Super Cuddly Dog Bed

I wonder how many of you have similar problems to me with pets and knitting / crochet projects?

Problems like; your pet wants to be on your knee whilst you are trying to knit, making it incredibly hard to move your elbows, or when you put your project down briefly and your pet decides that gives them to perfect opportunity to sit on top of it, to stop you doing anymore knitting so you have to stroke them with at least one hand,, or when you lay something out on the floor to measure it the dog decides you have put it there as a blanket for them to lay on!

Well, she does always seem to want to lay on my projects.  I don’t know if it is the feel of them, or the fact that I have made them, or what, but it gave me an idea recently.

Red, my dog (see picture above), hasn’t really had a specific bed of her own for a while.  She used to have, but stopped using it some time ago, so we got rid of it. She generally sleeps wherever she fancies. The kitchen windowsill, the spare bed, the sofa, behind the door, the middle of the floor, on my knitting…    So, I thought that maybe if I made her a bed of her own, which was crocheted, then she might use it.  I have an old duvet, which to be fair, has seen better days and sometimes Red uses this for a bed.  When she had some surgery, she slept on it on our bedroom floor and if I put it on the living room floor then she often decides to use it. So, I thought I could crochet a cover for it and then it could become her bed permanently.  A perfect bit of upcycling if you ask me!

So I began.  I found a very large stash of super chunky yarn in various colours in my wardrobe and thought it would be ideal.  Nice and thick and soft, with a bit of wool in it, she is bound to like it and it would use it all up nicely.

I started making squares, to use up all of the colours and because it would be really quick and easy to do.  Red didn’t seem to want to wait for me to finish…

 

But I carried on and did finish it of course.  

I then realised that actually, it was a great project for beginners.  it is made in individual squares stitched together at the end, can be made to any size you need, Great Dane, Chihuahua, or cat, and it’s great for using up lots of oddments.  So, I have written it up into a pattern, aimed at beginners.  There are very detailed instructions in the pattern, with pictures to help, or just the plain straightforward pattern for those of you with enough experience to not need the pictures.  To be honest, you don’t even need to turn it into a dog bed if you don’t want, it could just be a blanket.  It’s very versatile.

Here it is stuffed and turned into a dog bed.

 

And, here is Red dog on her finished bed.  She loves it!

 

If you are interested in the pattern, it can be found on Etsy, by following the link below:

Happy crocheting folks!

Dragon Knitting and Crochet

Baby dragons with WoolMonkey

What happens when you ask eleven year olds what they think you should write a blog about?

In my case they don’t say a new jumper, or hats, or knitting kit, or socks, or anything like that,  nothing that would be relevant to a yarn related blog, nope, just dragons.  Dragons!

So, I thought about dragons.  And then I remembered that a few months ago I did actually crochet some dragons for my girls.  How could I have forgotten!   Then naturally I thought that maybe I could write about dragons.  Well, dragon patterns to be more precise.

My personal dragon making saga began back in the summer when my eldest asked me to make her a dragon.  I have to be totally honest with you, that crocheting small, fiddly creatures is not my favourite past time.  I prefer making large items, such as blankets or sweaters.  But, it is impossible to say no to your children, so I went on the hunt to find a pattern.  I have just had to re-hunt for the pattern that I used, as I couldn’t remember where I got it from and whilst I have probably saved it somewhere, could I find it?  Of course not.  It’s taken me hours to find it again.  It wouldn’t be right to show you the dragons I made without telling you where to find the pattern though would it!

Anyway, here is dragon number one…   (the blue one)

Of course, as soon as her sister saw it then she wanted one too.  Hence the orange one was made shortly after.  I believe they named them Watermelon and Squidge.   At this point I would like to mention that the naming of them has absolutely nothing to do with me.

They aren’t perfect, I know, but they were good enough to entertain my kids.  I find this kind of work very fiddly.  I have the beginnings of arthritis in my hands and they seem to cramp quite easily doing small pieces of work. Work which involves trying to hold very small things whilst crocheting said small thing at the same time.  It’s not good for my knuckles.

They were quite quick though, and fairly easy.  The pattern was pretty straightforward.  They are very cute too, so worth a little bit of pain.

Here is the link to the website where I got the pattern.  It is a free download.

