Friday, May 29, 2020

Ongoing Challenge

Well, I did say I wanted a challenge. I didn't make it easier for myself by using cotton instead of wool.  There has been unraveling. Let's just say that the challenge is ongoing.....

Thursday, May 28, 2020


 I've been experimenting to prepare for the first 'creative therapy' meeting after lockdown. The sample we were given had fabric wrapped around a cable tie. The edges of the fabric had frayed, which looks scruffy to me. You could fold the edges of fabric in, but I thought using ribbon would be easier. I tried wrapping batting around the cable tie, under the ribbon, but that was lumpy and horrible. I think this version will work. So I'm all prepared. Or not. Yesterday we were told that we won't be allowed into the complex for a meeting! Plan B required. Written instructions? A video? Both? We'll have to wait a bit and see how it all works out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Challenge

Have a look at these splendid socks by Melody Johnson to see what I decided on for my challenging pair of slipper socks. The socks are constructed from mitred squares. So first of all I had to learn how to make a mitred square. Melody explained the principle - cast on two sides of a square and decrease in the middle to form a square. Right. I grabbed some left over yarn and needles that were handy and gave it a go. There was some unraveling, but I caught on pretty quickly. I experimented a bit with the central decrease. Apparently it doesn't really matter what double decrease you use, as long as you keep it consistent.

The work has a definite wrong side:

After a couple of hours of footling, I reckoned I was ready to tackle the socks. First I followed Melody's link to remind myself how to do a provisional cast on. Aha, no wonder my crochet chain cast on didn't upzip, I was picking up through the wrong loop. Got it. I've made some progress on the socks:

 And the other side:

It boggles the mind a little, but it's not really difficult. I'm using 4-ply cotton yarn. My yarn stash is at an almost-40-year low, but luckily the cotton yarn will work, though the socks may not be as stretchy as socks knitted in wool. 

I had a look at the Fibermania blog. Melody closed it in 2014. I'm glad she left it up so we can still benefit from her patterns and information! She started a new blog, called Melody Johnson, which is here.

Monday, May 25, 2020


I read an article the other day giving hints for selling crocheted items at fairs or markets. One of the suggestions was that it's a mistake to just have one of everything because people often ask if you have the same thing in a different size or colour. I think it's a valid point, even though it's impossible to predict what visitors to a market will ask for!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Non-slip Slippers

Is that a contradiction in terms? Since I've got this non-slip fabric on hand, I thought I'd sew some to the bottom of yesterday's slipper socks. Of course it was one of those jobs that takes longer and is more fiddly than I imagine, but I'm pleased with the result. I didn't cut too foot-shaped a piece because I don't want a left and a right. I put another sock inside to make a 'foot shape' for sewing, then took care not to sew this sock to the one inside! Here's one on:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Writing A Knitting Pattern

The women's group I belong to is holding virtual meetings in lockdown. That's good for me because I can participate even though I've moved away! For June's meeting, we are 'challenged' to knit a pair of slipper socks. Right, I went on the hunt for patterns. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of pictures of slipper socks on the internet, but to find one that leads to a viable pattern is not easy. It wasn't only me that found that; two other members of the group contacted me and asked for help. Neither of them is an expert knitter, so they were looking for an easy pattern, as well as one that met all the criteria of the challenge, such as that it must have a cuff. Eventually I decided to write a pattern for them! The idea comes originally from Spin-Off magazine, but I added cuffs because otherwise my ankles get cold. They're simple to make without being boring, and have all the right credentials.

Here's the pattern:

Easy Slip Stitch Slipper Sock
Double knitting yarn in main colour
Contrast colour. Boucle yarn works well for contrast, but any double knitting yarn in a contrasting colour will be fine.
5 mm needles.

Note: To slip stitches, transfer stitch from left hand needle to right hand without knitting it. 

With main colour, cast on 34 stitches. Knit two rows. Then begin the pattern:

Row 1: With contrast yarn, knit
Row 2: With contrast yarn, knit
Row 3: With main colour, knit 2, *slip 2, knit 2 to the end
Row 4: With main colour, purl 2, * slip 2, purl 2 to the end.

Repeat these 4 rows until the the work measures just less than desired foot length. Knit two rows in main colour and cast off.

Sock Cuff
There are two ways of doing the cuff, in the round or flat.

Cuff in the round
Fold the work in half lengthwise. Sew the cast on edges together to make the heel. Sew the cast off edges together and then sew along the top of the oblong to make the top of the sock, leaving opening.
Using main colour and double pointed needles, size 5 mm, pick up 32 stitches around the opening and work knit 2, purl 2 rib for desired length Cast off in rib. Looks better if you make it long enough for the cuff to turn over, but this isn't essential.

