Talking Across the Pond: 6 am on the back steps

Preface, there is a bit of a lag in these letters as you will see because we write and then almost a full week later I post them here. I have been to TNNA this past week. I am very tired and have been extremely busy, thus no post until now. . . sorry! Perhaps I’ll do my Monday post on Thursday because my garden is AMAZING! When I got home very late last night from Columbus the scent of the lilies just hung in the garden. So strong it was like a Gardenia bush. . .



You are completely barking but I love it!

A trip to the UK sounds fab. You could try Stash who have a growing weekly knitting group and offer a range of workshops, they also have the added advantage of being right on my doorstep or as on my doorstep as anything is and best of all they have an endless supply of free coffee which is offered on walking through the door and which is the only reason my other half doesn’t object to going there. I have been known to loose track of time and be rather late returning to work having managed to spend five hours at the knitting group there munching homemade cake and trying not to take advantage of their generous 10% discount. Its as close to perfect as a knitting group is ever going to get.

If you’re brave enough to put up with us then you’re more than welcome to stay. I’ll leave the pie making to you though because my pastry could double up as building material. I do make a mean rhubarb crumble so you won’t starve. Unfortunately there’s a shortage of mud slides and tornadoes in this part of the UK, the children ate the last of the guinea fowl last summer and the sod house was shelved to make way for my husband’s shed which arrived this evening, a day earlier than planned. You’ll have to come up with some better excuses to stay in a proper hotel. I won’t mention tents in the garden to the children just yet otherwise they’ll be harassing me daily. They love any excuse to camp out, they’ve even been known to erect the tent in the house having been told it was too cold/wet/boring grown up excuse to camp in the garden.

Aim for July, August, or early September otherwise bring lots of warm waterproof clothing because it seems to rain continuously from October through to June. Schools close for the summer from the middle of July to the end of August. You’ll need a couple of weeks to do everything though as Doc Martin is filmed in Cornwall not far from Padstow which is famous for its fish restaurants. Since you’re that far south you couldn’t leave without going to The Eden Project.  In fact, I get the distinct impression you’ll like it so much you’ll want to spend a couple of days there. Next stop would be Get Knitted in Bristol via Somerset, home to The Wurzels (Youtube them) and scrumpy. Visit a scrumpy farm, any scrumpy farm, but don’t plan on driving any further that day. Detour through Wales via The National Wool Museum, stopping off at Harlech just because its beautiful. Head inland via the steam railways at Blaenau Ffeistiniog and Llangollen before reaching us. After that head to Pavi Yarns via The Lake District and then on to Scotland or do it all in reverse. There are so many amazing things to see that its hard to know what to suggest. The National Trust have hundreds of properties scattered throughout the UK and also rent out holiday cottages so you can stay in the grounds of a stately home or on a secluded beach somewhere.

As for beading stores … There’s nothing here. The nearest beading store is about 25 miles away. I know it doesn’t sound far but diesel is currently £1.50 per litre ($14 per gallon). The minimum UK wage is £6 per hour before taxes of a third are deducted, anything in the region of £8 per hour is considered good and over £12 excellent, and almost unheard of in rural areas. That’s cheap compared to the cost of public transport though, if you turn up at a railway station without pre-booking then a return ticket from here to London is £400. Not that there’s any public transport here. We have four buses a day, two in each direction.

The nearest house to us is attached but empty and has been for the last five years. The neighbours the other side are about 5 minutes walk away across a field. The only noises we hear are distant tractors, clucking hens, snorting pigs, sheep, the occasional cow and a whole menagerie of wildlife. Most of my neighbours are related in some way to someone else in the immediate area which confuses the kids no end as Grandma C isn’t their grandma, nor is Nanny W their granny but they are everyone else’s so the names have stuck.

My daily commute to work can be stretched out to a five minute drive, during which I pass half a dozen cars all of whom wave, not that I’ve ever met the drivers of any of them but we’ve been passing at the same time of day for years. Occasionally I’m late for work because the cows are crossing the road to the milking parlour or a neighbour drops by with some home grown produce on their morning walk. In the winter I walk because its quicker than defrosting the car. Most of the roads here are only big enough for one, I find multi-lane roads quite scary and driving on motorways at 70 miles an hour gives me the heebie jeebies, more so when other cars are whumping past doing closer to 100 mph.

