Friday, 4 January 2019

December 2018 Update

Happy New Year Everyone!
I do love the start of a new year. It always brings thoughts of tidying up and finishing off things started during the year, yarn related or otherwise. And then there's looking forward to the new year, plans and ideas, and new year's resolutions of course.
I expect mine are similar to those of many of you - lose weight, exercise more, buy less yarn and use more, maybe decorate a couple of rooms, keep the garden tidy, book a holiday ..... I could go on.
But back to a round up of what I did to reduce my stash in December. Well, the answer to that is that although I made quite a lot, it was in fact the only month in the whole of 2018 where I gained more than I used! However, over the year I have used 23,515g making 133 items and only gained 6,100g so a pretty good year by my standards 😊 You can see the summary of how my stash progressed throughout 2018 under Stash Stuff .
Octopus For A Preemie UK was to blame for all the yarn gained as they did '12 days of Christmas' offers where yarn suitable for making Octopals and other related things were for sale and I eagerly bought into three of them, plus I was fortunate to win some yarn in their draw for newbies in a CAL teaching us how to make an octopus. Just look at all this gorgeous cotton yarny squishiness, how could I resist all these beautiful colours??
 Above is my CAL draw win with yarn, crochet hook and stuffing, in fact everything needed to make an octopus and below are my yarn purchases to keep me going with makes for OFAPUK in 2019


So, what did I make in December to use up some of my stash?

To start with I wanted to finish up the DK yarn left over from making the Darcy slip over top last month. So first I made a Seaman's Cap using two strands of the DK yarn, followed by three cowls, also using 2 strands of yarn.  The cowls were made using my own patterns although they're so simple I hesitate to call them a pattern at all but have posted them under My Free Patterns. They are the Super Simple Garter Stitch Cowl and Super Simple Ribbed Cowl. These were all taken to RAFT just before Christmas, together with a huge box of items sent to me from Loving Hands.

Next I made a baby blanket using some Red Heart 4ply that a neighbour gave to me a couple of years ago. The pattern I used is the Sideways Shells Blanket for Project Linus and it will be the first thing in my next box for Baby Basics South Somerset

After that came a pair of Fingerless Gloves on Two Needles - a Christmas present for my husband for when he's working out in the garage in the winter doing whatever it is that men find to do ion the garage?! The pattern uses 4ply/sock weight yarn but as my husband is 6' 3" tall and has big hands I used Stylecraft Special Aran in graphite and silver from my stash, and using 4mm needles they were just the right size.
Then came a Christmas present for the rats! Yes, I did say rats! My new daughter-in-law has kept rats since a child and still has some now. I have to admit that they're not as bad as I thought they would be and might even venture to say they are quite cute, in a ratty sort of way. Anyway, at her request, I made a Wildlife Rescue Cave with added tabs on top so that it can be suspended from the top of their cage. She was delighted and the rats seem to like it too, and what's more it was made using 2 strands of odds and ends of DK yarn.
I eventually got round to making my 4th octopus for OFAPUK and am waiting to find out if it is going to fly (to an angel) or swim (to a preemie). I'm hopeful that this is a good one as I've really tried to take on board all their advice; I can't see any holes, it's within size limits and I stuffed it as hard as I could.
So this brought me to Christmas week and I was wondering what to make and having had such a varied month I decided to do something different yet again by making this Filomena Shawl using some discontinued Noro Sekku, a lace weight yarn that I bought on ebay about 10 years ago. It still needs to be blocked but you get the idea.
And we come to the last week of the month when I decided to do one last pet blanket for the year using 6 strands of coned yarn with 7mm needles and a basic garter stitch square starting with one stitch and increasing at the start of every row up to 85 stitches and then decreasing at the beginning of every row until one stitch remained. Why is it that when I do this pattern, which should be perfectly square, I always end up with an oddly shaped piece with a pointy end (bottom left)? I can only think that it is because the weight of the blanket distorts it when it gets to the end.
So there we go, in December there was a bit of something for several of the charities I support and also something for me, my husband and the rats!

Super Simple Ribbed Cowl


100g DK yarn in two 50g balls
5.5mm circular knitting needles

Using two strands of yarn, cast on 120 stitches
Work in 4 x 4 rib (knit 4 stitches, purl 4 stitches) repeat to end
Continue until you only have enough yarn left to cast off - approximately 50 rows
Cast off loosely in rib
Join the side ends together using mattress stitch.
The picture makes it look a bit odd but when worn it needs to be folded over so it looks like a polo neck and is really cosy and warm.

