Collage

Collage
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!!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

A shirt cushion cover...


I have been busy sewing today. I needed a break from knitting with 4 ply yarn that seems to last forever. The catalyst was finding a perfectly good shirt in my waste bin. Hubby has to dress well at work. He buys expensive shirts and, much to my annoyance, discards them when there is plenty of wear left in them. I usually rescue them for the local charity shop.

This time I loved the material. It was thick and strong. Hubby ... I'm resisting cracking a joke about "thick and strong" ... usually buys blue shirts. He must have found his feminine side when he bought this one because it is a lovely mix of jewel colours. Here is a close-up:


It might look like a lumberjack shirt here. But the quality was amazing. I just happened to be walking along Regent Street in London this morning and noticed a whole shop full of shirts by this designer. 

I know from experience how surprisingly difficult it is to sew with checks. This shirt made it look easy. All the colours and checks lined up perfectly at the seams. That made cutting up the shirt and sewing the cushion cover a walk in the park.

In less than an hour, I turned this rather large shirt


into this cushion cover


I found the idea on the Internet. There are many online tutorials for turning shirts into cushion covers. Most tutorials are identical; so I won't link to the tutorial I followed because that would be favoritism. But this cushion cover really is easy to make. It cost peanuts to sew and the inner cushion pad was a bargain in a bulk buy from Argos. 

Anyone who wants to make one of these could simply go to a charity shop and buy a very inexpensive shirt. Some people make "memory shirts" to remind them of someone who is no longer here.

I love how this turned out and even Hubby, who rarely comments on my craft work, is impressed. I'm planning to make a few of these for the sofa bed in our guest room. I just have to wait patiently for more shirts to become available!


Saturday, 16 September 2017

Three preemie hats...




Here are three more hats that I have just knitted from the Andycrafts pattern which is fast becoming my favourite preemie hat pattern. That's because it is small but perfectly formed. You can find it on page three if you go to the above link and download the patterns. There are some lovely patterns for preemie cardigans, hats, mittens and socks.

This is very easy to knit and knitters who shy away from knitting in-the-round will be pleased to hear that this one is knitted flat. Personally, I like to knit in-the-round but have to admit that it wouldn't be very easy to do with tiny hats. These will eventually go off to PreemiesUK. This month they especially need:

Teddies
Octopuses 
Knitted blankets 
Crochet blankets
Hats


This pattern called for 4 ply yarn. I'm on a mission to use up all my 4 ply. I have very little left but, because it goes so far, it looks like taking me the rest of the year. Watch this space...

PS: I have lost count of how many times the words "knit" and "patterns" are repeated in this post. I must try harder to think of alternatives!


Thursday, 31 August 2017

A quick welcome and fifteen minutes of fame...



My blog received a mention in a well-known women's magazine this week and I can already see from my visitor statistics that many more people than usual have looked at my blog. So, welcome to one and all and thank you for sharing my fifteen minutes of fame.

I am still bemused as to why my blog was chosen for a mention. Hopefully, you will take the time to visit the many other excellent crafting blogs listed in my right hand sidebar. The common theme is knitting and crochet. Apart from that, they are as different as the individuals who write them. 

My own personal style is to keep things simple. I originally started blogging as a way to record my creations.  Here are just a few:

small animal nests:

glove puppets:
                                                   

preemie/angel dresses:

baby dress:
                                     

hedgehog:

baby cardigans:

lap blanket:

 hat and scarf set:

There are hundreds more. You can see them in my photostream in the left hand sidebar. Some have gone to family. But most have gone to various charities that you can see listed at the top of my home page.

Gradually, my blog evolved as it gathered regular readers. I know that from the visitor statistics (an amazing 337,107 page views so far) and from the frequent comments.


My settings mean that I receive notifications and see all comments before they are published. In that way, I can't miss anything. I read every one, even if I can't always think of a witty reply. Please keep them coming!

