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 26 February 2014

I'm a lucky winner...

Here is the lovely pendant I won in a giveway hosted by Terri on her Cache-Mire blog. The link takes you to her page that describes all the work that goes into these handmade pendants.  

This pendant is a real work of art.  I can't believe I now own something that was made from Tallahassee pine needles.  The amber colour in the centre is exactly what I would have chosen.  I already have some amber earrings that I bought while on holiday in Poland and they all match beautifully.

Thank you, Terri, for your international giveaway.  It is probably the closest I will ever get to a transatlantic holiday!

Monday 24 February 2014

Vest progress report....

This is how far I have progressed with my Debbie Bliss vest.  I can't believe that I have used only 200g of yarn to knit the front and part of the back.  4 ply goes a lot further than dk yarn.  I like my jumpers to be long and this is going to be hip length rather than the waist length in the pattern.  Luckily I was given plenty of this yarn at Christmas.  I'm trying to use it up on this vest as I can't think of what else to use it for.

I haven't blocked the front yet, but the pattern up the centre and along the neck edge is visible.  The back is just stocking stitch and should knit up quickly.  Then I have to knit the arm and neck borders.  This will be interesting as the pattern uses a method that is new to me.  Instead of picking up stitches, I have to knit long strips and sew them on.  I could change that if I wanted to.  But I liked this pattern when I found it so I will stick with it.

I have other projects on the go, so I'm not rushing to finish this one.  If it is ready by the time warmer weather arrives I will be happy.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Nice backside......

I am taking part in the Knit-a-block-a-week challenge which is being hosted on Linda's Crafty Corner blog.  We are knitting blocks from Jan Eaton's "200 Knitted Blocks For Blankets, Throws and Afghans".  This week I knitted Block 197 which is called "Harris".  It is a very effective multi-coloured block that looks more complicated than it really is.  It is a mixture of knit stitches and slip stitches with absolutely no purl stitches.  Here is the front of my block:

Despite appearances, each row is knitted with just one colour yarn and the other yarn is held at the side until it is needed.  This gives a very neat appearance to the back of the square:

There are no long threads to get caught on anything or to trap fingers and toes.

I have used yellow as the main colour and 2 other shades as background colours.  I like the ribbon effect.  It would look great in any colour combinations....pastels, neutrals, or brights.

I couldn't resist giving this blog post a cheeky title!

Monday 17 February 2014

Crochet poll...

I'm getting really excited by the prospect of crocheting my first granny square blanket. (Sad, but I don't get out much).   I've sorted out a bag of Aran wool and am going to make a start as soon as I have finished a couple of current projects.

One thing I have learned about crochet is that it is less of an exact art than knitting. Crochet is more adaptable and forgiving than knitting.  For decades I have followed knitting patterns and ended up with the expected result.  I've been looking at granny square patterns and the corners seem to vary from 2 to 3 chain stitches.  On forums, however, some crocheters say they chain only 1 stitch and some say they chain zero stitches.  No wonder I am confused!!!!

I would really love to hear what you lovely crocheters do.  Please vote in the poll which can be found at the top of my right hand sidebar.  Please vote according to what YOU normally do.

If you would like to leave a comment at the end of this blog to explain why you chain 0,1,2, or 3 stitches, that would be great as well.

The poll is open until March 24th by which time I will probably be reaching for my hook.  I will publish the poll results on March 25th.

Friday 14 February 2014

My easy crochet watch strap....

Take one broken watch strap.....

Remove it....

Crochet a new strap.....

Ta dah!....

My watch battery was still working but the strap was literally hanging on by a thread.  I had visions of it dropping off in the street, so I decided to make another strap.  

This is what I did:
  • I used a 3mm crochet hook and a fine yarn.  It was either 2 or 3 ply.  Yarn such as cotton works better than stretchy yarn.
  • I measured the existing watch strap and used those measurements for my new strap.
  • I chained for the required length.
  • Then I worked a double crochet (UK) into the second chain from the hook and then into every chain.
  • When I reached the end of the chain, I chained one stitch and worked a double crochet (UK) into the first stitch of the chain.
  • I then worked double crochet (UK) stitches back up the other side of the chain.
  • I worked a slip stitch into the last chain stitch and cut the yarn leaving an end measuring about 7 inches. 
This method means that the original chain is in the centre of 2 rows of double crochet stitches.  I have tried to show that in this photo....

