Thursday, 30 August 2012

Simple Sock Monkey

After seeing the fabulous sock monkeys from Aero Plus, we thought perhaps we could have a go at making one of these cute creatures, hopefully for substantially less than the retail asking price.   Normally I would just use whatever we had in the house, but it's hard enough to find a matching pair of socks here, let alone a pair that had the required patterning to add personality to a monkey!  After a trip to several stores we finally found a suitable pair at the bargain price of $4.00.  We decided long socks would be the right way to go, as having length through the limbs is always a lovely look, and while the socks were also available in my husband's footy team colours, we thought perhaps he wouldn't be thrilled with a sock monkey for Father's Day (honestly, some people are so fussy!) and went with girly pink and grey instead.



Sewing Machine
Cotton thread
Polyester Fill
Buttons and or felt for eyes
Coloured cotton for facial features

Once we had gathered the items we used the detailed tutorial from Fiona Wilk whose clear instructions easily took us through the project and it was all going very well ...mostly.

machine sewing complete

Let me paint you a picture of how it transpired.  The whole time we were cutting and sewing and stuffing this item my delighted daughter couldn't contain herself.   "This is so exciting", "I just love this", "It's starting to look like a monkey now, isn't that great", until I was attempting to stuff the long arms and legs when the chatter turned to "You know mum, this person is a professional.  It doesn't have to look exactly like hers"...  The problem with stuffing a long, thin stretch fabric is that it's quite hard to get it smooth.  At one point the sock monkey was going to be called "Bicep", thanks to its huge Popeye style upper arm muscle (just one side, the other arm was more Olive Oyl in its muscularity).

 Cut and stuffed

After about half an hour of pinching and stretching monkey limbs in an effort to smooth the bumps, and a little bit of internal dialogue that may have contained some swear words, I got to the point of  "That will do", Andie wisely chimed in with "That looks fine" and I started sewing things in place.

Attaching limbs and tail

Ears and Mouth

Selecting Eyes

Andie ended up choosing the felt eyes (leftovers from a finger puppet making set) as she thought the buttons looked a little creepy.


Despite my complaining about this project, we are very pleased with the finished product (although I'd still like the legs to be a bit smoother.)  Andie has named her new companion "Dimble" and has declared this the most successful craft project ever.  Next time I'll choose shorter socks so that the limbs are easier to stuff, but that really was the only problem I encounted.  Andie is wanting to make some more monkeys as gifts, so if you see me around town rummaging through discount stores looking for socks, you'll know why!


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Monday, 27 August 2012

Left Handed Crochet - Slip Stitch

Step 5 - Slip Stitch

I really thought I'd lost my crochet mojo when I attempted this stitch.  I followed exactly the instructions from "The Art of Crochet" and I just felt that it wasn't working for me.  After several attempts and a crushing blow to my previous crochet love affair, I did some further research and discovered that this stitch isn't usually used to crochet a piece, but instead is mainly used to join can't imagine my relief after struggling to comprehend why this wasn't coming together as well as my previous stitch attempts.  I was also in a mild panic as it was my first time using the Knit Pro hook I'd recently purchased, and I was mystified as to why it would suddenly send my crochet into the realms of disaster.

Slip Stitch

This was the week that I also got to the point of forgetting just how many yarn overs each stitch had so I decided to sit down and write my own patterns for each, when I discovered there's already more than a few online and so downloaded the "Learn To Crochet" pack from Lion Brand Yarns.  Of course, while searching I did come across some gorgeous stitch dictionaries and I'll be dropping some very unsubtle hints to my family that my birthday isn't too far away and gosh, a book and some wool really is all I need to make it a lovely day...Oh, and if someone could cook dinner that would be quite fabulous as well!


Previous updates in this series:

The beginning
Chain Stitch
Single Crochet
Double Crochet
Triple Crochet

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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Ribbon Rescue

I generally consider myself to be quite an organised person, but only to the point that things get organised when they start to annoy me (what I'm trying to say is that I'm not in the same league as the Organised Housewife!)  A few years ago, tired of the incessant call of "I can't find any scissors" and "Does anyone know where a pencil sharpener is?" I instigated a draw where all of the homework requirements are kept.  In the beginning everything was beautifully organised in labelled boxes, but as time has gone on, I'm just satisfied that everything is kept in one draw and nine times out of ten stationery can easily be found when it's needed.