 

You might think that was the end of it.  But no, my dragon saga continued.

The girls played with their baby dragon for a while and then decided to gang up on me and demand a new pair of dragons.   They insisted that they were twins this time and should be cousins of the ones they already had.   I have no idea why they needed to be cousins, but who am I to question the minds of my little people.   So, of course, off I went again in search of a different baby dragon pattern.

Here they are,  Purpleed and Pinupple.  (Don’t ask!)

These two ended up slightly larger than the others and took a little bit more work, but now we do have a whole host of dragons in the house.  I did stipulate however, that I wasn’t making any more after these two.  I know what my kids are like and they would have me making dragons forever if I let them. 

The pattern for this one is called ‘Philip the Dragon’ and the link for it is below.  This is another free pattern by the ‘Left Handed Crocheter’.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to be left handed to do the pattern.   There are lots of lovely patterns on her website though, so you should definitely take a look if you like this kind of thing.

Anyway, all that hunting around on the internet for the patterns that I used meant that I also found lots of other patterns too that I thought you might like. 

 

Here are a few links to some more crochet dragon patterns:

 

This first one is from Stringy Ding Ding.  It’s free and cute. I don’t remember seeing this one back in the summer when I was looking, otherwise I might have made this one instead.

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

This next one I love.  They are so very dragonly!  This pattern is a bit more complex and involved but looks to be well written.  There are also videos you can watch which explain how to do all the different aspects of the dragon if you need help.  They are called ‘Dragons in my Kitchen’, by Amigurumi to Go.

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

This next one is quite sweet and not too complicated.  The eyes are embroidered on, so I am pretty sure they would be terrible if I did them, but you might be better at it than me.  It is also free and called ‘Baby Dragon’ on Amigurumibb by Che Che.

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

This next one you can cheat with a bit.  There is a bit of felt and glue involved, so no where near as much fiddly crochet to do.  It is from All About Ami.

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

Then there is the very sad looking dragon, but cute anyway so I’ve included it.  I believe it has been modified by Lucia Lanukas from a Russian pattern. This is a free download available on Ravelry, so you do have to have a Ravelry login for this one. If you haven’t used Ravelry before it’s a bit like a giant database for knitting and crochet, with thousands of patterns on there. Some free, some paid.  You can sign up for free though and there is no spam or marketing attached to it. It is worth a visit!

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

This one is a bit bigger than some.  So, maybe not quite as fiddly to create. I think he is  a very serious looking chap.   This is by Lucy Kate Crochet. 

Click on the image to take you to the free pattern…

There are many, many more patterns out there.  Some of the more complex and involved than others and some are paid patterns.   I have included as many as I could in the gallery below.  I like flicking through the images and seeing how creative people can be.  If you are interested in any of them then click on the image and it will take you to the place where you can buy the pattern.  (These are all crochet patterns – the knitting patterns are further down the page).

Don’t think that I have forgotten about the knitters amongst you. There are an abundance of knitting patterns for dragons out there too.

This is one of my favourites, it’s the Soup Dragon from the Clangers – maybe some of you would remember him?  

 

The link to the pattern is in the gallery below – which is full of knitting patterns for dragons.  Some of them are truly fab!

I hope you have enjoyed this little fantasy journey with me.  I do love dragons still even though I am not exactly a little girl anymore.  What is more, most kids love them, boys and girls, so you should always be able to find a home for one if you fancy making one.

Maybe unicorns next…?

Andromeda Crochet Headband

Andromeda Crochet Headband

It’s just a quick blog today, I don’t seem to have had much time on my hands this last week or so.   Sometimes it’s hard to keep track as the days fly by…

If you have read any of my most recent blogs, you will know that both of the woolly winter ear warmers I made were greedily poached by my two daughters.  That wasn’t really a part of the plan.  My ears were still cold and getting colder.

My eldest seems to be getting more cunning as she gets older though and decided to bargain with me.  She told me, that what she would really like was a more decorative headband, something she could wear to look pretty, rather than a winter one and that if I made one just for her then I could have my woolly one back!  The cheek!

But of course, what did I do…?

