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!!

Wednesday 30 January 2013

The four seasons garden blanket....

I was calling this the "meadow blanket" after the name of the main colour.  But now I have added other colours and I think the "four seasons garden blanket" is more appropriate.

The main pale green colour (which still refuses to show up properly in photos) reminds me of my spring, verdant and full of promise.  The yellow stripe reminds me of the blazing summer that we always hope for and sometimes get.  The brown stripe is my soil after I have dug it over in the autumn.  The stripe that I am working on now is a mixture of grey and off white.  It looks just like my garden after it has been glazed with frost or a sprinkling of snow.  The next stripe will use up the last of the meadow colour.  I am then planning to edge the whole blanket with another shade of light green to pull it all together. 

This blanket has designed itself.  I am simply using up balls of wool that I have no other idea what to do with.  They are all very thin plys and I am doubling up and even quadrupling up in places to try to make sure the blanket is the same thickness throughout.  My grey and white stripe is a mixture of coned 3 ply wool and grey sock wool that I am knitting from both ends of the ball at the same time.  That can produce some very interesting tangles!

As it is, this blanket is screaming "dog blanket".  But I think I can pretty it up a little and turn it into a unisex laprug for an elderly person.  So, if there is any green left over, I will embroider a scattering of leaves.  By then, spring will be on the horizon and my real garden will be waking up.

Monday 28 January 2013

One for the boys...

After the success of my last crochet scarf I decided I was on a roll and I wanted to keep the momentum going.  So I searched through my bag of oddments and sorted them into whites, pastels and darker colours.  This scarf more or less designed itself because these were the only dark colours that I had enough of to crochet at least 2 complete rows of half trebles (UK).

It was interesting working out the order of the stripes.  My largest odd ball was the grey left over from my last scarf.  So I used that in 3 stripes to give continuity and also body because it is a slightly thicker dk yarn than the other colours.  My next largest odd ball was maroon.  So I used that for the first and last rows to create a solid border.  The other colours are red, blue and yellow.  They are all a bit brighter than the photo shows and contrast effectively with the grey and maroon.  

I love the way it has turned out.  This is one of my charity knits.  It will probably go to a boy in a cold country.  Charities often put out a plea for items for older children and especially boys.  So I know this scarf will soon find a good home.

Friday 25 January 2013

My first crochet scarf......

I am ridiculously pleased with my first ever crochet scarf.  I have wanted to learn to crochet since my school days when I used to watch the other girls making hair nets for their buns which were very fashionable then.  The women in my family were great knitters and I soon learned that skill.  But nobody knew how to crochet.  I felt a bit hard done by, but life moved on and I forgot about it.

Last year I suddenly found myself with time on my hands and picked up a crochet hook again.  Progress was extremely slow.  But I was determined to learn.  I even went on a 2 hour course at my local wool shop which was a waste of time as there were 6 of us and the  tutor was also serving customers as they came in.  So I concentrated on reading books and online articles about crochet.  I could see all the lovely work that other crafters do and wanted to be like them.  When I set my mind to something, I usually do it....eventually.

Then I saw this free ribbed scarf pattern advertised.  I spent ages reading the pattern and the forum comments and then crocheted a couple of small samples until I was satisfied that I could do it.

This week I was virtually snowed in and spent 3 days slowly following the pattern.  I can thoroughly recommend it to crocheters of all abilities.  I have now started a stripy one to use up various oddments and I am already thinking about the next scarf.  I sense the beginnings of an addiction.  But that's OK because all these scarves will be destined for a charity somewhere.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Fanfare and drum roll: the jumper is finished....

This is the jumper I have been struggling with for the past 4 weeks.  I am hugely relieved to have finished it and even more relieved to throw the pattern into the recycling bin.  Luckily my daughter is slim and I could knit the smallest size.  I'm pleased at how it turned out  and it will be beautifully warm in this freezing spell of weather we are having at the moment.

My favourite part, and the only part I will ever repeat, is the v neck that I picked up and knitted on a circular needle.  I struggled with the instructions for that as well so I am currently in the process of writing a very detailed blog post about how I did it.  Watch this space............

Friday 18 January 2013

Grow your blog...


Hello everyone.  I am taking part in the Grow Your Blog promotion that I came across on the 2 Bags Full blog.  

My name is Una and I live in London, England.  I have a hectic life and value my hobby time.  I used to have a gardening blog but ran out of things to say about my postage stamp size garden.  I enjoyed blogging and missed the social side of it.  So when I took up knitting recently, I saw an opportunity to start blogging again.

