Thursday, December 31, 2020

Decorating Masks


Most of these are decorated with the tatting I did when I worked through The Tatted Artistry of Teiko Fujito in 2016. I hesitated to use them on masks that will be sold to strangers. But when a friend of our died recently, the contents of his house were basically shoveled into trash bags by strangers. Rather put things to use. Any use. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

No Waste


 I have another order for masks. I was able to make mask linings from the fabric I cut off when making my A-line skirt. Hooray. It won't go to waste. And the small pieces that remained (left over left overs!) will go to a women's group who make rag rugs. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Much Quicker


This A-line skirt was a quick project, whizzed up in an afternoon. This style is a bit wasteful, not my 'cut my coat according to my cloth' type, but it looks good on and I will no doubt be able to use the off cuts of fabric for some other project. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Kimono Dress At Last


 I'm happy with how the kimono dress turned out, after some tweaking. I probably won't use the pattern again though. The kimono sleeves caused too much angst. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020



I didn't quite finish sewing my dress yesterday. I still have buttonholes and buttons to do. I don't often make buttonholes, so I had to look up the instructions! There's a special foot and special stitches and dire warnings about the little lever labeled Push that needs to be down for buttonholes and up for everything else:

I have some flowery buttons that fit well with the fabric. Contrasting buttons would also have worked, but I have these in my stash, and enough of them, so they're the ones. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020


 I think I've made a plan to make the kimono dress wearable, hooray. One thing that gave me the 'courage' I needed to make changes was my recent discovery of the website   It has been going for ten years, so I don't know why it took me so long to discover it! Jilly buys thrift store clothing and then snips and sews and refashions them to suit her own size and style. There are some simply amazing transformations on her site. I had to cut off a section of the back to make it less pouffy, channeling my inner jilly as I did so! I hope to get finished today, fingers crossed. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Working On It


Slowly, very slowly. Working on the kimono dress that is. I am glad that I decided to draw the pattern on paper, rather than directly onto the fabric, because after I'd drawn the first piece it was clear that my proportions are very different to Soonjoo's! I used another pattern to adjust the kimono pattern. Right. I'm happy with the front of the bodice, but not so much the back. It's very pouffy. I think you'd need a fabric with very good draping qualities to make it work as is, although the original is in linen, which isn't known for drape. I've experimented with pinning different parts of the back. If I can't get it right, I'll have to make a flowery skirt instead of a kimono dress. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

No Pattern?


When I saw this kimono dress on Pinterest, I thought it might make a good alternative to my ubiquitous go-to pattern.   There is a step by step tutorial, great. But Soonjoo draws the pattern directly onto the fabric. Mmm. I think that's a bridge too far for me. I'm drawing it on to paper. That will hopefully give me some idea of whether it will work for me, before I go cutting into fabric. Also, if it does work well and I want to make it again, I don't want to have to start measuring from scratch again. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020



The craft group I help with in a retirement home meets for the last time this year on Friday. So we organisers got together this morning to make Christmas crackers to give to the crafters. My contribution, apart from making the crackers, was tatted bookmarks:

I used the Jane's bookmark pattern (link on the sidebar) because it's quick and easy and I wanted them all the same. I sometimes  add a tassel, but since they had to be squashed into a cardboard roll alongside sweets and furry toys, I decided to leave the tassel off. Oh, there is a riddle in each cracker too. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

For Me


I've been sewing for myself, rather than my neighbour, a dress made from the Nigerian fabric I bought recently. I haven't worn it yet, but am happy with how it looks. I altered the sleeve slightly.  I made up the pattern myself and have used it many times. The only drawback with the garments I've made is that the sleeve flips up. I thought perhaps the shape of the bottom on the sleeve causes that, so I've changed it and will have to see if that makes any difference. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020



I wanted to have a go at Lace-lovin' Librarian's new pattern yesterday. First requirement is a 1/2" four hole button. Right. I fetched my button box and rummaged through it. Hmm. I have 1/2" buttons, but they all have two holes. And I have buttons with four holes, but they are all much bigger or much smaller than 1/2".  Thinks, thinks. First of all I had to decide which was more important, the size or the four holes. I think the latter because with only two holes the tatting wouldn't be properly anchored. I used a 1" four hole button, Diane's stitch count, and tatted three rings for each hole instead of two. Worked fine, I'm really pleased. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Part Two


Or perhaps that should be Part Three. I'm still sewing for my neighbour, shorts this time. The fabric looks like cotton, but is actually a stretch fabric. Don't tell anyone, but I cut the pieces in the wrong direction. I placed my pattern pieces as normal in relation to the selvages, but the stretch is parallel to the selvage, so my pieces should have been at right angles to the selvage. Since the shorts are loose, with an elasticated waist, the elasticity of the fabric shouldn't come into play anyway, so I've carried on regardless. Another lesson learnt though, sewing fabrics outside my normal range! 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Neighbourly Sewing


