Thursday 30 July 2015

Knitting Gauge - converting Needle Size from metric to UK

I am often amazed by people's discovery of a little craft tool that makes life so much easier.

There are a few of them about, but the one I am talking about today is a Knitting Gauge.

The conversation usually starts with "Do you have any idea how to convert 'old' numbered knitting needles to today's sizes?"

Well, kinda, I know off by heart the ones I use regularly - I know a number 10 is a 3,25mm and a number 11 (which I am currently using) is a 3.00mm, but as for the rest, I could work it out I guess, but why bother when you can buy one of these.... a knitting gauge!  (Available in Hobbycraft)

It's a small rectangular piece of plastic with holes in. On one side of the holes are the 'old' numbers, while on the other are the new numbers.   The holes are there so you can work it out even if your numbers have rubbed off over the years, which, let's face it, is a common annoyance.  Oh.... and DPN's of course, which come with no numbers on, and unless you are very neat and tidy and keep them in the original packaging, it can be most annoying to work out what size is what.

So, at work, when I show people these, it's like they have discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen, they think it is the most genius thing ever.  Which got me wondering.... do other people know about this clever little device that only costs £1.50 and makes life so much easier?

I should do a blog post.

So, here you go  :)

And for those who don't have access to buy a gauge, here YOU go....

Metric UK
2mm 14
2.25mm 13
2.75mm 12
3mm 11
3.25mm 10
3.75mm 9
4mm 8
4.5mm 7
5mm 6
5.5mm 5
6mm 4
6.5mm 3
7mm 2
7.5mm 1
8mm 0
9mm 00
10mm 000

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Fringed Baby Poncho - free tutorial

I have a challenge ahead, to make an adult poncho, so the best way of trying to see if I can get the shape right was to make a baby one.  Of course, this would be perfect for my Grandbaby Hope.

I used a pack of yarn that came free with a knitting magazine. I just thought the colours worked so well together.  At that point if I had known the poncho would end up working out I might have made it in a better yarn, but I was just playing.

And to work I went....

It literally took me only half a day to make this poncho as it worked up so quickly.

And here is it, being modelled by my gorgeous little chick, Hope.  (She is busy playing with the tassels!)

Would you like to make one?

Here is my rough pattern, hope it works. ;)

Stitches used (UK terms):  CH (Chain) / TR (Treble Crochet) / DC (Double Crochet) / SS (Slip Stitch) / SK (Skip a stitch)

  • CH 72 and join in a SS  (make sure the chain is not twisted at all)

  • CH 3 and work a TR into the next 2 stitches.  ***Skip a stitch, CH 1 and work a TR into the next 3.  Repeat from *** SK1, CH1 and SS to join.   (You should have 18 clusters of TR's and 18 spaces)

  • SS 2 stitches to the first CH space, CH 3 and work 2 x TR's into that same space.  (Jump to the next CH space and work 3 x TR's) repeat what's in-between the brackets another 6 times so you have 8 clusters in total. Into the next CH space work 3 x TR's, 3 x CH and 3 x TR's. (Jump to the next CH space and work 3 x TR's) repeat to end and SS to join.  You will now have 8 clusters, a point, 8 clusters and a point)

  • From now on work each round, working 3 x TR's into every chain space, but into each point work 3 X TR's, 3 x CH, 3 x TR's to form the point for another 15 rounds.

  • To finish off the neckline, join yarn to any CH space and CH 2, work 2 x DC's into the same space.  Then work 3 x DC's into each CH space around and SS to finish.

  • Add tassels if required by cutting 3 x 5" lengths of yarn, hold them together and fold them in half, hook through a CH space on the bottom row and pull the yarn through the loop.  Pull quite tight to secure.

If you would like a printable PDF version of this pattern, the please visit:

Sunday 26 July 2015

My first hand-made card

You know I don't do papercraft, right?  Well, I did venture into the deep dark depths of papercrafting and made a card!

Fair enough, I only dipped my little toe into the massive ocean that seems to be papercraft, I mean - just how many types of cards can you make.  Don't bother answering, I know it is loads.

So, this card was for my lovely Hubster who graduated last week at UCLAN with a Certificate of Education.

