Monday, 11 June 2018

Word Bingo -- How to Play

The purpose of the game

SSiW is very good at getting people speaking, but most learners need extra practice in listening before they are comfortable conversing in Welsh. This game will also help you to read Welsh. Welsh is much easier to read than English because everything is spelled phonetically. Once you know how to pronounce the letters, reading is easy! You might not be able to understand everything, of course, but that will come with more exposure to the language.

How the game is played

The game will be played during a hangout. A day or two before the hangout, Margaret will upload a short piece of text to the Slack forum in PDF format. Here's what you need to do to prepare for the bingo session:

1. Look through the text and pick out 9 words or short phrases that you would like to learn. These might be new words or phrases that you might use in a conversation or words that you've met before but they haven't stuck in your memory.

2. You can either make word cards or you can make a list. If you want to make cards, simply cut 9 suitably sized pieces of paper or card and write a single word or phrase on each one.

If you prefer to make a list, we'll be playing the game more than once so you need to find a way of recording which words have come up in each game. I suggest making columns, like this.

Word or phrase Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4
bwytais i        

3. When people have joined the hangout, the "caller" will read through the whole piece once in Welsh and also offer a quick translation, just to familiarise everyone with it.

4. The game will now start. The caller will read sentences from the text in random order! Listen carefully and try to spot one of your words or phrases.

5. When you hear one of your words, repeat it aloud. If it's a card, put it to one side. If you're keeping a list, tick off the word.

6. After a while, if no one has found all their words, the caller will start at the beginning of the text and read through in order.

7. The game continues with everyone listening and repeating words aloud until someone has spotted all their words, at which point they shout, "Tŷ!" They are the winner and the game ends.

8. There are no prizes, other than improving your listening skills!

Some tips:

On the initial read through, you might like to look at the text to see how words are pronounced.

However, when listening out for your words, don't try to read the text. Just listen to the person reading. This will help to improve your listening skills.


I hope you enjoy the game. Afterwards, if there is time and people want to carry on chatting, we can discuss the piece of text and any points arising from it. You are welcome to ask any questions about pronunciation etc.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Some thoughts on handmade presents

A few years ago I used to follow a wonderful Facebook crochet group. Sadly it grew too large and eventually it was shut down because the moderators couldn't cope with all the vileness hurled at them in response to their strict policies on what was and wasn't allowed. I still miss that group because there were some wonderful patterns and projects posted, but I understand why it couldn't continue. But there was one topic that divided opinion and which I've wanted to talk about ever since, namely handmade presents, in particular crocheted gifts.

Road trip scarf

Many of the people who made crocheted gifts for their friends, family and work colleagues reported that the recipient was delighted with the present, but there was at least an equal number who posted resentful comments about how their hard work had not been appreciated as they felt it ought to have been. They would complain that they were mortally offended that their handmade garment wasn't being worn or their doilies, baby blankets or teacosies had been stashed away in a drawer, unseen and unused.

The posts were all about them and their grievance, but it made me wonder why should a gift be valued and used just because it has been handmade?

If the person making the gift has consulted with the person they plan to give it to and they are sure of size, colour preferences etc. there is less likely to be a problem, but you have to face the fact that not everyone appreciates hand crafted things. Are you confident that it is skilfully made to a professional standard? Parents treasure the wonky craft projects produced by their offspring, but if you're an adult they won't cut you the same slack. Many people are not that keen on handmade items and would rather have a commercially made item. You may think this is shallow and consumerist of them, but when it comes to gift giving, you need to respect their opinions.

However, even if someone likes the originality of handmade items, you still need to be sure that what you're planning to make will be to their taste. If the colour is wrong or it's just not something the recipient would use or wear -- someone who loves the minimalist look is not going to appreciate doilies! -- or they're allergic to wool or hate the feel of acrylic, then regardless of how many hours it took to make, the gift will end up unloved and forgotten in a cupboard somewhere.

Then there is the opposite problem. The recipient may think that the item is lovely, but if it needs too much care, for example gentle hand washing in a mild detergent instead of being thrown into the washing machine along with the rest of the laundry, a busy person is going to find it's too much trouble for general wear.

Animal face doll blanket

I have made crocheted gifts occasionally. There was the Year of the Blankets, when I made colourful crochet blankets for the grandchildren to snuggle under while watching TV or playing games on their tablets. These were a great success and smallest granddaughter loved the blanket I'd made for her when she was a baby so much that she wanted one for her doll, so I made a small version out of yarn left over from the original. I've also made hand knitted scarves for my daughter and daughter-in-law which were very well received, so much so that daughter-in-law requested another one for her sister. So handmade gifts can be a delight, but my advice is to give freely and don't expect extra gratitude just because you made it yourself.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Weaving in ends

