Solar dyeing

Hilary led our solar dyeing workshop this week and it was a lot of fun. Others supported with their enthusiasm and big, empty glass jars. Ten of us participated in the workshop and the time went so quickly. Even before we left the jars were starting to change colour so it will be interesting to see how all these dyed skeins and fleece turn out. It is a good way to take advantage of the naturally warm weather. We were using acid powder dyes.

ChemKnits has a video to encourage you to try this but there are other videos on YouTube which you might want to take a look at.

Show and tell

Blowy down at the beach front but beautiful , clear colours and snow capped waves. Inside was plenty of colour too. We had our solar dyeing workshop which we thank Hilary for leading . It was fun and interesting. There were plenty of projects to look at too so the whole day was a good one for getting new ideas and refreshing our ideas.

Show and tell

Sonya brought along a selection of small, colourful crocheted items given to her by her Persian daughter .Sonya is not sure what to do with them but they need to be displayed.

Anthea brought along a stunning piece of Hardanger embroidery she had made.

Maxine made two huge chickens stuff and weighted for young children with concentration problems and Janette is going to give them to her daughter for some of her pupils.

Janette: a ball of spun wool green/brown mix.

Cathy: a ball of spun wool brown/cream.

Deb: beanie made from her first spinning, natural dark brown wool.

Maria: a large rug made from 238 small colourful crotchet flower motifs with a black border.

Peter: has started a tapestry piece for a change he has designed the picture himself.

Alexis and Janette brought in limes & lemons.

Crochet a daisy square

Soon you will see Maria’s flower blanket and it is impressive. It makes such a change from regular grannie squares and has a completely different look .She has chosen primary colours and edged them in black then used stripes around the border. Your choice of colours would change the look of the blanket. The video above shows you how to make a daisy square which would work well in this blanket. Maria used 8 ply wool but you could use 5 ply and get a really dainty look. Such a handy project because it is portable. Mind you, Maria had to crochet 278 flowers! When you see her blanket you will see it has a more open look and that is why it is so effective.

Embroidering mouths and noses

When you make knitted and crocheted friends it is always important to get the features right. Some people seem to be able to just do it. They know how to put the stitches in the right place. Jan E sent a link to a video which shows very clearly how to get a mouth right. 🙂 We like smiling friends in our group. If you want to follow up, you can go to lilliliis site.

The other thing which will often come up is a teddy nose and mouth. There are clear instructions for this on the engsidrun site.

Crochet friends

Jan E often makes beautiful, cute pixie friends . We like watching her characters develop. For her, it is a break from spinning and often to help others in need. This time she is changing how she makes it and giving herself a mental challenge too. These friends can be for charities, hospitals, family…even yourself! The site she has used for this pixie, which she plans to alter a bit to make it more original, is Creativities. There are not only lovely crochet patterns there but a lot of other things you might want to make!

Dyeing with food colouring

On our show and tell table this week we had yarns dyed with food colouring. You would have seen that on a regular basis on our blog. Group members also use chemical and plant dyes. It is about the colour adventure, the colours and then the fun of creating your own colours and colourways. If you have not dyed fleece or tops before then using food colouring is an easy and quick way to get you to a point where you feel like you can dye successfully. You can then try cold dyes, hot water dyes and the amazing journey of plant dyes.

In the video Happy’ CHick shows you in five minutes how to colour fleece with food dye. She also uses lemon juice in preference to vinegar which is interesting. She finds the lemon juice gives a better effect. Great way to use up the over supply of lemons we sometimes get here!

Show and tell

Beautiful sunny day and the beach front today. Inside was full of colour and conversations, problem solving and getting our ideas straightened out. We had a visit from Marie Pfeiffer and her lovely fleeces so some of us have added to our stash. It was really good to see people focusing on colour and dyeing as we prepare for our solar dyeing workshop next week. Our show and tell table reflected our interest in dyeing. Even something as simple as food colouring makes a lovely adventure in colour.

Show and tell

Marina: a large woven box which was very impressive with lots of advice on how to keep the shape once the box has been removed, plus two balls of spun wool dyed with a mixture of green herbs dye and food colouring.
Maxine: pale blue scarf worked in a cross over stitch pattern, and a beautiful salmon pink jumper in chunky wool, worked with two balls of 10 ply.
Alexis: spun wool skein dyed with Coreopsis flowers in a lovely yellow.
Cathy: a ball of spun wool dyed with food colouring and tea and Tasmanian bluegum leaves and tea.
Sheila Mc: two balls spun brown fleece over dyed with dark green, two balls of spun brown wool dyed with food colouring in dark red.
Marjorie : a large ball of spun pre-dyed mixed fleece.
Alexis brought in lemons, Janette brought in apples.

Triangular scarf

Triangular scarfs can make a fashion statement because you can wear them different ways and pin them with brooches , pins or flowers. If, like Hilary, you pick unusual colours then you will lift an outfit to a new level just by wearing the scarf. The greens she has chosen are no ordinary greens and the other colours blended in provide interest and a broader colour palette to work with when you are putting together an outift. In any case , they would dress up black or denim!

There are free triangular scarf patterns on The Funky Stitch. Keep knitting and you will have a shawl! Small triangular scarves are sometimes all you need to keep the draughts of your neck.

