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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!!

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.


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The "little and littler" blankets...




I finally finished knitting the preemie blankets using the wool kindly sent to me by Jo of the Three Stories High blog. The yarn is Water Wheel Comfy 4ply and Jo confirmed after my last blog post that it is indeed vintage yarn and used to belong to an 83 year old lady. It must have been stored very well because it was in pristine condition. I'm glad I was able to turn it into something useful.

Jo suggested that I should knit some preemie items with this yarn. I was originally going to call these the "Little and Large" blankets. I knitted the smaller one first and then cast on about an extra 18 stitches to knit the larger one.  This wool is so fine that it is really difficult to tell them apart. The larger blanket is actually the one underneath. It is wider and longer; but not in an obvious way.

These blankets used up 160g of yarn. I still have 40g left and could knit some preemie hats or a cardigan. The charity I am planning to send these to (PreemiesUK) likes matching items. I am trying to finish something else at the moment and then I will be able to think more clearly.


Saturday, 18 February 2017

More free wool...





Look what Hubby brought home from work yesterday. A colleague knows that I knit and brought in all this lovely wool for me. Most of it is acrylic double knit which is exactly what I use.  Believe it or not, the charities that I knit for usually request acrylic because it is easier to wash.

Most of this is destined to be turned into blankets and clothes for children and babies. My friend, who knits like a demon for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, will also receive her share. If you see two "ladies who lunch" drooling over a bag of wool next month, that will be us!

Today is a brilliant sunny day. So, while we still have daylight, I'm off to sort the colours. Bliss!

Monday, 30 January 2017

The déja vu blanket...






The blogging world is a marvellous, friendly place. Jo who writes the inspiring Three Stories High blog contacted me a few weeks ago to offer some baby yarn. Of course, I said yes...what else? So I soon received 200g of  Water Wheel Comfy 4ply in a soft shade of green. I haven't heard of this brand before and there is no barcode on the labels. I might be wrong, but I usually take that to mean the yarn is vintage.

Jo suggested it would be suitable for preemie knitting. I looked through my patterns and eventually settled on an old favourite called Daphne's Blanket. Sadly, there no longer seems to be a working link to the pattern. Luckily, I printed it off a few years ago. 

I love this pattern because it is easy and gives a puffy lozenge texture to the blanket. I'm calling this one "Déja vu" partly because I have knitted it several times. The other reason is that it would now be twice as long if I hadn't had to rip back about 2 inches!  It was turning out very flat and it took me a while to realise why. I thought I could remember the pattern and ploughed on through it. But I was garter stitching instead of purling on some of the rows.  Eeek!

I tried to convince myself that it looked just as good flat. But my heart wasn't in it. So, after 3 honey sandwiches and some chocolate, I pulled out the needle and ripped back to where I had started to go wrong.  Taking inspiration from my new blog button, I managed to keep calm while doing it. I'm glad I did because Mark II is looking lovely. 

I think I will be able to knit 2 preemie blankets with this yarn and they will eventually go off to a Preemie charity. Thanks again to Jo. Her blog is well worth a visit.  She is a clever crafter who makes something every day and writes regularly about it.


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Two hats...a blog button...and lots of links



Here are two very simple hats to fit an adult. They will go into my charity box until I have enough to post off to Knit-for-Nowt.  I used a pattern called "Ellie's Easiest Ever Hat" which I think I found on the Loving Hands website.  It really is easy.  It is written for 2 needles, but I always knit this on a circular needle to avoid a bulky seam.

The pattern calls for chunky yarn or dk doubled.  I used Robin Paintbox dk in shades of blue and purple.  There is just one set of instructions.  You simply alter the size of knitting needle to adjust the hat to fit a teenager, woman, or man. I used a 5.5mm needle and dk yarn doubled to knit the woman's size.  The finished hat weighs 80g. So a standard 100g ball of dk yarn could easily be divided and then knitted together to make a cosy hat.  I think that is a great way to use up those 100g balls of yarn that are not big enough for anything else.

Moving on to a completely different subject, huge thanks go to Amy at Love Made My Home for suggesting sites that would be useful for making a blog button.  Eventually, I used a combination of Bannersnack to make the poster, Canva to turn it into a button and Inlinkz to generate the code.  Another useful site for generating code is Mycoolrealm.  I plumped for the Inlinkz code because it added my blog name under the button.  But I really liked the Mycoolrealm site as well because it lets you change the colour of the rather unattractive code box. I would have chosen this code if my blog name had been more obvious on the button. 

The days here are dreary at the moment and perfect for sitting indoors geeking.  It has been time well spent because I have been able to refresh my html skills which used to be quite good. I had to tweak the code which originally gave me a HUGE code box and I altered some of the wording.  There are still areas that could be improved; but there is a limit to how much time I can spare!  I could probably change the colour of the code box if I'm ever snowed-in for a fortnight.

So my sidebar is now hosting a blog button!  The jury is still out on this.  Some people love them and some hate them.   I have always had some belonging to other blogs on my sidebar, so I must be in the first category.  It is interesting to see that my blog stats show a huge spike in visitors since I even mentioned making a blog button. I'll watch the stats.  If they fall dramatically, that will be time for a rethink.