off from 4 pm to 8 pm yesterday and 8 am to 12 noon today!

I don't do front side/back side tatting, but I am trying to keep all the colour blips on one side of the work. With size 40 thread and pastel colours, the blips are not startling, but it seems a good idea to keep them consistent.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

First Steps

The 'floating' section for next year's competitions is smocking. The brief is to make a sun dress for a toddler. I don't know much about smocking, but I'm happy to learn! My first step was to look smocking up on Google. I came across definitions of things I'd rather not know about. And then there were links that took me down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest.

I recently read an anti-Pinterest rant on Facebook. It is true that it can be difficult to track down the origins of a specific image and that links often lead to collections that are not necessarily helpful. But I think Pinterest is marvelous, especially for researching a new craft topic. If one link leads nowhere, you can look for another. The 'more like this' section is useful for that. I have learnt a lot through Pinterest. I often come across crafts I've never seen before and then go off on a sleuthing trail. Anyway, there is a lot of smocking on Pinterest and I hope it will lead me to tutorials I can learn from.

One thing I saw there was smocking on gingham. I thought that might be a good place to start, so yesterday in town I went on the hunt for gingham. The fabric I found has squares that are on the small side, so this may be a misstep, but I'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Quick Quick

I must write this now, while we're connected to the internet. South Africa is experiencing severe power restrictions, we have rotating power cuts of four or more hours at a time. When my power is on but my eastern neighbour's is off I have no internet either, because our signal is routed through them. So I had better take my chances!

Yesterday I got all the ingredients out to make rusks and then pfft, off went the power. No rusks. On Sunday I did manage to cook peach chutney in between cuts:

I lived for more than 20 years on a farm in Zimbabwe that wasn't connected to the grid. We had electricity for four hours a day when the generator was on. But we had a wood stove and gas appliances and were geared to living without electricity. Here we rely on electricity and it's a bit disconcerting to spend long periods without it. There are many people a lot more inconvenienced than I am; we are all hoping the problems are soon solved!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Rounds 3 and 4

Rounds 3 and 4 of the Spring 2019 doily can be found here.  I like having the picture of the whole doily as well as the individual rounds, it makes it easier to plan colour placement.

Still More Green

Having finished a blanket and a cardigan, I find that I still have a significant amount of bright green wool:
My resolve to use it all up is being severely tested! I've decided to make another blanket. There's another packet of yarn in the 'destashing pile' I was given, a fuzzy sort of acrylic:
Combining it with the green would relieve the green a bit, but as they're so different, combining them is not necessarily easy. I did some experimenting and found that the pattern I used for the first blanket worked best:
This time I'll join the squares as I go from the beginning. I'll make it the same size as the first one to begin with, I can always add more squares if I STILL have green left over.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Seeing Red

In a good way, of course. The tomatoes in Jack's vegetable garden are ripening quickly. I've been cooking them up with onion, dried herbs et cetera and then freezing them in moulds. I line a small plastic dish with cling wrap, fill it with the mixture and then put it in the freezer:
Once it's frozen, I can take it out of the mould and use the mould again:


I corrected the back and finished off the cardigan. I think it turned out well. It should be perfect for Autumn, with its short sleeves. The pattern is Cropped Lace Cardigan with Matching Hat by Gail Tanquary. I won't be making the hat though. The yarn is Wolnit Primula, pure wool, decades old, that I'm trying to use up.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Back To The Needles

I thought I was set to sew the pieces of my cardigan together, but when I pinned it out to block it, I realised that the back was significantly shorter than the fronts! I must've been overoptimistic in my measuring. I've undone the shoulder shaping and will work another 12 rows before redoing them. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to show the finished cardigan.

Friday, March 8, 2019


Renata has started her new Spring doily. This is rounds 1 and 2, which can be found here. You can buy the whole pattern from Renata, or wait for each round to be released once a week. I'm going to tat it as it comes out. It's a large doily (there's a photo of the completed doily) so it's going to take a while.  We have a lot of tatting to look forward to!

 I'm working in size 40 thread. My plan is to have green as the main colour, interspersed with several pastel colours.


Yesterday I was in Kuruman, an historic town a couple of hours west of here, for our Circle Conference. Judgement time for competition articles. My five articles were all placed, so I'm happy about that - first for knitting and crochet, second for beginner embroidery and one beaded bag, third for the other beaded bag.

One thing I really enjoyed was listening to the judge explaining some of her decisions. For instance, some of the beaded bags that weren't placed were too small according to the given requirements.

My knitting, crochet and flowery beaded bag will go through to the national competition. I brought home the embroidery, because it was in the beginner section, and the drawstring beaded bag, because only one entry per person can go through. Here's a picture of Corlie van Zyl's advanced embroidery that will be going to the national competition:

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

All Square

I saw this crochet square on Pinterest and was intrigued. How did they do that? I struggled to track the pattern down. I had a go at winging it and working it out for myself, but the back was a complete mess:
I renewed my efforts to track the pattern and eventually found it on Top Crochet Patterns. The pattern is Yellow Cross by Lucinda Ganderton. The trick is to not to make a chain between shells, so that the floats on the back are not too long:
Aha. I think it has possibilities.

In Place

The Tat-a-renda doily is about the same size as the Under An African Sky doily,  I think they work well together on the coffee table. The little camel was bought for me by my son when he visited Abu Dhabi last year for the Grand Prix. Here's another view of him:

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Tat-A-Renda's Tat Along

I've finished the doily, designed by Jon Yusoff. Jon shared the pattern on Facebook here.   Mine measures 33 cm across, worked in size 40 Milford thread. I worked traditionally, finishing off each round rather than climbing out with split chains and split rings. I like it, I think I may just keep it.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Working On The Final Round

I'm working on the final round, round 14, of Jon Yusoff's tat along doily, which she is presenting on Facebook. It looks as though I'll be able to complete the doily using only one ball of size 40 thread, so that's good.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Back And Front

I've been knitting in the evenings, when the light is not good enough for tatting. Last night I finished the second front of my cardigan. Time to cast on for the short sleeves.