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 10 December 2017

Cosy, just in time for winter...

It must be winter. The first snow of the season is on the ground outside my window and I am craving stodge and all things bad. But my halo isn't completely tarnished because I have done my bit for the planet. I turned these four cushion covers that had seen better days into a runner for the end of the bed.

These covers are at least 10 years old. The zips were playing up and the material was faded with the odd splatter of ink (Daughter) and paint (me). I still liked them and couldn't bring myself to throw them away when I bought some new covers. So...

I cut 8 equal size panels, sewed 2 strips of four panels and then sewed the strips together. I discovered the insides of the covers were still perfect and the material was as good as reversible. The well-worn outsides are now hidden forever inside this runner. The colour in the top photo is more true to life. It was taken on a sunny day. The finished item was photographed by artificial light today. What a difference a couple of weeks make.

Ignore the white material in the top photo. I was planning to use it as a lining, but I didn't feel it was needed. This material is thick and will make the perfect feet warmer on cold nights. I even feel warm just looking at the rich coral colour.

I can't claim to have made the lovely patchwork duvet cover. But I can appreciate it....probably even more because I could never imagine making something like this. I vaguely considered going the extra mile and quilting the bed runner, but reality and common sense prevailed. Time is marching on and I know my limits!

Eagle-eyed blog readers will notice that my iron did not come anywhere near the duvet cover or bed runner. I know these creases will drop out in a couple of days, so why waste electricity? That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

I have a busy couple of weeks ahead of me. So this is probably my last post of 2017. Once again I have really enjoyed the blog world and am sending

to all my lovely readers. See you all in 2018.

Sunday 26 November 2017

A start, a finish and a big donation...

I received another bag of lovely donations from Hubby's colleague. Pastels predominate because she used to knit for her grandchildren, who are now older and wiser and more into grunge. I can't remember the last time I actually BOUGHT a ball of wool.

The wool is mainly dk which suits me perfectly except for the fact that I am currently trying to blitz my 4ply yarn. Here is a photo of a corner-to-corner baby blanket that I have been knitting for quite a while. I am using blue and white 4ply and loving the stripes. Sorry, they don't show up well in the photo. The only problem is the lack of daylight at this time of year. I have learned the hard way that knitting this blanket in artificial light leads to mistakes. I managed to knit a blue stripe instead of a white one, not once, but twice. I tried to live with it, but couldn't, and had to rip back a couple of inches each time. That is no fun when you are crawling along in the 4ply lane

So, my modus operandi now is to knit the blanket whilst watching the midday news. It distracts me from all the doom and gloom which, in turn, distracts me from the endless 4ply knitting. Then, in the evening, I knit with dk yarn. The photo shows a hat that I was able to knit in a couple of days. It's satisfying to be able to finish something quickly. The blanket looks like taking me the rest of the year. I only manage to knit a few rows per day because I have to concentrate. I don't want any more mistakes! 

Here is another photo of the same hat together with one I finished months ago but never got around to photographing. These will eventually go off to Operation Orphan. I will knit more hats until I have enough to fill a reasonable size box. There is no rush as they tend to dispatch the warm clothing donations during the summer. That way,  they are in situ and ready when winter arrives.

Monday 13 November 2017

2 more shirt cushions...

Here are two more cushion covers that I upcycled from Hubby's shirts. I have now made four of these, which is probably enough for now. Three of them will be gracing the sofa bed in the spare room when we have visitors over the Christmas holidays. I'm hoping that one or two of the visitors like them enough to ask me to make some for them. I love making these, but there is a limit to how many a sofa can take before looking weird.

Most of Hubby's shirts are blue. So I have been lucky to have these other colours to tone in with my furniture. However, I do have my eyes on some particularly lovely denim type shirts that would make useful bags. One day...

PS: I know this is primarily a "woolly" blog. I'm still beavering away using up my 4 ply yarn. But it takes me so long to finish anything that I like to sew something quick just so that I have something to blog about. I'm not a huge Facebook fan, but I recently joined an upcycling group on there and some of the ideas are very clever. 

Sunday 22 October 2017

Another shirt cushion plus curtain tie-backs...

We live in a 1930s house that is a bit of a money-pit. For most of the year I have been decorating/repairing/updating things that nobody except me seems to notice either before or after. Hey ho. However, it has all created a feeling of quiet satisfaction with our house and we talk less now about moving than we used to. Result!

