Book review ‘Tuesday Evenings with the Copeton Craft Resistance’

I don’t often review novels, but I loved reading this book and want to help other crafty people find books they may enjoy. I hope to do a few more posts about the cozy mystery series I enjoy reading, though many of them have been out for years and the book in this post is very new.

I recently read the newly released book ‘Tuesday Evenings with the Copeton Craft Resistance‘, by Kate Solly. (The linked book title will take you to the back cover matter.) I usually enjoy reading cozy mysteries, focusing on crafting and solving puzzles. This novel was a nice change to that genre but it still had crafting and community at its core.

The book’s characters live in a fictional outer Melbourne town called Copeton. Each of the women and men in this story have a different reason for joining the crochet group, organised by Meredith. We are introduced to Meredith first in the book, having an insight into her work life, and exploring her reasons for starting the crochet group. As we meet other characters we are drawn into the complexities of their work lives, home lives, families and perceived failings. With news that a group of refugees is to be housed in the town, tensions rise in the community. The craft resistance forms as a way of expressing solidarity with the new citizens, and forging bonds with existing citizens. I really enjoyed the characters, who were presented as three-dimensional people with their own pasts, fears and hopes. The story included a few home truths, some great plot twists, insights into the complexity of building new relationships, and some laugh-out-loud moments too. I won’t give too much else away, but I will urge you to read this book. At the end, although the ends were tied up nicely, I still wanted to read more about what happened next for the group. I hope Kate Solly writes another book soon, as it was a joy to read.

Since moving to an e-reader for most of my books, I have found that I am reading so much more. One reason for the shift was that book prices and shipping times of many of the cozy mysteries I used to get from the US are too expensive now. Another reason is that I can adjust the brightness and font sizes for reading in any setting. Having books on my phone means I don’t do quite as much facebook scrolling, and have much more incidental reading time with a few minutes here and there, as well as evenings. I have also found some old favourite authors and some new ones too, and hope to blog about them soon.

Until next time

Happy crafting

Fiona T


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Miniature clothes for Barbie

Welcome to another blog post. My last few crafting posts have shared items I made in 2022, and never got around to blogging. This year I am trying to get my blog organised, and document more of my crafting life. During 2022 I delved into more miniature knitting. I decided to make some clothes for my Neice’s Barbie dolls, as a birthday gift. I really enjoyed the process, from hunting down vintage pattern books on eBay and Etsy, locating patterns for top-down jumpers on Ravelry and making these items on my Addi crasy trio needles, and chiagoo miniature lace needles. I also got to dive into my Bendigo Wool Mills 4ply cotton stash, which I bought specifically for making dolls, toys and accessories.

A Barbie Ball dress from a vintage pattern in BWM 4ply cotton. I added some tatted snowflakes and trim. This whole piece took about 30 hours to make.
A Barbie ball dress in plain purple, BWM 4ply cotton. This piece took about 12 hours to make.
Two barbie sized jumpers, knitted top down in the round using BWM 4ply cotton. These were from a miniature jumper pattern I found on Ravelry. Each jumper took about 12 hours to make.
A barbie sized cable cardigan and hat, from a vintage knitting pattern book, made in 8ply wool with straight needles. The sleeves were set in later, and it was very fiddly to put together. This took around 15 hours to make.

The following photos are captioned to outline some of the creative processes, and problems, I encountered.

Measuring up the tatted trim as it was being made, against the base of the blue ball gown.
Connecting the tatted trim to the base of the Blue ball gown.
Miniature snowflakes to attach to the blue ball gown.
Blue ball dress with bottom lace trim complete, and the snowflakes being placed to attach.
Sewing together the cable cardigan. Definitely a labour of love. Construction of this item was very fiddly. As I am used to top-down construction, it took a few tries, some youtube tutorials and chats with my Mum and Mother in Law to figure out how to place and sew the set-in sleeves. This item made me grateful for the top-down and bottom-up construction pieces we have access to today.
Front of the cable cardigan.
The back of the cable cardigan.
Orange jumper in progress, body complete and about to move back to the sleeves.
Orange jumper. Whoops- I somehow reversed the sleeve stitches to make a purl row. a bit of tinking (Backwards knitting) was needed to go back and fix this.
The orange jumper complete. So cute!
My barbie modelling the first jumper I made, it was a little short in the sleeve, so the green jumper I made with slightly longer sleeves.
Green jumper before the sleeves were separated.
Green jumper on Miniature cable needles. This view shows the sleeve increase points by using the tiny stitch markers.
Top-down knitting in action. The green jumper with sleeves separated and body nearly complete.

I did enjoy making these items, and my niece and family were enthralled with the detail and work put into them. I learned a lot about jumper construction, which has built my confidence to get back to my own top-down knitted jumper in possum blend that I began a while ago. More about that jumper another time.

Happy crafting

Fiona T

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A window project

Over our Summer holidays we enjoyed watching the new series “Wednesday”. As soon as I saw the stained glass window, I could see it as a doily and knew I had to tat it. It could also be a crocheted doily, but that is a project for another day.

I found that I had some appropriately coloured threads for this in my stash, and so I set to developing a pattern. I ended up using a lot of split rings, both single shuttle and using two shuttles. There were a couple of stumbling blocks, when things didn’t quite line up, or went a bit out of shape.

