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!!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A hat sextet....

Apparently, the collective noun for a group of hats is a "millinery". But I think my version suits this collection better and is guaranteed to increase the visits to my blog! 

I had some Aran yarn to use up and I chose the Be Loving pattern by Melissa Simpson.  It was extremely easy to knit and I had memorised it by the second hat.  So I experimented with different stripe patterns to keep myself awake!

I never cease to be amazed at how far a ball of yarn goes.  The smallest hat is toddler size and used only 37g of Aran yarn.  The others are child size (41g) and teenage size (53g).

Most of the yarn was left over from previous projects.  The red yarn came to me as a donation.  Someone had wound balls of Aran yarn together to make a bulky weight yarn.  I decided to unwind them and use them as nature intended.  That was easier said than done, but it was worth the effort as it added some much needed brightness.

These will be going off very soon to Operation Orphan.  A few scrappy remnants of yarn will keep 6 children warm.  Good result!

The weather here is glorious this week, so I have declared the Aran knitting season to be over.  I am now going to concentrate on small and pretty 4 ply items.  Watch this space...

Friday, 3 April 2015

A quintet of scarves...

I had half a bag of real wool Aran yarn left over from a blanket I made last year. There wasn't enough to make another blanket and I really didn't want to buy any more.  I decided that crochet scarves would use this up quickly.  One of my favourite crochet scarf patterns is this one.  It really is a quick and easy pattern as every row is the same.  I can recommend it to beginners or anyone else who feels like some mindless crochet.

I managed to crochet five scarves in just under two weeks. I was completing one scarf every two days and I carried on with the rest of my life as well.  It would probably take me two weeks to knit just one scarf, so this is where crochet wins. 

The scarves are roughly 5 inches x 45 inches which is perfect for Operation Orphan who distribute clothes and blankets to children in need around the world. They have specifically requested smaller scarves for the younger children.  

I don't usually work on the same pattern five times in a row.  But I really enjoy this pattern, so it was a happy fortnight.  I must admit that the enthusiasm was starting to fail halfway through the fifth scarf!

I have some Aran yarn left and will start to make hats with it as soon as Easter is over.

Happy holidays everyone.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Another Teddy glove puppet....

I have some yellow yarn to use up.  I'm not keen on wearing yellow and, for that reason, don't make yellow hats or scarves etc.  If I'm not prepared to wear it, then I can't really inflict it on anybody else!  

But this colour is perfect for teddy bear glove puppets.  I have knitted lots of these in the past and, luckily, I printed off the pattern a long time ago.  Every time I look for it on the Internet it has moved.  It's latest location is on Pinterest here.

The puppet looks a bit wonky in the photo.  But it looks good on a human hand.  I think this one is for a great niece who I will be visiting for the first time in June.  She is 4 years old but lives in another country so I have never met her before.

This is an easy knitting pattern as it is all garter stitch.  One puppet uses up just 19g of double knit yarn.  That means I have three more puppets to make, unless I can think of another use for yellow yarn.  Any ideas?  Please!!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Two toddler hats....

I had just over 100g left of the Emu Bainin Aran yarn that was kindly donated to me by Joanne of the Cup On The Bus blog.  This is quite a thick, strong Aran yarn and probably not soft enough for a small baby.  But it is pure wool and very warm.  So I decided to knit the toddler size of my two favourite hat patterns. 

Despite being a knitter for over 50 years, I can still be amazed at how far a ball of wool goes.  The Basic Winter Hat used 59g of yarn and the cabled Nottingham Hat used just under 50g.

I have knitted these patterns a few times now and can recommend them.  The basic hat is easy and the cabled hat has enough detail to be interesting. Both are stretchy and both get good reviews from other knitters.

These will eventually go off to Operation Orphan for distribution to children in need around the world.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The 39p scarf....

What can you buy for 39p these days?  Not very much, so I was amazed when I found a ball of yarn for that price in a charity shop.  It was in the bottom of a dusty bin and I suspect it was very close to going into a real dustbin.  But I could see it had potential. There was no label on it.  But when I rescued it and took it home, it weighed 100g and measured as 4 ply.  I think it was on sale at a giveaway price because it was knobbly yarn which is generally considered difficult to knit with.

