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 31 August 2014

An awesome hat.....

I rarely buy knitting patterns as so many are available free.  But I made an exception last year when I saw the Awesome Hat pattern on Ravelry.  What attracted me the most to this pattern was the way the crown of the hat is shaped so neatly.  I don't have any ulterior motive for plugging this pattern other than it is one that I have tested and like enough to knit again.  The pattern can be adjusted for children and adults.  I knitted the largest size.  The only modification I would make next time is to make it slightly longer to cover the ears.

I'm displaying the hat on a life-size glass model that I was lucky enough to find in a charity shop.  I knit and take photos of so many hats that I have been looking for one of these heads for a long time.  I actually saw one in a flea market last year for £35 and decided that I didn't want it that badly.  Then I saw this one for sale at £15.  That is still a lot of money.  But it will see a lot of use and the money was going to charity, so I was happy to pay it.  While not in use it makes quite a good ornament!

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Another big blanket project...

Here is the start of my next big crochet blanket.   I have been looking forward to starting this for the last few weeks.  But the weather was too hot for blanket making until now.  That all changed when our monsoon arrived.  Every cloud has a silver lining and I have made better progress than I expected though I am quite happy for this blanket project to last the rest of the year.  It is simply row after row of half trebles (UK) and will eventually measure 60" x 40".

I am using 4 different yarns.  The only things they have in common are that they are Aran weight and real wool.  They vary hugely in texture.  From right to left in the photo:

  • The Lopi Light is similar to candyfloss or cobwebs.  
  • The Chelsea Silk yarn is rougher than the word "silk" suggests.
  • The Emu Aran is quite thick.  
  • The Patons Capstan is quite thin.

But, as a team, these yarns work very well and make a good, strong crocheted fabric. The first 3 yarns were kindly donated to me by Joanne of the Cup On The Bus blog. The dark teal yarn was a charity shop find.....450g for £4.50.  It was the missing piece in the jigsaw.  This blanket is for an Operation Orphan child and I needed a colour to contrast with the cream and beige.

Once again, I used the Random Stripe Generator to plan the stripes for me.  This is a great free online tool.  You simply select your colours, specify the number of rows and then keep refreshing your computer screen until you are happy with the suggested design.  The tool also gives names to the colours. So, instead of cream and beige, my blanket will consist of  the more interesting burleywood, peru and linen.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Four for the boys.....

Here is the fourth and last pair of shorts that I will be making for a while.  The material for these came from a long dress that my daughter was finished with.  They will fit a 4 year old boy.  I originally planned to make 5 pairs but realised at the last minute that the material I had set aside for the fifth pair was too girly for any boy to want to wear.

So this is the little collection of shorts that will be going off in the post to Sew Scrumptious for delivery to various countries in Africa and Asia:

Here is the free pattern and tutorial that I used for the shorts.  They were a very economical project as I already had the old t-shirts and thread.  I bought good quality waist elastic as this is a crucial part of the shorts!

I tend to sew in short spells....excuse the pun....and I feel that this spell is now over.  I have started on another project which I have been looking forward to for a few weeks.....but that will be another blog post.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

One for the family....

This little knitted outfit will go into storage until one of my many relatives produces a baby girl.  I have decided to build up a small store of gifts ready to give at the drop of a hat (pun intended).  This outfit should fit a baby aged 6-12 months.

The kimono-style cardigan is from this Ravelry pattern.  I love this pattern because it is knitted in one piece and there is no picking up stitches for the edgings.  The stocking stitch makes it look quite smart.  I used Coney Playtime dk yarn in pink with little coloured flecks which look lovely but don't show up well in the photo.  I bought this yarn for £1 in a charity shop and 100g was enough for the cardy with a little left over for the brim of the hat.  

The hat pattern is also on Ravelry here.  I usually knit a more simple version of this hat.  But this time I chose to knit a textured version to exercise my brain.  The white part of the hat is Wendy Family Choice dk yarn.  I can't remember where this came from, but it was either free or very cheap.  

Neither ball of yarn had a barcode on the wrapper.  I usually take that to mean something is vintage.  So these unloved balls of yarn have finally been put to a good use.

Saturday 16 August 2014

Third pair of shorts....

