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 27 December 2014

Preemie hats and an old memory........

Free time is at a premium at the moment and I felt the need to make things that I could finish quickly.  I have also been in denial for too long that I have a large bag of 4 ply yarn.  Most of it has wended its way to me hidden among bargain lots of other more user-friendly yarn.  I have decided to make serious efforts to use it up.  So I sorted out the pastels and knitted some preemie baby hats.  

I always remember an elderly lady who stopped me in the street when I was pushing my daughter in her pram.  She told me her granddaughter had no clothes small enough to fit her premature baby and she wondered if I knew where to buy them.  We were outside a major babywear shop at the time and even their smallest baby clothes were too big.  This elderly lady was quite upset and was prepared to trudge the streets until she had found some tiny baby clothes.  This was in the days before Internet shopping and she had no other realistic option.  I hope she was successful.  

Sadly, I wasn't much help on that occasion; but the memory has stayed etched in my mind.  One ball of yarn and a few hours work can produce preemie hats and clothes more valuable than the sum of the effort and materials that went into them.

In no particular order, here are the patterns I used:
Tiny Knitted Preemie Hat by Bee Rowert
Three Hats from Cuddles

PS: the bobble hat and scarf that I gave my daughter for Christmas were a great success.  She wore them all day indoors!!

Monday 22 December 2014

Balaclavas and gauge mattters...

I started by wanting to use up the festive red yarn and already had the perfect balaclava pattern.  There are lots of balaclava patterns available and this is my favourite as it is so easy.  Just 50g of yarn makes the age 3-4 years size.

The red yarn was a bootfair purchase in the summer.  I used every last scrap before reaching the ribbing around the face which is different yarn but such a close match that the difference is not obvious.

I also bought the brown yarn at the same bootfair.  There was less of this and I knew there would not be enough so I added 2 stripes of a tweedy green and brown yarn.  (The blue in the photo should actually be bottle green.)  This yarn came from a convent that was closing down a couple of years ago.  The nuns gave away a huge amount of yarn to  members of Loving Hands.

All the yarn is double knit weight but the brown hat is definitely smaller.  That just shows how important it is to check gauge before knitting if size is crucial.  In this instance, it doesn't matter as these hats will go to a charity and will fit someone!  

This will be my last post for a few days.  I hope everyone has a great week.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday 18 December 2014

The Snowball Scarf...

I just had time to finish this scarf before I need to wrap it up and give it to my daughter.  She is half expecting the bobble hat that I knitted recently.  But this scarf will be a complete and (hopefully) pleasant surprise.  I needed a very quick pattern and eventually chose the Simply Elegant Scarf pattern.  It is the perfect crochet pattern for a beginner as all the stitches (including the last one in each row) are made into big spaces.  There is no fishing around to find an elusive chain stitch.

I used the same Woolworths Aran yarn that I used for the hat.  This yarn seems to be more suited to crochet than to knitting as it makes a very strong mesh stitch which disguises the odd blend of wool and acrylic.  I chained 25 stitches which gave me a width of 5.5 inches and I kept going until the scarf was long enough to wrap around the neck with both ends at the front.  

My daughter wears her scarves on the outside of her coat, so I added 2 pom-poms. This cream colour makes them look just like snowballs.

She loved the scarf I knitted a couple of years ago.  She enjoyed telling her friends that I had knitted it especially for her and her friends were suitably impressed.  I could have bought something similar. But I think hand-made scarves look much better quality than mass produced scarves.  

My daughter can do very basic knitting and takes a big interest in the things I make. At the moment she has very little free time.  I was the same at her age.  But look at me now! She could still become a demon knitter or maybe even a crocheter.  Meanwhile, I am happy to take commissions from her!

The scarf measures 70" x 5.5" and weighs 120g including the pom-poms.  I still have about 200g of this Woolworths Aran left and have broken with tradition by putting it back into the wool bag.  The last four items I made have been cream and I feel a need for some bright colours.

Saturday 13 December 2014

The wonder of Woolies...

I start with an apology!  I cannot think what possessed me to take a photo of a cream hat against a cream background.  I can only blame light deprivation affecting my brain.  It is nearly midday here and we haven't yet achieved full daylight.  