With that in mind, I have to tell you that I've now reached the point that my boxes of craft items are beginning to irritate me...gasp!  A case in point is my container of ribbons.

At one point, this little stash was neatly packed into colour coordinated bags and while not ideal, it was moderately successful in keeping everything tidy and easily found...obviously those days are long gone. 

We've recently moved some furniture around and I've managed to rearrange things so that we have a small bookcase that's spare, which I have seconded to become my new craft storage space.  After a few measurements and a trip to the local two dollar shop, I picked up a couple of plastic tubs that I thought would be ideal and emptied my ribbon stash so I could see exactly what was hiding in there.  Turns out there were brooch bases, hot fix crystals, the occasional fabric flower and more ribbon than I thought I had.

Now rolling ribbon and taping the end isn't the most inspiring task, but I'm more than happy with how things turned out.

I even started to sort through my ribbon that's already on rolls and by sticking some child size chopsticks through the side of the box and through the centre of the roll  (a cut down wooden skewer would also work well, just be careful of the edges), they now neatly have a home as well.

Even though the bookcase isn't yet in its proper home, I can see my new ribbon storage is going to work well for me.  I may even stack the boxes on top of each other, it all depends on how much room the rest of my crafty items take up.

Hope you’ll join me next time.


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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Leftovers .. is not a dirty word.

I love leftovers and whether they are food, yarn, or fabric, they have inspired many great meals and projects from women who have delved into their creative selves and come up with something as good, if not better than the original.

Who hasn't had an inspirational moment with a left over bolognaise or casserole?  Not that it happens in my household too often but since I purchased a pie machine, many of my dinners have been improved with the addition of a bit of puff pastry.

Every now again, I come across something in my web browsing which leaves me to marvel at the creativity of some women.  The latest one is the blog by Shelly Kang 'The  Heathen Housewife' on her knitted sock wool blanket.

I am the first person to put my hand up and admit that I love knitting socks and everything associated with them and I will also admit to spending quite a bit of money (more than I should -but so far I have managed to hide the evidence) on some gorgeous sock wool.  In fact I just placed an order on ebay for 11 balls of self patterning wool.  I figure I am Ok until I run out of places to put it and as I have an attic/store room, I'm good for years to come.  But I always have leftover wool that I wouldn't dream of parting with.  Bit by bit my stash of leftover wool was growing and was getting harder to hide/store.  Then I stumbled upon Shelly's blog and knew what I had to do.  Her blanket is nothing short of stunning and is something that I wished I had thought of.

The great thing about this blanket is that it is full of memories even as you knit it ..

'This is the wool I used to knit a pair of socks when we were holed up in our caravan in Bright, Victoria due to the incessant rain that eventually turned into the great floods of 2011'

'This is the wool I bought with the birthday voucher my sister Deb gave me'

'This is the wool from the socks I made for my daughter Hayley when she went to Canada for a holiday - I knew how cold it gets'

Every pair of socks tells a story and they are all woven into Shelly Kang's blanket idea - Sheer Genius if you ask me!

Years ago, I fell in love with a cotton sweater that had panels of crochet down the front and back and at the cuffs of the sleeves.  I crocheted all the panels, started knitting the body of the sweater but we moved house, and it was packed away with my Mum.  Earlier this year she bought the unfinished project back to me but it had been so long (and 3 house moves later) that the sweater was no longer fashionable and I had almost forgotten how to crochet.  I loved the panels though so I joined them together to make a fabulous scarf.  It looks intricate but it couldn't be easier .. It's just leftover crocheted blocks joined together. 

If you would like to make something similar with leftover balls of wool, this pattern from Garns Studio would look lovely.

Occasionally, it's what you do with what is leftover that ends up being the main attraction.

Happy knitting,

Monday, 20 August 2012

Left Handed Crochet - Triple (Treble) Stitch

Triple Stitch

Apparently we can call this particular stitch "Treble" or "Triple", so while I'll continue to call it "Triple" feel free to interchange the name as you wish.

