Hallowe’en Down Under

rookwood-cemetery-9-of-33 It’s All Hallows’ Eve in the northern hemisphere. My own little grandgoblin is probably just finishing up trick-or-treating. Hyped up on sugar she’s giving her mom fits, dancing in circles and crying, “but I don’t wanna go to bed! Just one more piece of candy? Puhleese?”

I still can’t quite get my mind around the idea of Halloween here in Australia. Halloween is a harvest festival, one last blast before the nights get long and dark and cold. It doesn’t fit here where the nesting magpies are swooping and the the flora is in full flush and it’s just about time to hit the beaches. Halloween is a relatively new phenomenon here in ‘Straya. It’s only been in the last decade that it has started to take hold.

Which is why I was unprepared last night when I glanced out the window to see two ghoulish tots climbing the mountain of my front stoop with their plastic pumpkins, calling, “trick or treat!” I froze for a moment, dumbstruck, then ran to rummage through the cupboard looking for that package of cookies I bought to make Halloween witch cupcakes for a party I didn’t go to. I couldn’t find them and had to disappoint the little monsters. The little boy shook his finger at me and told me to do better next year. I looked at the parents and said, “I’m sorry. We were told that you all don’t trick or treat here.” “Yeah nah,” she told me, “there’s heaps that go around here.”

Last year, we were told that trick-or-treating isn’t a thing here, that some households do it, and the kids only go to houses that are decorated or to friends’ houses where it’s been prearranged. We were at a party last year, so were clueless as to what may have been happening on our street. An internet search for answers brought up a great debate between supporters and detractors, those who shamed me for disappointing the little ones, and those who made the Halloween is un-Australian Facebook page.  Apparently Halloween is growing in popularity; some point to the Americanization of Australia through social media, television, and film where Halloween shows up regularly. I did see many etiquette lists that said stick to the decorated houses if you want treats, and that if you don’t want trick-or-treaters, don’t decorate. Well that makes sense, but had me wondering if the kids mistook all the real spider webs for spooky decor. I swear I swept them down a day ago!

After the kids climbed back down the stoop, I closed the door, drew the blinds and hid in the shadowy recesses of my lolly-free house. A short while later I heard a rumbling, a great horde of children screeching, “trick or treat!” as they grew nearer.  I started shaking. I had visions of the scene in Frankenstein where the angry villagers come over the hill carrying torches, intent on mayhem.

The roar of that sugar-hungry mob reached a deafening pitch as they came closer. I cowered in the corner of my sofa, glancing over at the door, wondering if I should throw the deadbolt, latch the chain. I held my breath and peered through the blinds as they reached the front of my house. Whew! They passed by! I could breathe again. I listened to them swarm on up the block. A good fifteen minutes later I could still hear them in the distance.

I thought, “yeah little kid, I’ll remember next year. I’ll remember not to be home.” But now I kind of regret not having decorated the porch and bought heaps of lollies to hand out. One of the arguments I read in favor of the holiday was that it brings communities together, helps you get to know your neighbors. I would love to gain a reputation with the kids as the scary witch who hands out the best treats. We have been wondering how to meet more of our neighbors; I think I missed out on a great opportunity.

Hmmm…. I bet Halloween decorations are really cheap right now!



Crochet Witch’s Hat Pattern

*witch's hat crocheted (2 of 3)
BOO! Did I scare you? My blog is a pretty spooky, cobweb covered place lately, in keeping with the season.  We’ve been deep in packing, sorting our stuff into “ship”, “store”, “toss” piles.  The house is full of echoes with the loss of full bookcases and years of accumulated belongings.

I will be so glad to get all of these people out of my house.  We have been overrun with contractors for the last two weeks.  The painters have had the kitchen plastic-covered for two days.  They were supposed to have been finished with that on Wednesday.  They are rather slow.  They paint a little bit and then wander off, and they are not communicating well about their plans or just what the fuck they’re doing.

*witch's hat (3 of 4)
Since I can’t do anything else with them underfoot, I decided to use this opportunity to give you something I’d promised way back.

