Thursday, 23 March 2017

Worry Monsters

In the world we live in, children sometimes have concerns and worries that make them anxious and stressed.  They can become fearful and obsessed with things that might happen but in reality are most unlikely to happen.  The Worry Monster is a soft toy with a zipped mouth that can 'eat' their worries if they either write them or draw them on paper and feed them to the monster, then firmly close the zip.

Knit for Nowt, the Yorkshire based charity that Loving Hands supports, has been asked for these worry monsters by people who work with children, so this week I had my first attempt at making them.

Meet Humpty.  He's made of fleece offcuts in green and purple, with a red pocket for a mouth, which can be firmly closed with a black zip.  His nose and eyes are buttons sourced from the Scrapstore (I especially like the nose button!), and his eyebrows make him look rather worried himself.  I called him Humpty because he reminded me of a stuffed toy of that name who featured in a long-running BBC children's programme called Play School. I remember watching it as a child, and also watching it with my own children twenty-odd years later.

 There was more fleece left, so he acquired a big brother, Dumpty.  I gave Dumpty a bow-tie made from one of my husband's discarded ties.  By placing his features a bit lower, he looks an altogether less stressed monster!

They will be going off to Knit for Nowt along with the dragon hand puppets.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Hot off the hook

This morning at my knitting group I finished off blanket number 6 for this year.  Every other Tuesday a small group of us meet up to knit, natter, drink coffee and eat cake provided by Carole, whose Guest House we meet in.

The others all knit, but sometimes I crochet, and this morning I was able to finish off my very colourful lap blanket.

It was made using a pattern called Twilight Shells, which I found via Ravelry.
Altogether there are twelve different colours of double knitting yarn, using 3 different shades of purple, orange, green and blue.  The main part came up a little smaller in width than I had expected, so I plumped for a wide border.  There are 12 rows of half trebles, which give the blanket a nice solid edge.  I tried doing a final row of shells around the outside of the border, but I wasn't sure about them.  The consensus of the knitting group was that a plain edge was the better option, so the shells were pulled out.

This one will be going to Chemogiftbags, to be donated to someone undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Here be dragons with woolly scales

Scary times in the front room, and those of a nervous disposition should look away now!  A pair of dragons have taken up residence, and are having a fine old time attacking each other.

When my boys were small, they loved putting on puppet shows.  I made them a little puppet theatre out of an old clothes horse, and they built up quite a collection of different puppets.  No matter which puppets were used, though, the shows always seemed to end with a fight to the death.

When Clare from Knit for Nowt mentioned in her newsletter that they wanted scary puppets, I remembered the fun we had, and set out to make some.  I found this dragon puppet pattern  by Michelle Dickson via Ravelry, and used it as the basis for mine.  I changed it by doing the back of the dragon in crocodile stitch to make woolly scales, and making the snout a little more shaped and longer.  The green one was the first off the hook:

I used different oddments of coned yarn to get a variegated green.  Its mouth is made from red glittery yarn, and its big scary teeth are gleaming white.  A forked black tongue and black and white buttons or eyes finish it off.

The second one was made of purple and blue variegated yarn with a glittery thread running through:

This one is clearly a different species because it doesn't have a tongue, and it has green eyes which make it look a bit shortsighted.

Which one do you think is the scarier?  For me, it's the green one, because he sneaks up on the purple one from behind!

Now they need names.  Any suggestions?

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The year of the blanket?

Last year I concentrated on making jumpers and hats, with the odd blanket thrown into the mix now and again.  This year, though, it seems that there is a huge demand for blankets from different charities, so I think that 2017 will be the year of the blanket.

I'm making and sending blankets to four groups in particular:

Operation Orphan 

This charity runs its Keep a Child Warm campaign, providing blankets and warm clothing to impoverished families in Eastern Europe.  They deliver the items themselves, and eighteen months ago one of our Loving Hands members, Julia Odie, went with them to Moldova.  Her fascinating account of her trip can be read here. It is so good to know that the items we make go directly to where they are needed.

Knit for Nowt

This charity collects warm knitted items and distributes them via social workers and other agencies to families and individuals that need them in East Yorkshire.  Clare, who runs the charity, is an amazing lady who clearly values all the hand made items she receives, and again, she lets you know where your donations have ended up.  


This charity provides a pamper gift bag, a heart-shaped cushion and a lap blanket to people in Berkshire who are undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.  I have close relatives who live in the Reading area, so I am happy to offer support to Lynne, who runs the charity and who has been through breast cancer herself.

