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!!

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.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

More hats for Operation Orphan...

We are going through an intense heat wave here in the UK. Comparisons are being made to the heat wave of 1976. That one was totally wasted on me as I was busy taking exams that year. So this year has been a bit of a shock. It hasn't rained for goodness knows how many weeks and temperatures have been above 30C every day for at least 2 weeks, with more of the same forecast. So what do I do but knit a woolly hat 😎.

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.

I have added the hat to others and made a small parcel for Operation Orphan.

I try to send my favourite charities at least one parcel per year. This is a much smaller parcel than I would usually send. But I have been ridiculously busy this year with lots of visits from distant relatives, sorting sheds, trying to keep the garden alive, going to the gym etc etc.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Free knitting pattern for a stuffed toy dog...


This pattern uses dk yarn doubled (i.e. two strands of dk yarn knitted together) and size 5.5mm knitting needles. It produces a dog measuring 14 inches long.
I find that doubling up the yarn and using 5.5mm knitting needles makes a strong fabric that knits up very quickly and contains the stuffing securely.
Don’t worry if the monster looks small when you are knitting it. It will look larger after you have sewed the seams and stuffed it.
Remember: the yarn is used doubled throughout except for the ears and the facial features.

You will need
5.5mm knitting needles (except for the ears which use 4mm knitting needles)
Approximately 65g of dk yarn
Approximately 65g of toy stuffing
White felt and black or brown felt or buttons for the eyes
Small black pom-pom or felt for the nose
Black yarn for the mouth
Red yarn for the tongue

Right leg
Cast on 9 stitches
Work 10 rows  (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)
Cut the yarn and push the leg to the far end of the left hand needle

Left leg
Cast on 9 stitches on the same knitting needle that is holding the right leg
Work 10 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)

Join legs
Knit across all 9 stitches of the left leg.
Turn your work and cast on 2 stitches
Turn your work again and knit across all 9 stitches of the right leg
You should now have 20 stitches on your needle

Work 23 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a purl row and ending with a purl row)

Cast on 10 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row) You will have 40 stitches on your needle
Work 10 more rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)
Cast off 10 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows. You should now have 20 stitches on your needle

Work 50 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)

Cast on 10 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row) You will have 40 stitches on your needle
Work 10 more rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)
Cast off 10 stitches at beginning of next 2 rows (you will have 20 stitches on your needle)
Work 24 rows straight – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)

Left leg
Knit 9 stitches
Turn your work and continue on these 9 stitches for 10 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a purl row and ending with a garter stitch row)
Cast off these 9 stitches

Right leg
Rejoin yarn to remaining11 stitches
Cast off first 2 stitches
Knit 9 stitches
Work 10 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a purl row and ending with a garter stitch row)
Cast off

Ears (make 2)
Remember: size 4mm knitting needles and one single strand of dk yarn
Cast on 8 stitches
Rows 1-22 – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)
You will increase one stitch at both ends of rows 3, 7, and 11 until you have 14 stitches on your needle
Row 23 Join new colour (garter stitch row)
Rows 24 - 45 (stocking stitch, commencing with a purl row and ending with a knit row)
You will decrease one stitch at both ends of rows 35, 39, and 43 until you have 8 stitches on the needle
Cast off
Fold in half, right sides together, and sew the 2 long side seams
Turn right side out
Stuff lightly with approved toy stuffing

Making up:
Embroider facial features as desired. If used, sew on pompom and buttons firmly.
Sew up outer leg seams, both sides, around arms and head
Stuff firmly with approved toy stuffing and check that it is not escaping through any holes
Sew up remaining leg seams
Attach the ears, taking care to close the top seam of each ear

Let your imagination run riot
To make longer legs, add 2, 4, or 6 rows
Change the colours as required. Use pastels or bright colours as well as doggy colours.

Congratulations, you have completed one beautiful stuffed toy dog. Now all you have to do is to decide who to give it to! Woof!

The knitting pattern and photograph are © Una O’Malley