Celtic Bookmarks

Ever since someone put a photograph of one of my Celtic coasters on Pinterest I have had about three weeks of hundreds of people every day coming to look at the pattern. Even now it seems to be over one hundred.

I know that a thread bookmark will appeal to far fewer people but it did make me think that it might be worth revisiting my Celtic bookmarks.

My original bookmark was this.(I can’t find it at present so it is probably keeping a place in a book somewhere!)

I did find that it was a bit floppy even when sprayed with starch so this time I decided to move away from my original idea of choosing four stitches for a crossover point and used the three stitches that I used for the coasters to ensure there were no gaps.

This gave me. I found that this was naturally stiffer and was probably not worth starching.

If you look closer I think you can see that the white part shows you the ‘right’ side of the crochet whereas the red shows the ‘wrong’ side. I quite liked this as it means that the bookmark doesn’t itself have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ side and the pattern for both parts is the same.

However I did sit down and work out a pattern for the second piece so that you could have both pieces showing the ‘right’ side.

When I created the original I liked the idea of choosing to make a configuration that needed two pieces.

[For Celtic plaits this width, there are only two main possibilities: that of two strands or one. More about the variations at the end for those who may be interested.]

However as the corners at the side come in pairs, the colours were not as separate as I might have liked so I decided to see what could be done with a version that came in one piece.

[It might be worth mentioning, even now, that if you count the right angled corners down the side and this is an even number you will get two separate strands and if it is an odd number you will always get one.]

I had chosen eight corners for the original bookmark as I thought that it gave the right proportions for a bookmark and so I decided to chose nine for my one piece bookmark.

This is what the strip looks like when it is finished.I thought that a totally plain bookmark would be boring and wouldn’t show off the plaitwork to best effect and so I decided to add a dc (US-sc) edging. I had increased the number of stiches per crossing back to four.

(This didn’t work with this strip as it still made it to wide to fold together easily so I took it off and tried adding slip stitches.)

This gave me the red and white bookmark in this photo.I thought that this was reminiscent of this style of plaitwork in my book. However I still wanted to try a dc edging so I increased the number of stitches for a crossing to five. (I made a slight adjustment to the ends too.)

This gave me the following. which is larger but I rather liked.

Here is a size comparison with some of the many bookmarks that I own. The leather bookmark on the left is rather large, more suitable for a large book like a bible, but I often use the two papyrus ones in my library books; so you can see that they are all useable.

Of course these bookmarks are twice as thick as my other crochet bookmarks (Find them HERE) because of the crossing over and in fact when you add the slip stitches that makes them slightly thicker again. Still useable I think.

Now before you leave off reading I would like to ask a couple of questions.

  • Which bookmark do you like best? (If you like any!)
  • Do you think it is worth publishing the pattern for any of them? If so which ones?

Thank you!

More about the different types of plaits

Really you can think of there being four different types of plait of this width which depend on the number of right-angled corners up the side.

The two odd ones of the four are really the same but with an even number they do show subtle differences, as you can see in this picture.

There are two main differences.


If the even number is divisible by four there are same number of corners of each colour on both sides. If the number is not divisible by four there is an extra pair of each colour on opposite sides.


From a crochet point of view it makes a difference to the 180 deg turn-around points.

The dark line represent your initial chain and as you can see for the number divisible by four the chain is on the inside of all the turn-around points.

Where the number is not divisible by four the chain is inside for one and outside for the other. It is worth noting that this also happens for the odd numbered ones where you get one of each, each end.

Also note

The extra picture at the bottom (compare with top left) is to highlight the fact that these plaits do have a handedness and although I have chosen one of them that the same piece of crochet could be used to make either. Though you would want to put the join in a different place!


Monthly Montage February

Lately I have had so many other posts to share that this is a bit delayed but finally here is my February Montage.

In February, I began by showing a large number of photographs of bees I had taken in the Autumn. Then I showed you a floor cloth I had crocheted, even though it was mundane and my crochet orchids. Later I shared a pattern, including a chart, showing how to make the orchids.

Lastly I showed you the hat I had made to match the cowl and told you about some of the tribulations I had had along the way.

One a week Photo Challenge – Historical

It wasn’t too hard to find a photograph for this subject so here it is:- This is from the displays of things from the Mary Rose. This is a slightly cut down photograph from the original post HERE. A collection of items needed by a ship’s surgeon.