Now, when I say "I made a card" you would be allowed to translate that into "I assembled a card" as what I really did was buy a pack of card toppers from Hobbycraft, and a single blank card with envelope.  (I am not planning to make any more, so a single one was just fine!)

Then I peeled off the backing on the sticky dots at the back of each sticker, and stuck them in place.  Clever huh?

I did write the "Congratulations" on it, which had to be the most arty/crafty thing I had done on this particular project.  I find that if your hand writing looks a bit pants, as mine did, add little dots to the ends of the letters and it make it magically better.

I felt that Hubster had put so much work into his qualification that I should make a bit of effort to mark the occasion.   He seemed to be quite chuffed with his little card, probably because in 15 years it is the first card I have ever given him  :)  (Maybe I bought him one on our wedding day.)

Safe to say, I won't be pursuing the art of papercraft  :)

Thursday 23 July 2015

Afternoon Champagne Tea at Annie's Tea Room, Manchester

Another treat we had when on Shona's hen weekend was an afternoon tea at Annie's Tea Room in Manchester.

The tea room is owned by Jennie McAlpine, a Coronation Street actress, although she wasn't there when we visited.

Once the staff found out we were celebrating there was balloons and banners placed on the table, which was a nice touch.

There were a few tea to choose from, I had peppermint, with proper leaves and a strainer too!

And of course, we need to upgrade to a champagne afternoon tea, well it would have been rude not to, don't you think?

Sandwiches, warm scones with jame & cream followed by fresh cream cakes.  Sadly the plates were not emptied as there was just too much, but we did give it a really good go!

We were offered cake boxes but we were already struggling with suitcases and shopping so we had to decline.

On reflection it is a wee bit pricey - £25.00 for afternoon tea with Champers - having said that we ended up paying £35.00 each as we had extra pop, but for an experience it was worth doing I think  :)

Wednesday 22 July 2015

FREE - Crochet Flower Class at Hobbycraft, Carlisle

Yep, your read that correctly, I am offering up a FREE crochet flower class.

Let me explain...

A lady I know, Sheila Metcalfe, is hosting a fund raising event this year at Yarndale for the Alzheimers Society.  She is planning to wow visitors with a huge 'colour-wash' flower display within the event.

You can read the blog post all about it here... Flowers For Memories.

So, to do my bit, this is what I am planning to do.  Hold a FREE crochet flower class.

It would be beneficial for attendees to have a little crochet knowledge - just the most basic stitch will suffice, as I am planning to have as many as possible attend so we can make LOADS of flowers.

I will provide all the yarn to make the flowers and lend you a hook, free of charge.

You will have to leave the lovely flowers you make so I can send them off to Sheila, but you can, if you wish, buy a pack with a crochet hook, some yarn and printed tutorials to take home so you can make your own after the class for just £2.00.  (certainly no obligation, please see below)

The class will be on Tuesday 28th July, 2015 - from 3.00-5.00pm.   

There are limited places on this free class (12)  so I am going to ask for a £2.00 deposit to secure your place.  You can choose to have this £2.00 refunded at the class or take the pack with yarn, crochet hook and print-outs so you can make some flowers for yourself at home afterwards.

I have added an 'event' to my Facebook page, please feel free to join it and share  :)

Monday 20 July 2015

The Coronation Street Tour

When we were away for my daughter, Shona's, hen weekend a couple of weeks ago, we visited the Coronation Street Tour.

After struggling with the map - none of us seem very good with maps, Google or otherwise, we hailed a taxi which took us right to the gate.

And there was the famous street sign.  

We started inside, going through the door to Carla Connor's flat and into the green room where the actors used to hang out before shooting their scenes.  A few of them had written messages on the walls.  We got to see the pigeon holes where the actors would find their scripts each morning, and the notice board which included the filming time-tables.

Then we went past all the personal dressing rooms to the studio and the famous sets.

We saw the chair where both 'Jack & Vera' died, and the Platt's staircase, as well as Hayley's colourful eco coffin.

Then we all gathered behind the bar at the Rovers to have a group photo taken.

Unfortunately you cannot take your own photos inside the studio where all the sets are, but you can take them freely outside on the cobbles.  So here are a few for you :)

See the scene through the arch?  It is a photo on the wall opposite!  

Here you go..

