2016 – Looking back

Crochet: During the last year I have completed two different sides to make a cushion cover and a snuggle blanket for cold winter evenings, or even cooler summer ones! some shower puffs and an alternative that dries more quickly; though I didn’t keep these: they were more exercises. I also, as an exercise, worked up a crochet circle that was actually fairly circular rather than octagonal. And then there were the sea-horses that were rather fun to make and a pair of crochet socks to see how they compared to knitted ones. I have kept these and wear them frequently!2016-knitting-and-crochetI never do as much knitting and this year the main projects were a jumper/bed jacket and my temperature scarf that is finally finished. But having been given some red 4ply alpaca I also made a scarf for my daughter and a small cowl for myself.

I did find time for other crafting. Sewing a bean bag book or tablet support and a pair of trousers. Also in the sewing category I tried my hand at cross stitch and finding I could do it, I moved on to using it for some Christmas cards.2016-other-craftingI also made a never-ending card for a friend and some stitch markers. I have plans to make more of these. The only thing that can be considered a recipe was my tutorial on making marzipan fruits but I did also share photographs of some seasonal baking for Easter and Christmas.

I also spent extra time taking and looking out photographs for a Photo Challenge but as there were fifty-two of these they are two many to include!

Looking forward. I have already started a knitted cowl with a fairisle type pattern hoping to finally master this type of knitting. Probably a post about this next week.

I am continuing my crochet blanket between other things, have yarn and pattern for a knitted cardigan and hope to go back to some crochet ideas I never finished, including my plans for the crochet sea horses.


Angel Christmas cards

I really feel that I could do with some way of lighting the items I want to photograph in a more even way and even if it is dull outside. However I have packed up all my Christmas cards now so this will have to do.

I shared with you the pattern for the angels I was making for my Christmas cards and now I will share with you the making of the final cards. Finished card Here is the final card and this is how I put them together.

First an aside. Several years ago I got a pair of folding scissors in a Christmas cracker and ever since then I had it on my key ring and it was very useful when I was out, especially when crocheting on the bus or Friday ‘Crafty Coffee’ mornings.

BUT then I lost my keys and thus the scissors!

Now for years I had wanted a Swiss Army knife but had never got around to it, partly because of the cost and partly because I could never decide which one I would buy. Now I decided that I would finally buy myself one with a scissors. The choice was really between the Climber and the Compact, as although I liked the idea of the magnifying glass on the Explorer it was a bit too chunky. In the end I bought the Climber because on Black Friday it was available locally at a good price and it is always good to see something before you buy it.

One of the things that the knife came with I wasn’t sure I would use but in fact it was the ideal tool to help with assembling my Christma cards.

And that was the ‘reamer’. Reamer I used it to make a hole and pull the loop at the end of the cord through the hole.

Here you can see an angel and a card, Angel on card the dot is to guide me as to where to make the hole.

And here is the reamer all ready to be used to pull the loop through the card. Pulling through cord Here is the inside when I had fixed the angel in place with a piece of cord securing the bottom of the robe to the loop. Inside of card These pictures were taken the other day when I was in a hurry to make a couple of cards to send abroad. On Sunday I finished the other twelve cards and here you can see all twelve angels. Twelve angels And the twelve finished cards. Twelve cardsOriginally I was intending to make more angels but pains in my wrists and lots of problems to sort out meant that I only made seventeen (including the three for the Giveaway). So for a few people that I wanted to give home-made cards to I have folded some origami angels to go on the same cards. I will share these with you next week when I have made the cards and taken some photographs.



A Crafty Week – Wednesday

Having planned to go to Corfe Castle or Swanage plus a ride on a steam train, the weather forecast for Wednesday was a bit mixed with the threat of rain, so we decided to go to Corfe Castle and ride on the steam train with the possibility of going home early if it got too wet.

In the event it was a beautiful day, though we could see that the platform at Brockenhurst was wet on our way home, so some places must have had rain.

This meant that we did spend a little time on the beach in Swanage too.