Naturally I got to work straight away.  I found some nice dark pink cotton in my stash which I thought would suit her and had a bit of a play around.  Nothing too complicated, I was thinking maybe some sort of cross between medieval and Greek.  I am not sure that I hit the mark that well but she liked it.  A lot.

She was even willing to model it for me.

It’s not a difficult or long pattern, it only took me one evening to make it.  The two ends are held together with a piece of elastic round the back of the head, which means you can adjust the size to suit almost anybody too.

There’s not much more to say about it really, other than it is a nice little side project for if you fancy a change from whatever you are doing.  I think it would look lovely on most little girls, or ladies, or even gents if that’s your thing!

If you would  like the pattern for free then please subscribe to receive our email newsletter and blog and I will email you the pattern as a thank you.   The form is on the right hand side of the page, nearer the top.   I try not to send out junk that you wouldn’t want to read and will never share your email address with anybody!  You can always unsubscribe whenever you want if you get fed up of hearing from me.

I hope some of you will enjoy making it.

Thanks for reading x

 

Absolute Beginner crochet lesson – the chain stitch

Learn to crochet chain stitch

This is the first of some very brief Wool Monkey crochet lessons for absolute beginners.

This lesson covers the first thing you need to learn, which is how to do a basic chain stitch.

All you will need is a ball of yarn and a crochet hook.  We hope you enjoy the lesson and don’t forget to get in touch if you need any help.

Good luck!

 

Quick Crochet Ear Warmer

The quick knitted ear warmer had been such a success that I decided to create another one. This time how ever it is crocheted.  I haven’t been doing much crochet lately and thought it was about time I did!

Plus, the knitted one I made has been claimed by my youngest daughter. She seems to think it is hers now, so I need another one for my ears too.

I have used the same yarn as I used for the knitted ear warmer, Mirasol Sulka, but in a slightly different colour.  It is a lovely chunky yarn, made with a blend of wool, alpaca and silk.  It’s really soft.  Mmmmmmm.

So, here it is, ear warmer pattern number two!  It’s a slightly shaped pattern again, to fit around your head nice and snug, using just a few basic crochet stitches.

Off we go.

Once again, I suggest you measure your head, or the head that you are making the ear warmer for if it’s not your own.  The one I am making is designed to fit a head of between 55 and 58cm.  This is measured around the head from the back, just above your hairline, over the tops of the ears and to the front, around the hairline.  Or, if you want your ear warmer to sit differently then measure around where you want it to sit.  I find it is best to reduce the size by a small amount so that it fits nice and snug and doesn’t fall  down – not too tight though! Then if you need to make it bigger or smaller you can add in or take out some rows on the widest part.  I have pointed out where to do this in the pattern below.  If you are not sure how to work out how many rows you need to change by then have a look at my previous blog on the Quick Knitted Ear Warmer.  All the calculation detail is there.

The tension I am using for this pattern is approximately 14 stitches and 15 rows per 10cm square, using double crochet stitch and a 5.0mm hook.  You can create a small square and count your rows and stitches to check this if you think you need to.  Your tension does not need to be perfect, but it needs to be close enough that your ear warmer works out roughly the right size.

Firstly, you will need some chunky yarn and a 5.0mm crochet hook.  Any yarn can be used.  I used the skein of Mirasol Sulka above, which is lovely and soft and warm, but you can use any chunky weight yarn you fancy. You will only need about 50g.

These are the abbreviations for the stitches used in the pattern;

ch  –  chain           dc  – double crochet  (this is sc, single crochet in US terms)           

dc inc  – do two dc stitches into one stitch  (increase)

dc2tog  – work two dc stitches together into one stitch  (decrease)

st / sts   – stitch / stitches

I will show you how to do these increases and decreases later on.

Let’s get going.

 

With your 5.0mm hook, create 9ch sts.  (Not too tight)

Turn your work and start to work back down your chain sts.

Row 1 –  1dc into 2nd ch stitch from hook (see picture), dc into each of the remaining 7 ch sts, 1ch , turn.  You should have 8 dc sts and 1ch.

Miss out the first chain (1) and start working into the second chain (2).

Row 2  – 1dc into the second stitch on the row (see first picture below), dc into each st across the row including a st into the ch you missed at the beginning of row 1 (see second picture below) , 1ch, turn.   (you should have 8sts all together – the turning chain at the end of each row counts as 1 stitch)

Start by working into stitch 2
Do the last stitch on the row into the chain stitch at the end of Row 1

Repeat row 2 a further 10 times.