Would you rather crochet a scarf? Here you go:

Crochet flower rug

Both Maria and Pam are stash busting and crocheting flower motifs to make a rug or blanket. We shall see. it makes a change from traditional grannie squares. Maria mass produces hers and keeps them organised on a long round needle so she can do things in stages. Pam is making and joining hers to keep them under control She will be blocking her big flowers so they take on a good shape. Both the designs are good and will look effective when they are finished.

GoldenLucyCrafts has an interesting flower rug to make which would make a good mat if you used the T Shirt or spaghetti yarn.

Show and tell

Lovely day at the beach front and so nice to see the sunshine and blue ocean after our cold, wet spell. We were noisy and full of discussions and spent the day exploring ideas and encouraging each other. Jan B, who owns an alpaca farm, gave us a really helpful, worthwhile talk about how to spin alpaca, particularly suri alpaca and how to skirt an alpaca fleece and how to buy quality alpaca fleece for spinning.

Show and tell

Wendy: a selection of hand woven hand towels. She used cotton.
Janette: a ball of spun alpaca Suri/blue wool.
Jan E: skein of mixed reds plied woolly nylon.
Karin: a skein of beautifully spun Bendigo wool in green.
Marjorie: a skein of Brenda’s wool fibres in green/purple.
Peter: a woven wall hanging mixed dark colours on a black commercial weft.
Hilary: a small triangular scarf in lime green wool plied with silk.
Pam: was busy making flower crochet motifs for a rug.

Sheila O brought along some fresh vegetables from the garden.

Alexis: brought along some lemons.

Amamani Puzzle Ball

Most of you will know amigurmi crochet. Amamani is amigurmi Amish puzzles which you crochet. Some will know the puzzle balls as Montessori balls. They help babies and little children learn. There are some free patterns on Stitch and Unwind. Christine has introduced us to Annie’s craft and design. This takes Amamani puzzle balls to a whole new level. It has been a commercial enterprise since 1975 so there are fees for what they do. Reasonable prices, though. The free ones on Stitch and Unwind are all good to try and the video walks you through how to make a puzzle ball. Something different and worthwhile for the littlies.

Box weaving

We loved watching Christine(left) and Marina(right) weaving on their boxes. They have taken on a big projects with box weaving and the colours are looking really good . It is a great project to use up odds and ends of yarn. It is an easily stored project and doesn’t require an expensive outlay in order to achieve something which looks good. In time we shall see what Marina and Christine plan to do with their box weaving. You do need a plan for tidying up the yarn ends neatly.

If you want to know how to weave a bag on a box then A Field Guide to Needlework has a delightful guide.

A number of members remarked what a great project this would be for children when they were having to stay inside for whatever reason. They thought it would be something they would enjoy and they would be able to produce something they could be proud of. They could use a small box so their patience isn’t tested too much.

Loony Loomworks has a good video to show children how to weave on a box.

Colour your life

We are always immersed in colour and we absorb it. It is colour medicine and inspiration. We look at so many colours but we never tire of it. I tis always interesting. This week’s colours were a good mix. Top left are Cathy’s natural colours – lamb’s wool, suri alpaca , Finn X dyed with Tasmanian bluegum leaves and a bit of gold sparkle. Top right are Marina’s colours. Blue from tops Alexis dyed and then suri alpaca natural colour. Middle right are Jeanettes colours. White a grey fleece plied with solid colours from Felting Ewe. Bottom are Hilary’s solar dyed colours which she brought in jars last week. Don’t those skeins look pretty?

Stephen West Shawls

Christine’s and Marina’s shawls were stunning! Just such a visual feast and impressive work. They came about from a Stephen West challenge last year. He was born in Oklahoma, has worked in Amsterdam and has started his West Wool brand. He is an inspired knitter and designer who likes to lift others up in their knitting. If you want to see more shawls then look for the hashtag #westknits on Instagram. His own Instagram account is @westknits. His website is Westknits.

Marina’s and Christine’s shawls were a labour of love, commitment and skill. They ended up with 960 stitches on their needles and so it becomes a big knit at the end and challenging. The shawls really were a challenge. They are so beautiful. Well worth every minute of time put into them.

Show and tell

It was windy down at the beach front this morning. It turned into a spectacular day by the afternoon but the wind kept up. We were in full voice so we enjoyed the changing sea colours and the equally vibrant conversations. So many things to look at, help each other with and so much about colour and design today. We loved Marina’s and Christine’s shawls which they had knitted for the Stephen West challenge. More about that later 🙂

Show and tell

Karin: a beautiful pair of hand spun wool socks in multi stripes.
Marina: a ball of alpaca/wool
Janette : two spun balls blue/white & aqua/white.
Cathy : a ball of spun alpaca & lamb’s wool with glitter.
Sheila: a very large knitted bag ready for felting in the washing machine.

Anne: has dyed some white fleece with a mixed cold water dyes.
Margaret: two balls of spun mixed alpaca/wool.
Hilary: two skeins of the solar dyed wool in the bottles from last week.
Marina and Christine entered a challenge to make a beautiful elaborate shawl; Marina’s was in spun wool and Christine used commercial fibres.

Solar dyeing

Hilary got us off to a good start because some of us are going to learn solar dyeing soon. Like everything else it is a process which you have to learn. The first step in that in knowing where you will end up and to have some idea of what the process looks like. Enter Hilar, with her two beautiful solar dyed skeins for us to look at. The colours are like opals. They are very attractive. She made it something we now want to do. She also brought along some of her notes and a website – lacreativemama – for us to look at. Those of us who don’t know what we are doing will now have a better idea. You can solar dye hand spun yarn , roving, fleece, commercial yarn and fabric. You can use chemical or natural dyes. It is a great use of warm weather.