Cuff Flat
Mark where opening of sock will be. Using 5 mm needles and main colour, pick up 16 stitches from cast on edge to marker. Work knit 2, purl 2 rib for desired length. Cast off. Work the other side the same. Then sew cast on edge together, continuing to top of cuff. Sew cast off edge and continue sewing along the top of the sock and to the end of the cuff.

Since the brief was a 'challenge', I thought I might make another pair that is more difficult. Perhaps using a technique that I'm not familiar with. Watch this space!

Monday, May 18, 2020

A Beaded Bouquet

I've finished the 12 circumference necklace. It's quite short, but longer than a choker:

Here it is next to an 8 circumference rope:

Friday, May 15, 2020

Expanding My Repertoire

I think an 8 bead circumference is quite a practical size for a necklace, but I want to be capable of working ropes of larger circumference. This one is 12 around. I'm still working on it, but so far, so good.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Taming The Skein

The 3 mm rope I've been working with came as an enormous skein, tied in four places. I wondered if it would work like an embroidery skein and I could pull from the middle. Nope, that didn't work. For small projects I just pulled the rope through the ties, section by section. But that wasn't really practical for the floor mat. So I got out my skein holder:

And very slowly and carefully wound it into two huge balls:

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Getting Roped In

The 'creative therapy' group I help with hasn't met for weeks and weeks, all of us are in isolation. I don't know when the group will be able to meet, but we've begun to cautiously think about future projects. Before lockdown, we bought a hank of 3 mm rope. I was tasked this week with coming up with ways to use it.  I thought back to some of the techniques I saw when I was researching Amish rag rugs. Here's my first venture, a small mat:

It's quick and easy, and it's pretty, so I think it could work for the group. 

I came across bowls and baskets on Pinterest made in a similar way.  The crochet cotton I used for the mat is too soft for that, but perhaps a thicker thread could work?

Mmm, possible, but it would take a lot of practice to get it neat enough. Thumbs down. 

I'm working now on a floor mat. I do like it, and it's easy enough,  it might work for a project done over several meetings. 

Monday, May 11, 2020


I used the same 8 circumference chart to make a necklace. Then I wrote another chart for a 5 bead circumference to make a key ring:

Here they are together:

It's interesting that although the thread doesn't show, it does make a difference to the appearance. I used white thread for the bracelet and necklace and black thread for the key ring.

Little Bags

I've made some more little bags to put necklaces in. Lesson one: I was much too stingy when cutting the fabric around the beaded motif. I don't know why, I have plenty of fabric! That's the problem with a production line way of working, a mistake can be repeated. Luckily it wasn't so bad that the motifs had to be abandoned. On the next batch I'll be more generous.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Light and Dark

It's interesting how different a pattern can look using different coloured beads. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020


I recently received a gift of earrings that came in the sweetest little basket:

It got me thinking about packaging, or presentation. Perhaps I need to come up with interesting packaging for my beadwork. I don't want something as time consuming as the little basket. But something better than plastic or paper bag.

Since I've been doing cross stitch lately, I thought of doing a cross stitch motif. Then I remembered seeing 'beaded cross stitch' on The Beading Gem's Journal.  I searched for beaded cross stitch on Pinterest and found a video to watch. I didn't save the link because it was not a good
video. Honestly, to burble on for 15 minutes and then upload it without editing does not give a good impression. But it did, eventually, tell me what I wanted to know. So I gave it a go:

I sewed a muslin bag and attached the motif to the bag. My proportions need working on, but it gives the idea:

Could this work? Feedback welcome.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Back to Beads

I put away my embroidery thread and evenweave fabric and retrieved my beads and crochet hook. I couldn't find a pattern for what I was imagining, so I thought I'd write one myself. I printed out some graph paper, which works well, so that's one thing learnt. I started with a design of 6 beads in circumference, drew it on the graph paper and worked out the threading pattern. I crocheted almost two repeats before abandoning it.  There was a mistake in my threading pattern and I didn't like the design, it's too muddled and bitty. Back to the drawing board. I increased the circumference to 8 beads and simplified the pattern a bit. Aha, I like this version a lot better:
I'm now working it in a different colour scheme, which I think I like better. It's a simple pattern, generic even, but I'm happy to have created it from scratch.

Monday, May 4, 2020

18 Roses

I've finished the third frieze for curtains. So they're ready and waiting until I can buy fabric for the curtains themselves. Lockdown has been extended again, so I'm not sure when that will be.

Friday, May 1, 2020