I would especially love comments from anyone who knows me from outside the blogging world. You can either leave a comment on this blog post or contact me by email via my profile in the left hand sidebar. I thought I didn't know anybody who read this woman's magazine. Well, somebody proved me wrong and contacted me on the day of publication! 

The photo in the magazine was taken at the end of a very hot day. I'm wearing a jumper because I didn't know when the article was due for publication and a t-shirt would look a bit odd in winter. Consequently, I look about a stone heavier than I really am. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I won't repeat the photo here. If you read the magazine, you've seen it. If not, you aren't missing anything!


Sunday, 20 August 2017

A preemie blanket and two hats...



The fairly atrocious photo above definitely does not do justice to my latest knits. I finished the preemie blanket that I blogged about recently. It measures 15" square which shows up the tiny size of the preemie hats that I knitted with the remnants of the same 4 ply yarn. 

The smaller hat is for a baby angel of 20 weeks gestation. The larger hat should fit an older premature baby. The pattern came from Andycrafts. There are some lovely premature baby patterns on the website. This hat is at the bottom of page 3 if you go as far as downloading them. My items will eventually go off to PreemiesUK.

All three items above are pale blue. The photo was taken in poor light on a cloudy day in a busy city. Look how it is put to shame by the beautiful photo I took last week. This is Port Gaverne in North Cornwall, England. It is very close to Port Isaac where the tv series "Doc Martin" is filmed. 


The scenery all along that part of the coastline is spectacular. The air is clean and the daylight has a quality of its own. No wonder artists make the effort to travel there for painting holidays or even to live there permanently. I could drink in these colours all day.

The Cornish hedgerows are currently blooming with an orange shrub that I later found out is Crocosmia. You can see it in the foreground of the photo. We had plans to plant some at home until I read up about it. Apparently, it is invasive and will even travel underground to come up through concrete. I don't think my neighbours would be too pleased with me if I planted it. Luckily, I took lots of photos.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Housekeeping...







I have just been doing a little housekeeping on my blog. It seemed like a good time to check all my links to make sure they actually lead somewhere.  Everything should be working fine now.

I also noticed that P*********t wanted me to pay to keep my blog button in my sidebar. I decided on Plan B and removed the button. Blogging can become a little cottage industry.  But this blog is really just for enjoyment and is not meant to be a money-earner. In the past I have flirted with including adverts. But it didn't feel right. So, I removed them.  I know some people downloaded my button and I think that it will probably no longer work. Sorry for that. It was good while it lasted!

I am adding my own picture of my "Keep Calm and Pick Up Stitches" design and I have set it up so that it links back to my blog. It is in my sidebar.  If anyone wants to borrow it for their blog, that is fine by me and there is no charge!!

Happy August to everyone!

                                                                                                        



Saturday, 22 July 2017

Summer knitting...




This is all I have to show for the last few weeks. 
  • A heatwave (welcome, but too hot for knitting), followed by 
  • a "meet-the-inlaws" family barbecue (a great day) followed by
  • a Cliff Richard concert (swoon, though he said he is unknown in America. So, many of my blog readers won't know why I'm swooning), followed by
  • 2 weeks of Wimbledon tennis (had to concentrate on it more this year as I was lucky enough to be given tickets for the Ladies' semi-finals), followed by 
  • a week up a ladder painting ceilings (my least favourite diy job

put the brakes on my knitting and crocheting. I managed just a few rows of a little preemie blanket most evenings (when my clingy cat would allow it)  and here it is.

I started this blanket in the heatwave. It was too hot to hold anything thicker than 4 ply wool. So I decided to use up a ball of pale blue 4 ply on a small corner-to-corner blanket. It will eventually go off to PreemiesUK

This is an easy, mindless pattern. The difficulty is in knowing when to stop increasing and start decreasing. I started with 95g of yarn. So, I intend to stop increasing when I have 50g left, just to be on the safe side. But I would also like the blanket to measure 15" x 15" which is one of PreemieUK's preferred sizes. I am currently at 14.5" and 62g of yarn left and have reached the stage of weighing my ball of wool after every couple of rows. At the moment, I wouldn't stake any money on my reaching 15".

