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!!

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Blanket finished....

Having said in my last post that I was setting this blanket aside, I then changed my mind and finished it.  It only needed a couple of hours work and it makes a lovely festive photo.  Here are all four sides completed in different colours.  I really like the effect and will probably do this again one day.  I followed this pattern from the What A Woolly Life blog.

There are 21 little pattern repeats along each edge.  These help to stop the strange phenomenon of a square diagonal blanket trying to turn itself into a rectangle. 

This blanket was crocheted with a new great-niece in mind. However, Hubby, who never usually says anything nice about my projects, saw it and said it should be saved for a really, really special baby.  I think the old softy (not) must be thinking ahead to grandchildren!   The great-niece won't go without.  I have a small stock of baby hats and blankets ready for all the babies that will probably start arriving in the next few years.

Vital statistics:  the blanket is 31" square and used 290g of dk yarn.

This is probably my last post of 2015, so here's wishing all my blogging friends and readers:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Thursday 17 December 2015

Knit for Winter 2015: Supporting First Touch Premature Babies

My mission for the next couple of weeks is to knit tiny bonnets for premature babies. I was recently contacted by Sunrise Senior Living and asked if I would be interested in supporting and publicising their latest  Knit For Winter campaign.  This year they are helping First Touch by knitting blankets and bonnets for premature babies born at St. George's Hospital in London.  I'm a Londoner and love to support local causes as well as those further afield.

Sunrise Senior Living very kindly sent me this yarn.  I would have used my own yarn if I had any left.  But I spent the summer knitting through my supplies of 4ply baby yarn and couldn't really justify buying more.  

I chose to knit the hats rather than the blanket as I already have a large blanket in progress.  I have set that aside temporarily even though it is almost finished.  The intended recipient won't be born until March!  So these little warm hats are needed more urgently.  I should be able to knit several with this 200g of lovely King Cole Baby yarn. 

If you fancy knitting a simple blanket or some baby hats, see here for details and patterns.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

The blanket edging changes colour...

The diagonal baby blanket is still a work in progress.  I carried out my plan to knit the edging in 4 different colours.  Here is the first corner where I changed from green to yellow.  I'm liking the effect.  Next comes lilac, followed by pink.

I'm forging ahead on this blanket at the moment because a builder will descend on us soon to rip out our kitchen and install a new one....hopefully in time for Christmas! Living dangerously!

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Blanket edging...and the winner is......

I have finished the diagonal baby blanket and have now started on the edging.  I recently sought opinions on which colour I should use.  The result of the very unscientific poll was soft green. This was also my choice, so I was pleased about that.  Thanks to everyone who voted.

Pink, yellow and lilac also received votes.  White received none.  A thought has occurred to me.  I could possibly use a different colour for each side of the blanket. My original thought was that green would calm down the brightness of the blanket. But now I love how bright it is and I think different colours would bring out all the lovely shades in a striking but pretty way.  What do you think?

Wednesday 11 November 2015

A Wednesday work in progress....and a quick poll

This baby blanket is likely to be "in progress" for several Wednesdays!  I have 300g of this lovely bright yarn called Robin Paintbox and I am going to keep knitting until it is all used up.  This is a simple diagonal garter stitch pattern from What A Woolly Life. Here it is.

I like this pattern because the edging is knitted on once the blanket has been finished.  That means there is no sewing up to do.  My big decision will be which colour to use for the edging.  I have enough of all the colours in the blanket:
  • pink
  • primrose yellow
  • lilac
  • soft green
  • and white
The blanket will go my niece who has just announced that she is expecting a girl in March.  I'd love to hear which colour you would pick for the edging.  Please see the poll to the right of this post and cast your vote.  The poll will be open until December 1st, by which time I might be ready to start the edging!

Tuesday 3 November 2015

The Snowy Sky blanket...

This was finished in June but the colours, if you can call black, white and grey  "colours", looked all wrong for the summer.  So I waited until November before sending it to SIBOL.  Our weather this week is very foggy and I expect we will see snow before spring!   The amazing Sue from SIBOL will deliver it and many more to care homes for the elderly in the UK.

I enjoyed making this giant granny square.  The idea for the centre square came from the Sunshine Granny Square pattern by Theemuts Tinka on Ravelry.  One of my 2015 resolutions was to crochet a snowflake.  I decided that this square looked close enough despite its sunny name.  

The rest of the blanket was just a typical granny square and the edging was the Double V edging that I found on the Knot Your Nana's Crochet blog.  Once again, it was a new skill for me.  But it was easy and really finished off the blanket nicely.  This photo isn't very good.  I promise you that the edging looks better in real life.

