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, 24 December 2019

Crikey; absent for 2 months...

As the title says, it has been nearly 2 months since I looked at my blog. The reason was good, I suppose. I decided to have a huge decluttering and tidying splurge. The house is now (probably unnaturally) pristine and minimalist, and the loft has only stuff we want to keep rather than stuff we don't know what to do with.

The local charity has had literally a vanful of donations. I know that because they sent a van to collect books, toys, ornaments, and clothes. I usually take the stuff in myself; but it would have taken months of trips to drop off what we gave away. I'm actually enjoying living in a tidy home and intend never to buy too much stuff ever again. That can be my next New Year's resolution.

But what reward did I get for my hard work? A broken down boiler, no heating and no hot water for the past week which has been very cold here in the UK. I really sympathise with the homeless people who sleep out in the streets at this time of year. At least I was dry indoors.

The gas company that we have loyally paid a monthly fortune to for 3 decades in order to ensure speedy repairs let us down badly. They were quite happy to leave us freezing into 2020. By yesterday morning it had become unbearable. Hubby had man flu and I had a hubby with man flu. I had my first flu jab this year, so I was immune, thankfully.

I searched the phone book and found a local gas engineer who was happy to visit yesterday afternoon. What a lucky find. He was one of those people that you just know is honest and knowledgeable. He quickly diagnosed a burnt out motor which would not have happened if my contracted company had visited sooner and simply lubricated the boiler. (I have become an expert in boiler technology this week!)

The replacement part would have cost £300. My boiler was 17 years old, had a low energy rating and  was no longer worth spending big money on. We had already been thinking of replacing it for a more energy efficient one. But I was crestfallen at the thought of more days in a freezing house.

Then the engineer said he could fit a new A-rated boiler today for a really bargain £1300. A Christmas miracle! He was genuine and not lying about expensive parts just to sell a new boiler. I already knew about the rarity of parts for our model. I thought I had better be honest and say "you know it's Christmas Eve tomorrow?" He replied that he doesn't celebrate Christmas. It's easy to forget that not everybody does, until we meet one.

So that's how I spent Christmas Eve in a house without gas. It took the engineer and his friend all day to fit the new boiler. Some years that would have been a disaster. But I'm not cooking a big dinner this year. So it wasn't a problem, and I'm now sitting here in a beautifully warm house and very aware of how lucky I am.

As this is a knitting blog, I should mention that I had started to wear hand knitted scarves indoors. I nearly put on gloves but decided to draw the line there.

Well done to anyone who has read this far. Needless to say I will be cancelling my contract with my former gas company whose name will be forever linked with chocolate teapots.

Now I must visit all my favourite blogs. I hope everyone is still well and firing on all cylinders, like my new boiler! Seasons greetings to everyone who celebrates Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Having a pants week!

I never dreamed this time last week that I would spend the next few days knitting pants. I know that doesn't translate well around the world. When we say 'pants' in the UK we really mean underpants. That explains why our cousins from across the pond hear sniggers when mentioning pants in the UK. Completely different images are flitting through their minds and our minds!

Why would anyone want to knit pants? Cue: visions of horrific swimming costumes knitted by well-meaning mothers! Never fear; mine were for the worry monsters that I knit for Knit-for-Nowt. We are supporting the NSPCC's Let's Talk PANTS campaign. There is more information HERE. Therapists requested pants that the children could use to dress and undress the monsters. It seemed an obvious thing for us to help with.

They are super simple to knit. There is a link to various pants patterns HERE. If that link doesn't work, click on and scroll down to "If you'd like to knit some pants for your monster".

I wrote the pattern that produced the pants in the above photo. It wasn't easy! I took my lead from the pattern that was already on the website. But I wanted to knit the pants as one piece to reduce the number of seams to sew up. I knitted several versions before I was happy to release the pattern to other knitters. I now have a bag of prototype pants. They won't go to waste. I'll include them in my next parcel as monsters come in all shapes and sizes. 

My pattern is quite addictive and I can easily knit one or two per day. If any clever crocheters could translate the pants patterns into crochet patterns, I'm sure Clare who runs Knit-for-Nowt would love to hear from you.

In a week in which I heard that one of my favourite knitting charities is closing down, it was cheering to receive the latest newsletter from the vibrant Knit-for-Nowt. It is full of requests for knitted, crocheted and sewn items. There is a waiting list of therapists who need monsters and puppets. The Knit-for-Nowt GALLERY has lots of inspiring photos. 

So if you are up to making a monster or glove puppet, please consider Knit-for-Nowt. Even if you only have time for knitting pants, that would be wonderful.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Another Worry Monster....

This is my latest creation for Knit-for-Nowt, an organisation that donates worry monsters and similar items to therapists who work with traumatised children. As usual, my effort is more "worry" than "monster". I seem to be mentally and physically incapable of knitting anything more scary. 

I've stopped fretting about it. I still think my monsters have enough detail to inspire a conversation between therapist and child. The blue pocket on the front is where children are invited to post written worries that they might have trouble talking about.

