Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Flowers, flowers and more flower beads

This is the first set of pink flower lampwork beads I have ever offered for sale in my Etsy shop. There has been much experimentation and recording of what colours I put with what before they were perfect.

I have made green, orange and blue ones in the past

I'm delighted to announce that the range has been expanded, first with the pink ones I kicked off this posting with but purple, aqua and teal are also new.

I'm trying to push the colour range even further and am currently experimenting with red which is tricky to work with but I shall keep trying. Watch this space for news of my success (soon ... or later ... it may very well be later ... I am nothing if not persistent). 

I can imagine these flower beads being absolutely gorgeous as a pair of earrings with matching bracelet teamed with some silver, Czech glass and/or swarovski beads. I'm sure that lovely gardener, Carol Kline - whose earrings often feature flowers - would look fabulous in a pair if some enterprising jeweller sent her some!

Monday, 23 July 2018

Never mind stay out of the sun ... stay out of the studio

I had to abandon my beadmaking studio at lunchtime today. 

I’ve never enjoyed being hot at the best of times, when I’m trying to work, it’s doubly hard. I love England’s inclement and temperate climate, I’d rather be too cool than too warm. If I wanted hot weather I would move abroad ... #nevergonnahappen 

I need recommendations for cooler countries to emigrate to. 

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Crochet lacy dress scarf - written pattern

I published the chart for my lacy dress scarf at the back end of last year. It has had a lot of hits on it recently, I imagine people are looking for lightweight scarf patterns for summer. A few have asked for written instructions and I'm delighted to now be able to oblige. I’ve included some photos as well. I know when I’m following a pattern for the first time, pictures can be very reassuring.

All instructions are written in UK crochet terms

This version uses 2.5mm crochet hook and 2 x 50g balls of Rico Creative Melange laceweight yarn although much will depend on how long and wide you make your scarf, adjust yarn amount accordingly

ch - chain
dtr - double treble 
sp - space
dc - double crochet

Foundation row:
Make a slip knot on your hook, ch multiples of 7 plus a further 8. For this version, I chained 43, ie 5 x 7 = 35 + 8 = 43. (2 dtr, ch 1, 2 dtr) in 10th ch from hook * ch 1, skip 6 ch (2 dtr, ch 1, 2 dtr) in next ch, repeat from * until 5 ch remain, ch1, skip 4 ch, dtr in final ch, turn

Row 1:
ch 7, dc in first 1 ch sp, (see photo below for the place)

ch 3 * skip 2 dtr (2 dtr, ch 1, 2 dtr) in 1 ch sp, 3 ch, skip 2 dtr, dc in 1 ch sp, 3 ch, repeat from * until you reach 9 ch at the end (see picture below for how work will look at this stage)

(dc, 3 ch, dtr) in 9 ch sp, turn

Row 2:
ch 5, * (2dtr, ch 1, 2 dtr) in 1 ch sp marked “1”,

ch 1, repeat from * working only into the 1 ch sp inbetween dtrs indicated by numbers on the photo until you reach 7 ch at the end, dtr into 7 ch sp, turn 

Row 3:
Same as row 1, except the ch sp you work into at the end is a 5 ch sp

and this will be true for all subsequent repeats

Repeat rows 2 and 3 for the length desired ending on a row 2, do not fasten off. 

Bottom finishing row:
ch 4, skip (1 ch, 2 dtr)

*(2 dtr, 1 ch, 2 dtr) in 1 ch sp indicated above, ch 3, skip 2 dtr,

dc in next 1 ch sp indicated above, ch 3, skip 2 dtr, repeat from * moving along the row, ending on (2 dtr, 1 ch, 2 dtr) in 1 ch sp

ch 4, dc in 5 ch sp indicated, fasten off

Top finishing row:

Turn work upside down with yarn tail to your left. Rejoin yarn in 7 ch sp at right hand corner indicated above, leaving a tail long enough to weave in later, ch 4, *skip rest of chs in the ch sp

(2 dtr, 1 ch, 2 dtr) in ch sp indicated above, ch 3, dc in 6 ch sp, ch 3, repeat from * ending with (2dtr, 1 ch, 2dtr)

ch 4, dc in corner st indicated, fasten off. Weave in ends.

Add a fringe of your choice or you can make the one I did. I originally found the instructions for this bobble fridge via Pinterest on Once Upon a Pink Moon's blog. I thoroughly recommend you go look and see all the things Robin gets up to on her blog, she is a very creative and talented lady. On that website it's written in US terms so I've converted it to UK terms for you here and I have modified it ever so slightly. I'm including a few photographs here to show you exactly how to add it to this scarf.

