12 November 2015

felt ball garland

I have a lot of wool leftover wool from felting a few years ago and determined to use up my craft supplies before buying more I thought a felt ball garland would be a good idea. There are various methods for making the balls for the garland, needlefelting, wet felting by hand or wet felting in the washing machine. The last method appeals, leaving all the hard work to the machine. Here's how I made the garland....its easy!

What you need

old tights
thread or cotton
large sharp needle
washing machine
colour catcher sheet


Take a small amount of roving and using fingers form a small ball.

Tear long lengths of the roving and then split to form long thin strips.
Wind the long strips round the small ball to form a larger one that fits into the palm of your hand. Balls will shrink about a third in size during the felting process.

Give the ball a final roll between the palms of your hand.
Insert the ball inside the leg of tights, compact the wool ball and tie both ends with string.

Once all the balls are tied into the tights its time to felt.

Place the balls inside the washing machine with a pair of jeans or old towels, a little detergent and a colour catcher sheet The colour catcher sheet is very important if using a mixture of light and dark coloured wool.
Use the hottest wash cycle with the least water.
Once "washed" if the balls do not feel firm they may need to go through another cycle.
They will have probably felted through the tights and these will need to be peeled off the balls.
The balls will be still wet so at this stage can be molded and rolled in your hand to form a spherical smooth shape

Once the balls are dry take a long sharp needle and thread some embroidery floss through each ball. You can tie a knot at either side of the ball if required. I perferred not to knot as it gives a more random effect.

My garlands are going to be used for Christmas decs, but are the sort that can be left up long after Christmas has been and gone.
Bye for now, Ali.

12 October 2015

christmas curls

I have seen crocheted spirals on Rav embellishing many projects, but shied away as I thought they would be too complicated to make. Another thing puts me off crochet patterns is a lot of patterns use US crochet terms which I find confusing. I eventually took the plunge with these crochet spirals and could not believe how easy they are. I've written the instructions below using UK/Aus crochet terms. This is not my original pattern, I watched a few tutorials on you tube and combined them, translating them and added a few extra bits myself, I mostly used the video tutorial  by Shopetsy, click here.
Any weight of yarn can be used, just use a corresponding size crochet hook.
I used dk yarn and a 4.00mm hook

Christmas Twirly Curly Tree Decoration


ch : chain
dc : double crochet
rpt : repeat

Make a slip knot, leaving a long yarn tail approx 12ins/30cms (this will be the hanging loop at the top of the spiral)
chain 20 approximately
the finished spiral will be half the length of the original chain

Working back along the line of chain. Miss one chain stitch, then slip stitch into next ch.

4 dc into next ch.

Rpt 4 dc into each ch.

As crocheting continues work naturally spirals but may need encouraging to curl in the right direction

Break yarn (when spiral is in place use this yarn end to secure the top, by sewing a few stitches into the lower level of the spiral)
Change to a contrasting yarn, starting at the bottom end of the spiral, work one slip stitch then dc into each previous dc

Break yarn and fasten off.

Return to the yarn end which made the slip knot, thread onto a needle. Double over the yarn and make a loop securing with a few stitches at the top of the spiral.

Other Ideas
Use sparkly yarn to make the project more Christmassey. Or Crochet using a metallic thread together with yarn.
Use variegated yarn for an interesting effect.

For a chunkier spiral treble instead of dc, (3 chain and 3 treble into first chain, then 4 treble into remainder of chains)

Other Projects
The spirals could be used in so many different projects. To decorate hats and scarves. Attach them to pony tail elastic bands. Ringlets for dolls hair or Santa's beard. Decorating parcels, much nicer than curling ribbon. I would be interested to know if anyone has any other ideas how they could be used.

Till next time

30 August 2015

holiday knitting

I am just back from a short break in London. I'm not a great reader so wanted to bring some knitting for any spare time I had when I was away. I was only taking hand luggage so wondered how I could get knitting needles past airport security. My usual Knitpro Karbonz had to be left behind and instead I took a set of bamboo dpns. I knew I couldn't take scissors either, so I purchased a Clover yarn cutter - makes an attractive pendant too.

 I wanted a nice easy knit so decided on some preemie hats for the local charity Tiny Life. I contacted them a while ago and they kindly sent me some patterns.
All went well going through security and the needles went unnoticed, no problem. On arriving at the hotel, I "bagged" the lounger as my knitting chair, lovely and relaxing and the light was nice and bright.