Here is the third pair of shorts I have just sewn from this simple free pattern and tutorial.  Once again I cut up an old t-shirt and reused the material.  It is a soft shade of khaki green and should fit a child aged 2-3 years.  I have 2 more to make and will then send all 5 off to Sew Scrumptious for delivery to various countries in Africa and Asia.

....just a brief post today as I am still going through a very busy spell.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

It's a wrap...

After the ten stitch blanket that took me ten weeks to knit, I needed a quick crochet project.  Sue of SIBOL requested some shawls for the elderly in care homes, so I spent a week making one.  Yes, crochet really is quicker than knitting!

My crochet skills are still fairly rudimentary.  This is what I did:
dk yarn and 5mm hook
chain 200
crochet 39 rows of trebles (UK)
That produced a shawl or shoulder wrap measuring 172cm x 47cm.

To finish the ends, I did 58 double crochets (UK) which became the foundation for 14 shell stitches. The pattern I was following for the shells called for skipping 2 stitches between the shells.  But mine turned out very sloppy.  So I skipped only 1 stitch and have ended up with some strong edging shells.

This blanket had a definite right side and a wrong side which surprised me.  To mark what I considered to be the right side, I added a practical granny square pocket.  I made it nice and roomy.  It will be useful for holding tissues, glasses or anything else bigger than the holes in the granny square.

This was the fifth granny square I have ever made (who's counting?!), so I was pleased with it.  There are a zillion online tutorials for making a granny square and I eventually followed this one which is very clear.  It is aimed at beginners and shows how to crochet a granny square that does not twist.  

The 5mm hook and the trebles (UK) made a soft and cosy wrap, though  I used a 4mm hook for the granny pocket because I wanted it to be a bit firmer.

I love the colours in this wrap.  I won't say what they remind me of because it is still mid-summer!  The red yarn came from a huge ball that I bought at a Boot Fair for £1. The green and cream yarn was either free or very cheap.  I still have enough of these colours left to make another shawl one day

Sunday 10 August 2014

The Joanne Gift Bag...

I recently needed something to add that special touch to a gift.  So I made its own bespoke gift bag.  Here is the pattern which I am giving away to knitters all over the world......

The Joanne Gift Bag

This is a quick and easy knitting pattern.  It makes a gift bag measuring approximately 6” wide in 8 ply or DK yarn and 4” wide in 4 ply yarn.  This photo shows my finished bags.  I am an average gauge knitter.  The DK yarn bag measures 6” x 8”.  The 4 ply bag measures 4” x 5”.  I used approximately 30g of DK yarn and less of 4 ply yarn.  I include easy instructions for making the bag wider, narrower, longer or shorter. 

Skills needed:
The only skills you will need are:
  •  Cast on
  • Cast off
  • Knit stitch
  • Purl stitch
  • Knit 2 together
  • Yarn forward
  • Sewing side seams

Supplies needed:
The supplies you will need are:

  •   DK yarn
  •   size 4mm knitting needles
  •   1 metre of 9mm ribbon.  You could use less ribbon if you want a smaller bow. 


  •        4 ply yarn
  •  size 3.25mm knitting needles
  •  0.75 metre of 7mm ribbon.  You could use less ribbon if you want a smaller bow. 

This pattern is a blank canvas.  You can jazz up the bag by using sparkly yarn or by adding decorations such as beads, applique, embroidery etc. 

You are going to knit one piece, fold it in half and sew the side seams.
Cast on 29 stitches.  Increase or decrease the number in multiples of 8 stitches to make the bag wider or narrower. (Every 4 stitches makes 1 eyelet.  You need an even number of eyelets on both sides of the bag for the ribbon to thread evenly.  That is why you increase or decrease by 8 stitches.)
Rows 1-4: [K1, P1] repeat to last stitch. K1.
Row 5: Knit all stitches.
Row 6: K1, purl to last stitch, K1.
Rows 7-10: Repeat rows 5 and 6.
Row 11 eyelets: K1, [K2, K2tog, yarn forward] repeat to last 4 stitches, K4.  You should have 6 eyelets.  If you have fewer, make sure you haven’t omitted a yarn forward.  Remember, there is a yarn forward before the last K4.
Row 12: K1, purl to last stitch, K1.
Row 13: Knit all stitches.
Repeat rows 12 and 13.  This where you adjust the depth of your bag.  For my double knit bag I repeated these rows until it measured 14” from the cast on edge.  For my 4 ply bag I repeated these rows until it measured 9” from the cast on edge.
Next row: K1, purl to last stitch, K1.
Next row eyelets: K1, [K2, K2tog, yarn forward] repeat to last 4 stitches, K4.  You should have 6 eyeletsIf you have fewer, make sure you haven’t omitted a yarn forward.  Remember, there is a yarn forward before the last K4.
Next 6 rows: repeat rows 12 and 13.
Last 4 rows: [K1, P1] repeat to last stitch. K1.
Cast off.
Fold in half, right sides together.  Sew seams, being careful to match up the eyelets rows..
Decorate as desired.  Thread ribbon through the eyelets and tie in a bow.
This is how the threaded ribbon will look like on both sides:

