Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Blankets off to their destination



Stacked on the ironing board are the seven blankets I have made so far for the 60 Million Trebles project.  Lady Dorothea Mousevaark is perched on top, inspecting the pile.

Today I drove to Taunton to deliver them to Refugee Aid From Taunton (RAFT) who co-ordinate and dispatch aid via various charities to refugees across the world.  I had read on RAFT's Facebook page that they were desperate for donations of blankets, and also summer clothes for refugees in Greece, so I was able to turn out some clothes and light shoes to take along, as well as some toiletries.

At RAFT, Lesley was delighted to receive my donation.  In return, she asked me to take some wool that had been donated to make some more blankets.  How could I refuse???  More blankets coming up!


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Drum roll for number ten

This really is turning into the year of the blanket; number ten is now finished.  I mentioned a few posts back that I had received a donation of yarn to make a blanket (or blankets) for the Sixty Million Trebles project.  This is the selection I received, a mix of pinks, greens, white and cream, with a couple of darker shares thrown in as well. In all, there was a kilo of double knit, enough to make one large or two smaller blankets.


After I had admired for a while, it really seemed like it would make a single bed size cosy stripe blanket (using Lucy at Attic 24's pattern).  I have made this blanket before, and enjoyed the way it grew quite quickly.  The only change I made to her pattern was to change the colour for the stripes randomly, rather than follow a regular pattern of colours.  This was because the colours I had came in different quantities ranging from 50g to 200g.   I also added in a ball of gold coloured yarn from my stash, and off I went.

This is it at the half-way point, in mid-May.  It is four feet wide and about 3 feet long at this point, and its randomness works well for me.


This was the project that I lugged to craft club every Monday night for several weeks, then once the Modern Chevron Afghan was finished, I was able to work on it at home too. Finally on Saturday it reached the six feet mark, and I started the border.  One round of trebles in turquoise, one round of half trebles in white and a final round of doubles in turquoise finished it off neatly.


It weighs 991g, very close to the 1 kilo that was sent to me.  I'm very pleased with this blanket, it looks very cheerful and bright and it lives up to its name in terms of cosiness.


So now, it's on to blanket number 11.  I have started a corner to corner blanket using some more of the coned yarn........

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Favourite so far?

As this year is my Year of the Blanket, I have been looking at different patterns and styles beyond my normal Granny Afghan or Corner to Corner designs.  Looking on the Crochet Crowd website in March, I found a new pattern called Modern Chevron Afghan, by Jeanne Steinhilber.


It appealed because of its unusual construction with 5 diamonds (OK, squares joined point-to-point) as the start, then colours built up around.

I had 2 large balls of Aldi Aran in bright blue that I thought would work with this pattern, and some oddments of different colours that I could use to add colourful accents.  I started with 5 bright blue squares, then added the first band of colours.


I did a few rows of blue, then another band of colours, meaning this to be one end of the blanket.  Turning it around, I carried on in the other direction, with more colours then a long expanse of blue.


The chevron effect is really deep and interesting to work.  Somehow it made me think of Native American beadwork.


I carried on until the blanket was long enough to cover a single bed (or to put it another way, when I had used up the 800 grams of  aran yarn), and then I put a final band of colours in place to finish it off.

The pattern has no borders, but mine didn't look finished, so after consulting my Loving Hands friends, I crocheted a narrow band of navy blue down each side.  I was worried that I would run out of yarn, but there was just enough.  So this is the finished blanket:


It weighs just over a kilo, and is destined for Operation Orphan's Keep a Child Warm project.  I found it very enjoyable to make as it looks really bright and cheery, and it grew really quickly.  Overall it is probably my favourite of the 9 blankets I have made so far this year.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Let's go fly a kite!

In the UK, next week is Dementia Awareness Week (May 14 - 20).  My dear Mum developed dementia towards the end of her life, and was cared for very kindly and lovingly in a home for people with that awful disease.  Last year I started volunteering with our local branch of the Alzheimer's Society, and on Thursday 17th May our local Dementia Action Alliance are holding an awareness day in the Bay cafe, which is on Weston-super-Mare sea front.

Our theme is 'Let's go fly a kite', which is of course the title of a song from the Disney film of Mary Poppins.  We have been thinking all things kites for several weeks.  I thought that knitted kite badges would be a good awareness raising idea, and after several different attempts, came up with a basic mitred square with a crocheted tail and small button for decoration.


