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!!

Sunday 30 December 2012

Sustainable knitting and a little bit of silliness...

I am a keen recycler and hate to throw away anything useful.  I had a cheap old pair of gloves that were shapeless and worn out.  I know they were cheap because I never pay very much for anything!  I noticed they were badly made and were already unravelling.  That gave me an idea.  

I continued the unravelling.  The first photo shows how much wool there was in just one cuff.  This was the most difficult part to unravel because it had a thin elastic knitted in with the wool.  

The second photo shows what I had after unravelling the first glove.  By now I was fascinated to see how the glove had been made.  The knitted-in elastic stopped after the cuff and unravelling it became very easy, fast and thoroughly satisfying.  The biggest ball of wool came from the cuff, the lower palm and the thumb.  Then the next ball of wool came from the upper palm and the little finger.  The three remaining fingers each produced their own little ball of wool.

The third photo shows what I now have after unravelling both gloves.  This is a dark grey 2 ply wool.  It is still in a good condition and I have put it away with my other 2 ply wool which is mainly pink and white.  I think, for hand knitting, 2 ply wool is completely useless.  But knitted together it quickly makes a 4 ply yarn that can be used for all sorts of things. 

That project was my little bit of silliness over Christmas.  It was also a very welcome bit of light relief from my current project of knitting a very complicated Aran jumper.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

When I grow up....

These twins weighed in at 400g each and already take up a seat of their own on the sofa.  When they grow up they are going to be an Aran jumper for my daughter.  I steered her towards the Aran patterns on Ravelry in the hope that she would choose something quick to knit.  Unfortunately, she chose quite a lacy pattern which means I am constantly counting and can't get into a steady rhythm.  The pattern is written in a really odd way and it took me several attempts at knitting a tension square before I managed to sort out which needles to use.  I suppose the fact that absolutely nobody has tried this Ravelry pattern should have set the alarm bells ringing.  Hey ho; it might be ready by next Christmas. 

 For any other masochists out there, this Ravelry pattern has the memorable name "6-4 sweater in English rib with v-neck knitted in cotton "

Saturday 22 December 2012

3 little stocking fillers...

So hubby decides at very short notice to fly to Ireland to visit his sister.  She has 3 girls aged 4-12.  I offer to knit something "small" for them and he asks for 3 scarves!!!!!!!  No, this photo is not of 3 scarves.  They are pencil bookmarks and the pattern can be found on Ravelry

If you are looking for the pattern, you will need to log in and search under the term "Pencil bookmark".  The pattern I chose calls for 4 ply wool.  There is a pattern that uses dk wool, but I thought that would be too thick.  I had to use dk for the black nibs as I didn't have any black 4 many people do?  That explains why the nibs are quite chunky instead of nicely pointed.  If I knit these again, I might pull the black dk wool apart to make it more like a 4 ply wool.

All the wool I used came from my bag of oddments which tends to come in useful when I least expect it.

I am reasonably satisfied at the way they turned out considering the time available.  My teenage daughter made all the right noises when she saw them and I think the girls will use them.  I made them all different so they can swap them around and hopefully not have too many arguments about who gets which colour.

Thursday 20 December 2012

And here's the finished blanket....

Here's the baby blanket I blogged about last week.  I'm really pleased with the way it turned out.  Using two strands of dk wool together has made it thick, warm and very soft.  This type of diagonal knitted blanket doesn't always need an edging.  But I added one in cream to pull all the colours together.  This edging was simply one row of double crochet and 1 row of half treble crochet.  I'm ridiculously proud of myself for doing it as I am a novice at crochet.  My plan A was to do a shell edging, but there wasn't enough wool.  I will do it on another blanket in future instead.

I am definitely going to donate this to one of my favourite good causes.  It will keep one lucky baby very snug.

Saturday 15 December 2012

In the pink....

At this time of year, I like to cheer myself up by knitting something bright and pretty.  Here's a blanket that fits the bill.  I'm using pale peach and cream dk wool knitted together on 6mm needles.  Even the dark pink colour of the needle tips makes me smile.

The blanket is turning out beautifully soft and is a great way to use up some peach wool that I bought a year ago.  It is proper "baby wool" but, since buying it, I have seen several comments that peach is not a recommended colour for baby clothes. Apparently, it doesn't look good against the skin of a preemie baby or even a full-term baby who may be jaundiced.  But I think it will be welcome as a cot blanket in a cold country.  I'm determined that this blanket will end up with a charity.  I must break the habit of falling in love with my knitted blankets so much that I can't bring myself to give them away!