We are including this nice video on solar dyeing too because we value and support the efforts from people in lockdown. Keeps us all strong.

Fun for children

Jan H has a lot of grandchildren and engages with them to her and their benefit. She comes up with such fun things for her grandchildren and all with a bit of flair and colour. Her donkey is such a character. You feel like you could talk to him. The bright unicorn jacket will be worn with pride. So colourful and cheery. The baby hat is hilarious with that shock of pink hair! It is always fun to see what Jan has been making for the grandchildren.

There is nice fluted crochet jacket pattern which you could adapt to your own child on the crochet space.

Show and tell

We sat and watched the much needed rain come in today and we could hear it drumming on the building. It was great. We made our usual racket and had so many inspiring conversations where we shared our ideas. Some interesting spinning and projects going on.

Show and tell

Jan H brought along some crochet items made while recovering, a very scary donkey, a child’s hat with a very unusual embellishment, and a lovely small jacket, all in very colourful colours.
Jan B: a skein of spun brown unwashed alpaca.
Cathy: a pair of long fingerless mittens in commercial mixed fibres, very colourful dye mix & the last ball of Frozen blue spun wool.
Hilary: a small sample of her spinning Suri alpaca & a small neck scarf of the dyed in a bottle wool.

We thank those who have been bringing us lemons and peaches.

Grandfathers know a lot.

Remember when grandfathers could build a house, a ship or climb the biggest mountain? These stories are brought to us by Sonya, our roving reporter. They underline just how enduring the relationship with a grandfather is. They know a lot! This is the last post in our grandfather series. Wonder what Sonya is going to ask us about next?


My grandfather was a carpenter. He had his own business, making furniture. He had eleven children and put every one of them into apprenticeships so they would be able to build their own homes to live in. He was a very religious man.   And I would suggest a very wise father!


My grandfather worked in a brewery. He went there as a boy and worked there until the day he retired. He had two big allotments about five minutes away from their house. On those allotments he grew all the fruit and vegetables that his family of six children needed. His family came first!  He used to give us grandchildren a little bunch of lily of the valley and some sweets. What a dear and good man, Pam. 


I only briefly saw my grandfather when I was a little tacker. And then he died. Mum told me he drove a 1949 Morris Minor. I think he lived way up north of the North Island (of NZ). In those days we didn’t travel much further than our immediate surroundings  Very true John, we didn’t go very far from our roosting patch.

Jan B

My grandfather came from Romany descent, known of course as gypsies! I remember he had a suntanned skin all year round. He worked as a ship repairer on the London Docks. During World War 2 he worked long hours, earning quite good money. He cycled to and from work, about 10 miles, until he retired. My grandmother was a spender! He and my grandmother didn’t speak to each other for six years! When I was about 10 years old and staying with my grandparents we were sitting in the small lounge room. My grandmother said to me, “Tell your grandfather dinner is ready,” even when he was sitting right there!

However as their years together drew to a close, they learned to live in harmony.  What a sweet end to a sad little story, Jan.


My grandfather was a wonderful man. I loved him dearly. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ place, during school holidays and on Sundays I would often ride my bike from Ascot Park to Colonel Light Gardens where they lived. My grandfather was a printer at the Adelaide Advertiser and he printed books. He used to grow and show dahlias and belonged to the Dahlia Society. When I went to the dahlia shows I had to be on my best behaviour. They were reverential occasions. You could hear a pin drop. His garden was full of these wonderful flowers and all along the side of the garden he had an aviary. Beautiful memories, Wendy.


My grandfather, George Graham, as a young man, worked on a large sheep station near New Zealand’s Mt Cook (known as Aorangi, these days). The unconquered mountain must have beckoned him. In due course he found a way to climb to the summit at the age of nineteen. Alas, without an altimeter he had no claim to fame. A year or two later, he was approached by two climbers and asked to take them on his route again. This time with an altimeter the three of them made history by being officially the first to climb the dangerous but alluring mountain on Christmas day 1894. Sadly though, they were in disgrace!!! A Swiss party had arrived at the Hermitage at the base of the mountain, to conquer the unconquerable. And these three nobodies had stolen their thunder!  The Swiss party were put out by this, and the New Zealand officials, with their loss of face, were most annoyed about the success George Graham, Peter Clark  and Tom Fyfe! Well, Sonya, grandfathers know a lot!

Glorious grannie stitch

Maria saw something on Facbook which led her to the glorious grannie stitch square which she started at the session on Monday and showed us later on in the session. The pink yarn she chose is good. It is a nice colour but it also shows clearly how and where the stiches are formed. This is a good idea when you are trying to learn a new stitch. This pattern is based on post stitch. The back of the grannie square looks so similar to a traditional grannie square. The links we are going to share will show you how lovely this looks in variegated yarn or as a big project like a blanket. The 3D effect is both visually attractive and functional in that it provides warmth.

If you scroll down this link to Days Filled With Joy blog you will find Mermay’s version of this square. Nice colours. Here is a YouTube clip by Fiber Spider so you, too, can produce an eye catching grannie square!

Show and Tell

Was a great day at the club today. So full of energy, noise and ideas with some more sedate moments but we just love talking and sharing our thoughts. Wasn’t a surprise to see so much yarn on the table! Plenty to see and share and another new member to welcome. She was actually a former member who has come back after a long break doing other things. We’d also like to wish Jan H a happy birthday!

