Thursday, November 25, 2021

Ready For Market


I've been merrily working on bath puppets and have this bunch ready for the morning market on Saturday.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Major Surgery Required


Repeating a pattern, be it a tatting pattern or a sewing pattern, leads to speed and efficiency, no doubt about it. But there always comes a point in my repetitions when I think I've 'got it' and don't pay enough attention, leading to a ridiculous error of some sort. Here I forgot to turn the pink mouth inwards before joining the two halves of the puppet, so I ended up with a raw edge showing or a dysfunctional crocodile. I'd sewed up the sides very firmly, and towelling is not easy to undo, so I had to cut the seams off, making the body too narrow. Hmmm. I woke in the night with the answer, I suppose my brain had been working on the problem while I was asleep - side gussets. 

I think this will be fine. I try to keep the price of the puppets down by minimising waste, so I didn't want to have to abandon him! 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Puppets and Honey


Moving swiftly on, I completed the next bath puppet order. This is Louise's second gang. 

The bee keeper came last night to take honey from the hive in our back garden. He emptied half the frames and filled a 20 litre bucket, so the bees have done well. He'll process the honey and then give half of it back to us. Jack snitched a few combs from the bucket. 

Mark Two


The lady who ordered the Kylo Ren towel came on Thursday afternoon and explained that she wanted the lines to be wavy, not straight, and didn't like the silver triangles on my original version. Right. I spent much of Saturday working on the second version. The wavy lines had to be sewn down by hand before I could sew them with the sewing machine. A power cut put an end to my endeavours, but I finished early on Sunday and sent off a picture. Whatsapp says it has been seen, but I've had no response, so I assume the lady is still not happy with it. Enough now. I've spent way too much time and energy on it already. It's a child's swimming towel, not the Mona Lisa. 

Here's what someone else said about commissions: "[My wife] is not generally too happy about them because non makers form a picture in their mind of the finished product, which is often literally impossible to make, and in any case poorly communicated, but any deviation from that is in their eyes defective".

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Managing The Bulk


My blanket is progressing very slowly! But it is now much too big to sit in my lap while I work, especially in this hot, humid weather. For quite a while I put it in a big basket, but eventually it outgrew that. Then I put it in a flat basket on the floor. The problem was that if bits escaped, they'd be on the floor and likely to get dusty. I accidentally discovered that the answer is to put the flat basket on a small table. If parts fall out of the basket, they're hanging in the air. I find it best to rearrange the blanket in the basket at the beginning of each side so that the side I'm working on is at the top. Onward, onward...


 I've been creating gangs of bath puppets for orders:

Julie's gang.

Louise's gang.

Sarah's gang.

Louise has ordered another gang, so I'll do those next and then make some more puppets for the next market. 

Monday, November 15, 2021



It's tricky creating things on commission. Am I and the commissioner imagining the same thing? I spent some hours yesterday working on a Kylo Ren towel to go with the Baby Yoda one. I sent this photo to the lady who ordered it and she said she doesn't like it! My heart sank, as you can imagine. I said she had better come and have a look and tell me what changes she wants. I can always make another hood and remove this one. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Dried Gooseberries


Jack had a good crop of Cape Gooseberries this year. I made jam with some of them and froze some in syrup, wonderful for fruit salad now that the crop is finished. Then Jack heard about dried gooseberries and decided to give those a try. He spread the gooseberries out on a mesh and covered them with a net to keep out insects and dust. They took a surprisingly long time to dry. He tried cutting the berries, but that didn't speed the process up any. Patience was required but eventually they were ready. 

They make a good snack to munch on as is, but I've also been using them in my baking. I made Scroggin Biscuits this morning using half gooseberries and half more conventional dried fruit. They darken a lot if they're on the outside of the cookie, similar to raisins. 

I think we can consider them a success. 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Baby Yoda


 I'm not a Star Wars fan, I have to say. I did see the original film in 1977 when some fellow hauled me off to the cinema, aghast at my ignorance. The more recent prequels and sequels have passed me by. But I met an avid Star Wars fan at the market last week, who asked if I'd make two character towels for her grandchild. I'll certainly give it a go! I sent this picture off to her and she said she wanted all green, which is fine, I can do that. But when I explained that the brown was supposed to represent his coat, she saw the point and changed her mind. The other towel should be black, but I very much doubt I will find black towels. We may have to settle for navy. 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

The Maths


Following up on the previous post: the balls of yarn I'm using are 300g each, but I didn't use that statistic in my calculations.

The blanket I've already crocheted measures 150 cm by 150 cm. That's an area of 22 500 cm squared. I divided that by the number of balls I've used, 6. So each ball crocheted an area of 3 750 cm squared. 

Then I worked out the area of the parts I still have to do if I extend the blanket by 30 cm. 

A. 210 X 30 = 6 300

B. The same

C. 150 X 30 = 4 500

D. The same

Total 21 600.