I had hoped to make a bigger doily, but with size 40 thread in the right colours (Black is Milford mercerised and the colourful one is Summer Rainbow from AlenaLea designs on Etsy) and me just wanting to get the idea down and try it, I think this has made a pretty coaster or suncatcher. I may write up a pattern, but it was reasonably fiddly to make and I’m not sure how to explain it all easily on paper (yet). The photos below show key points in my construction of this pretty window.

The first idea for the outer rings as single shuttle split rings, which didn’t work as there were joins to the main arms. I ended up winding an additional shuttle and just making normal split rings.
A close up of where I had to admit defeat, when the single shuttle split ring could not close. I realised there were too many small peices and ends to sew in. Time to cut away and start over.
Using split rings for the rainbow outside window border, much faster and neater progress here.
The window is complete here, but looks a bit wobbly. Time to block it!
Lots of pins to block this small peice. I wanted to make sure the chains curved the right way to look like a web.
The final piece looks much neater, and pretty too. This is now a coaster size, and I think it could be adapted to make a smaller pendant.

I started designing this about a month ago, and am pleased that I now have a finished peice to then tweak this pattern further. If there is enough interest, I will try and write up the pattern, too.

Until next time, happy tatting

Fiona T


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Make it so! Amigurumi crochet and a few other gifts

At the end of 2022 a few of my work colleagues moved on to different schools. Some of these people had become my close friends during the last three years, and I took the time to handmade some gifts. There was also a birthday and a new baby, so lots of gifts to make.

I was particularly eager to make this amigurumi Star trek Picard for one colleague, who had many nerdy chats about Star Trek with me. I did tat a tardis for him, but then rethought it as he really loves Captain Picard, so made that instead. I enjoyed making this item, and the simplicity as it was all made in one piece. The pattern was from: He really loved it!

I found this lovely Paton’s sierra at Unwind Craft Cafe when I went shopping with my sister-in-law. The colours are so beautiful and reminded me of the colours another colleague would often wear to work. I used a cowl pattern that Unwind had paired with this yarn, and was really happy with how this simple knit played out.

For my colleague who ran academic book clubs for us to stay connected during lock-down, I tatted one of my favourite bookmarks, Julie Patterson’s Petals Variation pattern. The thread is AlenAlea Design’s size 40 in summer rainbow.

All of my crafting was not focused on those leaving work. I also tatted a golden dragon from Anne Bruvold’s pattern for one of my Son’s friend’s birthdays near the end of the year. This is Altin Basak size 50 thread, and the metallic thread in it usually annoyed me, so it was in a naughty drawer and only used for Angelina trimmings. However, I quite enjoyed making this little dragon, even though I had to keep a close eye on my tension so as to be able to close the rings and not break the thread.

Another dear colleague became a Grandmother near the end of the year, and so I brought in a few items I had on hand, as well as finishing off another Bakewell blanket for her to gift to her new grandchild. The blanket is made in a Schepjees whirl, Lemon cassis cream colourway, one of my favourites. Recent increases in shipping costs will likely make Scheepjes yarn difficult to source in Australia soon, so my little stash of whirls is going to be used sparingly. The other clothes and booties are assorted bamboo, cotton and acrylics, which I prefer to use for baby items as they are less likely to trigger an allergy.

So, that is a summary of some of the gifts I made in the last few months of 2022. Other gifts included knitting miniature doll clothes for another birthday, and I will post about that soon.

What have been your favourite items to craft and gift?

Until next time, happy crafting

Fiona T

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Christmas tatting

Another project from 2022 was beginning to make some tatted baubles for a work Christmas “Kris Kringle” present. I bought these plastic baubles quite a few years ago now, and decided that it was time to make some snowflake topped baubles.

The patterns are all Alenalea Design’s, bought from her etsy shop a few years ago also. I used a Milford Mercerised cotton in size 20 to make these, as the pattern states. I also blocked the tatting onto the baubles, to help them sit well, as advised in the pattern.

These took just over a week of evenings for me to complete. As they were small items, and it was summer here, I was able to block them overnight. They were fun to make and I would really like to make more this Christmas as gifts, or maybe even for my own tree.

Until next time, happy tatting

Fiona T

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Variegated thread joy

It has been a while since my last post, and a lot has happened in the last 12 months in my crafting life. I’ve been delving into knitting and crocheting miniatures, doing a bit more tatting design and pattern writing alongside working full time. We have also been creating a craft room space for me to use, and I will post about that very soon. I hope to share more of these adventures with you over the next few months.

Recently I have been exploring the use of variegated threads in my tatting. I usually use them as an element alongside a solid colour. Over January, our Summer holidays, I began a doily just using variegated threads. I am enjoying working with the threads and seeing the joyful tones play against each other. The doily is the Kay monster doily, from the amazing AlenAlea designs, as are the beautiful threads. Here is an image of the first few rounds, which are in a purple and grey tone, the next rounds will be in Stormy Lavander, then through to some greens, browns and terracotta tones.

I have also been working on my Lagniappe, designed by Mike Lyons, which I am making in a rainbow colour palette. I have moved through the red and the orange, and am now in a yellow section, and have hit a small road block in my planning of colours as I don’t think the section I have planned to be green will be visible enough. I hope to get back to it soon.

Until next time, happy tatting

Fiona T

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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:

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

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: by Georgie Nicolson

Premmie hats: easy peasy new born sock hat by Knitty Gritty Thoughts

Swirl hats: by Mandie Harrington

Bakewell Blanket: by Jollijenii and Chlola

Until next time, happy crafting

Fiona T

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