This blanket has more or less designed itself.  I had varying amounts of different shades of peach and cream and have really enjoyed blending them into stripes.  I'm going to pull the whole thing together by adding a cream border.  I haven't chosen the exact border pattern yet.  I might be adventurous and attempt a crochet edging.  The blanket has been a "quick knit" as it is simply a large square knitted diagonally in garter stitch.  So taking a bit longer adding a special edging will be time well spent.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Buttons, buttons and more buttons....

Serious knitters will, sooner or later, have to put down the wool and pick up the buttons.  I love buttons.  I grew up in a home where buttons were never thrown away.  They were snipped from worn out clothes and saved in "the button box".  Even well cared for clothes eventually wear out; but buttons are almost indestructible.  I would often take this box to the dining table and spread out its contents.  There was something comforting about finding that the old favourites were still there.  I still remember my favourites....a big set of chunky red coat buttons.

When I grew up, I started my own button collection.  It helps that there are 3 of us in my family.   Hubby in particular is terrible for ruining shirts which explains why I have so many shirt buttons.  I have been a bit more choosy about which buttons I will save but have still amassed a collection of two or three hundred.  These were thrown haphazardly into one compartment of my lovely old wooden sewing box.  Whenever I needed matching buttons it would take me ages to sift through them.

Recently, I decided to sort them into a more useful order.  I bought some little clear storage bags from Ebay and made a start.  I'm not rushing the job, partly because I still enjoy fishing through buttons to find lost treasures and partly because good daylight is a necessity for distinguishing various shades of many shades of white can there be?.... and this time of year is not known for its long days!

The photo shows that I have nearly finished.  There are just fifty or so loose buttons to match up and put into bags.  They are mainly black, brown or dark blue and definitely call for good daylight before I can confidently sort them.

Almost all the buttons in the photo have come from family clothes.  There are a small number of exceptions, namely the lovely little anchor buttons I found in a charity shop and some pretty flower buttons I found on Ebay.  So far I have resisted the many joblots of buttons that are listed on Ebay.  But I feel an onset of cardigan knitting coming on and, if I ever use up all my buttons, I know where I can buy some more!

Thursday 6 December 2012

Same wool, two different blankets....

This lovely wool was the main reason I bought my most recent bargain lot from Ebay.  The labels were missing so I don't know anything about it apart from the fact that it seems to be somewhere between dk and Aran in weight.  It was just crying out to be knitted into baby blankets.

Here are 2 blankets that are on my needles at the moment.  I started the rectangular blanket first and it will eventually measure approximately 2' by 3'.  I'm not over the moon about the way the colours are making big patches.  I also think the stocking stitch was a bad choice for this very crinkly yarn.  I much prefer the more evenly spaced small dashes of colour on the diagonal blanket to the left of the photo.  The garter stitch also suits the crinkles much better.  Oh well, life is a learning curve.

I  love the way the diagonal blanket is turning out so much that I am going to keep this one.  The rectangular blanket will eventually end up at one of my favourite charities though I haven't decided which one yet.

I should have finished both these blankets by Christmas.  That's my aim anyway as I am really looking forward to starting some smaller pretty baby cardigans.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Another week, another scarf.....

Here's another scarf I'm knitting for Operation Orphan

I really like the way it's turning out.  I'm using size 6mm needles, and rust colour dk wool and cream 4 ply wool together.  I just happened to have these colours already and love imagining how various yarns will work together.  I can tell that this is a scarf I will have difficulty giving away.  It brings back memories of my school days because my uniform was rust and cream.  I didn't particularly like the school but I did like the uniform.  I'm going to be firm with myself though.  I already have a drawer full of scarves, hats and gloves and have no desire to start filling a second drawer.

The pattern is taking longer to knit than my usual slightly lazy garter stitch scarves. But the end result is chunky, warm and worth the effort.

Here's the pattern:
Aran, chunky, or dk used together with 4 ply yarn
size 6mm needles
Cast on 27 stitches
Knit 2 rows then change to the pattern:
Row 1: knit 3, purl 3.  Repeat to the end of the row.
Row 2: knit 1, purl 1.  Repeat to the end of the row.
Repeat the 2 pattern rows until the scarf is the desired length.
Knit 2 rows.
Cast off.

My scarf is for a young child, so it will eventually be about 36"-42" long depending on how much wool I have left.  The rule of thumb is apparently that a scarf should be as long as the height of the person who will wear it.  It looks like I will need less than 150g of each yarn.

