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!!

Monday 30 June 2014

Kindle cover completed......

I usually like to have one slow and one fast work in progress.  This was last week's fast one; a knitted Kindle or iPad cover for my sister who is into gadgets like these.  I found the pattern in a library book but sadly didn't make a note of the author and title.  It was very easy to knit as it is simply a long piece of knitting folded almost in half with a couple of inches remaining to use as a button flap.

The only difficult part of the pattern was the horizontal button holes which take three rows of stocking stitch to complete.  I pulled out two botched attempts and eventually found an online tutorial for a one-row horizontal button hole which looked much neater.  Here is the tutorial:

The buttons don't show up clearly in the photo but they are lovely chunky black buttons that I have had for years.  I can't remember where they came from, but I probably cut them off an old garment.  I never throw away buttons!

I rarely recommend yarn, but this one is worth a mention.  It is Wendy Aran 400g which is a mix of wool and acrylic.  It is pale silvery grey with tiny black fuzzy threads throughout.  It was lovely to knit with and I have lots left over for scarves or hats.

Thursday 26 June 2014

How to knit a v neck on a circular needle.....updated tutorial

I posted this tutorial in January 2013 and it has received many visits and comments.  So here it is updated and improved version rewritten to address some of the comments that I received.  

Spoiler alert
This is a long and detailed tutorial.  Reading it takes longer than actually knitting the v section of the neckline. After the first round, you will find the instructions very easy to follow. If you want to head straight to the pattern, scroll down to Lights, Camera, Action. 

I spent many hours knitting a jumper for my daughter. She chose the pattern and I wanted to do it justice. However, it had been translated into English from another language and had lost some detail along the way.
I knitted the front and back of the jumper and followed the instructions to sew them together at the shoulders. The pattern then called for knitting the edging to the v neck in the round on one circular needle. This is where my problems began because the pattern was very vague about exactly how to do this.
In short, I had to rip out 2 botched attempts and go for lots of calming walks.

I then performed an Internet search and found many different methods of knitting a v neck in the round. I cast some stitches onto a very short circular needle and tried some of them but none looked good with Aran wool which shows up every stitch very clearly.

Eventually, I went back to my original pattern and pored over it until I understood what to do. This took far longer than I was happy with. So, in case I ever knit another v neck jumper, I just want to record the detailed instructions here. If anyone else finds them useful, that will be a 
bonus. You're welcome!

Setting the scene
I was knitting with Aran wool, but this method will work with any weight yarn. I had already sewn the shoulders of the jumper together. My v neck edging was in single rib and I decreased 2 stitches on every row.

Lights, camera, action
By following these steps, I ended up with a neckline that looked good.
  • pick up and knit with a circular needle the number of stitches specified in your pattern. For neatness, commence picking up at one of the shoulders.
  • mark the centre stitch at the bottom of the v with a safety pin or other marker. 
  • round 1: starting with a k1, work the k1 p1 rib until one stitch before the centre stitch. 
The stitch before the centre stitch is waiting to be worked

  • with the yarn at the back of your work, slip the next stitch purlwise onto the right hand needle. (NB: when I use the term "purlwise" it is to imply that the stitch should be slipped without twisting it. In the rest of the pattern, all stitches that are slipped are done without twisting them.)
  • slip the centre stitch onto a cable needle and keep it to the front of your work. 
  • remove the safety pin.

The centre stitch is on a cable needle at the front of the work

  • slip the last stitch from the right hand needle back onto the left hand needle.
  • knit together the first two stitches on the left hand needle. This is the first decrease.