Super Simple Garter Stitch Cowl


100g DK yarn in two 50g balls
5.5mm circular knitting needles

Using two strands of yarn, cast on 110 stitches
Work in garter (knit) stitch until you only have enough yarn left to cast off - approximately 60 rows
Cast off loosely.
Join the side ends together using mattress stitch.

When worn you can either let it bunch up under your chin or fold it over double like a polo neck.

Monday, 17 December 2018

November Update

Oh my, whatever happened to the first two weeks of December???

I've been so busy with work, going up to Northumberland the first week in December and Yorkshire the next week and now I'm running around like a headless chicken trying to get ready for Christmas.

So I'm taking a little breather to update my blog with what I did stash wise in November. My updated stash totals are in the usual place under the Stash Stuff heading.

The good news is that I busted 3664g yarn but the bad news is I also bought 1600g. This was made up of 10 x 100g balls Stylecraft Special Aran in Graphite to make a jumper or cardigan for myself (goodness knows when I'll get round to doing it), 100g Bo Peep Luxury Baby 4ply to make something for a friend's daughter who is expecting a little girl in April, and the 500g King Cole Giza Cotton Frozen Sorbet pack for making Octopuses and Jellies for Octopus for a Preemie (OFAPUK).

I made five crocheted pet blankets to go to the RSPCA at West Hatch, four of which were in my favourite stash busting method of making C2C blankets using 6 strands of very thin coned yarn and the fifth was a granny square.

 Unfortunately one of the cones that I planned to use, which was a huge 1500g rather than the usual 500g, had been nibbled by mice - not in my house I hasten to add, but the person who donated it to me had kept the yarn in bags in a barn on a farm. So after pulling off numerous strands that were a metre or less in length I reluctantly gave up and had to throw it away. I know I want to reduce my stash but it breaks my heart to throw away yarn.

I also made 3 scarves in chunky yarn to go to RAFT and a Darcy Slipover Top which is an Artesano pattern I've been wanting to make for myself but in the end it turned out too big - that'll teach me to do a tension square in future - so that went to RAFT too.  Such a shame that Artesano have ceased trading but at least most, if not all, of their patterns are still available on the internet.

It's most unlike me to forget to photograph something that I've made but I did forget to take pics of the scarves, but here is the Darcy top; I love the lacy pattern around the neck and it was so easy and very effective. I can't say what yarn it was made in as it was a charity shop find and knitted up as DK, more or less.

I was very excited to go to my first OFAPUK meeting where I met other local members. As with all crafters, they are a lovely friendly group and keen to share tips on how to make an 'Octopal' that will pass the stringent checks that are necessary to make sure they are safe to be go to a premature baby.

Sadly my first three did not pass the tests, but that's fine, I've kept one as a reminder of what my first attempt was like and hopefully I will get better at making them very soon and the other two have gone to a care home for people with dementia as they like to play with the tentacles in the same was as fiddle muffs are used to keep their hands busy.

These ones were made using King Cole Cottonsoft Crush in Willow which is a lovely soft DK yarn and comes in a lovely variety of variegated colour ways. I shall definitely use it again and it's very popular with the OFAPUK community. As you can see there was enough to make three with a fair bit left over but not enough for a fourth. However, as mine were a bit big I think that if I were to use this yarn again I could probably get four out of a 100g ball.

That's all for now, my next update will be in the New year, so it just leaves me to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Octopus for a Preemie

At the beginning of November I joined Octopus for as Preemie which I found on Facebook. I was particularly interested as they supply Musgrove Park, my local NHS hospital.

This charity project first started in Denmark and then extended to Spain, Ukraine and continued in Poland, UK and more recently Austria. Every baby gets its own little octopus (or jellyfish or alien) prepared with particular care and takes it home with them after leaving the hospital.

This wonderful group knit and crochet octopuses, jellyfish and aliens for premature babies. The common feature of these gifts are that they all have tentacles.

These special babies often have several tubes and wires attached to their tiny bodies and they have a tendency to grasp and pull on them. It has been found that they play with the tentacles on these gifts in a similar way to how they played with the umbilical cord in the mother's womb, making them feel calmer and safer when keeping tentacles in their little hands instead of pulling the tubes and cables out.

There are very specific requirements in making them to ensure they meet the high standards necessary to keep the babies safe. The yarn must be 100% cotton and there is a list of yarns, and stuffing, that may be used. Yarns have been tested to ensure the colours don't run and that the yarn and stuffing will withstand being washed at 60C. Also they must not be made if you have any sort of infection - coughs, colds, stomach upset etc. or have had a recent vaccination with live virus such as the flu jab.