Sue likes to attach a name to each blanket that she delivers and I think "Snowy Sky" suits this one.

The vital statistics are 37" x 37" and 380g of dk yarn.  Most of the yarn came from donations and bargain buys.  I have quite a bit of black yarn and like to sneak it into projects with a bit of white and variegated grey to lift the mood.

On a slightly different subject, my second cataract operation went ahead as planned and things are looking good.  Eyesight takes weeks or months to recover after surgery.  But I am already happy and looking forward to what future improvements might bring.  My crafting pace is increasing again, though I am supposed to be resting for a few weeks.  "More haste, less speed" definitely applies to recovering from surgery.  The rest of 2015 will be quite gentle for me.  In 2016, I can start firing on all cylinders again.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Quick scarf and hat....

This is just a quick post to thank everyone who has sent me best wishes for my second eye op.  It took place a week ago and it is a big relief to have both eyes finally working together.  I'm also happy that I can now read, type, sew and knit to my heart's content.  

I will definitely need reading glasses for finer work. But it's a bit too soon to order them as my prescription will continue to change for a while.  So I am making do with off-the-shelf reading glasses. However, I find that I don't really need to use them until the evening. Our energy-saving light bulbs at home might need some rethinking as even my husband finds them useless for reading.  It's all a bit of a learning curve at the moment.

I started this scarf a few weeks ago.  The hat took just 2-3 days.  The yarn is a 100% wool by Jaegar and it was donated to me by a generous person on Freecycle.  The scarf is a simple crochet v-stitch and the hat is one of my regular favourite patterns by Pyrrha Designs.  These will go off soon to Operation Orphan for their Keep A Child Warm project.  I chose to make these two items in a size suitable for a teenager.

Yesterday, I treated myself to a rummage in my bags of yarn and picked out some really pretty yarn for a simple baby blanket.  But that's another story.....

Friday 16 October 2015

A finished blanket....

I'm glad to say that the baby blanket I started 7 weeks ago is now finished.  It has served its purpose by keeping me company through some rather trying weeks as I recovered from one eye operation and prepare for the second one next week. 

I had a very thorough check-up on the operated eye recently and the hospital staff are really impressed at how well I can see.  I can read the bottom line on the eye chart which I have never been able to do before.  I'm happy and amazed by that.  The close-up vision for reading etc is also getting better, though I might eventually need glasses for very fine work.  But that is ok and I am actually looking forward to being able to go back to my optician and surprise her with my new prescription.

The blanket pattern is here on Ravelry.  For my version, I cast on 172 stitches on 5mm knitting needles.  Just 270g of dk yarn gave me a blanket measuring 30" x 33". The pattern was easy to remember.  Every fourth row involved yarn overs and careful counting and I'm pleased to say that I managed not to make any mistakes.

This blanket will go to a family baby at some time in the future. The 5mm needles have given it a lovely soft drape.  The Robin acrylic yarn that I used means that it will wash well and put up with a lot of use over the years.  I have more lovely baby yarn and will definitely make more of these.

Though my blogging has slowed down in relation to my knitting output, I am still enjoying reading all my favourite blogs.  Happy October to everybody and thank you for all the good wishes you have been sending me.  They really helped to cheer me up.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Eye eye...

This is all I have managed to knit this month.  It is approximately half of a baby blanket.  Just before my 60th birthday, I received the less than welcome news that I had cataracts.  That was a real party pooper.  But, strangely, it was also the catalyst for doing something that has been on my mind for years.  I have had bad eyesight all my life.  An optician once told me off for using the word "bad".  I suppose there are others, such as restricting, limiting, challenging.  But "bad" is what most people in my position use.  

For the past few years, I have been watching developments in eye surgery techniques. There was an operation that would help me.  But all eye surgery carries risks and I always told myself that I would only take the plunge if I had no choice. Being diagnosed with cataracts qualified as "no choice, get on with it".  So I did.

My first surgery was on September 3rd and it went well.  I can read and knit...slowly. The second op was supposed to have happened last week.  But it was delayed for reasons far too boring for this blog. Until my second eye is fixed next month, my vision is going to be extremely unbalanced.  I am currently very shortsighted in one eye and marginally longsighted in the other eye.  I craft when the lighting is good, but I don't want to end up with eyestrain and headaches.  So I am pacing myself very carefully.

The pattern for the blanket is Emily's Baby Blankie.  I deliberately chose to knit it in my favourite blues to cheer myself up.  One good side effect of cataract surgery is that blues look even bluer.  I wasn't expecting that and I don't know how long ti will last.  But it is a very welcome little gift.  

