Tuesday, 29 January 2019

What to do with mini skeins

Are you one of those people who can't resist buying those beautiful mini skeins of yarn? They always look so tempting, like rows of delicious sweeties, don't they? Some people use them in scrappy blankets and others, like me, just accumulate them with no clear idea of what to do with them! 

For Christmas last year, I treated my knitting pal Snoopydog to a Twelve Days of Christmas yarn calendar from Pixie Yarns. And of course an extra one kind of fell into my basket for me too! Funny that! It was beautifully presented with 12 number stamped bags hanging on a cord which I was able to hang from my mantelpiece throughout the festive period. Each morning I opened a bag, and was totally thrilled with both the yarn and the thoughtful extras that Sophie included in each bag. Sometimes it was an edible treat, and other times a beautiful stitch marker or decoration. Have a look for yourself...

My initial plan was to knit a pair of socks with the yarn, but I decided against that as I knit socks cuff down usually and so I would be unlikely to use all of the colours before finishing the pair. Having been bitten by the crochet bug recently and really liking the effect of the linen stitch border on my Hyacinth blanket, I decided to use the skeins to make a scarf. I crocheted a chain until I thought it was long enough for a scarf and then began the rows of linen stitch.

I went up a couple of hook sizes to a 3.5mm because the fabric created is quite dense and I wanted it to be softer and floppier. Basically you double crochet, chain 1 along the row of chain stitches and then when you come back the other way, you double crochet into the chain space and make a chain where there was a double crochet.

I've now crocheted two complete repeats of the yarn and love how the colours look together. I'm not entirely sure that it's going to be long enough to wrap around as a scarf, so I might end up having to sew the ends together to make it into a cowl. That would be a great shame as I was hoping to leave all the ends as a fringe! And if it was going to be a cowl, I would probably have joined my initial chain together to make a massive ring so that I was crocheting in the round. Something to bear in mind if I make another one. And I probably will as I have loads of sock yarn leftovers sat in a box. It's a great way of using up all those oddments of precious yarn that you've been keeping. What do you do with all your yarn leftovers? xxx

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Simple pleasures

** Enjoying my first cuppa after recovering from a horrible sickness bug **

** Bringing a touch of spring into my kitchen with a bunch of daffodils **

** Making a cushion cover with my friend Julia as a birthday present for another friend **

** Enjoying the Attic24 Sweet Pea blanket CAL**

** Lots of sofa time and snuggles with Flo **

** Receiving a New Year parcel from my knitting friend Bobbie in Alaska **

** Enjoying hot chocolate and carrot cake to celebrate my friend Laura's birthday **

** Seeing my glass stars catch the winter sun **

** Spotting Mr JK's daffodil peeping above the soil again **

I hope that you have lots of simple pleasures in your life this week. xxx

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Tying up loose ends and unravelling new ones

You may remember that I set myself a couple of Advent challenges - to crochet the Attic24 Hydrangea blanket and to knit the Madewell cardigan using mini balls of Opal sock yarn from previous years' Advent calendars. Things didn't go quite to plan, although I did finish the blanket before the start of 2019! I love the soft colours of the yarn and decided to make a wider border. The crochet linen stitch is very effective. Prepare to feast your eyes on a lot of hooky loveliness!

As you can see, Flo has made herself at home on it. Someone on Instagram commented that she was a bit like the Princess and the Pea! I thought that I'd spotted a cat-shaped dent in it a couple of days earlier, but caught her red-pawed one morning! I'm happy to share my blankets with her. 

I'm stuck on sleeve island with my Madewell cardigan. The ribbing around the bottom took me ages and I haven't picked it up since then. But it's in my pile of things to be finished before starting any more knits, so it will be done sooner rather than later. I'm going to try and make the sleeves match up as best I can, by knitting half of each mini ball for each one. At least the colours will match, even if they are showing different sections of the pattern. 

 A friend asked if I could make a couple of baby things for her to give a baby due any day now. I don't normally say yes to knitting requests, as I have quite enough things of my own to keep me busy, but baby knits are pretty quick. So I knit a Puerperium cardigan and a simple hat using a ball of Stylecraft Merry go Round yarn. The colour is Dark Rainbow and I thought it would work for either a boy or girl.

