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.
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)
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:
As you may have realised by now, not only do I love crochet and knitting, but I also love cacti and succulents.
So, I thought I would start to create some patterns to go with my cacti, as well as giving you a bit more information about the plants themselves. Whilst I was thinking about doing this recently an old customer got in touch with me completely out of the blue, to see if I had created any cactus patterns yet. What a pleasant surprise and coincidence.
She asked if I would create a pattern for an Opuntia. So, that was my plan, but then as I started to look around, I realised that there were so many knitted and crocheted cacti patterns already out there for free that it would perhaps be a better idea to just have a look at some of those instead and see if any were worthy.
First thing is first though.
I have to tell you a little bit about Opuntia. (Sorry it’s the cactus geek in me)
So, the cactus genus Opuntia contains many different species, with many different common names, such as the prickly pear, bunny tails, beaver tails and the barbary fig. You must have heard of some of them at least. It’s really widespread, originating throughout the Americas, but with man’s help has now been spread worldwide. In some places it is even considered to be a weed. They do grow exceptionally easily.
This is a cutting I planted in January this year. It was just a couple of paddle shaped leaves then, but started to sprout new segments straight away. (Sorry about the sideways picture). This is how much it has grown up to now (June).
It might not look like much to you, but it’s fast for a cactus.
Opuntia are easily recognised by their usually flat, paddle, oval or round shaped stem segments. The spines are often densely clustered on the areoles. These are the areas on the cacti where you usually see the spines coming from (the spotty bits on the pictures above) and trust me, you don’t want to touch them. They often look like soft, fluffy little pads, but really, they’re not that soft, they are composed of hundreds of tiny spines which will almost definitely get into your skin and they are really, really, really irritating! Some of them also have long, deadly looking spines in addition, as if they needed the extra protection!?
Like most cacti, they do have the redeeming feature of beautiful flowers and they come in an array of colours. Some of the species also have fleshy fruits, which can be harvested and turned into deserts, jellies, drinks and delicacies. (I think this is where the name prickly pear came from). In many places, especially Mexico, the flesh of the cactus itself is also eaten like a vegetable. I can’t say that I have ever tried it, but there’s a first time for everything…
(Images courtesy of Pinterest – please click links to original posts)
Sometimes it’s a great idea to ask your kids what they think you should make next and sometimes it backfires, big time.
I made the mistake of asking my girls if they would like it if I made them a blanket each. I told them that it could be their own choice, unique to them. Of course they said yes and then promptly told me what sort of blankets they would like. The youngest requested spirals. Spirals! Once my brain had recovered from the panic of wondering how I was going to do spirals I naturally said yes, of course you can have spirals.
Hmmmm. Spirals. How shall I do spirals. Hmmmmm. Spirals. (This is how I spent the next day or so, pondering spirals).
After several attempts, and lots of frogging, I finally had a spiral in a square and a set of colours chosen by my 5 year old that would hopefully work. All I had to do now was create 23 more spirals!
I must admit, it doesn’t look very good does it.
Since then, I have been spiralling everywhere.
Spirals in the cafe, with coffee and cake. (This is my favourite type of spiral)
Spirals at the sports hall during my kids gymnastics lessons. (It makes the lessons go really quick)
Spirals sat at my desk, when I am supposed to be working. (ooops)
Spirals in the pub. (Why not?)
Spirals sat on the sofa at home. (This is where most of them get done. I don’t actually have that much of a social life)
Spirals in a coffee shop. Again.
I think you probably get the idea by now that I have been doing spirals everywhere I have been recently.
I have been trying to get one done everyday, so that it didn’t become a burden and I still had time for other projects.
My youngest was pretty pleased last week with how her spirals were looking. Everytime I add to the pile she lays them all out on the floor. She says she is planning how they are going to fit together. Hmmm.
Four weeks later and I have a large pile of square spirals. Now begins the bit that I don’t really feel like doing – sewing them all together. Grrrrrr.
We laid them all out on the bed, trying to arrange them in such a way that meant all the colours were evenly spread out. This is trickier than you might imagine. Then, after a little deliberation I decided to use the slip stitch method to join all the squares together. It gives a nice neat edge to all the squares and is fairly quick. (Always a good thing).
Once they were all joined together, all that remained was the edging. Several rounds of edging as it turned out, but nevermind, I thought it finished it off nicely and sometimes it’s worth putting a bit of extra effort into the edging on a large blanket.
Here it is, the finished blanket. My daughter loves it and has used it on her bed every night. I was worth the effort I reckon.
If you’re interested in creating your own spiral blanket, then the pattern is available on Etsy:
A little while ago one of my close friends decided to use up all her oddments and leftovers to make a blanket. She didn’t make the usual granny blanket though, she just made a really simple blanket in rows, it turned out to be a really lovely blanket. She decided not to keep it though and sent it to the refugees in Syria. I thought it was a lovely gesture and very generous.
It got me thinking, (as most things seem to).