I decided to knit one of my favourite scarf patterns.  This pattern is for dk yarn.  But it is easy to adapt.  I used size 3.75mm needles and cast on 35 stitches for a width of 6.5 inches.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the knobbles were quite small and didn't cause me any problems.  The 100g of yarn kept on giving until the scarf was 51 inches long.  That will be ideal for me as I plan to just wear this one tucked into a coat or jacket.  I put my scarves and gloves away in March, even if the weather is still cold. So this scarf will have its first outing next winter.

There are lots of "yarn over" stitches in the pattern.  The resulting holes just call out for a scarf or shawl pin.  So I trawled the Internet until I found this unique pin made from a recycled knitting needle.  Top marks go to someone with imagination.  I wish I had thought of it first!

Monday, 9 March 2015

The "Days of Wine and Roses" blanket...

I completed this large granny square blanket for SIBOL recently.  It has become a tradition that these blankets are given a name before being delivered to residents in care homes.  

Sometimes, I think of a name first and then plan the colours. Sometimes, I start to crochet and hope that a name will suggest itself.  This blanket fell into the latter category.  It is a mixture of pinks and purple and was lovely to make, but a name eluded me until near the end.  Then the phrase "Days of Wine and Roses" came into my head and kept coming every time I thought about the blanket.  

So, I Googled the phrase and was amazed at what I discovered.  The words come from a poem by Ernest Dowson who was born in the part of London that I have lived in since I was 32.  He died, aged just 32, in another part of London that I lived in until I was 32.  Eerie!

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
– Ernest Dowson, from "Vitae Summa Brevis" (1896).

Without going into too many details, Ernest Dowson had a short and tragic life.  But he understood how precious it is.  His poem and the sentiments behind it are beautiful.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

A new jumper...and a disaster averted

I had some lovely cream Aran yarn, quite a lot of green and cream 4 ply yarn and lots and lots of wooden buttons all needing a good project.  I settled on the Child's Top-Down Henley pattern which I found on Ravelry.  The pattern calls for the Aran yarn and the 4 ply yarn to be knitted together, so it makes a very thick and warm jumper. Bulky seams are avoided because this is basically knitted in one clever, seamless piece.

I had to juggle with my colours a little to make sure that I didn't run out of the 4 ply yarn.  The sleeves are the same length even though the photo makes one of them look shorter!  So I enjoyed carefully counting rows and switching colours until I eventually produced a wearable striped jumper.

The real disaster was averted much earlier in the knitting process.  As this is a top-down pattern, I started at the neckline and increased stitches regularly until there were 168 stitches on my long circular knitting needle.  I then knitted 2 more rows and was finally ready to divide the stitches for the sleeves and body. At the end of the second row I pulled my needle with a celebratory flourish and.....horror of horrors.....the needle tip separated from its cable.  The tip flew out of one end of the row and the cable whizzed back through at least 70 stitches.  Argggh!!  

Luckily, I am not a swearer.  Otherwise the air might have turned blue.  Instead I surprised myself by staying calm as I worked my way back through the dropped stitches until I had picked them all up.  This was made difficult by the fact that each stitch consisted of the 2 yarns held together and by the fact that my cat seemed to sense a problem and was trying to make it better by nose-butting me!

I considered myself lucky that the disaster had happened on ordinary stocking stitch. If it had happened on lace, I would have had to rip back the whole thing.  Eventually I managed to save the situation in 30 minutes and I learned a vital lesson.  Don't expect a cable to hold 168 stitches when it can really hold only 100.  The irony is that I have a longer cable and could have used that.  In future, I will.

The Aran yarn and the wooden buttons were donated to me by Joanne of the Cup On The Bus blog.  The 4 ply yarn came also as donations or in cheap bargain lots.  The jumper will go off soon to Operation Orphan.  It should fit a four year old child and will hopefully be strong enough to be passed down through a whole family.  It was that thought that kept me going when it was really tempting to have a knitter's meltdown!