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 24 December 2019

Crikey; absent for 2 months...

As the title says, it has been nearly 2 months since I looked at my blog. The reason was good, I suppose. I decided to have a huge decluttering and tidying splurge. The house is now (probably unnaturally) pristine and minimalist, and the loft has only stuff we want to keep rather than stuff we don't know what to do with.

The local charity has had literally a vanful of donations. I know that because they sent a van to collect books, toys, ornaments, and clothes. I usually take the stuff in myself; but it would have taken months of trips to drop off what we gave away. I'm actually enjoying living in a tidy home and intend never to buy too much stuff ever again. That can be my next New Year's resolution.

But what reward did I get for my hard work? A broken down boiler, no heating and no hot water for the past week which has been very cold here in the UK. I really sympathise with the homeless people who sleep out in the streets at this time of year. At least I was dry indoors.

The gas company that we have loyally paid a monthly fortune to for 3 decades in order to ensure speedy repairs let us down badly. They were quite happy to leave us freezing into 2020. By yesterday morning it had become unbearable. Hubby had man flu and I had a hubby with man flu. I had my first flu jab this year, so I was immune, thankfully.

I searched the phone book and found a local gas engineer who was happy to visit yesterday afternoon. What a lucky find. He was one of those people that you just know is honest and knowledgeable. He quickly diagnosed a burnt out motor which would not have happened if my contracted company had visited sooner and simply lubricated the boiler. (I have become an expert in boiler technology this week!)

The replacement part would have cost £300. My boiler was 17 years old, had a low energy rating and  was no longer worth spending big money on. We had already been thinking of replacing it for a more energy efficient one. But I was crestfallen at the thought of more days in a freezing house.

Then the engineer said he could fit a new A-rated boiler today for a really bargain £1300. A Christmas miracle! He was genuine and not lying about expensive parts just to sell a new boiler. I already knew about the rarity of parts for our model. I thought I had better be honest and say "you know it's Christmas Eve tomorrow?" He replied that he doesn't celebrate Christmas. It's easy to forget that not everybody does, until we meet one.

So that's how I spent Christmas Eve in a house without gas. It took the engineer and his friend all day to fit the new boiler. Some years that would have been a disaster. But I'm not cooking a big dinner this year. So it wasn't a problem, and I'm now sitting here in a beautifully warm house and very aware of how lucky I am.

As this is a knitting blog, I should mention that I had started to wear hand knitted scarves indoors. I nearly put on gloves but decided to draw the line there.

Well done to anyone who has read this far. Needless to say I will be cancelling my contract with my former gas company whose name will be forever linked with chocolate teapots.

Now I must visit all my favourite blogs. I hope everyone is still well and firing on all cylinders, like my new boiler! Seasons greetings to everyone who celebrates Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Sunday 27 October 2019

Having a pants week!

I never dreamed this time last week that I would spend the next few days knitting pants. I know that doesn't translate well around the world. When we say 'pants' in the UK we really mean underpants. That explains why our cousins from across the pond hear sniggers when mentioning pants in the UK. Completely different images are flitting through their minds and our minds!

Why would anyone want to knit pants? Cue: visions of horrific swimming costumes knitted by well-meaning mothers! Never fear; mine were for the worry monsters that I knit for Knit-for-Nowt. We are supporting the NSPCC's Let's Talk PANTS campaign. There is more information HERE. Therapists requested pants that the children could use to dress and undress the monsters. It seemed an obvious thing for us to help with.

They are super simple to knit. There is a link to various pants patterns HERE. If that link doesn't work, click on and scroll down to "If you'd like to knit some pants for your monster".

I wrote the pattern that produced the pants in the above photo. It wasn't easy! I took my lead from the pattern that was already on the website. But I wanted to knit the pants as one piece to reduce the number of seams to sew up. I knitted several versions before I was happy to release the pattern to other knitters. I now have a bag of prototype pants. They won't go to waste. I'll include them in my next parcel as monsters come in all shapes and sizes. 

My pattern is quite addictive and I can easily knit one or two per day. If any clever crocheters could translate the pants patterns into crochet patterns, I'm sure Clare who runs Knit-for-Nowt would love to hear from you.

In a week in which I heard that one of my favourite knitting charities is closing down, it was cheering to receive the latest newsletter from the vibrant Knit-for-Nowt. It is full of requests for knitted, crocheted and sewn items. There is a waiting list of therapists who need monsters and puppets. The Knit-for-Nowt GALLERY has lots of inspiring photos. 