Oops! I don't seem to have posted here for a whole year! Must try harder in 2017. Recently, smallest granddaughter requested a blanket for her favourite doll. I thought I'd make a smaller version of the one I made for her when she was a baby and I've just finished crocheting all the squares. I've joined them using the join-as-you-go method, but whichever method I used, there would still have been an awful lot of loose ends! This is the snag of doing multi-coloured crochet or making items from squares or other motifs. See what I mean? All those ends! You often see people saying that you should weave them in as you go along, but here's why I don't. For Christmas 2015, I decided to crochet some Christmas stockings for the grandchildren. The idea was that they would have money for their main present but I would give them some sweets and small toys in a stocking so they would have something to open and enjoy on Christmas day. I embarked on the three stockings, but after getting this far, I realised that they were coming out far too big. All those ends! See all those ends?! Now, if I'd woven them in as I went, I would have just have had to throw those part finished stockings away because when I weave in an end, it stays weaved! I know that from bitter experience. A few years ago I was trying to make something out of African flower motifs and I'd followed the advice to weave in ends as soon as I finished and joined each motif. Unfortunately, I eventually realised that I didn't like the way the project was working out and I decided to frog it and rescue the yarn to use for something else. It was a complete pain trying to find and unpick the ends and I wasted quite a lot of yarn. This time, however, the unravelling was easy and the yarn, along with other random bits from my stash, ended up as small tea cosies which I use every day. Small tea cosies   To be honest, I don't find it too bad tidying up the ends all in one go. I usually find an interesting drama on the BBC iPlayer and once you get into it, end-weaving can be quite relaxing. Here are the three small Christmas stockings I made. It was quite easy to modify the original pattern to make them smaller. Small Christmas stockings
I did finish one large one. Here it is for comparison. It would have taken an awful lot of chocolate and treats to fill it and my son and daughter would not have been pleased if I'd given their children so much sweet stuff! Large & small Christmas stockings

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Colourful Christmas stockings

I started making three of these colourful Christmas stockings to hold small additional gifts for the grandchildren. When the first white one was nearly finished and the other two were about half done, I realised that they were coming out a lot larger than I expected. Large & small Christmas stockings Fortunately it wasn’t difficult to modify the pattern to make smaller versions which came out just the right size for some chocolate “gold” coins, a Kinder Santa and a small toy or other small packet of sweets. Small Christmas stockings The red and blue stockings have been posted off to the grandchildren and I will keep the big one to put some chocolates in as a present to myself and G. :) In the New Year I will frog (ie unravel) the other two part done white stockings and reuse the yarn, probably as tea cosies, of which I could do with a couple more.

Friday, 18 September 2015

A whimsical witch hat for Halloween

I'd spotted this Whimsical Witch-Hat pattern on Ravelry

Here's my version...

Whimiscal Witch Hat

To be honest, I ended up using the pattern more as a guideline than something to follow exactly. This was because the pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, which I don’t use and which isn’t that common in the UK. Also, I wanted to use up my stash of double knitting left over from various blankets and other projects. As I didn’t want to buy new yarn for what is, after all, just a silly dressing up hat, I used the pattern as a starting point and then just winged it.

I am, however, delighted with the result as it’s very similar to the hat my avatar wears in Habitica.

Habitica icon mage

It even sort of suits me. :)

Selfie with witch hat

I’m now planning to make another one in black.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

I have been sadly negelecting this blog

It's been a long time since I updated this blog, but it has not been forgotten or abandoned. Unfortunately, I haven't been doing much crochet over the past 6 months due to getting more teaching hours at the local college and I haven't had a moment to blog what I have been working on. However, I did crochet a poncho out of some nice soft acrylic aran yarn that had been sitting around for absolutely ages waiting for the right project. It keeps me warm whilst sitting working at the computer. Poncho for the winter My latest project though is -- shock! horror! -- knitting! The yarn is Sirdar Montana and I love the way the colours change. Sweater in Sirdar Montana I have knitted a few scarves and hats in recent years but only ever once in my life finished a sweater and that was an awful long time ago. I actually bought this yarn to crochet a hooded sleeveless cardigan in Tunisian crochet, but then decided that that would be too ambitious and I needed more practice at making smaller things in Tunisian crochet first. As I do need more sweaters, I decided to see if I could actually knit one. The back is now almost complete and, so far, it's looking good!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Three steps forwards and two back

I have been very busy in the Day Job recently, so I've not had much time for crochet and none at all for updating this blog. However, the end of term is in sight, the huge pile of assignments to mark has been dealt with and so I can get on with my own projects at last.

Or not...

Things I have been UN-making

  • The snowdrop scarf I started using some gorgeous Jawoll Magic sock yarn
  • The filet net curtain

The snowdrop scarf had been hibernating while I finished all the blankets that were Christmas presents and the bunnies and baskets that were Easter presents. When I finally came to pick it up again, I realised that however beautifully the yarn was working up, the finished article wasn't going be something I would actually wear. So I have unravelled it and will find a different scarf pattern instead.

Similarly, having got almost half way with the curtain, I held it against the window and realised that it was going to block too much of the view. I initially intended it for the bathroom (frosted glass) but my husband said he liked the existing blind and didn't want it changed, so I had thought of putting the curtain on the landing window instead. But the current net allows you to see through to the grass and trees in the front garden; the filet net didn't. So I've frogged the filet part and I'll have to think about what to do with the Japanese flower motifs.

But it has not all been negative progress. Things I have been making:

  • a new phone case for my new phone
  • more of the simple filet crochet starburst squares for the picnic blanket.

I started the picnic blanket almost exactly a year ago, but it only gets worked on between other projects, so progress is slow. It is being made with all the random bits of acrylic double knitting yarn left over from all the blankets I made last year. It will be a cheerful blanket that can live in the car and be used for sitting on for picnics or for snuggling in if I have to wait in the car on a cold day.

The new phone case is for my new phone, my first proper smartphone! :) It's a Samsung Galaxy 4S in stylish red. The phone case I crocheted is in brightly coloured random stripes. I wanted to use up some of the ends of yarn left from making the rainbow ripple blanket I made as a Christmas present for one of my grandchildren.

The case has turned out cheap and cheerful, but I'm quite pleased with it. I even lined it with some red fabric that I've had lying around for years. A bright red button just finished it off. So from this...

Left over yarn

We get this! :)

My cheap and cheerful phone case

So now, having successfully transferred over my contacts and calendar, my phone is fully functional and has snug case to protect it.