I created my Great Balls of Wool blog in December 2012.  It was really just intended to be a record of my knitting projects.  But I secretly hoped that other people would see it and leave comments.  I have had quite a few comments already.  You will be relieved to know that, even though I moderate comments, I don't require people to complete those annoying captcha boxes.  I always read and publish comments really quickly.

My computer skills range from basic to average.  I used one of the Blogger templates and changed it around a little.  I'm especially proud of the photo that I took of balls of wool.

I saw a blog where someone recommended  Picmonkey as a free photo editing website.  In just a few minutes I managed to turn my photo into a good heading for my blog.  It cheers me up every time I see it and I just want to stroke the wool.  Eventually, of course, I will use up this wool and the photo will bring back memories of whatever I make.

In my blog I concentrate on describing whatever knitting (and maybe crochet) projects I am currently working on.   I have been amazed at the statistics provided by Blogger.  According to them I have had 848 page views from visitors in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, France, Greece, Guatemala, and Kuwait.  Considering I only started my blog last month, I find that very inspiring.

I love reading other blogs on craft topics and have already chosen some to follow.  I have been really impressed by the variety of blog designs and content.  I am looking forward to discovering more great blogs very soon.

Thank you for reading...

Wednesday 16 January 2013

My meadow blanket: progress report...

This is how my long-term blanket knitting project is progressing.  I'm calling it my meadow blanket because that is the name of the main colour.  I know it looks more like mud in my photo but it really is a lovely soft green and beige mixture.  The meadow wool is on the cone to the left of the photo.  It is only 2 ply so I am rolling it up into balls and using 4 strands together.  I quite enjoy the rolling process and find it therapeutic at the end of a busy day.

I was originally just going to knit the whole blanket in one colour but started to get a bit bored.  So I looked in my wool bag for inspiration.  I decided to keep to muted earthy tones.  First of all I combined some brown sock wool with a cream coned yarn and just kept knitting the stripe until the brown wool was used up.  Now I am back with the meadow wool and will knit most of the rest of the blanket with it.  Later I will knit another stripe using grey sock wool with more of the cream coned yarn.  The sock wool and cream yarn have been sitting in my wool bag for months and this is the ideal project to use them up.

When I have finished, I am planning to crochet a border with the yellow and green wool.  Hopefully, that will bring out the colours of the meadow wool and brighten it up.  If I have enough green and yellow wool left I will embroider some flowers.  

This will definitely be a blanket for giving away.  I'm not in any hurry to finish it though.  The meadow wool is lovely to knit with and the blanket is so warm it is the perfect winter project.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Let it snow; here's one I prepared earlier...

So we are promised a "significant snow event" on Monday.  Yippee!  Just what I've been waiting for.  I found a bag of gorgeous wool in a charity shop way back when the weather was still warm.  It's called "Christabel" by Richard Poppleton and is a mixture of acrylic, polyester and real wool.  The colour is a classy dark grey interspersed with little shiny flecks of gold, blue and pink.  It's the prettiest wool I have seen for a long time and I just had to have it.

I decided that I really needed to knit myself a hat.  I am not a hat person and have never found one in the shops that looked remotely good on my head.  Beanies look too small and slouchy hats look too big.  I decided to look for something in between.   I then found a pattern called Family Watch Cap which looked promising.

I made a start.

I can recommend this pattern as it is well written and easy to knit if you are happy with circular needles

The pattern is written in 6 sizes to fit from 6 months old to an adult male.  I chose the adult female size and used slightly bigger needles because I wanted to be able to tuck all my hair inside and pull it down over my ears.  The very long brim is a design feature of the pattern as it is meant to be folded back over most of the hat, thus making a dual layer for extra warmth.

My hat took about 130g of yarn and I had enough left over for a matching scarf.  The total cost was about £2.  I think the sparkly wool definitely turns a unisex pattern into a feminine one.  So far, I have only tried it on at home. My family usually like what I knit but sadly couldn't think of anything good to say about my new hat.  They are forgiven because we are not hat lovers and only wear them if really necessary.  But the snow is coming and I'm ready.  Who'll be laughing then?  The mad hatter.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Third time lucky....

The saga of Daughter's jumper continues.  I have now finished the front and back....woo hoo!  I started a sleeve on Sunday and luckily, as it turned out, decided not to knit both at the same time.  Since the wool is Aran and the needles are size 5.5 mm, the ribbed cuff knitted up very quickly.  Then is all went wrong....and wrong again.  

