23 Nov 2015

Home for the holidays

Do you have children or teenagers coming for the holidays? If so, you know that when the adults are sitting in a slight stupour digesting their meal, the younger members of the family will be asking what's going to happen next. It's almost as inevitable as the question that came the day before: "Are we there yet?"

And even if you don't have little people arriving, then it's fun to have some activities planned for everyone to join in. So here's a great idea for a project that's fun and easy - make some bracelets out of yarn!

Getting the various items together can be the first fun expedition, and then turning the yarn first into I-cord and then into bracelets will help occupy many a happy hour together.

I have just posted the new Para-Knit Bracelet pattern onto my website and on-line stores. This includes detailed notes and step-by-step photos so even if you have not made these type of Paracord bracelets before, you'll soon be braiding like a pro.

I found all the items I needed for this project in the same craft-store, including the yarn. I used Patons Grace yarn in bright zingy colours of Aquifer/Turquoise, Ginger/Green and Lotus/Hot Pink. However, this 100% cotton yarn comes in all kinds of shades and there are some strong masculine colours too, so you can select whatever colour combinations you fancy. Purchase 1 ball of yarn in each of 3 or more colours to give you lots of options.

Then to make the I-cord, you'll either need some double-pointed needles, a Knitting Nancy (such as my old faithful above), or an automated cord-maker. I tried the Caron Embellish-Knit cord maker and found it very good. You do need to give it your full attention to watch that the stitches are forming correctly. However, using one of these devices can produce lengths of I-cord in a very short space of time.

While you're at the craft store, you'll also need to pick up a pack of "paracord buckles". These are side-release buckles with a slight curve on them to fit your wrist. I purchased black ones but they also come in some wonderfully colourful versions too.

I also purchased an "Ezzzy" bracelet-making jig (yes, there really are that number of zzz's in the middle of the name)! I suppose this is not strictly necessary, but it does seem to make the braiding easier. I like the way you can set the jig to the exact size you require and it certainly keeps everything good and tight while braiding.

You've probably already got the other items you'll need such as a tapestry needle, a crochet hook, measuring tape and a pair of scissors, so with these few new items you'll be good to go.

Once you have the I-cord prepared, you can set it up on the jig and you (or your small helpers) can start knotting away. Before you know it, they'll be finishing off the ends and showing off their brand-new bracelet. (Then probably having orders from everyone else in the room!)

The Para-Knit Bracelet pattern is available for instant download from my website, and also from Craftsy, Etsy and Ravelry.

Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy your bracelet-making!


. 25Nov2015

14 Nov 2015

New pattern - Hamilton Table Runner

One thing I like about this time of the year and the approaching winter season is that the cooler weather outside provides a perfect excuse for some indoor entertaining and parties. Barbecues and picnics at the park are a fading memory as the temperatures fall. However, what could be better than a welcoming fire, a glass of mulled wine and a gathering of friendly faces to help celebrate Thanksgiving or your other seasonal events.

So make it an occasion everyone will remember with a brand new table runner! A table runner acts to set the scene for the whole room and brings a wonderful sense of elegance and tradition to any event. Add accessories, flowers and decorations to match your colour theme and you will have the perfect setting for the day.

There are lots of ways to use table runners but they work especially well with wooden tables because they bring out the beauty of the wood. You can also drape them over the top of a simple tablecloth for a stunning effect or use a narrow runner on your favourite sideboard.

The Hamilton Table Runner pictured here is the latest pattern in my #KnittingAhead series. This features a wonderful reversible stitch which has an embossed diamond pattern set between garter stitch ridges. The pattern really catches the light and gives a wonderful sense of proportion to a table setting - perfect for all those winter festivities coming very soon!

The runner is worked in Knit Picks "Cotlin" which is a crisp cotton/linen mixture, but if you can't get hold of that then Rowan's "Creative Linen" would be a good alternative.

The Hamilton Table Runner pattern is available for instant download from my website, and also from Craftsy, Etsy and Ravelry. Here's good wishes for your next winter event!

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: So it begins
Next Up: Home for the holidays


6 Nov 2015

So it begins

One of the things I loved when we moved to the States about 20 years ago was that you could tell which month it was by looking at everyone's front gardens! In September, colourful yellow leaves festoon door wreaths and mailboxes, then in October white ghosts float from the trees while fake tombstones sit nestled in the long grass. 

