Tuesday 16 July 2024

Hippy Chick Trousers

At this time of year, when The Great British Sewing Bee is on, I suddenly remember that sewing is something I can do.

So this year I decided to make my some trousers, with this lovely piece of Africa waxed cotton, that I bought from a charity shop for £6. The pattern I used is New Look 6271. It also contains a pattern for skirts and shorts, so thought it was good value. My one worry with it was would that the waist look too elasticated. I am usually a jeans girl, and avoid elasticated waists when buying trousers. This waist has a combination of elastic in a channel, and a functioning tie, which confused me a bit at first. But I am really happy with the end result. The thing I really like about this pattern is the width of the legs. They are quite wide, but not silly wide.


My daughter was here in Cornwall when I finished the trousers, and also liked them so much, that she tried to persuade me to let her wear them to work. Before I had even worn them out myself! I pretended to be annoyed, but was actually quite flattered that she liked them so much. So they are still my trousers, but I now have two more pieces of fabric to make some for her. Pleased about this, as I love to get more than one garment out of a pattern.


After that I am planning to make, in the style of The Sewing Bee, a blouse out of an old embroidered table cloth. I have a few of these to use, but if anyone can suggest a fairly simple pattern, without gathers so the embroidery will lie flat, I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday 2 July 2024

Turtle Project

Once in a while someone shows me a project made from one of my patterns which is really special, and they allow me to feature it here.


This was the case with Lori, from Louisiana, who contacted me a few weeks ago about the finished size of my Tortoise pattern. She had found this beautiful turtle shell in the woods, and decided the time had come to make a body for him. As you see the shell is stunning in itself, but now Cecil has a body too.

Lori had to slightly adapt the pattern for size, and as you can see has done a wonderful job. She has made a body, which she has carefully slid into the shell, which is one piece.

Doesn't Cecil have a wonderful expression on his face. Thank you Lori for letting me share your project here. 

I love to see when knitters have used my patterns, especially for an unusual project. It makes designing a pattern really worthwhile to see it being enjoyed.

Friday 28 June 2024

Gardening Green with Fleece

I am trying something new in the garden this year, which is to use some of the waste fleece from the mill where I work in different ways. It has been wetter than usual this year, and we seem to have more slugs and snails than ever. I don't use slug pellets, as I enjoy watching the birds here so much, and it just seems obvious that poisoning one of the things that they are going to eat is going to affect them. I want my veg, but not that much.

Over the years I have tried other ways to combat the snails and slugs - beer traps and coffee grinds, which both had some success. The fleece I am using is called greasy waste, wool that has not been scoured and contains lanolin. It may have a bit of sheep marker spray in it. Or even, heaven forbid some sheep poo, but this is all to the good. I have been putting it around the plants that get attacked most - the strawberries in the polytunnel, the courgettes, pumpkins, and squash. It seems to be working well, not blowing away which was a bit of a concern.

I have read online that fleece has other properties that are good. Not only does it help retain heat around the plants, it also can hold 30% of its weight in water, which if the soil is dry it will release if needed, but also soak up water if the weather is wet. So it should mean less watering. If used in larger quantities than I have it will stop weeds growing. It seems like a winner all round.

Another good thing about using fleece is that it adds nutrients (nitrogen and other trace elements) to the soil, particularly when you are planting. Some fleece added to the planting hole will help retain moisture around the roots. I decided to be scientific, and planted half my sunflowers this way, and the other half without, as a control. The experiment failed, as a few days later I think a rabbit got in and ate the lot. I almost had a second take, as every part of every plant was gone. He did not seem to differentiate between those with the fleece and those without, all equally yummy. I may have another try at this with other planting.

Here is my other non-chemical slug destroyer. I have found this toad several times in the garden, and I think he is also keeping the slugs down.

My other use for fleece in the garden this year was stuffing Fergus the scarecrow. I know you may say, but you like the birds, so why make a scarecrow. Fergus is totally ineffective as a scarecrow, and I have seen the odd bird sitting on him, but I do think he may put off the deer that have occasionally invaded the garden. Other years we have stuffed him with anything we could find, but I feel better about using the fleece, knowing that if the odd bit escapes it will probably be put to use by a bird, or perhaps even the thieving rabbit could have a fleece lined burrow.

I deliberately left the brocoli flowers as the bees were enjoying them so much.

There are other uses for sheep wool in the garden -

  • Small quantities of sheep's wool can also be used in a compost heap, and will decompose to add fertility to the soil.
  • I have seen people use fleece to line hanging planters, which I might give a go next year.
  • Woollen garden twine is a really great eco-friendly alternative to imported jute or plastic garden twine. 

