Saturday, 3 December 2016

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around....

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around,
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, jump up high,
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the sky.

This week, Loving Hands was asked if we could supply some tiny teddies for babies in Kings College Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit to receive on Christmas day.  Although I'm not especially fond of making toys, these little teds are very quick and easy to do, so I thought I would make a few.  As I was knitting them, I suddenly remembered an action rhyme that my boys and I used to sing when they were small.  And days later, I can't get it out of my head! It must be at least 25 years since we last sang that rhyme, but now it keeps repeating and repeating in my brain.  

These are the tiny teds; they are 2.75 inches tall, just right for little babies.  They are knitted in 4 ply on size 2.50 needles.  Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around.......

As well as these, I have been making some things for Children's Hospice South West to sell to raise funds.  A child's hat and scarf set is knitted with two strands of double knit:

 The pattern is called Luuk, by Annis Jones, and is free on Ravelry. I think the hat looks rather like a creamy cup cake with hundreds and thousands sprinkled on.

I've also crocheted a few snowflakes for tree decorations or to add to parcels:

The two at the top of the photo are made with a tinsel yarn found in a charity shop.  They really sparkle when they catch the light.  The bottom two are just made with crochet cotton, and stiffened after blocking with a little spray starch.  

Hopefully they will help with the fundraising.  Teddy bear, teddy bear,turn around...............

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Another stripy jumper

I have just 2 more boy's jumpers to finish to reach my target of 12 for the year.  Well, only one now, as I have just finished this one.

it's a 26 inch chest, knitted in double knit on size 4.00 needles, and I used my favourite jumper pattern.  I think I have made about 8 of these in total in the last 5 years.  It is a free pattern from Ravelry called simply Child's jumper pattern.  I made the stripes 10 rows wide, but you can choose your own colour and stripe combinations. From my stash I chose Copper and Mocha by Stylecraft, and a dark brown (no shade name) from Marriner.  Lots of Loving Hands members, inspired by another member, Pat, have been making a special effort this year to knit jumpers for boys, as they seem to get fewer donations.  To date, over 400 jumpers for boys have been made, which, as Pat says, represents a school full of warm boys!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Hats galore

Hats have turned into a bit of a compulsion.  Over the last 10 days or so I have made 8 hats, four knitted and four crocheted.

The first one is an adult hat, knitted with one strand of DK and 2 strands of coned 3 ply.  I really enjoy the mindlessness of knitting rib, and the finished hat is lovely and stretchy.  This has gone into my box for the Mission to Seamen, who do a brilliant job in helping those who work at sea (both my grandfather and father were sailors).

After the simple ribbed hat, I decided to try a bit of fair isle.  This is a technique I am still perfecting, and so I went for a basic toddler beanie and a simple pattern.  I took inspiration from a pattern on Ravelry called Celebration Day, although I changed it a bit, using more stitches and making the fair isle more symmetrical.  I like the finished effect (each of the colours is 2 strands of coned 4 ply) which is quite subtle.  It probably will get a pompom before I send it off.

Next up was crochet.  I found a ball of James Brett Baby Marble that I had forgotten about, and used a 1 - 2 year size Ravelry pattern (Spring Lacy hat) that I thought would work with the colour changes.
Although the pattern is for worsted yarn with a size 5.00 hook, it worked well with DK and a 4.5 hook to make a newborn hat.  They were quick to work up, so I made 2.

Back to the knitting.  There was a small ball of white 4 ply in my knitting bag, just enough for a preemie hat.  I cast on 80 stitches and did a couple of inches of 2 x 2 rib so it would be nice and stretchy.  Then I decided to do a bit of cabling.  Why, I do not know, as I was using dpns, and adding a cable needle to the mix was really asking for trouble.  Well, I got there, but not without a few dropped stitches and a bit of frogging on the way.  There was enough Marble left to make another preemie hat.  This one you will notice has no cables.  Can you work out why???

Finally I went back to crochet for a couple more adult hats.  The pink one is a slouchy one, and has a button on the brim, cunningly concealed in the photo.  The blue/brown one is based on Julia Odie's Magnus hat pattern, sized up for an adult.  Julia is a fellow Loving Hands member, and I have made this hat many times in many different sizes.  Both of these hats are made with different combinations of coned yarn.

So now I have made over 40 hats this year, and my target of 52 by the end of December seems more achievable.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Mixing colours

At the start of the year I set myself a challenge to knit 12 boys' jumpers and 52 assorted hats by the end of the year.  As we start November, I've managed 10 jumpers, and another is well underway, so I'm pretty sure I will reach that target.  But I've fallen way behind on the hat front.  I have recorded 31 hats so far, which leaves 21 to complete by the end of the year.