My last hurrah before the cold weather arrives and just makes me want to hibernate was to add a finishing touch to the dining room. There was a bare corner loved only by the cat because that was where we kept her food bowl.

Now it looks like this:

I brought down a wicker chair from a bedroom where it was rarely used. Then I made a cushion cover from another of Hubby's discarded shirts. The colours are perfect as we have a green and cream theme going on in this room. I even turned the shirt cuffs into curtain tie-backs. There are lots of online tutorials for making phone cases from cuffs. But I wasn't able to find a tutorial for tie-backs. So these could be the world's first.

They were so simple to make. I cut off the cuff and buttoned it up around the curtain. Ta dah! That would have worked perfectly if the curtains had been lightweight. However, mine are quite thick cotton that creases easily. 

I decided that the tie-backs needed to be a bit longer. I considered various ways to add length. The curtains are floor-length so there needed to be a way to untie the tie-backs to take them off. I could have simply sewn a ribbon or more of the shirt material onto each end. I checked with Hubby whether or not he would be prepared to tie and untie knots every day. It was a NOT...which I already knew but thought it would be polite to ask.

So it was back to the drawing board and I came up with a less elegant but more practical solution. I sewed a piece of elastic to one end of each cuff. Then I snipped a little hole in the other end of the elastic and used this as a button hole.

You can just about see it here:

You can't see the elastic when the tie-backs are on. So I am very happy with how everything turned out. This room faces south and catches the sun for most of the day. It will be a lovely corner for reading a book.

The cat is currently sulking because I have moved her bowl to another part of the room. It must be a whole 5 feet away! But the cat is studiously ignoring it and sitting under the chair waiting for the food bowl to come to her. By tomorrow she will be hungry enough to realise that isn't going to happen!

Thursday 12 October 2017

A shirt cushion cover...

I have been busy sewing today. I needed a break from knitting with 4 ply yarn that seems to last forever. The catalyst was finding a perfectly good shirt in my waste bin. Hubby has to dress well at work. He buys expensive shirts and, much to my annoyance, discards them when there is plenty of wear left in them. I usually rescue them for the local charity shop.

This time I loved the material. It was thick and strong. Hubby ... I'm resisting cracking a joke about "thick and strong" ... usually buys blue shirts. He must have found his feminine side when he bought this one because it is a lovely mix of jewel colours. Here is a close-up:

It might look like a lumberjack shirt here. But the quality was amazing. I just happened to be walking along Regent Street in London this morning and noticed a whole shop full of shirts by this designer. 

I know from experience how surprisingly difficult it is to sew with checks. This shirt made it look easy. All the colours and checks lined up perfectly at the seams. That made cutting up the shirt and sewing the cushion cover a walk in the park.

In less than an hour, I turned this rather large shirt

into this cushion cover

I found the idea on the Internet. There are many online tutorials for turning shirts into cushion covers. Most tutorials are identical; so I won't link to the tutorial I followed because that would be favoritism. But this cushion cover really is easy to make. It cost peanuts to sew and the inner cushion pad was a bargain in a bulk buy from Argos. 

Anyone who wants to make one of these could simply go to a charity shop and buy a very inexpensive shirt. Some people make "memory shirts" to remind them of someone who is no longer here.

I love how this turned out and even Hubby, who rarely comments on my craft work, is impressed. I'm planning to make a few of these for the sofa bed in our guest room. I just have to wait patiently for more shirts to become available!

Saturday 16 September 2017

Three preemie hats...

Here are three more hats that I have just knitted from the Andycrafts pattern which is fast becoming my favourite preemie hat pattern. That's because it is small but perfectly formed. You can find it on page three if you go to the above link and download the patterns. There are some lovely patterns for preemie cardigans, hats, mittens and socks.

This is very easy to knit and knitters who shy away from knitting in-the-round will be pleased to hear that this one is knitted flat. Personally, I like to knit in-the-round but have to admit that it wouldn't be very easy to do with tiny hats. These will eventually go off to PreemiesUK. This month they especially need:

Knitted blankets 
Crochet blankets

This pattern called for 4 ply yarn. I'm on a mission to use up all my 4 ply. I have very little left but, because it goes so far, it looks like taking me the rest of the year. Watch this space...

PS: I have lost count of how many times the words "knit" and "patterns" are repeated in this post. I must try harder to think of alternatives!

Thursday 31 August 2017

A quick welcome and fifteen minutes of fame...

