Thursday, March 31, 2022

Troop and Army


I finished the troop of monkeys yesterday. The collective noun for frogs is army, I'm told. I've heard of a chorus of frogs, but apparently that's only applied to a group of male frogs. I wouldn't like to be so dogmatic! The troop and army have already gone off to their new home, together with a crocodile:

Wednesday, March 30, 2022


 What a difference a day makes, as they say.  When the market was cancelled, I put a note on a local Facebook group and received two orders, after the note from the shop wanting puppets on commission. One order is for 11 puppets - 5 monkeys, 5 frogs and a crocodile. The other order is for a monkey and a rabbit. So I only delivered 6 puppets to the shop yesterday, because a definite sale trumps on-commission-not-sure-when-we'll-pay-you. And yesterday I heard that there will be another market on the 9th April. Usually they're only held on the last Saturday of the month. 

Yesterday afternoon I made two monkeys in tandem and now I"m making four frogs:

The main advantage of working this way is that there are fewer changes of thread colour. I didn't do all the monkeys at once though because they're more complicated than the frogs and I didn't want to end up with a whole bunch of half-made monkeys.

But eventually I'll have a troupe of monkeys. I'm not sure of the collective noun for frogs, I'll have to look it up.

Next week I'll have to make more puppets for the market. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Rain Again


Considering how mediocre this rainy season has been, it's really a swizz that the market on Saturday was rained off again! It was beautiful rain, and we really need it, so no one dare complain.

 I'm sending the bath puppets to a gift shop down the road on consignment. I'm not sure that's a good idea, I'd much rather sell them direct at the market, but plan B was required and I had a message from the shop owner asking for them. 

Mr Giraffe is the tenth puppet in the group. 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Not Horsey Enough


This was supposed to be a horse with a rainbow mane. Mmm, no. I think the mistake I made was to use the same template as I used for the other puppets of this type. A horse has a different shaped head. I may need to call it something else. Any ideas?

More successful was the first pair of socks in my handspun wool:

Another Newcomer


A shark in my bath? Goodness. The gang is growing. I'd like to have 10 puppets to take to the market on Saturday. Another one today and one tomorrow and I'll be there:

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Jelly And Chutney


The guava tree has fruit on that is starting to ripen. The fruit is rather ugly, with horrid black spots. So I decided to make jelly rather than jam with them. I cooked up the fruit, without peeling them, left the pulp to drain through a dishcloth overnight and then cooked it up with sugar the next day. 

I cooked it a smidgeon longer than I should have, it's a bit stiff, but has a lovely colour and smell. Tastes fine too!

Yesterday I used this recipe to turn some of the tree tomatoes or tamarillos into chutney. I think it'll need to mature for a few weeks to bring out the full flavour. 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Working On The First Sock


I spun and then plyed two bobbins full of wool, which gave me four and a half skeins. That should be enough for two pairs of socks. I think. I washed and dried the skeins and then started knitting the first sock. I didn't dye this lot, the natural colour is pretty and I thoughtthat combined with an easy lace stitch, it would be fine. The heel is turned, I'm onto the easy foot part. 

Friday, March 18, 2022

A New Puppet


I've been thinking for a while that it's time I created some new bath puppets. So let me introduce Fido. My daughter says he looks friendly, so that's good, I wouldn't want to scare anyone! 

Thursday, March 17, 2022



After months of set backs of various sorts, 10kgs of wool roving arrived yesterday for me to spin. My Ashford Traveller and I were both a bit creaky after several years without spinning, but we soon got back into rhythm. I'm planning to make socks and scarves for winter markets. There's  not a lot of time now, but I'll see how it goes. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Puppets Again


A lull in sewing tasks gives me the chance to make some more bath puppets. I don't have any in stock and there will be another market at the end of the month. I should have finished this crocodile yesterday but there was a thunder storm and I didn't want to risk having my sewing machine affected by a lightning strike. I'll finish today. We had 30mm of much needed rain with the storm, so that's fine.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Word Gets Out

 Once word gets out that you're willing to sew for others, you can find your self doing all sorts of things. Over the weekend, I hemmed three tablecloths:

The job wasn't quite as straight forward as I'd expected. One of the fabrics was very fine and refused to sew a smooth seam. Eventually I had to settle for 'this is the best I can do', after changing stitch length and tension, and wielding the iron before and after sewing. 