For this new stitch I once again turned to one of my current favourite people, Teresa, whose Youtube instructions from "The Art of Crochet"   on this slightly more complicated stitch are as clear and easy to follow as her previous videos .  One thing I've learnt about Teresa this week is that she isn't actually left handed, and that the left handedness in the video is all to do with special effects.  You can read all about it here.  Normally I would be aghast at this misrepresentation, but at this point in time my admiration knows no bounds and instead, I think I shall continue to admire her skill and thank her endlessly in my mind (and on this blog come to think of it) for sharing her knowledge.

It seems that with every new stitch my main problem is tension, as my brain and fingers attempt to come to terms with, what is initially, a rather steep learning curve.  While I'm always thrilled with the first attempt as it unfolds in front of me, by the time I've practiced a few times, that first attempt seems rather ratty and lacking in uniformity. 

First attempt
Third attempt

I did start following a community Crochet board on Pinterest this week, but after I was overwhelmed with crocheted items, I quickly unfollowed and will find something a little less overwhelming to start with.  I even ventured to look at a crochet pattern, and realised that I'm a very long way from my goal of crocheting a bag or rug or hat...and have you seen these fabulous crochet slippers

Hope you'll join me next time on my crochet journey.


Previous updates in this series:

The beginning
Chain Stitch
Single Crochet
Double Crochet

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Thursday, 16 August 2012

A Little Lace Cuff

I was searching through a box of embellishments last week and came across some gorgeous lace trim that had been purchased for a long forgotten project, but as it was so lovely it seemed a shame to have it sitting in its original brown paper bag, never seeing the light of day.  I've long admired cuffs, that are so in right now, and I thought the lace I had would be the perfect foundation for a very pretty fashion statement.

Level of Difficulty - Very Easy
Time - About 1/2 an hour plus drying time


Lace (if you don't have any to hand, your local fabric shop will usually have shelves of trims that are ideal for making cuffs - choose as wide or as narrow as you please)
Fabric Stiffener
Thick Paint brush
Cling Film
Paper Towel Roll with stuffing to replicate arm size


Cut lace to required size.  This cuff is for my daughter and the circumference of her forearm is approx 15cm (around 6 inches) so I made sure the lace was slightly less wide than that so it didn't overlap on her arm.

Cut paper towel roll lengthwise and stuff with filling of your choice to replicate circumference of forearm.  I just used bubble wrap for this.  Cover in Cling Film

Paint Fabric Stiffener onto lace (I put down a layer of cling film to make cleaning up easier).  Place on cling film covered paper towel roll and allow to dry.  During the drying process, I removed the lace and replaced the cling film to remove an excess fabric stiffener from the lace.  Repeat twice until cuff is fully dry.

We loved the result and now I'm wondering what other lace I have hidden away!

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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Left Handed Crochet - Double Stitch

Step 3 - Double Crochet

Having gained a satisfactory foothold on single crochet, the time has come to move forward on my crochet journey.  I am enjoying this whole process immensely and while I'm always slightly nervous moving forward, my thirst for new stitches far outweighs my reticence.  Just yesterday I passed a divine crocheted jumper hanging on the sale rack in the doorway of a local shop and thought "One day I'll make myself something like that", and although I'm not quite at the point of setting up a crochet Pinterest board, I'm definitely getting closer.

To start Double Crochet I once again turned to "The Art of Crochet" youtube series and found that this was the only video I needed for this stitch.  Once again I felt the need to stop and start the beginning of the video to actually work out what was happening, but it didn't take long to pick up the general idea and have a go.  I think the main issue I had with double crochet was the beginning of each row and trying to establish which stitch I was supposed to be picking up.

First Attempt
One day later

In exciting, but slightly disturbing news, Louise, my sister and co-blogger, has found a fantastic project for the two of us to work on and I've somehow been nominated to take on the crochet portion.  I really hope the next video from the informative folk at Crochet Geek is a tutorial on how to crochet flowers!

Hope you’ll join me next time


Previous updates in this series:
Single Crochet
Chain Stitch
Left Hander's Lament

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Monday, 13 August 2012

The Great North American Afghan that nearly was

The Little Australian Blanket

The minute I saw the pattern book for this afghan, I was hooked.

I'm always looking for patterns that challenge my knitting and where I can learn new methods and stitches .. and this was it!  Squares of all different patterns, textures and techniques.  This would keep my busy for days.  I couldn't wait to start and went straight online to purchase the wool.