My blog received a mention in a well-known women's magazine this week and I can already see from my visitor statistics that many more people than usual have looked at my blog. So, welcome to one and all and thank you for sharing my fifteen minutes of fame.

I am still bemused as to why my blog was chosen for a mention. Hopefully, you will take the time to visit the many other excellent crafting blogs listed in my right hand sidebar. The common theme is knitting and crochet. Apart from that, they are as different as the individuals who write them. 

My own personal style is to keep things simple. I originally started blogging as a way to record my creations.  Here are just a few:

small animal nests:

glove puppets:

preemie/angel dresses:

baby dress:


baby cardigans:

lap blanket:

 hat and scarf set:

There are hundreds more. You can see them in my photostream in the left hand sidebar. Some have gone to family. But most have gone to various charities that you can see listed at the top of my home page.

Gradually, my blog evolved as it gathered regular readers. I know that from the visitor statistics (an amazing 337,107 page views so far) and from the frequent comments.

My settings mean that I receive notifications and see all comments before they are published. In that way, I can't miss anything. I read every one, even if I can't always think of a witty reply. Please keep them coming!

I would especially love comments from anyone who knows me from outside the blogging world. You can either leave a comment on this blog post or contact me by email via my profile in the left hand sidebar. I thought I didn't know anybody who read this woman's magazine. Well, somebody proved me wrong and contacted me on the day of publication! 

The photo in the magazine was taken at the end of a very hot day. I'm wearing a jumper because I didn't know when the article was due for publication and a t-shirt would look a bit odd in winter. Consequently, I look about a stone heavier than I really am. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I won't repeat the photo here. If you read the magazine, you've seen it. If not, you aren't missing anything!

Sunday 20 August 2017

A preemie blanket and two hats...

The fairly atrocious photo above definitely does not do justice to my latest knits. I finished the preemie blanket that I blogged about recently. It measures 15" square which shows up the tiny size of the preemie hats that I knitted with the remnants of the same 4 ply yarn. 

The smaller hat is for a baby angel of 20 weeks gestation. The larger hat should fit an older premature baby. The pattern came from Andycrafts. There are some lovely premature baby patterns on the website. This hat is at the bottom of page 3 if you go as far as downloading them. My items will eventually go off to PreemiesUK.

All three items above are pale blue. The photo was taken in poor light on a cloudy day in a busy city. Look how it is put to shame by the beautiful photo I took last week. This is Port Gaverne in North Cornwall, England. It is very close to Port Isaac where the tv series "Doc Martin" is filmed. 

The scenery all along that part of the coastline is spectacular. The air is clean and the daylight has a quality of its own. No wonder artists make the effort to travel there for painting holidays or even to live there permanently. I could drink in these colours all day.

The Cornish hedgerows are currently blooming with an orange shrub that I later found out is Crocosmia. You can see it in the foreground of the photo. We had plans to plant some at home until I read up about it. Apparently, it is invasive and will even travel underground to come up through concrete. I don't think my neighbours would be too pleased with me if I planted it. Luckily, I took lots of photos.

Tuesday 1 August 2017


I have just been doing a little housekeeping on my blog. It seemed like a good time to check all my links to make sure they actually lead somewhere.  Everything should be working fine now.

I also noticed that P*********t wanted me to pay to keep my blog button in my sidebar. I decided on Plan B and removed the button. Blogging can become a little cottage industry.  But this blog is really just for enjoyment and is not meant to be a money-earner. In the past I have flirted with including adverts. But it didn't feel right. So, I removed them.  I know some people downloaded my button and I think that it will probably no longer work. Sorry for that. It was good while it lasted!

I am adding my own picture of my "Keep Calm and Pick Up Stitches" design and I have set it up so that it links back to my blog. It is in my sidebar.  If anyone wants to borrow it for their blog, that is fine by me and there is no charge!!

Happy August to everyone!


Saturday 22 July 2017

Summer knitting...

This is all I have to show for the last few weeks. 
  • A heatwave (welcome, but too hot for knitting), followed by 
  • a "meet-the-inlaws" family barbecue (a great day) followed by
  • a Cliff Richard concert (swoon, though he said he is unknown in America. So, many of my blog readers won't know why I'm swooning), followed by
  • 2 weeks of Wimbledon tennis (had to concentrate on it more this year as I was lucky enough to be given tickets for the Ladies' semi-finals), followed by 
  • a week up a ladder painting ceilings (my least favourite diy job

put the brakes on my knitting and crocheting. I managed just a few rows of a little preemie blanket most evenings (when my clingy cat would allow it)  and here it is.