Knitting two stitches together for the first decrease

  • you now have to knit the second decrease. I am removing my original instructions and replacing them with a method suggested by Ian Young. I have also removed some photos because they do not match Ian Young's method. His method is easier and safer than my original method and it is the one I follow when knitting a v neck in the round. Thank you, Ian Young!
  • The "Ian Young" method 

    • Slip the stitch from the cable needle onto the left needle. Then slip the last stitch from the right needle onto the left needle.  With your fingers, or maybe a crochet hook, carefully pull the stitch that was on the cable needle over this last stitch. This is now your new centre stitch. So, insert the safety pin into it. Return this stitch to your right needle and carry on ribbing. 
    • Please note: for best results, the ribbing at both sides of the centre stitch should be mirrored. So, for example, if your last ribbed stitch before the centre stitch was a knit stitch your first ribbed stitch after the centre stitch should be a knit stitch. Likewise, if the last stitch before the centre stitch was purl the first stitch should be purl.
    • Continue ribbing to the end of round 1. Depending on how many stitches you originally picked up, your last stitch could be a knit or purl stitch. If it is a purl stitch, commence round 2 with a k1 p1 rib. If it is a knit stitch, knit it together with the first knit stitch on round 2 in order to keep the k1 p1 ribbing correct. From round 2 onwards you will always end on a purl stitch.
  • complete the number of rounds as specified in your pattern.
  • cast off ribwise. The decreasing process described above is also done on this cast off row.
Take a bow!

You have now completed your v neckline and should have a neat finish similar to my first photo above.

Boring but necessary: this tutorial is all my own work.  I am happy for you to refer to it and even to publish links to it. But please don't reproduce the text or photos on any other website or blog without my permission.  Many thanks.

Friday 20 June 2014

Here they come and off they go.....

We are just hours away from welcoming my brother-in-law, his wife and 2 children to London for their holidays.  The weekend looks like a whirl of meals out, walks, theatre visits and shopping.  There won't be much time for crafting.

I had exactly enough items to fill a charity box and it has now gone off to Operation Orphan which is an organisation that distributes blankets and clothing to children in need around the world.  So they will soon be richer by 1 giant crochet blanket, 1 baby jacket and 8 baby hats of varying sizes.

I get a mini buzz when I manage to send off a parcel.  It's a good feeling to clear the decks.  I now officially have only 1 project in progress.  But that will change just as soon as I have some free time to myself!

Monday 16 June 2014

Ta dah!!! The giant crochet blanket is finished.....

I started this giant crochet blanket at the beginning of April and finished it today....phew!  I wasn't really working to a deadline, but we have relatives coming to London at the weekend and I won't have much time for crafting.  I knew I would feel more relaxed if this was finished, so I pulled out all the stops.

The blanket will go off to Operation Orphan.  They like blankets to be single bed size.  I was aiming for 60" x 40" and actually ended up with 60" x 50" due to not measuring my foundation chain carefully enough!  

This blanket will easily cover 2 children.  People who know me now would be surprised at my start in life.  We slept 4 in a bed and had coats over us instead of blankets.  I would have loved a blanket like this.  Without getting too sentimental, making this blanket felt a bit like reaching out to my former self who shivered with ice on the inside of the bedroom window and someone else's elbow up her nose!!  At least I can laugh about it now.

Being a bit of a sadist, I decided to count how many stitches I started with and how many I ended up with. Somehow I had one more stitch in my last row than in my first.  I suspect that happened during one of the black stripes.  Someone warned me about crocheting with black yarn, but I carried on regardless.  It doesn't show and I'm not going to fret about it.  In fact, I'm pleased it was only 1 extra stitch as this is the biggest thing I have ever crocheted.  There are over 24,000 stitches in this blanket......of which nearly 5000 were as a result of my not measuring the starting chain correctly.  I'll know in future!

I now know that the following statistics will produce a blanket measuring 60" x 40":
Aran yarn
5mm crochet hook
Trebles (UK)
124 stitches per row
160 rows

I loved crocheting this blanket and I'm already planning my next one.  There are lots of exclamation marks in this post.  That's because I feel like celebrating with a Mexican wave and a can of my favourite pear cider!!!!!

Friday 13 June 2014

Jack and Jill hats...

