Friday, 4 August 2017

How many strands?

Chunky yarns are very useful for making warm hats, scarves and mittens ready for winter, especially the cold winters in middle and eastern Europe.  I don't have much in the way of chunky yarns, but I do have lots of thinner coned yarns which I have been combining to make chunky or thereabouts weight for knitting mittens for adults in Bulgaria.

The first pairs were made with charcoal and blue yarns.  If you look closely at the picture above, you will see that the 2 balls of yarn comprise 5 separate stands - one of 4 ply, 3 of 3 ply and one of 2 ply.  A total of 12 ply is roughly chunky, and knits into a tight fabric on 5.5 mm needles.  The pattern I used is Marlene's mittens.

Using so many strands slows my knitting a bit as I have to check that I am working all of the strands all of the time... Occasionally a couple of stitches have to be unpicked and reknitted because of a lost strand or two.

After making a couple of pairs in the grey/blue mix, I moved on to a brighter combination of colours:

How many strands this time?  Well, actually it's seven:

There are two strands of 3 ply and five strands of 2 ply - 16 ply altogether.  In fact the white and black strands may only be 1 ply, so I could be exaggerating slightly!  It is definitely knitting a thicker fabric than the grey/blue.  I have found that stacking the 3 balls on top of each other makes it much easier to control the strands, and there is really no difference in knitting with seven rather than five strands.  The mix of colours works well together too:

Mitt number one still missing a thumb.  For some reason my strategy when making mittens is to knit the bodies of both, then to knit the thumbs after.

Can I beat 7 strands?  We shall see!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Little things finished

Here in the West of England we are enjoying warm weather at the moment, although as is normal, two or three hot days mean that thunderstorms will follow.  They followed at around 3 am this morning, and, although I have a hearing impairment which means I normally sleep through loud noises quite happily, I certainly heard these storms as they passed over.

Warm weather makes crocheting full size blankets a bit of a challenge, so I have put the current aran monster to one side.  It is roughly 30 inches by 58 inches at the moment, and I'm aiming to get it about another 12 -15 inches bigger all round.  

We did have a few cooler days at the start of July, which meant I was able to finish off the other aran blanket; it was a corner-to-corner, made with 2 strands of coned yarn.  I do like the stripe design of this one, and will be going through my remaining cones to see whether I can plan another.

But on to the smaller things that have been finished; firstly the fingerless gloves: 3 pairs in 3 different sizes, all made from the same pattern, and using different combinations of coned yarn.

And then the baby blanket made from 4 ply.  I pondered for quite a while over the layout of this blanket, sorted one out, and then sewed it up completely differently by mistake!  Never mind, it looks fine as it is and at 33 inches square will keep a baby cosy and warm.

Next will be another baby blanket, this time for a family member; my niece is expecting a baby boy in October, and as their family surname is MacLeod, I had the rash idea of making a tartan blanket for him in the clan tartan.  I have ordered the wool, but will have to make the pattern up as I go.  Watch this space!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Little things

I seem to have spent a lot of time lately working on large blankets.  When I found a large bag of 4 ply in among the yarn that RAFT gave me to make more blankets, I was rather pleased, because 4 ply to me says baby blankets, which are a lot smaller than the ones I have been doing.  There were four colours of Patons Diploma 4 ply, a lovely soft yarn.  As a bonus, I also had a couple of balls of the same yarn in a fifth colour in my stash.  Small squares were needed, so I went for a simple approach:

Just a plain treble crochet square.  But what colour order should the squares be set out in?  Decisions, decisions....

I'm probably going to go with the top order.  The squares need a white frame to border them too:

So far I have 15 colour squares, 3 with borders.  So I need to do another 10 colour squares and a lot of borders:

The finished blanket will be about 32 inches square, just right for the baby packs that RAFT put together to go to refugee camps.

Another little project has been to make small, warm items for a charity called Muddy Footprints, which distributes them in impoverished areas of Bulgaria.  I have been using coned yarn with a high wool content to make fingerless gloves.  The pale green is two strands of 2 ply Alpaca yarn while the multicolour is 4 ply super wash 100%wool.  These should be very warm to wear.  The pattern I am using is a very simple one I found on Ravelry called Easy Fingerless Mitts by Calypso Knits.  Although it is written for dpns, I am using the magic loop method on a circular needle.

By the way, there is also a large corner to corner blanket on the go, but it has been a bit too warm to work on that one much.  However, today has been cold and wet, so it might get dragged out this evening for a little more work!

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!