Step 1 - Rejoin yarn by making a slip knot loop and pulling through the first 1ch sp (indicated above), ch 1, dc in same sp

Step 2 - ch 9, yo, insert hook in 3rd ch, yo, pull yarn through, yo, pull yarn through 2 loops (2 loops on hook) *yo, insert hook into same ch, yo, pull yarn through, yo, pull yarn through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), repeat from * once (4 loops on hook) **

Step 3 - yo, pull yarn through 4 loops, ch 3 (see below for how your work will look)

Step 4 - yo, insert hook into 3rd ch from hook (indicated above), yo, pull yarn through, yo, pull yarn through 2 loops (2 loops on hook), repeat from * to ** twice 

Step 5 - yo, pull through 4 loops. Insert hook into the V of the ch at the bottom of the first bobble indicated below. This has the effect of “folding” the two bobbles on top of each other.

NB It's quite fiddly to do, you will need to wiggle the tip of the hook into each side separately, it is quite tight because of the number of stitches worked into it already.

Step 6 - yo, pull yarn through (2 loops on hook), yo, pull through both loops, ch 6, skip (2 dtr, 3 ch, dc, 3 ch, 2 dtr), dc in 1 ch sp indicated below

Repeat steps 2 to 6 all the way along, ending in final 1 ch sp with dc, fasten off. Repeat the fringe on the other end and then weave in all ends.

The scarf will benefit from blocking, it brings out the lacy stitches beautifully. Drop the scarf in a bowl of tepid water and then very gently squeeze the excess water out (do not wring!) Roll it up in a dry towel to blot out some more. Lay the scarf on fresh dry towels (I needed two laid end to end) over carpet or a blocking board and then pin it out gently, stretching it a little as you go using rustless stainless steel pins. Pay particular attention to the "points" created on the finishing rows by placing a pin in the 1 ch sp, being careful to keep them in a straight line.

Leave to dry overnight and then you can wear it! 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Alan Titchmarsh is a fibber

Here at the end of a very hot flaming June, over a cup of tea, I’m looking back at some photographs I’ve taken of our garden. Flowering in the foreground is Sedum kamschaticum variegatum. At the back of that is a towering specimen of Buddleia Globosa. It’s flowering wonderfully but it’s massive! There is a reason why I have had to let it get so big. 

This is its third summer here. All the received wisdom is that you prune your buddleias in early Spring, everyone knows that. However this advice does not apply to B. Globosa.

I planted it as a pot grown shrub, as it was in the Spring, I duly cut it back. I got lots of healthy foliage but no flowers, I wasn’t worried, it was just settling in, how lovely it would be in its second year. Unfortunately, I again pruned it in Spring. I was puzzled why there were no flowers the following Summer, it just kept growing, getting bigger and bigger. 

When pruning time came round again THIS Spring, I checked on-line and discovered, unlike the Davidii cultivars, Buddleia Globosa only flowers on last year’s growth so I had been cutting off all the flower-bearing branches. Even though it was already quite big, if I wanted flowers this year, I would have to leave off pruning for at least another few months so it just got bigger until it got to the gigantic proportions you see. 

Who knew Alan Titchmarsh was such a fibber ... he even repeated the advice “If you haven’t already done it, prune your Buddleias now” on his Classic FM Programme one Saturday morning in March; of course he was talking about Davidii but even so, I was tempted to send a cross letter!

Monday, 4 June 2018

Loft conversion craft room on its way

The guys have had only a couple of days on converting our loft into my new craft room but it’s taking pretty good shape so far.
If we can get a couple of Velux windows here in time for Friday, then those will be fitted then to bring light in. First fix electrical work is happening next week. 

The room that used to by my craft room is immediately below this room. That is going to be dry lined and also have new windows, it will become a guest bedroom with a Jack and Jill ensuite shower room. The ensuite will have a door from that room and be shared, via a second door (hence the term Jack and Jill) with the other first storey bedroom which MTM currently uses as his study when he’s working from home. I also have my desktop computer in that room. 

Most of today I have stayed out of the way in my outdoor studio making beads whilst they got on with it but came indoors briefly to make bacon butties for us all late morning. This afternoon, I came indoors to prepare some packages to send out before the post goes at 4.45pm so I was in the study printing packing slips and sellotaping beads into five packages. 

On the radio, entertaining the workers, was Steve Wright’s unfailing chipper cheerfulness, golden oldies incongruously mixed in with medical matters such as information on sciatica and the latest developments in antibiotics. Not my idea of good listening, I realise I sound very ungrateful for all they have achieved today but at one point, I had my head on the desk whilst MTM laughed at me “when are they going home?” I wail; they’ve been here since 7am! Fortunately, I only had to put up with it for an hour but the antidote (as soon as they’d gone) is the melancholy lyrics of Justin Currie and Del Amitri. Del Amitri are touring England and Scotland in July, some venues still have tickets. 

By the time of the concerts, I hope the renovations will be finished so all that’s left is decorating which I can do myself .... whilst playing my own choice of music.