Friday, 7 June 2019

May 2019

Sorry I'm a bit late with my May update. We (hubby and I) went away for a long weekend last weekend. This was mainly so he could take his beloved Porsche 928 to the Simply Porsche show at Beaulieu on the Sunday. We set off just after 11am on Friday for a journey of just over 100 miles. Admittedly it's all on 'A' roads as there are no motorways between Taunton and the south coast, but even so we anticipated it would take about two and half hours. We certainly did not plan on it taking almost five hours! What a nightmare, we thought it wold never end. The most frustrating thing was that there was no reason for any of the hold ups, just pure volume of traffic at the end of half-term week and Friday traffic. Never again !!

So here I am with a quick round up of what I've been up to in the knitting and crochet world. This month I used 857g yarn and now I'm going to polish my halo because I haven't bought any yarn, nor have I acquired more by any other means 😇

I finished a cardigan that I had planned to make for myself with some King Cole Shades yarn which I bought ages ago. I think it might be discontinued now but this link is to Ravelry.

However, I didn't really like the way it looked when I started to make it as I realized that it looked like camouflage. Not really the look I was after.

This is the pattern I used but I added a moss stitch border at the bottom and the front edges as I hate having to pick up stitches to add a border at the end. I didn't include button holes as I just wanted it to be a buttonless jacket style but it didn't work out as I had wanted. Hey, you live and learn!

Also, even though I did a tension square - a very rare occurrence for me - the overall garment turned out to be a little too small. I have been dieting and lost some weight but I think I rather overestimated the effect it would have on my dimensions. I could keep it in the hope I will lose enough to get into it but given that I don't really like the camouflage look I think I'll just give it to charity. I'm sure it will fit someone better and they might even like it.

Unfortunately I bought a whole pack of this yarn, which was 10 x 100g balls, and the cardi only used 460g so I still have a lot left over; I think that's destined for children's jumpers, hats and scarves.

A couple of months ago my daughter in law gave me a ball of Rowan Big Wool, a super chunky yarn, and asked if I could make her husband / my son a hat.

Here's the result. Just a simple ribbed hat with a rather sparse pompom, which used every scrap of the 100g ball of yarn. I haven't seen him to give it to him yet - I hope he likes it.

The rest of the month was spent making more octopals for OFAPUK .  I've been trying out a variety of their approved patterns so you will see crocheted octopuses, crocheted jellyfish, crocheted flat jellyfish and garter stitch octopuses with crocheted tentacles because the knitted ones are just sooo hard to do.


The knitted ones were a real challenge as they have to be made using DK cotton with 2mm needles - I used my new Knitpro Zing straights which worked well but still bent a little due to the tight tension. I had to learn how to do German Short Rows in order to make these, which was a new technique for me. However, with a lot of support from some of the lovely members of OFAPUK I'm thrilled to be able to say that all of mine passed and will be swimming their way to preemies :-)

I'm also part way through making a large blanket for refugees, using multiple strands of coned yarn, but I'm only about a third through it so hopefully I will finish in time for next month's round up.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

April 2019

April and Easter have been and gone, it's May Bank Holiday and there's so much I could / should be doing in the garden, but I overdid it at Easter and had a sore back ever since. The sun is shining, I've dead headed my tulips and that's about all I can manage today so here I am indoors writing up my blog.

April has been a funny month with regards to my quest for stash busting, not helped by the fact that I bought a large number of yarn cakes, but more about that later.

As usual, I have been knitting and crocheting most evenings, but the things I've been making all seem to take quite a while to make but don't use much yarn, so I only busted 546g but bought 1800g making a gain of 1254g!! Definitely not a stash busting month, but I console myself with the thought that I am still down on the year - just. Having started the year with 48,500g, I ended April with 48,233g. Must do better!

I had a request from Baby Basics South Somerset for some 0-3 month cardigans, hats and booties, plus little blankets. So after contacting Kate at Loving Hands to ask if she could send me some suitable items. I then set to and made a few of my own to add to the bits that I had made over the last few months. As always Kate and Loving Hands came up trumps and she was able to send me a lovely box full of baby clothes and blankets. Lisa at Baby Basics was absolutely delighted with it all as they've had a run of babies in need recently and were especially short of things for little boys.

My contribution to this was two little jackets, three pairs of booties, a blanket and a cocoon, to which I included two more blankets and a cardigan which I made in January.

This month's blanket was Mary's Blanket from Wye Needlecraft, made in  lilac Anne Geddes Baby DK.

The booties were also made using Anne Geddes Baby DK, in cream using the Seamless Preemie Booties pattern which is free on Ravelry. I like this pattern as it's done on dpn's meaning there's no rough seam to rub on delicate baby feet.