I seldom sew for people who aren't members of my family, but there's a time for all things, so here I am, sewing for my neighbour. Cynthia wanted kaftans, loose and cool and easy to wear in Summer. I browsed through Pinterest for ideas and how tos and then made it up as I went along. The top one is cotton, easy enough to work with. I added ribbon to the sides to match the ribbon neatening the neck opening.  The bottom one is a jersey knit, fabric I'm not familiar with. It doesn't fray and it seemed to me that the more I sewed it the more I got kinks and curls, so I didn't neaten the sides or the bottom. The fabric drapes well but is quite heavy, so I hope the kaftan won't stretch out of shape. It's not a fabric I would normally choose to work with, which is the good thing about sewing for someone else - I was forced out of my comfort zone! 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Rhubarb And Ginger


Jack planted rhubarb in early September and has just had his first reasonable harvest, 1,2 kgs or just over two and a half pounds. He asked me to turn it into jam. I added apple and lemon juice to enhance setting. I've given away one bottle already, these lot are to go in the pantry:

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

To Dye Or Not To Dye


Is that the flip side of  'to be or not to be', do you think? My plan was to dye curtains and bedspreads like the curtains for the office I dyed in July.  I don't know...  I quite like the cream bedspreads. They might show dirt rather quickly though. I think I'll leave them for now and perhaps ring the changes with a dye job later. 

I learnt a lot, making the bedspreads. Not least, sewing from the right direction so that the bulky fabric was to the left of the machine and didn't have to be shoved through the arch of the sewing machine. Duh, I know. 

Do you want to see the inside of the cover? The top consists of two layers, sandwiching the raw edges of the frill, which keeps it neat:

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Second


I finished the first bed cover and am working on the second one. Metres of fabric in my lap. It is easier second time around, if only because I know it's possible! Last time I tacked the pleats by machine and they slipped badly, so this time I've tacked them by hand. Hopefully they'll stay in place when I put everything together. 

Monday, November 23, 2020



That's what I sold at the fair on Saturday, absolutely nothing! I did make one purchase, this cotton fabric that was made in Nigeria. And since there's no restocking of beadwork to do, I have plenty of time for sewing. 

Friday, November 20, 2020



I'm taking along a half finished bracelet, work in progress, to a fair today so that I can show how the beaded crochet rope is made. Assuming anyone is interested of course. I'll take along my leaf braid tatting too because it could be a long day. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020



I sold some child size bracelets at the last fair I went to, so I've been making some more for the next fair. Someone wanted a blue one that day, so I've made sure there's a blue one! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Nearly Done


I still have to hem the frill, but the bedspread has basically come together. I'll do the other one to match, but I've discarded any idea of doing a double bed cover. I think to do the job properly I'd need the right equipment - a bigger sewing machine, a larger cutting table, a gathering foot... I should probably stick to dressmaking! 

Monday, November 16, 2020

A Seriously Large Pot


We don't have a pot big enough to cook the ingredients for brawn (don't ask!) so we borrowed one. It's a very large pot! The lid is as big as my dustbin lid. It wouldn't fit on my stove top, so we put it on the braai (barbecue) outside and kept it stoked with wood for over three hours. This morning I duly made the brawn. The trusty butter containers came into play again as moulds. I've put four of them in the freezer and one in the fridge to eat this evening. It should be set by then. 

Of Chewing

 You've heard the expression, 'She's bitten off more than she can chew'. I hope that's not the case with my latest sewing  project. Weeks and weeks ago I bought 17 metres/yards of calico to make curtains and simple bed covers for a spare bedroom. But I made a plan B and altered some curtains I was given to make them fit that room. Which meant I had 17 metres for bed covers. How about making bedspreads with frills instead of simple rectangles? I drew a diagram and cut the pieces I need, using up almost all the 17 metres. Hmmm. It soon became clear that my plan to gather the frills wasn't going to work. I started with the smallest side and my thread broke! Plan B was to make pleats instead. I like gathering because you can just pull the longer bit up to fit. Pleats have to be more exact. I thought I'd worked out the formula, but really in the end I resorted to trial and error. I now have the frills for one cover done and have to put the whole thing together. It looks like an awful lot of fabric, so I hope I can chew sufficiently to get it all assembled! 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

And Onions


A few months ago, a friend came to lunch and brought a bottle of curried onions. Hmm, I thought, that would be a good way to make use of Jack's onion crop. I couldn't find a recipe that sounded anything like Jenni's curry, so I adapted a recipe for Curried Green Beans. The first batch went down very well, so I've made some more. 

On a side note, I lost my recipe for curried green beans in one or other house move. Luckily I had shared it with friends and was able to get it back from one of them. Which goes to show the advantage of sharing recipes! So... I'm going to share my recipe for curried onions here, for anyone who wants to use it, and to act as a back up for me. 

Curried Onions

Makes 8 jam jars full


2 kg onions

1 Tablespoon oil

1 Tablespoon butter or margarine

50g hot curry powder

4 chillies (optional)

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon salt

1 Dessert spoon turmeric

750 ml vinegar

750 ml water

3 heaped Tablespoons cornflour

1. First sterilize the jars and lids. I use baby bottle sterilizer or bleach, one teaspoon to one litre water.

2.Peel the onions, cut them in half and then in slices, not too thin or they'll go to mush.