I finished the decorating yesterday and planned to treat myself to a trip out today. But the weather had other ideas. The rain is pouring down at the moment. That is very welcome in the garden after the hot, dry summer weather; so, it isn't all bad. In fact, it is the perfect chance to catch up on blogging and other small tasks.

I am sitting at my desk now looking at thick grey clouds that are so low they are almost touching my windows. But tomorrow's weather is forecast to be dry and 21 Celsius....my all-time favourite temperature....woo hoo! Where shall I go? Decisions, decisions!


Saturday, 1 July 2017

The cat sat on the mat...




Someone gave me a ball of very coarse black and silver wool several months ago.  I wondered what to do with it until I realised that I have never knitted anything for our cat Fleur. How remiss of me!  She sits next to me patiently when I am knitting and is usually very good about not playing with my wool. Sometimes, however, she will try to pull on my knitting needles. That is her way of saying that she is hungry or bored. Generally, though, she is a very good audience member and companion.

Fleur was a rescue cat and is now about 14 years old.  She was found by Cat Protection volunteers locked in the back room of a squalid flat whose owners were intending to use her for breeding. She had already had her first litter of kittens at a very young age. They were also taken away and rehomed.

She started off as my daughter's cat, but became mine when Daughter grew up and left home.  So far, she has been a very fit cat. But last winter I had to take her to the vet a couple of times to get her claws trimmed. There was a lot of cold weather and she wouldn't go out into the garden which is where she normally exercises. Both visits to the vet were traumatic for Fleur, me, the vet, the people and pets in the waiting room, and (possibly) the next door neighbours.
.
Desperate to avoid regular vet visits, I bought an expensive scratching post which Fleur sniffed disdainfully and has studiously ignored ever since. I then bought a small, cheap raffia mat with a cat toy attached.  This has been a success. Typical!
Fleur immediately claimed it as her own special place to sit. I've decided that she likes the texture as it is very similar to our front and back door mats where she can also sit happily for hours.

We recently bought a lovely faux leather sofa bed for our spare room.  Fleur has discovered it and often jumps up if I am sitting there watching the spare tv. I decided that the coarse black wool would make an ideal cat mat. I combined it with some pink that needed to be used up and knitted a simple corner-to-corner square. I also attached a small pompom which is barely visible in the photo, but might be a nice plaything.

I just emailed this photo to Daughter and to the person who gave me the wool. Their reply was "Awwwww". So I think everyone is happy.


Friday, 26 May 2017

Still knitting....



I decided to end a really dreadful week with something good.  I know I haven't blogged for ages; but I have been busy with lots of things including knitting. I used up the last of the donated Peter Pan Cupcake yarn by knitting a preemie blanket. The yarn is thicker than I would normally use for preemie items. But on the label it advertises itself as "deliciously soft" and it really is. That is surprising as it is 50% acrylic and 50% nylon. But whatever way those ingredients are combined, the result is a little cloud that would wrap a baby beautifully.

I haven't been able to take a decent photo. The colour is a pale green and lilac, so it should suit any baby.

The next photo has been more successful. This is the pile of items that will soon be flying off to PreemiesUK There are seven small blankets and a cardigan.


Hopefully my little pile of goodies will make the world a slightly better place. We can only do our best.....


Thursday, 20 April 2017

The desk mat with a secret ;-)


When my employer set me free (woo hoo!) last year, I celebrated with a little trip to Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. It was in Lincolnshire that I spotted and bought a little antique desk. It had obviously been much used and was showing its age. But we liked it because it is the same age as our house.

I had a quote to redo the top. The restorer didn't think it needed doing because he liked the "patina". When he quoted £300 I fell in love with the patina as well.

I have cleaned and waxed it and it now looks perfectly acceptable. But it was missing something. We bought a new desk lamp and that helped a lot. Then I had the idea of buying a leather desk mat to go on top. These sell for about £50 on Ebay; so I moved quickly on to Plan B.

