Monday, 31 January 2022

All set for wintry weather

I have finally finished my top down jumper! I started it back last autumn but my knitting was quickly thwarted by a flare up which affected my hands, specifically my fingers, making them sore and split. I had only knitted the collar and started the increases down the raglan seams so I had quite a bit still to do. Luckily the pattern uses a chunky weight yarn - Stylecraft's Softie. I designed this pattern in the latter part of 2020 and then the lovely people at Stylecraft turned it into a graded pattern which you can download for free from their website here! I decided to use the colours that had been used to knit the sample for the pattern leaflet - Coral, Fig, Raspberry and Rosehip - and am really happy with how it turned out. The yarn is so soft and lofty, it's perfect for knitting cosy garments with. I am almost looking forward to a spell of wintry weather so that I can snuggle deep into the neck.

I took some photos outside after I'd rehung lots of the decorations from the branches of one of the trees. I made the stars many years ago but the others have either been bought or were gifts. Flo did climb up the tree to investigate, but I wasn't quick enough with my camera to take a photo. Because I'm tall, I made the body and sleeves longer. I also crocheted a round of chain stitch loosely around the last ribbing round to help to stabilise the neck. You can see that in the last photo. With top down garments, the neck can stretch but by crocheting around the neckline, you can prevent this from happening. Just don't do it too tightly or you might not be able to get it over your head! If that happens, you can simply unpick the chain and redo it a bit looser. I absolutely love knitting top-down garments because there is minimal finishing off to be done. I hate sewing up jumpers with a passion! Plus you can keep trying it on while you're knitting it to check how it's fitting and make adjustments if needed as you go. I've already cast on another top-down jumper - this one has some colourwork knitting around the yoke and I'm enjoying it so far although I have to keep stopping to untangle the two yarns. I must check out some videos to see if there's a fool proof way to knit stranded colourwork without the need to keep stopping. If you are a proficient stranded knitter, please let me know any tips that you have. I'll be back soon to share my progress. xxx


Friday, 21 January 2022

Taking my responsibilities seriously

Meow friends. It's Flo here, just popping on to share my Very Important Job. Mum is taking part in Winwick Mum's Winter Haven KAL and wanted to have my opinion on her yarn choices. The pattern she is knitting is called Easy Mosaic Socks and needs two different, contrasting colours of yarn. First off I checked that the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply yarn in Liquorice was a good match for my paws. Perfect I think you'll agree. 

Next I looked at the contrast between the Liquorice yarn (using my paw - genius idea) and one of Winwick Mum's own yarn creations - Summer Sunset. I decided that it went very well with my paw. A very good choice there Mum!

So I turned to Mum and gave her a paws up look of approval. I know that she appreciated my efforts. I am available for other yarn testing duties too, such as snuggle-factor, resistance to claws, ease of removing fur and degree of squishiness. Just get in touch with Mum if you're interested. My rates are pretty fair I think - a pot of Whiskas Crunch, a chin scratch and plenty of undisturbed snoozing time. Meow meow meow! xxx


Monday, 17 January 2022

Time to celebrate!

I've just had the most wonderful news which has brought a huge smile to my face! I have won a 2021 CraftWorld award in the Charity Crafter section! Thank you so, so much to everyone who nominated me and voted for me. None of this would have been possible if you hadn't supported me in my fundraising efforts for Myositis UK. So it really is a team effort. I get to share this badge on my blog (I can't get it any smaller!), plus I will get to take part in an online craft-filled retreat! You can read more about all the winners here. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart! xxx

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Fibre 4 Fibres - summing it all up

It's Sunday morning and it feels like I've got a day off! No more Fibre 4 Fibres fundraising raffles to organise, promote on social media, create spreadsheets of donations each week, pack prizes and take them to be posted! I thought it would be interesting to look back at how my fundraising began and how it evolved. 

In the summer of 2019, I designed a blanket using a stitch pattern to represent muscle fibres, calling it 'Good Striations'; striated muscle is the muscle that is found in skeletal muscle amongst other places, and enables you to move. This muscle is inflamed in myositis and can be destroyed, making movement more difficult. So having 'good' striations seemed the perfect name for healthy muscle tissue. With the help of the team at Stylecraft Yarns, my pattern became a professionally photographed and printed pattern booklet and I decided to donate £1 from each pattern sale to Myositis UK. Next I needed a name for my fundraising page. I came up with Fibre 4 Fibres as yarn fibres were going to help fund  research into myositis with the goal of getting healthy muscle fibres for patients with myositis. My Just Giving page was set up and I set myself what I thought was a fairly ambitious target of £1000. My blanket was launched at the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace, and Stylecraft sold yarn packs to go with the pattern. A commission from the packs was donated to my fundraising page along with pattern sales and my fundraising had begun!