Note to self: keeping informed is good.  But Googling eye problems and operations can be a bad idea.  There is such a thing as "too much information".  Just saying!

Thursday 17 September 2015

3 more hats...

At the beginning of the summer, I set myself a target to use up all my 4 ply yarn.  In my last post, I described how I used up the last of my white and cream.  I then set my attention to using up my darker shades.  Once again, I combined yarns and managed to knit 3 toddler size hats.  I followed the Be Loving pattern.  This is written for Aran yarn; but 4 ply doubled works just as well. 

I actually had lots of little nuggets in various greens, blues, beiges and browns and was quite pleased at how they worked together.  Admittedly, they are rather dark for toddlers' hats. But they will be going off to Operation Orphan for distribution in countries where warmth and sturdiness are the most important attributes in children's clothes.

I am now looking at a bag of 4 ply yarn that contains only blues and pinks.  I think my job is done.  I am quite happy to save this for future family babies.  In fact, there is already a great niece or nephew on the way.  I must put on my thinking hat....

Friday 11 September 2015

The last 50g...

I recently knitted some preemie items and had just 50g of white 4ply yarn left.  My 4ply mojo returned and I paired it with 50g of cream 4ply to knit these two hats. Combining the two colours produced a lovely shade of pale banana.  The white was a baby yarn and the cream was ordinary yarn.  Together they made a texture just right for a toddler.

I followed the easy Be Loving pattern which is really for Aran weight yarn, but 4ply doubled works just as well.  The pattern comes in many sizes from toddler to adult and I can definitely recommend it as well written, simple and quick.  I managed to make two toddler size hats with just a tiny amount of yarn left.  I think there might be enough to make bootees or pompoms.  Nothing is ever wasted here!

NB: there is a reason why my posts are a bit on the short side this month.  All will be revealed in a couple of weeks time!

Friday 4 September 2015

Ripple scarf


In the spirit of lifelong learning and continuing with my aim to learn new skills in 2015, I was very happy to finally learn how to crochet a ripple.  I followed the excellent Gentle Ripple How To tutorial on Linda's Crafty Corner blog.

I am such a slow learner where crochet is concerned, that it took me a few attempts to master the decrease stitch.  But I persevered as I really wanted to make a ripple something.  

I must be a tight crocheter. This was starting to look more like a rug than a soft blanket!  In the end I decided to turn this into a baby scarf.  I think I am a tight crocheter, especially when I am concentrating on something new.  I broke the cardinal rule and didn't make a swatch.  If I make another blanket I will go up to size 5mm crochet hook and do two rows per colour.  

Thanks, Linda for the very clear phototutorial/


Sunday 30 August 2015

A hat and scarf set....

Having recently started to make hats and scarves for older children and then somehow ending up making them for younger children instead, I decided to "get with the plot".  I had about 150g of Robin FX Dk yarn in a  lovely shade of oatmeal.  It was just crying out to be turned into a hat and scarf set.  

The label describes it as premium acrylic which some purists might think is a contradiction in terms.  But it was lovely to knit with, didn't have any knots and produced a perfect texture in both knitted and crocheted items.

I didn't follow any particular scarf pattern.  I simply did row after row of crochet v-stitch and really like the way it turned out.  It is reversible, doesn't curl at the edges and drapes nicely.  I will definitely make more of these.  I used a 4mm hook, chained 27 stitches, and used 110g of the yarn.  That gave me a scarf measuring 6.25 inches by 65 inches.

The rest of the yarn went towards making this simple beanie hat which should fit a teenager.  It is from the well-written Two by Two Basic Beanie pattern.  There are instructions for sizes ranging from baby to large adult and I can really recommend it.

Both these items will go off to Operation Orphan.  They are not really a matching set since the only thing they have in common is the yarn. However, they are very unlikely to stay together and that is ok as it means two teenagers will benefit....a win win situation.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

More preemie items...

This little collection of preemie items went off to PreemiesUK.  I was really trying to use up all of my white and cream 4 ply yarn. When I finished the last two sleepsacks and weighed them, my knitting mojo rose up on its hind legs and refused to jump the last fence.  They weigh only 16g each which I think is amazing. But that left me with enough 4 ply yarn to knit another three.
  • I really want (and need) to clear the decks of finished items this week
  • I don't want my knitting/crochet to turn into a race or a chore
  • I had the perfect size box available
So I posted these yesterday and set aside the remaining 50g of white yarn.  I already have plans for it and might actually start today.  But, for now, I am finished with preemie items.

