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My sewing room is tidy too. What a relief….

Well. Glad that’s over LOL! I am not going to share again how much of a disaster my sewing room was. But the after shots do make me very happy!

Getting the yarn finally sorted out was a huge effort. Now it is all sorted by colour, which will make things a LOT easier. I am really enjoying my knitting machine at the moment, especially for charity work, and you can see the dementia dolls at a previous stage on my sewing table above. The finished dolls are improved, I think. Originally they were like this:

The far too pale guy with those big round eyes was a problem. But adding some hair and replacing the eyes with softer yarn eyes helped a bit. I added a face to the blue boy, and a face, and had a go at a slightly different pattern for one final doll.

The yellow-haired girl was made from a very odd yarn, cotton crepe, which I just wanted to use up and was kinda the right colour. She has issues, but she is quite cuddly and the knitted dress was all done by cranking on the Addis. I also nailed the hair. The green boy had the individual strands (!) knotted in and it took HOURS to do. The blue guy only has a few wispy strands, as in the video, created from the ends of the eye threads (by far the easiest but only ok for boy dolls) and the largest pink dressed girl has total bed head – her hair is all over the place, but the texture of it is so soft and lovely, not going to change it now. The yellow ponytails were simple – I wrapped, cut, then sandwiched the strands between two sheets of deli paper. Carefully sewing over and over the middle of the strands both joined them and cut the deli paper so it tore away. A few stitches to secure the seam to the middle of the head and yarn ties to create the bunches and DONE. I will make this my go to girl hair from now on!

So then, now I can maybe get back to my art journal for a bit. That will be nice. I’ve been missing it!

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Just sneaking in an interesting discovery for Innocent Smoothie hats made on an Addi 22!

Just sneaking back to add a PDF.

For as long as I have had my knitting machine, the thought that I could somehow create the tiny little hats that top Innocent Smoothie bottles on my Addi has niggled at me. I make them every year for their fundraising for Age Concern. In the past I have hand knit upwards of 100 hats a year – they are fab for using up scraps of yarn. I even created a couple of patterns:

But while I thought it was possible, I didn’t use my machine enough to really think thru the process. Well, in a flash on Tuesday I had a brainstorm. It took a few attempts to get what I thought was the fastest and easiest method. You may not agree my final design is the best one, so I will step you thru the iterations LOL!

I began with a simple 10 row hat, with DK weight yarn and good tension. I did about six rounds of blue and four of yellow (still having Ukraine very much on my mind) and cinched the top closed.

I found a roll of Washi tape and a spool of thread that were just the right size to match the stated dimensions of the hats (6-7 cm wide for a diameter of 12-14cm and finished at least 3 cm high) –

And my first thought for finishing was to crochet the bottom edge with a simple single crochet:

Cute, no doubt, but maybe more work than a different method. It uses less yarn then the next method as it is only a single layer of knitting. Even now I am waffling between which is the better option!

The next try was a 20 round piece, cinched top and bottom and folded in half like you would a hat, with the two cinched edges together and the edge crocheted. It makes a kind puffy looking hat so the next (final?) version was 17 rounds, with the bottom edge cinched in with thin elastic!

This version is super quick and easy, and adding a little felt flower (die cut with an ancient Sizzix die) and using the two end of the yarn from the cinching to tie a little bow, tops it perfectly. The best part about the double layer is how easy it is to hide the yarn ends between the two layers if you aren’t adding the topper or decide crocheting the edge is better. I did test a SC 2 together decrease on the folded version and I like that a lot too!

Still using the blue and yellow of the Ukraine flag, but honestly you could make this in any colours just as easy.

So yeah, just not 100% sure on the better version – on is super easy but does the double-layer make it too bulky for the bottles? Is the crochet part too fiddly? The last attempt has to be a combo of the best elements: a 10 round single layer, cinched with elastic. The trick is to cinch the much looser cast ON edge, and run the elastic thru the final row as a cast off, instead of using the tail of the yarn. But you can use the tail of the yarn to run it thru the cast off edge alongside the elastic to hide it a bit.

I used a much lighter colour elastic so you could see it better but even so it isn’t super obvious. You have to put the hat on your bottle top or in my case washi tape roll so that when you tie off the yarn and the elastic you know it doesn’t become too tight to fit!

