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!!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

My first half granny square shawl...

Here is my first ever half granny square shawl.  I crocheted it for SIBOL and it will end up on the shoulders of someone in a UK care home for the elderly.  Sue at SIBOL is currently accepting shawls and lap blankets and always lets you know when your items arrive and even when they are delivered to the homes.  See more about SIBOL here.

The pattern I followed was "The original half granny square shawl" by Ambar E. Rivera.  There are other similar patterns, but I found this one very easy to understand.  It was also the only one to suggest a way to prevent the top edge curving too much.  I could see early on that mine was going to curve like a banana, so I was very pleased that Ambar's simple remedy worked.

I used a lovely pink and purple variegated yarn from Robin.  My knitter's brain expected it to make stripes.  But it has short colour changes which make splodges when crocheted.  So I added a few rows of grey yarn at regular intervals to highlight the shape of the shawl. 

I will definitely make this again, so here are my stats:
dk yarn and 5mm hook
45 rounds plus edging 
weighs  240g
measures 54" across top edge, 28" from neck to point, and 42" along sides

I followed the pattern exactly but added my own simple edging.  I think I even made up this edging as I haven't been able to find it on Ravelry.  It deserves a blog post of its this space...

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A baby hat and bootees set...

I was recently lucky enough to buy a copy of The Big Book of Baby Knitting by Mary Healey.  It was going for only 50p in my local charity shop.  Most of my patterns come free from library books or the Internet.  But this appealed to me because it was published in 1974 and has some really vintage patterns.  Were people still knitting swimming costumes for their children in 1974?  I don't think so; but this book also has lots of really practical and pretty patterns.

I started with two practical patterns....a baby hat that keeps the ears warm and bootees that look like they might actually stay on.  The only change I made to the hat pattern was to knit it in the round.  I always try to avoid seams on hats, especially baby hats.  The bootees are the first I have ever knitted.  I found the p2tog tbl stitch on the instep really fiddly to knit.  A voice in my head told me that there must be an alternative stitch.  Well, there doesn't seem to be; but there is an easier way of doing the p2tog tbl.  Here are the very clear instructions that I found on the Lily Go blog.

The knitting world has really moved on since 1974.  This book has no "knit in the round" patterns, uses different abbreviations for stitches, and has only one size for each pattern.  Luckily the booties and hat should fit a baby aged 3 months. So I am putting them together and calling them a set.  They will be saved until one of my many nieces and nephews (or daughter) have a baby.

In keeping with the vintage pattern, I used some vintage yarn.  It is Family Choice DK by Wendy and there is no barcode on the label.  I always take that to mean it is very old.  (There is no barcode on me either, so I can confirm that theory!)

I have already made a start on one of the prettier patterns, though it is taking longer as it calls for 4 ply yarn.  So I hope nobody is holding their breath waiting for a photo!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Slightly off beam

This is nothing to do with knitting or crochet.  But it is definitely everything to do with imagination.  My daughter made a short film as a college project and I promised to advertise it to increase the view count.

It is called Unknown Soldier.

I know absolutely nothing about making a film. But I think Daughter had to draw every scene and then animate it.  It must have been a lot of work.  She is in the middle of a film editing course at university and eventually plans to do a Masters Degree in CGI Animation.  She was always artistic at school and probably gets that from me.  But the technical side of film-making comes entirely from her own mind!

We are quite proud of her.  The tissues even had to come out at the end as one of the people she thanks is my Dad who was in the thick of it in WWII.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Six squares...

About a year ago I was lucky enough to be given 2 big bags full of yarn by a Freecycler.  Yes, I was that bag lady sitting on a train and then on a bus, occasionally peeking into the bags and smiling happily.  

I think I have used most of it by now.  But there were several small balls of white dk acrylic yarn....all slightly different shades and textures and all too small to make even a baby hat.  The closest they would have come to a hat would be in a starring role as stripes.  But I was in no rush.

Then, a few days ago, I heard about Cwtch of Comfort which is a project that gives blankets and quilts to parents who have lost a child.  They use blankets of all sizes and recently made an appeal for six inch squares that could be sewn into bigger blankets.  See here for more information about the squares appeal.  The squares needed to be white or pale pastel.  They also needed to be easily washable.  Perfect.  I have now managed to use up all my odd balls of white.

As someone is going to crochet these squares together, I decided to make it as easy as possible for them.  I chose to knit simple corner-to-corner squares.  The advantage of this type of square is that there is no cast on or cast off edge.  All four sides are the same, which makes sewing them together fairly easy.  I followed the SANDS blanket pattern which is very easy and produces a square with a good strong edge.