Sixty Million Trebles

Did you know that the UN estimates that there are over 60 million refugees in the world currently?  Actually the figure is probably nearer to 65 million at the moment.  That's a huge number of people displaced from their homes by war, hunger or persecution.  A lady named Ellen Roche (no relation) came up with the idea of producing a massive blanket containing 60 million treble crochet stitches to draw attention to the plight of refugees worldwide, then dismantling it into its constituent 36 inch square blankets, and giving them to charities in the UK and abroad that support refugees.  I must admit that I thought long and hard before deciding to make blankets for this group, because to have so many completed blankets sitting around when there is such need seems a bit perverse.  But I accept that the publicity aspect is important, and the plan is to have the huge blanket made and then dismantled by the end of the summer, so that the blankets can be distributed in time for next winter.  So far almost 20 million trebles have been made for this cause - one stitch one life.

And my latest effort:

 This is the blanket I am currently working on.  It is a Red Heart pattern called Twilight Shells Throw, and I found it via Ravelry.  I am making it in double knit with a 4.5mm hook, and using 12 different colours (yes, I already had all of them in my stash!).  Although it looks like a ripple pattern, in fact it is made by crocheting a row of shells the right way up followed by a row of shells upside down.

This will be a lap blanket for Chemogiftbags; I'm hoping that its cheery colours will give some comfort to the recipient.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Uses for odds and ends

The start of the new year means the stash count, when those of us who belong to Linda's Stashbusters go through our bags, cupboards, drawers and (in some cases) lofts to check out how much yarny stash we are starting the year with.  A side effect of this checking is the finding of lots of odd part balls of yarn which have been left over from completed projects.  I found I had enough odd bits and pieces of cream, grey and purplish aran yarn to make a corner to corner lap blanket.

 Above is the blanket underway, and below is the finished article. It is 36 inches square.

It's perhaps not the prettiest blanket that I've ever made, but it is lovely and warm.

At the moment it is lovely and sunny here, and as the days are starting to get longer, thoughts are turning to spring. Already the pots of miniature iris that I planted in September are flowering away, and the daffodils in the garden will be out in a week or so.  Springtime is when rescue sanctuaries need substitute nests for orphan animals and birds, so I have been using yet more oddments of yarn to crochet nests for Secret World, the wildlife sanctuary which is only a few miles down the road from us.

Nests need to be knitted or crocheted very firmly, to make a self-supporting structure.  Mine are made with 2 or 3 strands of yarn which together make at least chunky weight, using size 5.00 hook or needles.  I shall be dropping these off on Saturday.

So some inroads have been made into my woolly oddments; but there are still plenty left!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Twiddlemuffs for men

 Have you come across twiddlemuffs?  They are made for people with dementia, and they provide both warmth and comfort for their hands, as well as giving them something for their fingers to twiddle with, which can distract and calm them.  These are a couple of muffs that I made last year:

I volunteer with our local branch of the Alzheimer's Society, and sometimes get asked to add the twiddly bits to muffs that other people have knitted.  Thankfully the Scrapstore gives me access to lots of useful bits and pieces that can be adapted into 'twiddles', such as the toggle, buckle and webbing used in the top muff.

One of the Alzheimer's Society's support workers mentioned to me that a lot of the muffs they receive are more suitable for ladies than for men, which got me thinking.  Football scarves!  As my husband is an Everton supporter, I started with blue and white as my colours, and knitted a muff.  Then I added some twiddly bits that I though were appropriate, including a blue squeezy sponge, some chunky buttons and some textured wooden beads (they reminded me of Rawlplugs) on a thong.  There's also a leather button like the ones my dad had on his sheepskin coat, with a piece of flexible plastic tubing to hook round it.

This is how the muff looks once it is sewn up:

It is reversible:

Suitable for an Everton or Arsenal fan!  So the next one underway will be for a Chelsea or Manchester United fan.........

If you want to make a twiddlemuff, the instructions can be found here.  They are welcomed by Knit for Peace, local hospitals and charities for people with dementia.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

One cosy striped blanket

I don't know what the weather has been like where you are, but here in Somerset it has been really cold for the past few days.  As I'm typing this, I am looking over a lawn that is white with frost.  Although it will be beautifully sunny today, the temperature is forecast not to rise over three degrees. I've been quite happy to have this blanket across my lap for the past couple of weeks as it has gradually been getting longer.  It finally grew to be single bed size, and so I finished it off with a simple border of one round of treble crochet and one row of double crochet:

I like its cheery appearance and also how heavy it is, as it has been made with aran equivalent yarn and weighs in at almost 1.2 kilos, so it really has made an impact on my stash.  This is, of course, not a justification to buy more, I have to keep reminding myself.

This is the first time I have made such a large blanket in one piece; normally I make smaller lap blankets or larger blankets from squares which are then sewn together.  I was very pleased with the speed with which it grew; choosing a new colour every other row somehow kept my interest and even the ends to be darned in did't put me off as I disciplined myself to do them every 10 changes or so.

This blanket will be going off to Knit for Nowt, a charity based in Yorkshire and supported by Loving Hands, who have asked for single bed sized blankets for this winter.