When making them in crochet they must be done using a much smaller hook than usual and work with yarn under the hook rather than yarn over which makes a much tighter stitch with no holes. It's important that there are no gaps, not even tiny ones, for stuffing to work its way out or for tiny fingers to get damaged. I can't comment on what is required when knitting them as I haven't gone down that route.

I've used King Cole Cottonsoft Crush in Willow which is DK weight. I started with a 2.5mm hook but it was coming out too big so changed to 2mm for my second one and that worked better.

However, it is very hard on the fingers to work with such a tight tension so I can only work on them for about 30 minutes at a time before having a bit of a break and stretch my hands, fingers and wrists - something that we should all do regularly when knitting and crochet anyway.
I've made 3 so far but haven't sent them in yet. I'm going to take them to my first meeting at the end of the month where they will be scrutinized and no doubt I will be told how to improve them next time. But even if they don't make the standard they can still be used as they can be given to an angel that doesn't make it. I believe the term they use is to swim to a preemie or fly to an angel. So here are my first attempts.

I'm not going to have enough to make a 4th one as I only have 21g left so I'll have a go at an alien as I think it may use a bit less. I haven't put faces on mine as I don't think they will show up very well with this variegated yarn with it being such strong colours.

They don't use much yarn and take quite a while to make so they're not contributing much to my stash busting - especially when I bought this ball of yarn and another 10 x 50g balls of  King Cole Giza Sorbet 4ply!! Oh, but isn't it just so pretty in all those beautiful pastel colours :-)

That's all for now. I'll let you know how I get on after my first meeting.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

October Update

Another month gone and the nights are most definitely drawing in since the clocks went back last weekend. But it's not all bad. I never feel quite so guilty about picking up my knitting or crochet once the curtains have been drawn and lights turned on. In my mind this makes it evening. I rarely knit or crochet during the day, but once evening comes I feel entitled to sit down and do some crafting.

I'm delighted and amazed to have used 3,955g yarn this month which is probably a record for me, but I have bought 1200g yarn and I've been donated 700g from one of my fellow members of Loving Hands so my total stash busted is 2055g. I've updated the table in Stash Stuff with these figures.

My excuse? My favourite Stylecraft Special DK was 10% off at Deramores and they had free postage if you spent over £15 rather than the usual £25 - how could I resist?

I'm an avid follower of Lucy at Attic24, I love all her blankets which are mostly (all?) made using Stylecraft Special DK. I've made 3 so far, Coast, Moorland and Cosy and have been saving away the yarn to make some of the others when I have time - and this week she's gone and started a new blanket CAL so that means I'm going to need even more Stylecraft Special !!

As well as the aforesaid Stylecraft Special DK, I also bought a ball (just the one!) of King Cole Cottonsoft Crush DK as I've just joined Octopus for a Preemie and these special gifts for pre-term babies have to be made using 100% cotton yarn. Although I have a huge stash, guess what, I didn't have any cotton yarn. I'll keep you updated with more about my journey to make my first Octopus in my next post.

This month I've been trying to reduce my ridiculously large stash of coned yarns. This is all yarn that has very kindly been donated to me over the years, and although it's lovely to be given yarn, sometimes it's difficult to know what to make with it. Often there's no label on these part-used cones so there's no indication as to the weight of the yarn, its composition, washing instructions etc.

As an experienced knitter I can pretty much guess the weight of a yarn if it's 4ply, double knit or aran but many of the cones I have seem to be very fine, perhaps 3ply or even lace weight - and we all know how long it takes to make up an item in lace weight!! Plus it's not a very useful weight for making things for charity. If I really need to know the yarn weight I use the Wraps per Inch method but I'm still not sure that I'd trust this if I wanted to make a large garment; it still relies on your judgement as to how close to make the wraps.

So this month I've been making pet blankets in preparation for my annual visit to the RSPCA at West Hatch. For the last few years, in early spring, I've taken them load of pet blankets and a batch of Wildlife Rescue Nests . Pet blankets are perfect for using up those coned yarns.

I've been using anything between 4 and 6 strands of yarn with a 6mm hook. I either work with the yarn directly from the cones or I wind them into balls first. Winding into balls makes it much easier to work with but sometimes I just want to get started, although I usually regret it as the cones keep falling over and rolling around.

Crocheted C2C (corner to corner) blankets are my favourite, they eat up the yarn at a rate of knots and grow so satisfyingly quickly. Plus, with pet blankets it doesn't matter if you run out of a colour, just join in another and off you go.

I have also knitted some blankets in straight garter stitch, and although I was a knitter long before I learnt to crochet, knitting just doesn't grow as fast a crochet, so after a couple I went back to good old crochet C2C.