Both girls go to school in hot pink hi-visibility jackets as we don’t have pavements (sidewalks) and on really dark misty mornings. One daughter has flashing armbands too, our overgrown puppy has a flashing collar and reflective coat, and we go out in bright yellow hi-vis winter gear just to be on the safe side.

Our local village shop sounds just like “Everything”. Officially its nameless but the locals know it as “Mrs Kay’s” on account of the owner several decades back being called Mrs Kay. The shop is now run by her grand-daughter but little has changed. Some goods still bear their pre-decimal prices in shillings and pence although at some point in the distant past they were updated to reflect the UKs current currency. Generally you ignore the price label as it would be rude to pay a shillings and six pence for a shoelace which would be roughly 18p in current money. You can’t even buy a packet of crisps for that any more. Its worth wandering round because she sells pretty much everything from zips to fresh cream cakes, although I’ve never seen a toilet she probably has one in the back room, its quite amazing just what is stashed out the back and equally its quite scary. The window display hasn’t changed since we moved here almost a decade ago, the labels have faded to the point you can’t figure out what they might once have been, the toys are bleached white from the sun, so it comes as quite a surprise to find that its always busy.


ps. I’m amazed you have scissors in your kitchen drawer. Mine always seem to end up in the shed or in one of the girls bedrooms or halfway down the garden, in fact anywhere but the kitchen drawer and buying a dozen pairs hasn’t solved this.



Dear Amanda,
I certainly hope my barking turns to biting!  Especially since you have figured out the whole trip and it sounds wonderful! Can’t wait to make a rhubarb pie in your kitchen. Just make sure you have some vodka in the freezer (not to drink . .). Must start working on this trip one little piece at a time. Perhaps your Stash (looks AMAZING!) would bring in Noni and my new hardware kits?  I’d love to teach there. With the book coming out over there next month in July, might be good timing.

Thank you for your note and the pictures. I looked at them for a long time and tried to imagine them all strung together in a panoramic. I will aim to take one set in same fashion from my side or back yard so you can see what I see when I step out the door in the morning to feed the cats. I’ll take those pictures early, at about 6:10 am tomorrow when I am first up.

Sorry so silent for about a week, as lots going on here.

Last Week, All Week: I have been preparing for the knitting industry trade show. I won’t go on about it to much, except to say I’ve been working on new patterns—some new little-ish bags, some accessories. Lots of ideas that I’m not ready to bring out yet  . . . Maybe into Fall. My goal with the show is to focus on the book, on combining patterns for a unique end product, and on introducing my new hardware kits. I’ve been working on re-thinking my packaging and I’ve hit on a great look . . . I hope everyone likes it as much as I do!

Last Friday: My little guy graduated from Kindergarten on Friday. Now, when I first learned there was going to be a ceremony with pomp and circumstance and the little ones wearing little gowns and caps and what all, I about guffawed or rolled my eyes and said “WE never graduated from Kindergarten!.” I thought, What’s the fuss?! But my Soma has been in pre-school since he was about 3, with this Kindergarten year being the third year in “school.” Next year he will attend first grade at a new school.  While for me Kindergarten was the beginning of primary school, it is, for him, the end of Pre-school. It is the first of many school rites of passage, a big transition. My heart about burst when he said all his lines correctly without prompting. And so handsome he was!