So there you go. A few different ways you can use the 22 pin Addi to make hats for the Innocent Smoothie charity campaign benefiting Age Concern!


Getting nowhere!

Yesterday ended up being as much of a black hole as Wednesday was, I’m afraid. I was keen to try to get another dementia doll done and kind rushed the process really. I had an idea to adapt the JoJo JuJu YouTube pattern that I had used before for the blue doll, but was (stupidly, I know) going on memory. Always a BAD idea. Especially since I often watch videos while on the treadmill at 2x speed.


The first mistake was making one super long tube then looking at it and thinking I should have split it. Without going back to look at the video I went back to an old knitting trick for adding an afterthought heel and locked up stitches either side of a round, then snipped the thread and split the tube.

then it was treadmill time, so I watched the vide again and realized no, I didn’t need to split the tube, I needed to make two tubes. AND the tubes should have been on the 46 pin machine, not the 22 pin one! DOH! I ended up doing two tubes of black (cause I added 10 rows of that to make shoes and lengthen the doll a bit more) and white cheap yarn, then stuffed the existing tubes with those. That meant that the fact I used the smaller machine didn’t matter – that arms and legs were more substantial, if still thin. He ended up like this – kinda scary. I can’t help but think of the line A Whiter Shade Of Pale. Poor thing. I just don’t have enough flesh coloured yarn in aran weight!

Not sure if adding hair will help The colour of the yarn is almost exactly the same for the girl doll and this guy but he looks anemic and she doesn’t!

So the last photos are really just an explanation of what I will be doing at least for today and maybe over the weekend! When I am in full swing, I tend to just push on, not tidying up after myself till I am done. So, yeah.

Tat would be my mostly never seen sewing room. This shot barely captures the horrific state of it at the moment. So while I found some flesh coloured yarn (cotton, and too thin, really) and I want to attempt to use the same “inner tube/outer tube” trick to see if I can make a doll with it, I am determined to sort my shit out! I am sure I will be WAY more efficient if I am not spending 20 minutes hunting for a yarn needle, or my loom pick in the mess of my desk. So, today is tidy up day for sure. Sorry my posts have been less than inspiring but I really want to make these dolls – dementia has effected people in my family and I know it is a horrible disease. The story one of the dementia helpers relayed (about one of the ladies, who previously just sat, barely engaging in her surroundings, walking in to the lounge of her care home, seeing one of my early dolls and gasping, running to it, and spending the day stroking it’s hair, cuddling and rocking it, and engaging with others as well) just made me realize that it was worth doing.

And so, I crank on – or will do, after my tidy up session!

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Another layer of mess on the desk!

Apologies to late WOYWW visitors, for being late myself! Yesterday ended up being a bit of a black hole of chaos. We had a delivery and installation of a towel bar radiator and some additional sockets put in the lounge. Don’t gasp, but we actually reclaimed five (yes FIVE) power strips at the end of those tasks, mostly cause the additional sockets included not only two plugs but two USB ports.

Earlier in the day I had read a plea from the local craft group for more Dementia Dolls. I made these in the past and knew, with the Addi I could crank out one or maybe two in a flash.

But the making of the hair and the sewing up, split between making cups of tea and answering questions from the electrician, took the rest of the day. I was experimenting with less wool/quicker patterns, and managed these two.

Same chair LOL! the large one on the right is pretty much the same size as the original, maybe a tiny bit smaller, while the other one is a totally different sort of construction, with the clothes added in the knitting of the doll – important, as I don’t have an endless supply of doll clothes from darling daughter’s long-ago Cabbage Patch doll obsession. I need to look at it a bit more closely and tweak it, because I can surely make it taller and more substantial by stuffing the arms and legs both. It will never be as big as the one knit in pieces, but it will be bigger. Also a boy doll with a hat needs no hair, really so that is a win for sure. I haven’t made a face for the boy doll yet but should manage that today. And might try to alter the pattern and make another today before Craft Club meets on Friday. Then it’s just a matter of getting it to them.

The real issue is this all delayed me clearing up my desk, which now has another layer of a different craft all over it!

I really cannot avoid tidying up, my desk here and my sewing room, because I simply cannot do anything until I sort it out. And then finish the WOYWW list, cause even my desktop in front of my computer is a disaster, full of needles and stuffing wodges and snipped scraps of yarn. I simply cannot work like this!

