Friday 24 December 2021

Merry Christmas!


Small Doily is Doily XIV by Jan Stawasz
from his book "Tatted Treasures".

Joyeux Noël!

It's Christmas eve...  the lights are twinkling on the tree, I have a pot of soup bubbling on the stove and candles are casting their gentle glow in the room.  

I hope you are all able to enjoy a happy and peaceful Christmas with your loved ones and I wish you a healthy and creative 2022.

All my very best wishes to you and yours,

Wednesday 1 December 2021

A Bit More on Homespun Wool

I'm sadly not knitting much at all either (same problem) but I did manage to finish a hat before things got bad.  I showed some of the wool I've been spinning in an earlier blogpost.  After the two white fleeces, I was also given a dark brown fleece.  That wool has much shorter fibres and is rather difficult to spin but I managed to make a bit, enough for a decorative accent on a hat (which I gifted to the farmer friend who gave me the fleeces).

The brown wool is hard to spin but I like the colour changes in the wool when it is spun.

I don't know why there is a weird green rectangle
in this photo but I can't remove it! 

And here is the hat.
My very first piece of clothing made with my own wool!

I'm still working on the sweater I started with my wool but that will be a while in the making yet.  I now have my son combing the wool for me (to save my arm) but I find spinning is fine.  So I'll be making more wool, ready for when I can start knitting again.

How about you, any nice projects you are currently working on?

Best wishes,

Friday 26 November 2021

On Pause... and Basket-Weaving

That's as far as I got with the new snowflake (not much further than where I was before).  I've sadly had to put everything on hold for a while, hoping that my arm will sort itself out eventually.  Very frustrating.  

I tried a different centre for that one but I still wanted to test more shapes and really need to be able to tat before I can complete this pattern.  *sad face*

In the meantime, I try to work on other things, staying away from small repetitive movements (not easy!!).  I had another play with newspaper weaving; tried dying the paper tubes with beetroot (accent on small round basket) and then with diluted paint.  I found that I can get white tubes when using the edges of the newspaper pages which can be left white or dyed (not enjoying the dying part very much so far but there are other methods to test).

I put a box or other container inside to help shape the sides of the baskets.

I started on another square basket with a woven bottom (the one above has a cardboard bottom). To keep everything straight, I start with the tubes taped down on my working mat (as per this video, if you're interested).  I'm a long way from the professional looking baskets I've seen made with newspapers but I'm learning!

You need lots of newspaper tubes to make baskets because
unlike willow or other natural material, the tubes are relatively short.
But it's a good use of something that would just go to waste
so I like that aspect of it very much.

I regularly use one of the first newspaper baskets I made the summer before last.
(click on link to see more about that one)

Best wishes,

Sunday 14 November 2021

Remembrance Sunday

I have shown this poppy before on more than one occasion.  But it's still my favourite so here it is again to commemorate Remembrance Sunday.  It is Jennifer Williams' beautiful design and one I've enjoyed wearing for several years now.  So if any of you had not seen it before and fancy making yourself a tatted poppy, I highly recommend this pattern.  It is a little complex as it is made in several parts that have to be put together, but I think it's well worth the effort.  When I made mine, I decided to use the centre from a British Legion Poppy Appeal paper poppy as I liked to keep the link with the organisation and their efforts and it looks like Jennifer has now added a new version to her website that also uses this centre.

I have another poppy I wear as well and this one is crocheted so it is much quicker to make.  I'm afraid at the moment, I cannot remember the name of the pattern but when I find it, I'll come and add a link here.

Best wishes,

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Snowflake 2021

First of all, the Pumpkin shuttle from the previous two posts has now been shipped to its new owner. Thank you to everyone for taking part, for your nice comments, and for your congratulations to the winner.

"Snowflake, snowflake, how I love thee!"

Now is the time of the year when I start thinking of my new snowflake.  Well, to be honest, as we're already into November, I need to hurry a little!  Sadly I have been struck again (the other arm this time) with tendonitis.  Urgh!  This is preventing me from doing so many of the things I love as they pretty much all involve a lot of small repetitive movements.  I'm trying hard to be patient but there is a lot I'd like to be doing right now.  So only very minimal tatting allowed to try not to aggravate it further.