Show and tell

Cathy: a ball of spun brown and white alpaca/caramel wool.
Alan: spun ball of tencel/wool red/white.
Sheila O: three skeins of spun Finn fibre white, blue alpine mix and nutmeg.
Sheila Mc: two knitted felted bags.One was unusual and is destined for the Beanie Festival in June.
Maxine: two hand puppets which were very entertaining, thanks to Alexis, two button decorated necklaces.
Marjorie: a cute pair of baby socks in Fair Isle.
John: a beanie for Alexis and one, red and grey, hot off the loom.
Maria: a pink granny square with a difference.
Hilary: a spun ball of dyed in a jar wool with 3 colours, a skein of white Polwarth wool.

Wet felted pod vessel

Jan E sent through a link while we were on our break to a tutorial on how to make wet felted pod vessels. The whole site by Annie and Lyn is well worth exploring if you are interested in wet felting. Some great ideas and help. The image left is from their rosiepink site.

Cross Stitch Scarf

Maxine is our newest member. She came along with some knitting and got to know us all. She was knitting a lovely hyacinth blue cross stitch scarf and put the finished grey one, left, on the show and tell table so we could look. It created a lot of attention and we all wanted to know how to do this stitch! It takes a little bit of patience but is very straight forward. The visual effect is very attractive. You need to work in multiples of eight and then decide how many stitches you want each side for the border. Use slightly bigger needles so you get a softer effect. With eight ply use size 5 needles. Best thing , if you have time is to try some different yarns and needles and see which ones give the effect you want. The video by Elena Rugal explains how to do it. There are written instructions on HGTV.

Round loom knitting

loom knitting

John brought along two hats and a neck warmer he had made on his Addi round loom. He has been trying some colour work and it is turning out fine. We love seeing what he has made on his very portable loom. You can make these things on a normal , non mechanical loom too.

The neck warmer (bottom right) is how he makes his lovely slippers which drew attention on our blog and Instagram account. The Addi loom has 46 pegs. A normal loom you buy in a craft department of a store has 40 pegs. He is using thick wool. The slippers are 55 rows for the size John makes them. You need the length of your foot plus a wee bit extra for gathering toe and the heal seam.

Knit the length required for your foot.

Fold in half

Sew the back seam straight for the heel.

Gather the opening at the other end and sew tight for the foot.

Turn inside out.

Measure half the length of the slipper at the top from the toe end and sew for the foot area. The opening left is where you put your foot.

Voilà! You , too, have a pair of slippers!

Show and Tell

It was so nice to meet again today after our Christmas break. There were some unable to attend as yet but we were able to welcome another new member who fitted right in. It was another really warm day but we were in air conditioning so we could carry on , as usual. So many ideas, things to learn and an encouraging start to our new year.

Show and tell

John: two loom knitted hats and tube for his slippers or as a nice neck warmer.
Maxine: a scarf in soft grey wool.
Margaret: a saw tooth edge scarf from a gift package.
Cathy: a knitted frog from the knitted a square book, 2 balls wool in Frozen colours.
Alexis: a sleeveless jacket with black trim in multi coloured wool plied with black.
Deb: a small skein of natural brown spun fleece.

Blog stats 2020

Who could have imagined 2020? Who would have thought we grew well through it all? We started last year with catastrophic bushfires and went straight into the coronavirus situation. Our blog visits grew through all of that and we ended last year with nearly 9000 visits from all over the world. Each year we have grown in numbers. We cannot thank you all enough for supporting us and helping us be part of a strong group on the planet which sticks together and helps itself through difficult times by working with textiles and fibre. Our most popular posts and pages are an interesting mix. We had 900 visits from search terms on search engines. We have 305 followers on our blog and 676 followers on our Instagram account. Our Twitter account remains steady at 62 followers. It means, when we meet next week, we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to be thankful for. We are hoping your year and ours will be as creative and colourful as ever.

Loom knitted slippers

We need to talk to John again when we start meeting next week. His round loom slippers have been popular on Instagram. He made a really colourful pair too. His slippers are warm, thick and comfy. We are sharing a YouTube video of how to make loom slippers but will consult with John to see how he made his. There is a pattern for ladies’ slippers on a loom here on LoomaHat. For non loomers, there are some good choices in home made slippers here on KnitPicks.

Wool carding

Hilary carded and prepared her white polwarth fleece so well it looked like she was spinning clouds! There was also a lovely sheen on it . Hilary had picked out the bits of fluff you get with polwarth as well. Her preparation was so worth it because this not only looks good it is as soft as soft.

Marjorie had helped Deb learn to card her alpaca fleece better on a drum carder. Marjorie takes the time and patience to lengthen the fibres and card them in finer, flatter pieces so that the resultant batt is fine and airy. So much better to spin and you get a better quality yarn.

Carding takes time and patience. Not everyone has a drum carder. Marina sent through a picture of Otomi women from Santa Ana carding their fibre on the big cactuses. it really is something to see and admire. Otomi women are renowned for their beautiful and distinctive embroidery. Maybe we all need to grow a massive cactus to card. The thing which is striking is they are doing it without gloves!

Wool animation

You have probably seen the little knitting gnome gif around the place on the internet. He is the creation of Anna Hrachovec. She is incredibly talented and inspired. You look for her animations under Mochimochi Land. Fruity Knitting makes some really interesting podcasts and videos about different knitting ideas. This video is about Mochimoch Land and wool animation as well as other things. They are good to watch when you don’t feel like a film or television but you want to see something interesting while you are indoors or stuck waiting somewhere for some time. Their videos are over an hour. Enjoy.

