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!!

Friday 27 September 2013

Baby scrappy scarf.....

In July I blogged about making a ball of wool from remnants.  This week I found time to knit it into a little baby scarf.  It measures 35" by 4.5" and is for the Keep a Child Warm project run by Operation Orphan.  This is an organisation that distributes warm clothing to children in many countries.  I read somewhere that they needed scarves to fit the toddlers and babies, so this will be perfect.

For this scarf I used a very long circular knitting needle and cast on 180 stitches.  I then just knitted in garter stitch rows until I ran out of wool.  I now officially have no more scraps of white or pastel dk yarn.  Woo hoo!

Saturday 21 September 2013

When life gives you lemons.....

.....make lemonade.

Jo on her Three Stories High blog has written an article called "Waste Not Want Not".  This is close to my heart as I am a keen recycler and hate waste of any kind.  Buying bargain lots of wool appeals to me because I both save money and use up wool that is unloved.  Most times I get lucky.  But sometimes I end up with wool that is a bit of a challenge.

A few months ago I acquired a job lot of Aran wool.  I can tell that it is very good quality and probably quite old.  It is a bit too rough for baby blankets, but perfect for some hats that I am planning to knit for Siblings Together.  This is an organisation that helps children stay in contact with their siblings who have been separated from them by the care system.  They take the children away on holidays and give them scarves and hats if they need them.  Their next holiday trip is planned for the end of October so I am working to a deadline.

The organisation has asked for hats to fit the older children who can be any age up to 18.  I found a very quick Aran hat pattern and knitted the "woman" size thinking that it might fit a teenager.  It is a bit too big for me.  But my daughter who has lots of long hair claimed it as hers.  She works on a market stall at the weekends so will really need this in winter.

I'm going to knit the next size down and should have enough wool for about 5 hats. This wool is such good quality that someone has gone to the trouble to unravel what was probably a large Aran jumper.  BUT  BUT  BUT the jumper has had a hard life.  I think it was slept in, covered in dubious stains (curry, I hope), used to dry a muddy dog...etc....get the picture?  Then it was unravelled without being washed first.  When the wool arrived I had to separate it from my other wool so as not to spread the smell.  

Luckily, this hat was very quick to knit up because I was holding my breath most of the time!!  I'm not joking!!  Then I washed the hat and it is beautiful.  The stains have come out and the wool has softened up nicely.  The smell has completely gone.  I'm going to use the rest of the wool.  Five children will have warm heads, and some lovely quality wool has been rescued.

I recommend this pattern for anyone looking for a very quick-knit basic Aran hat..

Wednesday 18 September 2013

The not so no-sew blanket.....

So here, at last, is the finished autumn blanket.  I started it in a heatwave and finished it on a cold, wet and windy day.  I have sent it to SIBOL and from there it will be sent on to a care home somewhere in the UK.  I waited to blog about it until I was sure it had arrived as SIBOL's Sue is a new follower of my blog...woo hoo!  I know she enjoys opening parcels of squishy cosiness and I didn't want to spoil the surprise.

This blanket had so many false starts that I think I eventually ended up not with Plan B but Plan Z.  I originally intended to knit leaves and join them together.  But I very soon realised that they needed blocking and probably would every time the blanket is washed.  I'm sure the care home staff have other more important things to do.  So that plan was abandoned.

I settled on knitting borders of moss stitch which is a lovely stitch that lays flat with absolutely no curling.  The colours chose themselves because I already had most of them.  

Putting the centre square into the border is when the sewing started.  
  • An expert crocheter probably could have done it in no time.  But my efforts were abysmal.  Hand-sewing was the only way for me.  
  • The stitches showed through slightly.  So I devised a way of hiding them by laying a strand of wool over the join and securing it with tiny stitches.  The final result is a bit wonky but much better than what it is hiding!!!  I was congratulating myself on inventing a new stitch until I discovered that this stitch is so well known that it has a name...."couching".
  • My favourite part of this blanket is the Twining Trees  panel.  I revived memories of learning blanket stitch at school and sewed it on at an angle as a bit of contrast to all the squares and straight lines.
  • My attempts at embroidering leaves are passable.  I tried some more elaborate leaf shapes but needed a lot more time to get them right.  I wanted the blanket ready while we still have some leaves on the trees!  
  • Just before packing the blanket I had a mini panic fit about the Twining Trees panel coming off in the wash.  So I adopted the belt and braces method and sewed another circuit of smaller invisible running stitches.
All in all, I'm pleased with the way this blanket turned out.  It was a steep learning curve and I have made copious notes to help me when I knit my next one.  I will definitely repeat the moss stitch squares knitted together in rows.

A lot of wool has gone into this blanket.  I hope it keeps someone very warm.

