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!!

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Best laid plans....

Having finally succeeded in using up my 4 ply yarn, apart from a few scraps, (which may have a future use, after all), I decided to use up my Aran yarn which is taking up an unreasonable amount of space. I knitted my favourite, easy hat pattern. I have knitted many of these in the past. It is very simple. I found the pattern on the Loving Hands website. I don't know whether or not it is still there, but it is called Ellie's Easiest Ever Hat and certainly lives up to its name. It is knit in the round with Aran wool. You simply change the needle size to make it fit a child, teenager, woman or man. I definitely recommend this as a quick, easy pattern.

This one will fit a teenager and will go to Operation Orphan when I have enough to post. It barely made a dent in my bag of aran yarn, so I can see another year of knitting hats ahead of me.

My plans to clear the big yarn fell apart when someone gave me three of these humongous balls of wool for Christmas. The beauty is that it won't take me long to knit something with such a thick yarn. The downside is that I have had to order new larger broomsticks knitting needles and I also have no idea what to knit. 

A quick search on Ravelry shows that most people use it for thick scarves. I have enough of those, so will probably make a simple, thick lap rug. Any other ideas? I only have 150 metres of it....all pink!

The person who gave me this wool is not a knitter. They just thought it was lovely and it was a kind thought, so I'm not really complaining. The original expression about best laid schemes comes from a Robert Burns' poem about a poor mouse whose home was ploughed up in a cold winter.

With thanks to Robert Burns, To A Mouse, 1785, and Wikipedia 2019:
The original wordingThe poem in modern English
Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a pannic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

Thy wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear![5]
Little, sly, cowering, timid beast,
Oh, what a panic is in your heart!
You need not start away so hasty
With bickering prattle!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering paddle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes you startle
At me, your poor, earth-born companion
And fellow mortal!

I doubt not, sometimes, that you may steal;
What then? Poor beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.

Your small house, too, in ruin!
Its feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse green foliage!
And bleak December's winds coming,
Both bitter and piercing!

You saw the fields laid bare and empty,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! The cruel plough passed
Out through your cell.

That small heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter's sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear![citation needed]

Sunday, 16 December 2018

My 4 ply days are OVER...

I have never knowingly bought 4 ply yarn. But I seem to accumulate quite a lot of it via kind donations. It definitely comes in useful for tiny baby items, which I like to knit occasionally. It's also easier to knit with during the summer when the thought of working with aran or even double knit wool is often far from enticing. Those are the plus points. The big negative is how long it takes to produce anything on tiny needles. 

So, it seems like I have been working my way through a large bag of 4 ply for YEARS. I'm delighted to say I have finally finished. Woo hoo! 

I knitted two hats for PreemiesUK. I love this shade of pale green because it is very easy on the eye. The little scraps in the photo are all I have left in my 4 ply collection. There isn't enough to knit another hat, so I am officially declaring my 4 ply days OVER. I won't waste the scraps though. They will end up as little decorations or motifs on other future projects.

The weather is freezing cold here at the moment.....just right for the aran wool project I have planned to start next....

I hope everyone is having a peaceful end to the year. I couldn't resist adding the following photo. I'm sure it applies to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and small children!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

All fingers and thumbs...

No photos of any recent projects for the simple reason that there haven't been any.

I've been taking part in a nutrition study that is, apparently, the biggest in the world. That's quite a claim; but experience tells me it could be true. Have you ever heard someone say they can't lose weight, or say they can eat anything and not put on weight? Well, nutritionists are starting to realise there could be some truth in this. 

The messages about fat, sugar and carbs are too simple. Different people react to them in different ways and this study is trying to find out why. It is thought that the bacteria in our gut influence how we react to food. The ultimate aim is to be able to predict how everyone can live more healthily by following a personalised nutrition programme tailored to their unique bodily composition.

The study is being run from St Thomas' Hospital which is just across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament. There are thousands of participants, mostly twins, and I can't begin to imagine what it is costing. Luckily, a private company is paying for it, as the great NHS has other things to pay for. But if we all become more healthy, society and the NHS will eventually benefit. The private company will obviously also benefit as it is in the business of nutritional drinks.

So what has all this got to do with a knitting blog? I won't go into detail about everything. But part of the study requires regular blood tests. After a one-day training course at the hospital, participants are sent home with twelve kits for taking blood from the fingertips. These have to be used over 4 days. For complicated reasons, you can only use certain parts of certain fingers. My fourth day was yesterday, woo hoo! Did you hear the sigh of relief as I posted my tests back to the hospital? 