The double crochet stitches give a strong edge to the holey chain.  These holes will become useful when the strap is finished.
  • I sewed this length in place by threading it through the gap in the metal watch casing, folding it over and stitching it down with the yarn end.
  • I made another length using the above method.
  • I made 2 loops by chaining 10 stitches and joining with a slip stitch.
  • I slid these 2 loops onto the second length.
  • I sewed that length onto the watch.
  • I attached the buckle to the end of this length.  It was fiddly to do, but I simply copied the way it was on the existing strap.
  • I sewed the buckle end of the strap down, being careful to "trap" one of the loops.
The holes in the original chain are perfect for using with the buckle to close the strap.
I have prolonged the life of my watch and it is actually very comfortable to wear.

This method is very adaptable.  The thickness of yarn and size of hook can be changed if preferred.  If you don't have a watch buckle, you could simply use a couple of press studs to fasten it.

I am not a quick crocheter but I finished this in less that 2 hours.  An experienced crocheter could probably halve that time.  The options are endless....choose a bright colour, add decorations etc etc.

Saturday 8 February 2014

Quick and easy baby present....

I just found out that my Pilates teacher is going on maternity leave.  The whole class gave her lots of baby presents at Christmas because she wasn't sure how long she would be able to teach.  The baby girl is due next month and our teacher has finally decided she has taught her last roll down for a while!

I was literally blown home from yesterday's Pilates lesson and a trip to the shops was not an inviting prospect.  So I searched through my patterns and bags of wool.  This hat is a firm tried-and-tested favourite pattern.  It can be found here.   I knitted the six months size as I'm sure she will already have many newborn clothes.

 It knitted up in a few hours and I just used an oddment of cream yarn for the ribbing and some leftover King Cole Comfort Prints dk yarn for the rest of the hat.  I love this yarn for baby clothes and always have some of it "in stock". 

I wish I had known about this pattern when my own daughter was a baby.  It is so easy and practical.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

A vest in progress...

The most thoughtful gift I received last Christmas was 10 balls of Debbie Bliss yarn from my husband.  He says he put a lot of research into it....which I suspect just involved asking the ladies in his office.  I was thrilled with the present and Hubby was thrilled that I was thrilled. 

Not wishing to sound ungrateful, I wouldn't have chosen 4 ply or even this colour.  But I found a pattern for a vest top with interesting detail on the front.  It is actually knitting up very pleasantly.  The yarn is 100% wool but it is also machine washable.  It fits in with my 2014 resolution to update/upgrade my knitwear.  It is a splitty yarn which surprised me as I had heard good things about Debbie Bliss.  But the finished feel is smooth and silky.  The pale stone colour goes well with some of my blouses.  The ladies in the office have good taste.

I have set myself a target of knitting one pattern repeat each day.  It will grow reasonably quickly if I manage that and it should be ready if we ever get any spring-like weather.

One problem with the yarn is that it is almost exactly the same colour as my knitting needles.  That causes a bit of eye strain.  I told Hubby that I COULD buy different colour needles but I DON'T USUALLY KNIT WITH 4 PLY.  Hopefully, he might remember that next time he wants to surprise me with wool!

Monday 3 February 2014

The blanket is finished.....

Here is the blanket I have been sewing up recently for SIBOL.  As you can see, the squares are very varied and posed quite a challenge.  I brought them all up to more or less the same size and edged them with the same pastel green ....or is it blue?  It looks like a baby green to me but I think some people call it duck egg blue.  The ball of wool is actually the large one in the picture of wool at the top of my blog.  That means it is at least 18 months old but probably even older as I can't remember where this came from.  There is still a lot of it left even after edging the squares, sewing them together and edging the whole blanket.

There was one square left over and I didn't want to waste somebody's hard work.  So I added it as a little pocket for tissues, mints, or even mobile phones.  This blanket is going to an elderly persons' care home and 70 is the new 50!

I hope all the knitters and crocheters who made the squares are happy with the end result.  It was an international team effort.  The centre crochet square was sent all the way from the Netherlands.  (SIBOL welcomes completed blankets and shawls but is no longer able to accept orphan squares.)

I had never crocheted until about 2 years ago and progress has been very slow.  This blanket was a great incentive to "get on with it".  I had to learn how to add extra rows to granny squares and I now understand how they are made and wonder why I have previously made such heavy weather over it.  There is an expression about "over thinking" something and I think that is true of me and crochet.  I also added a shell edging and found it much quicker than knitting.  I will definitely use both techniques again in the future.

The photo background is a bit colourful as it is children's floor mats from the Early Learning Centre.  I use them when I am blocking and drying larger items.   They work very well as they are foam rubber and pins stick in easily.  I've just noticed the bright colours are showing through the crochet squares, which I hadn't intended.  The blanket is now safely boxed up and ready for posting, so another photo isn't possible. Daylight hours this month have been mainly gloomy and not conducive to good indoor photos.  The constant rain has made outdoor photography a distant memory. Roll on summer.