Row 3 – 1dc inc into 2nd st on row (see picture below), 1dc into each of next 4 sts, 1dc inc into next st, 1 dc into last st on row( turning chain st from previous row) , 1ch, turn.    (you should now have 10sts)

dc inc – do your first stitch in the row below, then do another stitch in exactly the same place, so you have 2 stitches together

Row 4 – 1dc into the second stitch on the row, dc into each st across the row including a st at the end into the turning ch from the row below , 1ch, turn.  (10sts)

Repeat row 4 another 2 times.

Row 5 – 1dc inc into 2nd st on row (increase same as Row 3), 1dc into each of next 6 sts, 1dc inc into next st, 1 dc into last st on row( turning chain st from previous row) , 1ch, turn.    (you should now have 12sts)

Repeat row 5 another 44 times.

This is the part of the pattern where if you want to increase or decrease the size of the ear warmer then you can add or subtract your extra rows.  All you need to do is change the number of repeats of row 5 by the number of rows you need to adjust by.

Time to decrease again.

Row 6 – dc2tog (this is done using the 2nd st on the row and the 3rd st on the row), 1dc into each of the next 6 sts, dc2tog (using the next 2 sts on the row), 1dc into the turning ch from the row below , 1ch, turn. (you should now have 10sts).

Here is a little help with the dc2tog in case you have never done one before.

So, at the beginning of your decrease row, you are going to start by inserting your hook into the 2nd stitch on the row, just like every other row, wrap your yarn around your hook and draw it back out so that you then have 2 loops on your hook (pic 1).     Next, insert your hook straight into the next (3rd) stitch on the row, wrap your yarn and draw out another loop so that you now have 3 loops on your hook (pic 2).   Then wrap your yarn around your hook again and draw it through all three of the loops on your hook (pic 3).  You then have a finished decrease stitch (pic 4) and have reduced two stitches into one.

I hope that made sense!   If not then have a look at the video in the learning zone, it might help.

Let’s carry on with the pattern again.

Row 7 – 1dc into the second stitch on the row, dc into each st across the row including a st at the end into the turning ch from the row below , 1ch, turn.  (10sts)

Repeat row 7 another 2 times.

Row 8 – dc2tog (this is done using the 2nd st on the row and the 3rd st on the row), 1dc into each of the net 4 sts, dc2tog (using the next 2 sts on the row), 1dc into the turning ch from the row below , 1ch, turn. (you should now have 8sts).

Row 9 – 1dc into the second stitch on the row, dc into each st across the row including a st at the end into the turning ch from the row below , 1ch, turn.  (8sts)

Repeat row 9 another 9 times.  Fasten off yarn.   Leave a tail long enough to sew the ends of your ear warmer together.

There you go, you have finished your ear warmer.  You just need to sew the ends together and then sew in any loose ends and it is ready to wear.

It’s keeping my ears warm today – whilst I do a spot of gardening in the cold and damp.

Quick Knitted Ear Warmer

I found this delicious skein of yarn in my stash the other day – a lovely chunky blend of wool, alpaca and silk – and thought it might make a nice hat.

Whilst I was thinking about what style of hat I changed my mind though.  The weather is turning colder, but when the sun is out it is still nice and warm, so I thought that maybe a headband might be a better option.  Just enough to keep your ears warm.

This is my better half and my dog on a beautiful Autumn morning recently – I was quite warm!

Then I got thinking about a style and decided on something simple. My reasoning? Well, there are lots of you out there at the moment who are very busy learning to knit and you need more simple patterns, to help you learn.   So, here it is.  A quick headband pattern.  I prefer to think of it as an ear warmer though.  It is lightly shaped and in seed stitch, so it  fits nicely around your head with only knit, purl and some basic increases and decreases.

Let’s get going shall we?

