SAL Update – Bee #12

July 17, 2022 at 8:17 am | Posted in Crochet, Embroidery | 8 Comments
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I managed to do a tiny bit on the bee this time round. Before:

In-progress picture of a counted cross-stitch picture of a bee. Shown is the right side of head and feelers, with the front edge of the right wing going diagonally upwards. Above that, a piece of honeycomb leading into partly-stitched unstructured background.


In-progress cross-stitch picture of a bee. Head, right feeler and front leg are visible on the lower left, followed by the upper outline of the right wing towards the right. Above that, a background of honeycomb in yellows and oranges. Towards the top, a small blue flower with five petals. In progress on the upper right is a bit of orange background, still sparse.

I think this was just one session of watching TV. Hoping to do a bit more for next time.

I did work on another project, though: My parents will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary at the end of July and asked me to make the place cards. Since buying them and just writing the names on them is boring, I designed my own:

In-progess set of place cards, shown on a blue cutting mat. On the upper left a sample card in dark green with a violet crochet flower attached on the right side. Next on the left a set of six cut-out cards in light green. Below, eight crochet flowers in different variegated threads in oranges, reds, blues and violets.

The little flower is from one of my historical Irish crochet pattern books, and I really like making those in the different variegated threads. I think those cards will help to give a light and summery feel to the party!

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Megan, Deborah, Sharon, Daisy, AJ, Cathie, Linda, Helen, Connie, Cindy and Mary Margaret.


Irish Crochet Lace Workshop at Worldcon

September 4, 2019 at 6:13 pm | Posted in Conventions, Crochet, Lace | 2 Comments
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Quite a few months ago, I made a suggestion to the Programme team at Dublin 2019 – an Irish Worldcon that when having a Worldcon in Ireland, wouldn’t it be lovely to have a workshop on Irish Crochet lace, which is one kind of lace that’s native to Ireland? Having made that suggestion, I was pretty sure that a) it would be taken up and b) I’d be asked to teach the workshop. I was right on both counts.

Basically, it meant that on top of everything else, I needed to find a suitable pattern, collect the necessary materials and prepare a handout. The pattern was easy: I had seen this shamrock in one of my historical intruction manuals before, and it does have all the basic ingredients that make Irish Crochet different from other kinds of lace crochet:

Irish Crochet Lace Shamrock

Irish crochet lace aims to imitate dimensional needle laces by using two threads – a fairly thin thread for the crochet stitches and a thicker “cord” which other stitches are worked over, replacing the loops of chain stitches often found in modern lace crochet.

Materials were also fairly easy: I wanted participants to use the same materials I used for my class samples, so I had a good idea of how much was needed and the instructions would work with the threads. Since the thread sizes in historical needlework books are incomparable to what’s used today, finding materials that work together and adjusting the pattern to match is often the hard part of recreating those patterns. The real challenge was finding the right-sized crochet hooks. None of my collection of small hooks has anything resembling metric sizes. I made a guess that 1.25 or 1.5 mm hooks should work, and the lovely people at This is Knit reserved their stock for me. Since hooks in this size don’t seem to be a heavily sought-after item and I needed 10 of them, we ended up with a few 1.75mm hooks in the mix as well, which in hindsight may have been a bit too big.

So I made a couple of samples in May, got distracted by all the other Worldcon stuff after that, and made another sample just a couple of weeks before leaving for Dublin (this was mostly to figure out how much thread the pattern needed, so I could prepare the thread packages for participants), and wrote the handout on pretty much the last weekend possible that enabled me to still get it copied before leaving.

The workshop itself was fully booked, as I’ve come to expect for this kind of workshop at a Worldcon – they all were, no matter what the subject matter. We had fun, and I hope everybody got something out of it. For those who couldn’t get in, and others who may want to try Irish crochet lace, here’s the handout.


Happy to answer any questions!

Hyperbolic Crochet at Worldcon75

August 18, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Posted in Conventions, Crochet | 6 Comments
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I’m a geek at heart. I read a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and follow a few related places on the internet. But until a couple of weeks ago, I had never been to an SF  convention. I needed to remedy that omission, and I did it in style: Worldcon is the yearly convention of the World Science Fiction Society, and it takes place in a different city every year. This year’s Worldcon was going to take place in Helsinki, as Worldcon75. Since I love the Nordic Countries and haven’t been there for a while, this was my chance to combine two good things, and I took it.

