Hello and thanks for visiting my blog. I have been knitting on and off for 50 years and I recently learned to crochet. I love looking for wool bargains and making them into something useful. I mainly knit for charity. I occasionally knit for myself and family members if I find a really good pattern or if they ask nicely!!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Eye eye...

This is all I have managed to knit this month.  It is approximately half of a baby blanket.  Just before my 60th birthday, I received the less than welcome news that I had cataracts.  That was a real party pooper.  But, strangely, it was also the catalyst for doing something that has been on my mind for years.  I have had bad eyesight all my life.  An optician once told me off for using the word "bad".  I suppose there are others, such as restricting, limiting, challenging.  But "bad" is what most people in my position use.  

For the past few years, I have been watching developments in eye surgery techniques. There was an operation that would help me.  But all eye surgery carries risks and I always told myself that I would only take the plunge if I had no choice. Being diagnosed with cataracts qualified as "no choice, get on with it".  So I did.

My first surgery was on September 3rd and it went well.  I can read and knit...slowly. The second op was supposed to have happened last week.  But it was delayed for reasons far too boring for this blog. Until my second eye is fixed next month, my vision is going to be extremely unbalanced.  I am currently very shortsighted in one eye and marginally longsighted in the other eye.  I craft when the lighting is good, but I don't want to end up with eyestrain and headaches.  So I am pacing myself very carefully.

The pattern for the blanket is Emily's Baby Blankie.  I deliberately chose to knit it in my favourite blues to cheer myself up.  One good side effect of cataract surgery is that blues look even bluer.  I wasn't expecting that and I don't know how long ti will last.  But it is a very welcome little gift.  

Note to self: keeping informed is good.  But Googling eye problems and operations can be a bad idea.  There is such a thing as "too much information".  Just saying!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

3 more hats...

At the beginning of the summer, I set myself a target to use up all my 4 ply yarn.  In my last post, I described how I used up the last of my white and cream.  I then set my attention to using up my darker shades.  Once again, I combined yarns and managed to knit 3 toddler size hats.  I followed the Be Loving pattern.  This is written for Aran yarn; but 4 ply doubled works just as well. 

I actually had lots of little nuggets in various greens, blues, beiges and browns and was quite pleased at how they worked together.  Admittedly, they are rather dark for toddlers' hats. But they will be going off to Operation Orphan for distribution in countries where warmth and sturdiness are the most important attributes in children's clothes.

I am now looking at a bag of 4 ply yarn that contains only blues and pinks.  I think my job is done.  I am quite happy to save this for future family babies.  In fact, there is already a great niece or nephew on the way.  I must put on my thinking hat....

Friday, 11 September 2015

The last 50g...

I recently knitted some preemie items and had just 50g of white 4ply yarn left.  My 4ply mojo returned and I paired it with 50g of cream 4ply to knit these two hats. Combining the two colours produced a lovely shade of pale banana.  The white was a baby yarn and the cream was ordinary yarn.  Together they made a texture just right for a toddler.

I followed the easy Be Loving pattern which is really for Aran weight yarn, but 4ply doubled works just as well.  The pattern comes in many sizes from toddler to adult and I can definitely recommend it as well written, simple and quick.  I managed to make two toddler size hats with just a tiny amount of yarn left.  I think there might be enough to make bootees or pompoms.  Nothing is ever wasted here!

NB: there is a reason why my posts are a bit on the short side this month.  All will be revealed in a couple of weeks time!

Friday, 4 September 2015

Ripple scarf


In the spirit of lifelong learning and continuing with my aim to learn new skills in 2015, I was very happy to finally learn how to crochet a ripple.  I followed the excellent Gentle Ripple How To tutorial on Linda's Crafty Corner blog.

I am such a slow learner where crochet is concerned, that it took me a few attempts to master the decrease stitch.  But I persevered as I really wanted to make a ripple something.  

I must be a tight crocheter. This was starting to look more like a rug than a soft blanket!  In the end I decided to turn this into a baby scarf.  I think I am a tight crocheter, especially when I am concentrating on something new.  I broke the cardinal rule and didn't make a swatch.  If I make another blanket I will go up to size 5mm crochet hook and do two rows per colour.  

Thanks, Linda for the very clear phototutorial/


Sunday, 30 August 2015

A hat and scarf set....