Divide that by 3 750 = 5.76. Round that up and I must buy six more balls! 

Blanket Update


Phew, one round takes a lot of yarn now! I had to keep weighing the ball on a digital scale to make sure I had enough for another round. I had to keep working out which rounds of the pinky purple I could leave out so that I'd have enough yarn. 

The blanket isn't as big as I'd like it. It doesn't cover the pillows and doesn't hang down the sides at all.  I could buy one more ball in each colour, but then I'm going to have to do the scale dance again. I've decided to carry on in pattern but using only grey. How much grey? I worked out the area I've already crocheted and then the area of another 30 cm all around, put my maths hat on and calculated I need six more balls. I've ordered six more balls. So, I still have a long way to go! 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Ready To Go


This little gang of Bath Buddies is ready to be delivered to a shop, in time for the shop's Christmas campaign. Let's hope they'll be snapped up for Christmas stockings! 

Monday, November 1, 2021



We made gift bags in the craft session on Friday, decorated with pictures cut from old Christmas cards. It was good to have the paper prepared beforehand, so that everyone could make the folds in unison without having to measure. I think the bags turned out well. 

On Saturday I went to a market with towelly things. I did mean to take a photo of the stand, but clean forgot. The market was quieter than last month's market, I don't know why, but I did better than last month. I sold two towels and have orders for two more. I sold a few puppets. I have orders for 10 puppets for individuals and a shop wants 10 on consignment. The shop is going to have a big Christmas launch next week, so they want them this week. I had better go and get on with it! 

Thursday, October 28, 2021


 Some Covid19 restrictions have been lifted, so we are able to run craft groups in retirement homes again, albeit outside under a gazebo, rather than indoors. Christmas is not very far away, so we thought we'd make a start on Christmassy things. 

This week we're making gift bags. I looked on Pinterest for inspiration, and used this tutorial.  I tried different weights of paper. The brown paper looks fine, but is really too flimsy to be useful. The red wrapping paper is a bit heavier and works better.  I've made a couple and prepared the paper for the rest, cutting to size and drawing lines where the paper needs to be folded. Once the bags are made, group members can decorate them as they choose - pictures from Christmas cards, stamps. ribbons and lace.....

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

A Touch Of Yellow


 On Sunday I decided I'd whip up a new dress for Summer. Foolish thought - I never whip up anything! By the time I'd fiddled with pattern pieces to get the best fit, neatened seams, adjusted gathers, et cetera et cetera, two days had gone. But a new summer dress I do have. It turns out to be surprisingly difficult to photograph, but here's my best shot:

When I'd finished, I thought it lacked a little something, so I added patch pockets. I sewed tatting to the bottom of the skirt and the top of the pockets. This is my handbag tatting that has been lurking since I finished it. There's a link to the pattern in that blog post. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Slowly, slowly


 I'm making progress on my blanket. I'm working on a bobble row at the moment. I like the texture the bobbles give, but it's hard to get a rhythm going because making each bobble requires removing the hook and reinserting it four stitches back. What I do think is clever is the use of front post stitches on the following row that make the bobbles stand out. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A Couple More


I've just finished the dinosaur and realised I forgot to put teeth in his bottom jaw! Ah well, I don't want him to be too fierce, so I'll leave him like that. I made Dolly yesterday after thinking that puppets don't necessarily have to be animals. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

This Little Piggy


This little piggy will go to market at the end of the month.  Here's the rest of the bath puppets gang so far:

Thursday, October 14, 2021



Someone suggested in a comment that I make hair scrunchies for markets. No, no, I said, I want to stick to a bathroom theme. But it seems there's a demand for scrunchies, in school colours, so scrunchies it is! I used  this tutorial. It says its claim to fame is that it avoids hand sewing, but to me a greater advantage is that you don't have to turn a tube of fabric. So they're quite quick to make. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Monkey Three


I've made a start on replacing the bath puppets I sold. This is the third monkey I've made. He looks much like his siblings, though there's one technical difference. I used a straight stitch to attach the felt, rather than zig zag. It's quicker and takes advantage of the fact that felt doesn't fray.  

Monday, October 11, 2021

Running Short


 I didn't expect to run out of greeny turquoise yarn before I finished the second stripe. What to do, what to do? I couldn't just undo to the beginning of the round and leave it out because the previous row was half double crochet, which wouldn't work well with the back post double crochet of the next row. I'd have to undo two rows, and then redo the double crochet row. Hmmm. If I was making this for a competition, I'd do that, of course. But since I'm making this for me, I decided to fudge things and use the slightly darker turquoise of the previous stripe to finish the round:

The colour is not glaringly different and I think once I've done the next (pink) stripe, it shouldn't be too noticeable. I will leave out the half double crochet round on the next wide stripe, and hope to have enough to finish. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Week

 I'm not sure how the week disappeared so quickly. I have made a bit more progress on the crotcheted blanket. Today I must make strawberry jam and sew at least five masks. Yesterday I cooked four dozen doughnuts. On Wednesday morning we were able to go to the retirement home for the first time in months for a craft group. We didn't do any crafting because after a long lockdown there was some catching up to do. Hopefully we'll soon be back in our regular spot. In the afternoon, my small visitor came and I asked him to model the three towels that I didn't have pictures of:

He received a square or two of Louise cake in return! 

