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!!

Monday, 19 February 2018

A Suffragette-inspired Worry Monster...

There has been a lot of publicity about the Suffragettes recently. Thanks to them, February 2018 is the centenary of some women being allowed to vote in the UK. They were given the right to vote if they were over 30 and they, or their husbands, met a property qualification. That was a partial  victory for eight million women. It was another 10 years before The Equal Franchise Act was passed in 1928 giving women equal voting rights with men. Fifteen million women over the age of 21 gained the right to vote in elections. The rest is history.

I decided to knit a Worry Monster in the Suffragette colours of purple and green, or as close as I had in my wool bag. The variegated colours are actually purple and green knitted together. The result is lovely in real life, though it looks a bit brown on my computer. I enjoyed doing a little bit of Swiss darning to make her lips slightly more feminine. I also added some perplexed eyebrows but stopped short of adding a monobrow. That would have been too cruel! 

I worked out how to add legs to a basic pattern already on the Knit-for-Nowt website. It was actually very easy to do and I have offered to add my amended pattern to those already in their collection. There is an appeal there for more patterns, so if anyone is a good pattern designer, we need your services! These Worry Monsters and Therapy Puppets are used with traumatised children and there is a waiting list of therapists who have asked for some.

I have just sent this little collection off to Knit-for-Nowt. It was lovely to receive an appreciative email back from Clare who runs the project. Some charities are definitely better than others at making their helpers feel useful. Most will acknowledge a parcel. But the odd one leaves people guessing or asking whether their parcels have arrived. Sadly, I tend to put them to the back of my list of places to donate to. Mini rant over!

What began as a small project to cheer myself up at the end of a gruelling 2017 has turned into something much bigger. Clare jumped at my offer to write some new patterns. I have 2 or 3 patterns in mind and, being a natural worrier myself, I am testing each pattern before I let it loose into the world. I was even dreaming last night about how to add certain features. I think I need to get out more!

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Another worry monster...

Here is another Worry Monster that I knitted for Knit-for-Nowt. It's about 12 inches tall, like my last one. These are used by therapists and the pocket on the front is for children to use as little post boxes for their worries. 

When I thought I had finished it, I was thrown by its very blank expression. I was worried that it didn't look worried enough (ha ha). So I decided to give it a monobrow. It was one of those magic moments when the stars align. I laid some black wool on its forehead and it just fell into exactly the right shape. I held my breath and sewed over the wool very carefully. It took no more than ten minutes (yes, I think I was a pearl diver in a former life) and I was really pleased with the result.

I hadn't heard of Worry Monsters until recently. I was amazed to discover that you can actually buy mass-produced Worry Monsters and that parents give them to their anxious children. How times have changed! I would have run a mile from one of these when I was a child.

I have one more monster to knit. This one will have stumpy little legs...when I have worked out the easiest way to add this space.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

A buzzy Worry Monster...

Here is my latest creation for Knit-for-Nowt. It is a stuffed bee measuring over 12 inches in length. Therapists and social workers use these Worry Monsters to encourage traumatised children to talk. I adapted a basic pattern that is on their website and turned it into a bee. At least I hope that is what it looks like. The wool was a donation from my sister and I struggled to decide what to use it for until I came up with the idea of a bee. Perfect.

In a moment of pure genius, I also came up with the idea of crochet squares for the wings. I learned to crochet 5 years ago. But I still have to look at a book when I start a granny square. Hey ho. Here is the back view:

Like everything else on my monster, the wings are sewn on REALLY well. This is going to be played with by children and I want it to survive!

These Worry Monsters are in HUGE demand. I finished this one a day after receiving the latest Knit-for-Nowt Newsletter in which there was a plea for more monsters as soon as possible because they have a waiting list for them. That is music to my ears. Anyone who is thinking of making one or more of these monsters can be confident that their work will be appreciated. They are a great way to use up odd balls of yarn and your imagination can run riot.