Having recently started to make hats and scarves for older children and then somehow ending up making them for younger children instead, I decided to "get with the plot".  I had about 150g of Robin FX Dk yarn in a  lovely shade of oatmeal.  It was just crying out to be turned into a hat and scarf set.  

The label describes it as premium acrylic which some purists might think is a contradiction in terms.  But it was lovely to knit with, didn't have any knots and produced a perfect texture in both knitted and crocheted items.

I didn't follow any particular scarf pattern.  I simply did row after row of crochet v-stitch and really like the way it turned out.  It is reversible, doesn't curl at the edges and drapes nicely.  I will definitely make more of these.  I used a 4mm hook, chained 27 stitches, and used 110g of the yarn.  That gave me a scarf measuring 6.25 inches by 65 inches.

The rest of the yarn went towards making this simple beanie hat which should fit a teenager.  It is from the well-written Two by Two Basic Beanie pattern.  There are instructions for sizes ranging from baby to large adult and I can really recommend it.

Both these items will go off to Operation Orphan.  They are not really a matching set since the only thing they have in common is the yarn. However, they are very unlikely to stay together and that is ok as it means two teenagers will benefit....a win win situation.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

More preemie items...

This little collection of preemie items went off to PreemiesUK.  I was really trying to use up all of my white and cream 4 ply yarn. When I finished the last two sleepsacks and weighed them, my knitting mojo rose up on its hind legs and refused to jump the last fence.  They weigh only 16g each which I think is amazing. But that left me with enough 4 ply yarn to knit another three.
  • I really want (and need) to clear the decks of finished items this week
  • I don't want my knitting/crochet to turn into a race or a chore
  • I had the perfect size box available
So I posted these yesterday and set aside the remaining 50g of white yarn.  I already have plans for it and might actually start today.  But, for now, I am finished with preemie items.

I have previously blogged about most of these preemie patterns before.  I have never mentioned the little hat pattern but it deserves a mention.  It is one of those hat patterns that I usually avoid as it is knitted on straight needles and has a seam. But I kept the seam very small by careful sewing.  Sadly, I forgot to weigh the hats. But I know they used very little yarn.

I liked the fact that staff in a special care baby unit have actually requested this very hat pattern.  Here is the link. Scroll down and look for "Hat for premature babies (As requested by St. Mary's Special Care Baby Unit, UK)."
PS:  I have had a request for a link to the pattern for the little sleepsack.  It can be found at the very end of the list on this Cuddles page.                                            

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

A lovely surprise...

Just look at the lovely journal I won recently in a giveaway hosted by Vicki of the 2bagsfull blog.  It is beautiful on the inside and on the outside with flowers and butterflies on a blue background.  

Vicki gave away several different journals and amazingly chose my favourite colour. That has been blue ever since I was about four years old and had a little blue summer dress.  I was so upset, incensed and incredulous when I outgrew it that my mother had to let down the hem to make it long enough to last another few months.  I wish I still had that dress.  I bought a very similar one when my daughter was four.  At primary school I chose blue binca material for my very first sewing project.  When I was fifteen and started a Saturday job, I bought a blue leather pencil case which I still have today.  The first party outfit I bought for myself was a blue maxi skirt and I still wear a lot of blue.  We recently had a few days away driving around Yorkshire and the Peak District.  When we were on the less scenic motorways, it was always the blue cars that caught my attention.  Did I mention that I like blue?!

I see a lot of giveaways being hosted by generous bloggers all over the world.  I usually resist entering those that are too far away because of the postage costs.  But I simply had to try to win one of these pretty journals and Vicki paid a small fortune in postage from Kentucky.  We think postage is expensive in the UK,  but it is even dearer in other countries!  Thank you, Vicki.

So when my journal arrived yesterday, I was genuinely delighted.  I will put it to good use.....maybe to record favourite books and authors.....unless I can think of something better.

Vicki's blog is well worth a visit.  She crafts for pleasure and for charity and hosts annual blog parties. You won't be disappointed!

PS: here is a photo of me wearing the famous dress.  This was in the early days of colour photography, so it doesn't really do justice to the lovely shade of sky blue.  I am on the left squinting at the sun....which probably has a lot to blame for my poor eyesight. But that is another story!  

I can actually remember this particular photo being taken.  We had just moved from a very poor part of London to a slightly more leafy area.  This was the local park.  We are standing in front of a tennis court where I used to play into my mid-twenties.  We are all dressed up, so this could even have been my birthday.