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, 30 July 2013

Three more kiddy scarves....

it's been too hot to knit, but my fingers were itching to make something.  It's a long time since I did any crochet, so I picked up my favourite hook and produced these three children's scarves.  The pattern works up very quickly and is here.  I think I made all three in less than two weeks..  Knitting them would definitely have taken much longer.

I had quite a lot of 4 ply yarn in dark colours.  They were mainly single balls of each colour and not easy to use up.  So I combined them to make these scarves of roughly dk weight.  It's the first time I have ever crocheted with 2 yarns together, so that was a milestone in my crochet journey.

For the top scarf I used a ball of navy blue yarn  together with lots of oddments to make the stripes.  I'm really pleased with the way it turned out.  When I have enough oddments, I will make another of these scarves.

I started the orange and blue scarf on our hottest day of the year.  It will always remind me of the blazing sun in a cloudless sky.  I almost needed my sunglasses because the orange was so bright.  It's a bit narrower than the other two because I used up all the orange yarn.  I'm hoping there is a child somewhere who likes being "Tangoed".

The third scarf is bottle green and soft pink.  It was the only way I could think of to use up one ball of bottle green 4 ply.  This was surprisingly the most difficult scarf but only because the green yarn was unfit for purpose.  It had a couple of knots and SEVERAL breaks in the yarn.  I could understand that if someone had used it before.  But this was a new ball of wool.  How a manufacturer can produce yarn like that is beyond me.  I know someone who always rewinds new balls of wool before she uses them.  Now I know why.  Luckily, joining broken yarn in the middle of a crochet row is less of a nightmare than in the middle of a knitted row.  If I had been knitting with this yarn, I would definitely have given up and I rarely do that.  Hey ho; all's well that ends well.

These will all be packed off to a children's charity at some stage.  I just haven't decided which one yet.

The weather here is starting to cool down a little and I'm planning some knitting projects.  I think the first one will be slightly less give my poor retinas a rest!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

On the road again.....

Greenfields Africa has a truck leaving the UK and heading for Kenya and Uganda  in about 3 weeks time.  It will be bringing much needed clothing and blankets to families who can't afford them.  Here's my little contribution: 8 hats and a baby jumper.  Bright colours are positively welcomed in these countries and, as the nights can be very cold, the mothers like to put jumpers and cardigans on their babies.

I posted these off today.  I normally wait until I have enough items to fill a box.  But that would have meant keeping these here until maybe next year.  I'd rather they were used as soon as possible.

Keep on trucking..............

Friday, 26 July 2013

A baby hat and jumper....

Way back in May I won a giveaway on Linda's Chalky's World blog.  Among the goodies that arrived were a ball of wool and a pattern for baby jumpers or cardigans.  There was enough wool to knit a whole jumper and most of a hat. 

 I actually finished knitting before the recent heatwave, but have been waiting for the right buttons.  I chose simple clear buttons and sewed them on very carefully as this jumper is going to a baby in Africa.  I'm always aware that life is tough where these charity knits go and replacing lost buttons is probably not high on anyone's list of priorities.

Both items are to fit age 0-3 months, but I don't expect they will be worn by the same baby.  Greenfields Africa delivers knitted clothing and blankets to children in Kenya and Uganda.  They have a truck leaving the UK in 3 weeks time so I'm going to post off these and other items tomorrow to make sure they are on it.

I loved the pattern.  I can't post a link as it is on paper.  But I have filed it away as I will definitely make it again.  I especially like the generous arm holes and buttons at the neck.  Memories of trying to dress my wriggling baby (while the health visitor watched) are still fresh in my mind after all these years!!

Monday, 22 July 2013

When it's too hot to knit.......crochet.

The temperature today in London is hotter than anytime in the last 7 years.  It is definitely too hot to knit.  So today I took inspiration from the blazing sun in the cloudless sky and started to crochet an orange and blue scarf.  This will be a child's scarf and will be packed off to Operation Orphan which is an organisation that distributes warm clothing to children in eastern Europe.