Next I used the same stitch pattern in a pair of socks, creating the 'Inverse Striations' socks. I released the pattern and decided to donate all proceeds from my pattern sales to my fundraising.

Cogs began whirring away in my head about how I might be able to raise more money for Myositis UK. It was clear that pattern sales wouldn't do it as I'm only a very, very small fish in a huge pond of incredibly talented and prolific designers. I thought back to my Great Yarn Giveaway when I had a massive yarn-themed raffle to raise money for the British Heart Foundation and wondered if something similar might work again. The UK's gambling laws are quite complicated, but I did my best to read my way through them and decided that it would be ok to hold a raffle which lasted less than 24 hours. So began the quest for prizes! I started off using things that were in my stash or I had bought specifically to use as prizes and also messaged people who had donated prizes in the past. The Yarn Community is amazing and most people who I asked were more than happy to donate something. I also donated a lot of my own stash as prizes, as well as a lot of my project bags, as well as making some prizes. People began messaging me to offer prizes too and before long, my spare bedroom looked like a yarn shop! The first raffle was held on December 1st 2019 and raised just £53!!! But bit by bit, my Instagram following for my Fibre4Fibres page grew, and the weekly donations soon started increasing. When lockdown was announced in March 2020, I was forced to stop the raffles as I had to shield and didn't think that I could ask anyone to post the prizes each week as it wouldn't be classed as 'essential'. So there was a break in the fundraising from April through to the beginning of August. I continued to donate all proceeds from pattern sales and any commission fees for designs during that time and am still doing so. Once the official shielding stopped, I was able to use the mobile post office van which comes to my village once a week. In total I gave away 130 prizes in my two years of raffles, including 4 separate yarn balls as giveaways on Instagram to attract more followers to my fundraising account, a pair of rainbow ripple trainer socks in the 26.2 Challenge when the London Marathon couldn't take place and my final prize of a 'Good Striations' kit; take a trip down memory lane with me now... 

The prizes were won not only by people in the UK but overseas too. Parcels went as far away as Hong Kong, Hungary, the USA, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as all over the UK. It might come as a surprise to you that I paid for all the postage myself. Through conversations that I have had with people during my fundraising, quite a lot of people thought that I would use some of the money that was donated to cover the cost of the postage. But that doesn't happen. All the donations that are made go directly to Just Giving and then onto the charity. I don't have access to it at all.  A few of the winners did offer to pay postage costs, but my reply was always the same - 'just buy some raffle tickets in a future raffle if you see a prize you're interested in!' I haven't kept a record of my postage costs (probably just as well!) but 130 parcels all at 2nd class in the UK would cost £416. That doesn't take into account any of the overseas postage costs, some parcels that were too heavy to go as a small parcel, sending things signed for in the run up to Christmas each year to keep track of the parcels, sending parcels 1st class if they weighed less than 500g and having to send prizes in two parcels when I didn't buy the correct size of box (as happened for my Christmas Eve boxes this year!) So probably more like £600 I would guess. But it has totally been worth it. I am so, so proud of the amount of money that you have helped me to raise. The total is currently £27, 204 and I have pattern sales to add to that total at the end of January. Then I will close my page and bring my fundraising to a conclusion. That's not to say that I will be stopping fundraising, but I do need a break from it as it has taken over my life somewhat for the last two years. It's been a good distraction though as it has given me something positive to focus on throughout the months and months when I was shielding on my own. I've also been nominated for a CraftWorld award - I'm sure that I won't win, but just being nominated feels like winning. My aim throughout has been to raise money into much needed research into myositis and also the raise awareness into this rare autoimmune disease. I hope that I've managed to do both.

Thank you so much to every single person who has supported me: by donating a prize, buying virtual raffles tickets, sharing my fundraising on social media, buying my patterns - I couldn't have done it without you! xxx

Link to my fundraising page on Just Giving here.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

A colourful start to the year

It's been quite grey and dull in my part of the world so far this year, but I've managed to brighten things up by having a few colourful projects on the go. I do love colour and would always choose brighter yarn over more muted shades. First up I have my Advent socks using The Yarn Badger's stripy Advent skein. Although I didn't manage to keep up with knitting a stripe a day in the countdown to Christmas, I did manage to finish knitting these by the end of 2021, with just the ends to weave in on January 1st. I love Liz's stripy yarn - it always brings such joy to my knitting. These socks were knit cuff down with an afterthought heel added once I'd knitted the toes.