One baby jacket was made using this Classic Jacket pattern with Drops Belle Uni DK in pale blue. It can be found in the Little Sublime Hand Knitting Book 600 although I had it as a free pattern from Knitting Magazine.
... and the other was made using this Baby's Mitred Coat by Mary Lee Herrick, a pattern that I've meaning to try for ages. It's one of those 'structural' patterns where you can't really see where it's going until you've finished, or at least I couldn't. And as you can see, I got it completely wrong first time around. So I ripped back about a quarter of the jacket and remade it, only to realize that I hadn't made a mistake after all, it was just that I had folded it the wrong way! I can assure you it is the same jacket, but the lighting and my poor photographic skills have made the colours come out completely differently. It was in fact made in the same yarn as the blanket above.

In addition to these baby things I've also made four more 'octopals' for OFAPUK. These take me so long to make and use such a small amount of yarn, but I love making them and they are for such a good cause that I will continue to make them - but I really do have to be in the right mood.
Top left is a crocheted flat jelly using ICE Tropical DK and 2mm Tulip Etimo crochet hook - so much easier to make than stuffed jellies and octopuses.
Top right is a little jelly made using King Cole Giza Sorbet 4ply and a 1.75mm Tulip Etimo crochet hook. I love this one, it's so dainty, but oh so fiddly.
Next is a garter stitch octopus made using Sirdar Toscana DK and 2mm knitting needles for the body and I cheated by crocheting the tentacles, much easier than knitting them, again using a 2mm Clover Amour hook.
Lastly we have a crocheted jelly, again in the Sirdar Toscana DK with a navy Sirdar Cotton DK frill, made with a 2mm Clover Amour hook.
You may well ask why the change of hooks, and the answer to that is some hooks work better with some yarns and not with others. It's a matter of trial and error and personal preference. At the moment I'm at the trial and error stage.

So that's what I've made, now on to what I've bought.
Personally I blame the Loving Hands member who mentioned the lovely yarns available from GoodVibesYarn. I did have a look, thought about buying some, and resisted - but not for long. I think it was a few days later that I just thought I'd have another look and that was my downfall. I've not bought yarn cakes before but they do seem to be very much the latest thing in the yarn world and I can see why, the colour changes are just so lovely.
The yarn cakes I bought are all DK, some all acrylic and some acrylic with wool. Each cake is 150g and is approximately 540m in length. I tried to look up some patterns and found most are for hats, scarves, shawls and blankets although I suppose you could make anything but I suspect the colour changes, which I understand can be quite sudden, might make it difficult to match the pattern on back and front of jumpers and cardigans - or maybe you just don't worry about colour matching.
Anyway, I decided to go for two cakes in each colour to be sure that there would be enough for a larger shawl, but if 150g is enough I will be making twice as many shawls! So here they are. As you can see each cake starts and finishes at a different point in the colour sequence. If I do make anything using more than one cake I think I may have to start part way through a cake for the colours to continue sensibly.

That's it for now, the sun is still shining, my back still hurts, and I still have far too much yarn in my stash - happy days :-)

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

March 2019 More Teds and Octopals plus Stash Increase

It's been a funny old month, I've only used 286g of my stash, but I gained 1,008g so it doesn't take a genius to realize that this month my stash has grown.
Although I've worked on my stash most evenings, the things I've been making only take a small amount of yarn but a lot of time. I've made three more Teds using the Teds4Tradgedy pattern, a great way to use up small quantities of DK yarn. These will be given to babies when they are Christened at the local Parish church.
I've also been making more Octopals for OFAPUK. They really are quite addictive but given that they only use about 30g yarn for one made in DK cotton, but it takes me two evenings for each one,  you can see why I've used so little this month.
I've made 3 crocheted octopuses in the Marriner Mercerised Cotton DK and one knitted octopus. I'm delighted to be able to say that these three have passed to swim to preemies. The yarn wrapped around their necks is in case the coordinator wants to do some minor surgery to enable them to pass.
I didn't even submit the knitted one as I knew it really wasn't up to standard, not even to fly to an angel. The pattern said to chain stitch over the back seam which had been joined using mattress stitch but mine just looked awful.