The grass seemed very dry on the way up to the castle though it had been greener round the back.Corfe CastleI liked this are that looked like a place soldiers may have kept a lookout.Guard room?I had to stop and photograph this wall with it’s angled design.Textured wallThe living areas must have been quite splendid when it was a stately home.Living areaWe had our picnic lunch then wandered around and admired the view. This is towards the townView towards villageWe also saw the steam train running down below.We saw a trainI had taken a few pictures of the damage inflicted by the Parliamentarians in 1646. This one seemed to be the most dramatic.DamageFortified by lunch and with the weather keeping fair we made our way back down to catch the train. On the way Louisa tried to play hide and seek and I photographed a flower.FlowerThen as we had plenty of time, Louis stopped for a bit of crafting. (More about this at the end).CraftingWe caught the train from Corfe Castle station as you might have guessed.Corfe Castle station Here is the train coming in.Our train comes inIt is always tricky taking photographs from inside a train and there was nothing of especial interest to see but I didDo you remember this? take this photograph of the inside as it quite took me back to my childhood. Do you remember when the inside of carriages looked like this?

Swange station and time for a bit of fun on the beach.Swanage stationThere was time to make friends and have a paddle.Having fun in the seaAnd make a quick sandcastle.SandcastleWhile I sat on some stonesI sat on some pebblesand took photographs to leftView to the leftand right.View to the right

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Now the craft part of the post

Louisa had continued with her crochet on the train to Wareham but she had also taken thisCord bookmarkShe planned to use it as a bookmark when it was finished.

Almost two years before I had introduced her to ways of making cords with a piece of card as in this post – https://rainbowjunkiecorner.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/alone-again/ and https://rainbowjunkiecorner.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/round-friendship-bracelets/

Now she had bought herself one of these polystyrene ready-made templates and a sheet with instructions, as you can see in the top left of this picture.Craft booksWe both thought it was a great day out and promised ourselves a bit of a lie in the next day!

[Three more posts to come – Thursday, Friday & Saturday.]

July Montage

In July I showed you my first attempt at dressmaking for a long time: a cowl neck top and trousers. I shared some photographs from my day in Oxford: a few exhibits from the Ashmoleon museum, some Alice in Wonderland ilustrations and by the canal. I made a crochet case for the tablet I was given for my birthday. July montageLater I showed you the bowls my granddaughter and I made and her visit to the paddling pool on the common. I also included where I have got to with my knitted waistcoat. I really must get on and finish it!

A Crafty Week – Day 1

If I have seemed to be less present on blogs this last week it is because I have had my granddaughter to stay for just over a week.

She came equiped with all sorts of craft materials.Craft materialsI would have loved for us to make something with that material but I wasn’t sure what and we had plenty of other things to do. (She had rescued them from the bin at school! she told me.)

Plus some craft booksCraft booksand colouring books.Colouring book

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I had planned a few outings but Monday was a miserable day so we settled down to some crafting.

Last summer I saw what I thought was a neat idea for using up scraps of yarn. (I think I probably saw it here:- http://marrose-ccc.com/tutorials-2/yarn-ends-bowl/ ) and since then I have been saving up my cut off ends and really short scraps of yarn.

The detail on the web used a home-made paste but I decided to use diluted PVA glue like I had for my crochet baubles.GlueI had bought this at Hobbtcraft and I mixed it half and half with some water.

I covered table and chairs for protection and spread my yarn scraps out on a tray on the kitchen/dining table.Tray of yarn endsThis is just the ones that were left so you can see that there is plenty to make more bowls.

I covered a pyrex pudding bowl and a small glass dish with cling film and we dunked the ends in the glue mixture and spread over the surface.

I used a random placement more like the one I had seenClose-up of my bowlbut Louisa had her own ideas.Close-up of Louisa's bowlHere they are together after drying in the airing cupboard for a few days.Two bowlsHer’s had some gaps in it that I though made it vulnerable to breaking apartGaps in yarnso she let me wrap some yarn round the outside to protect it.Yarn wound roundThis was left to dry for another day or two.

Now the trickiest part was getting them off the bowls.

I think this was because the cling film clung so well to the bowl. Next time I think I will smear some vaseline or similar over the part of the bowl to be covered, under the cling film, so it is only holding in place inside the bowl.