I am working on a late Christmas present for a friend - a crochet poncho. The yarn is new to me - Bernat Pop! and I really like the colour changes. It's hooking up fairly fast so hopefully I will get it finished in the next week or so, as long as not too many more yarny distractions come along!!

Speaking of yarny distractions, I have opened all of my miniballs from my ThreeBagsFull Advent yarn swap. The bright turquoise blue ball is sat in the middle because I wasn't quite sure where it might fit in my gradient. I'm wondering if I have the patience to knit another jumper in 4 ply yarn! 

I also treated myself to a Twelve Days of Christmas yarn calendar from Pixie Yarn. I gifted one to my dear friend Snoopydog and I wanted to share the fun too. It was an absolute delight to open a bag each day and see what micro skein had been dyed up. There were plenty of thoughtful gifts along the way too and if you take a look on my Instagram page, you'll be able to see each one. There's a link in the sidebar of this blog. I think that they will become a pair of socks in due course. What do you think?

Oh yes, more yarny distractions alert!  I have started another crochet blanket! The Attic24 Sweet Pea CAL started last Friday and as I love sweet peas, I knew I would have to join in! I resisted the temptation to start hooking until the baby knits were done and I'd made some headway on the poncho. But I can tell that this blanket is going to fly off the hook. It's very simple and intuitive and just full of gorgeous colours. I can almost smell the scent of the blooms just looking at the yarn!

It's always exciting starting new projects off. I can't wait to see how they grow over the coming days. xxx

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Highs and Lows

I hoped you've all had a good Christmas and had a lovely time; eating lots of yummy food, catching up with family and friends, relaxing at home or whatever else has made you smile. My Christmas and New Year were good but quiet. Being sociable requires a lot of energy which I don't have at the moment, but knitting needles and fingers crossed that will improve as the year goes on!

I had another read of my New Year blogpost last year and was very relieved to see that I didn't set myself too many goals. Just as well given how 2018 turned out! But one of my goals was to raise some more money for the British Heart Foundation in memory of Mr JK, and thanks to the generosity of very many lovely yarny folk and YOU, I managed to raise over £8000 in my Great Yarn Giveaway. That was definitely a high point in my year and I feel very proud that I was able to raise so much money. I'd like to do some more fundraising in the future so will need to think of another crazy idea! 

I didn't manage to come up with a design a month using Stylecraft yarns, although I have several ideas in the pipeline. However, I did have a sock pattern, Tiptoe, published by Stylecraft and also released several other free patterns on Ravelry. 

My running goals and challenges never got off the ground unfortunately as my health issues developed. I still have the idea that Mr JK and I discussed way back on our favourite beach in Kos bubbling away in the background, and that is going to be something that I really try to work on this year. If it ever comes to anything, you can be sure that I will be shouting about it from the rooftops! I did go back to Greece too and spent a week soaking up the sunshine and remembering all the wonderful holidays that Mr JK and I spent there. 

My health issues took over my life as the year went on. Looking back, I probably started to feel unwell way back at the beginning of 2018, but it all happened so gradually that feeling like that became the norm. Once I went to see my GP in June and the first blood tests were taken, things moved along pretty speedily. I cannot speak highly enough about the NHS - every single person I have encountered has been so, so kind and nothing is too much trouble. We are so lucky to have the NHS and I will never take it for granted. I've now had 25 hospital appointments and am on so many different drugs that I must rattle! I certainly didn't expect to be having to carry around all these cards. Until 2018, I've always considered myself to be pretty healthy. Although cancer has been ruled out for now, the oncology team are keeping a close eye on me as there is high probability of it rearing its head at some point. So I'm very thankful to have such a great team of doctors and nurses taking such good care of me.

I've been very lucky to have the support of friends during this time, and one friend, Julia, has come with me to every single appointment, taking notes of what's been said and keeping me smiling and positive. I am hoping that the medication starts to have an effect soon and that I will be able to start to recover and return to work. In the meantime, all my knitting, crochet and sewing help to give my days some structure. 2019 is going to be a year of nurture and I shall try to be the best that I can be and continue to make Mr JK proud of me. Thank you to you, as always, for keeping me company over the last twelve months. Please come along with me on my journey through 2019. Happy New Year to you and I hope that 2019 is happy, healthy and peaceful for you and your loved ones. xxx