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!!

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Another [collective noun] of masks...

Who can come up with the best collective noun for face masks? Oops, we're supposed to call them face coverings here in the UK, but very few people do. I happily wear them when I have to. But I don't in the slightest believe they protect me from anything. I read recently that the virus is so small that a tablespoon could hold all the virus in the world. If I can breathe air in and out of a mask, then the virus can find its way in as well. Oh well, so far so good. At least my face is warm.

I made another 14 masks for the worry monsters project run by Knit-for-Nowt. They will be distributed to therapists and social workers throughout the UK. Apparently there is a very long waiting list for the monsters, so I know whatever I can make will be put to good use very quickly. I will be so happy when these are no longer needed; hopefully next year.

I should have said I made 15 masks. I did, but one of them was possessed. I made every mistake possible on that one mask: crooked seams, loose tension, broken elastic etc etc. Eventually I did something I very rarely do and aimed it at the bin. Bullseye! 

I have knitted something possessed in the past. There were too many stitches, dropped stitches, purl instead of knit etc etc. That had to go in the bin as well because yarn can only survive so many rip outs and reknits. I haven't crocheted anything possessed yet. That is only because I crochet very slowly and carefully and only attempt easy projects. Having said that, I have probably just jinxed myself!

Someone sent me some Christmas material and asked me to make her some Christmas masks. Here they are:

I wouldn't wear one myself. But she was pleased with them and that's all that matters. I expect we'll see many more Christmas themed masks in the next few weeks.

I'm going to sign off now and catch up on reading my favourite blogs. Thanks for visiting and commenting throughout this strange year. I read and appreciate all the comments even though I can't always think of a reply. 

Wishing everyone a good Christmas and an even better 2021

Sunday 18 October 2020

All masked out...

I decided to make a couple of pretty masks...for myself this time. There was a bargain rail outside a charity shop. On it I found a little skirt for £1. The material was lovely. It was such a small skirt with seams in all the wrong places. So I just about managed to cut enough pieces to make two masks. 

I use the fantastic pattern by Dhurata Davies. It is so comfortable and stays in place without constant adjustments. There are three layers as recommended by the medical experts. So it was quite hot in the summer even though I use cotton material. But we are now coming up to the cold seasons and this is already keeping my face toasty warm.

Talking of charity shops, I recently started volunteering in one on two mornings per week. It was for entirely selfish reasons. I was going stir crazy because I'm waiting until at least next year before braving the gym again, and my other voluntary work hasn't really restarted properly yet. So the charity shop gives me a good opportunity to get out and keep active.

It's quite an eye-opener to see what goes on behind the scenes. We receive tons of donations and most are good quality. So far, I've managed to resist the urge to buy everything apart from one little jumper. It's lovely to see people buying the bargains. It's not so lovely dealing with customers asking for price reductions or even freebies. Luckily, I wear a mask and they can't see the disgusted look on my face. We are a charity shop for goodness sake! It's even less lovely when items are stolen. That is rare but extremely annoying. I suggested that maybe the thieves are really desperate. But the manager checks the CCTV and says you'd be shocked at the unexpected people who steal.😢

I made some more masks for the Worry Monsters given out by Knit-for-Nowt. Clare, who runs the charity, asked for material in plain colours instead of my carefully sourced children's patterns. I can see how the patterns might have detracted from the amazing monsters that she receives. For these masks, below, I just used material from old t-shirts. All the masks I have made, patterned and plain, have been given out and were very well received according to Clare.

It's worth looking at the Knit-for-Nowt website to see what marvels are sent in. The therapists who receive them are rightly delighted with them and Clare has a long waiting list of people who have requested the monsters. If anyone feels like knitting, sewing or crocheting even one monster she would be very grateful. She is based in the UK and gives out her address when requested by email.

I've made dozens of masks recently. It's not something any of us thought we would be doing this year. I have to admit the novelty has well and truly worn off. Someone asked me to make her a mask using Christmas material. I agreed, but don't know when I will feel like doing it. Possibly at Easter 😀.

Saturday 5 September 2020

More worry monster masks...

