A knitted dog blanket, and a sort-of pattern

Please don’t judge me on the colour scheme. My yarn choices were very limited!

Don’t get excited anyone, this is not a proper professional pattern post. More of a ‘this is how I made it work for me’ kind of thing.

A little while ago I posted about making dog blankets for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Well, I started the blanket pattern that could be downloaded from their site, but I was having some issues. My ‘squares’ were anything but square and the different paw patterns were yielding different sized rectangles. Obviously I assumed it was my fault, that my tension was off, or varying wildly. Also perhaps the cheap acrylic (Battersea state they want acrylic) was not helping. It felt like the thickness varied a bit. But, seeing as I was going to have to sew the 25 knitted squares together, quite large discrepancies in size was going to be tricky.

Then the amount of sewing involved was putting me off a bit. I wanted a kind of ‘zone out’ project, where I could just knit and get back into the rhythm of needles and knots again. Without wishing to seem uncaring towards the eventual owners, I would rather be able to make three ‘no brainer’ blankets than one thing of beauty. Bearing in mind the thing of beauty might only last a week or two, it might be chewed, or thrown up on…well it seems to me that less finagling and more bulk would be a better option.

After speaking to my mum, who had already made the paws blanket, I found out she had exactly the same issues and, coming to the same conclusion, had made a simpler striped one as her second.

I decided to make a striped one too. And I wanted a border around it, to stop that curling up thing that happens otherwise. Please remember here that my knitting knowledge was never vast, and it is old and neglected. But, in a rare moment of knitting optimism, I decided to work it out for myself.

So, here we have the blanket that I actually wanted to make, if you ignore the colours that were dictated by the minimal array of shades in the shop.

Not many close-ups as my edges were a bit dodgy at first!

Now, I can’t write it up as a proper pattern, but should you want to make such a thing yourself, this is what I did, and what I used.

5mm needles

Baby yarn (thinner than DK, that is all I can tell you): two 50g balls of white, and three 50g balls of other colours. You will have plenty left over and don’t need two full balls of white, but my method of knitting made it easier. If you don’t know how to work different coloured yarn in, it is probably best if you go find out from a professional. YouTube will do the trick. Basically I just wrap the two colours of yarn around each other either side of the changeover stitch.

Cast on 100 stitches*

K rows 1-10 in white

Row 11; K8 in white. Work in colour choice as described unhelpfully vaguely above. K to last 8 stitches, change to white and K last 8

Row 12: K8 in white. Work in colour choice and purl to last 8 stitches, Take a second ball of white yarn, work in as per intarsia method and K8 in white.

Continue rows 11 and 12 until work is desired length, ending on a purl row of colour.

K 10 rows in white and cast off.

Weave in all ends.

That is pretty much it. I just changed the colours and stripes as I fancied – basically trying to make it a bit less like an object that can be seen from space. They will have no problem finding this blanket’s pooch in a power cut!

*As for the number of stitches, I was being guided by the paws blanket which knitted up to 50x50cm sq. I figured this must be a minimum size requirement for Battersea so just aimed for something a bit bigger. The finished blanket is 62x55cm so I could have used less stitches.

I will still finish the knitted squares blanket, as it is a nice diversion and the paw pattern does look really cute. I am in no way criticising it, this is just an honest opinion. I think it is brilliant that the designer allowed their pattern to be used in this way. I thought the intention was to give knitters an interesting project achievable for all skill levels, and it definitely is.

I have now come across a few more proper patterns so am going to use up the rest of the yarn. Maybe I should include some sunglasses when I post them off?

Finally, a gratuitous picture of my lovely Photographer’s Assistant, having a quick bit of shut-eye in the props after a hard afternoon napping…

riley in blanket

 

 

I have a knitted FO!!

Had to type that title carefully…

Some of you may remember that last year, mostly from reading other blogs and drooling over the beautiful creations, I finally decided to pick up my knitting needles again. Well actually I had to buy a set, because I had given all of mine away in a random act of tidying up, but you know what I mean.

So far, I have started four projects, and finished one. Doesn’t sound too promising, does it? But, actually it is fine. Two of the unfinished ones (scarves) are almost completed, just a row or two to go and then working in the ends. I wish I had done that as I went along, but I just forgot.