The knitted ones are really difficult to do as they are made using DK cotton yarn with 2mm needles and the stitches have to be incredibly tight so that there are no holes, no matter how small, where stuffing might escape during their many washes, and also so that tiny fingers cannot get caught.
With this in mind, I'm now working on a knitted jellyfish (usually just referred to as a jelly) in conjunction with a KAL being run by OFAPUK. The KAL leader is so helpful and everyone in the group is working so hard to make the grade. I've only done the frill and head so far but will update you on progress next month. This one is being made using Sirdar Toscana Cotton DK in a shade called Siena.
In between doing the KAL I've made three more octopuses using Sirdar Cotton Prints DK in a shade called Beach Flower, bought from Amazon. It's been lovely to work with and I'm hopeful that these may swim to preemies when I hand them in at out next meeting in April. Did I say that the ones we make here in Taunton go to St. George's Hospital, Tooting? Sadly, for some unknown reason, Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton don't use them.
Now on to the stash gains. Firstly I won 150g cotton yarn in a raffle run by Mia of Picasso's Den. Many thanks to Mia as all of the yarns were approved to be used to make octopals.
Then I bought 600g Ice Tropical Mercerised Cotton DK from the 'yarn fairy' at OFAPUK. Well she only had the yarn wardrobe open for a short while before closing it again so I had to get in quick :-) All such beautiful colours, I can't wait to see how they work out when making octo's and jellies.

Lastly, my daughter-in-law gave me some oddments of yarn left over from when she decided to try to learn to knit. I have offered to help her but they live 2 hour's drive away and she leads such a busy life. I made her keep all the knitting needles and crochet hooks that she'd bought as I'm sure she'll come back to it one day. But as we all know, they may be just bits and pieces, apart from the lovely ball of orange Rowan Big Wool, but those bits are never wasted; there's always a project out there somewhere that will need a bit of this or that.
That's all from me for March. I'll catch up with you all again after Easter - oh, my isn't the year just flying by!!

Saturday, 2 March 2019

February 2019 Octopals, Blankets and Ted for Christenings

February 2019 Octopals, Blankets and Ted for Christenings

I started the month quite well and with good intentions, but then one of the lovely ladies on the OFAPUK site mentioned that Amazon had discontinued 100g balls of Sirdar Cotton Prints DK for £2.99 instead £5.85 . Well I just had to look, just a little peek to see what they had, I wasn't going to buy any, honestly - and then that's it, too late 😲. They were such pretty yarns, and I justified it because it is an approved yarn for making these lovely little octopals, and that was it, I just had to have some and before I knew it 8 balls had somehow jumped into my basket! Aren't they gorgeous?
Then, as if that was not enough, is it ever enough, someone else in the group showed a picture of Sirdar Toscana, another approved yarn, and oh so pretty, also £2.99 for 100g and I just had to order another 6 balls of that!
Finally, I decided that I needed a special gadget for measuring octopuses to make sure they have the correct dimensions. These can be bought from Picasso's Den where the lovely Mia also had an offer on a surprise mix of 10 x 50g balls of cotton yarn, and since I think all of her yarns are approved by OFAPUK I decided to take the risk and ordered this too. This is what I got, aren't they gorgeous ? 

Having not even got as far as the end of February and failed in my mission not to buy any yarn, did I  eventually manage to reduce my stash this month?

Well, I'm relieved to say that I have at least redeemed myself by using 2662g  yarn. Together with my purchases of 1900g, I reduced my stash by 762g. Not as much as I would have liked, but at least I have enough cotton yarn to keep me going with making octopals for about two years!

At the beginning of the month I made 6 octopuses, three in a lovely azure Marriner Mercerised Cotton DK and three in King Cole Giza Sorbet 4ply in a shade called lemon and lime.

I found the Marriner Cotton DK quite hard to work with as it seems a bit thicker than the Alize Bahar Batik DK that I used last month, but it does work up nicely using a 2mm hook and with no holes. 

I also made a knitted octopus, using 2mm dpns and the Marriner Cotton DK. This was the first time I've tried to make a knitted one and found it really difficult. The instructions say to knit through back of loop to tighten the stitches and avoid holes but it was so tight that I was really upset when one of my needles snapped! This was one from a set of Knitpro Symphonie dpns I'd bought for making socks. Fortunately there are 6 of each size so this still left five which will be fine.

I'm determined to have another go at making a knitted octopus so treated myself to a set of Knitpro Zing dpns which I hope will be a bit stronger. I'll let you know how I get on with them next time I try to make a knitted one. I know the knitted one (on the right in the photo) will not pass so I have kept it as a reminder of my progress - that's assuming that they will get better with practice.

I used a 1.75mm crochet hook with the Giza Sorbet 4ply, and this seems to work up very well too, but being 4ply they come up much smaller. The first one was tiny so I added an increase row for the second one but still thought that was probably too small so added yet another increase row for the third one. However, when I took them to my local group meeting and showed them to my coordinator she thought they were probably all big enough so I was delighted when I heard from the coordinator for St. George's Hospital, Tooting, that one Marriner octopus and the two smaller Giza ones passed to go to preemies and the other two will fly to angels.