Crikey! I know it's been a while since I posted, but I wasn't expecting to have to learn a whole new Blogger. I expect there were good reasons for the changes, though I was very used to old Blogger. I know I can go back to it, but I'll see how I get on with the new, improved version before I do that.

Here are another 13 masks that I sewed and posted off to Knit-for-Nowt. In July, I suggested it might be a good idea to add little face masks to the knitted worry monsters that go off to teachers and therapists. I didn't realise I was opening up a can of worms. This little batch is my third attempt to make something suitable! The first two batches fitted only the smaller monsters because the ribbon ties were too short and the mask shapes weren't quite right.

For safety reasons, the ribbon ties can't be any longer. So this batch has elastic loops and elastic ties that will hopefully stretch to fit more of the monsters. I also had to bin my fancy, diamond shape design because it was apparently covering the monsters eyes. Having looked at the gallery of monsters on the Knit-for-Nowt website, I suspect these rectangular masks will do the same because a lot of the noses are in between the monsters' eyes. 

I'll have to wait and see what Clare says about this attempt.  My ultimate aim is to write a set of instructions for whichever mask fits most of the worry monsters. Then other people will be able to join in the mask sewing fun.

Now, I really must catch up on all my favourite blogs. See you all soon...


Saturday 25 July 2020

I spoke too soon...

When I said I was done with masks, I spoke too soon. As I was putting away my sewing machine, I had one of those Eureka moments. Why not make face masks for the worry monsters that Knit-for-Nowt gives to therapists who work with traumatised children? I contacted Clare who runs the group and she thought it was a great idea because a lot of these children will be coming across adults who have to wear face masks and some children are afraid of them. I think there will be more traumatised children than ever after this year's events.  If I had had to miss so much school and stay at home for months as a child I know I would have been climbing the walls. 

Clare gave me a few basic measurements and I sewed some masks in various shapes and sizes. She will try them against the worry monsters that are sent to her and let me know what works best. Then I will write some instructions for other people who might want to sew some. They are quite easy. In fact, the two white masks in the photo came from shirt cuffs donated to me by Hubby. These would be extremely easy for anyone with a serger machine to make. I don't have one of those and my old sewing machine can't cope with raw edges. So I won't be making any more. But I included them as an example of what can be made.

Clare requested cheerful material for the masks. I splashed out and bought some from Ebay. A little goes a long way especially if you use scrap material as a backing layer. I also recycled some material I have been holding onto for years. The orange hippo material in the centre of the photo originally covered a beanbag that we used to use to prop up Daughter when she was a baby. I've always l liked the material and knew it would come in useful for something. I was thinking of bags or cushion covers. Little did I know what it would eventually be used for.

I hope everyone is well. Stay safe....

Sunday 28 June 2020

Done with masks....

Hopefully this will be my last post about masks. I am firmly on the same team as those who believe these homemade face coverings are almost useless as protection against anything, never mind against a deadly virus. They could be even worse than useless if they give anyone a false sense of security. But I am now required to wear one in certain places and at least they mean I can brave public transport.

Here are some of the masks I made for my sister; I accidentally forgot to photograph the first two that I posted. I blame corona brain for that:

The mauve masks are made from an old t-shirt and I was quite pleased with myself when I managed to incorporate an embroidered part on the right hand mask. My sister bought her own mauve and green elastic.

Here are six masks I made for myself:

Again, these started life as t-shirts. I simply refuse to buy new material for these things. I did give in, though, and bought some blue elastic. I've noticed a wide variety of masks being worn in public. The homemade masks are generally very good and I wanted mine to cut the mustard with the best of them.

Apart from one mask, all of these follow the pattern by Dhurata Davies It is extremely well-written and I can recommend it for comfort and fit. I also like how the pattern involves both hand and machine sewing. There are quite a few steps to follow. But if you take your time, you will end up with a good mask. 

I can't say the same for the rectangular mask at the bottom of my photo. It looked like it should have been super easy, and it was up to a point. That point came when I had to sew the two sides after folding them. My forty year old sewing machine didn't want to know and I ended up having to do it by hand which wasn't easy through all the layers. This mask is ok to wear, but not as nice as the others. It will only have its debut if all the other masks are in the wash. Realistically that will be never.