I have previously blogged about most of these preemie patterns before.  I have never mentioned the little hat pattern but it deserves a mention.  It is one of those hat patterns that I usually avoid as it is knitted on straight needles and has a seam. But I kept the seam very small by careful sewing.  Sadly, I forgot to weigh the hats. But I know they used very little yarn.

I liked the fact that staff in a special care baby unit have actually requested this very hat pattern.  Here is the link. Scroll down and look for "Hat for premature babies (As requested by St. Mary's Special Care Baby Unit, UK)."
PS:  I have had a request for a link to the pattern for the little sleepsack.  It can be found at the very end of the list on this Cuddles page.                                            

Tuesday 18 August 2015

A lovely surprise...

Just look at the lovely journal I won recently in a giveaway hosted by Vicki of the 2bagsfull blog.  It is beautiful on the inside and on the outside with flowers and butterflies on a blue background.  

Vicki gave away several different journals and amazingly chose my favourite colour. That has been blue ever since I was about four years old and had a little blue summer dress.  I was so upset, incensed and incredulous when I outgrew it that my mother had to let down the hem to make it long enough to last another few months.  I wish I still had that dress.  I bought a very similar one when my daughter was four.  At primary school I chose blue binca material for my very first sewing project.  When I was fifteen and started a Saturday job, I bought a blue leather pencil case which I still have today.  The first party outfit I bought for myself was a blue maxi skirt and I still wear a lot of blue.  We recently had a few days away driving around Yorkshire and the Peak District.  When we were on the less scenic motorways, it was always the blue cars that caught my attention.  Did I mention that I like blue?!

I see a lot of giveaways being hosted by generous bloggers all over the world.  I usually resist entering those that are too far away because of the postage costs.  But I simply had to try to win one of these pretty journals and Vicki paid a small fortune in postage from Kentucky.  We think postage is expensive in the UK,  but it is even dearer in other countries!  Thank you, Vicki.

So when my journal arrived yesterday, I was genuinely delighted.  I will put it to good use.....maybe to record favourite books and authors.....unless I can think of something better.

Vicki's blog is well worth a visit.  She crafts for pleasure and for charity and hosts annual blog parties. You won't be disappointed!

PS: here is a photo of me wearing the famous dress.  This was in the early days of colour photography, so it doesn't really do justice to the lovely shade of sky blue.  I am on the left squinting at the sun....which probably has a lot to blame for my poor eyesight. But that is another story!  

I can actually remember this particular photo being taken.  We had just moved from a very poor part of London to a slightly more leafy area.  This was the local park.  We are standing in front of a tennis court where I used to play into my mid-twenties.  We are all dressed up, so this could even have been my birthday.

Saturday 8 August 2015

Five scarves and a hat....

A couple of years ago I bought a huge 400g ball of grey aran wool and acrylic mix.  It was one of those rare occasions when I actually go to a wool shop and pay full price!! That is probably why I made a rookie error and ended up buying the wrong shade of grey simply because I hadn't brought along the thing I was trying to match it to. Who'd have thought there are so many shades of grey?  Hey ho.  So it sat in a bag in the naughty corner.

Then I saw an appeal from Operation Orphan for scarves in shades of grey, black and navy blue.  Some of the older children prefer these colours.  I went off piste by adding eyeball-searing red.  But I made these items in sizes that will be more suitable for the younger children, so I think the bright red is going to be ok.

I managed to use up all the grey, some black oddments and most of the red.  My remaining aran yarn now fits into the palm of my hand.  I don't have any immediate plans to buy more....but I never say never!

My blog posts are very short at the moment as I am once again having an insanely busy summer.  I don't even have enough spare energy to think of clever blog post titles.  But I am still reading all my favourite blogs.  Happy August to everyone!

Saturday 1 August 2015

...and the winner is.....

Thanks to everyone who entered my Big Birthday Giveaway.  There were 36 entries including the double entries that were awarded to my followers.  I love blogging and I wish everyone could have been a winner.  But, this time, the lucky recipient is Gillian of the hookin' A yarn blog.  Gillian blogs about her crochet, knitting and quilting and peppers her posts with lovely photos.  

I know I said I would choose the winner at 9am UK time.  I'm about 2 hours early as I was woken up by a beautiful sunrise on this first day of my birthday month.  I wrote all the entries on a piece of paper and asked Hubby to close his eyes and point at it.   He happily obeyed and it was a whole ten minutes before he asked what he had just pointed at! 

 Happy August to all my readers!