I also looked out this photograph that wasn’t included in the original post: less interesting perhaps but I rather liked it.

More Fair Isle experiments

Because yes, the cowl and hat were in their own way experiments in knitting fair isle.

Now, looking back, I don’t think that my parents were very good teachers, though I learnt a lot by watching them. However my mother knitted too fast for me to learn much by watching and so fair isle knitting was a matter of picking up that you used two colours for a row and twisted them together every so often so you didn’t have long hanging strands but also twisted them back the other way so the yarns didn’t get tangled plus seeing the back of my mother’s fair isle.

As in this photograph. 0548-mothers-fairisle-reverseWhen I tried, even years later when I was an adult and was desperate to learn, what tended to happen was that the stitches were very uneven and the foreground colour tended to pull. As well, I could never sort out a method of twisting the yarn that I could remember, so at the end of the row the yarns were wound round each other many times.

0548-my-fairisle-reverseFor the cowl and hat I let myself have strands across the back for one to three stitches and so there wasn’t the same pulling.

Deciding to put the balls of yarn, one on the right and one on the left helped to remember which was which and I soon started to think of the one on the right as the ‘top’ yarn and the one on the left as the ‘lower’ yarn.

Having later read about fair isle on line I found that this was a distinction that was made.

And thus I learnt to twist the top yarn ‘under’ the other and then on the following stitch to pull it over again and so lose the twist. Doing the opposite for the lower yarn.

Now it was time to see if I could knit fair isle like my mother

In THIS POST I talk about how I was using the English way of knitting for the right hand yarn and the continental for the left, although picking up the yarn continental fashion hurt my wrist.

But now I decided to hold both yarns in my right hand, holding the yarn with three fingers while the forefinger separated the two yarns and the thumb helped with the twisting.

I started with a circular needle as then every row would be knit. 0556-circular-knitting-right-sideI used the checkerboard pattern my mother had used for the knitting bag and some of the patterns from my plan for the hat, including the one I didn’t use. The reverse looks like this. 0556-circular-knitting-reverseI was pleased that it looked as if I had finally cracked it! So I decided to undo my sample and knit up some more fair isle with straight needles. 0556-flat-knitting-right-sideand the reverse. 0556-flat-knitting-reverseIt took me a while to feel comfortable with the purl rows. In the end I decided that treating the right hand yarn as if it was the lower yarn for the purl side and vice versa seemed the most natural.

All I need now is a reason to knit something which requires fair isle knitting! Plain colours next time though so that the patterns show more clearly.


For anyone who like me finds the instruction of twisting yarn for fair isle that merely says twist clockwise and then twist in the opposite direction is not helpful enough here is what I do.

When I am using the left hand ‘lower’ yarn and wanting to make a twist, I pull a loop of the yarn back towards me under the other (right hand – top yarn) and use this yarn to wind round the needle, thus moving it above the other. For the next stitch I pull the main part of the yarn and knit with that. Restoring the status quo.

When knitting with the right hand ‘top’ yarn I pull a loop forward under the other yarn and knit with that, then pull the main yarn up and over and knit as normal. This removes any twist.

This way you undo the twist as soon as you make it and so never have to remember what you did last time.

If you want to twist frequently like my mother used to do this is the way I think of it.

If all you are doing is knitting one stitch of a colour in a sequence, you knit as normal. If you are knitting two stitches you knit the one after the other as described above. For three or more stitches: if it is an even number you simply work every two stitches as above. For odd numbers work the first stitch as normal that the rest of the stitches as for an even number.


Another peak at my garden

I was pleased to find that the primroses at the front of the middle flower bed are now all in flower. Here’s a closer look.   The same person who gave me the primroses, when she was clearing an area of her garden, also gave me some violets.

They seem to have survived less well. (They were all enmeshed in the primroses when I got them!)

But I was pleased to find that at least one had produced some flowers. In the herb bed some of the scilla siberica that were part of my earlier planting seem to have survived the upheaval.And the taller daffodils are now in flower. But I am not entirely happy with these as they were sold to me as ‘February Gold’ which I love because of the swept back outer ring of petals that these seem to lack.