My last knit of the month was a pair of socks, initially they were for me but I got carried away while watching TV and forgot to count rows before doing the heel turn. The result was a sock that would fit my husband's size 12 rather than my size 7, but I think secretly he's quite happy to have them 😉
They were made using some beautiful Rosie's Moments Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn bought some years ago at a yarn festival.

My favourite sock pattern is a toe up pattern, Vanilla Socks with Gusset and Choice of Heel by Jo Torr, which is a free Ravelry download. I prefer toe-up as I never seem to be able to do a neat Kitchener stitch to finish off the toe on top-down socks and also there's no picking up stitches which I always seem to find leaves little holes - I must be doing something wrong.
So finally, here are the finished socks ...

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Simple Blocks Baby Blanket

by Jacqui Marsh of FromStashToStitches  14 October 2018

This basic pattern has been around for a long time. Variations in size and material can be found in many places online. This is my version for a baby blanket. I have included pattern notes at the end to help you to vary the size.
Size:    24” x 26” (61cm x 66cm)

Yarn: Approx. 130g of any DK yarn that knits to the specified tension

Needles: 4mm straight or circular needles
Tension: 22sts x 28 rows = 4” (10cm)

Exact tension is not essential but any variation will alter the overall blanket size and quantity of yarn required
K Knit
P Purl
St Stitch(es)

Difficulty: Easy
Knowledge of Cast On, Cast Off, Knit and Purl required

Cast on 131st

Moss stitch border:
Work 10 rows: (K1, P1) repeat to last stitch, K1

Main Pattern:
Row 1: (K1, P1) 3 times, K1, (K9, P9) to last 16 stitches, K9, (K1, P1) 3 times, K1

Row 2: (K1, P1) 3 times, K1, (P9, K9) to last 16 stitches, P9, (K1, P1) 3 times, K1
Rows 3-12: Repeat rows 1 and 2 five more times.

Row 13: (K1, P1) 3 times, K1, (P9, K9) to last 16 stitches, P9, (K1, P1) 3 times, K1
Row 14: (K1, P1) 3 times, K1, (K9, P9) to last 16 stitches, K9, (K1, P1) 3 times, K1

Rows 15-24: Repeat rows 13 and 14 five more times.
Work rows 1-24 seven times in total

Moss stitch border:
Work 10 rows: (K1, P1) repeat to last stitch, K1

Cast off knitwise
Weave in ends

Pattern Notes:
When using moss stitch, I like to start every row with a knit stitch so you must cast on an odd number of stitches.

I also like to start the moss stitch borders up each side with a knit stitch so the borders also have to have an odd number of stitches.
This means that there needs to be an odd number of blocks and each block must have an odd number of stitches.

The blocks are an even number of rows before changing to the reverse stocking stitch. Try to make the blocks square, bearing in mind most yarns have more rows than stitches to the inch/cm.

For my blanket there are 13 blocks of 9 stitches and the borders either side are 7 stitches. So, 7 + (13 x 9) + 7 = 131 stitches and the blocks are 9st x 12 rows.
The size may be altered by altering the number of stitches cast on and number of pattern repeats. You may also want to alter the size of the blocks – smaller for 4ply and larger for aran.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

September Update

Oh my goodness, whatever happened to September? When I started this blog I had intended to post every week or maybe two weekly but I've only just started and it's already been three weeks since my last post because I've had such busy September.

We went to Wales for a long (and wet) weekend, returned on the Monday ready for our son's wedding on the Thursday that week. Then the next weekend our daughter and husband, who live in Australia but have been staying with us for the last 6 weeks, flew to Peru for their belated honeymoon in South America having married last September. Finally in the last week of September I went down with an awful cold and sore throat which was quickly followed by my annual Macmillan coffee morning. It was lovely to see everyone for the wedding but so much work to do, and now back to the real world.

While all this was going on the only way for me to stay sane was to knit and crochet while relaxing in the evening so I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I've got done.

In total I've used 1697g yarn - a shame I didn't manage to round it up to 1700g - I do like nice round numbers! And I managed not to buy any more yarn although I was very tempted by the 400g balls of aran at Aldi this week.

In addition to the baby sets that I finished earlier in the month I have also made:-

A C2C pet blanket using 5 strands of cone yarn which will go to the RSPCA at West Hatch 

7 hats and 3 scarves for Taunton Open Door who support the homeless
but only 6 hats shown as my daughter snaffled one to take on holiday

So all I need to do now is to update my totals over in Stash Stuff and I'm done.

Hopefully I'll post a bit more frequently now that things have calmed down and also share some of those patterns that I've been promising to do but haven't had time to type up yet.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Finished Babys Sets

What have you done this week to reduce your stash?