Last Saturday: Soma and I are working on a research project. He is going to present to his summer camp class (2 –weeks long) about the International Space Station. I grumbled a bit at first, but then we went to the library and got a big stack of books. It’s FASCINATING. Of course I’m convinced just about anything is fascinating if you look long enough to start figuring something out about it. We’ve already learned a lot. For example, aside from learning about space food and the danger of crumbs to the equipment and how everything must be without crumbs (cheese sticks a good food, for example), they do loads of cool experiments. They took orb spiders into space—there are the spiders, I’m sure you know, that make such lovely circular webs. Now, aside from the very cool fact that such small creatures withstood G-forces, the spiders tried for the first few days to make webs in zero gravity and all they made were sad messes. BUT after a few days, they were able to learn how to negotiate zero gravity and their webs were glorious. It made me want to see a video of just how they did this. . . AND they took some rats up to the space station. You’ve probably seen those little upside down bottles that they drink out of. Metal ball bearing at the end of a tube to keep the water from running out but they can drink by pushing the ball bearing with their snouts or tongues.  Well, in space the rats learned how to grab the drops of water with their paws and pull them to their mouths. So, on we continue to read every day about what goes on up there, studies of weather down here, studies of diseases, drugs, plants, animals, etc.  Big report next week.

After a couple of hours of our research, I gardened all day. Got everything in the ground but one Camellia. Tomatoes and eggplants planted, Geum plants planted, moved some chocolate coral bells to my shade garden, teased some hostas out from between the bricks in the walk and planted them in pots to grown them big, planted lettuce seeds in a pot. . . More to come, including pictures, about the garden.

Last Sunday: We all went to my friend Gwen’s farm.

It was wonderful and lazy but Gwen put us to work cleaning out the animal troughs. The lambs had just been separated from their mothers so they were calling to each other all afternoon, a serenade of longing to the quiet of our work. The swish of the brushes on the trough sides, the toads under the trough hopping into the grass to get away from Soma’s delighted hands, I was the only one brave enough to pick up slugs to feed to the chickens (to their delight!), Soma showed me the old stone quarry (he’s quite at home there), and then we drove through the countryside and I picked out farms I wish to buy. Home late. Very tired.

Monday: Working like crazy to prepare for the big trade show. . .
Tuesday: Today! More of the same. . . Working late. I have a few new bags I’m going to launch at the show. . . Have not even had the photo shoot yet! Here’s a teaser:

I think you are going to LOVE the new bags and hardware!
Wednesday: Ah, the tedium and excitement of preparations sure to come. I rent a big cargo van in the morning and pack it late at night.
Thursday: Head out in the van for a day of driving and talking. Beth is driving. . . I’ll be knitting and working as we talk.

I’ll send pictures from my back steps soon.

Hope you and yours are well!

Talking Across the Fish Pond: Letters to and from Amanda, Installment 1

You might have read the post about Amanda (Moo2Moo) some time ago. I asked her questions, she answered. . . Well, we’ve been talking a bit since. I thought I’d start posting some of our back and forth. . . she thought it was a fine idea.  So, here’s the latest, with more to come once a week on Wednesdays until we tire of it, I suppose.

Subject: Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Hi Nora,

The postie has just been bringing with him the most amazing parcel. Can’t begin to convey the level of excitement at this. The contents are amazing. Fabulous. Anouk is jaw-droppingly beautiful. I can’t get over just how squooshy Shepherds Wool is; there’s nothing even vaguely close in the UK without paying $30 or more per skein and the presentation bag is such a fabulous finishing touch. I have a huge beaming grin from ear to ear.

I was rather miffed at having to stay in all day tomorrow to wait for the OH’s shed to be delivered but its the perfect excuse to familiarize myself with Anouk. The quality of the patterns is outstanding, makes such a change from flimsy paper ones that start to fall to bits before you’re part way through.  I love the attention to detail and the notes on the rear about Soma are so damn cute and the suggestion about felting in a clothes dryer rather than a washing machine is so obvious it rates a *duh* as I’d previously done it by stopping the washer mid cycle and faffing about emptying it in order to check it which takes 15 minutes each time, top loading machines are extremely uncommon in the UK.

I can’t even begin to thank you enough. I’ve been wanting to knit your top down ribbed pullover for ages but kept persuading myself it was beyond me. Thanks to you I’ve discovered that I’m stubborn enough to try anything at least twice and in the case of a shawl named Haruni 8 times before conceding that its just not working and trying something else before having another go.