My daughter asked for a bobble hat.  In fact, she has been asking for a bobble hat for 3 years so she must really want one.  She loves vintage clothes and I chose this hat for its retro look.  You can find the pattern here.  

I decided to put some effort into learning the long tail tubular cast on method that is recommended by the pattern's author.  It took me 4 attempts and a good hour to cast on 88 stitches.  The aim is to create a very stretchy cast on that is almost invisible.  I was in two minds about it at first because I am used to a solid cast on edge and I thought this looked messy.  But it works well when stretched to head size.  It doesn't grip the head too tightly and is soft and comfortable.  After casting on, the rest of the hat was a breeze to knit. You could use a different cast on method so long as it is not too tight.

My daughter requested cream or white which was lucky as I already had a 400g ball of cream Aran yarn. I know I didn't buy this yarn new so it must have come to me either as a donation or a bargain find.  The brand is Woolworths Aran With Wool. Some UK blog readers might remember the jingle "that's the wonder of Woolies" which sadly didn't do anything to stop the shop going bankrupt!  I think this yarn is at least 30 years old as there is no barcode on the label.  I am always happy to make something useful from unloved yarn.

The exact composition is 80% acrylic and 20% wool.  The quality is not brilliant as the wool does not seem to be woven evenly though the acrylic.  However, a light steaming with my iron soon improved things.  Importantly, it is a machine washable yarn.  My daughter will probably throw this hat into a washing machine regardless of instructions.

I am stupidly proud of the pom-pom.  I bought a special pom-pom making gadget and watched some online tutorials.  Pom-poms use up a lot of yarn and I didn't want to waste any.  Most of the tutorials said it was necessary to wrap the plastic arcs 3 or 4 times.  But one tutorial advised wrapping until the arcs were very full.  I followed that advice and ended up wrapping each arc 15 times.  Three or four wraps would only work on the tiniest of pom-pom gadgets.  (This will all be gobbledygook to anyone who hasn't used a pom-pom making gadget.)  I was chuffed when my very first attempt produced a lovely, dense pom-pom that needed almost no trimming.

This adult size hat, including pom-pom, weighs just under 100g.  That means I have plenty of yarn left to make a matching scarf.  Whether I have enough time left before it needs to be wrapped up for Christmas is questionable.  Whether the pom-pom will survive washing is also questionable, though I did tie it VERY securely.  But I am going to think positive thoughts.  My daughter will definitely like and wear this hat.

Saturday 6 December 2014

....and here's the scarf.....

Following on from my last blog post about knitting an Aran hat, I now present the scarf I was able to knit with the remaining wool.  I had just under 150g of this dye lot and it made a scarf measuring 6" x 46" which will be perfect for Operation Orphan.

I used my favourite Yarn Harlot pattern.  It is a one row pattern, i.e. every row is the same and it just seems to flow from the needles.  I was actually able to knit it without constantly looking down as the thick Aran yarn made feeling the stitches very easy. So I would describe this as fairly mindless knitting with an end result that looks more difficult than it really is.

I'm very impressed at how far a 50g ball of Emu Aran wool goes.  I still have 400g of this yarn and am mulling over a few project ideas for 2015.

Monday 1 December 2014

A real Aran hat....

I have a big bag of cream Aran wool that was donated to me by Joanne of the Cup On The Bus blog.   I was looking at it and enjoying a squish when I noticed that there were 2 different dye lots.  Even though they looked identical, I know from past experience that mixing dye lots in one project is just asking for trouble.  So I decided to make my squishing a bit more productive and sorted the wool into 2 smaller bags.

This wool is Emu Genuine Bainin Aran.  I was curious about the word "Bainin" and looked it up.  It comes from the Gaelic "ban" which means white and is used to describe undyed wool.  There must be some poetic licence involved as the dye lot numbers confirm that the wool has been dyed.

The labels on the wool made me laugh.  They are plastered with shamrocks to give the impression that the wool comes from Ireland.  But the small print says "Made in England".  Maybe the sheep lived in Ireland and the mill was in England.  I'll never know!