Christmas yarn

Save these for next year, though you might be able to get Santa made 🙂 If you like to crochet there are some nice Christmas patterns which are quick and easy on AllFreeCrochet. If you prefer knitting there are some lovely, free knitting patterns for Christmas on knitting-bee.

We thank you all for visiting and following us. We have had a lot to manage this year, all of us. We thank you for supporting us and our blog and for the friendly comments and interactions. If nothing else all this yarning has got us to Christmas and that is reassuring. Have a lovely Christmas and may the new year bring us more inspiration.

Pantone colour of the year 2021

Pantone’s colour of the year 2021 is actually two colours: PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating. If you go to their website you will see they have their reasons: ” A message of happiness supported by fortitude.” We need to know things will brighten up so that we always have hope and aspirations. When you look at the combination of these two colours in the video, the picture becomes even clearer. Two contrating colours but so much you can do with them and it becomes up to you, as an agent of creativity and change, to use other elements to bring out the strength of the backdrop Pantone has given you.

When it comes to textile and yarn colours what would you do with these two colours? Would you ply them together? Would you dye them? Would you use just those two colours to felt a bag or a jacket? Would you use them to make a Fair Isle hat? Would you crochet a blanket with them? Chances are you would be itching to add some other colour or colours to make your creative colourway more rounded. Soften the stark contrast of grey and yellow. That’s a clever thing , isn’t it? Pantone has brought your creative ideas into their colour of the year in a very interactive way.

Japanese temari ball

Someone in our group is very good at making temari balls! This was part of a secret santa gift so it’s all a secret ! Great idea for Christmas because with the glitter and colour they make a very stylish decoration. They require time, patience and precision to look good. Practise, you have to practise.

If you feel like trying to make them Instructables has clear written instructions with pictures. Look at this first and then watch this video which has no spoken explanation but it goes through the process clearly. You will find other helpful videos on You Tube as well, if you are keen.

Knitting with a straight loom

John loves to try out all the knitting gadgets. he is an expert weaver on a heddle loom and can do complicated well. Sometimes he wants a break and a change . For him that means a knitting loom because they are projects which are so easy to carry around. This week he was trying his skill on a straight loom and making what will be a very stylish man’s scarf.

If you want to try a straight loom scarf, there are good instructions in this video.

Grandfathers know a lot.

Sonya, our roving reporter has brought us some more stories of our grandfathers. It is clear they shaped and formed the next generation of grandchildren and had a good impact.


My grandfather was a coalminer in Scotland.  He bred the canaries that were used in the mines for detecting poisonous gases. He and Grannie had 5 daughters and one son  (my father).  A committed family man, he made sure his son would not have to work in the mines, by getting him into a trade. Dad became a journeyman plasterer. My grandparents adopted the baby of their eldest daughter as Grandpa wouldn’t hear of surrendering up that baby for adoption to anyone else.

He never spoke English ,  only Gaelic and would travel to Brittany and to Ireland to visit his friends who spoke the same dialect of Gaelic as Grandpa.

 Although he died when I was  only 5 years old, my grandpa had a huge influence on my Dad and indeed on all of our  families. He was a man of strong principles, setting a worthy example to the generations that were to follow.  How fortunate you all were Cathy.

Jan E

My grandfather and a partner started  Wool Bay Lime. It was a building supplies company. My grandparents lived in a dinky-di little house, near the shore at Glenelg. It was a bunch of rooms and to get from one room to another they had to use an  outside, but closed in sort of corridor. They had a meat safe out at the back of the house. In later years they replaced that with an ice box and I can remember the ice man coming around to fill it up with more ice. Those old meat safes were quite wonderful as long as you didn’t keep the meat for too long!


When our family returned from Australia to Germany   after ten years I was 14 years old. My grandfather was such a friend and a comfort to me. After school hours I helped out at various farms and I also did some grape picking.  My dear grandfather discovered that some farmers weren’t paying me adequately, so he got Grandma to choose only the  farmers that would pay me fairly. Then after returning from my farm work each afternoon I would sit out in the garden with my grandfather and tell him about my day. He gave me good advice and re-assurance and we shared many a little secret between us.  One day at a farm they gave me a drink of apple moss, the first stage of fermenting grapes or apples. I was really thirsty so I drank a lot. When I got home Grandpa could see I looked different and soon realised I was quite drunk! He sat me down beside him and told me I shouldn’t drink that stuff  like water! He just talked quietly and soon I was over my intoxication. He said we didn’t need anyone to know about my misadventure.

When my Grandfather married his 19 year old wife, she had 3 or 4 siblings . Their parents had both died. Grandpa said “those children must come and live with us too.” That’s the sort of loving man he was.  Then they had 8 children of their own!


Before WW2 my  German grandfather worked in a design team for the construction of large vehicles. During this time he met an English man at a conference in Hannover who was doing the same design work in the UK. My Grandfather couldn’t speak English and the English man couldn’t speak German. However they both could speak French and communicated in that language. They corresponded in that way until the war came and there were no more letters.

 After the war the Englishman wrote again and came to Germany to visit my Grandfather. It was then that they discovered that both of them had been seconded to work on aircraft design in their respective countries  during the war years.