Going to whizz thorough today’s housework, massacre a couple of dozen metres of hedge, finish the last half dozen rows of a tea cosy and cast on for Anouk. The Fuschia Wrap is on hold until I can find somewhere that stocks the wire for shaping the flowers because all I’ve come across so far is far too thick and I’ve yet to some across a rigid enough alternative. Rather than knit them from a single strand and find I can’t shape them I’m holding off until I know what gauge wire I can get hold off. Its most infuriating. The best my local store was able to come up with was plumbers solder or paperclips and the local craft shop owner looked at me like I’d grown two heads but then she can’t understand why anyone would want to knit anything tha’ts not a pale acrylic.

Enough waffle. Domestic drudgery beckons.

Hope you had a great holiday.

Thank you very very very much!



Subject: RE: Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Dear Amanda,

You are such a love to say such lovely things—I want a recording for when I have low days!  I have sat here reading your note with a bit of a dopey grin on my face.  You write such great letters.

I’m trying to plan a teaching trip to the UK. I’ve asked Pavi Yarns if they are interested and they are keen to do it if we can work out the details. I was wondering if I might bring my family out to you and we could all meet (if I can pull this whole thing off)? The place where your forever home sits looks so absolutely breath-taking I want to sit and look for days. I have the bold idea that you might even have an extra bedroom and we would all get along so well you might say “stay!” and that would be that. And you are so deft with words that if just the thought makes you grab the edge of the table and whisper, “o no!” you’ll say, O, do come for tea or coffee and we can make a pie together (I mean that about the pie), but the back bedroom we used to use for guests has been taken over by the guinea fowls and now you wouldn’t want to stay there. Or, Just last week we lost our back bedroom to a horrible mud slide and simultaneous tornado and now there’s just a sad spot where it used to be. Or, the sod house we are building that will look out over the water and house the steady stream of guests we sometime have is still, pity, under construction probably until 2020, so I am so dreadfully sorry to say that we know a little place in town that you will love!

Most important, what time of year do you think is best both for knitting workshops and visiting? I’m trying to put together a proposal to several shops. I’ve got one in Scotland, Pavi, maybe Get Knitted. . .

I have always wanted to see the V&A and I want to see where Doc Martin is filmed (I don’t have to, but I just love that place or someplace similar) and all my graduate work was on English religio-political tracts so I’m keen to see the places I’ve only thought and read about.

But to the issue of wire. Have you no beading stores or anything of the sort? You’ll probably laugh at that question. I should know the answer just looking at that picture you sent of the shore line with not a soul on it for miles. And the story of the man in the shop and his incredulity.

But I live in a place like so many here in the North East of the US where the house next to mine is a stone’s throw, literally, away and we have to contend (while we happily watch the hummingbirds fly back and forth and try to hear the buzz of the bumblebee’s wings as it works over the lambs ears) with the motor of the next door neighbor’s pool filter rackety packety from 8 am until 8 pm every day–I could set my watch!. And huge stores with more plastic throw away things to tempt your money out of your pocket than you will ever care to see in your life! So we have whole shops (some of them quite large) devoted to beads and bead tools, and the assorted wires you might need, depending on your project. You can get silver covered wire that is then colored different shades you think you must have because you are convinced for a time that a red tulip must be wired with red wire. You’ll get over this, of course, because the silver wire is twice the price and the color wears off with the sort of wiring of flowers that you might be wanting to do, and it bends too easily with even that little bit of silver coating.  I think you should have 26 gauge brass wire.  A plumbing supply place might not be a bad place to start. I found my first little reel of wire in a funny hardware store. Brass or copper wire will do, though brass might be a bit more stable?

When I was writing the book, I was in rural Michigan—not so rural as a friend down the road whose house could be reached if you followed the signs for “yarn” written small in paint. First off the main road to a smaller road where the cars scoot over to the side as its really only big enough for one, and then turn a corner to a yet smaller road that is dirt and quite a fun bumpity bump ride for about the first 30 seconds, and then to a yet smaller road that’s barely bigger than a driveway, and finally to her farm where her little out building is home to a tiny yarn shop and in the summer if you visit she’s got lemonade in pretty glasses on a board table in the shade and you’ll wish to stay there until you need something like beading wire and it’s nowhere to be found for tens of miles or even hundreds of miles.

