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, 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!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Knitting book review...

One of my best presents last Christmas was a copy of  "Knitting Yarns: Writers On Knitting" edited by Ann Hood.  It was given to me by our daughter's new boyfriend who had already made a good impression even before his good present choices.  I haven't quite "bought the hat", but we have high hopes as they are so well suited.

But enough of day dreaming and back to the is a collection of  short accounts by well known authors (male and female) who describe how, why and when they learned to knit.  At first, I was sceptical.  How could there be so many reasons for learning to knit?  I used to watch my mother knitting and even enjoyed helping her to wind the wool into balls.  I became good at sitting with my arms outstretched and knew exactly when to flick my wrists so the wool travelled over them effortlessly.  

I actually learned to knit because an aunt sent me a knitting kit for my seventh birthday.  This went down like a lead balloon with my mother as my sister was only a few months old at a time when terry nappies were boiled and hung out to dry.  We had no washing machine, so the nappies were boiled in a big pan and put though a mangle afterwards.  My mother was going to put away the knitting kit until I was older...probably about 18.  I threatened to tell my aunt and the rest is history!!  I made all the usual mistakes but was hooked from the first row.

Some accounts in this book are sad; some are very funny and I have discovered some new authors who are worth reading.  To name a few, the authors include:  Anita Shreve, Alison Lurie, Helen Bingham, Sue Grafton, and John Dufresne.  There are at least another 20 authors who hopefully won't be offended by not being named individually.  I have to say that there wasn't one account that I didn't read and enjoy. There are stories of how knitting helped people through loss, how it helped them to pass time while waiting for happy events and how it can be infuriating as well as addictive.  

The titles of the accounts speak for themselves.  Here are some of them:
  • Ten things I learned from knitting
  • Soft, warm, and fuzzy
  • The pretend knitter
  • Straw into gold
  • The clothes make the dog
  • What are you making?
  • Why bother?
  • Knitting: epic fail
  • Teaching a child to knit
  • How knitting saved my life, twice
I rarely recommend books, but I think there is something for everyone in "Knitting Yarns".  It also includes some knitting patterns and even a poem about trying to use up yarn stash.  I'll give the last word to Elinor Lipman:

What thrill is there that can attract ya
Like going home with soft alpaca?
It's beautiful; it's red or rose.
A jewel to crown your drabber clothes.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Sunshine Granny...

Persuing my goal to challenge myself more in 2015, I crocheted a square that was a bit more than a granny square.  It has a different centre which I found quite challenging.  I still have a lot to learn about crochet and I tend to do this a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights.  I just sit and fixate on my work until it is done.  Then I can start breathing again!

I rarely give up on something and I definitely couldn't give up on this as it was already promised to SIBOL (Sunshine International Blankets of Love) for the 1000th sunshine blanket.  Various SIBOL regulars have contributed one square each and Sue, SIBOL's founder, will sew them together to make a very special blanket. These blankets go to residents of care homes in the UK.  

SIBOL usually collects completed blankets and shawls.  Individual squares are no longer collected.  But Tinka, the author of the pattern, is happy to receive squares which she then makes into blankets for people being treated for cancer.  There is more information about her work here on Ravelry.  You will need to log in to Ravelry to see the complete information.  

The pattern is here on Ravelry.  It is no longer a free pattern, though I was lucky enough to be sent it free just after it was published.