I got quite a few hats knit, being so small they knit up very quickly. Here's a few of them in a variety of sizes....

As well as the hats I practised a bit of cabling, something I haven't done before and wanted to have a go before starting my next project.

  Till next time, Ali.

12 August 2015

a bit of sewing

This is my sons last year at secondary school and hopefully he will be going to uni next year. To mark this milestone I decided to make him something. I did a bit of up cycling using his old blazer, old tie and PE kits, which I've kept over the years. Had to blow the dust off the sewing machine it's been so long since I've given it a whirl. I pieced together bits of the uniform and ended up with a cushion I even inserted a zip on the reverse side. Here it is.......

A wee memento of his seven years spent at Inst, Im not sure if he will appreciate my efforts but I had great fun sewing it, must do more sewing.
Good luck to anyone who is waiting for their exam results tomorrow, or later in the month.
Till next time, Ali.

4 August 2015

fingerless mitts

Its summer here.....well supposed to be anyway. Awful though it is, still not the weather for wearing woolly mitts but this hasn't stopped me knitting up two pairs. For the first pair I used my all time favourite pattern - Susie Roger's Reading Mitts. My old grey ones were looking very sorry for themselves so these are a replacement. The pattern is a freebie and available on Ravelry, click here.

A girl cant have to many accessories, so I wanted to knit a pink pair as well. I decided to look for another pattern and found one by Louisa Harding. This one, Victoria Mittens is available in her book - "Knitting Little Luxuries".

The pattern is written for two needles which is a shame as mitts tend to lend themselves to be knitted seamless. I tweaked her pattern and used my trusty dpns. What I loved about it was her use of picot cast on and off.... I thought it gave a pretty effect.

I used the loveliest of yarn for these two projects, Findley dk by Juniper Moon Farm, found in the Textile Studio, Ballyhackamore, Belfast, so soft and with a lovely sheen and a delight to knit up.
And after trying both patterns, the Susie Roger one is still my favourite.
Enjoy the rest of your week, Ali.

12 July 2015

tiny ted

Sorry haven't blogged for a while now.....have been busy with mundane things around the house. All very boring! I cant believe how quickly the summer is flying by. I have however been busy on the laptop today as the knitting pattern I have been working on has just been completed ........a tiny Teddy bear who comes  with a heart. 

The heart is optional, but with it he would make a great Valentines or anniversary gift. He stands about five inches tall and has jointed limbs. Ted is mostly knitted in the round with small pieces knitted flat. The heart is also knitted flat. He is now for sale on my Ravelry store and my etsy shop.
Hoping to catch up with all the blogs I follow today. 

till next time, Ali.

8 June 2015

two down

Since my last post I have managed to finish two of the four projects I was working on. The first was another crocheted shawl for my friend Faye...hopefully it will be with you soon. The second was something I saw on facebook, a call for knitters to make sensory bands for patients in the later stages of dementia. The scheme was launched at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and the Integrated Dementia Services Project Manager explains, “The sensory band was designed to help people find comfort in tactile stimulation which they may be missing, especially when they are away from home. The bands can be reassuring and help people to feel more relaxed and safe". For more information about the scheme and for a pattern click here.
Basically the band is just a knitted tube, which I did on dpns, using two strands of dk yarn.

I tried to use colour and texture for stimulation and had great fun with different yarns, stitches and add-ons such as buttons, ribbons, beads and icord, which were sewn on both the outside of the band and the inside.
A great and easy project to knit and hopefully it will bring comfort to a dementia patient.

Till next time, Ali.

1 June 2015


I seem to have a lot on the go at the moment, but don't seem to be achieving much. I'm working on a sewing project, a crochet project and a knitting project, all at once. I'm also in the process of writing up a new pattern. I do wish I could be more organised and write neat methodical notes. However I seem to generate chaotic notes combined with squiggles. Hopefully it will all come together in the end.

My son is also working towards his A Levels at the moment, hes a bit of a messy worker as well.....I do wonder where he gets it from! The paper mountain is growing daily. I'm waiting till he finishes before it all goes in the recycle bin,

Good luck to anyone, sitting exams at the moment.
Till next time, Ali.