I eased them very gently with a thin knife and my fingers. Here is Louisa’s bowlInside Louisa's bowland another view from the side.Side view of Louisa's bowlThe inside of my bowlInside my bowland sitting on my window sill.My bowl on window sillOf course life wasn’t just about crafting and later we went for a walk and then came home and Louisa picked up where she had left off last summer with Syberia II.Playing Syberia IIWe also started some crochet but what that turned into I will show you later.

December Montage

The makes for this month seem to be all about Christmas though I did also write a post about how I thought some photographs were better in black and white and some in colour.

I showed you my home made Christmas cards for this year and included a tutorial so you could make some yourselves, as the design would also be useful for Valentine’s day.

I shared the snowflake bookmark I had made for a bookmark swop and the one I had received in return.

I explained how sometimes life got in the way so some tasks, like decorating the Christmas tree, could be acomplished at the expense of others, like a planned Christmas decoration.

Finally I revealed some Christmas Coasters I had made as a present, with a few details of how I made them.

Tomorrow I will be publishing another montage post on all the knitting and crochet I have completed in 2014.

December montage

Christmas cards + tutorial

3 cards

This year I have got organised enough to make my own Christmas cards.

I think it is a rather fun idea that would work as well for Valentine’s day so I have also produced a tutorial.

The day I took most of the photographs the light was awful but I decided not to retake them even though the light is much better today as I have the problem of needing to decide on a new TV so life is getting a bit stressful.

The message inside the card is

Card insideOf course the love I am thinking of is not romantic love or even family love but God’s love shown in the life of Jesus. So I have included a little picture of the Christ child in the manger.

And here is a tutorial on making the heart design

It is based on a mathematical way of creating the impression of a curve with straight lines but here aesthetic considerations have been uppermost not mathematical ones.

You could make your own template but I found some on http://www.donteatthepaste.com/2011/03/curve-stitching-templates.html.

I experimented and chose what I thought was the best number of holes for my purpose (48) and made an A4 template in Corel Draw.

TemplateThe grey dots come from the original template but I added the black dots because I thought they would help me not to make mistakes as I will explain.

I had bought some red card, as it seemed suitable for hearts.

Red card

I printed on the card then cut it in four pieces.

I had chosen to use white cotton. This is your normal sewing cotton.

The first thing you need to do is to make the holes in the card. I pushed a thicker ordinary sewing needle through the grey dots.

Template on card with and without holes
After on left, before on right.

Then threaded a finer needle with a length of sewing cotton.

I found that 60 ins (150 cm) was the right length for the first two parts and 36 ins (90cm) for the second two but you can choose a comfortable length and just start and finish as you need to if you prefer a shorter length. 60 ins does make quite a long piece.

I decided to start in the top hole. (obviously the side with the black dots is the back of the card). You need a good size knot so the cotton does not pull through the holes.

Starting the stitchingHere you can see I went in at the top where the arrow is, out at the bottom (hole 1), in again at hole 2, out hole 3, in at hole 4, and out at hole 5.

Here is how it looks on the right side. Can you see how we are progressing in a clockwise direction, using every hole at the top and every other hole on the lower half.

Stitching on the right sideThis is where the black dots come in. They help to check that you are using the correct hole for the lower ends.

I say upper and lower but actually we will progress round the circle. So keep going as above.

Half way (1st quarter)

Here you are halfway through the first part. From now on at one end you will be going into holes that have been used before. Can you see?

Continue going one at a time into new holes and missing a hole each time at the other end.

Half a cardioid

This is half of a shape that Mathematicians call a cardiod.

Finish the cotton and secure by making a couple of knots as in the picture below.

Finishing cotton

You now repeat the procedure in the other direction.

Aesthetic note! I do not repeat the top to bottom thread, nor do I duplicate the thread that lies horizontally, because I think it looks better.

Threads not to repeatI just miss them out.

So I start the second half thus………….

Starting second half of cardioid

It doesn’t matter if you start from the top as I do or from the bottom (hole 2) to be more like the other half. It will end up looking the same.

This is where I found the the black dots really came into their own to keep me on track.

Just do a mirror image of what you did before and you will end up with the full cardiod.