Back tomorrow with maybe another doll and hopefully a clean workspace so I can art journal on the weekend! Wish me luck LOL!

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Tiny Nearly No-Sew Hearts for Ukraine

My darling daughter’s school is keen to do some fundraising for Ukraine, so I have been trying to think of a good thing that I can do to help. Of course, my No-Sew Hearts seemed the perfect option, especially if I could make them smaller and quicker to make. Took me a day or two to tweak the pattern just how I wanted it and then the real problems came. Colour-matching! Blimey. I have literally 100 different shades of blue, solids, and variegated, but do I have the right exact blue for the Ukraine flag? Well I had a scrap that seemed like the best match based on what I was seeing on my monitor, but every other bit was either slightly too dark or too light.

This Women’s Institute yarn from HobbyCraft is pretty close to my eye, but who knows if the actual physical yarn is.

The scrap I had looked good, but the other options? Yeah, not so much.

I wish yarn colours came with a Pantone or Hex designation – wouldn’t that be helpful? Anyway I have a few tips and tricks for you, to go along with the written pattern, that will help you get the best result.

If you have made the No Sew original pattern, be aware that in this one, the KFSB increases BEGIN and END each needle, rather than being in a stitch. In the small size I like the look better, especially if you don’t stuff them – like this one that has a pin-back sewn on. Also be aware that some of my samples reflect the trial and error efforts to get the pattern just as I wanted it!


Use a darning needle that is not too thick to shift the second-bump stitches to waste yarn. I don’t know the size, but be sensible. My Chibi bent tip needle is WAY thicker than my knitting needles:

When adding those stitches back onto the needles, be sure to do so from the centre of the heart out to the left edge for each needle. The outside edge is your new beginning-of-round:

When you thread the last three stitches onto the tail, do NOT pull to close the opening – this is where you will stuff your heart. I use a pencil (eraser tip end) to stuff, and it is helpful to wiggle the pencil end into the opening then pull the tail thru:

The heart bumps might at first look slightly…pointy. If you thread the tail and slip it around the last six stitches again, then insert the needle in the middle and out elsewhere in the blue, then give that a good tug before you bury the tail, it will round that bump nicely:

And if you have cut the tails long enough you can bring them up thru the middle to create a hanger, or our one of the bumps to attach a lobster claw clasp. You can see the very slight difference in the blues here too, and my first (abandoned) yellow choice:

And if you prefer, you can leave the long tail from the cast-on and the last end of the yellow when you change to the blue and make a yellow hanger instead!

I think these are super cute, and quick to make. Now if I just knew the perfect yarn and found it in stock someplace I could crack on!



Little hearts

Sadly I have not been feeling my best so not able to do much of anything at the end of a long day of infusions but I was able to knit quite a few hearts in the car and with the cannula stuck in my arm/hand.

Only finished off a couple of them but the lavender smell is overpowering! After the photo they have to go back in the bag LOL!

I have more than memorized the pattern by now, I can knit them on autopilot! The purple one needs plumping but I am happy with them. Just need to design a card with info abut their moth-repelling properties and package them up. Let’s see how many more I can make before the bingo!

I’ll be happy when this week is over and I can start to rep the rewards of these long days stuck in the infusion suite!


Knitting charity squares that are SQUARE

So I mentioned yesterday that I was knitting charity squares for a local project, the Gillingham CommunKnitty KindNose “Bringing Gillingham together while keeping apart” project for Red Nose Day.

So once I confirmed that when they say WOOL they mean YARN and acrylic is OK, I started knitting. I really need one of my British friends to explain that to me – why is all yarn called WOOL, no matter the fibre content? It matters, sometimes, if you need to consider washing items (mixing cotton, wool and acrylic fibres in one blanket, for example, is a recipe for wash-day disaster) so why use a misleading term? Or is it that one should assume if a charity wants a particular fibre ONLY they will say so and if they don’t you could assume WOOL and YARN are interchangeable? Except when they say WOOL they might mean either ONLY wool or any yarn. {sigh}

I have ALWAYS struggled to knit “perfect” squares. There is just too much pfaffing about with gauge for all the different sorts of scrap yarn, adjusting the cast on and stitch count, getting the right pattern (if other than a straight stocking stitch or garter stitch square… Bah! I waste so much time trying to get it right, I went on a hunt for a few foolproof patterns that knit up as a square, almost despite my best efforts to screw it up! I found three (two for sure, one sort-of.) Bear in mind none of the squares are blocked at all, so maybe looking a little wonky in the photos LOL!

