Saturday, December 31, 2011


I am about to upload a pattern for a luxurious bath mat onto Ravelry (find it here )

The  bath mat has a crochenit centre and knit edging.

Crochetnit is a wonderfully quick and easy technique that is similar to tunisian crochet, except that the work is turned for the return row and so a double ended hook is needed. (Double hook needles or double end crochet hooks – are long afghan crochet hooks with the same size hook on each end designed to produce a firm, double faced fabric usually in 2 different colours. These hooks can be ordered from ColourSpun.)

 Although the front and back are not quite exactly the same, they look similar enough to make the work reversible.

Right side

Other side

 Cro-hooking, cro-knitting, double hook crochet, crochet on the double are all names given to this technique. You will notice that if worked in 2 colours one side will be predominately colour A and the other side will be predominately colour B.

 Maria Olma was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1920 and learned to crochet at a very young age. She immigrated to the US in 1943 and became Mary Middleton. In 1970 a friend showed her a baby afghan she had made with a double hook needle. Mary was intrigued and realised the technique was similar to the afghan stitch she learnt as a girl. She showed a number of others; who wanted to learn the technique. A craft shop asked her to give lessons and booked the classes – one lady cancelled because she didn’t want to buy a hook and pay for a lesson to learn just one stitch. This prompted Mary to develop more stitches and start a company called Crochenit. This is now the popular term for work done on a double hook needle.

This block is worked in basic Crochenit stitch.
Start with a foundation chain using colour A.
The first row will be a pick up row – still using colour A.
Turn your work and slide along to end – join new colour (you will now have yarn on both ends of your work)
The second row will be a cast off row – using colour B
The third row will be a pick up row – using colour B
Turn your work and cast off with colour A.

 You will need:

2 balls of yarn in different colours –colour A and colour B
1 double hook needle in a size to suit your yarn (Note- you will need a bigger size hook than knitting needle to produce a soft fabric)


Start with a crochet foundation chain of 20 + 1 – 21 chain using colour A

Row 1:

Cast on row: Insert hook into the second chain from the hook, *wrap the yarn (from back to front) over the hook and pull through leaving the new loop on the hook; insert the hook into the next chain* repeat from *to* to end

Turn work and slide to end of needle, using colour B make a slip knot and place on needle

Cast off row: pull the slip knot through the first loop on the hook;* wrap the yarn over the hook and pull through the first 2 loops on the hook* repeat from *to* until there is only one loop left on the hook.

Row 2:

Cast on row: Insert the hook into the second vertical bar of the previous row, *wrap the yarn over the hook and pull the loop through leaving the new loop on the hook; insert the hook into the next vertical bar* repeat from *to* to end

Turn work and slide to the end of needle; take up colour A

Cast off row: wrap the yarn over the hook and pull through the first loop on the hook;* wrap the yarn over the hook and pull through the first 2 loops on the hook* repeat from *to* until there is only one loop left on the hook.

Row 3:

Cast on row: Insert the hook into the second vertical bar of the previous row, *wrap the yarn over the hook and pull the loop through leaving the new loop on the hook; insert the hook into the next vertical bar* repeat from *to* to end

Turn work and slide to the end of needle; take up colour B

Cast off row: wrap the yarn over the hook and pull through the first loop on the hook;* wrap the yarn over the hook and pull through the first 2 loops on the hook* repeat from *to* until there is only one loop left on the hook.

Repeating Rows 2 and 3; work 16 more rows then work a row of single crochet and end off.
Darn in ends.

 There is nothing stopping you from using only one colour or a different colour at every turn or even for each cast on and each cast off row – use your imagination and have fun!

Colonial Knots

Hi Everyone,

It's the last day of this year and I am spending it in my studio :)

When I woke up this morning I decided to have a lazy day in my PJ's in my studio. Well I'm in my PJ's and in my studio and it's turning out to be a not so lazy day - I'm really busy having fun!

I have been busy putting some of my knitting patterns onto Ravelry - you can find them here, and I'll be adding more soon.

I also had a request for a "Colonial Knot" tutorial today, in response to my post on Knit Buttons and so here goes:

Since I'm left handed, this is the way it would look doing it the left handed way. If you're right handed, here is a right handed tutorial.