I've been a busy bee and managed to finish the baby sets that I've been working on for Baby Basics.

I hope to be able to deliver them in the next week or so, together with the generous donations sent to me last week from some other members of Loving Hands,  preferably before my son's wedding on 20th as it would be nice to clear some space in the spare room for guests 😊😊😊

So what exactly have I made? Well there have been two baby hats, 1 pair of booties, a newborn matinee, a 0-3 months matinee with short sleeves and a 0-3 month little boy's cardigan.

All except the pink hat were made using Red Heart's Anne Geddes Baby yarn which is now discontinued and sadly I only have a little left, but any standard baby Double Knitting yarn would be suitable. In total I've used 162g in the last week, not a lot of stash busted but that's what happens when you make lots of baby things.

The baby hats were made using Heather Tucker's Basic Baby Hat free pattern

The Booties are based on the booties in Marianna's free pattern Garter Stitch Ridge Baby Set but without the garter stitch ridge! Well it makes sense to me - I just used her pattern for the number of stitches and rows to make booties of the right size.
To go with hat and booties above I used another pattern as a starting point for the number of stitches and rows needed for a 0-3 month baby, but as with the booties, I have adapted it so now it can be made all in one from the bottom up and no sewing - my favourite sort of pattern! I'll share the pattern with you once I've converted my scribbled notes into a sensible format.
I again used one of Marianna's patterns for the New Born Baby Matinee but decided that it was a little too small to be included in a layette so I  used another of her free patterns to make a 0-3 months Top Down with Short Sleeves . I made a an error when making the newborn sleeveless matinee when I forgot to change sides for the buttonholes, so although it's probably in more 'girly' colours it does up on the wrong side for a girl but hopefully that won't matter too much. How many of you have done the same thing? I know I can't be the only one.


So here are my final four layettes.

I'm rather pleased with myself, not to mention relieved, as I'm not very good a sticking to one project for long and even though I like making little things for little ones I'm now longing to make something larger that grows a bit quicker and uses up a bit more yarn.

But now the sun is shining, it's a gorgeous September afternoon and the garden is calling to me so it's goodbye for now. Keep stash busting and I'll join you again next week with some more makes.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

August Update

2nd September already and the end of my first month of blogging about my efforts to reduce my stash.

I've had fun and frustration setting up the blog and trying to get it to work the way I want it to, and it's still a work in progress so there are sure to be many tweaks over the coming months.

Since the purpose of this blog is to record my efforts to 'bust my stash' and maybe share some patterns along the way, here is what I made in August:-

1 crocheted C2C pet blanket using 6 strands of coned yarn

 2 knitted baby blankets


4 pairs of booties, 4 baby hats, 1 pair baby mitts

2 baby cardigans

I've busted  869g which is not as much as I would like to have used but making baby things takes a lot of time and doesn't use much yarn - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

I have also acquired 700g but in my defence I didn't actually buy any yarn. It was kindly donated to me through Loving Hands as I don't have much yarn suitable for baby things in my stash and they had some going spare.

So after all that effort I've only reduced my stash by 169g - note to self, must try harder next month!

I've updated my totals in Stash Stuff and will do so every month

Friday, 24 August 2018

Busy Week and Baby Things

Goodness, where has this last week gone?!

Life's been busy here as my daughter arrived from Australia two weeks ago and her husband 10 days later - he's an Aussie and they live near Melbourne. They're here for a our son's wedding in September and then they go on to South America for a belated honeymoon having married last year. September is a busy anniversary month in our household as our daughter married on our anniversary last September, so it's their 1st anniversary and our 40th this year.

Needless to say crafting and blogging have taken second place as we don't get to see them often. However, life goes on and I've been busy making layettes for Baby Basics South Somerset when I have time. I've made four baby blankets so now I'm making newborn sized cardis, hats, booties and mitts to match. This is what the space next to my chair in the living room looks like just now. I've laid them out to remind me what I need to make next and how far I've got to go.

Everything is made using DK thickness yarn. The cream hat & booties are made using one of my favourite bloggers Marianna's Lazy Daisy Days patterns but all in one colour Garter Stitch Ridge Baby Set

Next job on my list is to make the cardi, it just needs to be a basic pattern, using something like this  Top Down Baby Raglan Cardi and I'll incorporate a garter stitch ridge so the it matches the rest.

I made up the blanket pattern but it's very straight forward, I'll show photos and share the blanket pattern in my next post when I've finished this set.

December 2018 Update

Happy New Year Everyone !   I do love the start of a new year. It always brings thoughts of tidying up and finishing off things started...