The traditional dishcloth pattern.

This is simple and has a cute YO edging and only two pattern instructions, after the cast-on of 4 stitches and Knit one row.

  1. Increase row (and every row till one side = your finished measurement): Knit 2, YO knit to the end.
  2. Do this till one side is the desired size of your final square. My squares need to be six inches so I knit till one side = 6 inches
  3. Decrease Row (and every row till four stitches remain) Knit 1, K2Tog, YO, Knit to the end.
  4. When four stitches remain, bind off all four stitches, break the yarn, and pull thru.

Easy peasy.

An easy corner-to-corner square.

  1. Cast on 3 stitches and knit the first row
  2. Increase half, every row: K1, KFB, K to the end of the row (you can also KFB in the first stitch, K to the end – swings and roundabouts….) Do this till one side is the size of your final square. My squares need to be six inches so I knit till one side = 6 inches
  3. Decrease half (till three stitches remain): K1, k2tog, to the end of the row
  4. When three stitches remain K3tog, cut tail and pull through. 

A super easy and cute variation on this is to do all the increase rows in ONE colour and then all the decrease rows in another. Perfect when you have a bit f yarn but not quite enough to manage a full square. Like so:

An easy mitered square – OK so this one does need you to cast-on a guess and knit at least a couple of rows to see if you got it right but somehow I find this easier than any other pattern square. For me, with 4.5 mm needles and DK yarn, 58-60 stitches to begin is about right for a 6-inch square.

  1. Cast on double the stitches you need.
  2. Row one: Knit one row, placing a marker in the middle (so for 60 stitches: CO 30, place marker, CO 30.)
  3. Row two (and every even row): Knit to two stitches before the marker. K2Tog, slip the marker, K2tog. Knit to the end
  4. Row three (and every odd row): knit

This is the easy garter stitch version. I also do a variation on this that has a Slip 2 as if to knit, K1, p2sso on the right side and a purl in that stitch on the wrong side, and a stocking stitch version, also with a purl in the centre stitch on the wrong side, but this simplest version is the best one for charity squares!

So, those are the three squares I settled on, after knitting a few only to get to the end and find they were A. NOT square or B. not 6 inches! I feel for the people who will be putting these together, so I really want to make them as close to the right size as I can. Only 12 done, but I hope to get to 20 or 25 by Saturday.

Back to papercraft tomorrow, I’m sure – oh – and it’s WOYWW day so I’d better get tidying for sure. But not before I add my 100 days page:

Keeping well away from bulk in the middle LOL!


Still here. A bit about Dementia Dolls…

Settle in. This is a long one.

I am still here, just not up to much blogging.  Still sending out book folding templates, still knitting, not scrapbooking or doing much papercraft at all really.  Spent a day in A&E After Maddie shoved a pitchfork right thru her foot at the garden centre of her college. Fun.

But for my little bit of social interaction I pop over to the local Library every Friday morning for a couple of hours.  Mostly I knit there, and chat.  Jack is coming over from LA for a visit and he wants socks, so I worked out a way to knit 2 pairs of socks at the same time, at first on two circulars and then all four on one, once I no longer had to wrangle the 4 balls of yarn.  No photos, sorry, but I’ll probably do it again.

As part of the craft club, we had a presentation from the local Dementia UK group.  They needed Twiddle Muffs and we made lots of them.  The also showed a large, floppy doll and said that they would like a few of them as well, if anyone was so inclined.  No one really was but I like a challenge so I decided to make one.  The first one was done in the normal way, although I did abandon the complicated and all-in-bits pattern and adapted it to an in-the-round version.  She was sweet, but she’s gone now – again no photo. Again, sorry.

The Dementia lady came back the next week to find me.  She told me a lovely story about a woman in one of the care homes who has never been responsive, or engaged, and who has never spoken, since they have been visiting.  Apparently when she saw the doll she gasped and dashed right for it.  She grabbed it, hugged and cuddled it, then started singing it a lullaby while she rocked it.  She is much more engaged in the … meetings? Sessions, maybe, now that she has the doll.  I was asked very nicely if I could make another.