So I had 200g of one dye lot and realised that I could knit this up easily before my life becomes a bit too hectic.  One pattern sprang to mind instantly.  It is the free Nottingham hat pattern which I have knitted before.  Last time, I used a tweedy wool which looked lovely.  This plain Aran wool also suits the pattern perfectly, probably because of the cables.  I knitted the child size and was amazed that one 50g ball was almost enough.  It lasted until just before I started the crown decreases.  

I recommend this pattern to knitters with some experience.  The hat is knitted in the round and the cables require a bit of concentration....especially the first round.  But there are only 17 rounds of cable pattern and they are definitely worth doing.  The crown decreases are very neat, which always pleases me in hat patterns.  This hat will eventually go to Operation Orphan and will keep someone very warm.

I have already started a scarf to use up the remaining wool.  Watch this space.....

Wednesday 26 November 2014

A lacy Sands blanket....

Here is a little blanket that I have just posted off to Sands which is a charity that gives memory boxes to parents of babies who died before or just after birth.  The babies are often wrapped in these blankets when presented to their parents who then keep the blankets as comforting keepsakes.  It is a sad item to knit but I find that I can still think positive thoughts and try to make one each year
Patterns for knitted and crocheted versions of the Sands blanket can be found on their website here.   I found the modifications in the What A Woolly Life blog really helpful as they show how to knit and sew on the edging at the same time.  My photo shows the right and wrong side of the edging which is actually very neat on both sides.  The last time I knitted this blanket, I found sewing on the border to be the most tedious part and was delighted when I found out that it could be knitted and sewn on at the same time.  There is so much to be learned from other bloggers and knitters/crocheters.

Sands like the blankets to be white.  They also have specific size requirements which vary depending on how many sides are given a lace edging.  My blanket has a lace edging on all four sides and the inner square measures 20" x 20".  This used less than 200g of yarn.  I bought the yarn at my local hardware store!  It is called Premier Value Baby DK and looks brilliantly white and crisp.  It was lovely to knit with and had absolutely no knots......if only all yarn could be the same.

These blankets also look very pretty in other colours and many people use this pattern when making a simple baby blanket.  It is knitted on the diagonal and the size can be adapted as required.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Three quick scarves......

I had some wool left over after knitting a child's jumper recently and I wanted to use it up instead of putting it back into the wool bag.  It was a lovely pure wool Borgs S.N.2 garn in light brown which was donated to me by Joanne of the Cup On The Bus blog.  I also had some Debbie Bliss 4 ply beige wool left over from a previous project and I realised that both these yarns would combine beautifully.

So, hey presto, I managed to knit 3 children's scarves for Operation Orphan which is an organisation that delivers clothing and blankets to children in need around the world.  For all threes scarves I used 6mm knitting needles and cast on 26 stitches.  The result?...3 warm, squishy scarves with a great drape.  

I used a one-row pattern for the two ribbed scarves.  I can't remember where this pattern came from, so thanks are due to the author.....though it is so simple that there may not be an author. Even so, I don't feel right giving out the pattern without permission.  But there are several one-row patterns available on the Internet and I recommend them as easy mindless knitting projects.
STOP PRESS:  I have found the pattern, so here is the link:
scarf pattern.

By the time I reached my third scarf, I was tiring a bit and I had heard from Linda of the Linda's Crafty Corner blog that there is an Operation Orphan delivery to Syria in December.  So I quickly rushed out a garter stitch scarf which used up the last of the brown and beige wool.

Two of the scarves have a few colourful stripes created from oddments of yarn.  I added them to break up the monotony for both myself and the younger children.  I wouldn't say these scarves are beautiful.  But the important thing is that they are real wool and will tuck inconspicuously into most winter coats.  Three children will be a little warmer this winter.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Lazy lacy scarf....

When I first saw this scarf pattern on Marianna's Lazy Daisy Days blog, I thought it was a crochet pattern.  I was so convinced about this that I even added it to my favourite crochet patterns on Pinterest!!  Then I read closer and realised it was a very simple but clever knitting pattern.  The pattern repeat is 5 rows of garter stitch followed by an easy eyelets row.  I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a pretty and quick scarf pattern.  It can also be found on Ravelry here.