All was going well as one square after another was completed, but, out of the blue, I discovered sock knitting and I was hooked.  Just as I had once been knitting squares, it was now socks and I was knitting like a women possessed.

9 pairs of socks later my sock obsession had calmed somewhat and I was ready to resume my afghan .. But something had changed.  I had gone through the pattern book and knitted all my favourite squares first and now I didn't want to knit the ones I didn't quite like. 

I deliberated about whether to finish it as per the original pattern or modify it.   I kept looking at the sqaures to see if I REALLY wanted to knit them, but I didn't so, in the end, partly because I am an impatient person and I wanted it finished, I chose to modify it.  I changed some of the squares- the pink leaf pattern is not in the original and I knitted 2 squares of stocking stitch to make up the numbers.  I chose the same colour as the plain squares for my crocheted border to finish it off and bring it all together.
Now I only have to do a bit of hand sewing.  One of the squares requires some cross stitching and I have to sew my Celtic knot work in place.

It's smaller than the original but just as cute.  I call it 'The Little Australian Blanket'

I have the other book in the series .. The Great American Aran Afghan.  I'm tempted to start but I'm already knitting an aran jumper, I have 11 balls of sock wool due to arrive from Germany any day now and I want to start knitting tea cosies.  Perhaps a Great American Aran Cushion?

Happy Knitting

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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Left Handed Crochet - Single Crochet

Step 2 – Single Crochet

Before I proceed with the Single Crochet, I found this youtube video  which, although for right handers and without sound, does show how I hold my wool and after much experimenting I’ve found this grip and wool hold to be the most comfortable and allows me to have a smooth crochet action.

I’ve now been crocheting for two days and I admit that in my excitement,  I did forgo my daily walk in order to perfect the chain and I may have been spotted in the waiting room of a medical establishment, wool and hook in hand practicing single crochet.   It turns out crochet may even be more addictive than Sock Knitting!   I feel like I’ve come such a long way in a very short amount of time and I’m thankful that my Moda Vera Marvel 8 ply 100% acrylic  has stood up to the task of being crocheted and undone many times without fraying or looking worn in any way.  I've since heard someone recommend starting with acrylic rather than wool and perhaps that's due to the vigorous wear and tear the beginning crocheter places on their equipment.

The extra time I took to practice the chain, until I was pleased with the tension and how I was holding the hook, appears to have paid off as  the single crochet seemed to just flow from my fingers.  I watched this video from Teresa at “The art of crochet”  and again, was very relieved with the slowing down of the video the exact moment I thought “Hang on a second, I didn’t quite catch that”.  I watched the video,  did a couple of rows of my newly acquired stitch, then another few rows, undid that, watched the video again and then attempted to make a square.  My first attempt at a larger piece of single crochet ended up much more triangular than I had hoped, (I like to think I was deliberately practicing how to decrease)  but I quickly worked out that I was not doing the first chain stitch at the beginning of each row.  

 Deliberately decreasing?

My second attempt was much more successful and I’m going to practice for another day or so, before I proceed to “Double Crochet”.  It's interesting to compare the pictures of my first attempt and one a few hours later.  What a difference a bit of practice can make! 

I’ve had a quick look and I’ve just realised there are 200 videos in the series – How many crochet stitches can there be?

Hope you’ll join me next time


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Previous updates in this series:

Chain Stitch
Left Hander's Lament

Friday, 10 August 2012

Urban Tactical Scarf

Not long ago, my 16 year old son arrived home from school proudly announcing that he'd had the "best idea ever" and everyone was going to want an "Urban Tactical Scarf for the zombie apocalypse".  In my day, we were much more concerned with the possibility of thermonuclear annihilation, rather than an animated corpse wreaking havoc, but I digress!  The so called "Urban Tactical Scarf" is designed to not only keep the wearer warm, but to provide storage space for small household items that could be used as weapons, food and any other implements that a zombie warrior might require whilst waiting to destroy the brains of the attacking  hordes.  Naturally I invited my son to participate in making this was his idea after all!


Cotton Drill
Cotton thread
Sewing Machine

- Cut two lengths of fleece 18.5cm wide.  The length of fabric required will vary, and my son has particularly long arms, so we needed to make our scarf longer than the norm.  We added together 24 cm for the end pocket, the length of his arm, plus enough fabric to drape around his neck.  Our total length for each piece was 184cm.
-Sew two ends together along short edges with right sides facing.

