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!!

Sunday 30 March 2014

I just couldn't resist....

I've been itching to start a crochet blanket for some time.  I have quite a lot a Aran wool which came to me from a generous donor.  It is 100% wool and perfect for making into a child's blanket for countries where night time temperatures are low and where washing, if it happens, will be by hand rather than machine.

The wool I am going to use for the blanket is cream, grey and black.  The photos shows a sample of each colour.  Cream will probably get grubby quite quickly, but I have to use if for something and I decided that keeping a child warm was more important than worrying about a bit of dirt.  This colour combination is not an obvious choice.  But I found a link to the wonderful Random Stripe Generator.  I played around with it for a while until it produced a stripe pattern that I really like.  This useful tool produces a chart showing the number of rows for each colour and I can cross them off on the chart as I make progress.

I cast on yesterday.  I have shelved the idea of a large granny square in favour of a more closely-woven blanket.  I am simply just crocheting rows of half trebles(UK). This will be a mindless project, but that is the intention.  I am just going to pick it up occasionally and crochet a row or two.  There is no rush to finish it and that is good because I really enjoyed the couple of rows I crocheted yesterday.

The red and brown yarn in the photo are bargains I found at a boot fair this morning.  I was very restrained.  The lady had a large sack of wool and knitting patterns for sale at 50p per item..  My Hubby, who has surprised me by taking an interest in wool, asked how much she wanted for the whole lot.  The price was £5.  This was even more of a bargain, but I could see that I would never use some of the wool and I didn't really want the patterns.  So I just bought what I know I will use.  The brown yarn will make one or two hats and there is plenty of the red yarn for a child's jumper; total cost £1.

This has been a good day so far....peaceful and productive.  Long may it last...

Friday 28 March 2014

All beiged out.......

This is what I knitted with the Debbie Bliss 4 ply wool that Hubby gave me for Christmas.  It's a vest top and I might take a better photo when it has finished drying.  But I was so chuffed to have finally finished it that I whipped out the camera.  It looks a bit flat here, but I suppose it should as it is blocking.  This photo just shows the unusual pattern up the centre and on either side of the neckline.  The neck itself is unusual because it is a long strip of ribbing sewn on.  The edges of the short sleeves were finished the same way.  So, although it was boring to knit acres of stocking stitch, my interest was held by the pattern on the front.  

I am not a lover of beige but this colour will go with a lot of my blouses and I can see myself wearing it a lot.  Hubby and Daughter both like it, which is amazing.  It is not a colour or type of wool that I would have chosen myself, but I can tell that Hubby is pleased that I knitted something with the wool he (or the staff in his office) chose for me.  I have dropped a few hints that the wool is a little thinner than I would have chosen.  But I don't think they registered.  Oh dear!

I can't say how pleased I am that I can now start knitting something else....maybe something smaller, quicker and more colourful.

Just editing this to show the photo of the full top after it dried.  The photo makes it look huge.  It is actually just long enough to cover my hips and wide enough to be loose and comfortable over tops.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

My fickle mind!...

Having decided that a granny square with 2 chain stitches in the corners was the best for me, I then made this square with 3 chain stitches in each corner.  There was method in my madness.  The square covers the top of a useful but shabby (not chic) cupboard.  I wanted the wood to show through, so big holes were perfect for this square.

I used oddments from my Aran collection and these colours go with the room decor. The dark brown was a tiny ball that wasn't much use for anything, and the lighter brown is a particularly nasty yarn that I don't like but can't justify throwing away. This square used up most of the browns and they blend in nicely.  

This took just a few hours to make, though I maybe should have spent a bit longer on the centre which is a bit wonky.  I'm chuffed that I managed to make something useful from yarn that was either free or very cheap.  This square makes me smile every time I notice it.  If I saw this in a shop, I would probably buy it.

I am gradually starting to think of myself as someone who can crochet.  Woo hoo!

Monday 24 March 2014

Crochet poll result...

I recently created a poll asking how many stitches people crochet at the corners of granny squares.  Here are the results:

1 chain stitch = 7%
2 chain stitches = 63%
3 chain stitches = 30%

I decided to crochet some squares for myself as people pointed out that everybody's tension varies.  Bear in mind that these are my first ever granny squares and were crocheted fairly quickly with little attention to neatness.

This square has one chain stitch in each corner:

It is my least favourite square as it looks crowded and is almost trying to be a circle!  It was the hardest square to crochet, especially the first couple of rounds when it was hard to remember where the corners and sides were.

