Fun with food colouring

I joined a really nice spinning group a couple of weeks back, and it has motivated me to spin about 23 hours a day. While I’m fleece obsessed and on a little fleece dyeing kick, I’d thought I’d show the popular easy peasy food colouring method that I use on combed top. (As usual, not exactly a tutorial, just a description of the way I do stuff.) 
The results are vibrant, and there are the major benefits of no really toxic chemicals or fumes, no mask, and being able to use normal kitchen utensils.
Oh, and economy. One bottle of food colouring: $1.06. One packet of dye: $10-$15.
This method also works for dyeing yarns, and there are some great YouTube videos on getting special effects like ombrΓ© and gradients. 
Me, I just reeeeeeeeally like rainbows. And then spinning the top fractally. Which apparently is not a word according to spell check, but spinners will understand what I mean. 

I use combed top, but carded roving works too. This is fine merino (19.5 micron) from Nundle Woollen Mills. I like to buy from them: their top is gorgeous, but mainly I like saying the word ‘Nundle’. I don’t use super wash wool, so have to be very careful not to felt it.
I braid it first, as it makes a nice tie-dye sort of effect. If you haven’t done this before, all it is is a crochet chain that you make with your hands. Make a slip knot at one end and chain to the other end.

I use these food colourings, because that’s what the supermarket had. But there are many types. I bought colours like pink and green, but of course just the primaries, red, blue and yellow are all you really need to make virtually any colour using basic colour theory.

I bought some sauce bottles from a discount shop just for ease of use (and so I feel like a super professional dyer). 3 for $2.50. But a jug works too. You also need white vinegar.
I’m not great with taking measurements, being a kind of intuitive (lazy) crafter. But I would say about 1/2 cup of vinegar in a kitchen bowl, the rest filled with water. Then soak the braid in the solution for at least 2 hours. One drop of detergent may be added if the braid is extra water repellent. 

When you’re ready to dye, mix them up. I wear disposable latex gloves for the dyeing part.
I use about 1-2 teaspoons of food colouring to one cup of water and one teaspoon of vinegar. Roughly. This might require a little experimentation, I tend to just wing it. The colour that the fleece goes on application is not exactly indicative of the finished product, which makes the whole thing even more exciting! πŸ™‚ You can dip a little paper towel in the dye mix to check your colours too.

Incidentally, I have kept the mixed dyes and used them days later, and they still work.
Obviously I’m using grey top here, I like how it tones down the vibrancy of the food colouring.
Lay cling wrap along a bench. I use two thicknesses. Drain the braid. I wrap it in a towel and stand on it to soak out excess water. Don’t rinse it or let it dry out completely.
Lay it on the cling wrap, and paint it with dye! I trickle the dye on and press the wool gently with my fingers until that section seems completely saturated in the dye. Check that it has made it through to the back. Repeat until all done. (You have to kind of trust the colours you mixed up, as they don’t look too awesome on the fleece at this stage.)

Fold up the cling wrap over the braid once or twice, fold the ends it, and keep rolling to make a sausage. Roll it up loosely like a Swiss roll and put it in a microwave safe bowl.

The heat setting component can be done on the stove, in a crock pot or even in a hot car apparently, but I use the microwave because I am impatient.
Microwave on high for about two minutes. It should be piping hot, if not, do it for a few more seconds at a time until it is. Let it stand for a few minutes. Microwave on high again for thirty seconds. Let it stand again. Do one or two more 30 second hits/few minutes standing.
That’s all I do. If there is any liquid in the bottom of the bowl, it should be very close to clear. If not, the dye is not exhausted and it will need reheating.
It is hot, so I leave it to sit for a few minutes, then snip off the end of the cling wrap sausage and pour the fleece out.

Yay! Rainbow!
I don’t want to shock it, so I use very hot water to gently rinse (careful not to felt it), blot in a towel and dry.
That’s it. 

Here’s some spun up. (Yup, I totally painted one of my spinning wheels gloss black, for no obvious reason. M calls it the ‘Morticia’ wheel now). 

And here is some chain/Navajo plied and crocheted into a slouchie hat.

B πŸ™‚

Flagellation Shawl

I showed a glimpse of this shawl last week. 
It is Ilvy by Berniolies Designs, and a streak of masochism had me crocheting it on a 3mm hook out of coarse Swedish weaving linen that had been gifted to me. 

It was painful, frustrating and yet kind of enjoyably medieval. Despite several alarm bells, I stubbornly persisted.
A week later it looked like this, a heaving, hard, tangled lump of flaxen knots.

It was scratchy and shrunken in on itself and altogether unpleasant. As I completed the single crochet short rows at the top, it also became heavier and heavier and I sighed at my grievous error in yarn choice. But I had once again underestimated the awesome power of blocking. 
Be free, shawl, be free!! 

I love the finished shawl. And the pattern. I know I will wear this to death. I have already purchased another of this talented lady’s designs, Oswin, which I’m planning to do in a silky laceweight.

I also thoroughly enjoyed my birthday celebrations last week, and received a veritable mountain of beautiful handmade gifts! πŸ™‚ Feeling very spoilt! Here are a couple:
M made me a treasure box full of goodies, plus this butterfly for the garden from 100% recycled materials.

He’s called ‘Crazy Eye’. πŸ™‚

Scissor case and keeper made by my gorgeous mum.

A cedar window from my poppy, which he designed himself and carved from a single piece of wood.

Birthdays in our family are always a good excuse to make something. Next in line is Poppy, who will be 81. And I think I may have finally found a sock yarn that he won’t find too ‘scratchy’! πŸ™‚

Socks, spinning and FOs

The first sticker I have ever put on my car in my entire life. But I couldn’t resist. πŸ™‚ 
Apologies in advance for the rushed photos this week. Also WordPress seems to be deleting people from my feed. 😑 I will find you again!

Our perfect Queensland Autumn continues. The zygos are flowering

Frogzilla the gigantic tree frog has taken to hiding from the antechinus in the watering can.

The cats’ heated bed came out of storage. It was much appreciated.

In related news, the stash has been expanding proportionately to the gradual drop in daytime temperatures here in the Southern Hemisphere. 
I have never held myself back from casting on a new pattern or having countless WIPs. There is too much joy in riding that first inspirational wave of creativity like a body surfer to stifle it. But lately I’ve noticed that nothing much was getting finished this year, and nineteen projects were languishing in project bags. This in itself didn’t bother me, but the fact almost all my good needles and large quantities of lovely yarn were tied up did. So with M’s assistance, I frogged fourteen projects. It felt really good. πŸ™‚ And now with the extra yarn freed up, my stash is practically exploding out of the train! Joy!
I have been charging through the socks to make way for new skeins, a pair for me in my favourite Lana Grossa Meilenweit India, 2.5mm needles, 60 stitches…

Another pair of boot socks for M in Drops Big Fabel…5mm needles, 40 stitches

And a squishy pair for Mum for Mothers Day in Berocco Vintage (can’t remember needle size)

Then I cast on these in Lana Grossa Meilenweit Solo Cotone, my first pair of cotton socks, 3mm needles, 52 stitches. The jury is still out, they feel a bit floppy to me, but we’ll see.

All of these socks have Fish Lips Kiss Heels. I have lately heard people complain about this heel, saying it pops off? I have to say that’s never happened to me, nor anyone I’ve gifted it to. Still my favourite heel by far. Last year I knit a pair of socks with one fish lips kiss heel and one traditional heel flap in a Bendigo Woollen Mills sock yarn. They looked like this:

And here’s how they look a year later after fairly heavy wear and constant machine washing (cold):

There is no apparent difference in the wear, if anything the fish lips is wearing slightly better. I won’t be giving it up anytime soon. πŸ™‚
I’m doing a few blankets at the moment for Angel Blankets, who donate blankets to hospitals for stillborn or miscarried babies that can be held (14-23 weeks). The tiny-ness is a bit heart wrenching. I’ll be adding some pretty borders to these.

Some more crochet cable mitts. I do enjoy crochet cabling. I think a fisherman sweater is forming in the back of my mind.

M also requested a khaki jumper (shock!) and it seemed a good way to clear some yarn, 2000m of it to be exact. A simple crochet pattern by Melissa Leapman was chosen, and only a few days later, it was finished. I would NEVER have picked this for him, but he loves it. You just can never tell, hey. 

I’ve already started another for him. 

Yes, as requested that is camo yarn. No, I have no comment on that. Whatever makes him happy. πŸ™‚
My Year of William Morris paused as I hurt my back and couldn’t sit at the tapestry stand (I’m pretty sure it was actually sitting at the tapestry stand that hurt my back in the first place) but it is nearly healed now and I’ll be back into it. In the meantime, my Auntie did bring me a lovely related gift on her recent trip up here from Adelaide.

Christmas Village Mark II is progressing nicely. Four buildings so far and the fifth and sixth underway. πŸ™‚

And spinning…something about the cooler weather always makes me break out the wheel! I don’t know what this fibre is, I am guessing merino. It is part of a large bag of fleece my mother-in-law rescued from an op shop where it was being thrown out. It is sooooooo soft and floofy! I’ve never spun anything so light and fine before, and I’m very happy with it. Two ply laceweight, 220 metres. 

Then some rainbow something from the same stash, not as floofy and a bit old and felted, but I pressed on regardless. Another couple of hundred metres in 2 ply.

Then some chocolatey Corriedale. I like this one the best. πŸ™‚ This came out a sportweight as a 2 ply. I have a couple of kilos of this fleece to process, so plenty for a jumper or three. I’ve only ever made one jumper from yarn I spun, and it was a plain cardy from our old alpaca, Patch. I might do something fancy with cables this time.

Of the other five current WIPs, this is my favourite, Ilvy, which I just started:

Crocheting pure linen thread is hard on the hands, but I love the result, so rustic. Poppy made me the little cedar stand for the reel of linen. πŸ™‚
Hopefully I can now resume normal broadcasting and return to some sort of blogging rhythm after the erraticness of the last few weeks. Next week I turn the big 4-0, so a fresh start, a new decade and soooo many things to look forward to! πŸ™‚ Or I’ll just let myself go completely, I haven’t decided yet.

Bit busy

Life has been a little hectic of late at Ravensridge, with major work changes and M away at a couple of conferences. Where are the months going? I can’t believe that a year ago this week we were climbing the Eiffel Tower and watching the sunset over Paris. πŸ™‚

This week we have goannas climbing gum trees instead.


 This week’s projects – 
Madrona Cardigan by Rohn Strong. Not sure how this one is going to turn out, will have to see how the sleeves look.

2 X ‘Over the Willamette‘ shawls, which I had to make after seeing Karin’s at Pointe Shoes Punk Rock and Purl. These only take a few hours, lots of fun! (Details on my rav project pages.)

A little birdie told me that a set of my favourite Knitpro crochet hooks was winging its way to me courtesy of the lovely M, and I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing them all in a pencil case with the others. So, knowing there were fifteen in the set (fifteen! Oh the joy! :)), I set about making a case for them. I am pleased with the end result.

(Incidentally, a lady at the Brisbane Craft Fair last year told me to put clear nail polish on the size so it doesn’t rub off, and it proved a good tip.)

 A Year of William Morris update:
The peony tapestry cushion has been such a joy to stitch! I’m about two thirds done. I almost don’t want it to end. 

And a William Morris cross stitch has been started…this is called ‘Peace be in this House’. I’m not a lover of cross stitch, but I couldn’t resist the design or the sentiment. πŸ™‚

I’m also in the process of planning a William Morris quilt. Incapable of directly following a pattern as I am, this will certainly be a hybrid, and will include ravens.

Christmas Village Mark II:

So… promised, I gifted the original Christmas Village – with a little pang, I must admit – and set about planning the next one. I wanted it to be sturdier than paper this time, so I had the idea of using model train scenery. 
I did some research and chose HO gauge and started looking for little houses. Well, if you know me at all, you can probably guess what happened next. The simple Christmas Village in my head has now exploded into a full blown model train layout, and my plans include over a dozen buildings, lake, mountains, Christmas market in the town square….you name it. Oh, and of course a train. I had no idea the model train thing was so frickin HUGE, particularly in the UK but also here. And now, I am becoming one of them. I shan’t be wearing a tracksuit nor growing a beard, but I have inadvertently stumbled upon a whole community of my own miniature-loving kind!
I’m doing it all arse-about, as for me the train is secondary to the landscape. So I started with buildings. I got my first kit on eBay for 99c. I didn’t know at the time, but this is a pretty complicated sort. There are over ninety metal extras plus the houses. The first one took a week of evenings to complete. I am using Tamiya model paints and Piko glue. I am particularly pleased with the curtains, stripe linen in the lounge and gingham in the kitchen. πŸ™‚ (The pen is to show scale.) Weathering and the ‘Christmassy’ aspect will be added later, when I have more of the village completed.

I have picked up 8 buildings so far, and will slowly work my way through them. 

In the meantime I am gathering supplies for the build and reading railway modelling magazines, sometimes into the wee hours, which M finds hilarious. (Yeah, go ahead and laugh it up, Chuckles. You’ll be wiring the whole thing up for me.) πŸ™‚ 

Crocheting Socks

Ever wanted to try crocheting a sock? Yeah, me neither. But sometimes you just need to live life on the edge, man.
I like knitting socks. I’ve knit upwards of forty pairs (having put that in writing, I’m thinking I perhaps need to get out more). And I’ve pushed plenty of people, such as the delightful Mary Tang, into trying it too, for better or for worse. πŸ™‚

But I was interested in trying a different effect and texture. So I just did an online course in how to crochet a sock. I also thought that it might be a quicker option than knitting them and might give a nice thick sock for boots for the next trip to Finland. 

I pretty much expected to skip easily through the pattern. Yeah, nope, that didn’t happen. The ‘basic sock’ pattern which accompanied the course – which is an e-patternscentral course by Rohn Strong – involves using foundation double crochet, front and back post stitches for the ribbing and extended single crochet. Wtf. It isn’t that hard, but none of these I would consider basic. The foundation double crochet in particular needed heaps of practice to get smooth. There was a LOT of frogging and swearing going on at Ravensridge over the weekend.
One of my first attempts, using Lana Grossa Meilenweit India.
The first few tries came out way too big following the pattern and suggested hook size, so I eventually gave in and decided to swatch. I finally got gauge with a tiny 2.5mm hook instead of a 3.75mm as suggested. Weird.
A further attempt with a different yarn just felt awful and dense and scratchy. This is Drops Fabel Long Print.

So I went back to a tried and true Australian yarn, Bendigo Woollen Mills sock yarn. The colours are not me, but it worked. πŸ™‚ Right size, nice fabric feel, and I’ve got the hang of the stitches now.

Another benefit to the crochet version is being able to easily try it on as you go.

The finished sock fits well and stays up. It’s hard to take photos of socks on your own feet. 

I really like Rohn Strong’s designs, and the course presentation was fine, although there’s a couple of numerical errors in the accompanying printed pattern.
Will I crochet more socks? Well, at least one more, to go with the one I’ve finished. It uses more yarn to crochet them, as you would expect, but makes a nice dense fabric, and now I’ve got the hang of it I think it will actually be much faster than knitting. So I would say…yes. Yes I will. Next up I’ll probably try some for M as he only wears boot socks. And knitting a size 14 on 2.5mm needles? Ain’t nobody got time for dat. Not even me. 
B πŸ™‚

February No-FO’sΒ 

Well, I sailed cheerfully into February with high hopes to use this month to complete my unfinished knitting and crochet projects, which are -ahem- numerous. As it turned out however, life had other plans.
My ‘Finish it or Frog it’ plans hit a couple of snags very early on in the month with temperamental health and an unexpected funeral, the combination of which took the wind completely out of my sails. 
My February tally so far:

Finished – 0

Frogged – 0

Yep. Nailed it.
But c’est la vie. πŸ™‚ Now the breeze has slightly picked up again, I have been really craving cheerful colours. I finished a little sewing, firstly a purple linen dress. 

And some Thai silk cushions to brighten up the lounge, made out of vintage serviettes my MIL rescued from an op shop for me. 

More bags for sale, including sock knitting kits.

In the knitting/crochet arena, I’m still working on my yellow cardigan, known variously as the pineapple, banana or mellow yellow cardy. It is, in fact, almost a finished object. But it needs pockets. And possibly a collar. The pattern is Quick Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier and the yarn is Rowan Creative Linen. I even did this huge gauge swatch. So proud.

My grandmother’s flower garden blanket is growing and growing, my Japanese crochet top is coming out too small so I’ll have to add a few more rows along the way, and I’m also crocheting the Vermillion Cardigan, from Inside Crochet magazine, out of Drops Lima. Only the sleeves and buttons to go. I’m hoping it will come up nicely with a good blocking.

Oh and I crocheted this simple ear flap hat too, not quite finished, but nearly. 

I went to make a Pom Pom for it from cardboard (haha, I love that Pom Pom is automatically capitalised), and remembered that I had a Pom Pom making kit when I was a child. I had a vague memory of seeing it somewhere in the train last year and went searching….. 

Woohoo! Even with all the bits inside still! πŸ™‚ this is exactly why I don’t throw any crafty stuff away. So satisfying. In yo’ face, people that call me a hoarder!! πŸ™‚ 
I have two projects in the current issue of Handmade magazine, a journal cover and a lace hat…

 In my hunt for the Pom Pom maker, I also uncovered a pile of cross stitch and tapestry and long stitch kits, collected over the years from various sources who were throwing them out. I have never actually bought one. People give me a lot of stuff. Usually with the line ‘I want you to have it because I know you’ll finish it.’

But I have lately, in my confinement to extended periods of inactivity, been desirous of comforting, old fashioned embroidery-style projects. This one appealed to me, a lovely little Australiana cottage which reminds me of our place. And a cross stitch tapestry cushion cover of a hazelnut bush. These things are so kitsch, I just love them. It is essentially colouring in with yarn and I find it extreeemely relaxing. πŸ™‚

 Around Ravensridge…Our baby shrike thrushes in the hanging basket hatched, grew and flew the nest.

A typical Queensland huge summer storm threatened to hit us, but passed by quickly slightly to the north of us with only light rain. Phew.

The summer rain has brought out a scattering of fungi.

And I received a lovely ‘Valentine’ from M, Scrivener writing software for my new computer. Ironically, I am in love with it. Totally. In love. Where have you been all my life, Scrivener? ❀
And I mustn’t forget this, a little cheer up present from book depository. I am So. Excited. To make this. :)))

There will be FO’s next time. I swear. 
B πŸ™‚

Australia Day and Linen

Australia Day yesterday, which meant the traditional BBQ and kayak up at the bay. πŸ™‚ Except it was hot and belted down rain for half the day, so Ma and I stayed in the air conditioning and only M and Poppy went out on the water.   
My steady ‘pacing myself, one a day’ plan for my Grandmother’s Flower Garden afghan failed, as expected. Those little hexies are really addictive! πŸ™‚
 I am using almost all scraps for this, and in the end I decided on a ‘peacock’ sort of colour way, greens, purples and blues, set off by grey paths around the flowers, mainly because that’s what I had a lot of. The flower centres will be mustard.
My usual summer depression has been lifted slightly with some linen. πŸ™‚ I am working on my Japanese top (that’s the pattern in the background, in case you thought I was joking when I said it was blurry!). It takes a bit of patience and a good daylight lamp, but it’s coming along.

Pure linen isn’t the easiest to knit or crochet with, but I love the end result so much that I persist. Here’s a few yarns in the current project queue. 

The thicker yellow is Rowan Creative Linen. In a strange synchronicity with Bekki from Dartmoor Yarns, I had a great desire to make a yellow cardy. I’ve never made anything yellow before in my life. Inspired I think by this one from Drops.

More project bags off the assembly line.

Unfortunately I can’t yet share all my weekly projects this time around, so some random pics about the place from this week instead.
Our wildlife watering stations attracted a visit from another goanna (in centre of pic by the black container).

Friendly chicken and camera shy M.

Excited to find this Lively Rainbow Skink, a beautiful example of a breeding male. 

Synchronised cats.


And Ravensridge, sweltering at dusk. Roll on winter!

I am thinking about having a ‘Finishing Off February’, to turn some of my myriad WIPs into FOs and frog the rest. I figured if I made a ‘no casting on rule’ for Feb, that would be a start. Naturally, I then totally panicked and cast on four more things. Just in case. Sigh. Still, I think I can do it. February FOs, here I come! :))


Creating and destroying

I’m late posting this week because this was one of those weeks where I went backwards more than forwards. If you look at time linearly, anyway. Spatially, I guess I was just creating and destroying at the same time, in no particular order.

Hot weather makes my concentration evaporate. The end of the week saw 3 full days of knitting and crochet frogged in a fit of pique. Everything went in the time-out basket. I don’t want to talk about it.
In total frustration, I buried myself in vintage patterns to self soothe. It worked. πŸ™‚

Stitch by Stitch was an English series of pattern magazines. I found these folders of them at an op shop (charity shop) for a dollar each years ago. I hadn’t revisited them since I began to crochet, and was pretty excited to discover a whole new range of weird and wonderful patterns that I had previously ignored. But…wow. Late seventies/ early eighties was a special, special time.

Shame M’s not a bit more hipster…and 20″ smaller in the chest….

 I don’t know how to begin to comment on this one. Ummm…that’s an awesome… tuxedo jumper.

It’s easy to mock, but I do so affectionately. There’s actually plenty of patterns I’d love to make. Who doesn’t need a rainbow pompon bath mat?

And a lot of the cable patterns never go out of style.

Eventually I forgave my own projects enough to allow them out of the basket. This was one I had started four times. 

Four times through the whole waistband to discover my gauge was out, or the yarn wasn’t appropriate, or both of those were fine but it was huge for no apparent reason…and why was I crocheting a pair of shorts anyway for fricks sake? I have no good answer. I just liked them. I never thought in a million lifetimes I would ever be a crocheter of shorty shorts. But everyone is full of contradictions and paradoxes I guess. Queensland’s heat has warped me. I plan on doing a lacy camisole to go with these as summer pjs.
Also, because I accomplished a pair of shorts with a fourteen page photo-rich tutorial, I feel I can definitely tackle this. Which has no instructions, a blurry diagram and is in Japanese. What could possibly go wrong.

My passion for grandmother’s flower garden quilts has extended to the crochet version, to use up DK scraps. Nevermind that I have three fabric versions on the go too. :/ This is an Amish hexie pattern.

One hexie a day should have me finished in a year (Ha! Because I’m so methodical and consistent, that plan is sure to work…) πŸ™‚
Bags bags and more bags. I like making them.

And to finish the week…a knitted hood. Because…oh it was one of those weird weeks. I dunno, I just felt like it. This one is into the shop too. πŸ™‚

And the shrike thrushes are back! They chose a different hanging basket on the back deck this time. They took ages to build the nest, then an egg got laid every day for three days.

Here’s the first one.

Found a cool wasp’s nest that had fallen down.

A couple of goannas visited too. Bottom left of the first photo, amongst the Old Man’s Beard.

Next week, if it cools down, I will be back to the knitting, including some secret projects for secret people. 
B πŸ™‚

New Year Knitting

Don’t you just LOVE a new year? It feels like being given universal permission to explode with ideas, the ultimate freedom to start a thousand new craft projects. Or that might just be me. 
I never make New Year’s resolutions though. I think there’s just something about the word ‘resolution’ that immediately starches my upper lip, breaks me out in a sweat and warns of sacrifices and trials ahead…so bugger that.
I do set goals, however. Goals are easy. Ambitions. Intentions. Hopes. Dreams. It’s all the same word, right? 
So one of my goals this year, as indeed it is every single year, is to Craft All the Things.
Reading everyone’s fantastic ideas for new year knitting put my own complete lack of plans into perspective. I am casting on randomly and crazily. Knitting is my ultimate hedonistic delight, and lately I’ve really felt drawn to the joy of it again. The sheer pleasure of casting on, of burying my face hands in a basket of yarn. Feeling laceweight linen glide across the needles. Sketching up a new design that I want and I just can’t find the pattern for. Usually summer comes to Queensland and my knitting sits like a lump next to my chair while I sweat and stare at it churlishly. Not this year. 
I’ve brought some of my knitting projects up to the house on this rainy day, thus the kitties.

I’m still working away on my fifth Metallicus.

And my Lilli Pilli.

Crocheting another linen shawl, this one to sell.
Decided to use some of my Helsinki yarn on a Fine Sand cardigan by Heidi Kirrmaier, the lighter weight version of Quick Sand, which is the black one I made just before Christmas. 

The linen is biasing a little but so far I adore it.