I've nearly finished the big crochet blanket.  But today was the hottest day of the year so far and the last few days have been hot as well....hardly conducive to crocheting giant blankets.  So I pulled out my favourite hat pattern and knitted another two in newborn size.  

I know I didn't buy this yarn, so it must have been one of many generous donations.  I had just enough pink and blue in a slightly strange knobbly texture which wasn't very easy to knit with.  But these little hats are quick to make and will keep two new babies snug.  I will pop them into the charity box as soon as the big blanket is finished.

These hats reminded me of twins I knew many years ago.  They were known as Jack and Jill when they were children even though those were not their real names. Memories...

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Quick scrunchie....

From this..... this in less than an hour.

My daughter needs to tie her hair back for her weekend teashop job.  I had some material left over after making a skirt for her.  She absolutely loves this material and didn't want to waste any.  So I found an easy tutorial and made my first ever hair scrunchie.

There are lots of online tutorials available.  Some are so complicated that I simply couldn't understand them.  A scrunchie is basically a piece of elastic encased in a tube of material.  I knew it wasn't brain surgery so I persevered until I found a simple tutorial and here it is.

For my scrunchie, I made a couple of changes.  I found the measurements in the tutorial a little too big.  Just for comparison, the blue scrunchie above was made with material measuring 18" x 3".  I was aiming for a slightly different effect.  So I finally settled on 16" x 4" for the material and 7" for the elastic. I hand stitched the elastic ends together instead of tying a knot as I think that gives a stronger finish. I also hand stitched the ends of the scrunchie together because I didn't think my basic sewing machine would cope with sewing through several layers of material and elastic.

So this first scrunchie involved some trial and error and a certain amount of faffing about.  My next scrunchie will take much less time.  A sewing expert could probably make one of these in a few minutes.  They would  be great for children to make as sewing the whole thing by hand is a definite possibility.  For a child's scrunchie, the material would probably need to be only 14" x 3".  

If you make clothes for your children or yourself, these are a simple way to coordinate an outfit with matching accessories.  They would also be great fund raisers at fetes and craft fairs.

Friday 6 June 2014

...and now, a half circle skirt.....

My daughter fell in love with some material recently and we bought what was left in the shop.  There wasn't enough for a full circle skirt, so Daughter set it aside for shorts. Then, to my relief, she changed her mind and asked me to make another skirt.

I worked out that there was enough material for a half circle skirt and that is what I made.  There are lots of tutorials for making these skirts.  But I eventually just followed the same instructions for making a full circle skirt.  I like to open the material out to just one layer for cutting.  There is quite a bit of maths involved, but I now know that to fit a waist of 26" and hips of 36" I need to cut out a semi-circle of 10" plus a little bit for a seam allowance.* (A seam is unavoidable in a half circle skirt). On either side of this semi-circle, there has to be enough material to allow for the final length and a small hem.

Note to self:  material measuring 60" x 36" was enough for a half circle skirt 24" long.

The photo shows Daughter wearing the skirt with her own 21st century twist.  The pesky denim jacket is still there and those are black leggings which look quite good with the skirt.  Anyone with eagle eyes might spot that she is holding a matching hair scrunchie in her right hand.  That will be the subject of a future blog post.

* when making a full circle skirt the waist radius needs to be only 5" and no seam allowance is necessary if the material is large enough to cut the circle without a seam. 

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Even more baby hats.....

When I get a bee in my bonnet, I say "Hello, Bee".  Last week I became slightly obsessed with knitting baby hats from my favourite pattern.  I keep my yarn scraps under control by saving them in a small wooden box.  When the box is too full, I simply have to use them.  

I realised I had enough scraps to make some warm hats and I really enjoyed choosing which colours would work well together. There are various sizes here ranging from newborn to 12 months old and they will eventually go off to a children's charity.

The little bee has buzzed off now to pastures new and my scraps box is a little emptier.