Cardiod finishedCardiod means ‘heart’ but to create a conventional ‘heart’ we can do better.

This is where you need the shorter piece of cotton.

Starting right side of heart

You start at the bottom go across to the hole halfway up (It is a black dot hole) then come out at the hole above that one coming back into the hole next to the one at the bottom. You then proceed, moving one hole anti-clockwise each time till you connect the hole at the top to the one half way up. (This is where you already have a thread taking this path but I was happy to repeat it this time.)

Right side of heart completed

Secure the end of the cotton and repeat on the other side, working up from thebottom as before.

Now you have your heart.

Finished heart

Photograph taken in a different light so the red came out differently (closer to the reality actually).

Here is what I think will make a printable A4 template. (Copy of one I used). Right click and choose “Save image as”

Printable template

I’m just a child at heart!

Last Christmas I bought my granddaughter a Rainbow Loom and some extra bands to go with it. (Well just the name was obviously attractive!)

I’m assuming here that everyone knows what I am talking about – It’s a way of making bracelets from small elastic bands.

These last few weeks I have seen that you can now buy the bands all over the place and only £1 per bag. So I bought a bag of rainbow colours and brought it home. I knew I had crochet hooks so I thought I was well set up.

The first thing to do was to find some way of storing and sorting the bands – I decided to use an ice cube tray.

Bands in tray

And I found that not only did you get ‘S’ clips to join the bracelets but also a plastic hook.

Hook and clips

I have been using this (or fingers) as it seemed less likely to break the bands than one of my crochet hooks.

I needed pins but I had seen on the internet the suggestion that two pens could be used so that is what I did.

Two pens

Here you can see them with the first two bands for the double fishtail bracelet.

Of course I had to start by making a rainbow one. So I made a rainbow ‘double fishtail’ bracelet and then a single fishtail one.

First three band bracelets

These were both easy.

I had a bit more trouble in getting to grips with the method of making an inverted fishtail but I thought that it was probably my favourite.

Being of a nervous disposition I tied a piece of yarn through the last couple of bands so if they slipped off the s-clip the whole thing would not come apart.

Yarn tied through bands

Obviously I trimmed off the ends. I left them on here so you can see what I mean.

I had seen that one sort of bracelet you could make was called ‘Dragon Scale’ so of course (loving all things dragonish) I had to investigate.

This required four pins and it was suggested that if one did not have a loom that a fork would do.

My forks are not very big and the bands were too long to work easily that way. I fumbled and fussed and decided I would have to think of another way. I thought my garden rake might do, so there I was sitting on the floor of my integral garage making a dragon scale bracelet.

Using a rake

Next I made a ‘French Braid’ bracelet that I thought very pretty and light – I actually prefer the light weight ones.

French braid bracelet being worn

I had used all of the red for the dragon scale bracelet so no chance of making another rainbow one, so I was happy to use pink and blue for this. Pink and blue are the colours I wear most often so it will go with lots of my clothes.

At this point I wanted to create something myself and wondered about using three pens.

Three pens as pins

However I reasoned that whatever I might come up with would probably have been discovered by someone else, so I had a look on the internet and sure enough – there was the three pin fishtail described.

I decided to make this in repeating stripes and thought that if I laid out the bands on my wrist-rest that I could make sure I used the right pattern of bands. However I actually started three bracelets and only kept the third one.

Setting out colours

I started with the two shades of pink but they didn’t really show up aginst each other. So I tried pale pink, green, dark pink, purple – 9 bands each but then the stripes were too long. So I reduced the number for each stripe to four and was happy with that.

I find making these bracelets very relaxing and you must imagine me sitting at my computer listening to one of my CDs courtesy of iTunes software (lossless of course – I find MP3s lack depth.)


And happily adding one band after another.

Three pin bracelet being made

Only slight downside to this bracelet is that you have to cut those three black bands you can see – mind you I didn’t like the black ones really.

Here are my last three bracelets.Second three bracelets

And because it is hard to see how pretty it looks here is the dragon scale bracelet worn by me.

Dragon scale bracelet being worn

Round Friendship Bracelets

I said a few days ago that I would tell you more about making friendship bracelets.