Oh, and I've just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, in which I came across two references to tatting. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Onward, onward


I've made progress on my blanket. It's now at the stage where I aim to get to a corner in a session, rather than complete a round. Actually, there's no earthly reason I should get to a corner or complete a round, it's fine to stop in the middle! Unlike knitting, where it is usually a good idea to finish a row. We were visiting my grandparents once and when Jack said it was time to go, I said sure, as soon as I've finished knitting this row. My grandfather did laugh, said that was the story of his life. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021


 I bought a jar of blueberry jam at Saturday's market. The stall next to ours had three kinds of jam - blueberry, mulberry and strawberrry. None of the jars had labels. I was a bit aghast when the stallholder took the lid off a jar to check which kind of jam was inside! Either she's broken the seal, or, more likely, it wasn't sealed to begin with. And needs to be eaten sooner rather than later. 

Yesterday I made tree tomato (tamarillo) chutney. It's a wonderful rich, red colour. Very similar to strawberry jam :

You'd get a bit of a shock if you were expecting strawberry jam and instead got a mouthful of spicy hot chutney! 

Monday, September 27, 2021



Well, the markets went ahead on Saturday, the first for many months. I think there were restrictions on the number of people attending, but the market I went to was very small; we were in no danger of breaching those restrictions. The market was strictly for handmade, homegrown items, so it was more like the old fashioned markets I used to go to in a previous incarnation. 

The good news is that I sold all the bath puppets. I didn't sell any hooded towels though. I think these markets tend to be better for smaller, less expensive items. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

All Seven Colours


When I've finished with grey, I'll go back to cream. I considered changing the order of the colours in the next repeat, but I like this colour progression, so I think I'll stick with it. The label on the yarn says they're 'pullskeins' which I assume means you're supposed to work from the middle of the ball. I found the middle end on the cream, but not on the others. I didn't try all that hard because I've found that when the middle of a ball is hollowed out, the ball tends to collapse and get in a muddle. I'm sure that's especially true of such large balls. So I think it might be better to just work from with outside end. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A Rabbit


This one is made from fleece fabric, rather than toweling, like these ones. He looks a bit fierce, I hope the softness of the fleece counteracts that impression! The pattern comes from Crazy Little Projects, the tutorial is here.  Sarah and I have a table booked at a market on Saturday morning; fingers crossed it goes ahead this time. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Starting A Big Project

 The handwoven wool cover I've had on my bed for well over 20 years has become so scruffy that I've had to give it to Rag the border collie for his bed. I've been pondering a replacement. Fabric? Crochet? This pattern? That pattern? I came across the Grace blanket pattern, a free pattern on Ravelry by Lucia Stepankova, and really liked it. I had seen some colour-changing (ombre?) yarn in my LYS (local yarn store) that I thought might work. But when I visited the store on Friday, it turned out that there wasn't enough of that yarn and I didn't like the colours anyway! Hmmm. How about making my own colour changes instead of leaving them up to the yarn dyer? 

After a discussion about quantities with the owner of the LYS, I bought 7 large balls of acrylic yarn, each in a different colour. The Grace blanket is a square, worked from the middle. The original is a baby blanket, worked in a finer yarn than mine, but that's doesn't matter. I looked on the label, which says to use a size 4mm hook, but I thought the work was a bit too stiff, so I upped it to 4.5mm. 

In terms of dimensions, progress will get slower and slower of course, but I've got off to a good start. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Sloth Sometimes Pays


I made another owl towl yesterday. Making these faces involves changing the thread colour frequently. To begin with, I changed the top thread and the bobbin each time. At some stage I changed just the top, leaving the bobbin as it was. Then I realised that was a good thing - if the bobbin is in a colour that matches the towel, the sewing on the underside is less visible: 

Aha, win-win. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Zebra Towel


He was quite a lot of work, but I think he turned out pretty well! When I'm working on a pattern, from scratch or adapting from Crazy Little Projects, I look at cartoon images of the animal. I'm not trying to create a realistic animal after all, and I think cartoonists are good at picking out the salient features that make something or someone recognisable. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Fruit Salad


I made a fruit salad using fruits from our garden - rhubarb, cape gooseberries, granadillas (or passion fruit), strawberries and tree tomatoes. It was delicious, served with chocolate ice cream. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Bath Buddies


I've made some more bath puppets. I didn't use a specific pattern for these, though I did take inspiration from images on Pinterest, an element from this one and an element from that. There was some dithering as I decided how to do each one, but overall I'm pleased with the result.