Not the best situation to try to design a new snowflake in.  *Sad Face*

As I'm sure you know by now, I particularly like to base my snowflake designs on real snowflakes, taken from photos by Wilson Bentley. There is so much variety in real snowflakes!  There are truly fascinating.  Every year recently, when comes time to design a new flake, I flip through the pages of my book and wait for one to catch my eye.  This year, it's this one:

I started first by working on the interestingly shaped tips.  In the first version (top right on the image below) I left the arms unattached as per the real snowflake.   But I find they are a bit too floppy so in my second version, I attached the bottom JKs to each other.  I also slightly changed the shape of the tips to make them look more like the original:  flatter and wider than in my first version.  I added a picot in the middle of the JKs to elongate them, again to look more like the shape of the tips of the real flake.

I'm making good progress but I'm not quite there yet, more testing and sampling required.  I'm pretty happy with the arms but I'm still debating what to do with the centre.  If I want to keep to the straight lines of the real snowflake, I'll have to use lock chains... but I could allow myself a bit of artistic licence and use split rings and chains, which is what I did in the bottom version.  But that centre is too full so I'm testing again to get it looking a bit more like the real snowflake.  I'm also trying my best to keep the proportions right by gauging my samples against the photo so that it's as much like the real thing as possible (as much as thread and tatted lace can be made to look like ice crystals that is!).

Back to the worktable!

Best wishes,

Monday 1 November 2021

And the Winner Is...

 I nearly forgot to do the draw today!!  But I managed it just as the clock turned to 00:00!

So the shuttle pumpkin will go to...

the person who wrote comment No. 19
as decided by the random number generator!

Comment number 19 was written by Rita T.
Rita, please contact me to let me know where to send the prize.

Thanks to everyone for taking part!

Best wishes,

Saturday 23 October 2021

Pumpkins and Autumn Giveaway

We're nearing the end of October already!  Today we had a family pumpkin carving afternoon and here is the result of my own efforts on our doorstep this evening:

I do love carved pumpkins!

In fact I just really like pumpkins, to look at, to carve... or to eat!

To celebrate pumpkins and the beauty of autumn,
I decided to have a giveaway


yes, of course, a pumpkin shuttle!

This lovely shuttle is made from a vintage pumpkin purée advert.
I really like the contrast of the golden orange pumpkin on a black background.
Very striking.

To have a chance of winning the shuttle,
all you need to do is leave a comment.

(to make it easier to count for the draw, I will not answer comments on this post,
but I thank you in advance for your comments and for participating)

I will hold the draw on the 31st of October.

Best wishes,

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Tatting Old and New

I've finally been able to visit my family again after more than two years!  It's wonderful to be back and to spend time with family and friends I've really missed during that time.

It's been lovely to find that two doilies I made for my father several years ago are still in use and on display in his home.

The first one was a design by Renulek if I recall correctly.

And the second one is a design by Mary Konior
which I combined with a border by Jan Stawasz
(I write about it here)

During my stay I knitted a pair of sock/bootees
for my new niece.  It's a free design by Garnstudio
knitted in very soft alpaca wool.

Next is a vintage small doily that I discovered one of my friends had.
It's a actually a piece of "cro-tatting" as you can see
the crochet stitches on some of the rounds.
I took a photo and might try to reproduce it.

Lastly I've not yet worked more on the edging from the previous post
but I started working on the motifs for the collar I also mentioned in the previous post.
I chose to make it in natural écru.

Autumn is on its way.  The maples are starting to turn their glorious shades of red, orange and yellow.  I hope all is well with you!

Best wishes,

Friday 3 September 2021

Priscilla Edging No. 8

Priscilla Tatting Book No. 2, what a great book!  It contains many designs I love, including the Victorian Lattice Doily which I have now made several times.  

Victorian Lattice Doily
(that's the name I gave it as in the book it's only called "Doily")

Many years ago I started making the collar from page 31 but never finished it.  I think I will tackle it again one day.  

It's a gem of a vintage book which can be found online here.

In the meantime though, I thought I'd tackle something a little smaller and edging no. 8 caught my attention.  

