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.  

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Can you guess what it is yet?

After the flurry of hat-making at the end of last year (or last week, depending on how you look at it!), I decided to go for a larger project to start this year off.  And this is where I am at present:

Lots of colours

The pictures above show the project spread on my lap as I was working on it, so can you guess 
what it is going to be?  

It's a cozy stripe blanket, using Lucy's Attic 24 pattern, but not her colour scheme.  I was reminded of this blanket by my online friend Linda of Linda's Crafty Corner, who finished one and posted pictures on her blog just before Christmas.  As soon as I saw hers, I knew that was what I wanted to make next.  I'm sorry for copying, Linda, but I prefer to think of it as inspiration!

I chose 11 colours from the cones that were donated by Nicola last summer, and wound off lots of balls.  I'm using the coned yarn doubled, and in some cases tripled, to produce a nice thick fabric.  Here's a view inside my project bag:

The bright yellow is some Hayfield dk which I introduced because I felt it needed another strong colour in the mix.  In the original pattern, the colours are repeated regularly, but I've gone for more of a random approach, and decide what colour to use next once I'm ready to make the change.

So far, I've completed about half of the blanket.  It is 4 feet 6 inches wide, and will be 6 feet long, so that it will cover a single bed.  I'd like to think that I can finish it before the end of the month, to get my stash busting off to a good start for 2017.

Friday, 30 December 2016

The final three!

With one day to spare, the final three hats are done.  There's a man's chunky blue and black hat, a lady's dk dark red hat, and a newborn dk hat.  As ever, I've been combining yarns make inroads into the donated coned yarns and to get different weights, so the man's hat is a strand of black aran and a strand of blue 4 ply , while the lady's hat is 2 strands of 2 ply red wool/cotton and a strand of 2 ply grey mix (probably acrylic, but I can't be sure).  The baby hat is made of some King Cole Bin Ends yarn which is very pretty and puts me in mind of cup cakes sprinkled with hundreds and thousands!

This completes my self-set challenge to complete 12 boys' jumpers and 52 hats in one year.  This target has certainly spurred me to knit and crochet more this year than I have previously.  The donations of yarn that I have collected on behalf of Loving Hands this year have also encouraged me to think more laterally about what I can make and how I can combine yarns to get different effects.  I have used up almost 16 kilos of yarn since January, without counting December's finished items.

I have, however, decided not to set any targets for 2017.  It will be interesting to see whether I use up just as much yarn when I am free to make whatever I like.

There is one final item that I finished off just after Christmas.

I took these two cones from my stash in November.  They are both 4 ply, and the bright pink is very bright!  The paler pink is from a range called Magicolour, and has a rainbow of other colours running through it.  Working directly from the cones, so no ends to darn in, I started a corner-to-corner blanket.  This photo gives you an idea of the different colours:

The completed blanket is 42 inches square and looks like this:

It is bright and cheery and will be going to Chemogiftbags, a charity which provides support for people undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Happy New Year everyone, and thank you for reading and commenting on my posts in 2016.  

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Hat chase nearly over

Just a quick post to report that I have finished hat 49 of 52 for 2016.  These are 3 chunky, tweedy hats, made with multiple strands of stash yarns.  The green ones are adult size and will be going to the Mission for Seamen.  The grey and maroon one is child size, and will be for Operation Orphan's 
2017 campaign to Keep a Child Warm.  On 27 December we will be driving up to Twickenham to meet friends and go to the Harlequins rugby game at Twickenham Stadium, so I will have time to make progress on a matching scarf go with the child's hat.  I don't tend to knit hats in the car because of the danger of losing dpns under the driver's seat.  Once bitten, twice shy definitely applies in that case!

Still lots to do on this Christmas Eve; both my sons and my daughter-in-law will be arriving later today, so there are beds to prepare, baking to be done, and still quite a few presents to be wrapped and stockings to prepare.  So I will use this picture of our local woods in the snow to wish everyone who happens on my blog a very Happy Christmas, and thank you for taking the time to read my posts.