(Gillian, please could you let me know your postal address.  Thanks, Una,

Sunday 26 July 2015

Preemie blanket....

This blanket looks bigger than it really is.  In fact, it measures 15.5" x 16.5" and will eventually go off to PreemiesUK.  I used just 73g of Patons Baby Fab which is machine washable and can also go into a  tumble dryer.

This pattern is called Daphne's Blanket and the end result is rows of puffy lozenge shapes.  It used to be on the Wye Needlecraft website together with a lot of other similar blanket patterns.  Sadly, the patterns are no longer online.  But, luckily, I printed the pattern pages some time ago.  

The Wye Needlecraft patterns are intended to use just one 100g ball of dk yarn as the blankets are for special care baby units.  However, they are easily adaptable for any ply yarn and any size.  I am going to knit a couple of these in 4 ply yarn.  If I really like them, I will then knit some larger blankets in dk yarn.

REMINDER:  there is still time to enter my Big Birthday Giveaway.  For more details see my post here.

Monday 20 July 2015

Matching blanket and hat set...and a giveaway reminder

I was in the mood for knitting a baby blanket and my mind went back to a gift that was given to me by a friend when my daughter was a baby.  It was a small blanket and came with the promise that it would be very useful.  Well, it was.  The smaller size made it perfect for tucking over my daughter when she was in her pram or car seat. There was no excess fabric to drown her, to collect dust from the ground or floor of the car, or to trip me up when carrying her.  My friend was a new mum and, like me, fairly short.  So she knew exactly what would be useful.

I had the following pattern in my Ravelry queue: Lilac Blossom Baby Blanket by Marianna and it seemed perfect.  I followed the pattern as written and ended up with a width of 22".  I stopped knitting when the blanket was 27" long to keep it in proportion.  It is easy to increase the number of cast on stitches to knit a bigger blanket if that is what you are aiming for.

I used a gender-neutral cream Robin Double Knit yarn.  I found a big bag of this yarn in a charity shop last year.  It receives mixed reviews on Ravelry.  But I really liked it. It is soft and bouncy and, being acrylic, will wash well.  I will even look for this yarn again when I have used up the remaining balls.

The combination of the bouncy yarn and the slightly puffy knitted stitch makes this blanket cosy.  The stitch is basically 2 x 2 ribbing with something clever happening every fourth row to make it interesting.  Though this is not strictly a reversible pattern, it looks good on both sides of the blanket.  You might just about be able to see the detail in the next photo.

The blanket used less than 200g of yarn, so I had enough left to knit a matching hat.

This time I followed the hat pattern from the Lilac Blossom Baby Set by Marianna.  It was so easy and took only a couple of hours.  

Here they are together  I think a matching set has more "wow effect" than individual items.

The hat will fit a baby aged 0-3 months and the set will go to a future family baby.

REMINDER:  there is still time to enter my Big Birthday Giveaway.  For more details see my post here.

Monday 13 July 2015

My Big Birthday Giveaway...

I will be celebrating a big birthday in August, the big 60! It is a number I find very hard to believe.  I don't know why.  All my misconceptions about being 30, 40 and 50 should have prepared me.  
When I was in my twenties I thought that 50 was really old. That birthday was an eye-opener as I was still firing on all cylinders with a full time job and a very demanding young daughter.  Now that I am approaching 60, I am working only 1 day per week and that same daughter has finished university, left home, started a new job and met a lovely young man.  Such a lot has happened in the last 10 years.  I don't know how I am supposed to feel, but it isn't old.  I think the word "excited" is a better description.

Plans are in progress for how to celebrate this milestone with family and friends.  I couldn't leave out my virtual blogging friends.  I've been lucky enough to win some giveaways since I started blogging and I have been on the lookout for some items to make up a tempting giveaway worthy of a Big Birthday.

Here they are:
  • a Cath Kidston notebook
  • a tin for storing buttons or other knick knacks
  • 5 lovely buttons covered with Fair Trade fabric
  • an owl keyring from Oxfam in support of independent artisans in India
  • a 50g ball of Jaegar Spiral-spun double knitting wool in a heather shade
For a chance to win, simply leave a comment on my blog and some way of contacting you.  This giveaway is open to everyone anywhere in the world.  My last giveaway was won by a blogger in New Jersey.  Any entrant who follows me via Bloglovin' or Google Friend Connect automatically wins a second entry.  

I originally planned to pick the winner on my actual birthday.  But I have been receiving some very heavy hints that I am being whisked away on the special day and I probably won't have access to the Internet.  So I will draw the winning entry at 9 a.m. UK time on August 1st.

Good luck!