Firstly, I suggest you measure your head, or the head that you are making the headband for if it’s not your own.  The headband I am making is designed to fit a head of between 55 and 58cm.  This is measured around the head from the back, just above your hairline, over the tops of the ears and to the front, around the hairline.  Or, if you want your headband to sit differently then measure around where you want your headband to sit.  I find it is best to reduce the size by a small amount so that it fits nice and snug and doesn’t fall  down – not too tight though! Then if you need to make it bigger or smaller you can add in or take out some rows on the widest part of the headband.  I have pointed out where to do this in the pattern below.  You can work out how many rows as per the calculation in the next paragraph.

The tension I am using for this pattern is approximately 24 rows and 16 stitches per 10cm square, on 5.5mm needles.  So, if you wanted to make your headband 3cm bigger for example then here is how many extra rows you would need to do:

24 rows = 10cm   

which means that 1cm = 2.4 rows           

so, 3cm = 2.4 x 3

which gives 7.2 rows.    Let’s call it 7 rows, as you can’t really do 0.2 of a row!  So, you would need to do an extra 7 rows.

Let’s do the calculation again, just so you get it.  Say you wanted to make your headband 2.5 cm smaller.

again 1cm = 2.4 rows

so, 2.5cm = 2.4 x 2.5

which gives 6 rows.   So you would need to do 6 rows less than the amount stated in the pattern below.

Sorry if that was over explained but some people might not have had to do this before. Let’s move on shall we.

 

Firstly, you will need some chunky yarn and a pair of needles.  Any yarn can be used.  I used a skein of Mirasol Sulka, which is lovely and soft and warm, but you can use any chunky weight yarn you fancy. You will only need about 50g.

Just check your yarn is ok by knitting a tension square.   A tension square is a square big enough to be able to measure out 10cm x 10cm.  You will need to do it with 5.5mm needles on this occasion as they are the ones I used for the pattern.  Then once you have your square, count how many rows and how many stitches you have per 10cm.  It should come out something like the tension I mentioned above (it’s in bold type).  As long as it is somewhere close then it will be ok.  If you have too many stitches/rows then you could try again using a bigger needle size, or if you have not enough stitches/rows then try again using smaller needles.  Now you have your yarn sorted let’s look at the abbreviations.

These are the only stitches used in this pattern:

k  –  knit           p  – purl           

pfkb  – purl into the front and then knit into the back of the same stitch  (increase)

kfpf  – knit into the front and then purl into the front of the same stitch  (increase)

k2tog – knit two stitches together (decrease)

p2tog – purl two stitches together (decrease)

sts   – stitches

I will show you how to do these increases and decreases later on.

 

Start by casting on 11sts.

Row A – p1, k1, p1, k1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat row A, 15 more times.

Row B – k1, pfkb, *p1, k1, repeat from the * over and over until you get to the last 2sts, kfpf, k1.  (you should have 13sts now)

Let’s have a quick look at the pfkb stitch.

The simplest way to view it is that you are knitting twice into the same stitch. The stands for purl, the for knit, the for front and the for back. So, you can have different combinations of these increases. For example, kfpf (knit into the front and purl into the front), kfb (knit into the front and the back).

So, when you are ready to do the pfkb, start by purling into the front of the next stitch exactly as you would if you were doing a normal purl stitch, BUT, do not slip the stitch off the left hand needle at the end (pic 1).  Instead, take your yarn to the back of your work (pic 2), then turn your work towards you slightly so you can see the back of the stitches on the left needle. Insert your right hand needle into the back loop of the same stitch (pic 3), then knit this stitch (pic 4). Then you can slide the stitch on the left hand needle off. You have increased by one stitch, as you have made two from one (pic 5).

The kfpf is also very similar.  This time you knit into the front of the next stitch, leave it on the left hand needle, then bring your yarn to the front and then purl into the front of the same stitch. This might feel a little strange at first, but you will get used to it.

I hope that makes some sense. If you need a little more help, there is a video in the learning zone which explains how to do a kfb stitch. This is very similar, so it might help to watch this also.

Let’s continue the pattern…

Row C – k1, p1, k1, p1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat row C, 2 more times.

Row D – p1, kfpf, *k1, p1, repeat from the * until you get to the last 2sts, pfkb, p1. (15sts)

Row E – p1, k1, p1, k1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat row E, 2 more times.

Row F – k1, pfkb, *p1, k1, repeat from the * until you get to the last 2sts, kfpf, k1. (17sts)

Row G – k1, p1, k1, p1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat row G, 62 more times.