In November, the ghosts have been replaced by garlands of red leaves and colourful gourds ready for Thanksgiving at the end of the month. Then in December, Christmas lights and berry-laden door decorations appear. It's magical.

It's a wonderful build-up to the end of year celebrations but more than that, the changing of the decorations gives us all a good "Heads Up!" that the Festive Season is well and truly on its way. 

So this week's #KnittingAhead idea is all about getting ready for your next big family event by making a brand-new table runner. These are always an elegant way to dress up your table, whether it is a small centrepiece for a display of fruits and vegetables or a lovely long runner falling gracefully over the ends of the table-top.

I shall be posting details about a new pattern, the Hamilton Table Runner in the next few days and will post all the details here as soon as they are ready.

Until then, enjoy decorating the outside of your home in readiness!

Happy Knitting!


. 17/11/15

22 Oct 2015

New pattern - Tromso Rug

When I was a child, our house was unheated and there was a lino floor in my bedroom. I can remember the shock of cold every morning if my feet touched the floor rather than my bedside rug. However, since the rug was where my cat used to sleep I often didn't have much of a choice about this. There really wasn't much square-footage of rug left after she had claimed it as her own! Of course, with the perversity of a cat she would then stretch, wake up and follow me out of the door ever-hopeful for an extra saucer of milk.

Rare Earth Rug
That memory of cold has always stayed with me and even though we now have the luxury of central heating I still like to have a rug by my bedside. So I suppose it's no surprise that I have a couple of rugs already in my pattern collection, namely the Rare Earth Rug above and the Ocean Currents Rug below.

Ocean Currents Rug
However, this time I wanted to make an extra-thick rug, quick to work up and just a nice small size so you could use it in many situations. 

Do you have a place in the house where your feet feel chilly in the winter? Standing by the counter peeling potatoes...? Sitting knitting by the window so you can catch the last of the winter light...? Me, too! Wooden floors can be very cold when the temperatures dip.

So that's where the Tromso Rug comes in. There are three different sizes included in the pattern:
Small: 50 x 75 cm / 20 x 30 ins.
Medium (pictured above): 60 x 90 cm / 24 x 36 ins.
and Large: 70 x 105 cm / 28 x 42 ins.

Another great feature of this rug is that it's reversible. If you have a look at the top photo you'll see the "right side" featured, and the photo I put in last week's blogpost and reprised above shows the "wrong side". You actually don't need to decide which side you're going to use until the very end, and then if you're careful about finishing off the ends invisibly you can always turn it over later on. 

I used Patons Classic Wool bulky yarn for this pattern. It is 100% wool and super-thick so it works up quickly. You'll need just 5 balls for the small size, 6 for the medium and 8 for the largest size, so it won't be long until you have a new rug or two in readiness for the next cold snap.

The pattern is available for instant download from my website and from my Craftsy, Etsy and Ravelry on-line stores.

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Norwegian Wood
Next Up: So it begins

. 06/11/15

15 Oct 2015

Norwegian Wood

Wooden floors are such a feature of Scandinavian homes and are easy to sweep clean, which is a real bonus when you have a spinner in the house. I have a constant circle of fluff around my wheel when I am spinning yarn, but a quick whisk around afterwards and it's all clean and tidy again (or so my husband tells me - housework is not one of my strong points...)

In the summer-time wooden floors are cool to the touch and wonderfully pleasing to look at. However, when the winter comes along then you see one of the drawbacks of this type of flooring - it can be very chilly underfoot. You can wear socks and slippers in the house to keep a bit cozier, but even that doesn't seem to really help. 

What you need is an extra layer underfoot such as a lovely thick rug. Of course you could go out and buy all the rugs you need from a carpet store. However, it is much more satisfying to make your own so you can choose your own colours and sizes. So here's this week's #Knitting Ahead idea: make some extra rugs to keep you warm as the winter weather really starts to take hold.

There are lots of areas where a rug or two would make a big impact:

Kitchen: Make one rug so you can stand on it while stirring a steaming pot of winter vegetables, then another in front of the sink.

Bedroom: I've written before about the joys of stepping onto a cozy rug as you get out of bed first thing in the morning. It really does allow you to wake up slowly rather than with a shock of cold as your feet touch the chilly floor. It would be great to have another right by your dressing table, too.

Basement: A large rug by the sofa would be so welcoming when the men in your life settle down to watch the next big football game.