We could walk down the ginnel and look in the back gardens.  No one was out having a sneaky cigarette though  ;)

It was a great tour, costing around £17.00 for two hours, but worth it in my opinion.

If you fancy it through you better hurry as they are knocking it all down in December  :(

Friday 17 July 2015

Fingerpainted Tree Canvas

I am always looking for new things to offer for my workshops, especially the children's ones where I like to have what is on offer open to all abilities.  So one of my new activities this summer is a Fingerpainted Tree canvas.

All you need is a canvas and three colours of paint - brown, yellow and green.

Dip your finger in the brown paint and draw the tree trunk and branches.  The smudges your finger makes creates lovely branches.

Now for the yellow paint, tap the end of your finger in the paint and blob all over the tree branches.

And finally the green, do the same, but cover up a bit of the yellow leaves for a smudge of different colours.

And that is it. What a great hand-made gift this would be for any child to make parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  And you also have the lasting treasure of their little fingerprints encapsulated in paint for ever   :)

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Woolfest 2015

A couple of weeks ago I went to Woolfest.  For those not in the know, Woolfest is a Wool Festival, where lots of people who buy wools and yarns go and meet wool and yarn sellers - and their sheep / llamas / bunnies etc...

Personally I tend not to buy wool unless I know it is responsibly sourced.  A few wools - Merino and Angora for example, are well documented to be very cruel towards the animal in their production.  At least at Woolfest a lot of the sellers are small businesses who treat their animals very well and you can chat to them and find out exactly what you need to know to help you make that purchasing decision.

And now for some photos...... please excuse the slightly blurred pictures as I dropped my camera and broke the zoom, so now it doesn't focus properly.  Time for a new one.

How about this for a ball of yarn?  It's a whopper!  I didn't buy it, but I did buy the needles that would have been used to knit it with  :)

We watched some fabulous Quaker tapestry going on, those little blackberries with 3D and made to sparkle with tiny beads added.

As a footnote, I found this most excellent blog on Love Knitting about Angora wools.

Thursday 9 July 2015

Incredibly busy

I feel I have abandoned my Bloggy people, but the last few weeks have been totally manic around here.

I have had lots of commissions, that I cannot yet share with you, but soon.  They are taking up a lot of my time and whereas I would normally share snippets, I can't even do that, but hey!  I am not complaining, it keeps me out of mischief.

I have also been trying to sort and tidy The Shed out to make a better storage area for my continually growing yarn stash.   I am outgrowing the largest bedroom in the house.  When my daughter had this room she had a double bed, triple wardrobe, sofa, coffee table, TV on stand, computer desk, bookcase, chest of drawers and bedside cupboards in it, so you can imagine how big it is - yet I am filling it to the brim with yarns!  I should stop hoarding.

I have just posted my latest box of commissions, so you would think I would have time to breathe, but no, I have a 10 week Crochet Course starting tonight, in one hour in fact, so need to shake my tail and go and get ready for that.

Then, it will be time to relax for a few days as I go off with some friends for my Daughter, Shona's, Hen Weekend.   We are doing lots of touristy things in Manchester and I am looking forward to it loads.   Watch out for some blogs when I get back.

I do feel a little guilty though as I am leaving the Hubster with all the housework I have been avoiding while trying to get through my pile of crafty creations.  Still, will give him something to do I guess   :)

See ya soon.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

A giant Mandala - in a Hula Hoop

This week I have been playing with a new yarn - DMC Natural XL, which is gorgeous.... but more about that later when I do my review.

After making a few bits and bobs there was a bit left over - part balls of four bright and cheerful colours.   What can I make with these, I wondered.

What I REALLY wanted to do was to make a blanket, I just thought the yarn would lend itself so well to a lap blanket, but I didn't have enough.

A mandala, I decided.  I quite like making mandalas, especially out of my head as I just hook what I think the next row needs.

I got to work, picking up the colours in no particular order, hooking different stitches in no particular pattern.

Then of course, it got bigger and bigger.  I would need a frame to put it on.

So off I popped to Argos and picked up a twin pack of Hula Hoops.  This would make an ideal frame, I thought.

And it did!

Now, I have no where to display something quite that big, so I took it up to Hobbycraft where it got a place next to my Afghan Blanket   :)

Go have a look if you like  :)  It is in the Carlisle store, just off J44 of the M6.