I love how online videos show sewing machines stitching this type of pleated mask with ease. I have managed to keep my machine going for years and have no plans to buy another one. After all, I have never had to change the light bulb or needle. Yes, the needle is older than my daughter! I'm not going to jinx things by changing it for a modern one. I've found that modern hand sewing needles are not as strong as older ones. Is the same true of machine needles? I'll never know! 

So this is the new normal we are all supposed to be getting used to. Maybe, if we are lucky, a good vaccine will be found and we will all look back in disbelief at 2020. That is quite possible as I read somewhere that social distancing and face coverings were used during the 1918 pandemic. That died out and has been almost forgotten. Let's hope history repeats itself.

I have now made about 20 face masks for various people. I'm completely done with them. My new normal will involve knitting and crochet once again. Watch this space...

Saturday 6 June 2020

Flattening the curve.....

One day before the UK was put into lock down in March, I caught a bus to my local garden centre. I had a sense of impending doom and it felt like "now or never". It was a strange experience; for most of the journey it was just me and the bus driver. It was also the day before garden centres closed down for 2 months at the busiest time of the gardening year. I know I bought two shrubs and planted them that same day. But my brain has mercifully blocked out which shrubs they were. We have been revamping the garden since last year and a lot of the shrubs are new. It's easy to forget which were the last two. I won't have to forever look at my garden and link part of it to the pandemic.

Likewise, I planned to calm myself down by making a huge granny square blanket. I sorted out all my pinks and some contrasting cream. The photo just shows a sample. I have LOTS of these in my wool bag. The cream is in there because I have someone in mind as the eventual recipient and cream is more practical than white in her hectic household. (The dark maroon to the right of the photo did not make the final selection.) However, I could not bring myself to start crocheting while there was so much horror and depressing virus news every day. I did not want bad vibes and memories associated with the blanket. 

One wonderful day we were judged to have reached the other side of the peak and to be in the "flattening the curve" stage. I celebrated by picking up my crochet hook. As usual, I had to go back to basics and remind myself how to crochet a square. Can you tell crochet doesn't come naturally to me?! I'm using a crochet technique that someone recommended for stopping the square twisting. You simply turn the square and crochet in the opposite direction at the end of each complete round. Simple, but it definitely makes a nice, flat square. It's crochet's version of "flattening the curve".

The square has grown since this photo. I'm enjoying planning the sequence of colours and taking my time. Further photos will follow...

Saturday 16 May 2020

What sad times....

Who would have thought I would ever publish a photo of myself auditioning as Hannibal Lecter's sister? But here it is. Here in the UK we have recently been advised to wear face coverings on public transport and in shops. We have specifically been told not to wear medical masks as there is a shortage in hospitals and care homes and it wouldn't be appropriate for the general public to compete for supplies.

Bearing in mind that even medical masks are not 100% effective at blocking bacteria, I am on the side of those that think face coverings are not only pretty useless, but also worse than useless if used incorrectly. I think though, if used correctly, they might be slightly better than nothing. Who really knows?

I made a couple of shopping trips this week wearing a very cheap imitation of a medical mask. It was gappy, sweaty and constantly riding up to poke out my eyes. That was the opposite of what I was expecting. I thought it would fall down, but no. So I spent hours trawling the internet for patterns. There are zillions out there that have been amended from a couple of basic designs. Then I found this more fitted pattern that comes in a range of sizes. I tested it out using a tatty old t-shirt. It took me a while. Some people claim to sew it in fifteen minutes. It took me a lot longer, but was worth it. The washed-out t-shirt actually made a very soft, comfortable mask.

Someone I know wanted to see a photo. I didn't have any suitable elastic. So I dug out some tiny ribbons that I always cut out of clothes. By sheer luck, they make ideal ear loops and are actually probably better than elastic. They keep the mask in place. It doesn't slip down the nose and doesn't need a metal nose piece.

Here is a link to the pattern by Dhurata Davies It is an extremely well-written pattern for personal use, not for resale.

I hope everyone is well in these strange times. One day, I want to look back and laugh at myself wearing a mask.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Loosely related...