After paying for my membership, progress reports started to trickle in, and in all of them there was a call for volunteers. Worldcons are a completely volunteer-run endeavour, so without people to help, nothing would happen. I generally enjoy being more than a passive consumer of things when possible, so the call for volunteers made me go look at the website, where the different areas they were looking for volunteers in were listed. Almost immediately, my eyes stopped in one place: Craft Corner? – sounds great, and I’m sure I can make myself useful there. A few emails later, I was discussing ideas of things to offer to people in the craft area of Worldcon with the lady responsible for the Craft Corner, and I want to talk about one of the ideas we actually implemented today.

What kind of craft might be of interest to geeks of all sorts? I’ve been fascinated by hyperbolic crochet for many years and had the opportunity to see the original Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef in London in 2008 – and even to create a small part for it! Thinking back to that I mentioned the idea to offer a community project making hyperbolic crochet pieces together. As opposed to a reef, where you need lots of people and many many hours to get anywhere even remotely impressive, I thought we could create a single big pseudosphere, with different people working on the piece throughout the five days of Worldcon. I was curious myself how big a piece we’d be able to create.

When I arrived for Move-In the day before Worldcon started, the area that was planned for this project was still just an empty bit of floor with a couple of dividing walls. We obviously needed some furniture. When asking where to get tables and chairs, the reply was: “How many do you need?” A table – and lots of chairs was my spontaneous answer. And both materialized just a few minutes later thanks to some of the lovely volunteers making the whole con possible. I made the perfect choice with that one … crafters don’t want to sit there all alone, they tend to form groups and chat while working. There were almost always people sitting on that table when I went by. Unfortunately I have no pictures of the workspace to share with you, simply because I forgot to take one with all the excitement of the con.

I had created an instruction sheet to be displayed at the workspace. The idea was to explain what this is all about as well as to give clear instructions for people on what to do. I think I mostly succeeded with that one. If you want to have a look, here it is: Hyperbolic_Crochet (link to PDF). There’s an error in the footnote, UK and US need to be the other way round, but I only noticed that on the last day. We had five laminated copies of this, and put two up on the dividing walls and taped the other three to the table.

So, what did we make from those instructions? Here you go:

Hyperbolic Crochet Community Project @Worldcon75

You’ll notice that’s more than one piece, in fact, there are four – the big piles of wool on the left and right, the one from colourful thread in the middle, and a start of a fourth one right below that one.

So, how did we get there? What worked, and what would I do differently if there’s a next time (and there might well be)?

  1. Workspace: A table and lots of chairs was perfect, as I already mentioned above. If circumstances allow, a bit more cozyness would have been nice, but we did just fine with a bunch of plastic folding chairs.
  2. Materials: We had a grabbag of unloved wool from somewhere, which all the big pieces are made from. While this worked, I’d prefer to get new yarn (any cheap acrylic or cotton would be perfect for this kind of project) in all the colours of the rainbow for several reasons:
    • While I tried to only keep similar-sized yarns in the bag for the project, this was approximate at best. All the yarn having the same properties would give a more consistent result. You can see how much cleaner the piece made from perle cotton looks. The perle cotton was actually intended for my tatting workshop (but that’s a whole other post), but whoever did the shopping seemed to have gotten a great deal and we had much more than we needed. Add a 2mm crochet hook I had with me, and there’s a good-looking project!
    • Not everybody who wanted to contribute was able to work with wool. While we had the cotton thread as an alternative, it would have been nice to have all the projects suitable for everyone who wanted to help.
    • Yarn of unknown origin can also bring other allergens with it. Our bag seemed in part to be infested with cat hair – not a good thing for a community project where you want to draw lots of people and not make anyone sick.
  3. Instructions: Those mostly worked fine. There were a few hiccups here and there, but the nice thing about hyperbolic crochet is, that as long as you don’t care about exactly modelling a specific mathematical object, it is fairly forgiving of minor hiccups. As long as you keep increasing at mostly the same rate, things will look good.
  4. Number of projects: As I wrote above, my original thought was to see just how big a piece we could make together. Given the sociable nature of crafters in general, I should have known beforehand that that wouldn’t really work. With the bonus project from the perle cotton, we already started at two and added an additional hook for the bigger yarns pretty soon, from which a third project developed, which was a good number, I think. There were additional projects trying to sprout on occasion, but since we didn’t have any more hooks to go around, things mostly kept concentrated to those three projects. So, next time get a few more hooks and actually try to do a small reef or something?
  5. What will you do with it? This was one of the most frequently asked questions by both contributors and onlookers. And it was a question I didn’t have an answer for. It wasn’t something that I had been thinking about beforehand, because I wasn’t even sure that this project would take off at all. I left the results with the people running the exhibits area of the con, and currently have no idea where they are.