-To add hood (optional), we simply took the outline of an existing hoodie, cut two and sewed together with right sides facing.  Centre hoodie over the centre seam of the scarf and sew in place with right sides facing.

-To add pockets, cut 8 pieces of cotton drill 13cm x 13cm and make a small hem at the top of each piece.  With right sides facing, sew pairs together along 3 sides leaving hemmed seam open.
-Hem the two ends of the fleece scarf
-Fold up 24 cm of fleece fabric from the end of the scarf, which will form the pocket for the hands.  Pin cotton drill pocket in place to the right side of the fleece fabric, unfold fabric to ensure that you don't sew all of the layers together while attaching the pocket, and sew in place.  Do this for both ends of the scarf.
-With right sides together, and with pocket now sewn in place, fold 24cm of scarf at each end, sew side seams and turn pocket out.
-Place remaining pockets on scarf in locations as desired, sew.

We've already had an order from a friend for one of these...maybe my son is onto something?


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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Phoenix Knitting ...

The mythical firebird with its tail of gold and scarlett might just be the ideal symbol for my knitting.  How many times has a project, filled with promise, ended up as 'ashes'?  In my case, many times. 

I've shelved more projects than I care to mention that did not make the grade for one reason or another .. Incorrect tension, misreading the pattern (I once knitted the child's size instead of the adults) , wrong choice of wool . The list goes on and it's bound to happen if, like me, you are quite impatient and may forget to read all the instructions.  Yet for some reason, I was reluctant to undo anything and re-use the wool.  I just put it away in the 'never to be worn draw'.

Recently, it happened again.  I saw a jumper in the first edition of 'The Knitter'.  A feminine Aran knit, cabled to within an inch of its life.  I knitted it, it was beautiful ..  but it didn't fit!!  This was not a problem with the pattern, I was just having enormous difficulties sewing in the sleeves.  I unpicked them twice and then, in frustration, decided I would try and live with it.  Perhaps I was just imagining that the high collar and full sleeves were too Jacobean for my liking.  Perhaps I could wait for oversized puffy sleeves to come back in fashion  (I think they might be on their way) .. But I was very annoyed!  The wool was good quality and I didn't want it to go to waste.  So, in the knitting equivalent of the Phoenix I decided to undo the jumper.
The less said about that, the better.
One of my online pattern inspiration sites, 'GarnStudios'  has some lovely patterns and one day (well, let's face it - most days) when I was browsing for a pattern, I came across a Lacey Jacket that I decided to knit. 

 Link to Pattern

Out came the creme wool from the Jacobean Jumper.  At last count, I have 5, knitted long jackets so I am not sure why I chose to knit another .. Who knows how or why the urge to knit something occurs.  I always say to go with the flow.  It's easier and less painful that way!                  
I love the whole process of knitting.  For me it is not just a question of getting it finished.  I love watching it all come together and for this reason, the jacket proved to be quite cathartic.  Bit by bit, I forgot about all the frustration of my failed jumper and was enjoying the re-knitting project.   However, just to make sure that the puffy sleeves did not come back to haunt me, I picked up stitches for the sleeve from around the shoulder and arms and knitted them in the round.  I was so happy with the end result that I think I might try that for all my sleeves.

New jacket, new tip for future projects - I was happy!

It might not be gold or scarlett, (just as well..)  but it's a Phoenix in every sense of the word. 

Happy Knitting ..


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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Left Handed Crochet - Chain Stitch

Step 1.  The chain

The sun is shining, the house is mostly tidy (well as tidy as it is going to be today), dinner is in the slow cooker and I’ve an hour or so to myself, so now seems as good a time as any to learn the basics of crochet.  I’ve mentally prepared myself (you can find my crochet back story here ) , wool and crochet hook are in hand and Google is at the ready…let us begin!

The first offering from Google when I enquire “How to crochet left handed” is a wonderful YouTube video from Crochet Mania, featuring Teresa from  “The Art of Crochet”.  I admit to pausing the video in the beginning to make sure I had everything in the right place, but then as if Teresa was reading my mind, the video actually started playing at a slower speed, the voiceover stopped and I was able to more or less keep up with her as she showed me the most basic of crochet stitches.  By the time the two and a half minutes of Teresa’s demonstration was up, I had myself a pretty nifty crochet chain, but many questions. 