I bought a large piece of brown faux leather for about £4. I have already used some to make a door draught excluder that costs £40 on Ebay. So I am now up to £90 of items from a £4 piece of material.

It needed an insert and I puzzled over what to use. Then I remembered something that has been in the bottom of my wardrobe since 2012. That was the year when the Olympic Games were held in London and other UK venues. The atmosphere was so great that year and, quite honestly, hasn't been matched ever since. I was so involved that I even went to the victory parade in London. 

I don't usually go to these victory parades. But I have watched them on tv and have seen the crowd holding up placards. Mystery solved. Clever companies give out these boards and ask people to write messages and then hold them up. Free advertising!  My placard came from British Airways. I like the Union flags all around the edge. I don't like my soppy message, so that is covered up in the photo by the strategically placed faux leather!


I measured very, very carefully and cut out the leather. I have been watching a recycling tv programme called "Money For Nothing" and copied the idea to hold the leather together with clips rather than pins to avoid holes.


I was worried that my old sewing machine wouldn't be able to cope with 2 layers of faux leather. But it purred along and here is the finished result.


Hubby and I are both really pleased with it. My eventual aim is to move my laptop to the desk and to do my computing work there. Now I will be happy that the top is protected.  

I'm glad I kept this placard. It has come in really useful and I still get that warm feeling and happy memories when I look at my new desk mat.  Hopefully, it will last for decades. I suppose it will be thrown away one day. But I doubt that it will ever be opened up. My secret insert is preserved for posterity!


Friday, 7 April 2017

The "Here comes the sun" blanket....



This lap blanket has just gone off to SIBOL where the industrious Sue will add it to her collection of blankets from other volunteers. When the pile threatens to take over her house, she delivers the blankets to people living in care homes in and around Birmingham in the UK.  Apparently, they are always very well received.

I started this blanket in the depths of a very cold winter and finished it just as the weather started to improve.  From the first stitch, I intended it to look like a sun bursting through a blue sky and I think I achieved that.  I didn't want it to look like a baby's blanket.  I'm not sure I achieved that!

A lot of the wool was given to me by a colleague of my husband. When I sent her this photo, she was very pleased that it went to a good cause and she has more for me!! I'd better start my next project.....


Monday, 3 April 2017

A draught excluder costing almost nothing....


I mainly knit and crochet. But occasionally I sew. This is my latest project; a draught excluder made to fit my door perfectly. The front of my house faces north and, when the wind is coming from that direction, my front door lets in a generous helping of freezing Arctic air. 

I only discovered this recently when I was crawling along the floor painting the skirting boards. There is a tiny gap under the door, without which the door probably would not open. It has to remain; but it was contributing to the large winter heating bills we have here. So I simply had to do something about it.

I thought about buying a draught excluder. But I read the reviews of various tapes and strips and decided that nothing available off-the-peg would cure the problem. I saw a beautiful brown leather snake-like draught excluder on Ebay, but the price was eye-watering. That was when I had my eureka moment.

I realised that I already had all the materials necessary to make a draught excluder almost identical to the one on Ebay. 
All I needed was a remnant of leatherette left over from another project (more about that in another blog post) and some of those foam chippings that are often used to pack fragile items. Luckily, I always keep these chippings in case they come in useful.

I made a long tube, stuffed it with the chippings and sewed the end. It was simple to do, took a leisurely hour and saved me about £40 which is what they sell for on Ebay! Maybe I should go into business. The hardest part was stuffing the foam into the tube. It took a lot more than you can see in the photo! I eventually used a broom handle to pack it all in tightly.

Here is the finished product actually in situ. It looks like a rather odd long sausage. But it blocks the gap between the mat and the door perfectly. The foam chippings inside make it flexible and easy to push right into the gap.


Anyone with basic sewing skills could make one of these. You could use any scrap of material, though I would recommend something that can be wiped clean as draughts are hardly dust-free! 