I started this blanket in the heatwave. It was too hot to hold anything thicker than 4 ply wool. So I decided to use up a ball of pale blue 4 ply on a small corner-to-corner blanket. It will eventually go off to PreemiesUK

This is an easy, mindless pattern. The difficulty is in knowing when to stop increasing and start decreasing. I started with 95g of yarn. So, I intend to stop increasing when I have 50g left, just to be on the safe side. But I would also like the blanket to measure 15" x 15" which is one of PreemieUK's preferred sizes. I am currently at 14.5" and 62g of yarn left and have reached the stage of weighing my ball of wool after every couple of rows. At the moment, I wouldn't stake any money on my reaching 15".

I finished the decorating yesterday and planned to treat myself to a trip out today. But the weather had other ideas. The rain is pouring down at the moment. That is very welcome in the garden after the hot, dry summer weather; so, it isn't all bad. In fact, it is the perfect chance to catch up on blogging and other small tasks.

I am sitting at my desk now looking at thick grey clouds that are so low they are almost touching my windows. But tomorrow's weather is forecast to be dry and 21 all-time favourite temperature....woo hoo! Where shall I go? Decisions, decisions!

Saturday 1 July 2017

The cat sat on the mat...

Someone gave me a ball of very coarse black and silver wool several months ago.  I wondered what to do with it until I realised that I have never knitted anything for our cat Fleur. How remiss of me!  She sits next to me patiently when I am knitting and is usually very good about not playing with my wool. Sometimes, however, she will try to pull on my knitting needles. That is her way of saying that she is hungry or bored. Generally, though, she is a very good audience member and companion.

Fleur was a rescue cat and is now about 14 years old.  She was found by Cat Protection volunteers locked in the back room of a squalid flat whose owners were intending to use her for breeding. She had already had her first litter of kittens at a very young age. They were also taken away and rehomed.

She started off as my daughter's cat, but became mine when Daughter grew up and left home.  So far, she has been a very fit cat. But last winter I had to take her to the vet a couple of times to get her claws trimmed. There was a lot of cold weather and she wouldn't go out into the garden which is where she normally exercises. Both visits to the vet were traumatic for Fleur, me, the vet, the people and pets in the waiting room, and (possibly) the next door neighbours.
Desperate to avoid regular vet visits, I bought an expensive scratching post which Fleur sniffed disdainfully and has studiously ignored ever since. I then bought a small, cheap raffia mat with a cat toy attached.  This has been a success. Typical!
Fleur immediately claimed it as her own special place to sit. I've decided that she likes the texture as it is very similar to our front and back door mats where she can also sit happily for hours.

We recently bought a lovely faux leather sofa bed for our spare room.  Fleur has discovered it and often jumps up if I am sitting there watching the spare tv. I decided that the coarse black wool would make an ideal cat mat. I combined it with some pink that needed to be used up and knitted a simple corner-to-corner square. I also attached a small pompom which is barely visible in the photo, but might be a nice plaything.

I just emailed this photo to Daughter and to the person who gave me the wool. Their reply was "Awwwww". So I think everyone is happy.

Friday 26 May 2017

Still knitting....

I decided to end a really dreadful week with something good.  I know I haven't blogged for ages; but I have been busy with lots of things including knitting. I used up the last of the donated Peter Pan Cupcake yarn by knitting a preemie blanket. The yarn is thicker than I would normally use for preemie items. But on the label it advertises itself as "deliciously soft" and it really is. That is surprising as it is 50% acrylic and 50% nylon. But whatever way those ingredients are combined, the result is a little cloud that would wrap a baby beautifully.

I haven't been able to take a decent photo. The colour is a pale green and lilac, so it should suit any baby.

The next photo has been more successful. This is the pile of items that will soon be flying off to PreemiesUK There are seven small blankets and a cardigan.

Hopefully my little pile of goodies will make the world a slightly better place. We can only do our best.....

Thursday 20 April 2017

The desk mat with a secret ;-)

When my employer set me free (woo hoo!) last year, I celebrated with a little trip to Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. It was in Lincolnshire that I spotted and bought a little antique desk. It had obviously been much used and was showing its age. But we liked it because it is the same age as our house.

I had a quote to redo the top. The restorer didn't think it needed doing because he liked the "patina". When he quoted £300 I fell in love with the patina as well.