Both of these yarns are 4ply.  I had lots of ideas for the blue yarn but the orange one has defeated me until now.  I'm quite pleased with the way it is turning out.  The deep blue is calming down the strident orange glow.  

Crochet is still fairly new to me and I have never crocheted with 2 yarns together.  Even taking my time and being very careful the scarf is growing a lot quicker than it would if I was knitting it.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

When it's too hot to knit.........knit.

London seems to have been sweltering in a heatwave for a couple of weeks now.  I was planning to start a big blanket, but not in these temperatures.  I've been going through my oddments and making stripy hats.  I was surprised to see how many I made considering I thought I wouldn't be able to knit anything in this heat.  

The hats in the photo range from preemie size to 3-6 months size.  Each one takes only a few hours.  I quite enjoyed choosing which colours to use.  I made most of the hats uni-sex, though I did have to use up some pinks as well.  These hats are destined for Greenfields Africa which distributes warm clothing and blankets to babies in Kenya and Uganda.

I'm chuffed that I managed to clear all my dk oddments.  The bits that were too short for stripes have all been rolled up into one ball of variegated yarn that  weighs about 50g.  I now officially have no dk oddments left.  But once I start on my next blanket that will change.......

The pattern I used for the stripy hats is one of my favourites as it is so quick and easy.  It is here.

The pattern I used for the ribbed blue hat is another favourite as it is stretchy and will fit easily.  It is here.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Pandora's box is getting spliced....

Last year Hubby came home with a bottle of champagne.  It was nestling in straw in a gorgeous wooden box.  The champagne is long gone and the straw ended up on the compost heap.  But the box lives on.  

It will never be worth a fortune.  But it is strong with rope handles and leather hinges. My eyes lit up;  I love pretty boxes and had the perfect use for this one.  I saw it as the ideal place to put all those small oddments of yarn that are left over after projects.  I sort my oddments into dk, 4 ply etc and use them to make stripy hats etc.  But eventually the oddments become too small even for that.  I hate waste so I still keep them and sometimes use them for sewing or even for stuffing soft toys.  

This week has been far too hot for knitting the blanket I am planning.  I dipped into the box and knitted a few stripy hats instead.  I noticed that the collection of tiny oddments was growing.  Storing them in a box creates an "out of sight, out of mind" situation.  But it also puts a sensible limit on how much I can accumulate.  Then I remembered a method of joining yarn called the "Russian join".

In the past, I have occasionally used this method to join yarn mid-row.  It makes a surprisingly strong join.  It isn't right for very fine projects as it inevitably creates a slightly thicker stitch.  But it is perfect for things like scrappy scarves.  It works well on dk acrylics which I use a lot.  

So, yesterday, I set about combining the tiny oddments into one large ball of wool.  I was in just the right frame of mind for this relaxing activity.  This ball is just whites and pastels.  

But I have enough oddments to make a brighter ball later.

What will I do with them?  When I have enough I will probably combine the pastel ball with a white 4 ply yarn or even with some of my coned 2 ply yarn.  I'll knit with both together to make a variegated baby blanket.  I will probably combine the brighter ball with a darker colour and make a scarf or even a pet blanket.

There's some way to go yet.  The pastel ball weighs only 40g.  But it won't be long before I can use it.  When the weather cools down, my blanket will take shape and I will have a lot more oddments.  Woo hoo!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

The kindness of strangers......

I recently joined the Charity Knitting group on Ravelry.  I knit a lot and probably 75% of what I make goes to various charities.  This isn't because I am a saintly, good person. It is just because there is only so much I can make for friends and family before I turn into that crazy lady who everybody wants to avoid at "present time".

I noticed one of the threads on the forum was all about donating yarn.  There are some very generous givers, but most seemed to be thousands of miles away.  In an optimistic moment I put on a request for any UK member who might have yarn to donate.  I'm happy to pay for my wool and love looking for bargains.  But I'm also a keen recycler and love to make something useful from unloved yarn.  Imagine my surprise when I received a quick reply.  