*witch's hat (1 of 4)
My original intention was to make several of these crochet witch hats and string them together in a garland.  Because, you know.  Garland!

witch's hat crocheted (5 of 7)
and Hallowe’en!!

witch's hat crocheted (6 of 7)
I think you’ll find this pretty easy to throw together.  You could make several for a garland, or for bowl fillers.  Or dress up someone’s barbie dolls;)  I’ll send this one to my granddaughter.

witch's hat crocheted (7 of 7)
I hope my instructions make sense, since I’m a wee bit distracted.  I’m listening to this to help me focus.  My darling daughter told me about it this morning.

*witch's hat crocheted (3 of 3)
How creepy is this doll head?

Here’s the pattern for you:)

Witch Hat Crochet Pattern

Supplies: a small amount of DK or worsted weight yarn, bits of eyelash or other novelty yarn, size F or G hook.  I used F hook and Tahki Cotton Classic in Black

Top of hat:

Rd 1: Make sl loop (wrap yarn around finger, insert hook, yo pull up loop, yo, pull through), 4sc in loop; pull tail to tighten circle.  Join with sl st

Rd 2: ch 2, sc in same st, (sc in next sc, 2 sc in next) twice, sc in next, join with sl st

Rd 3: ch 2, sc in same st, (sc in next sc, 2 sc in next) 2X, sc in next, join with sl st to second chain of beginning ch 2. You should have nine single crochet stitches.

Rds 4 and 5: ch2, sc in next sc and in each sc around. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2.

Rd 6: ch 2, sc in same st, (sc next 2 sc, 2sc in next) 2X, sc in next 2. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2. You should have 12 sc stitches

Rd 7: ch2, sc in next sc and in each sc around. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2.

Rd 8: ch 2, sc in same st, (sc next 2, 2sc in next) 3X, sc in next 2. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2. You should have 16 sc stitches.

Rds 9 and 10: ch2, sc in next sc and in each sc around. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2.

Rd 11: ch 2 sc in same sp, (sc next 3, 2 sc in next) 3X, sc in next 3. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2. You should have 20 sc.

Rds 12 and 13: ch2, sc in next sc and in each sc around. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2.


Rd 1: working in only one loop, the one nearest the hat, of each st – ch 2, sc in same st, (sc in next, 2 sc in next) 9X, sc in next. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2; go through both loops this time.

Rd 2: working through both loops – ch2, sc in same st, (sc in next, 2 sc in next) 14X, sc in next. Join with sl st to second ch of beg ch 2. Fasten off.

Rd 3: Join eyelash yarn and work sc in each st around. Join with sl st. Cut yarn and weave in ends.

A Leaf and a Stem for the Pumpkin

pumpkin stem leaf and tendril (29 of 41)
I’ve had a couple requests for a pattern for the squiggly crochet stem on my pumpkin, instead of the knitted one I have in the pattern here.  Then, yesterday, knitter Debbie asked about a leaf pattern.  So I thought, “well that’s a good idea for a blog post!”  I took lots of photos of the steps along the way.  Click on through for the pattern and tutorial.

Note: I use a stitch that I can’t find in any of the literature, and I know I didn’t make it up.  Or at least I don’t think I did.  Anyway,  I call it a half treble or htr.  If you know the proper name, please edify me!  To do the htr, yo twice, insert hook into the stated stitch, yo and pull up one loop, yo and pull through 2 loops, yo pull through remaining 3 loops.

Continue reading “A Leaf and a Stem for the Pumpkin”

Monday Musing

August stitching 2014 (3 of 3)
I have lost my favorite crochet hook.  The last time I remember using it was in April at my mother’s house.  That’s how long it’s been since I’ve done any serious crocheting.  I needed a break from that, but I didn’t expect it would last this long.  Now I’m ready to crochet again, but can’t find the hook.

August stitching 2014 (1 of 3)
Back in April is when I discovered English Paper Piecing.  Most of my down time since then has been spent sewing hexies.  I’ve been pulled to other sewing projects as well, anything that lets me look at bits of pretty fabric.  I decided to try my hand at wonky log cabin squares.  I’m mostly happy with the way this table topper is turning out.  I wish I’d made some of my log cabin strips wider, and the sashing strips less wide.