I have cleaned and waxed it and it now looks perfectly acceptable. But it was missing something. We bought a new desk lamp and that helped a lot. Then I had the idea of buying a leather desk mat to go on top. These sell for about £50 on Ebay; so I moved quickly on to Plan B.

I bought a large piece of brown faux leather for about £4. I have already used some to make a door draught excluder that costs £40 on Ebay. So I am now up to £90 of items from a £4 piece of material.

It needed an insert and I puzzled over what to use. Then I remembered something that has been in the bottom of my wardrobe since 2012. That was the year when the Olympic Games were held in London and other UK venues. The atmosphere was so great that year and, quite honestly, hasn't been matched ever since. I was so involved that I even went to the victory parade in London. 

I don't usually go to these victory parades. But I have watched them on tv and have seen the crowd holding up placards. Mystery solved. Clever companies give out these boards and ask people to write messages and then hold them up. Free advertising!  My placard came from British Airways. I like the Union flags all around the edge. I don't like my soppy message, so that is covered up in the photo by the strategically placed faux leather!

I measured very, very carefully and cut out the leather. I have been watching a recycling tv programme called "Money For Nothing" and copied the idea to hold the leather together with clips rather than pins to avoid holes.

I was worried that my old sewing machine wouldn't be able to cope with 2 layers of faux leather. But it purred along and here is the finished result.

Hubby and I are both really pleased with it. My eventual aim is to move my laptop to the desk and to do my computing work there. Now I will be happy that the top is protected.  

I'm glad I kept this placard. It has come in really useful and I still get that warm feeling and happy memories when I look at my new desk mat.  Hopefully, it will last for decades. I suppose it will be thrown away one day. But I doubt that it will ever be opened up. My secret insert is preserved for posterity!

Friday 7 April 2017

The "Here comes the sun" blanket....

This lap blanket has just gone off to SIBOL where the industrious Sue will add it to her collection of blankets from other volunteers. When the pile threatens to take over her house, she delivers the blankets to people living in care homes in and around Birmingham in the UK.  Apparently, they are always very well received.

I started this blanket in the depths of a very cold winter and finished it just as the weather started to improve.  From the first stitch, I intended it to look like a sun bursting through a blue sky and I think I achieved that.  I didn't want it to look like a baby's blanket.  I'm not sure I achieved that!

A lot of the wool was given to me by a colleague of my husband. When I sent her this photo, she was very pleased that it went to a good cause and she has more for me!! I'd better start my next project.....

Monday 3 April 2017

A draught excluder costing almost nothing....

I mainly knit and crochet. But occasionally I sew. This is my latest project; a draught excluder made to fit my door perfectly. The front of my house faces north and, when the wind is coming from that direction, my front door lets in a generous helping of freezing Arctic air. 

I only discovered this recently when I was crawling along the floor painting the skirting boards. There is a tiny gap under the door, without which the door probably would not open. It has to remain; but it was contributing to the large winter heating bills we have here. So I simply had to do something about it.

I thought about buying a draught excluder. But I read the reviews of various tapes and strips and decided that nothing available off-the-peg would cure the problem. I saw a beautiful brown leather snake-like draught excluder on Ebay, but the price was eye-watering. That was when I had my eureka moment.

I realised that I already had all the materials necessary to make a draught excluder almost identical to the one on Ebay. 
All I needed was a remnant of leatherette left over from another project (more about that in another blog post) and some of those foam chippings that are often used to pack fragile items. Luckily, I always keep these chippings in case they come in useful.

I made a long tube, stuffed it with the chippings and sewed the end. It was simple to do, took a leisurely hour and saved me about £40 which is what they sell for on Ebay! Maybe I should go into business. The hardest part was stuffing the foam into the tube. It took a lot more than you can see in the photo! I eventually used a broom handle to pack it all in tightly.

Here is the finished product actually in situ. It looks like a rather odd long sausage. But it blocks the gap between the mat and the door perfectly. The foam chippings inside make it flexible and easy to push right into the gap.

Anyone with basic sewing skills could make one of these. You could use any scrap of material, though I would recommend something that can be wiped clean as draughts are hardly dust-free! 

The advice "measure twice, cut once" also applies here. You might think it looks odd. But the luxury of a correctly fitting draught excluder is priceless. ...and mine truly was. It cost nothing except my time and will hopefully last for many years. 

Today was the warmest day of the year so far. So it seems a strange time to make a draught excluder. But our nights are still cold and this morning was surprisingly foggy. It wasn't quite "The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow". But it will be one day, and I am PREPARED.