Thursday, 4 June 2015

Crochet Fly-Curtain

In my last post I left you with an unidentified pic as to what was on my hook as my next cheap and cheerful summer-living project. Well, here it is:

A crochet fly-curtain! And just as the weather turns a little bit more summery, I've managed to get it up and running in time to keep out those pesky midges and mosquitoes that make a bee-line for me at the first opportunity. Some people seem more prone to being bitten than others. I think perhaps it's some chemical in some people's skin that attracts biting insects to them more than to others and unfortunately I seem to have it. The pesky little critters leave the rest of my family in peace but me, they home in on, without fail, leaving large, itchy and painful bites that take ages to disappear. Which goes to explain why the idea of a fly-curtain had more than passing appeal.

You used to find these kinds of curtains in the doorways to shops sometimes in this country - not crochet ones, usually just thin lengths of plastic in varying colours - as a small child I used to love swishing the colourful strips to and fro when I should have been helping my mother with the shopping! Nowadays you don't see them so much here, but they're still common in continental Europe, especially in places like Greece. They are popular too in the Netherlands, I gather, and the pattern for this one is a Dutch pattern, from the book Haken En Kleur by Claire Boeter and Saskia Laan. The book is in Dutch but if you can read crochet diagrams, you can follow what you're supposed to do quite easily. Anyway, as soon as I saw it, I felt that I really had to give this a go. The pelmet part was a doddle. Not too big - my chosen doorway belongs to my new, tiny garden-retreat-space and is actually quite a bit narrower than that in the pattern - so each row worked out reasonably short. It has happy colour changes that keeps it interesting and uses a straightforward and delightful combination of stitches. A piece of cake.

The strings, ("slierten" in Dutch), were not a piece of cake, and, in fact, proved to be downright tedious, I have to say. Not because they were difficult - they're about as easy, in principle, as it gets - just long chains in different colours but they're long. As in LONG! And there are a lot of them.

Each one is four hundred and seventy chains, approximately. I say "approximately" because counting four hundred and seventy chains without interruption on eighty eight of the wretched things was doing my head in, so I went free-form and aimed for the same sort of length on each but didn't worry about some being a bit short and some being a bit long. You might think that looks a bit unsatisfactory. It does in a way. But in another way, there's a kind of Bohemian freedom to their varying lengths that I rather like. A few of the strings have flowers that you crochet along, as you go, just for fun.

A really sweet design touch, I think.

The chains are attached with slip stitches and a knot to secure the ends, a few rows before the end of the pelmet section so the join is neatly hidden from view and then you finish the "slierten" off with beads to give a bit of weight that keeps the strings hanging vertically in the breeze. I used an assortment of wooden beads that I had in my sewing box.

A lot of them come from a set of beads I was given for my fourth or fifth birthday, that my mother had kindly squirrelled away and passed on to me recently, (as mothers do!) I still remember painstakingly threading them onto an old green bootlace, when they were new!  Others come from a necklace of wooden beads that I've never worn, as the beads always seemed slightly too big. All good up-cycling / re-cycling!

The curtain is attached using an idea I got from the clever Handmade Glamping book in which Charlotte Liddle and Lucy Hopping suggest using Velcro for attaching a blind to a caravan window. It's a brilliant idea, I think. You stick one part of the Velcro to where you want to hang the curtain and sew the other half onto your blind or curtain.

Easy to remove for washing; inexpensive; no struggling to fit a rail or cumbersome curtain pole or anything too taxing of DIY skills. Perfect! John Lewis actually sells boxes of "Sew and Stick Velcro" for this kind of project with the two halves in separate reels, one with a self-adhesive backing and the other without, ready to sew onto whatever you want. Sheer genius! Click on the link if you feel your crafty life might be enhanced by acquiring some! I expect you can get it elsewhere too, although I've not seen it.

Rather than sticking the Velcro directly to the door-frame I got D to cut me a thin panel of plastic styrene sheet which he uses in his railway-modelling but is darn useful stuff for various sewing and crochet purposes that require a bit of stiffening, so I, ahem, "borrow" it periodically! (You can buy it by the sheet here. To cut it, you score it with a craft knife and then snap it carefully apart along the score-line.) This was then lightly sanded, in order to key the surface, and screwed in place first, before sticking the Velcro to it, to preserve the paintwork behind. You could use a thin piece of wood similarly, if you wanted to, or go ahead and stick the Velcro directly in situ. Depends on your chosen surface, really.

Anyway the long and the short of it is that this is about as delightful a summer-living accessory as I've seen in a long time.

And right on cue the weather has turned hot and summery - perfect for a swishy fly-curtain to swirl and float as one sits with an open door and the breeze coming and going but with flies and bugs stopped and searched, and most importantly of all, Turned Back, at the frontier!

I love the way that the breeze makes the beads gently dance and tap, companionably in the background, as they swing to and fro.

Tomorrow I am off university-prospecting with H. 
Do you think a little yarn-shopping is in order, while he does his thing, 
without the embarrassment of his mother in tow all the time? 
Funnily enough, so do I! 
Tee hee!

E x


  1. The best crochet project of 2015. I absolutely love it and think everyone should have one this summer x

  2. I am so impressed, it looks amazing. I remember the plastic ones from when I was little. I certainly think a little yarn shopping is in order.