Unless you happen, in desperation, to go into a shop aptly named “Everything” or something like that and you’ll find there a bright orange hunting cap that you think will come in handy as it might be November you’re in there and it’s hunting season so even going to the car seems like a risk. And a bright orange jacket with the name of the high school sports team emblazoned on it over the heart, but it’s big enough for your father in law, which means its big enough to fit over your winter coat comfortably and you can even go for a walk without fear for your life.

And on you go down each isle carefully. There are two toilets on a low shelf.  Some faux flowers of unspecified botanical origin, several shower curtains in faded and dusty packaging that shows a slim, smiling woman with one hand raised to touch the curtain and the other hand poised in the air. Around the corner is the wire “section” if it can be called that. There is dusty plastic tubing on dusty shelves, and there, on a little hook, is 26 gauge brass wire on little reels that allows you to cut the wire right off the reel without resorting to the kitchen scissors you keep in the drawer for challenging cutting tasks. . .

Here I’ve just sent you a present (I’m so glad you like it!) and I’ve invited myself over for dinner and a vacation! You will think I’ve lost my mind and wonder about these crazy designers over there in Maryland and wish you’d never got all excited about that name the bag contest. . . Or maybe if I’m lucky you’ll be delighted and like the idea.  I’ll hope for the best and push send. . .


Dear Gentle Reader: If you like this post, please share it with like-minded friends and sign up for the RSS feed. . . Look for an installment in Talking Across the Fish Pond every Wednesday. For a new feature, Noni Q&A, check in on Fridays. Mondays–I will do better and post Monday’s post on Monday!–will be my whatever comes to mind post. Maybe gardening, maybe knitting, maybe something else . . .


Monday post on Tuesday: Making Plans

I’ve been getting ready for the big knitting industry trade show. . . it’s been keeping me very busy, and when I’m not in the studio working on new designs, I’m at home trying not to. I watched my son graduate from Kindergarten. . . and felt my heart swell with pride at his poise and bearing. He was so delighted to wear his cap and gown and his fancy clothes underneath. The first big rite of passage! In the Fall a new school and first grade.

You might have guessed that I’ve been gardening. . . but I’ll post more about that later.

And visiting my friend Gwen Handler’s Farm.  Here are a few pictures I took there (visit the Nora Bellows Facebook page for the whole album):

But I’ve also been making BLOG PLANS! I’ve even advance written some things for posting while I’m at TNNA.

Monday will remain my day to write about what I will. Some of you wrote lovely responses to my post about the garden, so I will do more of that, and I will tell you about the Yellow Foxglove and the Stephanotis, and other things that cross my mind.

Wednesday: Talking Across the Fish Pond. . . Amanda/Moo2Moo and I have started to write letters to one another . . . and it’s so much fun getting to know her, I thought you might be interested to listen in. I’ll share our back and forth on Wednesdays.

Fridays are now a Noni Q&A. If you find yourself knitting something in Noni Flowers, have a bag finishing question, a felting question, or any other noni-related question, send it along either to my studio e-mail ( or put it in the comments. I will answer questions with pictures, text explanations, and maybe even one of the highly polished and spectacularly produced videos you have come to expect from me.

No question is too basic . . . I promise. The goal here is to clarify something, trouble-shoot, offer advice, inspiration, and other exclusive content that one just cannot fit into 2 – 3 pattern pages.

Remember that the best questions are specific. Here’s a sample question: I am working on the Blah Blah flower and every time I transfer the stitches to holders, and move on to the next step, I realize that somehow the center of the flower (on holders) ends up sticking out of the side of the flower. . . (picture of said mutant should be included). I am obviously doing the same odd thing each time. . . can you help me figure out what I’m doing wrong?

You can start asking your questions today in response to this post. This will give me some time to prepare for the Friday blog. Bring it on!

The Fish Pond Summer Saga begins . . .

