Friday, December 31, 2021

Right Side, Wrong Side


 Unless worked back and forth, crochet always has a right side and a wrong side. But it's more pronounced in a textured pattern like this one, where the bobbles and ridges are all on the front. Jack asked me how I know which direction to work in. That's easy, just have the right side facing at all times! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Inching Along


You couldn't say centimetreing along, could you? Things are quiet here at the moment - no puppet orders, no preparation for craft in the retirement home - so I thought I'd take the opportunity to make  progress on my blanket. It can take up to an hour to complete one side of my giant square, depending on the stitch, so progress in terms of depth is slow. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas to all those you observe Christmas, around the world. I didn't make any new decorations this year, tatted or beaded, but there are enough in storage to decorate the little rosemary bush Christmas tree. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

A Couple More


I thought I was done with puppets for a while, but had another order for two, crocodile and giraffe. The order specified that the giraffe's mouth should be orange. Right. Here you go:

Monday, December 20, 2021

Sunflowers And Lizards


I finished Kim's gang of puppets and crocheted another round of my blanket. Both are 'more of the same' so I thought I'd show some pictures from our garden instead. The sunflowers are rather festive. 

Our garden seems to have become a haven for all kinds of lizards. Some of that is down to Rag, the border collie, who keeps cats out of the garden and doesn't chase lizards himself. Jack saw a Ground Agama laying  eggs the other day and managed to get a photo without disturbing her:

There are also a lot of Tree Agamas, which we usually call Bloukops or blue heads:

There's a whole lounge of skinks between the front and back gardens. (Yup, I looked up the collective noun of lizards!) Geckos come out on the veranda walls in the evenings. There are not many lizards inside the house itself, which is fine because I'm happy to watch lizards from a distance but am  squeamish about getting close up. 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Puppets Galore


In the run up to Christmas, the bath puppets are finding homes as fast as I can make them. The orange giraffe left the same day as the pink one. I made a monkey and a crocodile as gifts. Then came Ruth's gang - monkey, crocodile, rabbit and hippo. Now I'm working on Kim's gang - frog, hippo, crocodile and rabbit. I had to go and buy more towelling yesterday. 

 Ruth bought four towels too, so I was pleased about that. Aside from the Star Wars towels, I don't seem to have sold a towel for a while. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

A Pop Of Colour


Work on my blanket has been intermittent lately as I've been busy, but it is progressing slowly. A friend suggested that I put round of colour every now and then to break up the grey. It's a  good idea.  I'm following the advice, even though it means a return to playing yarn chicken and worrying that I don't have enough to finish the round! 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Egg Boxes


At the retirement home I visit every week, we've been making flower wreaths from egg boxes. They turned out really well, I thought you might like to see them. It's fascinating how we give everyone the same raw materials, but the end results are so different. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

A Pink Giraffe


This is another order. You want your giraffe pink? Pink it shall be. It's to be a gift for a baby girl. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Twin Crocodiles


I had an order for crocodile puppets for twin boys. So here they are, fraternal twins. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Brushing Up

 It's a while since I did any beaded crochet. I'm brushing up my skills by making key rings as gifts for the members of the craft group in the retirement home I visit once a week. (Last year I gave them each a tatted bookmark.)

 I thought I'd take the opportunity to try my hand at creating my own designs:

The zigzag one came out as I visualised it, the blue one, not so much. I wouldn't have a hope of creating that design if I wanted to, so I'll happily settle for serendipity! I still need to make a few more before Friday. 

Saturday, December 4, 2021



I didn't have enough orange fabric for another lion puppet, but there was enough for the crocodile pattern. Hmm. I've turned the crocodile into a giraffe. It looks better in person than in the photo, where it looks rather like a goldfish. Those are ears, not fins. 

The Baby Yoda  and Kylo Ren towels were collected this morning, hooray. All's well that ends well. I'm just relieved I won't need to look for other buyers for them. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Christmas Cake


I baked my Christmas cake on Monday. That's probably late by Northern Hemisphere standards, but when Christmas is in mid-Summer and the weather hot and humid, I think it would be a mistake to bake it too far in advance, 'feeding' with brandy notwithstanding. It's a slightly 'alternative' Christmas cake this year. I used half conventional dried fruit, like raisins and sultanas, and half an island mix:

It has things like dried cranberries and papaya in it. I added a handful of our dried gooseberries too. 

Our power was off for much of yesterday, so I was relieved that the cake was safely cooked already! 

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Market


I sold all the bath puppets at the market on Saturday, so I was pleased about that. I didn't sell any towels. I think people are looking for inexpensive items. I did some shopping at the market too - pecan nuts and mushrooms, kambucha and eggs....

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: