Know when to hold ’em, know when to frog ’em….

With apologies to Kenny Rogers for repurposing his wonderful song in my blog post title.

There is so much going on in the world this week, I offer this blog as a distraction from the reality of war, flood impacts and the ongoing pandemic.

Those who have been crafting for a long time will understand that sometimes a project will just not be going how you had hoped. This realisation often comes multiple hours into a project, and there is a point where you need to decide to persevere regardless, put it aside in the naughty corner for a while, or just decide to frog the project and move on. Over the last month, I have been wrestling with this decision with a project that I had hoped would become a special family heirloom for our first great-niece.

First, for those new crafters, to frog a project means to pull out the work done in crochet or knitting. The motion of unravelling the stitches which make up the fabric you have painstakingly worked on. We often say “rip it, rip it” back, which sounds like “ribbit”, hence frogging. That is the word origin story I am familiar with, anyway.

Now, to the problem item. A seemingly simple pattern, the knitted spiral baby blanket from Monsteryarns. I thought it would look amazing using a whirl, which has beautiful variegation and long slow colour changes. I had come to terms with it being a labour of love, over a kilometre of 4ply yarn on 3mm needles was going to take a while. So, in November I began knitting. By December I realised I had misread one of the pattern rows, so frogged what I had done (approx 30 rows in) and started again.

A top view of the swirl circular baby blanket, with colour fading from pink in the middle to mauve and bue on the edge visible in the image. The swirly lines begin in the middle of the blanket and spiral out as the blanket increases in size at the edges of the circle. The rest of the yarn ball is at the top left of the image.
Progress on the spiral baby blanket.
The swirl blanket on circular needles, folded in half to look like a semi circle. The colour fades from pink in the middle to blue and yellow at the bottom of the picture. It is attached to the rest of the yarn ball, which is at the top of the image. The pattern makes swirls of eyelet stitches which make diagonal lines in the fabric.
Another view of the swirl baby blanket.

I was happily working at least 2 rows a day over the Christmas holiday period, and into February. This is when the next issue surfaced, the shlubs in the yarn were really visible in the knitted item. Previously I have used whirls to crochet. The schlub (aka fuzz buzz) is where the new colour is added in to the yarn. It is a feature of this yarn, and usually not very visible in crocheted work. Unfortunately in this blanket these schlubs were very visible, making it look like the fabric had been caught and pulled. I tried to pull the fuzz to the back of the work, but this made the stretch in the stitch more obvious, somehow.

A very close up image of the knitted fabric. The fabric is pink and fades to pale pink. There is a stitch that is fuzzy and looks pulled, due to the nature of the yarn used.
The pink colour change on the whirl is quite obvious. The fuzz buzz makes the fabric look like it’s been pulled.
A flattened out section of knitted fabric on circular needles. The fabric is blue which fades into a pink colour. There are two sections that look like stitches have been pulled.
Two sections here look pulled, and even blocking may not change it.
A close up imahe of knitted fabric on circular needles. The fabric is yellow and blue. There is a slightly fuzzy yellow stitch.
This yellow colour change isn’t very obvious, as it is on the lace increase section of the pattern.

There were two options that I worked through in my mind. I could keep knitting and hope the schlubs could be blocked out. Not likely, as the stitches are quite visibly different in the knitted fabric. I could frog and re-knit it, cutting the yarn before and after the schlub, then weave in the ends. This option defeats the purpose of using this beautiful, long gradient yarn, as the big draw card for me is having a stunning fabric made with only two ends to weave in. Could I really give this to a new baby when it looked so unprofessional? Yesterday I decided that I couldn’t do that, so have decided to frog it completely and instead finish off another bakewell blanket to gift instead.

So I will frog the knitted blanket and try the spiral blanket again with an 8ply hand dyed yarn sometime in the future. For my new great-niece I will finish off a bakewell blanket I had in progress, and will probably also have time to make another little kina or in threes cardigan also.

A square baby blanket with dusky rainbow colours which fade through blues, greens, yellows, pinks and finished on the outer round in purple. The pattern has a lattice shape with bobbles in the middle of each lattice square.
A bakewell baby blanket made in a popin candy whirl.

With the decision made I feel quite relieved. I can now stop worrying about what it might look like at the end of many more hours of work, and just move on to make some beautiful items.

I wonder if you have been through a similar thought process with a project you thought would be special?

Until next time, happy crafting and stay safe,

Fiona T

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Happy new year 2022

Happy new year, as we launch into 2022. The last two years have been pretty trying for everyone across the world. I have tried to keep up crafting during this time, and have completed quite a few projects as you can see across my most recent blogs. Unfortunately, some of my projects are languishing in the cupboard, as my brain just can’t keep track of the patterns and so I have admitted defeat, and moved on to new projects.

One project that I was determined to succeed with was the Bakewell baby blanket from Jollijenni and Chlola: http://jollijenniandchlola.blogspot.com/2017/08/

http://jollijenniandchlola.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-bakewell-blanket.html

http://jollijenniandchlola.blogspot.com/2018/03/bakewell-pattern-round-9.html

This beautiful blanket pattern is free on their blog, and is a nice variation on the usual granny square baby blanket pattern. It looks especially stunning with a slow gradient yarn, and just as lovely with a solid coloured yarn.

Bakewell pram-sized blanket made in variegated acrylic.
Bakewell pram-sized blanket in a solid mauve-coloured Bendigo wool mills 8ply cotton.
Finished Bakewell pram-sized blanket in Bendigo Wool mills Mauve and Cream coloured 8ply cotton
Bakewell blanket with join showing- Mauve BWM 8Ply Cotton.
Start of the Bakewell blanket with corner climbing rows in a Sheepjes whirl- Popin Candy.

I tried to make this blanket during the first of the Melbourne Lock-downs in 2020. I ended up giving up on it, as the pattern climbs out in the middle of rounds, and I kept losing track of the stitch counts after turning the work. When I was successful, there was a visible jog in the rows. I have spent some time over the last 18 months re-working the pattern to climb out of rows through the corners. I am sharing this pattern with you below, for free, by agreement with the original authors. I hope that this helps the pattern to be accessible for more crocheters. Please read this with the Jollijenni and Chlola’s original pattern.

I hope to share some of my other projects with you over the coming weeks.

Happy new year and happy crafting

Fiona T

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Practice makes perfect…

The more I craft, the more I want to use my time and materials well. I don’t want to rush through patterns, only to Tink or Frog them later because I am not happy with them. I see the time spent practicing elements of patterns as a time and sanity saver in the long run.

Recently I have begun to see the importance of posting the process that many crafters work though to get a completed item, which is finished as professionally as possible. Not surpsingly, this means that I often need to practice elements of a pattern to get the new stitiches at the correct tension. make sure I can count and follow the pattern easily etc. This process is often invisible to those outside the crafting space, so I hope that this post helps make that visible for more people. This learning, sinking/syncing time for new processes is as important in my crafting time, as it is in my work life.

Pictured is the practice I have done with this lovely baby blanket pattern: the baby honey blanket, by Craftling Designs https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/baby-honey-blanket.

This pattern is basically a gater stitich blanket, and it uses two ‘new to me’ stitches to create the stunning honeycomb pattern. These new stitches are the Right Twist (RT) and Left Twist (LT), which were easy to pick up from youtube tutorials. As I pre-read the pattern, I discovered that every row had a different pattern count to follow to make the homeycomb pattern. If you have been following my blog lately, you know that my ability to focus on patterns has been compromised during the pandemic and lockdowns. But, I really want to make this pattern for a baby who is due to arrive in January, so my stubborness has won, and this week I began to practice this pattern.

You can see in the images I have miss counted some sections, and lost tension in some of the left twist stitches. That’s ok, as this is my practice section. I will pull this out and start the pattern over, knowing that I can only knit this in the afternoons, and will have to focus wholly on counting each stitch in each row. I will also use lifelines in this pattern as I make the “good copy”, so I can easily rip back any errors.

So, I wonder if you practice before you make the ‘good copy’, or are you happier to work on and learn as you go? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Until next time, Happy crafting!

Fiona T

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Lockdown projects- 6.0

Hello again friends. Lockdown 6.0 in Melbourne is well under way. From the daily numbers of Covid19 cases, I think we will be in lockdown for a few more weeks (I am, however, happy to be wrong in my estimation, and hope we can get back to normal sooner. )

So, my days are spent teaching my students online, and trying to keep up healthy routines with my family. My evenings are mostly spent watching TV and trying to craft. Somedays I can follow a pattern well, and others my mind just wanders and I have to frog my work the following day. I have decided to stop beating myself up about this, and start to accept what I am able to do as a bonus.