The big stash buster this month was two single bed sized blankets which were crocheted using 2 strands of coned 4ply that had been donated to me some time ago. They're not perfect but they will go to RAFT to keep someone nice and warm so hopefully they won't mind too much. 

I also made a lap blanket sized granny square blanket using a cone of red aran. When making a large granny square it can often become slightly distorted so this time I followed some advice to turn the blanket when starting each new round and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did indeed solve the problem and I had a lovely square blanket which will also go to RAFT.


Finally, I made a teddy using the Teddies for Tragedy pattern. It's years since I've made these but a friend asked me if I could make a few because they like to give one to babies when they are christened at her church. The lady who used to make them is now very elderly and can't do them any more so I was happy to oblige as they are great for using up those small left over balls of DK.  I expect I'll be making a few more of these for the church but when I've done that I'll definitely be making some for Mercy Ships as I know that they like to give one to every child who has treatment on the ship.
Well, that's me done for another month. We're off the Guernsey for a few days for hubby's birthday next week but I'll no doubt be taking something to make while I'm there as there's always a bit of time to squeeze in a bit of crafting, usually while waiting for him to get ready to go out - I've never known a man take so long to get ready - and he doesn't even have any hair to dry !!!

Thursday, 31 January 2019

January 2019 New Year, New Challenges

Well, here we are, the end of January already, that's a twelfth of the year gone. What have you got to show for it so far? Did you make any new resolutions? I prefer to call them challenges or targets as somehow those words don't seem to put me under so much pressure.

So my challenge is not to buy any more yarn - and that really is a challenge for a hoarder like me!

My target is to reduce my stash by at least 12,000g, in other words an average of 1000g per month which should be achievable. My other target is to make at least 100 items in the year which is easy if they're all baby hats but not so easy when it's a mixture of little and large items such as bed sized blankets.

So what have you made so far this month? Have you been making for family and friends or do you have favourite charities like me?

So far I've made just one pet blanket in straight forward garter stitch using 6 strands of that coned yarn which I'd dearly love to use up this year as I'm getting a bit fed up of seeing it piled up in boxes in the wardrobe in the spare room, and I'd like to get started using some 'nice' yarn. You see I have a thing about using up part balls and things that I don't like much. I like to use them up as soon as possible before I start on the nice stuff - it gives me something to look forward to.

Also I don't like having several things on the go at once. I like to finish what I'm working on before starting on my next project. I know this quite different to many of you - you know who you are - the ones who have half a dozen WIPs and can't wait to make a start on the new yarn you bought at the weekend. Personally that would drive me mad, I wouldn't be able to decide which thing to work on next each time I sat down in front of the TV for the evening.

However, due to my commitment to OFAPUK, and love for all types of octopals, I'm going to have to change the habit of a lifetime. I've pledged to make one a month in 2019 - I didn't want to make it too hard since I've only just started. But being me I will be unlikely to stop until I've used a whole ball of yarn so that will probably be more like four or five per month. This month I made 5 octopuses using Alize Bahar Batik in gorgeous rainbow colours. I was chuffed to bits to find that three have passed so will 'swim' to preemies and two were not quite good enough so they will 'fly' to angels.

Meanwhile I will try to have something else on the go at the same time, whether it's a baby blanket for Baby Basics South Somerset or bed sized blanket for RAFT. That way I can work on something small like an octopal, that needs a lot of concentration - for when hubby is watching something about DIY or cars,  and I can do something easy with mind in neutral while watching a film or TV.

What do you like to watch or listen to while crafting? Silent Witness is my current favourite TV series, but I have just started watching Outlander on Prime and at the weekend we watched the Potato Peel Pie Literary Society which we really enjoyed - so much so that we've even booked a few days in Guernsey for hubby's birthday in March :-)

Anyway, I'm getting carried away here. So apart from the pet blanket and octopals I've made two baby blankets and a 0-3 month cardigan which will eventually go to Baby Basics. I used Love Knitting's Zig Zag Baby Set for the cardi and one blanket. It's a free pattern for paintbox yarn, but I used some Drops Belle Unicolour in a lovely baby blue which I had in my stash. The other blanket is a pattern I made up so I'll post the pattern here once I've typed it up.

So finally, to sum up, this month I've used 1,481g yarn and not bought any - even though I was sorely tempted by all the new year sales online.

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!

May 2019

Sorry I'm a bit late with my May update. We (hubby and I) went away for a long weekend last weekend. This was mainly so he could take hi...