As you can see here in a photograph I took of the ones in a pot in the front. And my latest addition: some golden sage to replace the broad-leaved sage that was getting a bit old and was out of proportion in my tiny garden. Not that my younger daughter considers it a garden to her it is little more than a ‘patio’ and there is some merit in her opinion I suppose.

One a week Photo Challenge – Spiral

Finding it hard to find time to join in with this years Photo Challenge but here are a couple of photographs on the subject of ‘spiral’.

Not the best photograph maybe but then we were in process of going down the stairs and not meant to be stopping! The better spiral one though.There was a mirror in the centre at the bottom.

This is the one I shared as part of my Danube trip. Same staircase looking up rather than down. Perhaps you can see how that creates the reflection in the previous photograph.

I myself am rather partial to multiple spirals. Like this bedcover my mother made for me. And the cloth I made for my dining table. Snowflake cloth

Do you remember the seahorses?

Three months ago I made some crochet seahorses 0535-all-four-seahorsesFrom this pattern, though the lavender one is my own hybrid mix of the two patterns.

I wanted to display them somewhere and thought they would make a perfect hanging for a bathroom.

With all the other things I have been wanting to make it has taken a while but finally:-

Here is the hanging display all set up on my bathroom wall.  0555-sea-horse-display

Monthly Montage January

I suddenly realised that here it was March and I hadn’t done a Monthly Montage for January or February.

So here at least is January’s.

In January I was able to show you the Womble and little bear I had made as Christmas presents. I also did a review of my more recent offerings for Monochrome Madness and the knitting & crochet and other crafting I had done in 2016. I told you that I was only planning to post once a week in order to leave more time for other things but managed to finish my temperature scarf and a fair isle cowl.

Garden update

The weather has been fairly wet lately but last Thursday it was bright and sunny and going out into the garden I realised that just everything was springing into life. So I went out and did some necessary pruning and took a few photographs.

Last Autumn I planted a clematis on the right hand side of the garden. It is called Diana’s Delight and as with all the clematis I planted, shouldn’t get much bigger than a couple of metres.0553-clematisI have just pruned it as they say you should and hope to get an even better showing this year.

Before Christmas I planted an apple tree. I bought it mail order as I couldn’t find what I wanted at the local garden centre and it had more branches than I expected but it looks good and sturdy. It is a self-fertile Cox on M27 rooting stock. The same as I had before.

I took this photograph in February after I had pruned it. 0553-apple-treeAnother photograph I took in February was of the Lenten rose I had just planted. 0553-helleboresYou can also see the two Christmas roses I had planted before Christmas that were now dying off.

These are on the left side of the garden in the shady bed. 0553-shady-bedYou can see that the Lenten rose now has more flowers.

At the far end are a couple of clematis I planted before Christmas. I have put eggshells round (as I do) to discourage slugs from having a nibble! One of these should be grapefruit scented. I wait in hope! The bare patch next to them is where I should have lily of the valley later.

In the forefront are snowdrops and pulmonaria. 0553-snowdrops-and-pulmonariaWhen I lowered the height of the bed I replanted all the snowdrop bulbs I found and replanted any pulmonaria seedlings I found around the garden. (They do seem to seed themselves, even at quite a distance away!)

However with using up the earth I removed from the bed elsewhere, I see that I have a couple of snowdrops show up under the apple tree. 0553-snow-drop-under-apple-treeThe right hand, sunny, side of the garden is beautifully colourful now. 0553-sunny-bedsHere is a closer look at the herb bed. 0553-herb-bedYou can see the rosemary and thyme in the middle and now I have crocus and daffodils. The touch of red on the left is the remains of some winter pansies I put in to avoid having a bare patch where some lavender will be planted.

The best looking crocus are in the other small island bed though. 0553-crocusThere are lots of other things as well.

This is a photo I took when the sun was really bright. 0553-small-bedOn the right you can see the garlic and one of the three Christophe alliums that I am very fond of. 0553-garlic-and-aliumGarlic is about my only culinary crop because it is so easy. Mind you I just take a few cloves out of the fridge and they don’t grow very big.

In the foreground above you can see my patio rose: Dream Lover. It should be bee friendly and scented!0553-patio-roseThe spikes and the slate are to discourage cats from doing you know what!