I managed to make the ears fairly even this time. I also added rudimentary hands and thumbs....not very clear in the photo. The eyes are a bit wonky, but nobody's perfect! 

It's well worth looking at the Knit-for-Nowt website to see some amazingly scary monsters.

I think I have one more monster left in me for 2019, so I'm off now to rummage in my wool bag. Bye for now.....

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

And off they go....

This happy bunch of memory bears and little blanket squares is now in the post and on its way to SiMBA which is an organisation that donates memory boxes to bereaved parents.

There is a selection of knitting and crochet patterns that can be found on SiMBA's website. They are very easy. I soon learned the teddy pattern off by heart and could make one in a day, or two days if you count the sewing up.

This is a very fleeting blog visit. I just have to run and watch the tv. Anyone who has been following UK politics lately will know it is like watching a slow-motion car crash. Knitting is one of the things that usually takes my mind off the craziness.

I'll be back!....

Thursday, 22 August 2019

A new charity to knit for...

Wow! Another month has gone by since my last post. I have no excuses. Summer is always really hectic chez moi.

I recently discovered a new (to me) charity to knit for. It is called SiMBA which is short for Simpson's Memory Box Appeal. They are based in Glasgow, Scotland, and provide support to parents who lose babies during pregnancy or at birth. 

One of the things they do is to make memory boxes containing small teddies and blankets. The items are knitted in pairs because the idea is that one is given to the baby and one to the parents. Then they are swapped so that the parents can treasure something that was touched by their baby and something that the parents touched stays forever with their baby. It's a lovely idea. So how could I resist?

There are patterns on the SiMBA website for the bears and blankets as there are specific colours and sizes needed. My two bears fit in the palm of a hand. They were super quick to knit and a great way to use up scraps of yarn. Twenty grams of dk was enough to knit the pair.

I have a few more of these bears at various stages of completion. Then I might add a couple of blankets. But first I really have to visit all my favourite blogs again. Look out, here I come.....

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Impeccable timing...

With my usual impeccable timing, I have just finished a scarf to match the hat I knitted recently. The timing is impeccable because the temperature in London is hotter today than ever recorded. It's approximately 39 celsius which is probably nothing out of the ordinary to some of my blog readers. But the weather is coming up from North Africa and we are just not used to this type of heat here. Luckily, thunder storms are forecast for tonight. That is usually how heatwaves end here. Meanwhile, anyone who can stay indoors is doing just that.....but maybe not knitting scarves for the winter!

I used the same Aran yarn that I used for my hat; so I now have a matching set waiting for the colder weather. Even if I never wear the hat, I will definitely wear the scarf. I prefer scarves to be quite short and snug. My tried and tested method is to knit for 41 inches. I then turn down 6 inches at one end and sew it along the scarf to make a loop. The scarf then goes around my neck and the other end feeds through the loop. I can then pull it as tightly as necessary to fit my neck. Today, I couldn't bear the thought of wearing a scarf; so my glass head is modelling it for the photo. 

This is one of those occasions when making something beats searching the shops to buy it. This style is just not available to buy. It is easy for anyone to copy. Simply knit or crochet your favourite scarf pattern and sew one end into a loop. The only thing I would say is that, if your scarf is 7 inches wide the loop should also be 7 inches wide, and so on. That way the scarf will sit neatly around your neck without unsightly bunching up.

My busy summer is in full swing and I have been absent from blogland. I am now going to spare some time to catch up on all my favourite blogs. See you soon....

Saturday, 22 June 2019

A hat for me...possibly!

Well, I finally finished the Northmoor Watchcap. Midsummer is a good time for knitting hats, don't you think? The link takes you to the pattern and I can definitely recommend it. There is even a good chance that I will wear it if we ever have a severe winter. 

I really like the way it turned out. I ploughed on with the 120 stitches per round because nobody on Ravelry commented about that part of the pattern. It was monotonous; but sometimes that is just what I need. It also used up a lot of yarn; but that has made a very warm hat and means I am nearer my goal of using up all my Aran yarn. Win, win.

Some knitters, however, commented that they started the crown shaping one inch earlier than specified in the pattern. I tried it on (very carefully) when I reached that stage, and that was the right size for me as well. So I started the shaping. Like the brim, it was a little more complicated than some hat patterns. But it has made a very neat crown. It doesn't show up in the photo. But I like to think that whoever sits behind me on the bus will think "what a lovely hat"! In fact the whole hat looks quite professional.

On a different topic, some bloggers occasionally tell me that they can't add comments to my blog. Never fear; I discovered some comments awaiting moderation yesterday. It seems that the comments are reaching me; but I don't always receive a notification. That is probably what is being blocked. I have no idea why. I have checked my Blogger settings and everything seems ok. It remains a mystery. But please keep commenting. I always see and read them eventually.

PS: having written that, I just checked my settings again because I was no longer able to reply to comments. I have now changed one setting and that should make it easier for everyone. Phew!