They each have a badge back or a safety pin sewn on the back.


I've done them in variegated yarn, glitter yarn, snowflake yarn, tweedy yarn made from several strands of coned yarn, and some of them are sitting in their box (above) waiting for Thursday.  Several other people are making these too, so we should have quite a wide choice available.

Laura, the manager at the Scrapstore, has made us this marvellous fish kite from offcuts of hot-air ballon material, which Cameron Balloons kindly donate to the Scrapstore.  She has also made several others which we can use to draw attention to our event on the sea front (it is always breezy on our sea front!)


We thought it would be good for people to make or decorate kites for us to display on the day.  Luckily the Scrapstore has loads of sticky-back plastic in a range of colours, so we have cut out lots of stars and hearts, and I've been busy cutting A5 card into kite shapes.  In my stash I had an amazing ball of yarn that is like ribbon decorated with bows, just perfect for kite tails.


And in best Blue Peter tradition, here's one I made earlier! Can you see the tiny little bows on the tail?


We have a large piece of netting all ready to display the decorated kites.  We are now keeping our fingers crossed for a fine day.  If you are in the area, please do come and join us!


Monday, 24 April 2017

A finished blanket and a surprise delivery

Last week, the ladies running the 60 Million Trebles group changed the rules, and I was in full agreement.  I wrote previously that, while I supported their project to produce a massive blanket that would contain 60 million trebles, I had reservations about all those smaller blankets sitting around keeping nobody warm while refugees were in desperate need.  As the group approached the 30 million trebles mark, the plan of physically making the huge blanket was dropped. This also meant that there is no need for the blankets to be 36 inches now (that was for ease of sewing together).

I had a blanket nearly finished.  It had some donated squares, and a central square that I made to add a bit of contrast.  I'd already completed its border, so to make it bigger I added a few more rounds, then added 2 bands of trebles at the top and bottom, and gave it a second border.  This used up pretty much all of the yarn I had for this blanket.  So now it is 3 feet 6 inches by 4 feet 8 inches, which makes it just about big enough for an adult to sleep under.   Not the best photo (why don't I notice the imperfections in the shot before I take it???), but the iPad isn't playing at the moment so I can't retake it just now.


The surprise delivery also came courtesy of 60 Million Trebles; there are people in the group who don't knit or crochet themselves, so provide yarn to others to make blankets on their behalf.  One lovely lady sent me a kilo of yarn in a great variety of shades to make a blanket.


This was totally unexpected, but very gratefully received.  I am going to embark on a single bed size Attic 24 Cosy Stripe blanket.  Aren't people kind?

Friday, 14 April 2017

Buttonholes

Gosh, I never thought I would be writing a post on the scintillating topic of knitted buttonholes!  Let me go back a couple of weeks, when I discovered a free Sirdar pattern on the Black Sheep Wools website.


It's a simple pattern for 4 ply yarn (I have a couple of cones of baby 4 ply), and ranges from small premature baby sizes to  6 months old size.  Best of all, there is a V-neck option, which I like for very small babies so that they don't have anything tight around their necks.

I knitted the second size (12 inch chest - yes, it's hard to believe but babies that small do survive) and followed the pattern for the buttonholes when it said for each one to cast off one stitch, then cast on a stitch in the next row to complete the hole.  But the buttonhole rib was knitted on very fine needles (size 12 in old UK size, or 2.75mm), so the hole made was very tiny indeed.  I went through all my buttons, and believe me, I have a lot.  Even small shirt buttons were too big.  Eventually I found some tiny rectangular pearl buttons which I was able to coax through the buttonholes.  




I decided that when I knitted another of these cardigans, I would have to make bigger buttonholes, no matter what the pattern said.  Fast forward to this morning, when I am knitting the buttonhole rib on my second cardigan from this pattern.  What do you do when you want to know how to make better buttonholes?  You use Google, of course!  And I found the perfect instructions on the website of a US magazine called Creative Knitting.  The buttonholes this time are 3 stitches across, and are the neatest that I have ever managed, thanks to these instructions.


It was so easy to find buttons to fit, I was spoilt for choice. I decided to go for some circular pearl buttons which fit easily through the buttonholes.


 And so I now have a new technique as well as two preemie cardigans ready to go off in my next parcel to Needles and Hooks, Angels and Preemies


Happy Easter!

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.