It is definitely spring here. The birds are singing their hearts out. And the plum trees are flowering.

And for once I have managed to get anenomes to flower. In past years I have nursed and cossetted them without result. This time I got a free packet of corms and stuck them in any old how and left them to it, not expecting them to survive.


Split Stitch Embroidery

This is a piece of embroidery done by me many years ago. It was a copy of a piece of Opus Anglicanum - a type of embroidery worked around the time of the 13th century in England and famous throughout Europe. It was used for ecclesiastical work at that time.

My piece was worked, as the originals were, in split stitch. I used silk thread.


Back again

Apologies for the gap in posting. Unfortunately the bad cold I had turned into bronchitis, which is now improving - touch wood - again, so though not yet up and dressed, I am at least able to get on my feet for some of the time.

Yesterday was my husband's day off (he works weekends) and I spotted him playing with Ginger and managed to get a rare action shot of Ginger. He had jumped to the roof of the dollshouse and was about to grab for the bunch of feathers on a bit of elastic that my husband was flicking for him.



I'm in bed with a real stinker of a cold today so here is one from my album.

I made a pair of vests with different pictures about 30 years ago but can only find a photo of one of them just now.

Because it would have been too expensive to buy balls of knitting wool in the number of colours needed, I used tapestry wool instead, and only bought knitting wool for the background. This is helpful in any situation where you only need a very small amount of a colour - after all, you can use it doubled or tripled to achieve the required thickness.


What I was making 30 years ago

A couple of pictures from my album of things I made in the early 1980s. I made plenty of things before that but don't have photographs of them.

At that time I was living in Japan and watching the daily tv programme on crafts (there was a half hour of cookery and a half hour of crafts every morning, repeated in the evening.)

The bag was one of the projects. I couldn't, at that  time, get any lace except white, so I dyed the lace myself and I was pleased with how it came out. The body of the bag is velvet.

This was a formal little evening jacket, again a project from the tv programme.

It was sleeveless so I was able to make it from a remnant - I was short of money at the time.

I still think the combination of trapunto and embroidery and beading is unusual and very successful.


Beginner's Blanket Squares

At the moment I am churning out blanket squares for Japan (For anyone in the UK who is interested, details can be found on the London UK Ravellers group on ravelry.)

It occurred to me to offer some hints for those teaching beginner knitters. One of the first things I ever knitted as a child was a blanket square for Biafra.

There are lots of ways of making squares and any experienced knitter probably has their own favourite, but this is the easiest for beginners. It requires the ability to make a slip stich and put it on the needle, to make a knit stitch, and to make a single increase (of any kind) and a single decrease (of any kind) at the start of a row. It does not need any particular tension or even a tension that stays the same. And it can be done in any yarn.

To start, make a slip knot and put it on the needle.

From this point every row is: increase 1 stitch (by any method), knit to the end of the row.

Continue until the side edge is the required length. Beginners (especially children) tend to pull their knitting out as far as it will go when measuring so it may be a good idea to suggest a measurement slightly larger than the one you actually want!

When the required point is reached, break the yarn leaving a long tail, and knot it together with a new yarn close to the end of the row. I suggest this because having one colour for the increases and a different colour for the decreases means beginners are less likely to get muddled as to which they should be doing. Also it makes the blankets look good when sewn up.

From this point, every row is decrease one stitch (by any method) and knit all the stitches to the end of the row.

When only one stitch is left, cut the yarn leaving a long tail and pass it through the stitch left on the needle (in any direction).

It is a good idea to show beginners that the two sides of the square will not be exactly the same in the middle. Otherwise they may think they have made a mistake.

When sewn together as a blanket this difference is not noticable.


Lacey Blankie

This is the Lacey Blankie pattern from Heartstrings.

As I wanted a lap quilt rather than a blanket I used thinner yarn than suggested and made a smaller version.


Keeping cheerful

I am thankful to say that my husband's friends and family in Japan are all safe, but they, and we, are naturally still reeling from the shock of Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

So here are some spring photos taken in my garden this week.



My garden has decided it is spring! Here is the first daffodil.

Please do not ask me what this is called! I know I chose it and planted it some years ago but remembering its name is another matter entirely.

And isn't this cheerful!


Circular knitting needle case

Because of my arthritis I knit everything with circular needles (and a few double pointed ones which I keep in an old soap box - which scents the wooden needles nicely). Here is the case I made a few years ago for my circular needles.

There is a double layer of pockets at each point and I have written the needle size on in permanent marker. As you can see, I have safety-pinned a needle guage to the centre.


Textured Cardigan

This cardigan was a pattern in Interweave Knits a good many years ago. The only alteration I made was to add a different collar.

It is 100% cashmere and was made using an industrial yarn that was so fine I had to use 6 strands to achieve the thickness (a DK I think).

I love this cardigan and wear it so much. It has proved extraordinarily hard-wearing. I think this may be due to a combiation of knitting with multiple strands and the firm tension .

If it wears out, I will definately have to knit a replacement!


Circle of Life Shawl

I finished another shawl yesterday, and here it is in the blocking board. It is the Circle of Life shawl by Eugen Beugler. I made it in Fiddlestick's laceweight , 50%silk 50%merino wool. The colour is daffodil.

I really like the centre flower. Shawls are often let down by slightly messy centres, but this one is perfect.

I like geometrical patterns so this one was perfect for me. Most unusually for me I worked it exactly as the pattern says, from start to finish, and I am very happy with it.

I have already started my next shawl, of course!


Exhibition Japanese Calligraphy

One of my readers asked to see more of my husband's Japanese calligraphy, so here are photos of photos taken at exhibitions in Japan and China. The one above is the most recent piece. It won an award at an exhibition in China recently.

Here is a montage of other exhibition pieces. The picture of my husband and me was taken shortly after our wedding, thirty years ago. I wish we still looked like that!


Lace Stole

This is the Fine Lace Stole from Shetland Lace by Gladys Amedro. It is a very pretty light green, but this seems to be a colour the camera cannot cope with.

I knitted it a good many years ago in a very fine silk and cashmere yarn. It includes my two favourite lace patterns (shown above and below).

My one quibble with it is that the yarn I used was too fine so it is whisper light - to the point of providing no warmth whatsoever! If I was going to make it now I would use a slightly less fine yarn, with more cashmere in it. As it is, it is very pretty but too fragile for practical use.


Sewing Roll

I made this a good many years ago based on a project in one of the Australian craft magazines. It is very useful. The idea is thet you lay out your patchwork, applique, embroidery, etc. pieces on it and then you can roll it up without misplacing anything. The basis of it is one of those cardboard rolls you can get at the post-office for sending documents you don't want to fold. It is much the same idea as those rolls one sees advertised for jigsaws.

As you can see, I went to town on the embroidery. As far as I remember, there were bits of embroidery arranged like this on the original, but I thought they looked a bit skimpy so did my own thing!



I'm feeling seedy and miserable today - too many bits of me hurt and it is both cold and very windy. So here a couple of baby pictures of Tigger.


More Tatting

I am very fond of the patterns in Tatting a 4 square ring by Mary Maynard and have tatted  many of her designs, some of them many times. But I also seem to end up giving them away before I have got around to photographing them so I could only find two photos. And, needless to say, I have given both those pieces away so I will have to start again!



It seems to have rained for days on end. Now it has stopped raining and returned to wintry cold. So I thought I could do with a look forward to summer.

And here is Ginger, being deliberately cute - he's good at cute!