ScrapHappy May 2020

Whilst I may not have managed to write much this past month, I’ve certainly been busy with my scraps. You might remember that some months ago I started using up scrap sock (and other 4-ply) yarn in a scrappy blanket. The last time I reported on progress was in November 2019, and I’d got to this stage:

November

Since then I’ve beavered away and dug out old scraps and small scraps, until I finally had more than 200 little squares. In order to turn them into a blanket, I did have to buy some yarn, but I supported my local yarn store and, fortunately, had collected it before the lockdown happened.

And now, I’ve got all of the bits joined together and all I need to do is work the border. My intention was to achieve a stained glass window effect and I think that I have been quite successful. Unfortunately there is very bright sunshine today, so the photos don’t quite do justice to the most vibrant colours, still, you get the idea…

Some of the squares are unique as I had only enough yarn to make one, some are made with several scraps in order to use up bits. Some of the yarn was left over from making socks or shawls or blankets or gloves, some was given to me by folks who no longer had a use for it and one ball was a dye test. Considering the varied origins I’m rather pleased with the result. Placement was random with the only rule being that I did not put two squares next to each other that were the same.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

The right button for the job

Apparently, during this ‘lockdown’ we are all supposed to have oodles of spare time to, as one friend of mine suggested, “perfect our conversational Russian and learn to play the bassoon”. Oddly, here Chez Snail there is no extra time, as my work (always done from home) continues to arrive in abundance, I still walk the dogs every day and I continue to loathe going shopping, so do it as little as possible. Nevertheless, I have been busy with my crochet hooks and have completed two projects.

First, I finally got round to finishing something that has been languishing half-done in a bag for 18 months… since my first visit to the Crochet Sanctuary. Our ‘big’ project for that weekend was a snuggly bunny. I didn’t finish it during my stay and when I got home, other projects were more pressing. However, the lockdown brought it to mind because I was trying to think of a cuddly gift to sent to a friend who lives alone and is normally very sociable. In the end it was a relatively quick make.

But I thought that she looked rather cross. After some thought, I decided to replace the stitched eyes with some black buttons, turning her into a much more happy and relaxed bunny:

And then I progressed on to a cardigan that I only started a few weeks ago. I used some of the yarn that I had won in the Knit for Peace raffle back in 2018. It wasn’t a very exciting colour, so I added a little bit of purple/blue, but even so I felt that it lacked something. I searched my button box, but couldn’t find any buttons that were the right size and had sufficient zing. In the interest, therefore, of supporting small businesses at this difficult time, I bought some lovely Victorian Glass buttons via etsy.

I’m really pleased with the end result. And for the second project running, it just needed the right buttons.

Mend It Monday #5

“If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

This week I finished repairing the cardigan that I darned last week. Once the holes were repaired, I moved on to the frayed cuffs. In fact the fraying wasn’t too bad, only affecting the very ends of the sleeves, but sorting the issue out now will save a much more difficult mend later.

I started by reinforcing the frayed edge, so that it wouldn’t fray anymore, catching any free stitches to avoid ladders forming. Then I worked a row of blanket stitch around each cuff, a couple of centimetres in from the end. I used these stitches as the foundation for crocheting new cuffs. I worked two rows of double crochet, then three rows of treble crochet so that the work was long enough to fold over the original end of the sleeve and enclose the raggedy ends. Although the original cuffs were cream, I decided that black would actually be much more practical. I used sock yarn, so it should be robust and, hopefully, last a good few more years.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

A long time coming

One of my current goals is to end the year with fewer unfinished projects than I began it with. Several of the items that I have on the go have been hanging around for absolutely ages and there are various reasons that they have been put aside: sometimes I’ve got bored, sometimes I’ve realised that I don’t really like/need the thing I’m making, sometimes I’m awaiting inspiration/supplies, sometimes it’s just a long-term project (like the sofa covers) and sometimes it’s because something more interesting has come along and distracted me. One of my abandoned projects, however, was put aside because the pattern I was following was just so badly written.

I started crocheting this cardigan to wear for a friend’s wedding several years ago. I didn’t manage to finish in time, but I battled on with a less than easy pattern until I came to the edging up the front and around the neck. And then the pattern made no sense – I asked other people what they thought and no one understood it, so I contacted the designer, asking if she could send a picture or diagram showing how the motifs were put together. Her reply basically told me to fiddle around until it worked… easier said than done because the very small motifs were crocheted together, with the final joining round constituting a large part of each piece, so I couldn’t make them all and then try to assemble them like a jigsaw. In the end, it was abandoned.

I did revisit it, thinking I might be able to use a different approach with snail-like spiral motifs that I could sew together, but I hit problems again and so, once more it was put aside… until this year. And this year I am determined not to be beaten by any project… so I had a re-think. I looked at the cardigan and looked at it and looked at it. I realised what a very strange design it was and that I would need to use a completely different method if I was actually ever going to finish it.

So, I crocheted rows to fill the gap at the top of the back that was supposed to be filled with flower motifs that didn’t fit. Then I worked around the bottom edge, up one side, round the back and down the other side, until the front edges met, before adding a buttonhole band on one side and a button band on the other and finishing with a small shawl collar. I used some antique glass buttons that I’ve had for ages, to give a nod to the flower motifs that were supposed to characterise this cardigan (and do still run up the centre of the back). Currently it’s pinned out on the blocking mats, as the edges were rather untidy and crumpled and when I put it on Mimi it didn’t hang well.