The advice "measure twice, cut once" also applies here. You might think it looks odd. But the luxury of a correctly fitting draught excluder is priceless. ...and mine truly was. It cost nothing except my time and will hopefully last for many years. 

Today was the warmest day of the year so far. So it seems a strange time to make a draught excluder. But our nights are still cold and this morning was surprisingly foggy. It wasn't quite "The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow". But it will be one day, and I am PREPARED.


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The "little and littler" blankets...




I finally finished knitting the preemie blankets using the wool kindly sent to me by Jo of the Three Stories High blog. The yarn is Water Wheel Comfy 4ply and Jo confirmed after my last blog post that it is indeed vintage yarn and used to belong to an 83 year old lady. It must have been stored very well because it was in pristine condition. I'm glad I was able to turn it into something useful.

Jo suggested that I should knit some preemie items with this yarn. I was originally going to call these the "Little and Large" blankets. I knitted the smaller one first and then cast on about an extra 18 stitches to knit the larger one.  This wool is so fine that it is really difficult to tell them apart. The larger blanket is actually the one underneath. It is wider and longer; but not in an obvious way.

These blankets used up 160g of yarn. I still have 40g left and could knit some preemie hats or a cardigan. The charity I am planning to send these to (PreemiesUK) likes matching items. I am trying to finish something else at the moment and then I will be able to think more clearly.


Saturday, 18 February 2017

More free wool...





Look what Hubby brought home from work yesterday. A colleague knows that I knit and brought in all this lovely wool for me. Most of it is acrylic double knit which is exactly what I use.  Believe it or not, the charities that I knit for usually request acrylic because it is easier to wash.

Most of this is destined to be turned into blankets and clothes for children and babies. My friend, who knits like a demon for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, will also receive her share. If you see two "ladies who lunch" drooling over a bag of wool next month, that will be us!

Today is a brilliant sunny day. So, while we still have daylight, I'm off to sort the colours. Bliss!

Monday, 30 January 2017

The déja vu blanket...






The blogging world is a marvellous, friendly place. Jo who writes the inspiring Three Stories High blog contacted me a few weeks ago to offer some baby yarn. Of course, I said yes...what else? So I soon received 200g of  Water Wheel Comfy 4ply in a soft shade of green. I haven't heard of this brand before and there is no barcode on the labels. I might be wrong, but I usually take that to mean the yarn is vintage.

Jo suggested it would be suitable for preemie knitting. I looked through my patterns and eventually settled on an old favourite called Daphne's Blanket. Sadly, there no longer seems to be a working link to the pattern. Luckily, I printed it off a few years ago. 

I love this pattern because it is easy and gives a puffy lozenge texture to the blanket. I'm calling this one "Déja vu" partly because I have knitted it several times. The other reason is that it would now be twice as long if I hadn't had to rip back about 2 inches!  It was turning out very flat and it took me a while to realise why. I thought I could remember the pattern and ploughed on through it. But I was garter stitching instead of purling on some of the rows.  Eeek!

I tried to convince myself that it looked just as good flat. But my heart wasn't in it. So, after 3 honey sandwiches and some chocolate, I pulled out the needle and ripped back to where I had started to go wrong.  Taking inspiration from my new blog button, I managed to keep calm while doing it. I'm glad I did because Mark II is looking lovely. 

I think I will be able to knit 2 preemie blankets with this yarn and they will eventually go off to a Preemie charity. Thanks again to Jo. Her blog is well worth a visit.  She is a clever crafter who makes something every day and writes regularly about it.


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Two hats...a blog button...and lots of links



Here are two very simple hats to fit an adult. They will go into my charity box until I have enough to post off to Knit-for-Nowt.  I used a pattern called "Ellie's Easiest Ever Hat" which I think I found on the Loving Hands website.  It really is easy.  It is written for 2 needles, but I always knit this on a circular needle to avoid a bulky seam.