Many of you, who have followed me for a while, know that I usually have multiple projects on my shuttles, needles and hooks at anyone time. I have always floated between projects, working on them when I feel like it. Over the last few months I haven’t been tatting very much (just starting a couple of small doilies, and some basic bookmarks), and much of my time has been spent knitting and crocheting, as I have been mostly choosing simple pattern repeats that I am less likey to mess up. Here are a few of the projects I have been working on over the last few weeks.

A Milo Vest, size 3yo with heart cable. Made in 8ply Bendigo Wool Mills Imperial (wool, alpaca and silk blend).
Finished Milo vest, 3yo size, BWM Imperial blend.
Two of the three swirl hats made for toddlers. I forgot to get a picture of the blue one.

I really like the simplicity of the patterns when knitting in the round, and by making smaller items I seem to be motivated to complete them as I can see them on the shelf near the TV. I find my bigger projects often take longer as I put them in the cupboard between sessions, where the languish until I am hunting down a thread/yarn/pattern or needle/hook/shuttle and ‘rediscover’ them.

Here are some links to ravelry and the patterns I have used above. Some are paid patterns.

Milo vest: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/milo-3 by Georgie Nicolson

Premmie hats: easy peasy new born sock hat by Knitty Gritty Thoughts https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/easy-peasy-newborn-sock-hat

Swirl hats: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/swirl-hat-3 by Mandie Harrington

Bakewell Blanket: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-bakewell-blanket by Jollijenii and Chlola

Until next time, happy crafting

Fiona T

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Fractal crochet doily

On our recent holiday I was inspired by the Art Deco theme of my lovely surroundings, and I was also reading some Phryne Fisher mystery novels. combined, these two influences led me to purchase a doily pattern I had seen and loved quite a while ago. Upon returning home, I bought the Fractal Doily tatting pattern by Essi Varis, from Ravelry.

Usually when I start a ‘new to me’ pattern these days I read ahead in the pattern and test out anything the is new for me, to make sure I can follow the pattern. Below is a picture of this trial of the key parts of the pattern. I don’t make the whole thing in ‘rough copy’, just enough of the elements to know I get the gist of the pattern.

Testing the parts of the pattern which were new to me. Image shows a pale blue crocheted doily, with one side showing the pattern increases for the fractal doily.
The real doily taking shape in green 2 ply cotton. One fractal ‘sail’ is visible as it takes shape.
The completed doily, in green 2 ply cotton. The fractal pattern is visible on the two sides, taking shape as separate spirals which build from the middle to the outer edges.

I was very happy that this doily looks so vibrant, and the visual pattern of the fractals is very cleverly planned in the pattern. It is a relaly nice pattern to make, and I wouldn’t be opposed to making another of these in the future sometime.

Of course, I have have more than enough doilies (eh-hm….is that really a thing?) so this doily was made as a gift for my friend to put in her lovely art deco inspired house. Between lockdowns It made it to it’s new abode. Here it is installed in it’s new home.

Until next time, happy crafting

Fiona T

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Lockdown projects part 5, during Melbourne’s lockdown 5.0

Hello friends. Much has happened in the last few months in Melbourne. We have had another 2 lockdowns, but in between I have managed to squeeze in full time work, a little holiday, getting immunised and a lot of crafting.

The beginning of a yarn bombing project. Off white acrylic mixed with a baby colour eyelash acrylic yarn, made to look like blocks. This will cover a bicycle pole.

Near the end of 2020 the yarn bombing group I am part of, Yarn Corner, put out a call for pieces for an installation outside one of my favourite stores, Unwind Craft cafe in Keilor. The install for this was delayed due to lockdowns, but a week ago we finally got to install approx 68 pieces. The feedback from locals was so overwhelmingly positive, making it worth the wait to make this happen. Here a link to the full album from yarn corner https://www.facebook.com/239600219420054/posts/4219556588091044/

My yarn bomb installed.