This square has two chain stitches in each corner: 

It is the squarest of the three squares and was the easiest to crochet.  However, it suffers from the criss cross effect that is just visible from corner to corner.  I say "suffer" because I am not keen on this look though I know others might not even notice it.

This square has three chain stitches in each corner:

This square is a lot more open than the other two and has the advantage of weighing less per inch and uses less yarn.  I thought chaining three chain stitches would make the corner holes huge.  But in fact it made them roughly the same size as the rest of the holes in the square.  This gives a more even effect without an obvious criss cross. However, the holes might be too big for a blanket and it is already trying to lose its square shape.  Over a large blanket, this might become a design problem.

Trying the squares for myself was a worthwhile exercise.  I thought one corner chain sounded good, but I don't like the result.  Deciding between 2 and 3 corner stitches is more difficult.  The differences are not huge over a small square, but over a blanket would be more obvious.  So it looks like the majority who voted are right and the square with two corner stitches is the winner.

There are different ways to crochet a simple granny square. The most helpful Youtube video I found was by Catalina Stan who goes into great detail and is slow enough for a beginner to follow.  She has made many useful crochet videos including one on how to make a more more solid granny square which might be more suitable for a blanket.  I have rejected that pattern as the corner holes are huge which is a look I have been trying to avoid.  But watching the video was part of my learning curve.  It set me thinking that a more solid stitch might be better for the child size blanket I am aiming for.

I learned a lot.  I used to think I would never be able to crochet a square.  Now I understand the basics.  I have even found out ways to give a more professional finish by turning the work and by starting each round with 3 trebles (UK) rather than a chain 3 and 2 trebles (UK).  All that would have been gobbledygook to me a short time ago.  I didn't use those two techniques for these squares but will try to when I eventually start the blanket.  

Thank you to everyone who voted in the poll.  It was a bit of fun and you really helped me with this project.  I am busy with other things at the moment and it will probably be late spring or early summer before I can make a start on my blanket.  Then it will be a lengthy work in progress.  I am looking forward to the day when I can write a blog post about the finished blanket.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Mission accomplished: part two...

Ta dah!  This is the infinity scarf that I managed to knit with the rest of the "horrible yarn" that Fiona of the FC Knits blog sent to me as a challenge.  This was a 50g ball of J. C. Brett's Classic Lace Knitting yarn. It was definitely the most difficult yarn I have ever knitted with.  It is a ladder lace i.e. 2 very thin strands joined together at regular intervals.

I researched what other knitters have made with this type of yarn.  Cowls and scarves won the vote.  I started by trying to knit a cowl on a circular needle but the yarn just caught on the joins in the needle.  So I used size 8mm straight needles, cast on 30 stitches and simply knitted rows of garter stitch until the yarn was used up.  The result is quite spectacular and my photo doesn't really do it justice.  There are 150 metres of yarn in one 50g ball and the finished scarf measured 50 inches or 127 cms long.  I thought that was pretty amazing.

One of my nieces will be 18 in May and I am planning to add this to her presents.  She has the typical Celtic colouring of pale skin and dark hair.  This black, silver and pink scarf will suit her perfectly.  She is very fashionable so I made the scarf a little more special by sewing the two ends together to form a type of infinity scarf.  I decided not to twist the scarf before joining the ends as I thought the ladders would become very tangled and stick to each other like velcro.  The scarf is just long enough to wrap twice around the neck and it hangs beautifully.  My daughter who is 2 years older assures me that my niece will love it.

Thanks again, Fiona.  I have to admit that I probably might have given up with this yarn if it hadn't been sent to me as a challenge!  I've estimated there are approximately 3000 stitches in this scarf.  Almost every stitch had to be pulled away from its neighbour before I could knit it.  I'm really pleased with how this has turned out and even more pleased that it is finished.  Woo hoo!

Saturday 15 March 2014

My lucky day...

Today I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.  My walk home from the gym takes me along a road which is one of the richest in the area.  I noticed that one family seemed to be having a table sale in their front garden.  I've seen that in other areas but never in this particular street.  I had very little money on me but curiosity overcame me and I crossed the road to take a closer look.

Most of the items seemed to be books, cups, and cushions.  But my eagle eyes spotted a bag of yarn under the table.  I had to wait patiently for a couple of people to move before I could dive in.  I thought I could maybe afford one ball of wool.  "How much is the wool?" I asked and the magic reply came "Take it.  Everything is free." It turns out that the family is moving and just wants to clear out a few things.  I thanked them effusively.  Other people were trying to give them money, but they thought that was really funny.