After such a colourful and complicated project I am now going to reward myself with some mindless scarf bliss.

Thursday 12 September 2013

The invisible almost no-sew blanket....

I'm knitting a small autumn-themed lap blanket for SIBOL.  These blankets go to care homes in the UK and the preferred size is roughly 30" square.  I like sewing but the thought of sewing together 25 squares is rather like watching paint dry.  So I devised a way to minimise the sewing.  My first square was the rust colour in the bottom right hand corner.  I simply joined in new colours as required and picked up stitches on the sides of the squares whenever I needed to turn a corner.  I only needed to sew the last green square to the rust square and ...voila....I had knitted a blanket border or, as I like to think of it, a picture frame.

The blank space in the middle is 18" square and filling it should be a simple matter.....or that's what I thought.  I've already knitted a beautiful picture of trees that measures 9" square and I planned to edge it with rows of knitting and crochet until it was the right size.  But the edgings were not lying as flat as the moss stitch border squares and the effect was sloppy.  I have ripped back a couple of times, but I really really want to use the picture of the trees.

So, not one to give up, I have started to knit a diagonal 18" square which I will sew to these squares.  Then the picture of the trees can be sewn onto this square.  I can cope with that amount of sewing.  I'm on the home run now and can nearly see the finished blanket.  That is very timely as the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is almost here. 

Tuesday 10 September 2013

The Big Knit...

This year I have taken part in the Innocent Smoothie Drink  Big Knit campaign.  Innocent drinks wear these little knitted hats for a few weeks of the year and the drinks company donates 25p to Age UK for every bottle bought.  Age UK provides advice and help to the older generation in the UK.  

The hats are very easy to knit.  There are patterns here ranging from beginner to expert.  Some of the expert patterns are very clever.  But I had lots of other things to do this summer, so I concentrated on the beginner pattern.  All the hats in the photo follow the beginner pattern .  I had a bit of creative fun making the teddy face in the centre of the photo with buttons and embroidery.  At the front of the picture is a dark red hat with a little green stalk.  It doesn't show up well in the photo but I was aiming for a "red fruit" look.  

The other hats are just wearing homemade pom poms.  I wanted to make my own rather than use the little pom poms that can be bought in craft shops..  I found a great tutorial on the Eskimimi Makes blog.  It describes how to use a kitchen fork to make a pom pom.  I found that this method produced a pom pom that would be perfect for a baby's hat but was a bit on the large side for these tiny hats.  You can just about see this larger one on the left hand end of the back row.  I adapted the tutorial and wrapped the wool around the handle of the fork rather than around the prongs.  This produced exactly what I wanted.  They don't look as perfect as shop-bought pom poms, but I learned a new skill and I'm hoping they have a charm of their own.

These hats really are quick to make and are a great way to use up scraps of yarn.  The deadline for sending them in is October 1st.  I think they appear in the shops a few weeks after that so I will be looking out for them.  Why not knit a few of these for this good cause?

Friday 6 September 2013

A little sew and sew.....

From the age of 7 it was my job to sew on buttons and repair hems at home.  I was more or less left to get on with it without any instructions.  Luckily my primary school was unusual in that boys and girls were taught to sew from a very early age.  So I grew up knowing how to sew.  I enjoy it and have definitely got my money's worth from my old sewing machine.

I saw a posting by Julie on the Mack and Mabel blog which talked about a free sewing pattern for a simple vest top.  Here's the pattern for the Sorbetto Top.  I can recommend it highly.  I especially liked the way the bias binding is attached to the neck and arm holes.  It was very simple and is now my preferred method of attaching bias binding to anything that needs it.

As you may know, I am very frugal.  I managed to find a massive piece of burgundy material in a charity shop for £1.99.  I started by making the blouse exactly as the pattern required.  I knew it was going to be too short.  But I wanted to see whether it would fit nicely and whether I could manage the bias binding.  Julie mentioned that it is a flattering shape and she was right.  It even drew unsolicited compliments from Hubby which is extremely rare!  Somewhere on the pattern it mentions making the bigger size if you are between sizes.  That's what I did and I'm pleased with the result.

So the blouse on the left will really only be worn under a cardy or v-neck jumper.  I was happy otherwise, so I added 3" to the pattern pieces and made the second burgundy blouse.  As that was a success, i found another charity shop bargain and made the navy blue polka dot blouse.  These last 2 blouses look lovely as tunics over trousers.

I still have lots of burgundy material left.  I made myself a simple neck scarf and still have enough left for a little girl's dress.

This is a simple pattern just requiring 2 pieces of material and some bias binding.  In fact the only fiddly part was printing off the pattern and joining the pages together.  But now that is done I have filed the pattern away carefully.  I can see myself making this again and again.