Sitting Room: And don't neglect yourself! Make another rug to keep you comfortable when you sit in your favourite chair. Now your feet will stay warm while you knit your next creation, gazing out at the beautiful fall foliage outside (aren't those colours wonderful right now...)

Did you also know that if you have lots of nice rugs around your home you can reduce your winter heating bills? Yes it's true - you feel warmer so you can turn your thermostat down a degree of two. I read that every 3 degrees less on the thermostat saves you about 10% on your heating bills, so that's a really good incentive.

I have just uploaded a pattern for a new rug, the Tromso Rug, which includes three different sizes so you can make a good selection of rugs for the whole house. I will put all the size and yarn info into the next blogpost.

Until then, wrap yourself up warm - some places have already had their first snows of the year!

Happy Knitting!


. 1/11/15

3 Oct 2015

New pattern - Winsford Stroller Blanket

October has arrived! And with it the scent of wood smoke in the air as the first fires of the year are lit to ward off the evening chills. There are more scarves in evidence on the streets, and I think perhaps I was the only one not wearing a jacket yesterday (my mistake - that wind had a distinctly cool edge to it!)

Here's something else I have seen this month - an increase in the number of little pumpkin figures on all the backpacks. We are in Japan right now and most of the girls have some kind of soft animal attached to their school bags at all times. Well, to be honest there's also a fair number of boys' bags with something attached too! But today, I saw Pooh Bear on a pumpkin, a super-hero-style teddy with an orange cape and several other ghouls, ghosties and other figures in Halloween outfits. 

Yes, Halloween is only 4 weeks' away and creeping up fast!

So, here's the blanket in pumpkin colours I promised last time, the Winsford Stroller Blanket. It features a most pleasing stitch, Wide Garter Columns, which gives a wonderful interplay between the two yarn colours. The blanket works up fast, so there is time to make this ready for baby's first Halloween outing!

The pattern comes in two sizes - a Stroller/push-chair size and a Toddler bed size. The Stroller blanket is a square pattern measuring 90x90 cm/36x36 ins, with rounded corners as an extra feature. The pattern is completely reversible too, so it is easy to put into position without having to worry which side is showing.

The Toddler-bed size is a little wider and longer (100x110 cm/40x45 ins), so would be perfect to keep your little one warm when they get back home again.

I used Knit Picks "Wool of the Andes" for this pattern in Colours #24655 Orange and #24650 Caution (an amber/yellow shade) and I love the way these combined together. However, any type of worsted-weight yarn would work if you already have something suitable in your yarn stash.

The pattern can be purchased and downloaded directly from my website  - please click here for more details.

It is also available on Craftsy, Etsy and Ravelry. As with all my patterns, it is available in both UK and US formats for printing onto A4 or letter-sized paper, so let me know if you would like an alternative version.

Enjoy the build-up to Halloween! (And where can I find one of those little Pooh Bears on a pumpkin.....?)

Happy Knitting!


. 27/10/15

28 Sep 2015

It's spooky how time flies

Have you any "little people" in your family? A brand-new autumn baby or a small toddler? Then you know the excitement that this time of year brings in the build-up to Halloween. 

If they are only babes-in-arms then they might not appreciate much as they are pushed along the neighbourhood streets from one glowing house to the next. But you know that next year they will be taking their first steps up to each front door, and the year after they will be running from one place to the next. By that time you will have your hands full trying to make sure they don't either get lost or eat too much before they get home again!

And before you think: "It can't be that time already" - yes it really is. Halloween is only 1 month away! Where is the time going this year...

However, before you start planning their costumes, why not try out this week's Knitting Ahead idea - a fall coloured blanket for their stroller or toddler bed. Those October evening's can be chilly, so a Pumpkin-coloured blanket will keep them toasty warm.

The picture at the top of this page shows a new pattern, the Winsford Stroller Blanket. This is a fairly quick project so there's easily enough time to make this before the big day. In addition to a stroller size, there's also a matching blanket for a toddler bed so everyone can have a cozy evening. Please see my next blogpost for more details.

If you would like to get ready to make this pattern, then you'll need about 350 gm of the orange colour and 250 gm of the yellow. I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted wt yarn in Cols #24655 "Orange" and #24650 "Caution" (amber/yellow), but any similar yarn would work well.

Happy Knitting!




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