This is the part of the pattern where if you want to increase or decrease the size of the headband then you can add or subtract your extra rows.  All you need to do is change the number of repeats of row G by the number of rows you need to adjust by. (Hopefully if you wanted to adjust the size then you worked this out earlier on).

Time to decrease now.

Row H – p1, k2tog, *p1, k1, repeat from * to last 3 sts, k2tog, p1.  (  15sts)

If you need help with a k2tog decrease then this is how to do it. (Otherwise, you can skip to Row I)

A k2tog stitch, (knit two tohgether), is essentially the same as knitting one stitch, but you are knitting two at the same time instead.

Start by inserting your right hand needle through the front of both of the next two stitches on your left needle, (pic 1), in exactly the same way you would if you were just about to knit a stitch.  Then wrap your yarn around your needle like a normal knit stitch, (pic 2),  draw your loop of yarn back through both of the stitches on your left hand needle, (pic 3), then you can slip them both off your left needle and you now have one stitch on your right hand needle instead of 2, (pic 4).   That is your decrease done.

There is a video in the Wool Monkey Learning Zone where you can learn how to do this is if you would like a little bit more help, or would like to watch it being done.

Let’s continue the pattern again.

Row I – p1, k1, p1, k1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat Row I, 2 more times.

Row J – k1, p2tog, *k1, p1, repeat from the * to the last 3sts, p2tog, k1.     ( 13sts)

The p2tog stitch, (purl two together), is done in exactly the same way as a k2tog stitch, except you are purling instead of knitting.  Hopefully that should make sense to you by now. Let me know if not.

Row K – k1, p1, k1, p1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat Row K, 2 more times.

Row L – p1, k2tog, *p1, k1, repeat from * to last 3 sts, k2tog, p1.   (  11sts)

Row M – p1, k1, p1, k1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat Row M, 15 more times.

Cast off your remaining 11sts, not too tightly though!

You have nearly finished now.  All you need to do next is sew the two ends of your headband together, then sew in any remaining ends.

Hopefully it should look something like this when it is done.  Although you will probably make a better model than me.  (I really don’t like having to do my own modelling – yet another lockdown drawback!)

I hope some of you beginners (or non beginners) will enjoy having a go at this one. 

Happy Knitting !

 

 

p.s.    It turns out that this size is actually quite a bit more versatile than I thought it was going to be.  My 9 year old has decided that this ear warmer is now hers and it fits her quite well!   I suppose that means I will have to make another one…

 

Schlumbergera – Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus?

Schlumbergera

I have to admit that I have never really thought about Thanksgiving very much.  Being British, not American, it doesn’t really enter into my calendar of events.  I do like the idea of celebrating the harvest and the previous year’s success,  with family or friends and a slap up dinner though.  Who doesn’t like a good family dinner?  

I can almost hear you thinking, ‘What has this got to do with cacti?’.

Well, one of my cacti is flowering prolifically at the moment.

This is my Schlumbergera. 

I have had it several years now.  It started life as a single leaf which was given to me by a dear old friend many moons ago, shortly before she passed away.  It had a great start, grew a few stems, settled into life nicely, then was eaten right down to the stump one night by my daughters escaped hamster!  (Hammy – was a very cheeky but loveable hamster).

Obviously I forgave him and luckily I rescued my cactus and started it growing again.  It had a couple more years of peaceful and uneventful growing time.  Hammy passed on sadly and was replaced by Snow White, hamster number two. 

One day, just as my cactus was about to flower I made the mistake of moving it to a different windowsill.   I thought we might be able to look at it better whilst it flowered.  To my dismay and disbelief, this coincided with another round of hamster escape episodes and my cactus was decimated yet again, this time by Snow White.    I have no idea what it about these cacti that hamsters like so much, but I can only assume that they must be very tasty to them.   This is Snow White – unlike Hammy, she was a bit of a lunatic.

Anyway, several years later my cactus has finally reached a big enough size to flower.  We no longer have any hamsters and there is no risk of being munched anymore.  The strange thing is I always thought it was a Christmas Cactus.    But, it’s flowering now and unless I’ve been asleep for a month, it’s not Christmas yet.     