This project is an illustration of just how out of focus my mind has been.  I didn’t read the instructions closely, otherwise I would have known to cut the sashing strips again.  I had a piece of black fabric for the backing.  I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing and I cut it too short.  At least I was able to salvage that to make the bias binding, but I’m getting exasperated with myself!  I’m lost inside my head instead of engaging in what’s happening around me.

August stitching 2014 (2 of 3)
This is some fabric I picked up last year and didn’t get around to using.  I cut it wrong too; I sewed the little cat fabric into a tube, cut it in half to make two, then realized that I had sewn it with the cats going sideways instead of up and down.  Luckily, again I was able to salvage it, but geesh!!

My goal for this week is to pay attention to what is going on around me and to what I’m doing!  I’m trying to put those thoughts that keep distracting me away for now.  I can come back to them later when I can actually do something about it.  For now, I need to go buy a new crochet hook apparently. And some more black fabric:)

Autumn in July

wool felt applique autumn banner (1 of 1)
It never fails.  Each year, I start thinking of autumn long before summer even dreams of being over.  I may be even earlier this year than most; although, I think I say that every year too!

We had a much needed cool, rainy day here in Salt Lake yesterday.  I used it to pretend that it was autumn.  I opened the windows and pulled out some wool felt I had picked up last year and not gotten around to playing with.  This is the first panel in a wall hanging I’m making.  I recently gave my bead collection to my daughter.  Now, I’m wishing I’d held back just a couple tablespoonfuls to embellish this banner.  There is more to do on this section.  I’m going to stitch a leafy vine held in the crow’s beak.  He needs an eyeball.

I think it’s curious how typically I’m drawn to a sleek, modern (even if it’s mid-century) look, but when autumn comes I pull toward primitive styled decor.  I guess because it’s homey and gives a feeling of warmth and coziness.

We’re having another lovely rainy day, so I think I’ll keep working on my stitching, dreaming of pumpkins and crows.

Art Journaling Therapy and Depression

pumpkins and art journal_2
I’ve been a bad blogger lately.  The truth is I’ve been struggling with depression since early August.  While depression is something I’ve battled all my life, usually it comes in much shorter spurts.  Usually it comes in late winter when I’ve been buried under a Utah inversion, never in autumn, my favorite time of year!  This bout has been tough.  First I came down with a horrible summer cold, then my cat got sick.  The next thing I knew, I was in a deep dark funk and couldn’t pull myself out.   I feel like I’ve finally turned a corner though and just in time!  I was going to be very angry at myself if I was depressed the entire time we were in Uganda!  I have hope;  I’ve had five days of feeling good and even managed to feel happy and positive while sitting in traffic today.
pumpkins and art journal_3
One thing that has really helped me, is I’ve been using art to work through the darkness.  Awhile back I talked about wanting to do art journaling again.  I start most days in the studio allowing myself to just play with pretty colors and old paper.
pumpkins and art journal_4
I’ve been very drawn to Halloween imagery.  All of these archetypes represent a shadow side; through these symbols I’ve been able to work through my own darkness.
pumpkins and art journal_5
Just allowing myself to play, creating work that is only for me, is not only fun, it’s freeing.  My creative juices are flowing strongly.  This is definitely a practice that I am going to keep up.
felted pumpkin bowl jack o lantern trick or treat candy dish
This is probably the last blog post for awhile.  We leave for Uganda on Monday.   Thank you to everyone who has donated or made a shop purchase to help support our volunteer work.  We appreciate you so very much.  It warms my heart to know that there are such wonderful, caring people in this world:)

While in Uganda, I will be posting to my Facebook page – hopefully every day.  The hotel does have wi-fi, so cross your fingers that all will go well.  If I am able to, I will post here.  I will most certainly be bringing back lots of photos and stories to tell!

On My Workspace

maine order_5
I’ve been getting into Hallowe’en mode over here, putting together an order that is heading to a new boutique in Maine called “Dahlia”.  I’ll be consigning some items there.   This is what my studio has looked like over the past couple weeks.

maine order
There has been an invasion of spiders.

maine order_3
Very creepy spiders;)

maine order_4
and their webs.

maine order_14
Wise owls perching on my easel.