3. Heat the oil and butter, add the onions and cook them over a low heat until they are soft but not brown.

4. Add to the pot the curry powder, chillies, sugar, salt, and turmeric, mix well and continue frying for a few minutes.

5. Add the vinegar and water. Bring to the boil and then simmer while heating up the jars and lids.

6. I put jars in the oven to heat, at 110 degrees celcius, putting them in a cold oven and then switching on and leaving them until the  temperature is reached. I use boiling water to heat the lids. 

7. Mix the cornflour to a paste with water, add to the pot and stir until the mixture thickens. Pour into hot jars. I use a funnel made from the top of a 2 litre bottle to aid bottling, it helps keeps the jars clean. Wipe mouth of jar and put on lid. 

8. Keep for three weeks to mature before eating. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Tomatoes Small And Large


I'm rather relieved that Jack's cherry tomato crop is now finished, the plants removed and something else planted in the bed. I turned this lot into three and a half jars of jam. Then there are the bigger tomatoes:

I cooked them up with onions, also from the garden, and dried herbs and then put them in plastic butter containers. I froze those and then tipped them out, which felt like making sand castles, so that I could use the containers again. 

These tomato plants are still bearing, but there will be a gap before the next crop is ready, so I will be glad to have these in the freezer. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

One More


This Christmas bauble uses the last of my saved deodorant balls, so that'll be it for a while, unless I can find a substitute. I have five baubles for the next fair, which is fine. The threading pattern for this one was very easy, so I didn't need a chart. 


I redrew the chart for the bauble, added notes to remind myself what's what next time I use the chart, and then tried it out. Hooray, no need to fudge anything, the chart is correct. 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Blue Bauble


I rethreaded the beads, forgetting any thought of taking shortcuts. The bauble is done. However....I had to fudge a bit because it turns out that my chart is wrong. The little tetris shapes you can see on the previous post are wrong. I think I had better redraw the chart, write myself notes and then make another bauble to test them! 

Thursday, November 5, 2020


I sold a Christmas bauble on Saturday, so I thought I'd make a replacement. I have the pattern that I drew, so off I went, threading blue and gold beads. I didn't give it a lot of thought. When I started crocheting, I realised that I had followed the pattern in the wrong direction. It won't work. I could just start again, but I think I'll restring row by row, because that means I'll be able to use the plain rows that have no gold beads in them. First of all I need to write myself notes on the pattern about the direction to follow! I tend to forget that the beads need to be threaded in the opposite order to how they will be crocheted. 

PS I've just realised that rethreading row by row will mean cutting the thread numerous times. I had better start again. Or perhaps leave it until next week! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

An Order


I sold this necklace at the fair on Saturday and the buyer asked for a matching bracelet. There was a time limit because she is going on holiday soon and wants to take it with her. I was getting a little agitated yesterday when various people popped in for coffee and my time seemed to disappear! I got going early this morning and finished the bracelet off, in plenty of time to meet the deadline. Here's a view of the other side:

Monday, November 2, 2020

It Went Well


The little fair I went to on Saturday went well. I shared a table with Sarah, who makes soap. There was a lot of interest in soap! But both of us sold enough to make the day worthwhile. The interesting thing was that I sold a little bit of everything, from keyrings to a necklace. Sarah and I are going to do another fair together on the 21st November. I need to make more children's bracelets and Christmas baubles before then. At the moment I'm working on an order for a bracelet. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Size Does Matter


Thread size, that is. These two baubles have the same number of beads, but the one on the left is worked with size 10 thread while the one on the right is size 20. I think in the size 10 one the thread too obvious. I won't undo it, but I made another one using finer thread, which I think works better. The red and gold baubles are fine:

Since the fair I'm going to is billed as a 'family event', I thought I'd make some bracelets for children:

It's impossible to predict what people will ask for at a fair, but I have a fair range of different products, from Christmas tree decorations to necklaces. And I can always take orders. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

A Label


With a lot of help from my daughter in Australia, I managed to create a label that I can print, with iKoro beadwork on one side and my contact details on the other. iKoro was my name when I was spinning and knitting, so I thought I'd stick with it.  I pondered the term 'beadwork' for a while. iKoro beads? People might think I was selling loose beads. iKoro bead crochet? People would visualise something quite different to what I'm making. 'Beaded crochet rope' is too long and not really helpful. No, I think beadwork is the best option. I have to cut the labels apart with scissors, which is fine. I plan to attach the labels to bracelets and necklaces and also give them out when people ask how to contact me. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020


Jack made me a frame to hang beadwork on. At the moment it has my tiny Christmas tree decorations hanging on it. I have reached my target, five each in four colours, with three designs. 

The design that took longest was the 'random' one. I didn't want any gold beads to be touching each other, which turned out to be trickier than I supposed in such a small circumference.  With bit of trial and error I got there.