So if you are up to making a monster or glove puppet, please consider Knit-for-Nowt. Even if you only have time for knitting pants, that would be wonderful.

Sunday 6 October 2019

Another Worry Monster....

This is my latest creation for Knit-for-Nowt, an organisation that donates worry monsters and similar items to therapists who work with traumatised children. As usual, my effort is more "worry" than "monster". I seem to be mentally and physically incapable of knitting anything more scary. 

I've stopped fretting about it. I still think my monsters have enough detail to inspire a conversation between therapist and child. The blue pocket on the front is where children are invited to post written worries that they might have trouble talking about.

I managed to make the ears fairly even this time. I also added rudimentary hands and thumbs....not very clear in the photo. The eyes are a bit wonky, but nobody's perfect! 

It's well worth looking at the Knit-for-Nowt website to see some amazingly scary monsters.

I think I have one more monster left in me for 2019, so I'm off now to rummage in my wool bag. Bye for now.....

Wednesday 4 September 2019

And off they go....

This happy bunch of memory bears and little blanket squares is now in the post and on its way to SiMBA which is an organisation that donates memory boxes to bereaved parents.

There is a selection of knitting and crochet patterns that can be found on SiMBA's website. They are very easy. I soon learned the teddy pattern off by heart and could make one in a day, or two days if you count the sewing up.

This is a very fleeting blog visit. I just have to run and watch the tv. Anyone who has been following UK politics lately will know it is like watching a slow-motion car crash. Knitting is one of the things that usually takes my mind off the craziness.

I'll be back!....

Thursday 22 August 2019

A new charity to knit for...

Wow! Another month has gone by since my last post. I have no excuses. Summer is always really hectic chez moi.

I recently discovered a new (to me) charity to knit for. It is called SiMBA which is short for Simpson's Memory Box Appeal. They are based in Glasgow, Scotland, and provide support to parents who lose babies during pregnancy or at birth. 

One of the things they do is to make memory boxes containing small teddies and blankets. The items are knitted in pairs because the idea is that one is given to the baby and one to the parents. Then they are swapped so that the parents can treasure something that was touched by their baby and something that the parents touched stays forever with their baby. It's a lovely idea. So how could I resist?

There are patterns on the SiMBA website for the bears and blankets as there are specific colours and sizes needed. My two bears fit in the palm of a hand. They were super quick to knit and a great way to use up scraps of yarn. Twenty grams of dk was enough to knit the pair.

I have a few more of these bears at various stages of completion. Then I might add a couple of blankets. But first I really have to visit all my favourite blogs again. Look out, here I come.....

Thursday 25 July 2019

Impeccable timing...

With my usual impeccable timing, I have just finished a scarf to match the hat I knitted recently. The timing is impeccable because the temperature in London is hotter today than ever recorded. It's approximately 39 celsius which is probably nothing out of the ordinary to some of my blog readers. But the weather is coming up from North Africa and we are just not used to this type of heat here. Luckily, thunder storms are forecast for tonight. That is usually how heatwaves end here. Meanwhile, anyone who can stay indoors is doing just that.....but maybe not knitting scarves for the winter!

I used the same Aran yarn that I used for my hat; so I now have a matching set waiting for the colder weather. Even if I never wear the hat, I will definitely wear the scarf. I prefer scarves to be quite short and snug. My tried and tested method is to knit for 41 inches. I then turn down 6 inches at one end and sew it along the scarf to make a loop. The scarf then goes around my neck and the other end feeds through the loop. I can then pull it as tightly as necessary to fit my neck. Today, I couldn't bear the thought of wearing a scarf; so my glass head is modelling it for the photo. 

This is one of those occasions when making something beats searching the shops to buy it. This style is just not available to buy. It is easy for anyone to copy. Simply knit or crochet your favourite scarf pattern and sew one end into a loop. The only thing I would say is that, if your scarf is 7 inches wide the loop should also be 7 inches wide, and so on. That way the scarf will sit neatly around your neck without unsightly bunching up.

My busy summer is in full swing and I have been absent from blogland. I am now going to spare some time to catch up on all my favourite blogs. See you soon....

Saturday 22 June 2019

A hat for me...possibly!

Well, I finally finished the Northmoor Watchcap. Midsummer is a good time for knitting hats, don't you think? The link takes you to the pattern and I can definitely recommend it. There is even a good chance that I will wear it if we ever have a severe winter. 

I really like the way it turned out. I ploughed on with the 120 stitches per round because nobody on Ravelry commented about that part of the pattern. It was monotonous; but sometimes that is just what I need. It also used up a lot of yarn; but that has made a very warm hat and means I am nearer my goal of using up all my Aran yarn. Win, win.