My scarf measures 6" x 65" and used approximately 70g of yarn.  I rarely recommend any particular yarns; but this one deserves a mention.  It is an acrylic dk yarn called "Knitting Essentials" and came from my local Poundland in London.  It is beautifully soft and a pleasure to knit with.  It easily matches more expensive yarns and I would be happy to use this even for baby items..... a great find.

This scarf has gone to SIBOL from where Sue will add it to her Christmas deliveries to care homes for the elderly.  The care homes are not prisons!  The residents are encouraged to go out into the gardens or even further afield on day trips, so they need warm accessories.  I like it so much I might just have to knit another one for myself.

Friday 7 November 2014

Finally finished the jumper.....

Here is the jumper that starred in my recent blog post.  It was, in theory, a simple pattern.  But the multitude of mistakes and vague information in the pattern mean that I cannot recommend it.  Bizarrely, now that I have peppered my printed pattern with corrections, I will definitely knit this again in future.  

Next time, it will be a quick knit.  It is a top-down pattern and the seamless design means there is no sewing and no bulky seams.

This jumper should fit a 3 year old child and will eventually go off to Operation Orphan.  It is a sturdy little jumper and will definitely keep someone warm and hopefully be passed down to other children over the years.

Thanks again to Joanne of the Cup On The Bus blog for donating the brown yarn which I used together with some light blue 4 ply yarn.  

(Note to self: the jumper weighs just under 250g and I have plenty of suitable Aran yarn.)

Sunday 2 November 2014

The Warm-At-Home shawl.....

This shawl is basically a large knitted triangle.  It measures a generous 64" from point to point and 29" down the back.  Here are the front and back views on an average size person:

It is a very simple shawl that involves a lot of mindless garter stitch knitting.  The end result is a shawl to keep someone warm indoors. If you prefer a delicate, lacy shawl to wear to a wedding, stop reading now!!

I made up the pattern as I went along.  I plan to knit it again.  So, for myself and anyone else who might like it, here it is:

  • Aran yarn or 2 thinner yarns held together to add up to 10 ply.
  • 5.5mm knitting needles.  My stitches fitted onto straight needles even at the widest point of the shawl.
  • Cast on 3 stitches.
  • Row 1: knit 3.
  • Row 2: slip 1 knitwise, knit through the front and back of the second stitch, knit to the end.
  • Row 3: slip 1 knitwise, knit to the end.
  • Repeat rows 2 and 3 until the shawl measures 32" across the top edge, ending on a row 3.
  • Row 4: slip 1 knitwise, knit to the end.
  • Row 5: slip 1 knitwise, knit to last 3 stitches, knit 2 together, knit 1.
  • Row 6: slip 1 knitwise, knit to the end.
  • Repeat rows 5 and 6 until there are only 4 stitches left.
  • Next row: slip 1 knitwise, knit 2 together, knit 1.
  • Next row: slip 1 knitwise, knit 2 together.
  • Next row: knit 2 together
  • Cut yarn, thread it through the last stitch and sew in the end securely.

Your choice of needle size will influence the amount of drape in this shawl.  I tried 4.5mm needles which produced a very dense fabric that was more like a rug!  I then tried 6mm needles but thought the stitches were a little too loose.  I eventually used 5.5mm needles which have produced a very warm shawl that will withstand daily use and regular washing.  But everyone knits to a different tension, so different needles will work for different people.

This pattern is a real yarn guzzler.  I used about 400g of oddments.  You could just use one colour if  preferred. If you are knitting in stripes, it might help to know that you will be knitting from the right hand corner to the left hand corner.  On my shawl I started with the green stripes and ended with the pink stripes.

As my shawl is garter stitch stripes and I always joined the new colours at the top edge, there is a definite right and wrong side.  But it might not be obvious to a non-knitter.  So I knitted 2 flowers and sewed them to the right side at the front points. These are also useful for weighing down the shawl to keep it in place.  You could add other decorations such as buttons, tassels or ribbons.  Or you could just leave the ends undecorated.

That's it.  When you sew in the yarn ends, your shawl is finished.  No blocking is required!  I found that commencing every row by slipping a stitch knitwise produced a firm edge that did not need any other additional edging.