I've started by knitting these 2 children's hats:

Although they are quite different in appearance, they both use the same multicoloured yarn as their base.  It's another King Cole bin end yarn, which is great value for £1 per ball.  I love the different colours in the yarn, but as a fairly thin DK (or at least that's what I think it is - you have to guess with bin ends yarns) it needed boosting to make warm hats for children.  Coned yarn to the rescue!

Two strands of 3 ply wool / acrylic mix in ivory went into the paler hat, while two strands of alpaca / acrylic 2 ply in a camel colour went into the darker one.

They both make interesting mixes that could be worn by either a boy or a girl.  I am enjoying experimenting with mixing colours like this - I might try with some green next!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Planning the next blanket

It was great to finish the blanket I blogged about in my last post, but I do enjoy having a longer term project on my needles or hooks so that I can pick it up or leave it alone as the mood takes me.  Time to plan the next blanket project, then!

This one will be a crochet blanket. again at least single bed size.  Loving Hands received a wonderful donation of coned yarn from Nicola a few months ago, and in my share I have some beautiful colours.  I was especially taken with this cone of variegated yarn:

It is 4 ply superwash pure wool, and I love the range of greens and browns in it.  Among the cones I found some greens and a brown which echo its colours.  I also picked out an oatmeal shade, primarily for joining and the border.  So my blanket planning currently looks like this:

The pale green at the top is 2 ply yarn with alpaca, the brown and oatmeal are 4 ply acrylic and the rich teal is a 4 ply acrylic and wool mix.  As you can see, the variegated cone is considerably smaller; there is only 250g of that while the others are 400 or 500g.  The 4 ply yarns will be crocheted doubled, but a small trial showed that I would need 3 strands of the 2 ply to get the same size squares.

The next question is, what shall I put with the variegated yarn?  If I crochet it doubled, I won't get many squares from it.  I have done a test square with one strand of oatmeal, but it seems to hide the richness of the multicoloured yarn.  These are my test squares so far:

What do you think?

I'm going to try a couple of other combinations and see what results I get.  I really want to showcase this lovely yarn, not swamp it with its background colour.  I'll keep you posted!

Friday, 30 September 2016

The blanket is finished!

After several months in the making, I have completed the aran squares blanket.  I had planned to use 48 squares, but when I laid them out, I realised that just one more row of 6 squares would make it a single bed cover, and therefore it would be much more useful as a blanket.  So I knitted a further 6 squares, and its finished size is just over 6 feet by 4 feet.  All the squares are knitted corner to corner on size 5.00 needles, and apart from the bright green, all of the yarn had been donated to Loving Hands.  I expect that this blanket will go to Operation Orphan for their Keep a Child Warm project.

It has a simple crochet border which is made up of half trebles and double crochet.  It has been a brilliant stash buster, weighing in at just over 1.35 kilos.  Repeat after me, "I must not replace the yarn used up, I must not replace the yarn used up......."

Monday, 19 September 2016

Finished and not yet finished items

During the summer months I have been knitting squares to make an aran blanket.  My stash of aran yarn has grown over the last year and was filling one shelf of the guest room cupboard, as well as a bag inside the wardrobe in my bedroom.  Something had to be done, and that something would be a large blanket of 8 inch squares.  It has been a good summer project; eight inch squares can be taken on car and train journeys, and knitted outdoors without making you feel hot and sweaty as a larger item might.  I now have 40 squares completed from my target of 48:

I hope that he colours I chose will go together well in a random blanket.  I have used up the red and the pink completely, and will be making a few more brown and bright green squares as there is a lot of those colours still left in my stash.  The blanket will be 48 inches by 64 inches, which is quite a substantial size.  The squares also make quite an impressive tower when piled up!

As well as making progress with the blanket, I have also knitted another girl's cardigan with the grey rainbow yarn.  You may remember in a previous post that I couldn't decide whether this yarn would be suitable for a boy.  Well, this time I went for an obviously 'girly' pattern that was among the ones that my mum left.  I wonder, did she make this for me when I was little?  It was a double knit pattern but I knitted it on 4.5 needles with 2 strands of coned 4 ply.

The button bands are pulling slightly, which means that I didn't pick up enough stitches, but I don't think it will notice when it is being worn.  It is 24 inches across the chest, so should fit a 5-6 year old. There is still enough of this yarn left to make a baby jacket or a few hats - it is amazing how far it goes!