Some knitters, however, commented that they started the crown shaping one inch earlier than specified in the pattern. I tried it on (very carefully) when I reached that stage, and that was the right size for me as well. So I started the shaping. Like the brim, it was a little more complicated than some hat patterns. But it has made a very neat crown. It doesn't show up in the photo. But I like to think that whoever sits behind me on the bus will think "what a lovely hat"! In fact the whole hat looks quite professional.

On a different topic, some bloggers occasionally tell me that they can't add comments to my blog. Never fear; I discovered some comments awaiting moderation yesterday. It seems that the comments are reaching me; but I don't always receive a notification. That is probably what is being blocked. I have no idea why. I have checked my Blogger settings and everything seems ok. It remains a mystery. But please keep commenting. I always see and read them eventually.

PS: having written that, I just checked my settings again because I was no longer able to reply to comments. I have now changed one setting and that should make it easier for everyone. Phew!

Saturday 1 June 2019

Busy, busy, busy...

Thanks to everyone who left comments on my last blog post and apologies that I haven't found time to answer them. But, rest assured that I read and appreciate every comment. 

However, only comments relating to my blog reach the publication stage. The increasing amount of spam that I receive about restaurants, cleaning materials and other highly irrelevant topics is deleted immediately. I don't even open the links (I'm not daft!!), so whoever is wasting their time sending spam really is wasting their time. Rant over!

I love this time of year. But it is really busy as I make the most of  the good light. If I'm not in the garden, I'm up a ladder with a paint brush in my hand.

I have just found time to start this hat:

The pattern is called Northmoor Watchcaps by Luise O'Neill and is available on Ravelry. I love the way there is a choice of brims. I am knitting the fancy brim which you can just about see in the photo. It has a very clever cable effect that does not need fiddly cable needles. The whole hat is knit on a circular needle. Unusually for Aran yarn it uses a size 4mm needle. The advantage is a more professional finish. The disadvantage is the 120 stitches on each row!

With impeccable timing, I am knitting this on our hottest day of the year so far. As this hat is for me, it will probably be the coldest day of the year before I actually wear it. I generally don't like hats. That's why I am knitting the cable brim for a bit of extra je ne sais quoi.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Third worry monster...

Good things come in threes, so here is my third worry monster. It is supposed to be a type of winged insect, though the wings don't show up very well against the wicker background. Oh well, there is no chance to take a better photo because all three monsters have now gone off to Knit-for-Nowt from where they will be distributed to therapists who work with traumatised children. The busy Clare has just received them and emailed me to say how much she likes them. You're welcome!

The therapists have requested lots of details and colour as these start conversations with the children. I have problems making my monsters scary, so I tend to use strong, clashing colours to add drama. Instead of my usual white eyes, I used green and edged them with black woolly eyelashes. They have ended up looking more like slices of kiwi fruit. Yummy; though that probably wasn't the look I was aiming for.

I learned a new skill. The hair is loopy knitting and here is a close-up:

I was pleased with how the loops turned out and the fact that they don't unravel or pull apart, which is a consideration when young children might be playing with them. They are quite slow to knit, so I could never knit a whole loopy garment. But as a detail they are interesting enough.

The green pocket on the front is a little post box for the children's worries. You would never believe how long it took me to crochet this square. I have been knitting most of my life, but only learned to crochet a few years ago. I am still not a natural crocheter and have to read instructions every time I make something. Otherwise I go horrendously wrong, which I did twice with this square. This is actually my third-time-lucky attempt. I was starting to wonder how many times I could crochet with the same yarn before it disintegrated!

Monday 6 May 2019

Second worry monster...

Here is my latest worry monster. I'm not sure what has happened to its right ear. It does match the left one, honestly. This will be going to Knit-for-Nowt and will eventually be part of a therapist's work with traumatised children. The pocket on the front is where the children post notes about their worries.

The therapists have requested lots of colour and details. I used some VERY bright variegated yarn, added a messy hairstyle and my trademark eyebrows to change the look from gormless to anxious. The eyes themselves came from my huge spare button collection. They are a mottled brown and look very life-like.

I've just noticed that the wide arms are almost inviting cuddles from the children. I think this is my favourite monster...... so far.

Thursday 25 April 2019

Another worry monster...

Here is my latest worry monster. It will eventually go off to Knit-for-Nowt from where it will join others on their way to social workers and therapists working with traumatised children.