Beverley lives in the UK and is decluttering her yarn collection.  The photo shows what she kindly donated to me.  I love the challenge of using remnants like these. There is some dk yarn....some fairly standard and some really beautiful....especially the orange yarn which is very shiny and has tiny threads of purple in it.  I'm still waiting for inspiration about the best thing I can make with it. 

There is also a lot of 2 ply sock yarn.  I know knitting socks is very popular.  But I must be a rare knitter who hasn't yet caught that bug.  Instead, I am going to knit with 2 balls of yarn together to produce 4 ply items.  I've already knitted a baby hat from a pattern that I really like.  Here's a photo of it:

It weighs about 20g and as I have over 600g of donated yarn that is a lot of hats!

Some of the yarn was in skeins.  To me that implies it is vintage and has probably been seeking a new home for a long time.  When I was a child, my mother always bought her wool like this and I had to sit with my arms outstretched to help her wind it into balls.  I quite enjoyed it (to her surprise) and it probably sparked off my fascination with knitting etc.  It was harder to roll the skeins without a helpful little girl to hold them straight.  But I managed and all the yarn is now safely stored away.

Every last scrap will be used and I will probably send the items to Operation OrphanGreenfields Africa, and Sibol.

Beverley insisted on paying the postage herself.  So I passed on the kindness.  While putting away the yarn, I came across 4 skeins of what I can only call "shawl wool". That doesn't do it justice.  It is a good quality 4 ply yarn in a cream colour with a nice sheen.  It would make a beautiful wedding cape or something similar.  I see a lot of lovely crocheted and knitted shawls.  But that's yet another bug that I haven't caught.   I think I have been inoculated against shawls and socks.  Instead, I have now given the yarn to a Barnardo's charity shop for them to raise money by selling it.  I also sorted out my ribbons and passed them on to the Sibol challenges project.  So Beverley's generosity has helped at least 4 charities.

Thank you, Beverley.

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.".
AESOP, The Lion and the Mouse

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” 
― Plato

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” 
― Mark Twain

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Fanfare and drumroll: the entrelac blanket is finished...

Here is the finished entrelac blanket.  I took my time adding the border and blocking it.  Final touches make all the difference to a finished project and I quite enjoy making something look as beautiful as possible.  I always remember a school teacher who often said "If something's worth doing, it's worth doing well."  With that in mind, the first part of the border I added had to be ripped back.  I decided I had knitted it too tightly.  I love the variegated yarn but it has a lot less "give" than the rest of the blanket.  Even after I knitted it loosely, it dictated how much blocking I could do.

I can still vividly remember the way my daughter used to treat her blankets.  Her inquisitive fingers would have found lots of threads to pull on the back of this one.  So I went with my original plan to line it with some lovely soft flannelette.  I washed the material twice to stop future shrinkage problems and I anchored the backing to the knitted front with several little stitches.

Here's what the finished blanket looks like.

I'm really pleased with it.  Admittedly, finishing it off during a heatwave was hard work. But on a cold night it will be lovely and warm. 

I looked up the actual translation of "entrelac" and found out that it is a Catalan word meaning "interlacing".  I think that next time, and there will be a next time, I might just use 2 colours.  That will bring out the woven effect even more.  The total weight before adding the border is just under 300g.  The final size is approximately 28" by 33".  So 2 large balls of dk yarn will be enough to make another spectacular blanket.  Colour A would slant to the right and colour B would slant to the left throughout the whole blanket.  

I'm already trying to decide which 2 colours would be good together.  The possibilities are endless.  Lilac and white would be great for a baby.  Bottle green and gold would look very Celtic.  Then there are sports team colours etc etc.  Maybe I will wait until I have a particular baby in mind and let the parents decide.

This is the pattern I followed.  It is well written and comes with loads of photos.  Thanks to Julie of Mack and Mabel for writing the pattern and letting me win it on her giveaway.  I could have chosen any of her patterns.  But I chose this as I was in the right frame of mind for a challenge.  I'm so glad I did.  I have put it away carefully to wait for the next baby girl in the family.