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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!


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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.

DOH!

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!

Tips!

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!

{sigh}


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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!


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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! 🙂


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Crochet Preenie Beanies – pattern OKed!

I got the word back from Baby Beanies that the crochet pattern is OK so I am going to share it here.  I found a really nice sizing chart here – although the post is old, and the blog is no longer active, I found it very helpful.  I’ve snipped a bit out to add to the pattern and added a link to the PDF, so you can use it to assess your own crochet version and check the sizing.

I can do one of these in about 30 minutes.  I’ve tried to make the pattern apply for both the US terminology and the UK terms.  The US is in RED and the UK is in blue.  I do hope I got it right.  I would really appreciate any feedback.  I don’t usually do patterns for knitting and crochet, although I have done them occasionally, I’m not an expert! And once I’ve done something a few times I go on autopilot, and then forget to take notes.  But this is very very simple, and very, very forgiving.  Given there is a need for beanies of ALL sizes, full size newborn ones, the odd added or missed stitch isn’t going to render the beanie unusable.

That’s basically what it looks like, although some of these substitute a hdc (or htr in UK terms!) for the dc (tr) stitches.  I thought it might work better but in the end I liked the dc/tr for all rounds until the edging round(s).

6basicbeanie

 

Now I have discharged my duty – I’ll try to pop back tomorrow and make sure I email any commenters or email-ers who asked for a copy when I got it OKed.  Have fun using up your scraps making something useful for charity.  My stash of bits of yarn are getting consumed quickly, making room for more new yarn….

{wink}


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A collection of Charity Beanies

As you may know I have followed Jan’s lead and joined in with the Baby Beanies charity, knitting beanies for Preemies.  I have a lot of small bits of yarn and this is perfect for using it up.   The smallest beanies use 9 to 15 oz of yarn (the cotton is heavier) for the knitted one with rolled brim.

But I am not a particularly fast knitter – I am a MUCH faster crocheter.  So I went looking for an “approved” crochet pattern.  After my experience with the Knockers I wanted to make sure I wasn’t wasting my time.  The organizer didn’t have a pattern but said she has had requests.  I figured this is something I can help with! so I went hunting for patterns to test, because you just don’t know till you try, right?

I found what I thought was a winner – a 10 minute, really simple pattern.  But when I tried it, there were issues.

The first issue is it has a very small crown and the sides come straight down.

basicbeanie

Then there is a slip stitch edging that keeps the edges from stretching out.

2basicbeanie

So I set about tweaking the pattern to make it more like the knitted version.  I think I managed that but it took quite a few attempts to get it “right.” I will send them along and hope to get some feedback from the hospitals to say whether or not the pattern works for them – because that is the real test, isn’t it?

6basicbeanie

Simply varying the number of beginning stitches, and the hook size, gives slight variations in the sizing.  If it gets the OK then I will share it.  No point in sharing if it’s not usable, right?

But I will add the links to a few places I found and some good patterns.  They are all listed as preemie beanies.

One of the biggest selections of patterns is at Mama That Makes.  And this pattern is my favourite.  A little more time-consuming because of the ribbing, but so cute it’s worth it.

5basicbeanie

The hat on the left is this one.  Also ribbed.  The reason I looked at ribbed hats to begin with is the denser fabric.  As preemie beanies are meant to help keep the heat from escaping and help the babies regulate their temperature, I wanted a crocheted hat that wasn’t hole-y.  Most of them are, tho’, so I set that aside.  I mean, would 1000s or people be crocheting beanies if the “holes” were an issue?  Probably not. Similar issue, tho’ as the sides are quite straight – they SEEM stretchy because of the ribbing, but are they stretchy enough?

There seem to be two styles – one that is a circle crown with more or less straight sides or a continuous spiral, that increases slightly.  I didn’t test this one, and be warned, the site is littered with ads and not all the arrows mean what you think they do!  Click carefully.  I really hate that trick and tend to click away pronto….

This one is a gently increasing one, and probably my 2nd favourite.  The size can be adjusted by stopping the centre circle sooner, using finer yarn and a smaller hook, etc.  As all sorts of sizes are needed, and as this is hdc (htr in the UK) it is a bit denser than the dc (tr) versions.

4basicbeanie

I love the LOOK of this one but the there were so many instructions it sort of did my head in.  Seemed more like a choice for making something for someone you know and love, rather than for cranking out charity items where quality matters, but so does quantity!

This is by no means either ALL or the BEST versions, just the ones I looked at and wanted to try, that fit my own criteria (ie fast, easy, dense, even slightly re-sizeable or in different sizes) and where the end product seemed usable.  There is no doubt in my mind the knitted version is “finer” and the stitches tighter so the fabric more “solid” but I can make four crocheted beanies (maybe five)  in the time it takes me to knit one.

Are you a neonatal nurse?  Have experience of beanies?  Leave me a comment on the best patterns, knit v crochet, anything to help me focus my energies on the most useful version.

Now I have some WOYWW visits to return.  Yesterday the day got away from me, due to my aching back and some unavoidable stuff that needed attention.  And OMG my ATCs for the crop need attention too.  I have a lot more to make and time is slipping away….


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Beanies

I got sidetracked yesterday.  Actually, a phrase used by the culprit, the one who sidetracked me, is “my butterfly mind.”  Oh I do love that, it fits perfectly.  My brain flits and flutters all over the place too.  I’ll explain.

In visiting WOYWW yesterday I landed at Jan’s (that’s LLJ, or Lunch Lady Jan, who caters the WOYWW crop) and saw the diddy little hats she was knitting for charity.  I mentioned I would hunt up the link, but before I could she linked in a comment (and probably lucky, too, as I got a good 20 or so visits to desks before following the link.)

The site is Baby Beanies. What they say:

Baby Beanies is a non profit organisation run solely on the dedication and support of it’s volunteers.

 Neonatal units across the UK are in constant need of knitted hats for the premature and poorly babies in their care. 

Premature babies are often unable to maintain their temperature by themselves and statistics show that simply by wearing a hat it helps them to regulate their temperature. In some cases this can be the difference between being allowed home or not!

Sounds like a worthy cause, and ideal because they suggest a 50gm ball of wool will make FOUR beanies and I have tons of bits of wool and cotton.  Plus they knit up fast.  I emailed to the CONTACT US address at 9:01 and by 9:06 I had the welcome pack and patterns.

Of course I had to convert the flat knitting pattern with a seam to one for circular needles, and one I made one and worked out how I needed to alter it to be able to do two at a time, I gave that a go.

2beanies

When knitting ONE in the round it’s easy to slip a stitch from one needle to the other, when the decreases start, so you aren’t trying to K2Tog with one stitch on the front needle and one on the back. Magic Loop won’t allow that.  But tiny tweaks sorted it.

beanies

Just doing to rolled brim ones (I do HATE purling, but might do a ribbed brim a some point) and with 150 mm cables I can do three hats for sure, and might even be able to push it to four!

3beaniesOf course it takes a bit longer to complete a three hats – it isn’t really about saving time, it’s about seeing if I can.  You know me….

So I’ll aim to get a handful done, it’s great watching-TV knitting, since the tricky casting on is done and it’s just rows of knit for a while, then ship them off.  And maybe help a wee one get home sooner.  That would be nice.

And NOW I have a few WOYWW visits to return so will set down the needles for a bit and get them done!