Maine Order Candy corn bunting_1
I designed a new bunting that looks like candy corn.  Yum!

maine order_6
These guys just make me smile:)

maine order_8
So does Mr. Punkin Head, who won’t be filled with candy this year, as we’ll be in Amsterdam on Hallowe’en night.  Good for us, bad for trick or treaters.

I just noticed it’s already 2 o’clock and I have lots to do!  See you Wednesday!

Crochet Spider Web Pattern

beaded spider on crochet web

Spooky Crochet Spider Web

Some notes first: sc = single crochet; dc = double crochet; ch = chain
Picot = ch 3, then slip stitch in stitch immediately below.

Ch 5; join with slip stitch to form loop. Ch 1; do 9 sc in loop. Do not join.
1st round: (sc in next sc, ch1) 8 times, sc in next sc, ch2.
2nd round: (sc in next sc, ch2) 8 times; sc in next sc ch3.
3rd round: (dc in next sc; ch3) twice; (dc in next sc ch4) 7 times
4th round: dc in next dc, ch4, ( dc in next dc, ch5) twice, (dc in next dc, ch 6)twice, (dc in next dc, ch 5) twice, (dc in next dc, ch6) twice.
5th round: 1 tr in next dc, ch6, 1 tr in next dc, ch 7, 1 tr in next dc, ch 7, 1 tr in next dc, ch8, 1 tr in next dc, ch8, 1 tr in next dc, ch 9, 1 tr in next dc, ch7, 1 tr in next dc, ch8, 1 tr in next dc, ch 7.
6th round: 1 tr in next tr, picot, 7ch, 1 tr in next tr, picot, ch 8,1 tr in next tr, picot, ch 8, 1 tr in next tr picot, ch 9, 1 tr in next tr, picot ch10, 1 tr in next tr picot ch10, 1 tr in next tr, picot ch 10, 1 tr in next tr, picot ch 11, 1 tr in next tr, picot ch 11.  Slip stitch in base of first tr.  Cut thread and finish off by sewing in thread end.  Attach thread to any picot; chain 40.  Slip stitch in 10th ch from hook.  Ch 1; 20 sc in loop.  Slip stitch to first sc.  Cut thread and finish off.

On those last few rows, the number of chain stitches between your dc and tr can vary according to your needs.  Your own tension will determine how many stitches you need to get a shape that will lie flat and the spokes radiating from the center point straight out and don’t pull in one direction or another.  So where I say “ch 9” you might need to chain 8 or 10.  Just fiddle with it.  Lay it out flat every now and again to see if it’s working right.

spider web tute

Now you need to pin it.  Yes, I did forget to make the hanging chain:)  Place a pin in each picot, starting at the top and placing pins in opposite picots, pulling tight.

spider web tute_1

Now spray the heck out of it with some starch!

spider web and beaded spider_2

After it dries, it should look like this.  Oh wait! Mine has a spider on it!  Ok, go to this site for instructions to make your own spider:)  Eewwww!  It gives me the willies just looking at this!  I need to hurry and make it go away!

I hope you enjoy this little pattern.  I find that writing crochet patterns is so much easier than knitting patterns.  That’s probably because I understand crochet better than knitting.  If you would like some basic crochet instructions, the Lion Brand Yarn site is a wealth of information.  You do have to sign up to access their patterns, but they don’t spam you.  Spam sucks.

I hope you have a very fantabulous weekend:)  I’ll see you on Monday!

***Edit 8/16/13  I see a lot of traffic coming to this post:)  If you try this pattern out, I would love love love if you’d give me some feedback.  I want to be sure the patterns I write are easy for other folks to understand.  This pattern is not precise and exact.  You may need to fiddle with it to get the right number of chains between the spokes.  I just came back to this pattern after not doing it for a year or so and my own tension has changed enough that I had to add extra chains here and there.  Also, if you want your spiderweb larger, just keep going around, increasing the number of chains between spokes.  Do the picots on your final round.  One more thing – whose idea was it to crochet with black thread???  Every time I do it, I curse myself;)