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 of if they ask nicely!! I think 2014 will be a year full of squares and blankets, plus some much-needed vests and jumpers for yours truly.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Clearing the decks....

A few weeks ago I came across a family giving away items in their front garden prior to a house move.  I was lucky enough to pick up a bag of wool for no money!  This lovely variegated yarn was in the bag.  I knitted 2 baby kimono cardigans and 1 baby hat and have only inches left....phew!

I love this baby kimono pattern.  I found it on Ravelry here.  It is a lovely pattern, though it requires some concentration.  It is basically knitted in one piece.  The only real sewing is the arms and sides which don't take long.

The hat pattern is also one of my favourites and can be found here.

These items will eventually go off to one of the charities I knit for.  I nearly have enough to fill a box and would love to post it off before the next few months which are going to be frantically busy for me.  I will still knit, crochet and blog, but, for my sanity, will reduce the number of projects in progress to one or two.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A long yarn.....

 I don't mind paying full price for yarn, but I also love a good bargain hunt.  I find it very satisfying to make something useful from these bargains.  So the vast majority of my yarn comes from charity shops, boot fairs and generous donations. The photo shows the amazingly generous donation that "crossed the pond" after Joanne of the Cup on the Bus blog contacted me to ask whether I would be interested in adopting some yarn.  Er....let me think about that.....OF COURSE I WOULD!!

So Joanne filled 3 boxes with yarn and a couple of items that were already knitted and posted them all the way from Ohio, USA to London, UK.  Joanne posted all 3 boxes on the same day.  They arrived here on 3 different days......just one of life's little mysteries!

I had no idea what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised.  This yarn is gorgeous.  Most of it is 100% Aran weight wool which is absolutely perfect for my latest "big blanket" projects.  These, along with some hats and scarves, will eventually end up going to Operation Orphan which is an organisation that distributes clothing and blankets to children in Eastern Europe and other places around the world.  Some of the yarn has been promised to my friend who knits for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.  Both of us will be kept busy for at least a year or even longer.  Many children, dogs and cats will be kept warm by this wool.  

I asked Joanne if I could mention her in my blog posting.  She was good enough to give me more detail about the life cycle of this yarn.

So...over to Joanne.....

Here is the yarn’s trail: my daughter’s mother in law had a dear friend who moved into a retirement home taking only her prized possessions, as the move was a big downsize. Within a week of being settled Marion unexpectedly died. Ruth said she would find a good purpose for the yarn. After some time my daughter Beth told me of the yarn and wondered if I would use it. I agreed, but could not live up to the agreement. I did make winter hats for my granddaughters who live here, one from the wool and silk and one from the aran. I  returned the balls of a blue yarn to Beth’s  daughter, in a zippered bag that would keep the kitty out. One of the rose colored balls you will see has been kitty-fied. Caroline is trying to master knitting. I told Beth I would do some charity knitting with it. So, the yarn is back on the intended trail. Her mother in law, by the way, was a child in the war, set to slave labor on a German farm. It’s a very small world.
Thank you very much for taking this on.

When buying yarn in the UK, I tend to stay within my comfort zone and select from a very limited range.  The yarn Joanne sent me included names I have never heard before....Lopi Light, Canadiana Sayelle and Chelsea Silk.  I'm going to really enjoy trying these new brands.  I can already picture a pile of blankets, hats and scarves.

Thank you, Joanne.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The nearly halfway finished blanket......

I've been working on this blanket for 2 days per week and have nearly reached the halfway point after only 5 days.  It is yet another example of how much faster crochet is than knitting.  I'm repeating row after row of half trebles(UK).  This is approaching a really busy time of year for me and I just needed a mindless project.

The yarn is various odd bits of grey, cream and black Aran and I am following a pattern that was suggested by the random stripe generator which is well worth looking at if you like working in stripes.  

This blanket will eventually go to Operation Orphan which is an organisation that distributes clothes and blankets to children in need around the world.  I was aiming for a final size of 40" x 60" but I didn't measure the first chain of stitches carefully enough. (Slaps wrist.)  So the width is 51".  I might carry on to a length of 65" to balance it out....or I might not, depending on how the mood takes me!

Note to self:  if I crochet this blanket again, I need to chain only 120 stitches for an Aran blanket measuring 40" wide.  If I had done that this time, I would be at the 3/4 point.  Hey ho!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Two more hats....

I needed some light relief from the two blankets I am working on at the moment.  So I have just knitted these two children's hats for Operation Orphan which is an organisation that distributes warm clothing to children in need around the world.

The yarn is a really good quality wool that was donated by Nuns at a convent that was closing down.  I had bottle green, yellow, and a muddy mottled colour and I had fun combining them to make these super warm hats.

The pattern is called "Ellie's easiest ever hat" and can be found in the patterns section of the Loving Hands website.  The site is free to join and there are many patterns available to the members.  It is well worth looking at this site as there are lots of ideas for charity knitting, crocheting and sewing as well as some very friendly chat forums.

Friday, 4 April 2014

This might seem odd......

I have just finished knitting a scarf and fingerless gloves for myself.  This must seem an extremely odd thing to do just as spring is peeping over the horizon.  But there is a good reason.  I occasionally volunteer as a steward in an open air theatre.  The season runs rather optimistically from April to October, so there are still lots of cold days ahead.  The theatre supplies warm coats for the stewards, but there are not enough for everyone who has to stand out in the elements.  The rest of us have to cram as many layers as possible under little cotton tabards.

