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!!

Saturday 30 May 2015

More preemie items...

I couldn't resist knitting another of these baby kimonos.  This one should fit a 5lb baby and used just 50g of dk yarn.  I love this pattern because it is knitted in one piece.  It requires concentration in some places, but is otherwise a very easy pattern.  If knitting it for a baby not yet born, it is just a case of sewing the buttons on the correct side as soon the baby arrives.  The unused buttonholes then become places to tie little bows inside the top.  Here is the Ravelry link.

I also continued my mission to use up my 4ply yarn and knitted 2 simple 16" diagonal blankets which used just 86g each.  Like the preemie kimono, these will go to PreemiesUK who distribute clothing, blankets and teddies to hospital maternity units.  PreemiesUK has a very active Facebook page with news, photos and patterns including this absolutely gorgeous crochet cardigan. That has definitely been added to my "to do" list!  

Their Facebook page is open to everyone.  It's not necessary to be a Facebook member to read it.  It's worth checking before starting a new project because the type of items that are required often changes.  Sometimes they need more cardigans.  At other times small blankets are in demand, etc etc.

Monday 25 May 2015

Very easy crochet edging...

I recently needed to add an edging to a shawl that I had crocheted.  I tried various edgings but they did not meet my criteria which were:

  • must be strong and preferably not too stretchy
  • must be fairly quick
  • must be added directly to the shawl i.e. no sewing involved
  • must be economical i.e. not use up too much yarn
  • must be easy

So, masquerading as an expert crocheter, I decided to invent my own edging stitch. I'm reasonably confident that I haven't accidentally stolen anyone else's idea as I haven't seen this stitch in books or on the Internet. 

So, this is a summary (in UK terms) of what I did:
  1. Use the same size hook and yarn weight as the item that you are edging
  2. Edge the item with double crochet stitches (UK)
  3. If working around an item such as a shawl or blanket, use a slip stitch to join the last and first double crochets
  4. Chain 2
  5. Slip stitch into next double crochet
Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you reach the last double crochet.  Slip stitch and cut yarn.

The green needle in the photo is pointing to where you slip stitch after chaining two.  It really is that easy and almost feels like cheating!

The corner of my shawl was slightly less than a right angle and I was able to get around it by simply chaining two and slip stitching once into each double crochet. There was no need to squeeze two stitches into one as is often necessary with some edgings.

The end result of this edging is a row of tiny points almost resembling a faux picot edging.  I was using dk yarn.  But this edging would also look very pretty on 4 ply baby items.

I'm thinking of adding this pattern to Ravelry.  But if anyone has prior claim to it and lets me know, then I will obviously not do that!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

My first half granny square shawl...

Here is my first ever half granny square shawl.  I crocheted it for SIBOL and it will end up on the shoulders of someone in a UK care home for the elderly.  Sue at SIBOL is currently accepting shawls and lap blankets and always lets you know when your items arrive and even when they are delivered to the homes.  See more about SIBOL here.

The pattern I followed was "The original half granny square shawl" by Ambar E. Rivera.  There are other similar patterns, but I found this one very easy to understand.  It was also the only one to suggest a way to prevent the top edge curving too much.  I could see early on that mine was going to curve like a banana, so I was very pleased that Ambar's simple remedy worked.

I used a lovely pink and purple variegated yarn from Robin.  My knitter's brain expected it to make stripes.  But it has short colour changes which make splodges when crocheted.  So I added a few rows of grey yarn at regular intervals to highlight the shape of the shawl. 

I will definitely make this again, so here are my stats:
dk yarn and 5mm hook
45 rounds plus edging 
weighs  240g
measures 54" across top edge, 28" from neck to point, and 42" along sides

I followed the pattern exactly but added my own simple edging.  I think I even made up this edging as I haven't been able to find it on Ravelry.  It deserves a blog post of its this space...

Tuesday 12 May 2015

A baby hat and bootees set...

I was recently lucky enough to buy a copy of The Big Book of Baby Knitting by Mary Healey.  It was going for only 50p in my local charity shop.  Most of my patterns come free from library books or the Internet.  But this appealed to me because it was published in 1974 and has some really vintage patterns.  Were people still knitting swimming costumes for their children in 1974?  I don't think so; but this book also has lots of really practical and pretty patterns.

I started with two practical patterns....a baby hat that keeps the ears warm and bootees that look like they might actually stay on.  The only change I made to the hat pattern was to knit it in the round.  I always try to avoid seams on hats, especially baby hats.  The bootees are the first I have ever knitted.  I found the p2tog tbl stitch on the instep really fiddly to knit.  A voice in my head told me that there must be an alternative stitch.  Well, there doesn't seem to be; but there is an easier way of doing the p2tog tbl.  Here are the very clear instructions that I found on the Lily Go blog.

The knitting world has really moved on since 1974.  This book has no "knit in the round" patterns, uses different abbreviations for stitches, and has only one size for each pattern.  Luckily the booties and hat should fit a baby aged 3 months. So I am putting them together and calling them a set.  They will be saved until one of my many nieces and nephews (or daughter) have a baby.

In keeping with the vintage pattern, I used some vintage yarn.  It is Family Choice DK by Wendy and there is no barcode on the label.  I always take that to mean it is very old.  (There is no barcode on me either, so I can confirm that theory!)

I have already made a start on one of the prettier patterns, though it is taking longer as it calls for 4 ply yarn.  So I hope nobody is holding their breath waiting for a photo!

Saturday 9 May 2015

Slightly off beam

This is nothing to do with knitting or crochet.  But it is definitely everything to do with imagination.  My daughter made a short film as a college project and I promised to advertise it to increase the view count.

It is called Unknown Soldier.

I know absolutely nothing about making a film. But I think Daughter had to draw every scene and then animate it.  It must have been a lot of work.  She is in the middle of a film editing course at university and eventually plans to do a Masters Degree in CGI Animation.  She was always artistic at school and probably gets that from me.  But the technical side of film-making comes entirely from her own mind!

We are quite proud of her.  The tissues even had to come out at the end as one of the people she thanks is my Dad who was in the thick of it in WWII.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Six squares...

About a year ago I was lucky enough to be given 2 big bags full of yarn by a Freecycler.  Yes, I was that bag lady sitting on a train and then on a bus, occasionally peeking into the bags and smiling happily.  

I think I have used most of it by now.  But there were several small balls of white dk acrylic yarn....all slightly different shades and textures and all too small to make even a baby hat.  The closest they would have come to a hat would be in a starring role as stripes.  But I was in no rush.

Then, a few days ago, I heard about Cwtch of Comfort which is a project that gives blankets and quilts to parents who have lost a child.  They use blankets of all sizes and recently made an appeal for six inch squares that could be sewn into bigger blankets.  See here for more information about the squares appeal.  The squares needed to be white or pale pastel.  They also needed to be easily washable.  Perfect.  I have now managed to use up all my odd balls of white.

As someone is going to crochet these squares together, I decided to make it as easy as possible for them.  I chose to knit simple corner-to-corner squares.  The advantage of this type of square is that there is no cast on or cast off edge.  All four sides are the same, which makes sewing them together fairly easy.  I followed the SANDS blanket pattern which is very easy and produces a square with a good strong edge.

So, having recently used up all my odd balls of white 4 ply yarn, I have now done the same with my dk yarn.  Turning oddments into worthwhile items always makes me happy.  Sometimes it really is possible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.