The fourth project is one I have only just started – a blanket for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. I found out about the project from Kick Arse Crochet (what a great name!) a little while ago. Thanks to her mentioning it on her blog there will be a few blankets heading their way as my mother has already made two, a friend’s mother is mid-knit and I have bought enough cheap (they specify it needs to be acrylic) yarn to make maybe three. Battersea is a very worthwhile cause, although it would obviously be good if there was no need for it to exist because every animal had a loving home. I like to think that a dog will look so adorable on their nice new blanket that it might help get them a new family. Even if they just chew it to shreds, I don’t mind really! There is a downloadable pattern for the blanket and cat toys, plus a list of other items they can use here. Again, thanks to Beth at Kick Arse Crochet for her original posting of this.

Anyway, the finished object is not for me, but a gift for my mum, which is why I have actually completed it. Only a scarf, and a simple free pattern which I found on Ravelry, but I enjoyed making it. Good job too because I had to start it three times. Due to still not having mastered the art of tinking (I really need to watch those YouTube clips again), every time I made a mistake, I was stuffed. I think it is the ’yarn forward’ that throws me. I kept ending up with significantly less stitches than I should have. So I just gave up, unravelled it and started again! Third time lucky. Also I got a much neater (or less hole-y) cast on edge the third time – I remembered about doing it with your thumb instead of a knitting needle. I couldn’t actually remember how, though…After many fumbled attempts I got it. I guess knitting is nothing like riding a bicycle. I have since found out when I mentioned the ‘thumb method’ to my mother and sister that we each do it differently!

And, although I had ditched my needles, for some reason I kept a bag of this yarn. Probably because it is Rowan, wool and cotton mix, and cost a bit at the time. But now, I have a nice lightweight scarf, pretty much for free! And also another project in the queue as my sister would like one too…

 

 

 

Broken bones, real and imagined. And a ninja cat.

If anyone has noticed a lack of posts and comments from me for a while, the reason is that I have been away from home and a bit busy. My poor mum has broken a limb, again. An ankle. Last time she was in plaster (one arm, one leg) it was about 18 months ago, and because some total idiot (IMO) hit her from behind as she was walking in a supermarket car park. It was life changing. The mere thought of broken bones kind of freaks me out. Apparently I told my sister she was one up from a zombie when she had a leg in plaster, although I honestly cannot remember saying it. Years ago when my partner was found to have been walking around on a broken leg for three days I threw up as they showed us the x-ray. Breaking bones easily, as happened this time, without any impact, trauma or fall is truly scary. All I can say is keep up your calcium intake and hope it doesn’t happen to you. Cheese sandwich, anyone?

But a broken bone needs help and company, so Riley (the cat) and I headed south. Like birds. Or the cavalry. Not that the Cavalry went south, particularly, just wherever the action was. Of course my sister and her partner are doing a grand job of looking after mum, but extra hands are always welcome.

Anyhow, once the exciting train trip with a cat was done, Riley and I took up residence in my mum’s living room, the room Riley had only briefly entered at Christmas before his tiny little melt down.

Hopes were high that this trip might ‘build on’ the last. Or at least that is what they say in those self-help manuals. In reality it just means pray for less of a disaster. Prayer was to be of no help here.

As soon as I brought Riley into the building, two of the three house cats (all girls) Poppy and Sandi came to inspect the sorry male specimen in his travel prison. The pheromones must have given him away. I think I registered distain, ennui and resignation on their furry faces. I let the cat out of the bag. Literally. I have a soft-sided cat carrier (like a sports bag) which I purchased with trepidation and is actually rather good. Riley shot under the sideboard. I say ‘shot’. It was fast, but not dignified as it required a fair bit of belly crawling and some shunting with the back paws. He stayed there for most of the evening, although a couple of times he scooted to the other side of the room and hid behind a chair. Nothing like a change of scene.

Eventually everybody went to bed, and with me being alone Riley emerged from the self-imposed exile. Sleep was had, and I was slept on, sporadically. Hopes were still buoyant.