Some of the monsters on the above website are amazing. Apparently, the social workers have asked for lots of details on the monsters as they encourage the children to talk. So this one has ears, messy hair and a pocket for the worries. Finally, inspired by a recent trip to the vet with my lazy cat, I added what I hope looks like a set of neatly trimmed claws. (Fleur, take note!)

I thought I had finished this monster and I was working on the next one. But every time I caught sight of it, I couldn't help noticing its vacant expression. So I added a monobrow this morning, which I hope has made it look more worried than gormless.

Friday 12 April 2019

My new favourite hat pattern...

I promise this isn't the same hat photographed from different angles and blogged about several times! I have quite a lot of this Aran wool to use up. I loved it when I bought it and I still do. It's navy blue with a small beige fleck to give a bit of interest.

This time I followed a pattern that I can't remember knitting before. It's the Easy-Fit Ribbed Hat by Mary Jane Protus. It is almost identical to my previous favourite pattern. But this one has a much neater crown and for that reason is the pattern that I will use in future. It is knit "in the round" and very easy to do. 

The ribbing helps it to fit any shape head. My hat will fit an older child and will eventually go off to Operation Orphan. But I like the wool and pattern so much that I am planning to knit an adult size for myself. That is a big statement for someone who usually prefers to freeze than wear a hat. The beauty of this pattern is that you just use a slightly larger knitting needle if you want a larger size. There is no wading through rows of numbers with this pattern. 

Presently, I am working on three different worry monsters and they are all at the ugly duckling stage. I will blog about them when they are a bit more presentable!

Sunday 31 March 2019

Knit-for-Nowt competition

Calling all busy crafters....I'm advertising this competition on behalf of Knit-for-Nowt. I can vouch that this is a fantastic organisation that needs and will find homes for all your creations.

The monsters go to social workers who help traumatised children. It doesn't take long to make one of these and they are a great way to use up scraps of yarn and material.

(Sorry about the tiny font size at the end of my post. Whatever I try, Blogger will not allow me to make it larger.)


The charitable service Knit-for-Nowt announces a fun competition.  For a chance to win a prize, send in an item to donate to therapists working with seriously anxious children. Entries are welcome now from knitters, crocheters and stitchers.

1           Knit, crochet or sew a Worry Monster or hand puppet for the Knit-for-Nowt charity. You may enter up to 10 items.  Full details and patterns are on the website  Your monster(s) must have three or more of these features added to the basic pattern: hair, ears, hands, arms, feet, legs.  They must be in bright colours and must comply with all safety rules on the website.
2          Attach a label to each individual item, with your full name, email address and County.
3           Send to Knit-for-Nowt – for posting details please email   
4           2 lucky dip winners and 10 runners up will be picked out at random during the week beginning 17th June by a senior social worker.
5           All entries will be photographed by Knit-for-Nowt and put up on a new “Competition Gallery” on the website for all your friends and family to admire!

PRIZES: a £30 voucher each for two lucky winners, and ten x £10 runner up vouchers for the online knitting shop “Love Knitting” – go to to browse the shop.  Winning entries will be featured in the Summer Knit-for-Nowt Newsletter, which is distributed to up to a thousand knitters.  Please note:  entries will not be judged, but picked out at random in our Lucky Dip.

CLOSING DATE BY WHICH ENTRIES MUST REACH KNIT-FOR-NOWT = 17th JUNE 2019 Please go to  for full details, terms and conditions, and safety rules.

Sunday 17 February 2019

Preemie items; off they go...

I have been busy knitting bootees and mittens for PreemiesUK. The pattern is a really basic one which is on their website somewhere. Each item weighs about 5g, so it's a great way to use up leftover yarn. I usually prefer to knit bigger items such as blankets and hats, but they are currently snowed under with them and have specifically requested bootees and mittens.

They have also requested items that could be sold at an Easter craft fair, so I threw in a bunny blanket and a couple of trinket bags that I knitted years ago.

Daylight is stronger today, so the yellow colour is showing up better than in my last blog post. I really loathe any shade of yellow. After knitting the bootees I had to force myself to sew them up just so that I could post them off. To prove that my heart was not in the sewing, I actually managed to sew across the top of one of the bootees. Duh! Luckily I was able to undo it. Phew! I wonder what daft mistakes other people have made...

Saturday 2 February 2019

Another bunny blanket, and a gift...

Here is another small bunny blanket that I knitted recently, this time for charity. It will go to PreemiesUK as they are having a sale at Easter and this might suit the theme. It's hard impossible to tell from the photo, but the colour is a pale lemon. I think that is perfect for an Easter bunny; more perfect than for a baby unless it likes the jaundiced look.