The Newsletter specifically requested large monsters with 2 eyes (more popular than Cyclops monsters, apparently), and other details such as hair, hands and feet. Luckily mine ticks most of the boxes. I'm already planning my next this space...

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Therapy puppets and a project bag...

Following my last blog post about worry puppets, I have just finished sewing two therapy puppets. These are for the same organisation Knit-for-Nowt.  They are used, as before, by therapists, social workers and teachers, but differ slightly from the worry puppets. The therapists have requested that these puppets should have a sad face on one side and a happy face on the other side. This makes them useful in role play and discussions about emotions. They also do not have a pocket for the written worry. 

The pattern I used is on this page. It is the basic (unstuffed) hand puppet. I thought it would be quicker than knitting a worry puppet. It was a VERY easy pattern. But there was such a lot of hand-sewing involved that it actually took as long (or longer) than the knitted puppets. That wasn't a problem as I like sewing by hand. The main body can be sewn by machine. But the hair, facial features and fiddly hemming have to be done by hand. As requested, both my puppets have a sad face and a happy face. 

I deliberately chose a hair colour that is not natural so that children wouldn't have any problems identifying with the puppets. I remember completely rejecting a doll when I was about 6 because it had blonde hair. The irony is that photos show I also had fair hair at the age. My parents had dark hair and I just assumed I did too.

The material came from a discarded sweatshirt, seen here:

I cut off both sleeves, then cut the pattern pieces. One of the puppets came from lower down the sleeves, hence the cuff effect. The rest of the sleeves became the heads and second puppet. I was a bit surprised that I had only enough material for two puppets. Of course, I could have made a few more from the body of the sweatshirt. But I needed a project bag to replace the tatty, plastic carrier bag that was sitting on my sofa with knitting needles poking out at dangerous angles. This is what I made:

It probably took less than an hour to make. I simply cut across the chest of the sweatshirt and sewed the cut edge with a double seam for strength. I rounded the corners slightly to avoid the Mary-Poppins-carpetbag effect. The top of the bag didn't need any hemming as it is the lower ribbing of the sweatshirt. I sewed on two handles that I removed and saved from a fancy Christmas gift bag. It is a very wide bag simply because the sweatshirt was large. But it is perfect for holding balls of wool and long needles. Anyone getting rid of children's outgrown sweatshirts could use this same method to make little bags for holding toys etc.

I have already started my next project. I am making more worry puppets, but this time I'm amending a double knit pattern to suit Aran yarn. That isn't as straightforward as it sounds. The brain cells are definitely having to work overtime....

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Worry puppets...

2017 was a  year I will be happy to forget for lots of reasons. By December I felt just about ready to knit something daft but useful. I don't often knit toys. But a charity I have knitted for in the past (Knit for Nowt) has changed its focus from hats and blankets to therapy puppets and worry monsters. These are used by social workers, therapists and teachers all over the UK who are helping children through various traumas. The idea is that the child writes down a worry and posts it into a pocket on the puppet. This acts as an ice-breaker which, hopefully, leads to discussion and eventual help for the child.

There are lots of patterns ranging from knitting to crocheting and sewing available on the Knit for Nowt website. The pattern I chose is on this page. It is the seventh pattern in the list and is called "Another Worry Puppet". Clicking on the link brings up a word document containing the pattern. Your imagination can run riot when making these puppets. I think my imagination was only strolling along as my puppets are very plain compared to some of the other wonders on the website. I simply gave mine blue jeans, a cream jumper and a big red pocket for a mouth.

But I think I have now caught the bug. There are lots of good ideas on the Knit for Nowt website and their latest newsletter shows just how much these puppets are used and appreciated. It even mentions that there is a high demand for finger puppets. I know some people love to make these; but I'm not one of them! They are far too fiddly for me. However, Hubby finished with a perfectly good cotton jumper today and I just saved it from the bin. I'm intending to print off some sewing patterns for glove puppets from this page. Watch this space...

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.