I did a little bit of reading last night and realised that there are actually two main types of Schlumbergera.  Christmas ones, (Schlumbergera bridgesii),  and also Thanksgiving ones, (Schlumbergera truncata).   So, I guess mine is a Thanksgiving Cactus, not a Christmas Cactus.  Well I never!

They have very subtle differences but are both beautiful.   Here is one of my others, this one is definitely a Christmas cactus (it’s not flowering yet this year). 

These cacti come in a range of reds, pinks and white and originate from the coastal mountains of Brazil. They naturally grow on shady rocks or high up in trees, hence their habit of trailing ornately over the edge of their pots.

Just to confuse things even further, don’t forget about the Easter Cactus.  The modern name for this is Hatiora gaertneri, but has also been known as the Schlumbergera  gaertneri I believe (as well as other names).   They are incredibly similar, with just subtle differences between the leaves and flowers.  This is one of mine, see if you can spot the difference!

Just in case you have had enough of reading about cacti now, how about a little bit of knitting or crochet?   I haven’t had time to create a pattern of my own for you to make your own Schlumbergera cactus, but I have had a good rummage around on the internet for you to see what was already out there.

There aren’t many!

Here is a crochet pattern from Planet June, looks good but it isn’t free I’m afraid.  (You can click on it to go the pattern page).

Here is another crochet pattern, on Crazy Patterns.net,  this one is paid too, sorry.

This one is free, but unfortunately it’s in Italian, from Dony’s Creations Blog.  I don’t speak Italian so I have no idea how to translate it but maybe you do?   

That’s all I could find.   I could find no knitting patterns at all!  There is obviously a gap in the market, so I really should get creating..

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my Schlumbergera and it inspires you to get creative.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Knitted Wolf Sweater

Wool Monkey Wolf Sweater

There is a printed pattern which has been sitting on the ‘must knit at some point’ pile on my desk for several years now.  It was given to me by one of my customers back when I had a shop.  She thought I might like it.   I do, I love it.  I’ve been waiting for a chance to knit it for quite some time.

Here it is, looking a little worse for wear as a glass of wine was knocked over onto it a few days ago, by an over-enthusiastic dog.

A couple of months ago I had to go into hospital for some day surgery and I knew that it was going to involve sitting doing nothing for many hours. The nurses had told me the week before that I was going to be last on the surgeon’s list for that day. I still had to turn up for 7am though, then sit there all day in my dressing gown,  awaiting my turn.  7 hours as it turned out.  I figured there was no point worrying about it, that I should treat it as an opportunity to use the time as best I could.  After all, no kids, no dog, nobody to talk to,  no disruptions.  I wasn’t even allowed to leave my chair other than to go to the toilet, which was only a couple of metres away and to be honest I didn’t need to go as I wasn’t allowed to drink.  Perfect opportunity to start a new project!

So, out came the pattern I had been saving for so long.  It felt like the right thing to do.  I had a good rummage in my yarn stash, got everything I needed together and then off I went for my day long wait. 

It’s surprising how much you can get done in 7 solid hours of knitting.   I got a good way up the back of the jumper! 

It normally takes me a while to knit anything for myself.  I usually have other projects to do, for other people or other purposes, which take priority over anything I knit for myself.  Plus, I don’t often knit during the day.  I only work part-time, but I have kids to look after, parents to keep an eye on, the dog to walk etc. etc.  Knitting in the daytime is usually a very guilty luxury.  What a terrible shame, (hint of sarcasm), that I wasn’t allowed to do anything much after my surgery.  I was told that I must rest and do nothing for at least a week. Then nothing strenuous for several more weeks.

No longer did I need to feel guilty for knitting in the daytime.  Sat on the sofa, under my favourite blanket with a cup of tea, the biscuit barrel, the tv remote and my knitting all within arms reach.  Ahhhhhh.   And relax…

It didn’t last long sadly.  The kids and my other half were only willing to wait on me for a brief period, so normal life quickly resumed.  I did enjoy my short-lived period of respite though. Guiltless pleasure!

I loved the design of this sweater, especially the stitch pattern.  It’s a lot easier than it looks.  It might look better with more contrasting colours than those I decided to use, but I still think it looks great. Helped I think by the fact that one of the yarns I choose was ever so slightly self-striping.

