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 30 November 2013

The autumn to winter scarves......

I'm supposed to be cutting back on knitting until the new year.  But I had the sudden urge to crochet a scarf in autumn colours.  That was followed by another urge to crochet one in winter colours!!  As I try to avoid putting yarn remnants back into the bag, I knitted 2 hats as well.  Isn't it strange how 2 adjacent seasons can have such different colour palettes?

The scarves and hats will fit smaller children, though the winter scarf is long enough for a teenager as well.  They will all go to a charity next year.

That's definitely IT for this year.  I have some sewing to do and I'm enjoying some mindless blanket knitting.  Otherwise, I am going to be quite busy with other things.

The crochet scarf pattern is here.  It is the only crochet scarf pattern I can do easily.
The autumn hat pattern is here.  The crown decreases are neat and roomy.  It always looks like a real head-shaped hat to me.  The winter hat is from a pattern called "Ellie's easiest hat" which I found on the Loving Hands website.  To access the patterns on this site you have to join up.  But it is free and a whole world of useful information will be available to you.

Thursday 28 November 2013

............and the winner is

Well today is November 28th in my part of the world and I have just randomly drawn the winner of my Fair Trade giveaway.  The winner is Meghan of the Moby Knit blog.  

Meghan could you let me know your address.  I see you live in New Jersey where you are probably celebrating Thanksgiving Day today.  As we don't celebrate it in the UK, I had no idea of the importance of the date when I chose it as the end of my giveaway!!

I wish I could have given a little gift to all my followers.  Fret not, I have enjoyed it so much this year that I am planning to hold a giveaway every year.

Just a reminder of what will be winging its way very soon to Meghan:

Saturday 23 November 2013

A knitting book review....

I rarely buy knitting patterns or books.  But I just had to spread the word about the fantastic knitting book that arrived in the post this morning.  It is "Fresh Fashion Knits" edited by Kate Buller and published by Potter Craft in 2010.  I am not connected in any way to this book.  I simply found a pattern on Ravelry and the only way to see it in full was to buy the book.  It never even crossed my mind to try to borrow this book from a library which is rather amazing as I work in one on Sundays!

The pattern that caught my attention was this one:

I like the centre detail.  The pattern also uses this detail on the back of the jumper. 

There are lots of patterns in the book that are now on my "to do" list.  Here are some of them:

I desperately need some new cardigans and jumpers but can't find anything I like in the shops.  I'm not pretending to look like the model in the book.  But if I go to the trouble of knitting these gorgeous tops, I will be motivated to stay slim and trim.  I can see that next year I will be busy knitting for me as well as for my various charities.  

I would say this book is aimed at the slightly more experienced knitter as there are no knitting instructions and the yarns recommended are all from Rowan.  However, an experienced knitter will be able to find suitable substitutes.

I bought my copy from Amazon and had to wait for it to come from the USA.  It was definitely worth the wait.

*****My Fair Trade giveaway is open until November 28th.  See here for more details.*****

Thursday 21 November 2013

Another warm hat....

This hat is literally just 57 stitches by 24 rows....very quick to knit.  I used two different dk yarns together and the end result is soft, squishy and very warm.  This will fit a small child and is destined for one of the charities I knit for.  I'd love one of these in my size.  I've just been outdoors and it is very cold...the woolly hats are coming out.

The pattern is here or on the Ravelry site here.  It is knitted on straight needles.  I don't usually like seams on hats but this pattern is so well-written that the seam almost disappears when it is sewn up.  You can just about see it in the centre of my photo.

The only thing I am not keen on is the clunky crown decreases.  But they are not so obvious when the hat is being worn.  This hat used very little yarn and is a great way to use up oddments.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

I had a dream....