I’m not sure, now it’s finished, that I actually like it – it looks rather frumpy – but it’s pure wool and therefore warm, so it will be fine to wear around the house if nothing else. Plus it is actually finished and so that’s one fewer project lurking out of sight.

Watch this space for more finished projects as the year progresses (there are lots of them).

Mend It Monday #3

“If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

Something woolly again this week. A long time ago I made slippers for myself and Mr Snail. They have been mended a number of times already, and this week it was the turn of Mr Snail’s; they were in a sorry state:

I started by darning the worst of the holes to provide some structure, and then crocheted some circles to provide good thick soles under the heel and ball of the foot and these will, hopefully last another year or so.

The yarn I used for the repairs is the stuff they make Axminster carpets out of, so it is really hard-wearing. Even so, slippers that get worn every day need lots of attention to keep them going and I’m really pleased to be able to extend their life this way.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

ScrapHappy November 2019

This month’s scrappy creation is a continuation of last month’s. I am progressing through the balls of left-over 4-ply yarn, and have gone from these 25 squares:

IMGP7515

October’s squares

To these 120:

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Lots more over the past month

As you can see, there are now some brighter colours, so the final blanket should be quite vibrant. I will almost certainly have to buy the black yarn to edge all the squares with, but it will be a mostly scrappy project. For the time being, however, I still have some coloured yarn in my basket to keep me going:

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More scraps to use

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of other folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan (me)Karen,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki and Sue

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

Write off

It’s a strange thing, writer’s block. I’m not sure why, but somehow I just haven’t been able to bring myself to write anything much for weeks – no letters, no work on the book and (as you may have noticed) no blog posts. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to share, it just felt incredibly reluctant to put fingers to keyboard. I’ve been quite busy – the root canal work is finally completed, I’ve finally finished a series of doctor’s appointments and I’ve spent two weekends away with two different sets of lovely ladies (hello to The Crochet Sanctuary Crowd and the Fabulous Fifties). I have stitched, hooked, knitted and sorted. Three boxes of books have gone to the Oxfam book shop, a box of craft materials has gone to be sold at an Emmaus shop that has a specialist craft section and a bag of bras has gone for recycling/reuse. I have had a great harvest of chillies and sweet peppers and a mediocre harvest of courgettes, peas and potatoes. There has been a new member of the household – Mimi the dressmakers dummy and I have learnt to do macrame. So, all-in-all, a busy time. It’s just that I wasn’t inspired to write, or even take many photographs. However, here is a little selection of what I’ve been making, doing and growing, with the hope that the next blog post will come more easily and sooner…

Making, mending and modifying

I haven’t been very good at sharing my creative projects recently, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy.

First, I completed the blanket for charity that used up some wool given to me specifically for such projects. It’s nice and big and it will be on its way to Knit for Peace just as soon as I can get it packed up and to the Post Office.

I’ve started work on a new project too. I wasn’t going to – the plan was to finish some of my WIPs – but a dear friend asked me to make her a hooded cardigan and since she’s been having a challenging time over the past couple of years, I didn’t want to say no. We spent a long time selecting the perfect yarn and so I’m now working with beautiful Jacob’s wool from WYS and a pattern by Hailey Bailey called The Albatross. Here’s a sneak peek:

Stripes

I also made my mum a handbag for her birthday, but I don’t think the pictures really do it justice:

Then there was the mending… new clasps on the strap of another of my mum’s handbags, repairs to two buckets (one with a broken handle and one with a hole, both mended using Sugru) and a bit of binding round the top of an old laundry basket to keep it going for a bit longer (using some salvaged ribbon from a fancy Easter egg).

And then there’s the adjustments and additions. First, a rug for Mr Snail’s rented flat that may not be colourfast (the rug not the flat). Just in case, I backed it with a piece of an old towel… we really don’t want the floors getting stained. Then letting down the hems on a pair of trousers (too boring to photograph). And finally a transformation that I’m saving for this month’s ScrapHappy.

So, what’s been keeping you busy recently?

Hats (and mittens) off

I decided to have a bit of a rummage up in the loft last weekend and came across a box of crochet items that were originally made for sale. I haven’t had a stall at any event for a while, so these had slightly fallen off my radar and I decided to sort some out to donate to charity, adding them to the small collection of hats that I have made recently.

In the end, there were 13 hats and 5 pairs of fingerless mittens. These will be on their way to Knit for Peace very soon. In addition, I added three pairs of knitting needles to the box. Apparently KfP are always in need of needles suitable for double knitting wool – 3.75, 4 and 4.5 mm – so if you too have any of these sizes going spare, they’d be delighted to receive them.

Waiting around

In recent weeks I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in waiting rooms and it’s an activity that looks likely to be part of my life for a while yet…. next up is another trip to see a dentist (my fourth in the past month and not my last). I started off taking my Leftie shawl, but there are various colours to contend with and I took the wrong balls the week before last and so was unable to knit whilst waiting for the car to have its MOT, plus it’s getting a bit big. I, therefore, decided to start work on some simple granny squares to make into a blanket for charity… these have the added benefit that, even when you have toothache, you have the mental capacity to make them.

I had a big cone of dark green yarn that was given to me a few years ago specifically to make items for charity and this seemed ideal for my purpose. In fact, I’m enjoying making simple squares so much, that I’ve done very little work on anything else for the past couple of weeks. Indeed, I have so many now, I’ve started to join them together, using some other donated yarn:

I’m planning to make this into a good big blanket to keep someone really warm – the wool is a bit rough at the moment, but its softening as I work it and I’ll give it a wash once its finished.

So, what projects do you take with you when you have a lot of waiting to do?

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