All in all, I consider this project a success. The workspace quickly developed into a meeting space for craftspeople to come for a bit of downtime and a chat, and it gave me a go-to place as well. I’m not the best at going up to people and starting conversations – this way, loads of interesting people came to me! This is actually one of the ways that volunteering helps me to get more out of a big event like a Worldcon – you have things to do and automatically get into contact with other con-goers that way.

Since that blog post already has way too many words, I’m leaving you with another picture of that pretty hyperbolic pseudosphere made from perle cotton:

Hyperbolic Pseudosphere from Nr. 8 Perle Cotton

Adventures in Irish Crochet Lace

March 14, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Crochet, Lace | 4 Comments

I haven’t been writing about lace (or anything else — sorry for that) for a while, but for one of my current projects I do need lace — lots of it. I’ll write more about that project in a later post, but what’s important for the moment is that I want to include as many different kinds of lace as feasible. And of course I’m using that as an excuse to try something new to me. For this project I need small pieces of everything, so it is a perfect opportunity to experiment.

I have long been fascinated by Irish crochet lace and the ways it imitates the older and more elaborate bobbin and needle laces. You can see a few examples here and here from the V&A’s excellent online collection. Especially in the second image you can see clearly how Irish crochet lace is built: Individual motifs, often flowers or leaves, are worked and then connected by a background. While I have made some of the motifs before, I never tried to make a connected piece of lace with this technique.

For a pattern to use, I needed to look no further than my own hard disk, which houses a fine collection of digitized public domain needlework books. The one I ended up using is Thérèse de Dillmont’s “Irish Crochet Lace”, which I originally downloaded from the On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics. There’s lots of stuff there, not only about weaving but about all kinds of needlework. There doesn’t seem to be a way to link directly to specific entries, but the books are sorted by author, and you can find the book I used under the letter D.

Helpfully, the book has draft patterns for several lace edgings, and given the space constraints on the piece I am doing, I choose the narrowest edging available. Printing out the pattern and enlarging it to the size needed was the easy part. I made the individual pieces first, and then matched the pattern to their size, since a huge disadvantage of using old sources is that I generally have no idea what the thread sizes they recommend for a pattern actually look like. I used pretty much the thinnest thread I had on hand anyway, otherwise things would have gotten bigger than I needed.

So, how to get the pattern actually made up? The instructions in the book were not very extensive, so I went with my first instinct and set the pattern up like I would do for needle lace: Attach the pattern to a piece of cardboard and sew the ornaments down where they belong.

Irish Crochet Edging - PatternThat turned out to be a lousy idea, since it is nearly impossible to crochet next to the cardboard, as opposed to sewing like for needle lace. I also realized that I really needed to use a thinner thread for the connections for things to look even remotely good. This is where I was when I gave up in frustration:

Irish Crochet Edging - this doesn't workI ended up throwing the whole thing into the proverbial corner for a while, pretty much until I really needed the finished piece to go on with the whole project. At that point, I came up with what turned out to be a great solution: not only did it work, it saved me an additional step later.

For the project in question, I was going to attach the lace pieces to a dark ground fabric. So, why not use the ground fabric as the pattern? Being much more flexible than cardboard, it should be much easier to crochet on top of it, and I would end up with the lace already attached where I needed it anyway. I transferred the pattern to the fabric, and suddenly there was progress:

Irish Crochet Edging - in progressIt’s still far from perfect, but it starts looking like it’s supposed to be. I ended up doing a few parts twice, but it got finished fairly fast after that point. Here’s the finished piece after washing the markings out and pressing:

Irish Crochet Edging - FinishedNext time, I’ll show you what I made of this and other lace goodies from my collection.