The following morning I could not initially see Riley, but given his previous behaviour, I was not worried, and figured him to be under a cupboard or behind a chair again. But then I couldn‘t see him anywhere. After a bit of calling (he always comes when I call him) I was slightly less confident. The room had an inside lock, which I had used, in case one of the house cats had summoned up the strength of Hercules and launched themselves at the door. Stupid, I know, but sometimes we do these things just in case! So I KNEW he had to be in the room somewhere. After about 30 minutes I was feeling twitchy. Nobody else was up, so I kept it to myself. Another 30 minutes passed, and I had searched under every cupboard, behind every chair, opened every drawer, and called him about a hundred times. Nothing. No squeak, mew or meow.

A tiny amount of panic now. Controlled panic. “It’ll be fine. He can’t have gone anywhere”. But then where IS he? I searched the rest of the house as best I could, trying to be quiet, not scream, as it had now been a couple of hours at least. Then the rest of the household got up, and got involved. Now it is worth saying here that we are all experienced cat owners, so that room was searched like a forensic science team employed on a results only commission basis. Sofa and chairs were upturned (in case he had worked his way into the base, somehow). Cupboard doors and chest-of-drawers were opened, repeatedly. Tiny spaces were invaded. “Riley” was called a bajillion times, by four different people. Nothing. Zip.

By now I was freaking out inside, but trying to stay calm and not scream at well-meant suggestions. It seemed we had some sort of Sherlock Holmes thing going on. A locked room, a missing cat. But we also had a really old building to take into account. Riley can get into pretty small spaces and, as he could not be found by four people searching a room, the only other option would seem that he had got out. But surely that was impossible. As the panic took a further grip I was envisioning some horrible incident with plaster and lath walls and a freaked out cat pushing a hole and ending up falling through into a wall cavity and down two storeys. Nuts, I know, but explanations were scarce. Or, had he somehow got out of the building completely and was running around the town, with no idea where he was?

I went to throw some clothes on, intending to look further afield. And then a shout from my sister. Riley had been found. He had, quite amazingly, hidden himself behind the bureau. Amazingly because it is almost the exact same width as the alcove it fits into, so no room to get around the side: he had to go over the top. Amazingly because the cat-savvy people who knew he was coming filled (almost) all the space behind the bureau with boxes and plastic crates. Amazingly because the whole top of the bureau was covered with several large photos in frames, a piece of framed needlework, a lamp and pc monitor, and a random organza ribbon bow, leaving barely an inch or two between each object. And not one thing had been disturbed. It had not seemed credible that a large cat would have been able to negotiate these obstacles cleanly and find the tiny space behind. Never underestimate the ninja….

Relief was huge. But now we had to get him out. He was behind about 50 inches of solid furniture which had been nudged into an alcove barely wider than the object itself. And Riley was making himself flatter, and flatter with every grasp or grab. My sister gamely tried perching on one leg, on a chair, whilst her beloved held her bum so she didn’t fall backwards. Or forwards, to join the cat. No luck, as we are simply too darn short. My BIL volunteered for round 2. Positions were reversed. Contact was made and Riley was dragged, unwillingly, from his hiding place, making like a rag doll. To stop him bolting straight back there I bundled him into the cat bag again and sat him on my knee, relieved, only for him to return the sentiment and relieve himself on me. A dousing of cat pee on my pyjamas. Nice. Thanks mate.

To think we (ok, I) had delusions of providing help and support, some quiet time and company for my mum who is not supposed to weight bear on her leg, and who within a few hours of our arrival was trying to upturn her sofa until we stopped her….

So, I have no card or paper craft to share today. But I have to do something with my hands, so made a trip to a local haberdashery store, bought a couple of balls of this yummy King Cole Riot yarn and have started knitting a scarf.

 

scarf2

 

scarf5

 

The slide show and tiled or mosaic picture options do not seem to be working for me today. Again. Grrrrr! I will just offer up this shot of a half-finished scarf looking a bit like a T-Rex.

Apologies for missing posts and comments. Hopefully now you know I have had my hands full!!

 

 

 

 

I have cast on! And then some….

Oh look, the ultimate accessory. A cat to match my scarf…

I posted a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to try knitting again. My mum and sister immediately leapt into action. Well, they leapt into their local haberdashery shop and bought me some yarn and a couple of project books. My sister has already placed an order for some beautiful, delicate long slipper sock thingies. Might take a while to get to that level!!