Anyway, despite having such a good start, the speed of the project gradually got slower and slower.  More or less directly and inversely proportional to the rate at which I recovered from my surgery.  So, as per usual it has taken me a couple of months to finish it. I finally got around to sewing it up a couple of nights ago.  On the sofa, with my dog helping by moulting all over it whilst I worked.  I can forgive her though, she has been my only companion most daytimes lately and is an extremely good listener, as well as a fabulous hot water bottle.

Unfortunately, there was an unexpected down side to knitting a new sweater whilst recovering from surgery.  It would seem that sitting more than normal and eating maybe one or two more biscuits than usual isn’t that good for your waistline.  The size I chose to  knit back in September is now ever so slightly too small for me.  So, I am not modelling it for you, sorry.  I think the extra few kg I have gained are going to have to go before it will fit me like it should and look good.  Oops.

Oh well, better get the running shoes out, I have no excuse anymore after all…

 

 

 

If you think you would like to try the pattern above, then I believe it is still available to purchase online as a download.  You can get to it using either of the links below, one for Ravelry and one for the designer’s website.

Quick growing beginner snood

Wool Monkey Quick Grow Beginner Snood

Anybody who has been knitting for a while will probably know the pleasure of a quick and simple project.  I’m talking about the type that looks big and complicated, but actually grows really quickly and is super simple to do.  The one that you can do whilst watching TV, without having to think too hard or concentrate too much.

It’s nice to do complicated stuff sometimes, but every now and again my brain needs a rest. So, this is my latest relaxing project.  Nice and quick and simple.  So much so, that I reckon it it will actually be a really good pattern for beginners.  It introduces a couple of new techniques beyond just the knit stitch, but in a very simple way.

It’s versatile too.  It can be done with more or less any chunky yarn and the size can be altered really easily if you fancy.

So, here it is, the Quick Grow Beginner Snood…

 

If you are interested in making it then the link below takes you to Etsy, where you can get a copy.

If you are a beginner and need help with the new stitches then everything you need to know is in the Wool Monkey Learning Zone here on the website.

Please get in touch if you get stuck, need more help, or if you would simply like to send me a picture of your finished snood.  ( I always love to see your finished projects)

Happy Knitting!!

 

Easy Oddball Triangle Scarf

Sometimes, in my stash of yarn I end up with lots of little balls of yarn, all leftovers from other projects.  Each one is a different colour and a different yarn and generally not much use for anything.

So, now and again I find myself trying to think of something to do with them. I can’t waste them after all.

Last month, whilst looking for something else in my stash, (this is not always easy – it often involves emptying lots of plastic boxes out of the wardrobe, as the one I am looking for is usually the one right at the bottom), I found an envelope with lots of very small yarn samples, sent to me by various different yarn supplies.  All the samples were too small to be individually useful, so I added them to the pile of leftovers I was gathering together.  

Something had to be made from all these yummy bits and bobs, so I decided upon a new, very easy, scarf pattern.  The cold weather is coming and so it seemed appropriate.

So, I started knitting. My dog, Red, helping me of course.

It turned out to be a really relaxing project.   Very easy to make and great for beginners. It is mostly just the knit stitch with a little bit of detail on the edges.  I decided not to waste any yarn at all.   So, rather than working in complete rows and potentially wasting some, I kept knitting with each ball of yarn until it was almost done and then joined to the next yarn straight away – even if it was in the middle of a row. I think it gave quite an interesting striped effect.

It’s one of those patterns where you can just keep going until you have either run out of yarn, got bored, or simply think you’ve made it big enough.  The shape is a non-symmetrical triangle, so nobody can tell you that you have made it wonky, as it’s meant to be like that!

I also found that there was an unexpected plus side to this scarf.   I was intending to keep it for myself, but then my ‘other half’ decided that he liked it too.  Quite a lot actually, which I was rather surprised about.   When he agreed to be photographed wearing it I realised that he actually looks better in it than I do!        Hmmmmm.      Now it is a ‘shared’ scarf.   

I think I’ll knit myself a sweater next – he won’t want to share that…..

 

If you are interested in this scarf pattern then it is currently available from Etsy:

If you would like some help with learning to knit, all the stitches in this pattern are in the Wool Monkey Learning Zone on this website…