So I am now the happy owner of lots of yarn.  Most of it is dk acrylic which is perfect for some of my charity knitting.  There was also a patchwork knitting bag and a size 4.00mm crochet hook which will be very useful as I amazingly didn't already have that size.  

The yarn was very clean.  I put it out in the sunny garden for an airing, but it didn't really need it.  I've just spent a happy hour sorting it into various weights and colours and I can already see a baby blanket and other baby items waiting to be knitted/crocheted.  How lucky am I..........

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Mission accomplished: part one....

Here are the two hats I knitted with the Rowan Summer Tweed yarn that was sent to me as a challenge by Fiona of the FC Knits blog.  I have knitted with some difficult yarns over the last 50 (!) years and this one probably scores 7/10 on the difficulty scale.  Its knobbly texture makes getting into a smooth knitting rhythm virtually impossible.  I would baulk at knitting a whole jumper with this yarn as it would probably take forever.  

BUT, it was absolutely perfect for the pattern I chose.   The cables section of the hat is best knitted slowly as counting and concentration are involved, so speed knitting is not necessary. The whole hat measures only 6 inches high in the toddler size, so it doesn't take very long.  The tweedy texture of this yarn makes the cables "pop". Though a summer weight yarn, I'm hoping that the cables and ribbing will add some extra warmth as these two hats are destined for a children's charity.

I loved this hat pattern.  The author suggests learning how to knit cables without a cable needle to save time.  I researched and learned the method but chickened out of actually using it as it involves dropping stitches and I had visions of them disappearing.  I decided it would be quicker if I used a cable needles and it was definitely a lot safer!

I have saved this pattern as I will definitely knit it again.  It comes in various sizes including "adult".  Using a more squishy Aran yarn would result in a softer, warmer hat though the cables might be less obvious.

Thanks for the yarn, Fiona.  There was just enough for 2 hats with a tiny amount left over for my bag of Aran oddments.  I have already started working on part two of your challenge.....but that's another story....

Thursday 6 March 2014

Can she do it? Yes, she can...

Last year I blogged about knitting hats with some really strange yarn.  I think I was very rude and called it "horrible yarn".  Fiona of the FC Knits blog read my posting and we entered into a little bloggy banter about impossible, problem yarns.  Fiona had some unloved yarn and challenged me to make use of it.  I picked up the gauntlet and a parcel arrived.  It contained 3 different types of yarn. 

Here is what I am knitting with some of it:

I love this shade of mauve.  Fiona told me the yarn is "Rowan Summer Tweed" so I was able to look it up on Ravelry where there are many reviews....some good, some not so good.  The main problem seems to be that it is slightly knobbly and therefore difficult to pull through each stitch.  But if you pull too hard, it breaks.  Another slightly negative feature is that, though it is Aran weight, it is not very warm.  This is probably because it it a mixture of silk and cotton.  (Note to self: it is called Summer Tweed for a reason!)

I toyed with the idea of knitting a small summer dress and can't quite remember why I decided not to.  There possibly isn't enough yarn for a dress.   Instead, I have cast on a child's hat. I like knitting hats "in the round" and I enjoy knitting cables, so I chose the Nottingham hat pattern.  I think the cables and ribbing will make this warm enough.

This would be a very quick hat to knit, but I am not rushing it as I have other projects in progress.  I will post another photo when it is finished.  Then I will pick more yarn from Fiona's parcel.  But that's another story...

Saturday 1 March 2014

Teddy bear glove puppets...

Because I am working on large items such as blankets and adult-size jumpers, I haven't had many finished objects recently.  I wanted to change that, so half my knitting time this week has been devoted to making these teddy bear glove puppets.  

The yarn came from a convent that was closing down.  I usually find yellow hard to use but this was just crying out to be turned into teddy bears.  Inspired by the forthcoming season of spring shoots and shamrocks, I added little green bows and sewed them in place with the addition of clear buttons that also came from the convent.

These glove puppets will eventually go to Samaritan's Purse  which is an organisation that delivers shoeboxes full of useful items to children who live in areas of crisis and poverty.  The pattern is very easy and came from

Here is a quote from the Samaritan's Purse website:

"Playing with a glove puppet has been found to be very therapeutic for a child suffering from trauma or isolation – the puppet becomes a little friend to talk to. The puppets are also a great way for the children to find creative ways of making their friends smile!"

I couldn't have put it better myself!