Whilst under house arrest and going slightly crazy I am still knitting pants for Knit-for-Nowt's worry monsters. However, I can't keep writing about pants as this blog might start attracting some very strange viewers! So, today I am posting about a book that is helping to keep me sane at the moment; The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.

To say I am under house arrest is a slight exaggeration. My Government guidelines are that I can go out for exercise once a day for an hour. I spend that walking the same streets as I am also supposed to stay local. Sadly, my streets are urban grey. 

This is a knitting, sewing and crocheting blog. But this book qualifies for a mention because I am sure I saw it recommended on one of my favourite blogs. I cannot remember which one, but to whoever recommended it....thank you.

I actually started reading it months ago, but life took over and I put it down for a while. I remembered it recently and I now read a chapter every evening in the vain hope of getting some sleep that isn't filled with nightmares. It is the true story of a couple who decide to walk the coastal path along the south-western tip of England. They have to cope with homelessness, hunger and terminal illness. But they manage to see the funny side! The writing style is chatty and down-to-earth. This is a walk I want to do one day when the world returns to a new normal. 

I hope everyone is well. The pink flowers in the photo were sent to me by a friend. They were a real surprise and cheered me up. So I'm sharing them here to "pass it on".

Sunday 29 March 2020

Rainbow pants...

I used to think of the world as:
  • before and after Daughter was born,
  • before and after 9/11,
  • and before and after Brexit. 

Now I think of it as: 
  • before and after Covid-19. 

The "after" part(y) hasn't happened yet, but, for our sanity, we have to believe that it will.

My last blog post was in January. I envy those innocent days when we had no idea what was looming on the horizon. I think rumours had started to reach us about a virus thousands of miles away, but we were told we had nothing to worry about. Wrong! It's a small world.

Since then I have experienced every emotion, except happiness. That will come the day we hear the virus is under control. It will be thanks to the huge efforts of the medical profession, and to the sacrifices of the general population who are living under unthinkable conditions at the moment. Some are taking more care than others, but that's life...and death. 

Personally, I only have to look at the marvellous new hospital that has appeared in London only a few miles from where I live. It has been converted from a large exhibition centre and will have 4000 beds. Impressive and a life saver. But going in there would be my idea of hell on earth. Luckily, my family and I tend to be healthy and fit. We avoid hospitals at the best of times, and that is one we definitely never want to visit. If I have to stay indoors for a few weeks, so be it. I have plenty to keep me busy.

Meanwhile, people are coping as well as possible. There have been efforts to cheer us all up. One of them was to encourage children to paint rainbows and put them in their windows. I can't say I have seen any. But I am living under lock down, only allowed to go out once a day for a walk and essential shopping. If anyone has put rainbows in their windows, thank you.

I stopped knitting for a while when the shock of what is happening turned my world grey. I was waking up in the mornings and, for a few seconds, all was well with the world. Then I remembered what was happening and the dread returned. The tv was on too much playing a constant loop of tragic news.

But then I decided I had to stick to a routine and keep busy. I'm still knitting worry monster pants for Knit-for-Nowt. As going shopping for wool is not essential and it would be impossible to find any shops selling wool, I'm using up what I have. The mauve wool is a bit boring. But I have been using up oddments and adding tiny splashes of colour. The rainbow on this pair of pants was a lucky accident.

I've been visiting all my favourite blogs and am happy to see everyone seems to be staying positive. Long may it continue.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

A [collective noun] of pants...

If I haven't been writing many blog posts recently, at least they can be witty. Or so I thought. I've been trying to discover the collective noun for pants, as in a pride of lions or a swarm of bees. There doesn't seem to be one. All suggestions would be welcome!

Here are the latest pants knitted for Knit-for-Nowt's Worry Monster project. The therapists who use the monsters requested pants so that the children could dress and undress them. There are 18 here in different sizes. I've just found a 19th lurking at the bottom of my knitting bag. That is a bummer as we say here. (Enough of the puns!) But at least it can start my next collection.

These are really very easy to knit. The smallest size uses just 4g of dk yarn and takes about an hour to knit and sew up. 

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".