17 May 2015

crochet butterfly

In my last post I showed photos of my half granny shawl, which I made for the SIBOL challenge. Each shawl or blanket sent to the Homes is decorated with a butterfly, so I wanted to include some with my finished shawl. I had a look on the Internet and found one I liked, on You Tube ....a tutorial by Yolanda Soto Lopez, click here
I had to watch it over and over again and I wrote down the pattern as I find it easier to follow written instructions. The video uses US crochet terms but I have translated it into UK terminology.

Crochet Butterfly 
based on a video tutorial by Yolanda Soto Lopez click here 
uses UK crochet terminology

rd: round
rpt: repeat
st(s): stitch(es)
sl: slip
ch: chain
dc: double crochet
tr: treble

dk/8ply yarn - two contrasting colours
4.00mm hook 

Make a magic circle with yarn and sl st into circle. 

Rd 1: 3ch, (1tr, 1ch) rpt 14 times. 
(3ch, 15tr  1ch in between) 
To join the rd, sl st into 2nd ch of the third ch in rd 1.
Pull magic loop tight with the yarn end.

Rd 2: (3ch, 1dc into space between trebles in rd 1,
          7ch, 1dc into space between trebles in rd 1).
Rpt all the way round ending with a 7ch.
To join the rd, sl st into 1st ch of the 3ch in rd 2.
(eight 3ch loops and eight 7ch loops)

Rd 3: sl st into three ch loop in rd 2 ,
Inside seven ch loop, sl st, 5tr, 3ch, sl st into fourth ch from end (forms point on wing), 5tr.

Rpt all the way round.
Sl st to join the rd, (8 points).

Fasten off.         
Darn yarn ends away and fold in half to form butterfly shape.

Using a contrasting yarn, ch 8.
Wrap round middle of wings, sl st into first chain.

Pull loop through and cut yarn.
Using the loop and two ends tie knot twice to form head.
Trim two ends to form antennae and loose the other two ends.

If you want to have a go at one of the butterflies, it might be useful to use both the written instruction and the video.

 Have a great week, Ali.

9 May 2015

granny shawl

Just for a wee bit of a change I thought I would do some crocheting. While having a look around the Internet one night, I discovered the SIBOL Challenge which involves making blankets for the elderly in Nursing and Care homes. For more info about the Challenge, click here. I'm not fond of very large projects as I become easily bored, so was glad to see that they were looking for shawls as well as blankets. I used the Original Half Granny Square Shawl pattern, by Ambar Enid Alcal, which is available free, click here. As I can crochet Granny squares, just about, I thought this would be an ideal pattern for me. Just finished the double cochet border today and darned away all the yarn ends, and here is my attempt......

I like the thought of my shawl bringing some comfort and warmth to an elderly lady and I hope to make a few more in the future.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, Ali.

25 April 2015

knitted flower like crochet

I have written up a design for a flower which can be used as an embellishment on just about anything and I think it looks very much like it's been crocheted. The flower is very simple to make and is knitted flat on two needles.The only knitting skills required are cable cast on, knit stitch and cast off. Any type of yarn can be used along with the appropriate size of needles. The needle sizes given in the pattern below are only an approximate guide.


st(s): stitch(es)
k: knit  

two needles size 3.00mm/US 2½ for 4ply/fingering yarn
two needles size 3.50mm/US 4    for dk/8ply
tapestry needle
button or bead

Cast on 81 sts (using cable cast on method).

ROW 1: k1, leave this st on needle, do not use this st for the next cast off.

cast off 15 sts, leave last st on needle, do not use this st for the next cast off,
(2 sts on right needle 64 sts on left needle),

cast off 15 sts, leave last st on needle, do not use this st for the next cast off,
(3 sts on right needle 48 sts on left needle),

cast off 15 sts, leave last st on needle, do not use this st for the next cast off, 
(4 sts on right needle 32 sts on left needle),

cast off 15 sts, leave last st on needle, do not use this st for the next cast off, 
(5 sts on right needle 16 sts on left needle),                

cast off 15 sts, leave last st on needle (6 sts on right needle).

ROW 2: k six sts - pull yarn very tightly between working sts.
pull wool through 
(break yarn, leaving a long yarn tail. Then thread yarn unto needle and then through the six stitches on knitting needle. Pull tight and secure with a few stitches).

Join first and last petal with a few stitches.

Pull petals open to make a flower shape, a cool dry iron can be used to make the petals a better shape. Pull one petal at a time and press gently with the tip of the iron.

You may need to pull the petals into the centre with a few stitches to obtain a better flower shape.
Attach button or bead to centre.

Bye, Ali.