Crochet succulents – Tess design 

Because of my dyslexia I can’t read patterns so I have to make crochet stuff  up as I go a long –  my hubbies office at work doesn’t have enough natural light to keep real plants so I decided to have a go at making some succulents. 

A friend asked how I made them so I broke down the stages in pictures and text. I do it  intuitively , so  I can’t tell you exactly how I make them because my learning disabilities make it difficult to translate into individual stitches and numbers 

Below are the instructions for the red and green one 

100 chain 

Then treble in each chain  2 in every other stitch 

To make the leaves 

Third row 

I have made little bumps of 6 chain and 3 double crotchet in between make 6 leaves 

Next set of leaves  make  the gaps 4 double crochet – and the leaves are half treble , treble , halftreble make about 4 

Then make 4 leaves a bit bigger half treble , treble , 6 chain, treble in the same stitch, half treble 

– it’s important to roll the strip up every so often to check and see how the design is working 

about a third the way along the third row – stop making leaves 

Double crotchet , Half treble , treble to the end of the row 

Cut wool and darn in the end

Return to the start of the line of trebles and start making larger leaves 

– I have added an extra stitch to a treble – not sure what it is called but it’s just another wrap of wool around the hook at the beginning – I am going to call them a Quad from here on 

Make 4 medium leaves – double crochet, half treble , treble , quad , 2 chain , quad in the same stitch , treble , half treble,  double crotchet – 4 more double crotchet make new leaf 

Make a large leaf  -double crochet, half treble , treble , quad , quad, 6 chain , quad in the same stitch , quad , treble , half treble double crotchet – 5 more double crochet make new leaf 

Continue making large leaves until the end – gradually build up to 7 double crochets in between each leaf 

If you want to make an all green plant make half treble into the last stitch – half treble in each stitch of all the large leaves – add 6 chain at each leaf tip

I changed to red at the above stage to add contrast to my design 

When you get to the medium leaves change to double crochet instead of half treble 

When you get to the tiny first leaves finish off the red wool and darn in the end

I added a red stitch with a needle to the top of each small leaf 

Roll the strip of crochet and start stitching the bottom of the roll with green wool to hold it into place – you may have to stretch or gather the leaves a bit to get them fitting in the spaces made by the double crochet 

Carry on rolling and stitching to firmly hold into place – stitch the end of the roll to the body of the plant – I tend to do it by sight so that the plant looks a good shape 

Finished design 


My mandala history 

For the last couple of years creating mandalas type images has become a bit of an obsession. I was drawn to them initially because I liked the patterns and the circular design. They became part of my daily practice to improve my hand eye co-ordination.

Above is a mandala from early 2014  

I played with the elements incorporating architectural details from places I lived in and visited. Ceramic motifs became important after a commission where a client wanted me to use her mother’s collection of pottery and art as source material.


Incorporating architectural motifs from Edinburgh 

Ceramic motifs and French thistles 

Lately I have used them to hide. I have just been sorting through some art journals to take as examples for a class this afternoon and I am shocked by the rawness and emotion contained in some of the pages. My mandalas in comparison have developed a surface beauty that is intricate and detailed. The lines of my pen look flat and emotionless in comparison.

Journal pages 

 Emotionally we have had a difficult year, my son was involved in a road accident in Korea in February. There followed months of recovery and my body rebelled to the levels of stress I was subjected to. The mandalas have kept me sane but also been a trap. To get better I need to move, to walk and get fresh air. All I have wanted to do is sit on the sofa and draw. 

Images Jon took for a drawing I wanted to do 

The mandalas use the same repetitive elements but I have striven to produce slight differences in each one. If I travel away for a weekend or holiday, elements from my journey creep in and over time there has been a gradual change in the designs, to the extent that I decided to catalogue them.

I have bursts of difference and rebellion from the simple shapes, changing the size from A6 to A4, changing the colour of my pen or colouring in with oil based markers or paint – to be honest these are all from my 2014 sketch book (lol!) 
A counseling training course over two weekends caused me to rip up large numbers of the mandalas and make A1 collages, one of which I have been unable to finish.

Unfinished collage – shoe for size

As the time since the course grows longer and I find my self slipping back into old habits.

Last nights offerings

 I have always wanted to make artists dolls. Christmas was coming up and I had a flurry of activity recycling card, cutting and painting limbs. The dolls ended up in an envelope, as I felt overpowered by the fear of the unknown. 10’s of copies in 3 different sizes have been finished, their bodies covered in mandala type motifs and patterns. Their joints move as they dance to wards the festive season as angels with wings.

About a third of them ‘laugh out loud’  again!!! 

Ikon exhibition – Zilvinas Kempinas 

I visited the Ikon in Birmingham  gallery – Zilvinas Kempinas installations were particularly fab  – there were 3 rooms to walk through, 2 felt like they could be migraine inducing with flickering lights and fluttering tapes that disturbed my periferal vision. Inspite of this I liked the atmosphere and being led through paths created by tape and wire. 
 Room 1 

was light with white wires strung from floor to ceiling whilst tree shadows were projected at 360 degrees around the space -it reminded me of as trees moving in the wind and of driving on a tree lined road in winter with the sun low on the horizon 
Room 3 was dark , it had large lit discs that evoked moons on the walls made of resin and aluminium – video tape was suspended from the ceiling and fanned to create movement. These led to a horizontal striped image that could have been made up of more tape – the flickering in this room was created by the suspended tape and the horizontal wall 

Room two had two large black discs on the floor that held water and ball bearings – the ball bearings moved slowly and were mesmerising 

In the centre was another circle in which a circular piece of tape writhed and twisted fanned from above – again it was difficult to walk away – the tape lurched unerringly towards me a few times so that I had to step back 
The rooms had a cohesive feel with the repetition of circles , flickering and movement 


New Street Central station and the Ikon gallery 

After the library I decided to visit the Central Station – which I noticed was very reflection  friendly when arrived in Birmingham last night . The outside of the building  is covered in metal panels that break up the reflections of buildings etc in the surrounding area. Sunlight  also reflects off the metal and it dances on building across the way. 

The ceiling of the station 

Out side the building I came across some lovely reflected light that I could not stop taking pictures of 

I looked up – unfortunately I didn’t realise that I wasn’t quite in focus until later 

I tried to do a panorama round a corner – it doesn’t quite work but you get the idea 

The Ikon gallery is a white space inside a converted Neo- Goethic building ( I had to look it up ) I was fascinated by the stairwell 

Birmingham Library in November – 

Jon is at a meeting in Birghmingham this week so I have come down for the ride – we are staying at the Novotel in the city centre. The view from the room wasn’t very inspiring so I needed to fiddle with it in my IPhone apps 

Checking in on my location  near Brindley Place – I am minutes from the canal, the Ikon art gallery and the Birmingham library. 

The Library and Ikon don’t open til 11am –  I walked to the library – its highly decorated and new, I walked around it and inside as much as I am allowed until 11am 

 I walked through the symphony hall mall and on my 

 way spotted some nice sculpture,  and  a man made lake …. with ginkgo leaves that remind me of Korea. 

Typically sitting and drinking coffee the sun has come out 

My location today courtesy of the Ikon exhibition catalogue September- Nov 2016 

A sneak peak of the library internal architecture 

At 11am I travelled up the floors to the secret garden and Shakespeare’s Memorial room – which was a surprise after all the modern concrete . Below are an illustration in a stairwell, the lift from the main library up to the secret garden and some layers on the way up.

The secret garden and views from the top 

Shakespeare’s memorial room – the lift was out of order so I had to climb up 90steps to the garden and another 46 to the memorial lol- it was as worth the climb