  3. It is brilliant!!! I love it so much I want to make one right ow. I love the beads and you are right it is not supposed to be all the same length. Brilliant! Good luck tomorrow.

  4. Oh I remember those stripy plastic fly stoppers so well from my childhood. I loved to brush through the curtain of stripes. I also liked to watch the shadows cast. Your version is of course much nicer, Bohemian is a good word to describe it. If I wasn't living in a place where doors are rarely left open, I would be tempted to make a curtain, too. Have a lovely weekend Elizabeth. x

  5. As a fellow sufferer I sympathise, I get eaten alive but my DH doesn't. I think your curtain is fantastic, I remember the plastic curtains too, this is much nicer. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and introducing yourself, I can see I'm goig to enjoy reading your's. Hx

  6. We should get together and have a bite off. My husband says I'm like a honey trap for biting insects, and I react badly.
    But this curtain is lovely. I like the colours, and the beads along the bottom are lovely. How marvellous that they were yours from your youth!
    Enjoy the university hunting; which ones are you looking at?

  7. That is, quite simply, a stroke of crochet genius!!!

    Try eating copious amounts of Marmite - biting insects are said to loathe it and steer well clear!

    Heather xx

  8. My mother is similarly attractive to biting insects, which is painful for her but handy for anyone with her as we get left alone. I love the idea of this curtain and would willingly have a go at crocheting the pelmet but fear the strings would never get finished. However, one of my girls has a broken curtain that consists of short lengths of plastic tube threaded onto string with each tube separated by a fabric flower. The flowers are rather dusty and tired now but I think I'd have the patience to crochet some flowers to replace them. A task for a sunny afternoon sitting under the shade of tree I think.

  9. A Marseille, dans mon enfance, toutes les portes en étaient équipés ! Les plus jolis étaient en perles de buis, mais le tien est absolument superbe !

  10. Dear E - how i remember those plastic "curtains"..... our local newsagent had one and so did my Nan on the door of her caravan! Really love your version tho.... xxx

  11. I love this Elizabeth! So lovely!! I'm glad you have time to create. All the best to you as you take your son to tour a university. It is quite a process. All the best to you!

  12. That is a FANTASTIC idea and make!!!!! It really is wonderful isn't it!!! So clever of you!! I hope it does the trick! xx

  13. This is so fun! I remember being in England and noticing that there were not a lot of 'screens' on windows and doors like we have and wondered how the bugs were kept out. You have answered my question! Love hearing of the plastic strings of childhood as well. This is beautifully done, and I agree the uneven 'hem' is best!!

  14. What a great make. You are so good at thinking of useful and beautiful items to make for the home. I used to love ribbon curtains when I was young, our neighbour had one I remember. The butcher's shop in the next village has a heavy bead curtain across their door, perhaps more environmentally friendly than air-con and fly-exterminators. Have fun with the university prospecting. We collected our daughter from Kent yesterday and stopped en route at Faversham, a gem of a town and then went on to Oare Marshes, a very special nature reserve which was absolutely stunning in the June sunshine.

  15. Dear Elizabeth, this is such a cute idea! We do use these curtains, as well, they are from cotton stripes, bought in the Netherlands. But now I really should replace them by selfmade ones. If I just had more time to crochet! Your design is so beautiful, these curtain is a wonderful eyecatcher. Have a nice and beautiful Sunday, Viola

  16. Wow, gorgeous!! ♥ I'm totally fallen in love :-). Great job!!
    Happy Sunday greetings, Nata xxx

  17. hello
    1 my daughter is an enthusiastic needlewoman and i will show her your website.
    i had never seen anything like this but here [usa] some cold storage areas have transparent plastic strip door curtains to keep the cold in.
    beautiful view out your door.
    the beads are lovely. i have never seen any like them.
    many thanks.

  18. What a great idea! I love that curtain! Looks fabulous!
    Greetings from Austria

  19. Hi LOVE THE SCREEN....its fabulous xx

  20. Of course you should go yarn shopping! You must need more yarn now after making that gorgeous curtain? Does it really work? Does it keep out the flies etc? Not that it really matters as it looks amazing and, I'm sure, sounds really soothing. I remember the old plastic type ones you used to get years ago!

  21. This is amazing. I learned myself to crochet last year. I still feel like a beginner but I suppose with practice I will may improve. Joan at

  22. I really appreciate your professional approach. These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future.

  23. What a blast from the past, I can't remember when I last saw a fly curtain. However, I know for sure I have never, ever seen one as cute as this! BTW, what universities are you off to view? We will be starting the process in the next year or two xx

  24. I love this. Am going to make one as I am currently being eaten alive by our Cumbrian midges! ;)

  25. I love your fly screen. It looks fabulous and so colourful. I know a door that this would be perfect for. Might be a great project to start my children crocheting this summer. Thank you for sharing.

  26. OH, my goodness! How beautiful--I'm sure that many would be interested in the written pattern for your curtain, me for one!

  27. I made one!!! I made the top a bit different, but what a fun project. I have a small bathroom off the bedroom and the door was a nuisance. So I made what I call my "psychadelic fly door". It came out awesome!!! Thanks for the idea!! Btw...I stopped counting too! The chains are all different lengths with peace sign beads on the bottom!


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