But I am now like a bruised pincushion and knitting or crocheting is out of the question until I heal. Even typing is painful unless I do it very slowly, and my fingerprints are no longer recognised by the security settings on my phone! Oh, dear.

I came home from the hospital with 2 bags of freebies: food for breakfasts and lunches for a fortnight, a food weighing scales, drinking flask, and cool bag. There is no financial reward. But I had a very thorough medical at the hospital and will receive a personalised list of which foods do and don't agree with me. If I choose to take any notice, which I intend to, I will become more fit and healthy and happy in the knowledge that I contributed to something important.

Now, I just have to wait for normal feeling to return to my fingers so that I can pick up the knitting needles again.

Meanwhile, I am still busy reading all my favourite blogs. Keep writing!

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Another worry monster...

I have just finished a second worry monster for Knit-for-Nowt. This one is an insect with golden wings (made from shoe laces) and a knitted pocket for the worries.

I'm still a bit bemused by these monsters. But, apparently, anything that gets the children talking to their therapists is a good thing. That's why we add eye-catching and quirky details. I stuck mainly to my own pattern that I blogged about here.

So, I have just posted two monsters to Knit-for-Nowt. Here they are snuggling up together:

That is just the tip of the iceberg of what is actually needed. If anyone else feels like knitting, sewing, or crocheting a monster or therapy puppet, there are more details on the Knit-for-Nowt website.

As always, I'm busy busy busy and already planning my next knitting project...

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Picking up the needles again...

Shock! Horror! It is nearly 3 months since I posted here. My last post coincided with a record-breaking heatwave in the UK. It seemed to go on for months in London and even thinking about picking up a ball of wool was out of the question. Thankfully, the weather has returned to normal and, though still unseasonably mild, knitting is once more a possibility.

This Worry Monster is for Knit-for-Nowt, from where Clare will send it off with others to therapists who work with traumatised children. There is a long waiting list for these monsters. So, if anyone feels able to knit one, it will be very welcome. The details are on the website.

For this monster, I used a pattern that I shared here. I amended it slightly to include ears as I like all my monsters to be unique.

Well, that wasn't difficult. I was afraid I would have completely forgotten how to write a blog post. Instead, it's  like riding a bike; you never forget.

I have one more monster to knit. Watch this space...

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Two-faced puppets...

This is a knitting/crochet/sewing blog and there are enough problems in my own country. So, I wouldn't waste column inches on a political rant; or would I?

Joking apart, it was a strange coincidence that I finished these two-faced puppets this week.

There are only 3 puppets. But they have 2 faces each and collectively portray fright, sadness, confusion, anger, happiness and worry. I have just posted them off to Knit-for-Nowt from where Clare will allocate them to a therapist who works with traumatised children.

Knitting the glove puppet part was very easy. Getting the faces right took longer. The shape of the eyebrows and spacing of the eyes were key to showing different expressions. I took my time when I had no other distractions. The perfectionist in me even made me move the eyes on one of the faces before I was happy with it. But, now, I'm pleased with how they turned out.

The heat wave is carrying on relentlessly here. We were promised thunder storms yesterday and I had all my buckets out in the garden ready to catch the rain. I think I felt a butterfly spit in my eye. Apart from that, everything is still bone dry. It doesn't make holding wool very appealing; so I have nothing on my needles at the moment. But I'm sure that won't last long!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Nothing much happening...

I don't have any finished items to show, so here is a photo of my latest charity shop find. It's a lovely little ceramic sheep and cost the bargain price of 99p. It usually sits on a low wall in my garden and makes me smile every time I see it. I'm intrigued by the little holes in its hands and wonder what, if anything, it used to hold in a former life. Any ideas?

While I'm on the subject of daft garden ornaments, here is a photo of some wise monkeys that found their way into my garden a couple of months ago:

After taking this photo, I heard that these monkeys don't tolerate the British weather very well. So I have now given them a good coat of yacht varnish and they look much better. I will bring them indoors for the winter months, but they are now waterproof and should shrug off most rain showers. Having said that, of course, my part of the UK hasn't had rain for about 2 months. Here is a photo I took this morning on Blackheath which is a good, healthy stroll from my house:

That is NOT a beach. It should be lush, green grass and it will be again when the rains come...usually as soon as the school holidays start!

The overpowering heat and little distractions such as the football World Cup and the Wimbledon tennis tournament have really slowed down my knitting needles. I am halfway through something that is still at the ugly duckling stage. It should be ready by the time I write my next blog post.