 1. Bring your thread through to the right side of your work

 2. Holding your thread in your right hand,
put your needle under the thread from the right hand side

 3. Now bring your thread over the needle and then under
the point from the left hand side.
The thread forms a "figure 8"

 4. Push the point of your needle back into the fabric in
 the same place you brought your thread through to
the right side 

 5. Pull your thread tight around your needle and hold it
while you push the needle through the fabric and then pull
all the thread through to form a
Colonial Knot

I've used fabric and thread here but these can be worked very successfully on your knitting using yarn.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Printing Patterns

There seems to be a lot interest in the pattern for my  Rosy Cotton Top pattern again and I had a request for a printer friendly version. I had set aside some time this morning to try to find out how to do this and luckily decided to clear my inbox first. There I found this comment from anonymous:

If you want to print only the pattern without all the comments just right-click and choose "Print Preview". Then choose only pages 1 and 2 to print and you will get only the pattern. Simple computer printing trick!

Thank you so much for saving me time and others frustration, paper and ink!

Another way to save a lot of paper and ink and to have all your patterns etc. on hand where ever you are is to use a "tablet".
Now I'm not promoting the use of any dugs here - although mine has become quite addictive - the tablet I'm talking about is  an iPad or similar device. I have loads of books, magazines, etc.... loaded on mine, that I can slip into my hand bag and take with me anywhere. I'd need to have a truck in tow to carry the paper versions around!  So get your e-mail off to Santa if you don't already have one and besides the convenience of having all your info literally at your fingertips, just think of all the trees you'll be saving! 


Friday, July 22, 2011

Missing - Altered Books

Three of Jeanette Gilk’s altered books that were removed from the exhibition at the National Quilt Festival in Stellenbosch in July and not returned before the exhibition was dismantled. Please note that these little altered books were NOT for sale. They are altered Fibreworks Major Minors catalogues that accompany Jeanette’s large altered Innovative Threads book on exhibitions. A copy of each of the 2 catalogues (not altered) were also taken. If you have them or know who does, or if you see them please arrange for their safe return to Dana Biddle, PO Box 2, Heidelberg 1438. Tel. 0163492949 or 0832685856.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Knitting in July

Hi Everyone,

 It’s been a really busy time since my book was launched and very exciting. We’ve had the launches in Cape Town and Hillcrest and C.N.A. in Eastgate have kindly offered to organise a Jo’burg launch. As soon as I have details I’ll let you know. In the meantime we have a lot of knitting events happening in July that I’m sure you’ll be interested in.

 National Quilt Festival – 1st to 7th July 2011  Bloemhof Girls School, Stellenbosch

ColourSpun and Nurturing Fibres will be sharing a stand and we will be selling our hand dyed yarns and a few little surprises. We are planning lots of exciting specials, with something new every day. I’ll also be demonstrating Tunisian Crochet and we’ll both be available to help with any knitting questions you may have. If you’re anywhere near Stellenbosch, treat yourself to a visit.

Breakaway to Clarens – 12th to 16th July 2011
Instead of a breakaway to Heidelberg, this year I’ll be presenting workshops in Clarens on the 14th and 15th July as part of the annual Quilt in Clarens.

14th July – 8:30 to 4:30  Modular Knitting

Level – Intermediate to Advanced

Modular Knitting
From accessories, to garments to blankets, modular knitting is a wonderful way to knit geometric shapes into all sorts of everything. This method of knitting is easy if you follow a few guidelines and you’ll soon be on your way creating your own wonderful pieces.
Cost: R250.00

List of Materials
Yarn – all sorts, thick, thin, smooth, textured, novelty in a variety of colours of your choice.         
Knitting needles – bring a few sizes in a range to suit your yarns
Pencil, eraser.

15th July – 8:30 to 4:30 Free Style Knitting

Level – Intermediate to Advanced

Free Style Knitting
The do as you please with anything you like kind of knitting. You will learn to let go and allow your creativity to take over while you just knit.

Cost: R250.00

List of Materials
Yarn – all sorts, thick, thin, smooth, textured, novelty in a variety of colours of your choice.
Knitting needles – bring a few sizes in a range to suit your yarns
Pencil, eraser.

To book for Clarens please contact Alae Grabe – e-mail , Cell No: 082 577 2232, Fax 086 656 2537

To book accommodation in Clarens call Melanore on 058 256 1173

Hope to see you there J

 Free Knitting with Sandra Ratto

Sandra has been free knitting for many years. This means knitting without a pattern using many different textures and colours in one piece of work. You will be shown many techniques which you’ll use to make a Papal Scarf with patches of colour and textures that can  be worn as an accessory in place of a necklace.
3 One day workshops will be presented at “The Coffee Shop” on Pretoria Road in Benoni (near to Fruit and Veg City)

Dates: Thursday 7th, 14th and 28th July  from 9:30 to 1:30
Cost:  R300.00

List of Materials
Pair of 4mm needles
1 ball DK yarn – black
An assortment of other yarns (small amounts of each)

To book for Sandra’s workshops, please call her on 011 894 1011.
That’s all for now.
Happy Knitting

Love Dana

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Yarn Standard Chart

There is a discussion on our Ravelry group about substituting yarn and how different yarns are given the same name. The Craft Yarn Council has a chart of standards here which they would like to make a global standard and I have a chart in my book to help with subbing yarn which I'm happy to share here.