I’ve also had a bit of my patience return, and have dipped back into my tatting. Just a few small pieces, but I can feel my mojo returning. I am hoping to begin Mike Lyons’ Lagniappe large doily. I have chosen my colours and started to read the pattern closely, so you should be able to see some progress there soon. Below are a couple of pictures of one of the bookmarks I have recently made. I finished while we were on a short holiday and played a game of thread chicken to complete it without refilling a shuttle.

Just barely winning thread chicken on a pretty blue tatted bookmark. A Julie Paterson pattern, made in size 40 AleanaLea thread.
A close up picture of just how close this game of thread chicken was.
The finished tatted bookmark.

After a busy semester my family and I were pleased to be able to take a short holiday in country Victoria. We stayed at a beautifully restored, absolutely charming, at deco holiday house for a few days. It was just the thing we needed to unwind and reconnect. Here are some pictures of the lovely house, and view from the window.

Cosy lounge room in the holiday accommodation.
Pretty window with lovely geometric glass panels.
Very pretty view from the front windows! I think this is a Rosella in the tree.
Everything in the house was carefully curated.
Oh, and the house was pet friendly too. Here is Micah, our Cairn Terrier, looking like the king of the castle on his cushion.

Well, this house inspired another project, and I will write my next post about it soon.

Until then, happy crafting.

Fiona T

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Finishing lock down projects part 4

Hello again friends. I keep looking through my photo gallery and craft cupboard and finding more items I worked on last year. I will continue to blog them over the next few weeks. This week I’ll cast back to show a comparative project: the same pattern made in a plain and a variegated thread. The pattern is Linda. S. Davies “oval doily in Ecru” it uses split rings and split chains, reducing the number of ends to deal with. Link to Linda’s clever design here: http://toptattyhead.blogspot.com/http://toptattyhead.blogspot.com/ look on the right of the page for free pattern links, and click on oval doily. This will download the pdf instantly for you. Thanks Linda for an amazing pattern.

I made this variegated version a couple of years ago. I love it as it reminds me of confetti or fairy sprinkles. I blogged about the finished version here: https://onemadtatter.wordpress.com/2019/10/06/winner-of-spring-craft-give-away/

I have recently finished the solid colour version of this. The thread is altin basak 50 in a fuschia colour.

I like how both of these have turned out. I might try one with the combination of variegated and solid colours that I am starting to use on more of these larger doilies. The only problem will be when using a split ring to climb out of a round, the ring will be a combination of colours. I’m sure I can figure out a way around this problem, as I really like how the variegated thread can make the solid colour pop, like in this “Amanda” doily from Laura Bziukiewicz on face book.

Amanda doily pattern from Laura Bziukiewicz on Facebook, thread is size 40 variegated wildflower and solid lilac from AlenaLea tatting on Etsy.

I enjoyed making these doilies. As always, the joy of tatting is in the process; choosing thread and colours, choosing the right size and type of shuttle, winding the shuttle, beginning the rings and chains, feeling every stitch form under my fingers, sliding the stitches to make the ring, snugging up the stitches to get the chain to curve the right way, holding my breath to make sure the split rings or chains don’t knot as I make them, relief when I climb out with a faux picot, and when it is all complete that feeling of pride at the heirloom I have made. Then, the inevitable longing to start the next project and do it all again!

I wonder what aspects of tatting, or crafting, keep you enthralled?

Until next time, happy tatting

Fiona T

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Finishing lock down projects part 3

Some of my favourite projects are for my family. This crochet dress was started before lockdown for my niece, who was four at the time. I began by following a pattern in the Better Homes and Garden’s magazine, and using some beautiful Bendigo Wool Mills Imperial blend. As the dress grew, the wool was just too heavy to be practical as a dress for a five year old.

So I changed tack, pulled out the dress and got my mother in law to help make a cotton fabric dress to attach to the neckline. This made a beautiful long dress, which I worked on a little more with my mum to hem, using her over locker. I also made a little dress to match for my niece’s favourite bunny. My niece loved it, and has called it her wedding dress! So cute, and I will take it as a great compliment!

Speaking of weddings, during last year one of my nephew’s got engaged and set the wedding for December 2020. With lockdowns we were unable to attend the wedding, as it was in another state. So I got to tatting a “something blue” to send over for the bride to be. This blue handkerchief was in my stash, along with the matching pale blue size 80 lizbeth thread. I began by crocheting a header row around the hem-spoke edge, and tatted directly onto the crochet. The tatting will outlast the hanky, and so the crochet row can be cut away in future and the tatted edge reattached to another handkerchief or cloth if needed. I hope this becomes a lovely family heirloom. We are hoping to visit the happy couple as soon as we are all immunised for covid 19, and so able to fly interstate again.