The middle bed at the back is the least interesting to look at, at this time of year but this is the sedum that I reduced and replanted. 0553-transplanted-sedumI also replanted the primroses that someone gave me last autumn. 0553-primrosesMaybe I should have put them in the other way round. The flowers don’t want to look at me!

And underneath the fuchsia I found that there was still one of the Springtime cyclamen I planted a few years ago. 0553-spring-cyclamen

I hope you enjoyed a little Springtime peak at my garden. I must go out soon and buy the lavender and a daphne I want, as they become available.


Just add a Hat!

After I made the cowl, I decided to offer it to my daughter as I still have all the hats and scarves that have featured on this blog and much as I love the cowl, I wasn’t sure if I really needed it.

However, I also had about half the yarn left and thought that it would be fun to make a hat to match the cowl. My daughter said that she would like a hat as well so I only hope her head is the same size as mine! 0553-hat

Now when I say match, I wasn’t going to use the same fair isle patterns as the cowl except for the rib. Google is always good for ideas and I copied out some of my favourites.

Traditional fair isle patterns normally have vertical or horizontal symmetry or both but some of the designs on the cowl only have rotational symmetry so I wanted to incorporate some of those. 0548-chart-for-cowlI am very fond of the Greek Key pattern so I included that early on for the hat.

Although I worked on the design on my computer, I copied it out onto squared paper to use a guide.0553-new-pattern

In the event I decided not to use both of the blue zig-zag on green parts of the design and replaced the second with a smaller purple on green section. (I didn’t use the last red and green part at all.)

Now what have I learned in the process of making this hat? Well a couple of things!


If you are planning on making a hat it is much easier if you start with a pattern.

I started with the idea that the cowl although it slipped over the head easily was quite snug so the same number of stitches would be a good place to start. I did use a smaller 3.75 (UK 10) circular needle for the rib but it was not until I had got fairly far on and was wondering if now was the time to start decreasing that I thought a pattern might help to make sure I got it right.

So I spent hours trawling through fair isle hat patterns on Ravelry only to find a whole variety of needle sizes and tensions even for DK yarn and a wide range of stitch counts and increasing and decreasing. None of them that fitted in with what I was doing!

I found a decreasing look that I liked in the photographs which involved: skip two stitches, knit one, pass both slipped stitches over.

However I did not like the look so much when I had knitted it so it had to come out. I had also chosen six decreases a round and since it seemed best to have one of these decreases mid back where the row changed, I didn’t like the slight point at the front.

Now life was so busy last week that I didn’t feel up to taking a photograph so you will have to imagine.

So I undid back to before the decreasing (more on this in a moment) and tried again.

This time I chose seven decreases a round – easy as 19 x 7 is only one more than 132.

But then came the moment of truth. The hat was going to be too big! 😦 I was a bit unhappy that I had to remove the purple and green bit that I had thought of as leaves and a sort of parallel to the leaf pattern in the cowl but it had to be done! So using the same method I had used before I decided I would have to reduce the length by a couple of inches.

Here is a quick photograph I took with my phone at Crafty Coffee on Friday when I was just beginning to pull out those two inches. 0553-ready-to-undoSince the method I used is something that worked well. I thought I would mention it for anyone who finds it helpful.

This is the second thing I learned

Risk free way of undoing several rows without doing it stitch by stitch.

I heard (reading US blogs I think) of people putting in ‘life lines’ when they were knitting in case they needed to undo part of it later. I wasn’t sure what they were but it gave me an idea.

I took a needle and a piece of thin string and carefully went under the front part of every stitch on the row I wanted to go back to. (I chose a row where I was only using one colour.) I counted the stitches to make sure I had the right number then took a circular needle and threaded it through the same stitches and counted again. I then felt confident enough to remove the original circular needle. Finally I removed the string. In the photograph you can see how it looked just before I removed the string. I then undid the rows and sure enough when that was done all the stitches were neatly on the needle ready for me to start knitting again.

I added in a couple of rows in blue and then decreased after a red row. Originally I had thought I would just use two or more of the colours as stripes for the top but then I realised that I needed to continue the fair isle patterns to make the top as thick (and warm!) as the rest. 0553-top-of-hat

This time I decreased by a combination of K2tog through back loops and a normal K2tog.

And here are the hat and cowl together. 0553-hat-and-cowl

I still have about a quarter of the wool left but I don’t think it would be enough for mittens!