......I also had a very uninspiring collection of brown yarn scraps left over from previous projects.  Then one night recently I had a dream that clearly showed a hat knitted with these scraps.  I wasn't sure I had enough yarn.  But I pressed on and here is the finished hat:

There are actually 3 different shades of brown in this hat.  My camera couldn't capture the contrasting stripe properly.  It is a lovely shade of pale tweedy brown.  For some reason my photos showed it as either grey or mauve....which it definitely isn't.  I love the colour and I used every last scrap of it.  The top stripe is a darker brown than the other stripes.  I was knitting by artificial light and didn't even notice the difference until I looked at it in the daylight.  It doesn't matter in this hat, but could have been a minor catastrophe in something else.

I'm pleased with the way this turned out.  This will fit a child up to age 3 or 4 and it will eventually go to one of the charities I knit for. It was very quick to knit and I have knitted this pattern many times before.  Here is the pattern.

*****My Fair Trade giveaway is open until November 28th.  See here for more details.*****

Friday 8 November 2013

I can't believe it's not crochet.....

I recently needed to add a fairly wide border to a squares blanket I had sewn together. My crochet skills are basic and I didn't want to ruin the blanket.  I searched high and low and eventually found a knitting stitch called "purse stitch" in "The complete encyclopaedia of stitchcraft" by Mildred Graves Ryan.  I adapted it to make an edging for a blanket.

This is what I did:
  • dk yarn 
  • size 4mm needles
  • cast on 12 stitches
  • row 1:  slip one, knit one, (yarn over, purl 2 together) 4 times, knit 2
  • repeat this row until the desired length is reached
  • cast off

Yes...that's it...just one row repeated; quite monotonous, but easy and a great mindless project.  

The next photo shows what your knitting will look like on your needle.  

The finished result is strong, pretty and reversible.  If, like me, you end up with a wavy edge after sewing squares together, this is the edging for you.  It is a flexible stitch and, if you make it wide enough, the wavy effect disappears on the outer edge.  

You can cast on any even number of stitches.  My 12 stitches produced an edging measuring approximately 2.5 inches or 6.5 cms.  I felt that this was too wide to try to bend it around the blanket's corners, so I edged each side separately and stitched them together at the corners.  But a narrower edging should bend easily. Try casting on just 6 stitches if you want it to bend.

I used King Cole Comfort yarn as that is what I used to edge the individual squares. But this stitch would work with most yarns.  I can see it making a great scarf as well.  I knit with an average tension and 28 stitches would make me a scarf measuring approximately 7 inches or 18 cms wide.

I wouldn't describe this edging as a fast knit.  Crochet wins hands down for speed. But if you want a pretty edging and can't crochet, this is worth trying.  Feel free to ask me any questions and I'd love to see your finished projects.

CREDIT:  I am really grateful to Dayana from Ravelry who added the writing to my second photo.  Her lovely blog is Dayana Knits.

*****My Fair Trade giveaway is open until November 28th.  See here for more details.*****

***STOP PRESS*** I have now published a link to this pattern on the Ravelry website HERE.  

Thursday 7 November 2013

Three more Aran hats complete my parcel....

I like this Aran hat pattern.  I have knitted it many times.  The pattern gives instructions for sizes ranging from newborn to youth.  This time I knitted 2 baby size hats (pale green) and 1 toddler size hat (light brown).  The green hats knitted up quickly as expected.  The light brown hat took longer because the wool was so painfully rough that I even had second thoughts about its suitability for a toddler's head.  However, I have soaked it in special wool detergent and it is now quite soft.  This wool came from a Freecycler who gave me a huge bag of assorted yarn.  I can see why it was unloved. But I think I saved it and made something useful.

These hats have now been posted off to Operation Orphan.  Hopefully I have made the deadline for sending items to the children in Syria.  These are the goodies that went into the box:

2 waistcoats
1 scarf
5 hats

My next project is a diagonal blanket which I am just going to enjoy knitting at a leisurely deadlines to meet for this one.

*****My Fair Trade giveaway is open until November 28th.  See here for more details.*****

***STOP PRESS***  A few minutes after adding my photo of the 3 Aran hats to my Ravelry projects page the pattern designer contacted me asking for permission to feature it on her front page.  Of course.....I'm honoured!!