Different countries have different ways of describing yarn. If you want to substitute yarn it helps to know how they differ.
If you are not sure of what your yarn’s weight is, measure the wraps per inch (WPI) 
To do this you will need a WPI tool or a flat ruler marked in inches
1.      Tie or tape the end of your yarn to the tool/ruler
2.      Gently roll the yarn onto the tool/ruler over 1 inch
3.      Make sure that your yarn is neither stretched nor loose and that the wraps are all touching but not overlapping
4.      Count the number of wraps over 1 inch and refer to the chart for the description of your yarn
You will notice that some of the WPI counts overlap – the density of the yarn comes into play here.
5.      This method works for smooth yarns, results for fluffy yarns such as mohair or textured novelty yarns will not be accurate.

Standard Yarn Weight System
New Zealand
Approximate metres
Per 50 grams
0 – Lace
Thread / Cobweb
Lace weight
1 ply
2 ply
2 ply
18 +

1 – Super fine / Fingering
Light fingering
Sock / 3 ply
4 ply
3 ply
4 ply
16 – 18
14 – 16
2 – Fine / Sport
Light DK
5 ply
12 – 14
135 – 145
3 – Light / DK
Light Worsted
8 ply
11 – 12
100 – 125
4 – Medium / Worsted
10 ply
9 – 11
65 - 90
4 – Medium / Heavy Worsted
10 ply
8 – 10
65 - 90
5 – Bulky
12 ply
7 – 8
45 - 50
6 – Super Bulky
Super Bulky
Super Chunky

5 - 6
30 - 35

 Happy knitting :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Launch

A Knitting Adventure with South African Yarn
'n Brei-avontuur met Suid Afrikaanse wol

It's all done now, writing, knitting, photos, layout, proof reading, printing ... and today I got the first copies of my book. It is beautiful, it far exceeds all my expectations - I love it! While I was working on this book I soon realised that even though it is my name on the cover, a book takes many more than one person to put it all together. I want to give everyone who was involved my heart felt thanks - it could not have happened without you.

A Knitting Adventure - with South African Yarn will be launched at Spin Knits at the Red Shed V&A Waterfront on the morning of the 28th May 2011 at 10am. Many of the yarn makers will be there and it promises to be a lovely morning out. If you're in Cape Town, please come and join us.

The Durban launch will be hosted by Liz at Wool n Weave in Hillcrest at 9:30am on the 4th June 2011. If you're in Durban, we would love you to join us there.

The Jo'burg launch still needs to be confirmed and I'll post the details here as soon as it is.

Happy knitting :)

Monday, May 9, 2011


TAFA - I'm sure you may be wondering what that is all about! Well, it's the brainchild of Rachel Biel who is a Paducah, Kentucky based fibre artist and she describes it thus:

TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List is a membership organization of fiber artists and textile businesses on the web. TAFA showcases member portfolios through its website, provides access to larger markets, offers access to business resources and fosters community.

Our mission: Markets for Members.

What a good idea, I was so impressed that I immediately applied for membership and even more impressed by Rachel's quick response, I'm now the newest member of TAFA.

Interested in joining?
Click for information on membership.

I also figured out how Flickr works and have been uploading photos of my work all weekend. So now everyone can see what I do all day, everyday in my studio. Look for "My Work" in the right hand column and then click on the photostream - there's a lot to look at, I'm even shocked by how much, so you might want to grab a coffee and get comfortable. I hope that you'll enjoy looking at my work and wlll find it inspiring.

Lotsa love

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bags of Fun

The last couple of weeks have gone by in a blur. I got some new dyes and have been dyeing almost 24/7!
What fun, I love mixing up different colours and then watching the yarn transform in the pots. The weather has been a lot cooler, misty, overcast and fairly wet but the dye pots keep my studio lovely and warm and colourful. I'll be posting some photos of the new colours here soon and will list them on my website and on etsy too.

Having so much fun reminded me of a pattern I did a while ago - a tote bag that I called

"Bags of Fun"

These bags are great fun to make and very versatile. Use them to carry your latest craft project, for shopping, or knit them up in cotton yarns to take your goodies to the beach.