It was a really quick blanket, really easy and a great way to either use up loads of leftover yarn, or to create a blanket with a multitude of different textures. So I created a pattern, similar to what I thought my friend had created. The beauty of it being that it is a great pattern for a beginner, fast to finish (for a blanket) and also really, really relaxing to make. Plus, you don’t get bored as you change yarn and colour every row!
So, if you fancy giving it a try, then go and find yourself a whole heap of random yarns. You can colour co-ordinate them or just use a complete mixture of colours, it’s up to you. You will need at least 1500g OF YARN. The more wool and natural fibres you include, the more warm and heavy your blanket will be, but also the more yarn you will need. Try and stick to a mixture of DK, aran and chunky weight if you can, but with a mixture of different textures, fluffy, shiny, cotton, smooth, wool etc. etc. The DK is worked using 2 strands together to create the thickness required to work with the other yarns. You can always use 2 different strands together to create different effects if you wish.
You’re also gonna NEED a 5.5mm crochet hook.
Your TENSION should be approximately 9 or 10 treble stitches per 10cm using a 5.5mm hook. The tension is not crucial for this blanket, it will still work fine if you are a bit loose or a bit tight, but it will end up a slightly different size to what is stated.
The FINISHED SIZE of the blanket should be approximately 120cm wide and 150cm long, but it’s not an exact science. It will vary according to your tension and the type of yarns your use. The width can very easily be changed by increasing or decreasing the number of starting chains. To create the length you want simply keep working the rows until you reach the size you want.
Let’s have a look at the pattern.
FOUNDATION ROW Using a 5.5mm hook, make 142 chains.
It is absolutely essential that you do not make your chains too tight or the edge of the blanket will be tighter than the rest and look pulled. Your chains should look nice and loose. Don’t worry if you don’t have the exact number it will not affect the pattern, just the size of the blanket.
SET UP ROW
Working back along your foundation row, miss the first 2 chains, then do a treble crochet into the third chain. Follow this with 1 treble stitch into each chain to the end of the row.
Change to a different yarn. I picked my yarns blindly from my bag to make sure my blanket had a certain amount of randomness to it, but you can choose your yarns however you like. Bear in mind that because your yarns are all different some will go further than others and you may run out of some well before others too.
Using your new yarn, work 2 chain stitches, then turn your work. These will count as a treble stitch at the beginning of the row.
Work 1 treble stitch between the posts of the first and second stitches on the row below.
If you are worried that you are going to have lots and lots of yarn ends to sew in after you have finished your blanket then you can work the ends in as you go. Hold the end of the yarns you need to work in above the row of stitches that you are about to work. As you crochet a stitch make sure that you work around these strands and that they are incorporated inside the stitch.
Continue along the row, working 1 treble stitch between the posts of each stitch on the row below, to the end of the row.
The ends of the yarn you are working in will disappear into the centre of your stitches as you go.
Repeat Row 1 for every row of your blanket, changing to a different yarn for each row and preferably working the ends in as you go.
When you have finished your blanket it is up to you whether you put an edge on your blanket or not. If you do want to edge your blanket I think the easiest way is to do a round of double crochet stitches all the way around.
Choose a yarn, join your yarn to one corner of your blanket, do 2 double crochet stitches into the corner then double crochet stitches evenly all along the edge. When you get to the next corner do 2 double crochet stitches again and then double crochets down the next side. Continue in this way until you have worked all the way around the blanket then slip stitch to join the end of the round and fasten off your yarn. You’ll have to sew the end in this time though.
So, then the only remaining question is what to do with your finished blanket?
Did you make it with a purpose, for a friend or relative? Or just to use up your oddments?
I wrote the pattern and have made it freely available in the hope that people might decide to use up their oddments for a good cause, but if you make it for yourself that is perfectly ok by me.
If you don’t really have a use for it and just made it for the sake of making it, then why not donate it to a worthy cause? Refugees, homeless, elderly, orphans – there are lots of people out there in need of warm blankets and it’s a little bit like giving a complete stranger a massive hug. It’ll make you feel all warm and cosy inside too knowing you’ve done something nice. Either way, get in touch and show us your finished blankets, it’s always nice to see what folks have created.
It turns out that the fingerless mitts from our recent workshop at Cafe Creme’s Crafty Cafe session were quite popular, so, I have left a basket of completed mitts in the Cafe for you all to purchase if you wish.
I figure that not everybody will want to make their own and that ready made is sometimes preferable. Christmas is coming after all and who doesn’t want some lovely warm, soft mitts as a pressie? They are all made with blends of alpaca, silk and merino wool and they come in a range of lovely shades.
So, get yourself down to the cafe, on the High Street in Penistone and try a pair on. Or, if North Sheffield is just a bit too far for you, get in touch and I will happily send you a pair.
If you would still prefer to make your own, the pattern is available on Etsy for the aran weight version and I will write up the pattern for the chunky version as soon as I get a minute.
When you’ve had a go and think you might like to make gloves and mittens for all your family for Christmas here are a couple of other books which have loads of patterns in them for you to try, so you don’t get bored.