The pattern came from Ravelry. It is a free pattern, but you might need to register and log in to view it. It would be fairly easy to adjust the pattern if you wanted to turn it into a cat or dog.

Another photo that suffered from our lack of real daylight at this time of year is:

These woven towels are a rich shade of terracotta. They were handmade on a loom and sent to me by Joanne who writes the Cup on the Bus blog. This a chatty blog written by a feisty lady and well worth a visit. Thanks for the gift, Joanne; they are really well made. I don't think I own anything else that has been hand-crafted to such a high standard. The colour actually suits my kitchen which is basically cream with a few pops of terracotta in the vain hope of making it feel warmer. I can't complain too much about the weather though. Our thin layer of snow this week is nothing compared to what is happening in other parts of the world.

Oh...and as for the big, thick, pink wool. I managed to knit a square measuring about 18" x 18". I will probably donate it to the first family member to have a baby. It is beautifully thick and would make a nice liner for a pram. Here is another photo that doesn't do anything justice!

I don't know what went wrong with photo. It looks like the bottom edge is wonky, but it really isn't.

I thought I hadn't achieved much this week. But, reading this back, I'm satisfied, especially as I tend to hibernate at this time of year!

Saturday 19 January 2019

While waiting for my huge needles to arrive so that I can carry on with my super chunky pink yarn, I knitted this quick project. It was quite a lucky move as it was one of the patterns I was considering for the pink yarn which, on reflection, would have been far too thick. I actually used dk yarn doubled and love the way it turned out.

I found the pattern here. You might need to log in to Ravelry to see it. There is apparently also a crochet version available. The beauty of patterns on Ravelry is that you can see how other knitters got on with them. Ravelry has some useful notes about an error in one of the pattern rows. That is the only error in the pattern. Some knitters had other problems; but they were entirely caused by not reading and following the pattern carefully.

I will definitely knit more of these. Most baby colours would look great, even those that can look odd on some babies e.g. lemon and mauve. Strangely, the only colour I would not use is white. This is supposed to be a rabbit, in case you were wondering! I think white would make it look more like Casper the ghost.

I'm planning to knit a few of these in different colours over the next 12 months. Several of my nieces are reaching the age when babies are a possibility and this would make an unusual and easy little gift.

Well, the big thick knitting needles have arrived and I can now begin the chunky pink this space!

Saturday 12 January 2019

Best laid plans....

Having finally succeeded in using up my 4 ply yarn, apart from a few scraps, (which may have a future use, after all), I decided to use up my Aran yarn which is taking up an unreasonable amount of space. I knitted my favourite, easy hat pattern. I have knitted many of these in the past. It is very simple. I found the pattern on the Loving Hands website. I don't know whether or not it is still there, but it is called Ellie's Easiest Ever Hat and certainly lives up to its name. It is knit in the round with Aran wool. You simply change the needle size to make it fit a child, teenager, woman or man. I definitely recommend this as a quick, easy pattern.

This one will fit a teenager and will go to Operation Orphan when I have enough to post. It barely made a dent in my bag of aran yarn, so I can see another year of knitting hats ahead of me.

My plans to clear the big yarn fell apart when someone gave me three of these humongous balls of wool for Christmas. The beauty is that it won't take me long to knit something with such a thick yarn. The downside is that I have had to order new larger broomsticks knitting needles and I also have no idea what to knit. 

A quick search on Ravelry shows that most people use it for thick scarves. I have enough of those, so will probably make a simple, thick lap rug. Any other ideas? I only have 150 metres of it....all pink!

The person who gave me this wool is not a knitter. They just thought it was lovely and it was a kind thought, so I'm not really complaining. The original expression about best laid schemes comes from a Robert Burns' poem about a poor mouse whose home was ploughed up in a cold winter.

With thanks to Robert Burns, To A Mouse, 1785, and Wikipedia 2019:
The original wordingThe poem in modern English
Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a pannic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

Thy wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear![5]
Little, sly, cowering, timid beast,
Oh, what a panic is in your heart!
You need not start away so hasty
With bickering prattle!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering paddle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes you startle
At me, your poor, earth-born companion
And fellow mortal!

I doubt not, sometimes, that you may steal;
What then? Poor beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.

Your small house, too, in ruin!
Its feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse green foliage!
And bleak December's winds coming,
Both bitter and piercing!

You saw the fields laid bare and empty,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! The cruel plough passed
Out through your cell.

That small heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter's sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear![citation needed]