My grandfather was a very kind man.  He used to nick food from my Grandma’s pantry and take it to the Polish POW’s working at the same factory. When he caught mice in a trap, he would show me how he took them out to the forest and set them free!  Karin it’s lovely that even a war couldn’t squash your grandfather’s kindness.


My grandfather was born in 1903 and died in 1983. He was one of thirteen children although his twin sister died at 3 months of meningitis. They lived in a two roomed tied cottage in the north east of Scotland. ( A tied cottage went with a farming job. When the farm worker was paid once a year, the rent for the cottage was deducted from his wage.) When my grandfather    left school he worked as a horseman. He was up at 4 am, seeing to the horses.  They were all fed and brushed and stables cleaned before the horsemen went for their breakfast  at the farmhouse kitchen for the single men. A harsh life for a 14 year old , Alexis


My grandfather got married in Germany and then went off to fight in the 1st World War.

 He was badly injured and was sent home. The only way to get home was to walk, from France back to Germany. He died of his injuries in the last year of the war. His wife was pregnant, so her daughter  (who was my mother) never saw or knew her father. What sad, hard times Peter.

Show and tell

It was sunny but blustery by the seafront and we watched the ocean change as the session progressed. We were happy to be doing what we were doing surrounded by good company and lovely colours and ideas. Next week will be our last meeting for the year. We have been grateful we could meet.

Show and tell

Janette: a large man size jumper in brown with gold coloured stripes.
Cathy: striped blanket in chevron pattern blue/yellow/fawn and 2 wash cloths for family friend’s new baby, 2 balls spun wool.
Marjorie: made 2 pairs of very colourful socks, skein & ball of silk/wool, dyed with exhausted dyes.
Alexis: a large skein of spun wool dyed with 4 brown tones.
Jan E: a small pink crochet teddy in cotton.
Marina and Peter’s finished weaving for the deck chair.

Good ideas!

amigurumi bear

Jan E was crocheting a lovely teddy today and finished it just in time for show and tell. The apricot colour was fetching and she got the black features just right so that the little teddy would be the perfect friend for someone. The pattern on KnittingDay explains how you can turn this bear into other animals easily. Very handy!

Another great idea was from Marina who shared a pattern of making a bag by weaving on a cardboard box. If this appeals to you you can get free instructions and a downloadable .pdf on fibrecrafts.

Drum carding fun

Marina and Peter have a new electric drum carder so Peter brought it along to get some tips as to how to make the most of it. Marina had cold dyed some merino fleece with food colouring and left it in a container for two days because the weather was warm and sunny. The new colours, after the process was complete, were beautiful forest colours. Marjorie was helping Peter turn these into a really good wool batt. Patience and skill. Pull the fleece out gently and put through thinner pieces. Stretch it out and put it through again. It becomes airy and even softer.

To make it easier to spin, Marjorie showed Peter how to diz. She was just using a plastic bottle top with a drilled hole. It makes a thinner, finer, longer section of wool fibre to spin. A roving. You will be able to do it , if you want to. You will have something at home to diz with and a crochet hook. Use a condiment’s bottle top with the hole already there or your knitting needle gauge. When you watch the video you will see a smaller hole works better. So why use a big hole? If you are beginning you need to be able to do this easily. You will need to see and understand the process. Once you are comfortable with that, you will be able to diz (draft) using smaller holes. Just remember the hook needs to be able to come back through the hole with the fleece.

This video will show you the process . You can hand card the fibre as well before dizzing.

Christmas crochet

Margaret has been making some nice Christmas decorations. Last week she brought in an angel. This week we could see her finished colourful Christmas stocking, her Christmas trees and a Christmas bauble. The stocking was very popular. We loved its cheerful colours and the interesting trims. The trees are simple but effective and the glitter yarn suits the pattern well. The bauble is carefully made and so it is attractive. Once mastered the bauble pattern could be used for other things…like stress balls!! Hopefully, next year is very zen.

Here are instructions for Christmas baubles by Ophelia Talks:

Show and tell

That week went fast! Beautiful sunny day down by the beach with a blue, calm ocean so plenty to look at out of our window. We were noisy today but it was all productive, cheerful chatter and a welcome visit from Jenny Gunson with her fleeces. We are all encouraging each other to take on new ideas and try new things or to ensure we can complete what we want to do by way of projects. Skills sharing and inspiring ideas . Keeps us positive and happy.

Show and tell

Marina: a small owl made from book Knitting with Squares, one small square weaving in fawn over rods.

Peter: 1 small weaving in green over rods. Carded wool batt.

Margaret : several small crochet Christmas decorations, one Christmas stocking made up of granny squares in lots of bright

Sheila’O: a large skein of wool dyed with Gaywool Tomato. Also brought in sample cards from the Bendigo Woollen Mills.

Cathy: two balls of spun wool one multi coloured plied with rose fibre, one
cyclamen colour.

Wendy : 2 beautifully soft woven mats.

Karin: a lovely soft knitted cape in green with a fluted border.

Crochet blankets

Christine made this wonderful, crochet blanket for a special little person. It is a big, bold design which makes an unforgettable visual impact. Children love big and impressive. The Christmas penguin looks great. Patience and perseverance are needed for a blanket like this but the finished result is well worth it.

We watched Karin spin these lovely ocean colours. Her workspace was a sea of ocean colours as she patiently spun all the merino tops for the blanket she made. It is soothing and calming to look at, mid weight and such a lovely blanket to be able to use as part of home decor as well as for keeping warm. The colour play is so effective.