The pattern is basically a raised rib with yarn overs and slipped stitches on either side to give a bit of lacy detail.  All very lovely and pretty until it comes to increasing on every 11th row.  Increasing a lacy pattern is extremely difficult.  I've been there, done that and nearly thrown the jumper out of the window.  On my first attempt I reached row 25 of the pattern and realised I had lost a stitch somewhere.  I ripped the knitting back to row 22 as I knew I had the correct number of stitches there.  Ripping back and picking up a lacy pattern is not the easiest thing to do.

On my second attempt I managed to reach row 35 of the pattern and still had the correct number of stitches.   But this involved knitting VERY slowly and constantly counting.  Even so, I didn't like the way the lacy increases were looking.  I don't mind putting effort into something worthwhile.  But when I put effort into something and it looks like a dog's dinner, then I mind very much.

I have set myself a deadline of finishing this jumper by the end of January.  Daughter is excited about wearing it while winter is still here, and I want to get on with other projects.  So I did something I rarely do.  I admitted defeat.  I couldn't face at least another hundred rows of this pattern on sleeve one and then repeating the experience on sleeve two.  So I explained everything to Daughter and she was more than happy for me to make some changes.

The photo shows my third and hopefully final attempt at the sleeve.  I ripped it back to the cuff and am now simply knitting it in stocking stitch with a pattern panel up the centre of the sleeve.  I've reached row 41 and it's looking good.  The increases are working like a dream and I can get into a steady knitting rhythm.  I can at last see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This pattern is obviously doable as there is a photo of the finished jumper on it.  All I can say is I feel great sympathy for the person who had to knit it, as well as a great deal of admiration.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Thinking positively: I like the colour.....

This is the jumper I'm knitting for Daughter at the moment.  It looks like a simple rib pattern but is actually much more complicated than that.  I don't think I will post a link to the pattern because I can't really recommend it.  It is hard to describe why, but there is ample scope for making all sorts of mistakes with this pattern and I have made them all.  I've lost count of the number of rows I have had to rip back and knit again.

The photo shows the back.  I have already finished the front and I've reached the stage of having to compare them both very carefully to make sure they are the same length.  I think I'm ready to cast off the back.  But it's late and I'm tired.  Sometimes it really is better to put off something until tomorrow.

The front is a v-neck design.  As the pattern is so tricky, I decided to decrease both sides of the neckline at the same time.  This involved juggling 2 massive balls of Aran wool, but was definitely the right decision as it was the only way I could be sure I was decreasing on the same rows either side of the "v".  I was delighted when that particular torture was over.

Hopefully I will be ready to start the sleeves tomorrow.  I am still toying with the idea of knitting both sleeves at the same time.  This will again require me to juggle 2 balls of Aran wool.  This is definitely not a portable knitting project I could do "on the move".

I have everything crossed that this jumper fits Daughter when it is finished.  She chose the colour and loves the way the patten is turning out.  I love the colour and am knitting furiously to finish it as soon as possible.  Another couple of weeks should see it out of my knitting bag and on my daughter.  Oh happy day.

Thursday 3 January 2013

When is a wool not a wool?

This wool is part of my last joblot purchase from an Ebay seller.  The colour is called "meadow" which is the perfect name for this blended shade of soft green and beige.  As it is only 2 ply, I put it aside until inspiration struck me just before Christmas.  I realised that knitting 2 balls together would produce a lovely blanket for a small animal.   I cast on a huge amount of stitches on a very long needle and started to knit.  

My plan is to keep knitting until all the wool is used up.   I am a very good judge of how far a 100g ball of wool will go, but I have no real experience of knitting from a cone and don't know how big the finished blanket will be.  If there is enough wool for a blanket to fit a child's bed, that would be even better as it is beautifully lightweight and warm.  Whether for an animal or a child, this blanket is destined for a charity somewhere.

I intend this to be a long-term work in progress.  It is all garter stitch, very simple and a great relief from the complicated jumper I am also knitting at the moment.  The colourful wooden needle tips are pretty and slide through the wool like a dream.  It is such a pleasure to knit with that I am quite happy just knitting a few rows each day.  This could be a project that lasts for many months.

I have never knitted with this type of wool before.  I looked inside the cone and saw the word "wool".  I congratulated myself that I had at last broken away from the artificial fibres that I usually knit with.  Then I started to worry that, being wool, it would not wash well.  So I looked inside the cone again for washing instructions and saw the word "Orlon".  I Googled it and was amazed to see the following definition:

"Orlon is the trade name for a polyacrylonitrile fiber made from natural gas, oxygen, and nitrogen. It combines bulk with light weight and is resistant to acids and sun damage. It is used for sweaters and other clothing."

So it has never been anywhere near a sheep!  But it does now seem absolutely ideal for a blanket that might receive a lot of rough treatment.