I remember watching my mother crochet and it was one smooth, seamless action with the wool wrapped around her fingers a particular way.  My crochet action was definitely not smooth and my particular way with wool was just to have it wrapped gently around my index finger and Teresa hadn’t given any instructions on what to do in that regard.  I decided to delve a little deeper and came across the Crochet Australia website  which has a whole section on left handed crochet.  Thanks to Theresa’s instructions the pictures made perfect sense and the drawings on what to do with both hands were exactly what I was looking for, but all of a sudden the chain seems a bit more difficult as my fumbling fingers struggled with getting everything just right.

 Chain 1.
 Chain 3

I’m currently working on chain number three.  I can see the tension improving already and the action is getting a little smoother, although obviously I’ve got a long way to go before a natural rhythm magically  unfolds on my fingers, but I do want it to be just right before I proceed.  A sneek peek at Teresa’s next “Art of Crochet” video and I can see that the upcoming lesson is “Single Crochet” and I can’t wait to start.

Hope you’ll join me next time.


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Monday, 6 August 2012

Classic Ballet Class Hair Bows

I generally have three criteria when it comes to making craft items.  It's got to be quick, it's got to be simple and the finished item has to be used.  These ballet hair bows certainly fulfil those requirements and as an added bonus, they're really pretty too!  While I've glued my bow onto a hair comb, they're equally at home on a hair slide/barrette, or even sewn onto a hair band.


One length of Ribbon
One Pair of Scissors
One glue gun
One Hair comb (or slide/barrette)

-Cut 3 lengths of ribbon.  For the bow pictured I cut 1 x 4.5cm (1.7inches), 1 x 9cm (3.5 inches) and 1 x 17cm (6.7inches).  

If you are using larger hair combs, the proportions to use are:
One piece of ribbon should be cut just slightly longer than the length of the comb
One piece of ribbon should be just under double the length of the comb and 
One piece of ribbon should be cut to a length three times the width of the ribbon you are using.

-Snip the ends of the 9cm (middle length) ribbon in an inverted arrow shape.

-Using the 17cm (longest length) ribbon, fold  the ends to the centre of the ribbon, one at a time, and use the glue gun to glue the ends in place.  I usually make mine overlap.

-Glue the folded and glued ribbon (longest length) onto the centre of the arrow cut ribbon (middle length).

-Using the 4.5cm (smallest length) ribbon, fold around the other two ribbons and glue at the back.

-Glue onto hair comb and wear to class.

I've shown this style and also photographed a more simple bow, but there's really no limit to what you can do with these.  Add a matching flower to the centre of the bow, add extra layers of folded ribbon or mix and match colours.  Let your creativity run wild!


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Saturday, 4 August 2012

Left Hander’s Lament (an ongoing series where a lefty learns to crochet)

From the outset I would like to state that I love that I'm left handed.  It's as much a part of me as my iced coffee addiction and short stature and I'm  always the first of my friends on Facebook to wish everyone "Happy  Left Handers Day "(which falls on August 13th this year in case you're wondering), but from my experience there are three things which are tiresome, if not downright annoying, to those of us that are blessed with a preference to use our left hands.  These annoyances are, in no particular order:

-smudging ink when trying to write
- learning to knit
- learning to crochet

I'm pleased to say that thanks to the wonders of the technological age, I rarely use a pen these days, so the ink smudging isn't really an issue.  Learning to knit was tackled as a youngster when my right handed father, who having learned to knit as a child, managed to work out how to reverse the knitting process so that he could teach me to knit left handed - what a champion he is.  I'm not sure how many daughters were taught to knit by their father, but I'm proud to say that I'm one of them.

And so that leaves crochet. 

I have thought for a while that not being able to crochet was a glaring hole in my crafting vocabulary and I really should make amends, but did nothing about my learning while I concentrated on other projects...and life in general to be honest.

And then came Pinterest

I don't know why it is but I love crochet bags and pinterest is full of them.  Gorgeous photos of pastel bags, tote bags and crochet flower bags all pinned by thoughtful pinners who seem to know exactly what it takes to motivate me.  I can  wait no longer.

My plan is to trawl the web sampling tutorials and blogging my progress.