For an adult scarf I would cast on 33 stitches and continue the pattern for approximately 60".

Friday 23 November 2012

Angel and preemie hats.....

Here's a little collection of angel and preemie hats for my Upon Butterfly Wings group

Before I returned to serious knitting a year ago I had never heard the terms preemie and angels as they applied to babies.  Now I know they mean poor babies who are born too early and possibly do not survive. I love to knit for these babies.  While some knitters find it a very sad thing to do, I strangely find it uplifting.  

I had lots of small amounts of dk and 4 ply to use up.  The smallest thing I can bring myself to knit is one of these hats.  I'm not really a stuffed toy or catnip mouse type of person.  Any scraps still left over have gone into a little bag and will eventually be joined together into a big ball of random wool.  But that's another blog post.

Monday 19 November 2012

Off they go.....

I've been filling a box with charity knitting for several months now and it was starting to get in the way.  I also reasoned it wasn't doing anyone any good sitting on my bedroom floor so I finally got my act together and posted it off today.  

In the box were 3 children's waistcoats, 1 baby blanket, 6 boobs and 3 birds' nests.  The boobs are used by midwives and health visitors to teach breastfeeding and the nests are used at animal shelters as bedding for small mammals and birds.  Quite a mixture this time!  

I sent this box to Loving Hands from where they will be distributed to various good causes.  They promise to find a good home for anything and regularly create wishlists for quirky items such as boobs and nests as well as the more mundane baby items.

I kept back a pile of knitted hats and scarves which I will eventually send to Operation Orphan for their "Keep a Child Warm" initiative.  I just need to build up a bigger collection to fill a good size box.  That will mean I can use a courier instead of the Post Office.  Today I used the Collect+ service and saved over £2.  That equates to another 2 balls of wool.  That is how I tend to think these days whenever I save money on anything.  Does that make me a knitting addict?  My name is Una and I'm a knitaholic.

Friday 16 November 2012

Just what I needed.....

Here's a photo of my latest bargain wool purchase.
This lot came from Ebay and cost about £13 including postage.  That definitely meets my criteria of never paying more than £1 per 100g of wool.  The wool ranges from 2 ply to Aran and will be perfect for hats and blankets for my favourite charities.  The photo doesn't show the colour of the coned yarn very well, but it is called "Meadow" and is a lovely mix of soft green and dark beige.  This is 4 ply so it will mix nicely with some cream 4 ply that I already have waiting to be turned into a small blanket.

I've noticed that wool without labels usually costs less than banded wool.  But the missing labels are not a problem for me ever since I learned the "wraps per inch" method of determining the weight of a yarn.  For more information about this see:

I was like a child on Christmas morning when the postman delivered the parcel.  You hope for the best when you buy wool online.  This time I was pleasantly surprised at the good quality.  I am a bit of a cleanliness freak so I put it out in the back garden for a few hours just to freshen it up.  Luckily the weather was dry.  But it was so cold I started to wonder what frozen wool would look like.

It is now safely back indoors and packed away with the rest of my wool.  I can't pretend I was short of wool before I bought this lot.  But I was short of Aran and my double knitting wool had dwindled down to pastels only.  So this was a good buy.  But I really must stop buying wool for the next few months.....unless I see another really irresistible bargain.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

On my needles today.....

On my needles today is a child's scarf in shocking pink.  I found the pink wool in a charity shop for 50p and the cone of pale pink was given to me as a freebie.  I love a bargain and this theme will become a common one in my blog.  

The dark pink wool is a brushed double knitting wool. I use the terms "wool" and "yarn"  very loosely.  I know all yarn is not necessarily wool, but I love the word "wool" because it evokes images of softness and warmth.  The label was missing when I bought it so the brand will be forever a mystery.  The cone of pale pink wool is only 2 ply and in my opinion only fit for adding to projects like this.  I personally can't imagine knitting with 2 ply yarn on its own; though some people do, so each to his own.  My little brain tells me that 8 ply plus 2 ply = 10 ply and I am using size 5mm knitting needles.  For this scarf, I am simply using garter stitch.  This seems to be working out fine as the scarf is turning out to be beautifully soft.    

I like the way the pale pink is toning down the darker pink and making it a bit less "in your face".  The coned yarn is a bit firmer than the brushed yarn, so it is also giving a bit of body and strength to the scarf.  That's important because this will be one of my many charity donations.  It will possibly end up in a part of the world where life is hard and garments have to last.