I'm sure it won't come as a surprise that I've got another pair of stripy socks on the go! This is another Advent skein that didn't get cast on in December from a new-to-me dyer, The Dotty Wool Co. I'm knitting a stripe a day throughout January so have called these my New Year socks. So far, I've managed to keep up to date with the knitting - here's how they looked after the first week. I'll share another progress photo next time.

I have another pair of finished socks too! These are the Homebody socks from Curious Handmade, knitted in a beautifully squishy DK yarn from Lay Family Yarn in the Pyjama Days colourway. They have been posted to their recipient and hope they bring comfort and cosiness.

I have received a couple of squishy parcels this year already but both have been gifts so fear not, I haven't already broken my resolution to knit from stash! The first skein I won in an Instagram giveaway. It's from another new-to-me dyer called Bobble & Badger in the colourway 'Spooktacular'. It's lovely and plump and destined to be socks I think!

I also received this beautiful trio of yarns from Stripey Cat Yarns. My good knitting pal Snoopydog gifted me these for my birthday . They are the first three instalments of Sarah's stripy sock club. Sarah is another of my favourite dyers of stripy yarn - just look at those gorgeous colours! I have a few other skeins of her yarn so will knit those up rather than buy myself the next quarter's yarns. I just hope I will be able to resist the temptation to add to my stripy stash when pre-orders are announced!!!

I've got a gorgeously colourful crochet project on the hook too. Lucy from Attic24 always has a CAL in January and although I have lots of her blankets already, I wanted to join in with the Harbour Blanket CAL. The colours of the yarns Lucy has put together are so happy and full of joy, it's the perfect antidote to grey January days. Of course Flo has already staked her claim on it! Just as well I'm happy to share! You can read more about the CAL here on Lucy's blog.

I'm also joining in with Winwick Mum's Winter Haven KAL and am knitting Christine's new sock pattern - Easy Mosaic socks. The KAL is all about getting cosy and recharging the batteries after Christmas festivities and the events of 2021. I'm using one of Winwick Mum's yarns - Summer Sunset along with another of West Yorkshire Spinners yarns, Liquorice. I am loving how the two yarns are interplaying. The pattern is much more straightforward than it looks as the colourwork effect is achieved by using slipped stitches, so there is only ever one yarn being knitted in each round. It's not too late to join in, so if you're interested, head over to Winwick Mum's website to find out more details. Let me know what projects you've started in 2022. xxx


Friday, 7 January 2022

Fibre 4 Fibres Giveaway preview 90

I can't quite believe that this is my final raffle prize in my Fibre 4 Fibres fundraising for Myositis UK. It's my 90th raffle and I have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the woolly community, both in donating prizes for my raffles and also for buying virtual raffle tickets each week. When I first started my fundraising, I had just designed my Good Striations blanket using the stitch pattern to represent muscle fibres and decided to donate the proceeds from pattern sales to raise some money for Myositis UK. I set what I thought was a pretty ambitious target of £1000! Then things started to snowball and I have somehow managed to raise over £26,000! As my fundraising started with my Good Striations blanket, it seems fitting that it should end with it too. So this week's prize includes a yarn kit of Bellissima and Bambino yarn which has been donated by Stylecraft Yarns, along with a tote bag and key ring. There is enough yarn to knit the blanket, but if you are a crocheter rather than a knitter, then you can easily use the yarn to crochet yourself a beautiful blanket too! There is also a printed pattern leaflet - these have all sold out now in the shops and I only have a couple left, so it's like gold dust! - and a pair of circular needles to knit the blanket with. As well as this, I will give everybody who donates to this final week, one free pattern from my designs. You can see them all here. (Ravelry link) Thank you to Stylecraft for donating the yarn kit.

I'm sure that you know the score by now, but I'll tell you how to enter anyway! You have a chance to win all these gorgeous prizes for a minimum donation of £2! Are you tempted to try your luck? Here's everything you need to know. This giveaway will run this coming Sunday 9th January, closing at 23:45. To enter, go to my JustGiving page here and buy your virtual raffle tickets by donating £2 or more. £2 gets you 2 tickets, £3 gets you 3 tickets, £5 gets you 5 tickets and so on. The more you donate, the greater your chance of winning. You will need to leave your Instagram or Ravelry name, or tick the box to share your email address with me when you make your donation, so that I can contact you if you are the winner. This is really important as I have no way of knowing who you are otherwise. Each week, I still get donations where no name or email is left, so if that person's number comes up in the random number generator, I have no idea who it is! All your donations go the Myositis UK to help fund research into this incurable muscle disease, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support. Every single donation is important. Let's see what we can raise on this final raffle! Thank you and stay safe! xxx