I am also enjoying the Hoodie Shawl Cardigan by Sosu. This is kind of a weird hybrid, you start with knitting a triangular shawl, and then using short rows it gets gradually turned into a top down cardigan. I chose this one mainly to use up some awkward amounts of fingering weight yarn I had. I have no idea how this will turn out, it’s one of those ‘trust the pattern’ projects, but I’m really enjoying the interesting knitting and using new (to me) techniques like German short rows. I also made a set of bee stitch markers just for this project. πŸ™‚

 My sock yarn bag made it into Handmade magazine this month, and two more projects will be in the next issue. πŸ˜ƒ

 I’ve been working on some other small projects, like this one.


 M and I are creatures of routine, and frequently have coffee and cake on the back deck. Finally we have a tray to take it out on, instead of making two trips. It’s just paint and a bit of William Morris wrapping paper, but it will do. 
This next one is less of a recycling project and more of a being-a-tight-arse project. I love fairy lights, but wanted to do something pretty with the bulbs. I had seen the ping pong ball idea around, but decided they needed some extra decoration.

I fully intended to do this all professional-like and drill the holes in the top. But my $2 pack of balls were so poor quality, that in the end all it took was a little stab with scissors.

I tried a few different types of paint, trying to get it to stick evenly, before settling on a mix of Modge Podge and gouache. I brushed two coats of this onto the balls, which I held on the end of knitting needles (quelle surprise) and other assorted sharp thingies.

I started painting them with gold paint and a fine brush, but then…yeah… I decided life is just a bit too short and used a gold pen instead to draw some random patterns and dots. I hot glue gunned them to the lights, which are a battery operated string of ten ($1.50 on eBay).

 Seeing as there’s a theme going…

 There’s more…quite a lot more…but it can wait until next time. πŸ™‚
B πŸ™‚

A Christmas Cardy and all the gnomes

A quick post given the time of year. I am surrounded gnomes. And gingerbread Moomins and pigs. And by lists. The latter is not in itself anything new, I am a major list maker, so here I shall make yet another list. πŸ™‚
This week:

 I got a little excited making my strings of gnomes, based on the one I bought at the Women’s Christmas Fair in Helsinki. I used sparkly yarn for mine. They’re everywhere throughout the house now, and a few are presents. I think I like the windswept biker beards the best. That’s leg hair from my old alpaca, Wally.

2. Worked on my very first glitter house. I am aiming at a village for next year, all illuminated.
3. Made a few more bags and stitch markers.
4. Made a few gift boxes
5. A few more recycled tea light Christmas stars

 6. Discovered we had agapanthus growing! They have never flowered before, but this year has been weird weather wise. The crucifix orchids are still flowering too.

7. Made a big knitting decision. Stop being so bloody impractical. I will be foregoing knitting the heavy cable jumpers and cardigans from now on. 😦 Despite the fact I love making them, they go largely unworn here, apart from about 3 hours every winter and the occasional trip to the other side of the world. My woollies cupboard is full. 
I’ll get through using up the current stash of wool and alpaca yarns, then it’s fingering weight wools, cotton and linen, silk, microfibre, bamboo…there are plenty of fibres that will get more use. It makes me kind of sad, but I want to wear what I make! 
8. In that vein, cast on a Quick Sand for myself, a nice pattern by Heidi Kirrmaier, in Drops Bomull-Lin, a cotton linen blend. Then, thinking I might wear it Christmas Day, unexpectedly finished it in record time… 

and promptly started the finer gauge version, Fine Sand, in this gorgeous linen I got from Finland.

9. Made a rainbow crochet scarf out of Drops Big Delight.

10. And finally a photo shoot. If anyone else has tried to put a hat on a cat, you will understand. Most of the time you end up with pics like this.

Or this.

Or this.

Atticus Finch didn’t actually mind the hat that much, but he wouldn’t get the perpetual Grinchy look off his face.

Douglas Maguire was a little more cute and cheerful. πŸ™‚ He isn’t really bright enough to notice that he was wearing a hat.

 Wishing everyone a lovely Christmas and/or holiday and/or whatever you’re celebrating this time of year, hope you stay safe, drive carefully, laugh a lot, and see you on the other side! πŸ™‚
B πŸ™‚