I like it but I'm not happy with it at the moment.  I like the shape of it but the round circles in the middle are really difficult to make neatly.  It's a rather large ring that has 41 stitches and when I pull it closed, it tends to distort and not look even and symmetrical.  I tried a few different things in the sample above and that's also why the edging doesn't look all the same (I changed some joins and tried the centre ring on a double core for example).  I also don't like that the small rings at the bottom stick out further than the picots of the large centre rings... if you were to sew this edging onto something, would you just sew the small rings down and leave the large rings unattached?  It seems to me it would be better if they were on the same line.

I'm planning on working on this edging some more to see if I could modify it a bit to solve some of those issues... and maybe even design a corner for it?  Perhaps it will go around the corner quite easily without many modifications by simply omitting the bottom small ring and joining three repeats together.  I need to test that.

Is the empty space of the big ring too large?  Should I fill the centre with another smaller ring maybe?  All comments welcome!

Best wishes,

Sunday 29 August 2021

Fair Isle Jumper Finished

I started this back in January and was (as it turns out over-optimistically) hoping to have it finished for my son's birthday in May.  Sadly May came and went and I was still knitting.  I completed the body fairly quickly but the sleeves seem to take me forever!  Fair to say though that if I had been only knitting I might have managed to finish it on time but I always have lots of things going on concurrently.

Anyway, it's all knitted now and I'm just tying the gazillion ends at the moment and then I will give it a nice wash and block before finally giving it to my son.

Whalsay Jumper Design by Hazel Tindall / Ann Feitelson

The jumper looks kinda "brownish" from a distance
but it's made of many colours including
orange, purple and plum.

That's what I love about Fair Isles,
the beautiful play of all the different colours that make a design.

All those colours does mean that at the end, you have to deal with many many wool ends from all the colour changes.  However, Shetland wool has wonderful "grippy" qualities preventing it from unravelling easily and making possible also to just knot and pull off the ends.

Here's what my seam looks like with the knotted and pulled wool ends.
With washing and wearing, the ends will gradually felt into the body of the jumper.

So that's it for the Whalsay Jumper.

I'm already wondering what my next Fair Isle is going to be...

Does anybody reading this like to knit Fair Isle?

Best wishes,

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Orsi's Napoleon Re-Visit

A few weeks ago someone wrote to me asking about Orsi's Napoleon pattern.  I had made it back in 2011! (see this post).  The pattern is no longer available on Orsi's site but I contacted her and she kindly agreed to share the pattern and to let me show it here on my blog.

This is the one I made from the pattern she sent me.  I realised afterwards that some joins were missing and also some picots on the outside trefoils, if you were going to join several motifs together.  I now believe it's because the drawing she sent me was for a doily she made with this design (a small version can be seen here and a larger version here on her blog).  From her drawing, I made a new one with the small changes:

And here is a written version:

R8-4-4, R4+6-6-4, R4+4-8, rw

C3-5, JK10, rw, C10-3, rw

*R8-4-4, R4+6-6-4, R4+4-8, rw

C3+10, rw

JK10, C5+3, rw

R8+4-4, R4+6+6-4, R4+4-8, rw

C3+5, JK10, rw

C10-3, rw

Repeat from *

Here are four of them joined together
(taken from a 2011 post I'd published about this design)

If anyone decides to try it, please let me know if I've made any mistakes in the diagram or written pattern and I'm glad this lovely little square will now be available again to tatters.  Thank you Orsi!

Added 26.08.21:  Anke kindly gave us a link to Orsi's original blogpost about this pattern which contains drawings, it can be found here:

Best wishes,

Sunday 22 August 2021

Couture Champêtre

Following on from my previous post... another lovely thing about vintage sewing machines, manually powered, is that you can easily take them outside to do your sewing on a beautiful sunny day!

I love that.

This one is my 1937 Singer 27.
I bought it for peanuts and it's in such beautiful condition!
The decals are nearly pristine and it sews beautifully.

To go with a nice vintage machine,
it's great to also have some vintage accessories.

I found a vintage buttonholer attachment which does a fantastic job.

Look at that neat buttonhole!