IT’S TUESDAY! You might have noticed my silence yesterday. . . I was in a quandary. About what to blog?  I wanted to tell you about my fish. . . but felt compelling to write about knitting. Knitting writers block. My friend Beth suggested I write what I want, without worry about Noni or knitting or some notion the readers of this blog only want to hear about knitting, so please forgive me if you have no interest in goldfish. . .but indulge me anyway. I like them. And I like them in big ceramic pots in my garden. They ground me. I go out every morning and afternoon and check on them. I train them to nibble at my fingers. I even dream about them sometimes.

I spent my Sunday in my garden.

I even got a little sunburned on my shoulders, which, if you know me, is positively scandalous. I am quite fair and burn easily. Ever since I read about the benefits of Vitamin D straight from the sun herself, I have stopped wearing sunscreen (the sciency man who wrote the article about such benefits said, might as well drink it! So much ends up in your blood stream doing who knows what to you). But I’m not nutty about a tan, so I just take my chances, go about my business, wear long sleeved linen shirts I’ve stolen from my husband’s closet and rolled up the sleeves. You get the idea. But Sunday, I was in garden bliss. It was hot. I had a tall glass of iced water. A little sundress. . .

I planted things, pulled dead leaves off the iris, used my kitchen scissors to cut all the spent buds off the Dianthus by the path. I watered the front garden, planted geraniums amongst my happy yellow pansies by the front door, pulled out plants that were diseased so they don’t spread their scourge to others. I found some beautiful exotic petunias that Soma and I both loved, so we found a place for them by the back door.

There was work everywhere and that was wonderful. I was no end of busy.

And Soma wanted to get some fish. Goldfish. I had promised this. We have three little water features. . .

One is a lotus pond and home to a full sized Lotus–a birthday gift from my sister. I can’t wait. She says the blossoms are hot pink! This pot does not have fish inhabitants. . .

The next pot we’ve had since Austin, Texas days. In other words, it is nearly 8 years old! It houses mosquito fish–hearty little fellas! and it also houses the few surviving tadpoles that Soma and I collected from a nearby pond. Nature creates multitudes because so few survive. . . But there are about 4 or 5 that look really great, so I hope to see frogs crawling out of the pot sometime later in the summer.

The final pot (the biggest) is a bit further down the path and has a little fountain in it. We did have one goldfish in it who had survived through such trials last summer. We grew her from tiny to healthy fish. She was about 5 inches long. But I oversalted the water (some pond salt is beneficial for keeping baddy micro-organisms to a minimum) but I overdid it and realized my fault too late.  The Ph spiked to around 8 or so. She tried to bear it but must have jumped out. We never found her. . .

So, I promised Soma we would get three 27cent fish. We went to the pet store. We looked at the fish and I was tempted by pretty tails and red and white markings. We came home with 4 fish: 3 that are white and red, and one classic gold fish with a beautiful tail. The longest in the tank. We were super selective!

They say–I know you’ve heard this–that you must acclimate the fish to the temperature of the water. To do this, you are advised to float the bag in the water until they are the same temperature. . . we floated the bag.

I tested the water in my pond. I was shocked (you see, this is how I figured out the cause of death for poor little red & white!): Ph way too high!

I began remedial measures: flooding the pond with new water. Water poured over the side and into the garden. This didn’t bother me as it was a hot day and the garden was suffering anyway, so the water was welcome by the plants all around. Tested the water.  Still too high.

I asked my husband to get something called Ph-Down. I thought later this was probably just distilled vinegar, but at the time I was worried. It was almost dusk and the poor fish had been in the bag for a long time now.

Ph-Down recommends you put a dose in and then wait for 20 minutes. Test the water again. We went through this process several times on our quest for the perfect goldfish Ph of 7.0 . . . but bringing down the Ph has side effects, like lowering the Kh [baking soda fixes the problem readily, so don’t go purchasing some $24 dollar container of Kh stuff (as I did) because you will probably just be purchasing the most expensive baking soda you ever have in your life!]. I added some baking soda and started seeing test results I liked better and better.