This morning I've been embroidering a monogram for someone else:

It's not very expertly done. Perhaps I could call it rustic? Oh, and I'm still drawing the line at replacing zips in trousers! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

The Tenth


I'm working on the tenth curtain. There is enough fabric for one more, but since the curtains hang in pairs, I will have to leave it at that. The owner of the windows ('client' sounds too formal!) wants the remaining curtains to be in a different fabric. I'll have to wait until that arrives before I can continue. 

Monday, March 7, 2022


 Do tree tomatoes grow on trees? Yes, they grow on a small tree:

Jack is standing with his hand like that not in a ballet pose, but to show the height of the tree - where his hand is is about 6 foot, so the tree is about 8 foot high, nearly 2.5 metres. The tyre tower is where potatoes are growing, in case you're wondering. Here's a picture of the fruit on the tree:

We have two tree tomato trees, the other one is perhaps a little smaller:

While I'm showing fruit trees in our garden, here's a picture of the orange tree, so laden with fruit that the branches have to be propped up:

Unfortunately, the propping wasn't done soon enough and the trunk has split:

 We're hoping to be able to reap this crop, but I don't think the tree will survive after that.

Tree Tomato Jam


Jack has a good crop of tree tomatoes, or tamarillos, on his two trees.  I thought I'd turn some of them into jam. I read a number of recipes on Pinterest and then sort of amalgamated them. What I learnt is that tree tomaoes need to be cooked before adding the sugar, unlike, say, peach jam. It's a beautiful colour and has set well. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2022


 In spite of being bowled over by the Refashionista blog, I'm not a fan of doing alterations. I'd far rather make a garment from scratch than alter an existing one. But I did agree to turn an XXL dress into a Medium one. I'll give it a go, I said, I might learn something. "Just put some darts in the front and back", my friend said. Mmm, no. The pockets would be in the wrong place, the shoulder seams would be in the wrong place, it would be a mess. 

I removed the sleeves and the pockets (much easier said than done!) and then laid the dress I'd used as a pattern for her other dresses on top:

Here's where reading Refashionista came in handy - as I took a deep breath with scissors in hand, I thought, if Jilly could do this, so can I. After cutting the excess off, I reattached the pockets and sleeves. 

I should have taken a before picture. But you can see I cut a fair bit off:

If this is alright, I might be able to skip making dresses four and five, which will suit me because I still have many curtains to make. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Lesson One And Yoyos

 Well, the first sewing lesson went pretty well. I told my young pupil that if he learnt to sew by hand, he'd be able to sew any time, without having to have access to a machine. He liked that idea, so we were off! He learnt running stitch and back stitch. I was impressed with how quickly he grasped the principle of back stitch. I found some fabric with dots on to act as a guide. Next week we'll try chain stitch. He liked the look of detached chain stitch, or lazy daisy. 

I 'inherited' a large bag of fabric scraps, along with the craft group job. I did the 'new broom' thing and threw half of it away - they were too small to be of use for anything. Some of the remaining scraps are also pretty small, but I thought they'd work for yoyos. I haven't made fabric yoyos before and it turned out to be less simple than I supposed. I read through this tutorial, which helped, but I had to experiment to decide on size and experience the various pitfalls. For instance, it's important to sew really close to the edge, otherwise the yoyo has a horrid lump in the middle. 

I sewed my yoyos to a circle of felt to make a mat to put my teapot on. There may be some craft group members who can't or don't want to make yoyos, so I made another, simpler version:

The next meeting is on Friday.