The yarn they chose is a super-chunky one – not right for the aforementioned socky things, so I am off the hook there for a now. After a bit of deliberation I decided to make something really simple and straightforward. I am pretty ring-rusty and didn’t want to fail dismally and lose interest or enthusiasm.

I found a (free) pattern at LoveKnitting for a rib scarf that was suitable for super-chunky yarn. I had already armed myself with a cheap set of needles from Amazon: I know there are much better quality ones available but I saw no point in spending lots of money given that I might only make one or two things. And actually I like these slippy metal needles – they are comfortingly familiar.

The scarf is going well. I have only spent a few hours and it is already nearly 3 feet long. The stitch is simple, so it doesn’t require too much brain power, and I think it suits the variegated yarn pretty well.

Looks like I have rediscovered another hobby!

 

 

 

The Knitty Gritty

I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing, but looking at other blogs has made me really want to take up knitting again. Not majorly, no great projects will EVER be produced, but just as something to do when watching a film maybe, or on a train journey. Why unsure if it is good or bad? Well good because I used to really enjoy knitting (and sewing too), and because I generally need to be doing ‘something’ and cannot always paper craft until I fall asleep, and because you get a useful end product, hopefully. Bad? Because I have a roomful of paper craft stuff which I need to use up…

Still, I counted and apparently there are way more reasons to knit than to not. Whoohoo! So, payday present to self this month was going to be a small little starter kit. I used to have needles of all sizes, cables, circular, bamboo, you name it; plus row counters, bobbins, pins, large needles, the works, but I gave them all away in 1990 something. That is how long it is since I have knitted.

Today I thought ‘well knitting is so popular again, there must be plenty of companies doing a cute little starter kit, needles included, at a reasonable price, just to see if I enjoy it or am deluding myself’. You’d think. After an hour of internet searching I had come across plenty of ‘kits’, but they don’t give you all the basic information. Some of the pictures were so bad you could barely see the item. Some didn’t include needles, and didn’t tell you what size you would need, so you couldn’t even buy them at the same time. I don’t want to have to wait for the parcel to be delivered only to then have to wait again to get an order for needles. Others stated they were knitting kits, but then mentioned crochet too, and my brain cannot cope with crochet. Another site I found was more helpful and told you everything extra you would need to complete a project, but for a cable cushion cover it didn’t mention that you would require a cable needle. Maybe knitting had changed and you don’t need one now? I don’t know. But I was unconvinced. It feels like the ‘tiramisu’ situation in ‘Sleepless in Seattle‘. It’s all moved on and I have some catching up to do.

Finally I came across one site that seemed to do exactly what I wanted. For well under £10 I could have yarn and a downloadable pattern for a small project; it gave you an idea of difficulty and specific skills required, and a list of the needle sizes and any extra items. Super. Trouble is, they ship from the US, so it takes a couple of weeks to get here. I am an impatient shopper and having made my mind up, I want it as quickly as possible. Also, really, UK, can we not just try to be a bit more customer friendly, a bit more helpful? Take a lesson here?

This is what I have to work with. I haven’t knitted for years but used to knit a lot – would probably call myself an ‘experienced beginner’. I can remember how to cast on and off, decrease, increase, knit, purl, cable etc. I was ok at simple lacy patterns but nothing too complicated. I was also fine with swapping colours. I do have to confess to still keeping one WIP for all this time – a sweater based on the Bayeux Tapestry!  Forgive me, it was the 1980s and picture knits were compulsory…I have 1/3 of it completed but gave away the remaining yarn. Genius.

My major problem is that I cannot ‘un-knit’ if I make a mistake. I used to have to get my mum to do this for me! So no complicated patterns. And no crochet elements.

I don’t want to go mad and blow loads of money. I thought about cushion covers as I love the look of them but I have far too many cushions as it is and knitted styles don‘t currently fit in with my home or that of anyone I would be likely to gift it to, should it turn out ok. So then I was looking at either a chunky scarf, those things that are like mittens but with the ends chopped off (wrist warmers, maybe?), or a simple cowl. I cannot remember if I can knit in the round or not, so I suspect I never tried – that might be enough of a challenge for now!

I will probably end up buying from the US company, but if anyone knows where I can get a similar kind of small restart project in the UK, or has any suggestions of items to consider please let me know! I am yearning for yarn…