I was lucky this year to have a source of wool, but I know there are a lot of farmers for whom the wool sheared from their sheep is a waste product. I met a farmer last year whose wool was not good enough to process into knitting wool, who was burning it. I do wish there was a way to get farmers in this situation and gardeners together, as it really is good to garden in a green woolly way.

Saturday 15 June 2024

Wild Flowers - An Education

I sort of consider that I have a fairly good knowledge of wild flowers, but this week I have had a bit of an education in more than one way. This tiny flower above is all over the place at the moment - in hedgerows, growing out of walls. And it has been frustrating me not knowing what it is. I have several wild flower books, and despite leafing through them several times, it is only this morning that I have worked out that this is the navelwort or pennywort, so named because the dimple on the round leaves looks a bit like a navel. My book says it is found more in the west of Britain than the east, which might be why I had not come across it before.

The second part of my flower eduction is a bit more serious. My daughter was down here for a while, and just before getting her train asked if I would pick a few wild flowers. So I rushed out and picked a few buttercups, red campions, one of my special oxeye daisies, and what I thought was a bit of cow parsley. Off she went with her flowers held together with string and newspaper. A few days later my husband was out with his strimmer, and came in and started pouring over his laptop. "That flower on the slope isn't cow parsley he announced, but hemlock!" The flower a bit similar, but a much bigger plant with a distinctive spotty stem. Well we are all okay. I was slightly more worried for him, as he had been strimming near the plant, and spent the evening asked him if he felt alright. I also can't believe I sent my daughter off with a bunch flowers from the most poisonous plant in the UK. She is fine too, and I guess we have all learned something.

Sunday 9 June 2024

Tamara Way - Lifton to Boyton

Another section of the Tamara Way, and this time we decided to get a few more miles under our belts. It was the perfect day for walking - sunny but with a slight breeze. All of this section of the walk was on lanes, so no muddy patches, but also meant we decided not to bring the dog, as she loves being off-lead for at least some parts of a walk.

As you will see it was very much a leg for seeing animals. These mares and foals were having a lovely time just before we crossed the River Carey at Heale Bridge in the picture below.

We enjoyed this view of Launceston Castle, making us realise we were not really far from home, although once we had crossed the A388 it really felt very rural and quite remote.

At Crossgate my son made friends with this young cat - he is a "cat whisperer" as they always seem to like him.

A little later we surprised a fox crossing a field, but I was not quick enoough with my phone. And then we met these ladies, who were very curious about us.

It was nice to see the River Tamar again, which was much smaller than when we last crossed it at Horsebridge. For a while as we were walking near it we saw a lot of dragonflies and damselflies. Really beautiful blues.

Finally as we were approaching Boyton we passed a field with some lovely sheep and lambs, in with some cows with calves. These three were very confident and seemed to want to be photographed.

We waited for my husband by the Methodist Church in Boyton, where there was a very welcome bench.

Saturday 25 May 2024

Tamara Way - Kelly to Lifton

Our final part of this stage, and this time I had my son, daughter and dog for company. My husband tells me that each section we walk less distance, but I say we are trying to maximise the enjoyment. He is right though, and I think it is partly because we are getting very close to where we live. At the start where we had quite a long journey to the walk, it felt like we should do the maximum amount of walking we could. After this section we are north of our home, and hopefully we will start to have that mind set again.

Setting off from Kelly we passed through fields of sheep. When we got near the woodland, which was very beautiful, but the path was extremely muddy.

More fields and sheep, and we found the snack hut at Turchington, which was very welcome. From here we could look across the valley, and although we couldn't see our house which is in trees, we could spot all the fields around it.


The walk down hill to the River Lyd was very welcome. Here is a view as we crossed Lifton Bridge, and another of St. Mary's Church.

My husband was waiting for us at the car park of the Arundell Arms. I had the idea that we could stop there for coffee, but we were in quite a muddy state, so we headed home.

Friday 24 May 2024

Mosaic Hot Water Bottle Cover and Cat Model

Another bit of getting my family to model. This time it was my elderly cat. As you can probably tell she was not delighted. That is definitely the look of a cat saying "why on earth have you put me here?". I forgive her though, as she is an old lady of 18. Eventually though with another strategically placed hot water bottle under her basket she settled down for a bit more of the photo I was aiming for.

Looking at other photos on Ravelry of hot water bottle covers, I decided my favourites were of people heading of to bed, so I also feature myself in the one below.

This crochet pattern was designed by Rebecca Anaspure, and is available as a project kit on Blacker Yarns website - Mosaic Crochet Hot Water Bottle Cover. It is a really clever design, with a handy split at the back to insert the hot water bottle through.  Made from Samite silk-blend in DK, it is not only really soft and snuggly, it will keep your bottle’s warmth until you are fast asleep.

Now can I work out a way to get my dog into a photograph for Blacker Yarns.