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!