About this time I had gotten a couple of knitting machines.  Circular ones, that I thought would be helpful for twiddle muff making.

Finally, a photo!

I started with the toy one, then got the proper Addi, and at the same time ordered the Sentro via Amazon, but I suspect from China.  It was cheap, versus the Addi Kingsize (£30 vs £115!) None of them are EASY to use to make flat panels (the Sentro is best) but they all make pretty reasonable tubes. And fast. My plan had been to use up all my scraps of yarn to make the boring inside of the Twiddle Muffs then shift to needles to complete them with special stitches, odd yarn, beads, etc. Here are a few samples of the ones I’ve done.

I have a whole PDF on those which I may share at some point.

But then I thought I could possible use them to make Dementia Dolls if I took a minute to think about it.

These dolls are meant to be quite long-limbed and quite floppy.  I think they are more of a suggestion of a child than a real depiction of one.  Not at ALL like the last doll I made.  Anyone here remember Jasmine?

She was a LOT more complicated.  I am …. doll parts ….

Basically, the dolls are made of five tubes: one tube for the head and body, two for the legs and two for the arms. The head & body is 65 rounds on the 48-stitch machine and the legs are 65 rounds on the 22 stitch machine.  The arms are 28 rounds on the 22 stitch machine.  Sometimes I think more length on the arms would be better but when I have made them longer, 30 or 35 rounds, they look weird.

That yarn is aran weight (equal to worsted in the USA and what the machines like best) and much more beige than the weird grey it seems here.

I gather the top of the head&body tube

Then stuff the head and do a running stitch around to gather again for a neck.  It varies but generally I do between 25 and 30 stitches down from the gather.

I usually do the nose so I don’t lose track of where the face goes while I position the arms and attach the legs! I just build it up with stitches on top of stitches.

The head&body is 48 stitches around and the legs are 22 – that is determined by the machines.  There is some variation in the larger ones (there is a 40 stitch, a couple of 46 stitch ones and this 48) but all the small ones are, I believe, 22 stitches.  To attach the legs in the easiest way possible, I load 11 stitches from each leg tube onto a needle, then load 24 stitches from the front of the body onto another.

I do  a 3-needle bind-off to join those with a neat edge.  I decrease away the extra stitches from the body side by doing one from the leg and two from the body on the last stitch of the first leg and the first stitch of the second

This gives me a nice neat join. Make sure you put a locking stitch marker on the last stitch from your bind off, as you will load that back on the needle when you do the back half join to the back of the legs!

I stuff a little bit of toy stuffing in the bottom of each leg and gather them about 8-10 stitches up, to make a bit of a foot. The SUGGESTION of a foot anyway. Stuffing first means you don’t have to push the stuffing all the way down that long leg.

I load the leftover stitches on to the needles the same, 22 from each leg, 24 from the back of the body.

and slip on that last held stitch where I will start the 3-needle bind-off

This is the tricky part.  Now you have to stuff the legs and the body, pretty full.

It is impossible to get right-sides-together to do the same sort of 3-needle bind-off so I simply do it as you see it.  There is usually a gap where the extra stitches from the body are and that allows you to stuff it a bit more if need be.  The join looks fine for this doll’s purpose.

The arms are made by gathering each end of the arms and folding the tubes lengthwise.  I do a mattress stitch along the edges and stuff the tube lightly.

Sew the arms on and done.  I made this doll in about three hours.  With that kind of speed I can make many more dolls and hopefully help many more people.

I tend to dress them in whatever I have doll-clothes wise or what I can get in the charity shop from the baby clothes section.  3-6 month sizes work best.  I always do a simple face, just half-circle eyes and a half-circle mouth.  Like I said, they only need to be the suggestion of a child. I am experimenting with hair, trying to balance looks against speed.

Well, that is what I have been doing. Oh and I am finally knitting a summer top with some yarn I bought when Jack was a baby, from John Lewis in London.  It came back to me with our shipment of house stuff that had been stored back in the States for decades.  I guess maybe that is why I don’t blog much – my followers really aren’t knitters, primarily, so I feel they might be a bit bored.  If you made it all the way to the end, well done you.