And then I wondered. . . and I had never ever wondered this before: WHAT is the water like inside that bag??

I tested the water and I was (again!) shocked! The water was way too acidic, high levels (even unsafe levels–why should this be a surprise with all the poor dying fish inside the tanks of 27cent goldfish in the pet store??) of nitrites and nitrates. . . No wonder the poor things don’t make it. The difference between my closer and closer to test-perfect water was SO DIFFERENT from the water in the bag, how could any fish not be physically challenged if not simply over come by the difference?

The remedy: pour a little bit of our pond water into the bag and wait 20 minutes. Then repeat. This would allow the Ph to rise within the bag and the dangerous levels of nitrites and nitrates to go down slowly. The fish would become more acclimated to the water they would enter. We did this, waited, repeated, waited, repeated. . .

But we literally ran out of time. It was dark, the poor fish had been in the bag for HOURS. we had been adding about a quarter cup of good water to bad every 20 minutes for some time.

Finally, we poured the 4 fish and their little frog friend into the pond (a tadpole/new frog still with gills was in the fish tank at the store. The store girl gave it to us when we asked–we were delighted!) Then we went to bed.

I can report, as the image here only partly attests, that all 4 fish and small, every-day-more-frog-like-frog survived! See the little orange sideways exclamation point in the upper left bit of the pond!?

If you liked this entry and would enjoy hearing more about the garden, it would be great to hear that from you. How many of you have fish? or fish in the past and wondered why the poor things seemed so fragile and died without seeming provocation? Tell me your story in the comments.

More garden stories to come if you’ll tolerate them. . . I’d love to tell you about the rusty foxglove I mistook for a weed, for example . . . and the lesson about faith from a Stephanotis vine and about perseverance from the ruby-throated hummingbirds. . .


No. 5: Sewing Fuchsias To Your Wrap

Today we sew Fuchsias to the Gossamer Wrap!

If you have been working in Silk Cloud, you have noticed how delicate your Fuchsia are.  I hope you have wired the petals as I suggested you do last week. If you have done this, you will see that the blossoms seem more sturdy, they keep their shape, but they are also squashable – a good thing if you get into the car and lean back on a fuchsia that is dangling so fabulously down your back. Wouldn’t want to be jabbed in a most uncomfortable way by a petal as you speed toward the opera!

What follows is a brief, illustrated guide to the process of embellishing your wrap.

1. Lay your wrap out on a large clean surface.

2. Gather your supplies: regular “sewing” or silk pins, scissors, sharp (rather slender) darning needle).

3. You have a choice to make. You can sew your Fuchsias to the wrap with a strand of Silk Cloud (or your wrap yarn) or sew them on with sewing thread.

Either is a perfectly respectable choice. I chose Silk Cloud in the color of the wrap. I made this choice because I didn’t want the stitches that hold the flower to the wrap to be visible. It might seem logical to use the fuchsia stem color. . . but then those tiny green stitches might show. I left my yarn live from the bind off (see the first photo above) and used it to sew the first Fuchsia on the wrap corner.

3. Using the sewing pins, secure your flower stems in place, then perfect the arrangement, before setting to work on one Fuchsia.

4. With the wrap still on the table, sew the flowers on one-at-a-time until all are secured, removing pins as you go.

But how do we hide the wrap color stitches on the Fuchsia itself? I used the stems like a little subway for the needle and thread: I traveled with the needle through the stem until I reached the destination for a stitch, momentarily emerged to catch just a thread of the wrap before traveling again through the stem subway to the next stop. Securing stitches were made–that is, the finishing off knots and such–in the wrap fabric toward the bottom of the wrap so as to be least visible and then the tail was woven back into the stem of the Fuchsia.

5. Check to make sure that your stitches are invisible on the back side. . . If they are not, consider re-doing.

LA! It’s ready to wear. I can’t wait to see your pictures!

Please post pictures of your finished or in-process wrap in your Ravelry project pages and link to the Gossamer Fuchsia Wrap KAL.

If you are posting your finished/in-process wrap on your Facebook page, please tag Noni Designs.