This pattern is now available on Ravelry here.

I look forward to seeing photos of your finished gift bags.  If you have any queries, please contact me either on Ravelry by sending me a message or leaving a comment on my pattern page.  Otherwise you can contact me through my blog .

….and finally.  Why is this pattern called The Joanne Gift Bag?  I named my pattern after a lady who was very generous to me.  I pondered over how to show my appreciation and decided that naming a pattern after her and giving it away free would be a lovely gesture.

Happy knitting! 


Wednesday 6 August 2014

The Northern Lights blanket....

I started this blanket about 10 weeks ago.  I still had quite a bit of the bright yarn that my sister gave me many months ago and it seemed perfect for Ten Stitch Blanket pattern.  This is an intriguing pattern for a square or rectangular blanket that is knitted in an ever-increasing spiral.  I had it queued on Ravelry for quite a while and just decided to get on with it.

There are over 3000 projects posted on the Ravelry pattern page and many useful comments about the easiest and neatest ways to turn the corners and join the stripes.  I found detailed instructions that worked well for me.  The important tips included slipping all stitches purlwise except for the stitch just before joining the stripes.  This is slipped knitwise and makes an edge which is easy to join to on the next round. Another tip is that each stripe has garter ridges in multiples of nine.  Sadly, I printed off the instructions but didn't make a note of the helpful knitters' names.  They are somewhere in those 3000 projects!  I'm sending a big "thank you" to whoever they are.  

I kept knitting until I was happy that the blanket was big enough at 37" x 37".  This is roughly the size needed at SIBOL.  The founder, Sue, distributes the blankets to care homes and bright colours are in demand.

The beauty of this pattern is that it can be knitted in any weight yarn.  I used dk yarn but Aran would work just as well.  There are some great versions of this blanket on Ravelry.  I think the most eye-catching are those where the knitters have used the same colour for each complete round.  But I was trying to use up yarn and didn't want small amounts left.  So I joined colours anywhere and am treating the effect as a design feature!

There are lots of online tutorials for anyone needing help with knitting this blanket. I have also just found a brilliant web page here which has detailed charts for planning the colours and even has a link to a crochet version of this blanket.  I will seriously consider making the crochet version next time as I find crochet much quicker for blankets.

I managed to use up all the bright colours my sister gave me.  I added a navy blue outer row which doesn't show in the photo.  I had the theme of the "Northern Lights" in mind while I was knitting so I needed a night sky colour for the last row.  I've never been lucky enough to see the Northern Lights, so this blanket is probably as close as I will ever get to them.

Ten weeks sounds like a long time.  But this is a really busy time of year for me.  Then the heatwave arrived and I had to take a break and make some smaller, cooler projects.  I enjoyed knitting this blanket and have saved the pattern as I have plans to knit another one in the (far distant) future.  At this moment, I actually have zero WIPs. But that unnatural state won't last long!

Saturday 2 August 2014

Second pair of shorts....

Here is another pair of shorts for boys aged 2-3 years.  I reused another old t-shirt.  I'm a bit bemused and maybe a bit flattered that one of my baggy t-shirts has only enough material to fit a toddler.  My paper pattern piece for shorts for 4 year olds is just slightly too big.

I had a Eureka moment and sewed in a little ribbon to show the back of the waistband. 

I recently bought a bargain job lot of ribbon and obviously it included a duff one.  This was a wide piece of black ribbon which I know I will never use......except for a project like this.  I simply cut a piece of ribbon, folded it in half and sewed the raw edges into the waistband.  The idea isn't rocket science, but I was stupidly pleased when I thought of it.  A little boy can find the back of his shorts and I found a way to use my black ribbon!

These shorts will eventually join a few others and go off to a children's charity.