The pattern calls for chunky yarn or dk doubled.  I used Robin Paintbox dk in shades of blue and purple.  There is just one set of instructions.  You simply alter the size of knitting needle to adjust the hat to fit a teenager, woman, or man. I used a 5.5mm needle and dk yarn doubled to knit the woman's size.  The finished hat weighs 80g. So a standard 100g ball of dk yarn could easily be divided and then knitted together to make a cosy hat.  I think that is a great way to use up those 100g balls of yarn that are not big enough for anything else.

Moving on to a completely different subject, huge thanks go to Amy at Love Made My Home for suggesting sites that would be useful for making a blog button.  Eventually, I used a combination of Bannersnack to make the poster, Canva to turn it into a button and Inlinkz to generate the code.  Another useful site for generating code is Mycoolrealm.  I plumped for the Inlinkz code because it added my blog name under the button.  But I really liked the Mycoolrealm site as well because it lets you change the colour of the rather unattractive code box. I would have chosen this code if my blog name had been more obvious on the button. 

The days here are dreary at the moment and perfect for sitting indoors geeking.  It has been time well spent because I have been able to refresh my html skills which used to be quite good. I had to tweak the code which originally gave me a HUGE code box and I altered some of the wording.  There are still areas that could be improved; but there is a limit to how much time I can spare!  I could probably change the colour of the code box if I'm ever snowed-in for a fortnight.

So my sidebar is now hosting a blog button!  The jury is still out on this.  Some people love them and some hate them.   I have always had some belonging to other blogs on my sidebar, so I must be in the first category.  It is interesting to see that my blog stats show a huge spike in visitors since I even mentioned making a blog button. I'll watch the stats.  If they fall dramatically, that will be time for a rethink.


Sunday, 15 January 2017

My new blog poster....


In my last post, I said I might make a poster of my wildly witty and highly original (I hope) "Keep Calm" quotation.  The weather outside (is it ever inside?) is only fit for ducks.  So I spent an hour or two (yes, really) designing this poster.  

I found lots of websites that offer free customisable templates of the well-known "Keep Calm" posters. By trial and error, I eventually found one that didn't put their logo on the poster and try to sell me keyrings etc. I recommend Bannersnack to anyone with a banner-shaped gap in their lives.

I then decided to add my own watermark and found another free site called PICMARKR which I can recommend. 

The next step could be to turn this into a button for my blog sidebar.  I mean the type of button that other bloggers could add to their sidebar that would lead back to my blog.  What's the general opinion?  Would there be any point?  I've had a look at all the ways to do this and it seems to be very complicated. Any suggestions for the easiest way would be gratefully received!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

By request, five hats...



Towards the end of last November, I sent a parcel to Knit for Nowt. This is an organisation that supplies knitted and crocheted items to people in Hull and East Yorkshire.  I was impressed at how quickly the organiser contacted me and even more impressed when she asked me for more hats and scarves in adult sizes. I do like a good communicator and I am happiest when I know that what I am knitting is actually needed.

I finished the toddler size hat that was already on my needles and then started on the adult hats.  I had some aran in grey and some in a sparkly beige colour.  Neither of them looked appealing to start with, but both knitted up beautifully. I don't remember where it came from, but I think it must have been filling a space in a job lot.  The grey is Sirdar Supersoft and definitely lives up to its name.  The beige was missing its label but measured as aran. The sparkle is just enough to make the boring beige more interesting. Both colours were perfect for adult hats.

I used up all the beige on two hats and then most of the grey on another two.  I still have enough grey left for another hat. But I was knitting so fast that I actually wore out the circular needle! I had several near disasters with the last hat when the stitches flew off the end of the collapsed cable.  Luckily, it is fairly easy to pick up aran stitches if you stay calm.  I wonder if there is a poster that says "Keep calm and pick up stitches". Maybe I will design one.

I wasn't too upset about the cable.  I have used it for several years without problems. I always knit hats "in the round" to avoid seams. I have another cable on order.  But the parcel is going off tomorrow with the five hats I managed to finish.  I want them to reach Yorkshire while the weather is still cold.