I hope you'll join me on my journey!


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Friday, 3 August 2012

How to Knit For A Perfectionist

No .. The Perfectionist is not me, it's my son.  I have tried over the years to force my knitting on him .. Nothing too large, the odd scarf or 2, socks, beanies and the like but he never really embraced it.  He did wear one of my knitted scarves earlier this year and got some positive comments.  He seemed a bit chuffed as he told me.  I was secretly thrilled but kept it to myself.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and he asked me to make him an Aran knit jumper.  FINALLY, all my years of hard work have paid off!  I jumped at this and said to him, rather foolishly, to find something he likes and I'll get started.

He has decided on a beautiful Bergere de France pattern knitted in 12 ply.  Sounds fine I said.  See if you can located the pattern.  Not a problem!  Shortly thereafter he comes back with it ... In French. I like a challenge and I have always wanted to learn French so I downloaded the Google translate app and set to work.   I was quite excited that I might be able to learn 'French Knitting'.  87 stitches in French is easily recognizable in English so I had my start.  I always try to knit jumpers in the round to eliminate side seams so I set to work, knitted up the ribbing, discovered that I had used the wrong sized needles and had to start again.  Misread the patten - not a good start in any language.

After countless, fruitless attempts at translation, (wrap wool over the head of the lamb was one brain teaser) I reluctantly admitted defeat and ordered the English Pattern from Intoknit in the UK. 

So now, we wait ..

But while we wait, here is the pattern for the scarf that started it all.

The scarf is knitted using circular needles which makes the long, coloured stripes and is a fabulous project for using left over balls of wall. I used 4 different colours and if you have read the blog about my knitted Medusa creation, you will recognise the blue wool - waste not, want not when it comes to knitting.

Using circular needles in a size appropriate to the yarn you are using, cast on approx 350 stitches (350 works for 8ply/worsted weight).
Knit to the end. Do not join up. Turn the knitting to commence the next row.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN this and every row, leave about 30cm of yarn free. This yarn will form a loop at the side of your knitting and becomes the fringe.

Knit 3 rows of each colour until your work measure about 10cm (4inches) and then cast off.
The scarf may look a little messy at this stage but all it takes to finish it off is a quick snip in the middle of the loop and then tie it firmly to the yarn next to it.

It's a very simple scarf yet it looks masculine - just right for an exacting teenager, or so I'm told.

Happy Knitting


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Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Charity Knitting

Once a week a newsletter arrives in my inbox that determines how we will be spending far too much of our time and money over the following few weeks.  I talk, of course, of the school newsletter.  Amidst tales of athletic prowess, parent committees and what seems to be an all consuming obsession with enrolments, there also lies a "Dates to remember" section detailing special assemblies (more often than not requiring some sort of costume), events that require a financial contribution (when do they not) and all manner of meetings, which I have for the most part thus far managed to avoid.  

Last week's newsletter though, contained a wonderful event organised by the students of the Junior School Council to aid the Salvation Army:   The JSC fundraiser group are organising donations for The Salvation Army to assist those who need our help. Each class has been given a box (hamper) to fill over the next 2 weeks with items that can help those less fortunate than us during Winter. It would be very nice if you were able to donate a few warm things like: jumpers of all sizes, beanies, toys, plush/soft toys, scarves, gloves, socks, packaged food (not out of date and not requiring a fridge or freezer) and cans of food.   

Its timing could not have been better as Andie, who having recently bought herself a set of loom/knifty knitters, was desperately looking for her next project.  It was quickly decided a scarf would be ideal and the instructions provided by Fayme Harper are easy  to follow and Fayme's finished product looks fabulous.  One of the joys of the loom knitter is that the results are very consistent,  which of course doesn't always happen when items are crafted by an eleven year old!  We also came across this great hint about using a hollowed out pen as a styler to thread the wool on the loom knitter (we use a third of a straw - can't see the point of ruining a perfectly good pen).   Andie decided on two shades of cream wool and she's well on her way to having the scarf completed in time.

If you're thinking of knitting for charity, there's many organizations that could use your help:


If you know others, please leave a comment below and I'll be sure to add them to the list.

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Drop Stitch Cowl

We were at a yarn market a couple of weeks ago and after speaking to some pretty fabulous yarn people all day long, I was struck with the...