Saturday, 25 January 2014

Fish and chip jumpers - April-July 2013 ('Catch-up' 3)

In April last year, one of my knitting colleagues was passed this leaflet by a friend, knowing that it would be something that members of our group would be only to pleased to participate in. The start of the leaflet read as follows....

'Newborn babies, many suffering form Aids, are being called 'Fish and chip babies' because many are being sent home from hospital wrapped in newspaper for warmth. THEY NEED YOUR HELP.
In order to assist these tiny babies we are asking you to knit a small jumper which will be sent to Africa to keep the tiny children warm. Average knitters can complete a  jumper in an evening. It's a quick and easy pattern.'

Requirements were double knitting wool (bright colours and stripes, nothing pastel shade) and 4.5/5mm needles depending on how you knit.

So, with a deadline of July, four of us (Kim, Wendy, Mary and myself) set about making these tiny little jumpers. Relatives and friends were also brought in to add to the effort and a message was posted on the work's intranet system so that our knitting colleagues nationally could participate if they wished.

Since I am not an 'average knitter', I only managed to create two jumpers and each one certainly took longer than an evening. Longer than several evenings!

The jumpers were actually worked as one piece - 18 rows of ribbing, 30 rows of stocking stitch, then cast on 12 either side and rib for a further 22 rows.

Cast off 26 in the middle of following row (for the neck), cast 26 back on in the row after that and then work 30 rows of stocking stitch and and 18 rows of ribbing. 

Each little jumper then only needed to be stitched together up each side and under each tiny arm.

Gradually, little jumpers started arriving from far and wide across the country. Every other day throughout June, Kim was the recipient of squishy woolly parcels arriving in the office and they were fascinating to open. Every single jumper was a different colour and size - such an amazing variety.

By the completion date I think we had managed to knit and collect approx 150 jumpers, all of which went on a journey to Uganda and are hopefully replacing the 'fish and chip' newspaper that is mentioned in the original leaflet.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Patchwork blanket - August 2012 ('Catch-up' 2)

This blanket first appeared in my blog back in April 2012, during the third 'Knit and Crochet Blog week' - you can have a look at it HERE.

As I mentioned back then, we had started a knitting and crochet group in work on a Tuesday lunchtime, sharing whatever experience, skills and information we had. This ranged from zero to over 30 years!!

Individually, everyone had their own projects and WIPs but it seemed like a good idea to do something together and a blanket made from squares (be they knitted or crocheted) was the item of choice! This gave the complete beginners in knitting, including myself, a chance to only have to create small individual shapes, which would be at least achievable, but would also give the experienced folk an opportunity to try out new and complicated styles and other stitches to extend their skills too. We just used the odd yarn that people already had, wool that was donated or whatever we could buy quite cheaply. Even though the final item was going to be a bit random in both stitches and colours, we would eventually pull the whole thing together with some sort of border that was common to all.

The main source of the patterns and styles for our squares came from a desk calendar containing a different stitch or pattern for each day of the year. One of the group had kept her calendar from several years ago, knowing that it would be extremely handy, and we used it for teaching others how to read their first pattern instructions.

Over several months the pile of squares grew until we had enough to cover the area of a single bed. These were then stitched together in the form long strips - ok, somewhat mismatched in length but this was something that could be easily rectified with additional crocheted areas when the border was eventually added.

Once the strips were completed, I had the honour of crocheting the whole thing together. This is not job that I recommend to anyone to do during the summer as the blanket was sooooo warm. The dog took a liking to it too and was quite often snuggled up in the middle of it if I left it for 5mins to go and put the kettle on!

Although I initially thought of hand tacking the strips together, I found that the use of long pins was a much better alternative because, as I crocheted, the squares needed to be eased into place and so the ability to take everything apart and reposition the strips was quite important.

Using a large ball of Aran acrylic, I joined each strip to the next with a long line of raised single crochet, giving a blanket-stitch effect. Whilst this divided the strips in a more visual way, it also covered any edge imperfections and mismatched areas of work on the squares.

One row of half treble crochet for the border turned out not to be anywhere near enough, so I added as I went, making the border on the longer edge a lot wider to balance things out. To finish the blanket I added a frilly picot edge.

And so the blanket sat in a carrier bag, in a cupboard, in work, for over a year.

Just before Christmas 2013, a request, in work, to donate items (toiletries etc) to the local Women's Refuge was posted around the building, so we responded.....

'Hi Anne. Just seen your notice in the ground floor kitchen. Our knitting/crochet group made a largish blanket (a while back) which we were going to give to charity. Is this something that you think may be of use in your collection for the refuge?'

The answer was a definite 'YES' and this was the response we got after the blanket was donated....

'The blanket is absolutely beautiful. Very warm and yet so attractive and decorative too - a real work of art. It will be treasured by a refuge family who are moving out to start a new life and have nothing - they have to set up a home from scratch. I will put a label on it with a message along the lines of 'Handmade by unknown friends who send their best wishes for your future. Happy Christmas.'

It might have taken a while for us to get there but, despite this, the final result really made the whole process totally worthwhile and it is so nice to know that our blanket will be of use to someone who really needs it.

We are thinking of doing something similar again quite soon.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Patchwork cushion cover - June 2012 ('Catch-up' 1)

For a 'special' birthday in 2012, I got my very own sewing machine. Prior to this I had managed to get by with hand stitching or using my Nana's old sewing machine which had spent a long time in Dad's shed and was well overdue for an MOT. My lovely new Janome is such a pleasure to use and I love it to bits.

Inspired by the patchwork cushion covers being made by Lucy (Attic24) and a basket lining by Elizabeth (Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse), I decided that this would also be the ideal first project for my new machine but since I didn't really have anything suitable in the way of stash or offcuts, an interesting search online soon provided something suitably jazzy and eye-catching with which to make my first simple patchwork cushion cover. I treated myself (and the squeaky clean Janome) to some lovely charms packs in the Salt Air pattern/colourway by Cosmo Cricket for Moda........and it was so exciting getting these in the post.

Then came the decision as to what would go where and after various permutations I ended up with this combination, including some pale coffee-coloured polka dot ribbon that I have never previously managed to find a use for!!


Then some careful pinning with nice new pins..........

........and then set to work with my lovely new sewing machine. It was wonderful!

Both sides were quite quickly put together, first in strips and then stitching the strips together to make each larger square. The decorative ribbon was added across the middle of both squares

Unfortunately I don't have any pics of inputting the zip but this turned out to be far easier than fitting one into clothing which is the only previous experience I have. Maybe it was easier to have learned with something more difficult!!

And so, the finished cushion!

To say I was pleased is an understatement really and I couldnt get the smile off my face for days!!!!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Catching up!

Well, it's been quite a while, to say the least. There are times when other parts of your life take over, your priorities change and something has to 'give', but I hope to be back again on a regular basis really soon.

Looking back over the last 18 months, it's not that I haven't been up to anything creative - far from it -  it's just that I haven't had the additional time to blog about it. Plenty of photos have been taken with good intent, so.......time for a catch up! The best way to do this I think, is to group the items into 3-4 shorter posts - that way I won't get bogged down and I will have a chance to complete each one.

Ooh, and I also have some exciting new projects coming up that I also want to share.

Thanks for staying with me and I hope to catch up with all of you too!