Christmas Crafts

Story book coverI can’t believe I have not posted here since January 1st! In my defence I have been rather busy this year with my new children’s illustrated story book ‘The Thirsty Flowers’ which finally arrived at the end of November – just in time to make a few sales before Christmas. Although the story was written some years ago and was broadcast on BBC Radio’s ‘Listen With Mother’ programme this is the first time it has appeared in print and I have updated the story a little. It has been delightfully illustrated for me by a very talented young art student and, like all my books, the net profits will be donated to a children’s charity. You can read more about the book on my publishing website at ‘Silverburn Publishing’.

Fir cone table decorationWhilst I have been busy with the book I have not had much time to spare for my weaving or other craft work but I have not been entirely idle and, in this run up to Christmas, I would like to share with you some of the Christmas decorations I have made. These use all natural plant materials, with the exception of ribbons and the few silver ‘berries’ on the table decoration (above).

Home made holly wreathI have often in the past made my own wreath but in recent years have bought them to save time, however they seem to get more expensive every year and, since I have all the necessary materials in my garden, it seems rather silly to buy when I can make.  All too often the shop bought ones include artificial add-ons which to me rather defeats the Yuletide idea of ‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly….’  I prefer the real thing!

Hanging firconesThese hanging cones use Cotoneaster berries rather than holly and were adapted from an idea in ‘Landscape’ Magazine, which I have mentioned before on these pages. I hung them at my French Window for the photo but they now hang from my dresser in the kitchen.

I have only recently returned from about six weeks touring through France and Spain (where our daughter lives) and all the fir-cones used were collected on my travels so the decorations also make a lovely reminder of our holiday. I have several more cones left but have run out of time now I think – ah well, there is always next year. In the meantime I wish seasonal greetings to all my readers and end with the promise that I will try to blog here more regularly in 2017!


Have I really not posted anything here since August? I have however not been idle. I confess I haven’t done a great deal of weaving and my ‘Green Man’ is progressing slowly. I will do my best to finish him over the Christmas holiday period and hopefully have the completed article ready to show you in the New Year.

What I have been doing is learning how to crochet. This is a skill that I have tried several times in the past and always failed miserably. It’s not that I didn’t understand how to do the stitches but more a problem of not knowing where to stick the hook, especially when doing rows and counting stitches, so I could never arrive at the correct number of stitches in a row. Then I discovered a new tutorial magazine (possibly second time round) that builds week by week to teach the ‘Art of Crochet’ – which is the title of magazine.  (Visit the website at  I bought the first issue and, hey presto, all my problems were solved and I was hooked (excuse the pun). In fact I was so chuffed that I had it sorted I began working out patterns and doing things from other sources and I began to wonder if I really needed to continue to subscribe to the magazine, but for the time being I will continue – there is always more I can learn!  Here’s me wearing an Acorn Cup Hat I made from a pattern in ‘Landscape’ magazine (I have mentioned this magazine before – about a year ago when I knitted some little Christmas stockings!):

Acorn Cup Hat

We have recently been away touring through France and Spain for the whole of November and during our travels we visited some friends in the north of France and my cousin further south as well as our daughter, who lives in Spain. As it is getting towards Christmas I decided to crochet some little Christmassy gifts for each of them, my daughter’s set being done while travelling and finished just in time!

Christmas CoastersChristmas Jar cosy

The reindeer and robin are intended to be coasters, but it occurred to me that you could put a loop at the top and turn them into hanging decorations. The jam-jar cosy is my own Christmassy take on an earlier project I had tried while learning how to work in the round; the holly leaves are felt and the berries are red beads. It contains a jar of Mincemeat – always welcomed at Christmas by English people living abroad!

As this will be my last post before the New Year I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas (or whatever festival you celebrate at this time of year) and best wishes for the New Year. See you all again in 2016!


What Are Those Numbers?

If you find this as confusing as I do maybe this article will help!

The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts

Have you ever found a cone of interesting yarn, looked insConesCottonide the cone, read “8/2 cotton,” 10/3 linen or “10/3 wool” and wondered what those numbers mean? It’s the yarn or thread count. The yarn count or thread count is the number of yards of that specific yarn needed to make up one pound of a particular sized fiber (“YPP”).

HandbookThe Handbook of Timesaving Tables for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (Bettie G. Roth & Chris Schulz, 1993), sets out the yards per pound of various fibers as follows:

840Cotton, spun silk, rayon and acetate
300Linen, hemp, jute, ramie & wool (cut system)
560Worsted wool (spun system)
1,600Wool (run system)

A. Explanation

  • #1 cotton = 840 yards
  • #2 cotton (2x yardage and 1/2 diameter of #1) = 1,680 YPP
  • #3 cotton (3x yardage and 1/3 of diameter of #1) = 2,520 YPP
  • #8 cotton…

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Weaving At Last

Green Man ProgressI can’t believe how long it is since I last posted here. Life has been non-stop this last month or so with little time to indulge in handicrafts. Since the middle of last week however I have had the pleasure of some time to myself and I decided it was time I got on with some weaving. I confess that having undone so much of my Green Man weaving previously my confidence has taken a bit of a bashing and I have been avoiding it. But I have now been telling myself “you can do it” and although I still undo sections from time to time, it has progressed a little. I  keep reminding myself not to worry too much about the fine details in the cartoon but just to use it as a guide. The photo shows the result so far.

Some time ago I mentioned that a friend had given me some fleeces. They came from relatives of his who were new to sheep keeping and the fleeces had not been stored very well. I think also our friend must have left them in his porch during a spell of wet weather before delivering them to us. When they arrived they were quite wet, in fact two of them were absolutely soaked. We spread them out in our barn to dry but some time later it was obvious that the two soaked ones were beyond redemption so these were thrown away. The other two are now dry and waiting to be used. In the bags with the fleeces were also the ‘daggings’ and I decided to salvage what I could of these in order to practice spinning with a spindle again. They were very dirty so I washed them first. They are also quite felted but there are a lot of useable bits.

Fleece Daggings & RolagsMy ‘Lord and Master’ has been away for a few days, hence having time on my hands, so yesterday I decided to watch the Canadian Grand Prix on his behalf, but not wishing to be idle I got out my carders and the fleece daggings and started to make some rolags. By the time I had had enough for one evening the basket in the photo was full, but I still have plenty more to go at. The rolags are a bit lumpy and still have a few bits of straw and other rubbish in them but I think they will be good enough for practising. Now where did I put my spindle?

I have not done any knitting for a while but I recently bought a large cone of cream lace weight wool from a charity shop, it is a lambswool/angora mix and I am trying to decide what to do with it. The first plan was to make another lacy cowl like the one pictured in my last post but I think now that, as there is quite a lot, it might be nice to knit a lacy shawl or wrap. I have discovered a wonderful knitting resource website, which I highly recommend, at, which offers lots of free patterns and I have printed one off which I think I will use – more of this another time. First I must finish my Green Man!