So, having recently used up all my odd balls of white 4 ply yarn, I have now done the same with my dk yarn.  Turning oddments into worthwhile items always makes me happy.  Sometimes it really is possible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The little and large preemie tops...

After crocheting five Aran wool scarves, I have gone from one extreme to the other and turned my hands to knitting with 4 ply acrylic.  I had 4 complete balls of white/cream and a few oddments.  This is exactly the yarn requested by hospitals as it is suitable for small preemie babies and is easy to wash.

The pattern for the sleepsack came from the Cuddles website.  I altered the pattern slightly.  As written, it does not produce the garter ridge across the chest.  I corrected that by knitting what should have been a purl row.  I then ran out of  yarn just before the end.  I had a remnant of cream that was more banana in tone.  The difference is only obvious in a really good light, so I didn't actually realise when I started knitting that I had 2 shades of cream.  There was a timely flash of sunlight just before I joined the new yarn.  I added another garter ridge and it looks absolutely fine.

I can't remember where the other pattern came from, but it was lovely to knit as it is a seamless top-down pattern.  The only sewing was to sew in the ends and attach a button.  I chose a lovely pearly button from my recycled collection.  I also had the same buttons in the perfect shade of cream for the sleepsack.  I have been saving these buttons for years and can no longer remember where they came from.  But I am glad I saved them.

I don't know why I am surprised at the huge size difference in these two items.  Preemie babies come in all sizes, so they will fit someone.

These items were a great way to use up what looked like quite a small amount of yarn.  The sleepsack used 30g or yarn and the sleeveless cardigan used 36g.  These will eventually go off to PreemiesUK for distribution to hospitals in the UK.

Now, what to do with the 4 complete balls of 4 this space!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The One Lovely Blog Award...

I was recently chuffed to be recommended for the One Lovely Blog Award by Corrie of the Plutonium Muffins blog.  Like me, Corrie is a London based blogger who writes regularly about knitting while trying to keep fit and sane in this often overwhelming city.

Recipients of the One Lovely Blog Award have to list 7 facts about themselves; so, in no particular order, here goes:

  1. I learned to knit when I was 7 and learned to crochet 50 years later.  I have discovered that being a good knitter is NOT an advantage when learning to crochet.  Crochet is a whole new set of skills and mind processes.  It took me ages to get used to the fact that you can remove the crochet hook and not lose all your stitches.
  2. I was one of the lucky people who were allowed into the moat of the Tower of London to pick the poppies from the 2014 display that commemorated the 1914-18 World War.  It was cold, wet and muddy; but the sense of being surrounded by centuries of history made it all worthwhile.  
  3. I used to be addicted to chocolate until I read "Chocolate Busters" by Jason Vale.  This is a life-changing book because I have joined the many readers who are happy to never eat the stuff again.  I read the book more out of curiosity than expectation and was amazed when the penny finally dropped.
  4. I have visited Land's End in Cornwall and John O'Groats in Scotland on different holidays.  They are both windswept and disappointingly commercial places where you are supposed to pay to take a photo of the signpost.  Apart from that, it felt rather special to cross both places off the bucket list.
  5. Another ambition that I achieved a few years ago was to be a Poll Clerk in a General Election.  The hours were long but the pay was extremely good!  There were actually 2 different polling districts in one large polling station and we kept up a friendly rivalry to see who would receive the highest number of voters.  At the end of 15 hours, we had both had exactly the same number!
  6. I used to love to cycle and later progressed to riding a motorbike.  I gave up when the roads became too dangerous, but would love to cycle again if there were proper segregated cycle lanes near my home.
  7. I don't believe in ghosts; but I do believe in atmosphere.  Whenever I visit somewhere like Hampton Court Palace or the Tower of London I can sense the history and almost hear the people who lived there hundreds of years ago.  The Tower of London seems to me to be a sad place of imprisonment and execution.  Hampton Court Palace, though the scene of some sad events, is more a happy place of celebration and love.
The next part of the One Lovely Blog award is to nominate 10 more bloggers.  This is where Corrie will never speak to me again!  I follow a huge number of blogs that are all special in their own ways.  I noticed that some blogs that I would have chosen have already been nominated by other bloggers.  I also realise that some bloggers don't have time to take part in this type of award.  So I am going to take the easy option and just say that if you have read this far, consider yourself nominated!

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...