The Tiny Orang-Utan

February 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Crochet | 1 Comment
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A few months ago a monkey-loving friend of mine was in need of a new guardian for her keys. While searching Ravelry for suitable patterns, I came across this adorable orang-utan. I decided to make this up using the orange Malabrigo Lace leftovers from this project. (Hmm, looks like I never posted the finished shawl. Must rectify that soon.)

The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, what I had is laceweight, so you can imagine I was working on a tiny scale. All went well for the head and body, there were enough stitches to work with. However, as soon as I started to make the arms and legs, I ran into a wall. Even after multiple tries, I couldn’t manage to make a tube in rounds of 4 sc with that yarn. I needed another technique to make the skinny tubes from.

Kumihimo to the rescue! Kumihimo is a Japanese braiding technique, which I came across quite a few years ago. Apart from making intricate braids, it can also be used to create very simple things, like the round braids you’ll usually find as shoelaces around here. While you can buy specialized equipment in craft shops, usually rubber discs with slits all around, the book I learnt from suggested using a simple cardboard disk. I made that disk back then, and it has been very useful to me on numerous occasions. I once bought one of the nice disks to give as a present to my niece, but am still using my handmade one.

I started by cutting the requisite number of threads for my braid long enough to be used for both arms, and then threaded them through the body to come out where the arms should start. This way, I only had one end of the braid to take care of at the end, with the other one already safely anchored. Here it is with impossibly long arms sticking out. I secured one side with a kitchen clip so I could work on the other one without pulling the threads out.

orangutan - start of arms

I then set up my trusty disk:

setup of kumihimo disk

You can see there are six slits on each side, and a hole in the middle where the braid will be forming. The numbers can be used to describe patterns easily by stating from which slit to which other slit a thread should be moved. For the simple over-and-under braid I’m aiming for the description looks like this:

  • 2 -> 21
  • 8 -> 2
  • 15 -> 8
  • 20 -> 15
  • 21 -> 20
  • 4 -> 9
  • 22 -> 4
  • 17 -> 22
  • 10 -> 17
  • 9 -> 10

Repeat until the braid is long enough. However, it turned out there was a problem with my braid. The laceweight yarn made much too skinny arms!

Orang with skinny arm

This is were I threw this project into a corner and forgot about it for a few months. The solution was pretty obvious, using more threads for the braid, but I didn’t look forward to opening up the braid and starting again. However, that’s exactly what I ended up doing, just a bit later than expected.

This is the new start, doubling up all the threads:

Orang-Utan, braiding the arms

This time things worked out just fine, and soon I had a finished little orang:

Orang-Utan with ruler

Some Assembly Required

June 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Posted in Crochet | Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, I needed to come up with something handmade for my niece’s birthday present in a hurry. She loves dogs, and I had a dog theme already going for her present, so why not include a crocheted dog? A few minutes of Ravelry search later, I came across this adorable creature (you can download the pattern for free from there).  Grabbing some leftover sockweight yarn and a hook, I set to work. Of course, since my last try at making amigurimi I had completely forgotten how fiddly these things tend to be, especially if they have a multitude of tiny ears and legs and paws. About a day later, after being repeatedly amazed that such a small project can suck up such a surprisingly big amount of time, I had this:

Yep, some assembly required, with all those loose ends needed for sewing. But after another hour or so, there was this:

My colours are quite a bit darker than the ones used in the pattern, so the eyes don’t really pop out. What I like most about this pattern is the realistic form of the body and back legs. It’s not just a barrel with a head and legs added, the body is shaped and the hind legs are constructed from two pieces. I’m happy with the result, and I hope the recipient likes it, too.

Fun with Dolls

December 31, 2008 at 7:50 am | Posted in Crochet, Knitting | Leave a comment

After spending 10 years in the garage and only being recently and unexpectedly found again, the clothing of my collection of dolls I never really played with as a kid was in less than optimal condition. What a perfect excuse to do some fun knitting!
Pink Doll Dress
This evening dress is very simple: I cast on enough stitches to circle the body under the arms (28 stitches in my case) and knit in the round downwards. The skirt is created by increasing 8 stitches every fourth round. I used yarnovers for the increases, leading to a subtle pattern in the skirt. Increases in subsequent rows are done immediately before the previous increase, leading to a diagonal line of holes. I finished the skirt off with a crocheted picot edge, counteracting the tendency of stockinette to curl up.