You will need:
1m x 1.5m denim or similar fabric (makes 2 bags)
Sewing thread
Sewing machine
300g yarn (for each bag) in assorted colours and textures – mainly double knitting weight
1 pair knitting needles size 5,5mm or Nina S9 knitting machine, tension set at 9

The pattern for this bag is available  from my Craftsy Pattern Store or my Ravelry Pattern Store


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

1000 Taveling Names and a Donkey (and lots of donkey friends)

Here are 2 addresses that you can send your completed donkeys to

c/o Jackie Herbst
England and Wales Cricket Board / ECB
Lord's Cricket Ground

c/o Gene
3A Stompits rd
Holy Port

So get stitching and lets see how many donkeys we can send to Mongolia. Don't forget, there's a ColourSpun prize for the cutest one - 10 x 50g skeins of ColourSpun Natural Designer Yarn.

Dash on over to their blog to keep track of their progress.

...and a big thank you to everyone in advance

Monday, April 18, 2011

together as ONE

Hi Everyone,

I've just signed up to ONE and the fight against extreme poverty. I'd like you to join me.
By supporting ONE, you have the opportunity to take action to support effective, proven initiatives that are delivering results in the poorest places on the planet: protecting families from preventable diseases like AIDS and malaria, putting children in school, providing economic opportunity and stabilising communities. 
Join me and millions of people around the world who believe that where you live shouldn't determine whether you live:
just scroll down and find the "together as ONE" widget in the column on the right - then join :)

Together as ONE we can make a difference!

Lotsa love

Sunday, April 17, 2011

ColourSpun Yarn Clubs

Over the last couple of months I have been busy with my ColourSpun Yarn Clubs. We have had the Mohair and Cotton Clubs' first offerings and now it is the Bits & Bobs Club's turn.

The night sky is the inspiration for this offering and I have some beautiful yarns in mind. While I was thinking about it, my mind wondered off and thought about Vicent von Gogh's painting - Starry Night and them I found myself singing Don McLean's song, Vincent. I'm going to have a lot of fun putting these club yarns together.

The ColourSpun Bits & Bobs Club
Night Sky

Starry Starry Night
from Don McLean’s hit song, Vincent

Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer’s day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills,
Sketch the trees and the daffodils,
Catch the breeze and the winter chills,
In colors on the snowy linen land

The Yarn
Bits and bobs of different ColourSpun yarns in colours resembling the night sky, no more than 25g of each.

You may choose to receive either 150g or 200g

150g: cost including shipping - R180 or US$32
200g: cost including shipping - R240 or US$40

(Club Yarns are sold at a discount of 20% off the normal price and shipping by ordinary parcel mail is free)

If you would like to join the ColourSpun Bits and Bobs club, just go here to send me an e-mail

Friday, April 15, 2011

1000 Travelling Names and a Donkey


Jo, Gene, Shan and Heehaww-Dan will hit the road on the 23rd July 2011 when they embark on "the greatest adventure on earth" - all in aid of charity and they need your help!

Read all about the epic journey they have planned and how you can help them make it a reality on their website and in return for your help, you could be a hero and one of the 1000 Travelling Names going along for the ride. Share this with your friends so that they can go along too.

I will be posting a simple pattern for a knitted soft toy donkey here soon, one of the items on their wishlist is lots of soft toy donkeys, to be given to needy children in Mongolia. If you have your own pattern, or prefer to stitch a fabric donkey, please feel free to start immediately - the more we can make the better. I'll be posting the address in London for them to be sent to in the next day or so, and I'm putting together a prize for the person who sends the most adorable donkey.

Here is a free pattern to get you started, Woolley Donkey 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Today I had a comment on my Rosy Cotton Top from Sal, who wished that I had the measurements in American standard as well as metric. So here are the conversions are as they appear in my book.

                                                                    Knitting Needle Sizes


Metric / Imperial Measurements
100 centimetres (cm) = 1 meter (m)
36 inches (“) = 1 yard (yd)

To convert:
Centimetres to inches – multiply by 0.3937
Inches to centimetres – multiply by 2.54
Metres to yards – multiply by 1.0936
Yards to metres – multiply by 0.9144

1 gram (g) = 0.0353 ounces (oz)
50 grams = 1¾ ounces
100 grams = 3½ onces
1 ounce (oz) = 28.35 grams (g)
4 ounces = 114 grams

I've also added a universal converter to my blog - find it in the right hand column.
Thank you Sal for your comment, I'm sure these will be of help to everyone.

Happy Knitting!