Maybe I’ll be back sooner than my once every month or so schedule.

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Trauma Teddy, Bobby Buddy, whatever.

{sigh} I have been fighting with the WordPress editor all morning.  I made a post but when I viewed it there were too many weird things happening (like 20 tin, near invisible lines at the end, and text that just kept getting smaller and smaller till at the bottom it was almost unreadable.I kept editing it and in the end I just gave up and deleted it.

I have no idea what was triggering it but I am not going to do it all over again and have it be more of the same.  So here is my PDF.

I did try to make a schematic/visual image of it, kinda like to Trauma Teddy image that is all over the internet, without much luck!

The original is pretty streamlined.  MINE is a bit chaotic, LOL!

My pattern is based (size-wise and stitch count) on the one available for the Dorset Police Bobby Buddies program – Get their pattern here

I wanted a minimal sewing version with no attached pieces. Almost got it! The radio will need to be stitched on for the Dorset Bobby Buddies. 
So long as there are NO BUTTONS or BEADS, this is suitable for that program and should also work for ANY trauma teddy scheme, if the size works.

I WILL add the photos of how to fold the unstuffed bear to match the right sides together and do the SECOND 3-needle bind off.  It;s the only bit that is even remotely tricky.

Once you have done the first 3-needle bind off

You need to fold the head over on to the body

Then fold the legs over on to the head

Then finally fold the upper body (yellow)over the legs – it’s hard to see because of the black, but the right side of the upper body and the right side of the lower body should be matched up for the second 3-needle bind off.

There are links within the PDF for tutorials or videos for some of the less common methods, like the Turkish cast on.

I’ve already sent off a bag of these and have more on the needles.  If you are in the UK, especially if you are in Dorset, feel free to join in the program.

And sorry to subscribers who got a link that disappeared.  Honestly, that post was a MESS. You didn’t miss anything! 🙂


Trauma Teddies with very little sewing

NOTE:  I’ve removed the download as I have done a much more detailed PDF with links to tutorials or videos and removing some of the fiddly things like the head shaping and all of the purl stitches.  I want a final OK from the Dorset Bobby Buddies scheme before I post it.  Bookmark this and come back to it! (22 June 2018)

One of the ladies in my knitting group sent a message that the Dorset Police were calling for Trauma Teddies and included a new knitting pattern for it.  There is another more standard pattern out there, either written-out or as an image:

What they all have in common is the huge amount of “making-up” they require! I am NOT a fan of the sewing up at the end of any project and if I can figure out how to do it without, I will. Even if it is a little tricky to accomplish!  And while I am always a “belt and braces” person when sewing up for small kiddies, I still worry that an arm might come off, and ear get detached, whatever, and make the toy a hazard.  Silly, maybe, but an all-in-one method suits me on so many levels.

So I made one.

On the left is the one from the pattern from Dorset Police.  It is a really nicely proportioned teddy, and any wonkiness is totally down to my making-up skills.  Trust me – he does have two ears, I promise! The one in the middle is my first attempt to alter the pattern on the fly to make it an all-in-one version.  And the right hand one is my final pattern version.

Gosh that blue background (one of my office chairs) does it no favours! Let’s try that again with just the two:

Better – you can’t see the little antenna on the radio but other than that ….  So just a closer look at my version, with an idea of how I made it all-in-one:

Crazy, right?  But other than a few stitches above and below the arms and a couple of stitches to gather the ears (and the decorative stuff like the face and adding the radio) there is no real “making up” to do.   The only thing that is a little tricky is the second 3-needle bind off – and that isn’t that difficult so long as you don’t do any stuffing till you have accomplished it.  That way you can freely manipulate the body into position.

Yes, there is a bit of purling here, but if I am honest I don’t mind that – it gives my knitting muscles something a bit different to do!

I did write up a pattern but it assumes you are familiar with all those things (two-at-a-time, Turkish cast on or Judy’s magic cast on, a 3-needle bind off, pick-up and knit, garter stitch in the round…) so it isn’t going to be for everyone.  The simplicity of the original pattern (knit every row, no real shaping) is going to be a lot better for someone who wants to just knit fast and sew it all together at the end.  Whichever, charity knitting is all good!