This shawl has gone off to SIBOL from where the industrious Sue delivers shawls (and blankets) to care homes for the elderly.  Take a look at the SIBOL blog if you feel like knitting or crocheting a blanket or shawl.

Breaking news:  I uploaded this pattern to Ravelry here.  I'm chuffed to see that 14 people favorited or queued it within the first 2 hours.  Incidentally, most of these Ravellers live in countries such as Canada or Germany where the winters are cold.  I hope this shawl keeps them warm!

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Wednesday WIP...

This is what I am knitting at the moment.  It is a top-down jumper for a 3 year old child.  I chose this pattern because it is seamless which I think is important in a thick jumper.  I am actually combining 2 yarns:

  • Pure Gold 4 ply yarn in light blue
  • Borgs S.N.2 garn in light brown

The light blue yarn was part of a bargain joblot and the light brown yarn was kindly donated to me by Joanne of the Cup On The Bus blog.  I checked the Borgs yarn on Ravelry and discovered that it is 5 ply which I am not used to knitting with.  There is also a very limited range of patterns for 5 ply yarns.  So, by combining it with the light blue, I have been able to select from a wider range of patterns.  

I can't recommend the pattern yet.  I have just finished the raglan increases and have started on the main body.  So far, I have discovered 2 minor errors and 1 major error in the pattern.  This is a free pattern that has been translated into English from another language.  It is very good of the author to give away her pattern on Ravelry and she must be unaware of the errors.  For example, according to the pattern, if I have 220 stitches and place 48 x 2 onto holders for the sleeves I should be left with 200 stitches for the main body.  I don't think so!!!  I am actually left with 124 stitches and these seem to be enough for a roomy jumper.

I took a look at the French and Spanish versions of the pattern and can see that the sentence that is incorrect in the English version does not appear in those versions. So I have left a comment about the major error on the pattern page.  If it is corrected by the time I finish the jumper, I will definitely recommend it.  Meanwhile, the fact that only 9 knitters have completed this pattern is probably explained by the errors.  That is a pity as it is otherwise a simple pattern.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Off they go...

I hadn't intended to post this blanket, scarf and hat collection until I had more items ready.  But I was browsing through the Loving Hands website this morning and discovered that Operation Orphan has a delivery planned to go to Syria soon.  They also deliver blankets and clothing to children in other countries, so I am fairly confident that these items will reach someone who needs them.  Posting items to war zones and other far off places is a bit of a "fingers crossed" exercise.  But the least I can do is to try to help.

I have very limited space for storing finished items.  This is partly deliberate as I believe that my items do nobody any good until I post them off.  I had just the right size box and it would have been silly to waste it!  There is now a big empty space waiting for me to fill with more items and someone will be a bit more warm and comfortable.  Win win.

Friday 17 October 2014

A real red head....

Here's my latest knitted hat.  I used lovely red yarn that I bought cheaply in a summer bootfair.  I love the coloured speckles in it.  I made this slightly bigger than the last 3 hats because heads come in all shapes and sizes.

This hat was inspired by the Awesome Hat pattern.  But I swapped to stocking stitch after the ribbed brim as I think it shows off the yarn better.

My obsession with neat hat crowns continues.  So here is the crown:

I love it!

This has to be a short blog post.  The 3 girls for whom I knitted the little fingerless gloves are arriving tomorrow.  I will finally find out if they fit them!  

Saturday 11 October 2014

The big blanket is finished.....

I'm delighted to say that I have just finished my big crochet blanket. It measures 40" x 57" and is destined for Operation Orphan which is an organisation that distributes clothing and blankets to children in need around the world.

I'm really pleased with how this turned out.  As it will be going to a cold country, I chose real wool Aran yarns.  I can't imagine this blanket will ever be thrown into a washing machine.  So the chances of it being ruined are minimal.  The teal yarn came from a lucky charity shop find.  The rest of the yarn was donated to me by Joanne of the Cup On The Bus blog.  Thanks again, Joanne.  I still have enough of your yarn to make another blanket or lots of hats and scarves.

I used the wonderful free Random Stripe Generator to plan the stripes.  This is worth considering if you make a lot of stripy things.  You simply input your colours and number of required rows and it throws up lots of different suggestions.  