The dress code for stewards is black, black and more black.  I had a lot of black dk yarn and decided to be a bit more prepared this year.  My requirements are very exact.  My fingers need to be free to take people's tickets and money.  My neck needs to be warm but the scarf needs to be as unobtrusive as possible.  The "Doctor Who" look would not be appreciated by the managers at the theatre.  Both items were very easy to knit.  I made up the patterns as follows:

dk yarn and size 4mm knitting needles
cast on 32 stitches
rows 1-11: K2, P2 rib
row 12: [K1, P1] to end
row 13: [P1, K1] to end
repeat rows 12 and 13 until row 44 has been completed
rows 45-50: K2, P2 rib
cast off ribwise on size 5mm knitting needles
sew side seams of gloves, leaving a hole for the thumbs.

I have smallish hands and these fit perfectly.  For larger or smaller gloves, increase or decrease the number of stitches by multiples of 4.  The length of the ribbing and the main part of the glove can also be adjusted to suit.

dk yarn and size 4mm knitting needles
cast on 29 stitches (or any odd number of stitches)
row 1: [K1, P1] to end
row 2: K1, [K1, P1]  to last 2 stitches, K2

So, basically this scarf is knitted in K1, P1 rib, but every row starts and ends with a knit stitch.  This produces a scarf that sits flat without curling and has an interesting little "pip" at the end of every row.

29 stitches are enough to make a scarf 4" wide which sounds very narrow, but is in fact wide enough for my purposes.  I was aiming for a scarf that was long enough to fold in half, wrap it around the neck and fasten by pushing the ends through the loop.  I will be able to tuck the ends neatly inside the tabard we have to wear and the scarf should stay in place without constant adjustment.

I could have searched high and low for a plain black scarf measuring 70" x 4".   But for minimal cost I have produced something that is exactly what I need.  I used less than 200g of yarn for the gloves and scarf.  It came either in a bargain job lot or as a generous donation...I can't quite remember.  This is the perfect example of when knitting becomes a time and money saving hobby.

 Last year, the start of the open air theatre season was freezing cold.  Hopefully, this year will be different.  If I don't need gloves and a scarf, I will be very happy.  If I do, then my hands and neck will be warm as toast.  "Lead on, Macduff" as Shakespeare (never) said......a famous misquote, but it sounds good!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

I just couldn't resist....

I've been itching to start a crochet blanket for some time.  I have quite a lot a Aran wool which came to me from a generous donor.  It is 100% wool and perfect for making into a child's blanket for countries where night time temperatures are low and where washing, if it happens, will be by hand rather than machine.

The wool I am going to use for the blanket is cream, grey and black.  The photos shows a sample of each colour.  Cream will probably get grubby quite quickly, but I have to use if for something and I decided that keeping a child warm was more important than worrying about a bit of dirt.  This colour combination is not an obvious choice.  But I found a link to the wonderful Random Stripe Generator.  I played around with it for a while until it produced a stripe pattern that I really like.  This useful tool produces a chart showing the number of rows for each colour and I can cross them off on the chart as I make progress.

I cast on yesterday.  I have shelved the idea of a large granny square in favour of a more closely-woven blanket.  I am simply just crocheting rows of half trebles(UK). This will be a mindless project, but that is the intention.  I am just going to pick it up occasionally and crochet a row or two.  There is no rush to finish it and that is good because I really enjoyed the couple of rows I crocheted yesterday.

The red and brown yarn in the photo are bargains I found at a boot fair this morning.  I was very restrained.  The lady had a large sack of wool and knitting patterns for sale at 50p per item..  My Hubby, who has surprised me by taking an interest in wool, asked how much she wanted for the whole lot.  The price was £5.  This was even more of a bargain, but I could see that I would never use some of the wool and I didn't really want the patterns.  So I just bought what I know I will use.  The brown yarn will make one or two hats and there is plenty of the red yarn for a child's jumper; total cost £1.

This has been a good day so far....peaceful and productive.  Long may it last...

Friday, 28 March 2014

All beiged out.......

This is what I knitted with the Debbie Bliss 4 ply wool that Hubby gave me for Christmas.  It's a vest top and I might take a better photo when it has finished drying.  But I was so chuffed to have finally finished it that I whipped out the camera.  It looks a bit flat here, but I suppose it should as it is blocking.  This photo just shows the unusual pattern up the centre and on either side of the neckline.  The neck itself is unusual because it is a long strip of ribbing sewn on.  The edges of the short sleeves were finished the same way.  So, although it was boring to knit acres of stocking stitch, my interest was held by the pattern on the front.  

I am not a lover of beige but this colour will go with a lot of my blouses and I can see myself wearing it a lot.  Hubby and Daughter both like it, which is amazing.  It is not a colour or type of wool that I would have chosen myself, but I can tell that Hubby is pleased that I knitted something with the wool he (or the staff in his office) chose for me.  I have dropped a few hints that the wool is a little thinner than I would have chosen.  But I don't think they registered.  Oh dear!

I can't say how pleased I am that I can now start knitting something else....maybe something smaller, quicker and more colourful.

Just editing this to show the photo of the full top after it dried.  The photo makes it look huge.  It is actually just long enough to cover my hips and wide enough to be loose and comfortable over tops.