Like this one and others.

First the ones I started on.

Over the school holiday people bring their children to the craft group I go to and a few weeks ago one of them was making friendship bracelets. I asked him what you did and he showed me.

Now he was using ordinary acrylic type yarn and told me that you needed three pieces of yarn doubled and one single length. (about 16 inches). These were arranged round an octagon with slits in the middle of each side so seven threads left one free. The idea was to take a strand and then jump over two strands into the empty one.

When I reflected on this I knew that when using seven threads it was just too tempting to make them rainbow colours, so I ignored what he said about doubled threads and using one of my octagonal drinking glasses as a template cut out a piece of cardboard and decided to use my cotton yarn which I had in rainbow colours as I thought it would make a better finish.

I worked out that if I arranged the threads like this


I would be moving the coloured strands in rainbow order and hopefully that meant that they would appear in that order on the finished bracelet.

Here is my first bracelet.


The colours were in rainbow order but in an end to end fashion.


You can also see that I have not yet managed to get an even tension!

So I looked at how the colours arranged themselves side to side and came up with this arrangement as a starting point.


I then made another bracelet


And this time the colours were as I wanted them.


Fired up, I then went on the internet to see how to make the flat friendship bracelets I had seen for sale.

The flat ones, that go back to the North Americal Indians, looked to be much too fiddly for me to manage but I discovered that the Japanese had something similar to what I had done already called ‘Kumihimo’ which had been used in the past, among other things, by Samurai warriors to fasten their armour.

I discovered a site http://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/how-to-make-friendship-bracelets.html which gave instructions on making these plus templates for different patterns and a link to another site http://craftdesignonline.com/kumihimo/kongoh-gumi-friendship-bracelets/?cdokb_s= where you can design your own. This site also describes ways of making other styles of braid that I have yet to try.

The bracelet I pictured at the start was made using this disc.


I have since started another one. Here you can see how the strands are arranged at the start.


Which gives this pattern


Both types of bracelet are very easy to make. The first requiring just one repeated step the other only three.

The first web site I mention suggests that to finish the bracelet you tie two knots half an inch apart and thread the starting knot through. I my opinion it is better to tie one knot then separate the threads equally either side of the starting knot and tie the second knot so you can’t get the starting knot out,

Alone again!

I have had my granddaughter staying with me again this last week but now she is gone and I have a moment to put together this post.

Due to my younger daughter being ill we didn’t do all the things I planned but we did spend a lot of time playing with the cousins.

However because of this and the fact that I was feeling pretty exhausted I didn’t take my usual array of pictures. I did get out my phone on a few occasions when I realised that I hadn’t even thought of bringing my camera but it doesn’t take as good pictures as my camera even when they come out okay.

What we did do was make some friendship bracelets. (This photo was taken at home with the camera!)


This is one I made for Louisa. I forget to take photos of the ones she was making though neither got finished. Will do a separate post on this soon.

On Monday we went to the Fair on the Common. I found it rather disappointing compared to years ago as there were no slot machines. ( My children liked the ones where you fed piles of coins with 2ps in the hope they would overbalance and you’d win a pile.) And the music was much, much too loud. Louisa agreed with me.

Neither of us fancied the rides that throw you about but Louisa did try two similar things, one of which I thought to photograph.


Can’t see her?

Here is a close up.


Tuesday and Wednesday was mainly ‘cousins’ but the couple of quick phone photos I took were awful.

Thursday was still very hot so we went to the paddling pool on the Common.

I don’t know why this photo is so awful but you can see a little girl (well not so little now!) is having fun making waves.


And making friends


This one is as good as the phone gets!

Meanwhile Grandma was sitting on the side working on her granny ripple blanket.


The only other photograph I took (not directly related really – but so pleased to get) was of the flower on my cactus. (Also on the camera)


My cactii have flowered these last two summers but all I have ever seen are dead flowers because they are on a lovely warm sunny window sill that I rarely look at.

Louisa noticed this flower and I took the photo the following evening (with flash) as I realised it would probably be dead the next day – which it was. I do think cactus flowers are so beautiful though.