As we have said before, crochet blankets tend to be heavier than knitted ones. The weight can be reassuring as well as warming. Every home made blanket looks so different. They take time and effort but invariably go to use as soon as they are made.

crochetforyoublog has some good, free penguin patterns if you want to get into an arctic mood!

Crochet Christmas Stocking

Margaret’s colourful Christmas stocking caught our attention. Her inner hippie was shining with all those bright colours and it was a change from the traditional colours. Margaret had a pattern there she was following and this is still a work in progress, hence the loose ends and plenty of them because of the colour changes. It was so cheerful to look at so maybe , this year, we need to embrace colour and allow ourselves really fun things to look at.

Crochet Christmas stocking

Allfreecrochet has plenty of Christmas stockings for you to try.

You might also like this Christmas stocking made from grannie squares which you can follow on the video. Love naztazia’s nail polish!

Show and tell

Lovely, bright sunny day at the beach front but oh, so windy! We had a very helpful meeting full of good ideas and colour. It is those conversations and productive ideas which keep us going through this tricky year. We stay inspired and creative. Today there were some really good colour combinations and then Margaret’s hippy Christmas stocking which was a lot of fun and will soon be finished.

Show and tell

Cathy: one ball of spun fibres wool/sari silk mix in green, 1 skein of merino dyed orange with Tasmanian blue gum leaves.

Janette: one ball, one skein turquoise/white camel and merino.

Alexis: two beanies from her last year’s Christmas challenge fibre, three skeins of First Edition multi-coloured tops plied with black and black skein.

Marjorie: a skein of wine coloured Bendigo tops.

Sheila O: four plaited tops dyed with Gaywool dyes, tomato, ivy, Aster, cyclamen.

Peter :wearing dark brown sleeveless top in handspun alpaca and wool knitted by Marina with matching beanie also a small weaving for a home project.

Show and Tell

It was very blowy by the beach front today but such a beautiful ocean to look at with snow capped waves. Inside we were full of help and ideas and such reassuring natural colours and then a lovely array of rich, bold colour and then the softer, calming tones. So much inspiration and so much problem solving. It was a very rewarding day.

Show and Tell

Christine had crocheted a large rug with a penguin design as a feature.
Marina had woven all her spinning oddments into a lovely project bag for herself plus she shared two small balls of spun fibres,
Cathy had spun ball of wool in two blues.
Janette spun a ball turquoise/white.
Karin shared a large crochet blanket in variegated turquoise.
Alexis had spun a large wool skein dyed in cold water dye brown tones.
John made and shared a striped beanie made on his knitting machine and a pair of blue slippers.
Hilary had knitted a small pixie beanie in brown.
Maria had crocheted a small lavender pocket in Christmas colours.
Wendy was busy weaving a tea towel for the caravan.

Grandfathers know a lot.

Sonya, our roving reporter, has been doing the rounds again. This time she is asking us about our grandfathers. They play a unique role in the growth and development of a child. From our first stories you can see that is a powerful, indelible role since many of us are grandparents, great grandparents, even, and our memories of our grandfathers are clear and vivid.

Our grandfathers!


My grandfather was gassed in World War 1 but lived until he was 86! How’s that for a hardy individual Debby!


My grandfather had a fodder stall in Berri. When we used to visit him we (kids) used to walk down the drainage channel from his house to town. My cousins who lived in Berri also, had a channel flowing right through their orchard property . They used to catch yabbies in it. It sounds as if those channels were made to be enjoyed Margaret. They  sound much more fun than modern  underground drainage nowadays.


My stepfather was blind. I can remember him holding on to the long clothesline to get from the backdoor to the outdoor toilet.  No guide dogs back in those days! My other grandfather was the station master at the Adelaide railway station. He died in the signal box which is still there, by the jail, as you come into the railway station on the train.   My grandparents had a half  half acre property and used to grow flowers to sell. When the train came in from Melbourne they would pay to get on to the platform (1 penny) and sell flowers to the passengers as they arrived. After he died my grandmother took over the flower business. Remember to look out for that signal box next time you come in  to the Adelaide terminal and give Janette’s Grandfather a wave!


My grandfather was a painter (artistic) and had a vineyard.  In the school holidays we visited him in South West Germany and helped pick the grapes. We had baskets that reached down to the ground, hitched on our backs. He always wore those knickerbocker trousers. One day a bee got up  into his trousers and stung him. He was hopping around like anything. I thought it was hilarious and was laughing, but he did not!  So he gave me a good spanking ( but I still was laughing!)

He had a raspberry patch and I was supposed to shoot the sparrows with an air gun. But I didn’t like to shoot the birds so I shot the yellow plums instead. Then of course I had to eat them so Grandfather didn’t find out was I was up to. Dear little naughty you, Maria!

Addi Knitting Machine

addi knitting machine

John normally weaves on a big heddle loom or a big table top loom. Months ago, like most of us, he was looking to do something different while we were all in isolation. It was a good time to sort through things and use our skills in a different way. At the time, John also liked using round looms just for fun. He had ordered an Addi knitting machine and had to wait months for it to get here because of closed borders, changes to postal deliveries etc etc. We support being safe and what needs to be done to be safe, but it was a long wait! Finally , the machine was here and John could have fun. He has made slippers, ear warmers and hats. He showed us just how fast he could make a hat. This machine was fascinating. He has also mastered reversible knitting so you can turn the hat inside out and have a different one! The hats are neat and look good. They look machine knitted but they are well made and stylish.