I enjoyed both of these projects for family members, and hope they are enjoyed for a while to come. Until next time, happy crafting,

Fiona T

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Finishing lockdown projects part 2

Last week I blogged about some of the craft I had begun or completed during the pandemic.  Today I’ll show a few more pictures of finished projects.  But first here is a project that has been in the naughty corner for a couple of years, the tatted clock.  I am abandoning this one for now,  as the final step was to join all the pieces together. There was one major problem,  the centre of the doily is too small for the clock work to fit through. Back to the naughty corner for it, for now.

Next, this crochet project brought me great joy to be a part of. The Scheepjes Natural History CAL 2020 was a wonderful crafting  experience.  I have tried over the last few years to join these CALs, but trying to fit it in with family,  work and writing my PhD just didn’t work.  Finally,  despite the pandemic, I was able to make the time to spend each week with the CAL, and Esther’s fabulous video tutorials. It took me until the beginning of March to finish the whole blanket,  and I loved every minute of it. 

It was based on the book “All the light we cannot see” By Anthony Doerr. It ticked all of my science, history, museum and craft interest boxes, so I had to take part in the read along and crochet along too. I found myself wondering,  more than once,  just what the main character, who is blind,  would interpret from the richly textured blanket we created. 

I enjoyed the journey of making this blanket, from receiving my kit in the mail, to using the stonewashed wool for the first time, to changing the little elephant motif to dinosaurs for a section of the blanket, as some creative people shared their ideas for adaptations on the international facebook group. You can find out more from: https://www.scheepjes.com/en/cals-and-mals/scheepjes-cals/scheepjes-cal-2020/information/

My completed Scheepjes Mineralogy Natural History Museum CAL completed blanket.

I’m now picking up my ubuntu kit again, and hope to make some visible progress there too. I’ve also completed the fuschia doily, so will blog about that journey next time.

Until next time, happy crafting,

Fiona T

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2021- finishing off lockdown projects

It is fair to say living through a global pandemic has put us all in a bit of a spin. What were normal routines have been disrupted by lockdowns and uncertainty. I live in Melbourne, so we had extended periods of severe restrictions and lockdowns across 2020. I was relieved to be able to work from home, learning to teach my secondary students remotely. Like many of you, my crafty friends, I was also appreciative of having my crafts at hand to support my mental well being.

I was crafting regularly, but found at different times I couldn’t concentrate on some patterns. So I scaled down my expectations and used some basic patterns to make sure I could still get my crafting fix. I’ve ended up with at least one of each of a basic knitted, crochet and tatting project on the go at most times across the last year.

I have realised that I didn’t blog much at all last year. I did spend a lot of time on various projects, and photographed many of them, but just didn’t get around to the blogging part. Over the next few weeks I will share some of my projects.

Near the beginning of the year I was lucky enough to win a shuttle give away from Lorraine Kolusa for valentine’s day. It took a while for the shuttle to travel across the world, but when it arrived I was really happy to have such a lovely shuttle in my care. I had wound it thinking I would use it for Jon’s Threads that bind doily, but have ended up using it more recently for Laura’s Amanda doily.

The beautiful Valentine Shuttle
Valentine shuttle loaded and ready to tat.
Amanda Doily from Laura Bziukiewicz on Facebook. Made in size 40 thread, mauve lizbeth colour 632 and Alenalea wildflower.

I also made two lovely crocheted items with Scheepjes whirls. First a Grinda Shawl, made in a woolly whirl for my Mum.

Grinda Shawl in progress

And second a granny square baby blanket for a family friend. I was going to use the bakewell blanket pattern, but it was one that was too complicated for me during the second lockdown. Though I did manage the bakewell pattern during the first lockdown.

A successful bakewell baby blanket, in an acrylic 8ply.

I also had some knitting projects, with an “in threes” baby jacket and three knitted “can I borrow that” scarves which I made as part of a knit along through Unwind cafe.

That’s probably enough for today’s blog. I’ll upload some more projects soon.

Happy crafting,

Fiona T

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