I then picked up 11 stitches from the cast on to work the front of the dress, gradually decreasing down to five. The straps to close the dress in the neck, giving a back-free design, are done as a single crochet chain, and I worked a row of single crochet down the sides of the front and round the back of the cast-on row.

To make sure the doll doesn’t freeze when going out to her New Year’s Eve party, I started a scarf from the same yarn, to be sewn together at the arms in the “Sleeves” style from Versatility. This wasn’t finished when I had to leave, but my mom promised to finish it, so pictures will have to wait till I’m going back to my parents’ place.

Holiday Gifts

December 29, 2008 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Lace | Leave a comment

Now that the holidays are over and I’m slowly catching my breath, I’ll try to catch up with what’s going on in the fiber department. We left the Waves of Grain scarf still blocking on the sofa in the last installment. After taking it off and admiring it, I decided the gift wrapping needed to fit with the contents.

I started by making an Irish crochet flower from gold-coloured thread:

Irish Crochet Flower

The pattern for the flower is from Thérèse de Dillmont’s Irish Crochet Lace, which I found on the Weaving Digital Archives, which despite of its name has lots of goodies for all kinds of needlecraft. It’s the Third Wheel (fig. 17) on pages 9 and 10 of the book. Together with the red and gold wrapping paper it gives the present a festive look:

Waves of Grain - Wrapped

Since I couldn’t get any pictures in daylight before wrapping the present, I had to wait for it to be unwrapped again. My mom was really happy about this totally unexpected present, and I even managed to take a few pics in bright daylight over the holidays:

Waves of Grain

Waves of Grain - Detail

Of course there was more knitting going on over the holidays, but more on this in a later post.

Crocheted Bookworms

December 15, 2008 at 9:41 pm | Posted in Crochet | 2 Comments

While looking for something handmade to include in the Christmas presents for my nieces, I came across Michelle’s Bookworm Recipe. I immediately fell in love with those little fellows and had to make some, to live in the books for my nieces I’ve yet to buy. They work up really fast, it can’t have taken me much longer than 10 minutes to crochet one, and a few minutes more for finishing. They’re the perfect use for the odds and ends of variegated sock yarn I seem to be collecting.


While making those, I realized they might make the perfect project for a young child just learning to crochet. I remember the long lines of chain stitch that couldn’t really be used for anything my older niece produced one Christmas, but never really progressing beyond that. With this pattern, you could just have the child make the chain, and then work up the body yourself for the first few, giving instant success for everybody involved!

Since I think my nieces might want to make a few more of those for themselves or to give to friends, here’s what I did: After translating it into German, I printed the pattern out on a smallish piece of paper and mounted it on a piece of cardboard, so it doesn’t break easily. I included the picture of the bookworms in the corner. I’ll include this card in the present, and a copy will go to Grandma in case somebody needs help when I’m not around. It’s nice to see that at least one of my nieces seems to have inherited the fiber bug, and of course I’ll do everything to encourage her! 🙂

Hyperbolic Crochet — The UK Reef

August 8, 2008 at 5:43 pm | Posted in Crochet, Museums and Exhibitions | 2 Comments

In London I had the opportunity to see the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, and it was just great! There’s a very good picture gallery of the whole exhibition on the IFF’s website, but of course nothing beats to see the whole thing in 3D! I saw the exhibition on Saturday afternoon, and found out there would be a workshop at the beach just in front of the Royal Festival Hall the following Monday. Since it was way too hot for sightseeing, I decided to go have a look, and found a lot of people sitting in deckchairs in the shade under Festival Pier around a box full of yarn and crochet hooks and having a good time doing hyperbolic crochet. Of course my fingers started to itch, and I was invited to join in. Here’s what came out of an afternoon of crochet:

Those workshops are organized to make contributions to the UK Reef. This little piece will hopefully become part of it, and I’m proud to have made a small contribution to what I think is a great project! Here are a few pictures of the UK reef in progress at the day of the workshop:

The exhibition is still running till the 17th of August, so if you have an opportunity to visit, it’s really great!

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