Tuesday 5 November 2013

I'm having a Fair Trade giveaway....

It's nearly a year since I started blogging about my adventures in knitting, crochet and sewing.  In that time I have met lots of lovely bloggers and had a lot of fun.  I was also lucky enough to win a couple of giveaways and to receive some donated yarn.  So, today I decided to host my own giveaway.  It is open to followers of my blog who live anywhere in the world.

The winner will receive the Fair Trade craft items as shown in the photo.  

  • a beautiful zipped purse in shades of pink, purple and turquoise
  • an elephant greetings card
  • a hand knitted sheep ideal for hanging on a Christmas tree or in your craft room
All these items came from a Fair Trade shop in London's Soho.  The card was made in Nepal,  The sheep doesn't have a tag, but the sign in the shop said it was made in Peru.  The purse is also a Fair Trade hand crafted item, though I'm not sure which country it came from.

The important, boring bit:  to qualify for this giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog posting.  Your comment should let me know who you are and how you follow my blog.

The winner will be chosen at random.  The closing date for entries is November 28th and I will post the goodies soon after that.  

(Please note that if I am posting outside the UK and Europe, they might not arrive before Christmas.)

Good luck!!

Monday 4 November 2013

The Lily Pond Blanket.....

One of my 2013 resolutions was to conquer my aversion to sewing up squares.  This is an irrational aversion as I actually enjoy sewing.  I recently joined the SIBOL group on Ravelry and noticed a request for people to help with sewing squares into blankets.  These blankets go to residents of care homes in the UK.  In a mad moment, I volunteered and a few days later a parcel of squares arrived.

The first photo shows the squares in their "before" state.  

The squares were all garter stitch and roughly the same size but a mixture of double knit and bulky yarn.   The sewing method that worked for me was:
  • block them into good square shapes.
  • edge each square with a row of double crochet (UK).  This was easier said than done. The squares were knitted by different people and had a different number of rows and knitting techniques.  I eventually gave up trying to crochet the same number of stitches on every edge and just went with the flow.  I used King Cole Comfort variegated yarn that contained all the colours in the squares.
  • experiment with layouts bearing in mind that I wanted the bulky yarn squares to be evenly spaced.  I then spaced out the bright green squares and then placed the others doing my best not to have too many plain blue squares together.
  • choose a joining method.  I settled on invisible whip stitch as the easiest method for joining squares that have different numbers of edge stitches.  
  • choose a joining yarn.  The variegated yarn didn't look right so I settled on blue.
  • chain stitch along the joins to strengthen them and make them look more pretty.  I found a good tutorial for chain stitch here.  It teaches an unusual but very easy method.
  • add a border.  This is where crochet beats knitting hands down.  It is much quicker even for novices like me.  But I could see I was going to ruin all my hard work by rows of wobbly crochet.  I looked online and in books for knitted edgings and eventually made up my own based on a stitch I found in a book.  I'm so happy with it that I will blog about it fully later on and maybe even add it to the Ravelry website. 
  • strengthen the border by adding a row of simple crochet chain stitches anchored to the border at regular intervals.  This gave a lovely curvy effect which balanced the straight lines of the blanket. 
  • add a water lily motif.
  • stand back and admire.
Yes, it was a lot of work.  But I enjoyed it.  Here's the finished blanket.  

All SIBOL blankets are named before wending their way to the care home residents.  I chose "The Lily Pond" as it looked like that to me after I arranged the squares.  Giving them a name brings them to life.  I'm posting this one tomorrow.  I'm glad it's finished. But I will miss it as well.  I've even offered to sew another one and I mulling over other ways to join the squares.  SIBOL always needs people to sew squares into blankets.  If you think you would like to do this or even to crochet or knit a blanket,  take a look at the SIBOL blog.

I'm really pleased with the way my first squares blanket turned out.   Ta dah!!