I didn't follow any particular pattern.  I used a 5mm hook and crocheted 160 rows of 125 half trebles (UK).

CONFESSION TIME: I ended the blanket with 2 fewer stitches than I started with .  I have absolutely no idea how this happened, especially as I was very careful.  It doesn't show over such a big blanket.  But one of my aims in life now is to complete one of these blankets without losing or gaining any stitches.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Another awesome hat....

Here is another hat that I have just knitted from the Awesome Hat pattern.  I forgot to mention last time that, apart from the neat decreases, another feature is that the ribbing lines up when the brim is folded.  So the knit and purl rows continue along the hat instead of switching places at the fold line.  That is just a minor detail, but I like it.

This is how the neat decreases look in ribbing:

I'm really glad I bought this glass head model as it shows off the hat perfectly.  I feel one more of these hats in my near future.  Then I might move on to other projects.....

Friday 3 October 2014

The Big Knit campaign...

I've been knitting these little hats for the Innocent Smoothie Age UK appeal.  They eventually end up on bottles of smoothies in supermarkets and a 25p donation goes to Age UK for every bottle sold.  There is more information about the appeal here.  The deadline isn't until November 14th.  But I decided that I wouldn't have time to knit any more of these.  So they are going in the post now.

Apologies for the poor photo.  My new computer needs to go to the repair shop to sort out the glass of water that I accidentally spilled over it.  Hey ho!  I am back on my old computer which doesn't have such a good photo editing function.  I am surprisingly calm about wrecking a good computer.  I had already been cutting down on my computer time and my old computer might turn out to be all I need.  Time will tell!

Sunday 28 September 2014

Introducing SIBOL.....

Just a quick post today to introduce a lovely organisation called SIBOL which is an abbreviation for Sunshine International Blankets of Love.  It is run by the tireless Sue who is really good at drumming up support from knitters and crocheters.  The completed blankets and shawls are dropped off at care homes in the UK and we have recently started to make some smaller items such as hats, gloves and scarves to give to the residents as C******** gifts.

Sue always lets you know when your items have arrived and also when they have been delivered to the homes.  It is so satisfying to see a blanket that you made actually in situ in its new home.

For people who use Ravelry, there is a friendly SIBOL group here.

Friday 26 September 2014

Fingerless gloves...

Three nieces are coming to visit next month and I wanted to give them a little gift each.  I thought fingerless mitts might be welcome at this time of year.  I phoned their parents just to make sure and they suggested the colours of the girls' favourite football team.  They don't simply follow this team; they are IN it.  The team strip is dark blue with light blue trimmings including 3 stripes.

I found the following Catchy fingerless mitts pattern which gets good reviews on Ravelry.  I amended the pattern slightly as I wanted only 3 stripes.  I'm really pleased with the way they turned out.  I have knitted simple fingerless gloves before.  But these are the first that I have knitted in the round and with thumbs.  They fit my smallish adult hand snugly and I'm keeping my fingers crossed (pun intended) that they fit the girls' slightly smaller hands.  I want them to be a surprise so I couldn't ask the parents to measure them!

These gloves use a tiny amount of yarn and could be knitted at the rate of one per day.... if I had nothing else to do!  I knitted the first four fairly quickly and then developed the dreaded "second sock" syndrome.  I just couldn't find the impetus to cast on the fifth glove.  Eventually I had to as the stress of thinking about the unfinished project began to outweigh the missing mojo.

I recommend this pattern and will probably knit it again in the future.  But, for now, I am really glad I have finished all six.

Monday 15 September 2014

A quick peek....

My big crochet blanket has already passed the halfway point.  This is now it looks now.  The photo shows the colours very well.  (Please ignore the has been folded up.)  I think I was very lucky to find the job lot of teal Aran yarn in a charity shop.  It complements perfectly the cream and beige that was donated to me by Joanne of the Cup On The Bus blog.

I'm being very good about crocheting at least 2 rows of this blanket at the end of each day.  That doesn't sound like much but I have other smaller projects in progress and the calmer life I was looking forward to after a hectic summer has been put on hold by some big DIY projects at home.