Show and tell

The show and tell table was full of wonderful colours and interesting ideas. It was a warm day today and we were happy to sharing ideas and seeing what others are doing. There is still plenty of scrumptious natural coloured fleece being spun and it looks and feels good. The colours elsewhere in the room were nice to see too. John’s hat maker brought plenty of interest to today’s meeting.

Show and Tell

Janette had brought in some bunches of bay leaves for us to take.

Alexis also had a few more glasses wipe which are far superior to those in the cases.

John has been busy with his knitting machine and has churned out several beanies this afternoon, also a pair of multi coloured slippers and a grey head band.

Maria has copied crochet pattern that Margaret learnt at the Hills Retreat and cleverly made a beanie and added a few diamonds around the brim.

Karin has spun some grey alpaca which is beautifully soft.
Cathy shared a ball of wool from the brown fleece John brought in week and plied it with some soya fibre, noil silk and alpaca fleece and a ball of dyed wool plied with some rose fibre.

Marina had a small ball of the white fleece John brought in last week plied with cotton & a small ball of 2 commercial fibres plied together with the fleece.

Sheila brought in her all white spun wool from Jenny Gunson’s Finn X fleece which was very soft, Sheila rinse the skeins in an Epson salts solution.

Alexis shared her beautifully knitted wrap in multi blues colours with lacy insert rows.
Jan made a lovely variegated red skein plied with some woolly nylon in a contrast colour.
Hilary shared a small neck triangle scarf knitted in left over pinks.

Claire brought in some photos of her alpacas . Very cute.
Christine brought in a book which Margaret donated to our library.
Weaver Peter was busy with a piece of weaving for their home.

Seeing double

I am sure I didn’t ply two cakes of yarn! Both Cathy and Sheila O thought they’d had brain fade and somehow magically plied two cakes of yarn. Twin cakes of such similar colours they are so confusing! The yarn was spun quite differently. The photo shows how Sheila arrived at her yarn by plying two strands of different colours. Cathy had spun a wool plait which Alexis had dyed and then plied it with some English Leicester she had dyed with Earth Palette cold dye. And there you have it! Great minds think alike but the process is different for each individual. Cathy’s is on the left and Sheila O’s ,with a bit more pink is, on the right.

Dyeing speckled yarn

Jan E sent us a brilliant link to a host of speckled yarn dyeing links and more curated on Pinterest. So many choices. If you want some written instructions with pictures about using cake sprinkles to dye yarn The Impatient Dyer has clear instructions to follow.

We have included a YouTube video by Brea Kehr as well so you can see how to use granular dye powder to make sprinkle yarn. Great for using up the odd bits of powder you might have!

Show and tell

Another lovely spring day for our meeting. People were tending to spin natural colours and fleeces this week. Not everyone, but those natural colours can be in a league of their own. It was good to find out about a homegrown fibre artist too , thanks to Deb. We posted about Andrea Love yesterday. Most people are getting involved in new projects so not a lot on the show and tell table. Takes a while for the yarn and ideas to come together . It was a very productive, happy day.

Show and Tell

Claire brought along an old wooden shuttle used in the mills in Lancashire, and
a spool of her plied alpaca fibre.

Cathy: 2 Balls of spun wool, blue two/tone and mixed pastel colours.

Sheila O : Bendigo blue plied with mixed pink/lavender.

Marina: has bought a small square loom set complete with comb and booklet.
Sonya brought in some lovely lemon scented verbena to share. A lovely fragrance.

Exchange Day ,on the first Monday of each month, went pretty well again. People find things they could really use that others do not want, but we also talk a lot about the things which are being brought along to gift or exchange.

And now we spin and weave

Image: Educator Hotspot

Sonya, our roving reporter, has brought us more stories about what people in our group used to do. Lifelong learning means you learn and develop a lot of skills and so you are always growing and are always current, as they say. You create your own relevance because you have the experience to be able to do that. We all do it now through spinning and weaving. Over to Sonya:

Update for Maria who was  seconded for war work in wartime Germany.

Maria assures us that all the events in her previous report, took place during her apprenticeship!!!  What an amazing time it was for you, dear Maria!


I  used to love watching and learning from my Mum while she was doing her craft work. All her sewing, knitting, tapestry, embroidery, crochet etc, I learnt like that. That’s how I learned how to crochet granny squares, as a young thing. I guess Mum was a lot like me- quiet, reserved and a good listener. What a treasure of a mother you had, Jan. And they say a good apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!


I used to own an aeroplane, a motorbike and some 2nd hand cars. However I sold them all because I didn’t have room to store them!  I learnt how to fly the plane but didn’t have time to fly it ! I was flat out running my own motor car repair business.

John you’re still flat out coaching our weavers, repairing our spinning wheels, making improved parts for them and inventing ingenious parts and pieces to restore problem or ancient looms and wheels. Every spinning and weaving group should have a Mr Fixit like you. We are indeed fortunate to have you in our  midst.


I used to teach at  Tauhara  school on the edge of the town of Taupo, which is on the edge of the beautiful Lake Taupo NZ. When we walked around the school playground it sounded as if we were walking on top of a huge empty tank. Boom Boom every step we took.  On hot February afternoons  I remember taking my class of little tackers out into the bracken fern  scrub, finding a spot with some  shade and no steam coming out of the ground. And there I would read or tell them stories.  After several years all the floors of the classrooms rotted away with the warm moist steam from the ground below. It was a strange and wonderful place!