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, 16 May 2020

What sad times....

Who would have thought I would ever publish a photo of myself auditioning as Hannibal Lecter's sister? But here it is. Here in the UK we have recently been advised to wear face coverings on public transport and in shops. We have specifically been told not to wear medical masks as there is a shortage in hospitals and care homes and it wouldn't be appropriate for the general public to compete for supplies.

Bearing in mind that even medical masks are not 100% effective at blocking bacteria, I am on the side of those that think face coverings are not only pretty useless, but also worse than useless if used incorrectly. I think though, if used correctly, they might be slightly better than nothing. Who really knows?

I made a couple of shopping trips this week wearing a very cheap imitation of a medical mask. It was gappy, sweaty and constantly riding up to poke out my eyes. That was the opposite of what I was expecting. I thought it would fall down, but no. So I spent hours trawling the internet for patterns. There are zillions out there that have been amended from a couple of basic designs. Then I found this more fitted pattern that comes in a range of sizes. I tested it out using a tatty old t-shirt. It took me a while. Some people claim to sew it in fifteen minutes. It took me a lot longer, but was worth it. The washed-out t-shirt actually made a very soft, comfortable mask.

Someone I know wanted to see a photo. I didn't have any suitable elastic. So I dug out some tiny ribbons that I always cut out of clothes. By sheer luck, they make ideal ear loops and are actually probably better than elastic. They keep the mask in place. It doesn't slip down the nose and doesn't need a metal nose piece.

Here is a link to the pattern by Dhurata Davies It is an extremely well-written pattern for personal use, not for resale.

I hope everyone is well in these strange times. One day, I want to look back and laugh at myself wearing a mask.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Loosely related...

Whilst under house arrest and going slightly crazy I am still knitting pants for Knit-for-Nowt's worry monsters. However, I can't keep writing about pants as this blog might start attracting some very strange viewers! So, today I am posting about a book that is helping to keep me sane at the moment; The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.

To say I am under house arrest is a slight exaggeration. My Government guidelines are that I can go out for exercise once a day for an hour. I spend that walking the same streets as I am also supposed to stay local. Sadly, my streets are urban grey. 

This is a knitting, sewing and crocheting blog. But this book qualifies for a mention because I am sure I saw it recommended on one of my favourite blogs. I cannot remember which one, but to whoever recommended it....thank you.

I actually started reading it months ago, but life took over and I put it down for a while. I remembered it recently and I now read a chapter every evening in the vain hope of getting some sleep that isn't filled with nightmares. It is the true story of a couple who decide to walk the coastal path along the south-western tip of England. They have to cope with homelessness, hunger and terminal illness. But they manage to see the funny side! The writing style is chatty and down-to-earth. This is a walk I want to do one day when the world returns to a new normal. 

I hope everyone is well. The pink flowers in the photo were sent to me by a friend. They were a real surprise and cheered me up. So I'm sharing them here to "pass it on".

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Rainbow pants...

I used to think of the world as:
  • before and after Daughter was born,
  • before and after 9/11,
  • and before and after Brexit. 

Now I think of it as: 
  • before and after Covid-19. 

The "after" part(y) hasn't happened yet, but, for our sanity, we have to believe that it will.

My last blog post was in January. I envy those innocent days when we had no idea what was looming on the horizon. I think rumours had started to reach us about a virus thousands of miles away, but we were told we had nothing to worry about. Wrong! It's a small world.

Since then I have experienced every emotion, except happiness. That will come the day we hear the virus is under control. It will be thanks to the huge efforts of the medical profession, and to the sacrifices of the general population who are living under unthinkable conditions at the moment. Some are taking more care than others, but that's life...and death. 

Personally, I only have to look at the marvellous new hospital that has appeared in London only a few miles from where I live. It has been converted from a large exhibition centre and will have 4000 beds. Impressive and a life saver. But going in there would be my idea of hell on earth. Luckily, my family and I tend to be healthy and fit. We avoid hospitals at the best of times, and that is one we definitely never want to visit. If I have to stay indoors for a few weeks, so be it. I have plenty to keep me busy.

Meanwhile, people are coping as well as possible. There have been efforts to cheer us all up. One of them was to encourage children to paint rainbows and put them in their windows. I can't say I have seen any. But I am living under lock down, only allowed to go out once a day for a walk and essential shopping. If anyone has put rainbows in their windows, thank you.

I stopped knitting for a while when the shock of what is happening turned my world grey. I was waking up in the mornings and, for a few seconds, all was well with the world. Then I remembered what was happening and the dread returned. The tv was on too much playing a constant loop of tragic news.

But then I decided I had to stick to a routine and keep busy. I'm still knitting worry monster pants for Knit-for-Nowt. As going shopping for wool is not essential and it would be impossible to find any shops selling wool, I'm using up what I have. The mauve wool is a bit boring. But I have been using up oddments and adding tiny splashes of colour. The rainbow on this pair of pants was a lucky accident.

I've been visiting all my favourite blogs and am happy to see everyone seems to be staying positive. Long may it continue.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

A [collective noun] of pants...

If I haven't been writing many blog posts recently, at least they can be witty. Or so I thought. I've been trying to discover the collective noun for pants, as in a pride of lions or a swarm of bees. There doesn't seem to be one. All suggestions would be welcome!

Here are the latest pants knitted for Knit-for-Nowt's Worry Monster project. The therapists who use the monsters requested pants so that the children could dress and undress them. There are 18 here in different sizes. I've just found a 19th lurking at the bottom of my knitting bag. That is a bummer as we say here. (Enough of the puns!) But at least it can start my next collection.

These are really very easy to knit. The smallest size uses just 4g of dk yarn and takes about an hour to knit and sew up. 

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".

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.....