Thanks for telling me about your own vintage machines in the previous post.  I'm in the process of finding a couple of replacement parts for my Frister & Rossmann and I think we're so lucky to have internet nowadays to be able to find specialised things like vintage sewing machine parts.

Happy sewing everyone!

Best wishes,

Saturday 14 August 2021

The Delights of Vintage Sewing Machines

I love old sewing machines.  They are wonderful feats of engineering, are incredibly sturdy and hard-wearing and they look great to boot!  I have three.  I'm trying hard to be reasonable and stop there because who needs more than three sewing machines?  (Actually I have 4 as I also have a modern, electronic machine).  

What got my love story started was when I found an old Frister & Rossmann for £15 in a charity shop several years ago.  Then I bought a beautiful 1937 Singer 27 hand-crank which was in perfect condition.  And lastly I thought I really needed a treadle machine and that's my 1913 Singer 15 with oscillating shuttle.  They are all great machines and I treasure them.  

However, this blogpost is about a new machine.  My youngest daughter decided she'd like a sewing machine of her own, one she can keep and take with her when she sets up her own home.  A few weeks ago, I saw one again in a local charity shop...  I went in and turned the crank but it was really stiff and barely moved, the machine was dirty and I couldn't quite tell how well it would run.  I returned to look at it again with my daughter and after a bit more examination, she decided to purchase it.

I had not heard of this make before:  Mundlos (a German company) which was sold in the UK under the name "Royal".

It was a bit dusty and dirty... but the metal appeared in good condition everywhere.

Interestingly, it says "Foreign" on the back.

Some of the parts, caked in old oil didn't move at all.  But after a good cleaning, dusting, wiping, oiling, and spinning, it turns out this was a good buy!  Everything works on it and it's now shining and running smoothly.  It's a nice compact machine and I know it will give my daughter many good years of service (no doubt her lifetime in fact if she looks after it!).  I'm pretty sure, from looking up its serial number, that it was manufactured in 1938.

It has an interesting pattern on the metal plates which can be found on that small front plate, on the face plate and on the back one:

At some point in its life, someone had glued (I think?) a small metal pin cushion on the lid of the side container box.  Update 05.11.21:  Thanks to Anke's comment and her pointing me to a website about these machines, I now know that the pin cushion was an integral part of this machine.  They were sold like that, with that small pincushion attached to the lid of the side container.  Neat!

It had saw dust in it but had become so hard over the years that it was practically impossible to push pins into it.  The old pink velvet was also in bad condition so I removed everything and made a freshly filled pincushion to put back into the metal casing, in green.  There is it, ready to be used.

All in all a very good machine.  It has a reverse gear and even an unusual little lever to lift the bobbin up from its carrier.  It can be seen next to the bobbin winder in the main photo.

I bet there are several of you, reading this, who also own vintage machines.  I'd love to hear about them so please let me know what you have!

Best wishes,

Saturday 24 July 2021

Back to the Collar

I'm still spinning but I finally decided to go back to the nearly finished collar.  I'm on the last round!  It shouldn't take too long to complete - come one me, get it done!

Isn't it strange how sometimes we can get most of a project completed and then somehow lose steam when there's not that much left to do.  Does it happen to you?

 Best wishes,

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Knitting My Own Wool!

I started knitting my wool!  It's exciting!  This lovely wool was on a sheep a few weeks ago and now it is becoming a sweater.  I'm knitting it for my son - who had his first experience of shearing and sheared his first two sheep - and he wanted a really plain sweater with no fancy stitches, to show off the wool he said.  I think for a first time working with my own home-spun wool, it was a good idea.

Here's some wool in the basket ready to be spun and the rustic Lazy Kate (wonder what's the origin of that name) that my son made for me for plying my singles.  It's a bit rough but it works a treat!

Several skeins of wool
waiting to be knitted...
(as I'm writing this I'm now down to the last one of that batch)

I decided to make a top-down raglan sweater which makes it easy to check for fit as you go along and am now past the armholes and making my way down the body.  It's great to just make more wool as you need it.  So I keep washing, drying, spinning, plying, winding, knitting... and... repeat!

Best wishes,