Sunday, 31 December 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year already?  And just where did that year go?! In some ways it feels like it should only be February... and I completely forgot to wish everyone Merry Christmas. I did it on Instagram but not here... sorry...

If I had remembered to pop in here, I could have told you about the gift swap I was going to do with a lady I met on Instagram, the lovely @florahoneypot. She asked if anyone would be interested in doing a swap with her and so many people said yes, she picked 10 of us!! We told each other a bit about ourselves and swapped addresses. This is what I sent her - a project bag I made and a few other bits and bobs, some hand made and others purchased. She was very happy with her gifts when she opened them on Christmas Day.

Tina's Allsorts

And this is what she gave me - 

 Tina's Allsorts

A beautiful pair of soft grey wrist warmers which I plan to wear in the office as they won't stop me using the keyboard. A skein of hand dyed yarn, a sweet little tin (I love tins and boxes and I've already filled it!), a reel of ribbon, a tape measure, chocolates and a colouring book. Such generosity from someone who's never even met me!! She certainly helped bring a little magic back into Christmas this year!

She must have been very busy making things to put in her gift swap with 10 people...

I've made quite a few things myself this year when I think about it. There was the Tooty Fruity Blanket I gave my niece for her first baby.

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Fruity Blanket

Then I used the remaining yarn to design my own stripey blanket which I called "The Tooty Stripey Blanket". It now seems a silly name but it made sense at the time!

I wanted to use lots of different stitches and textures and for it to be completely reversible. It took a surprising amount of time to write up the chart ready to release on Ravelry. But I got there eventually and was very happy with it. I quickly followed it with a rainbow coloured version to test the pattern and correct any errors.

I knew it would work as a full sized blanket as well as a baby size, and quickly started it in the colours Lucy of Attic24 was using for her latest project. She was making her Harmony Blanket again but in her original set of colours - so in her honour, I called my full size blanket my Tooty Harmony!!
It became my favourite make of the year and it is very warm and snuggly - although it never did reach "full size" as I ran out of yarn and decided to leave it as it was. It covers me from toes to chest and is perfect for chilly winter evenings.

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Harmony Blanket

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Harmony Blanket

Tina's Allsorts, Tooty Harmony Blanket

I've just had a quick look at Ravelry and my pattern has been downloaded 1886 times as of today! There are a very small number of comments and projects using it though but I suppose that's what happens when you give something away for free. Everyone takes a copy but then doesn't use it. Had I charged a small amount maybe it would only have been downloaded by people who would actually use it. But that's fine. I like a free pattern myself and will often adapt them to suit my needs. 

I was Very Pleased to see a lady on IG was using my pattern and she made a lovely little baby blanket herself. She said how much she enjoyed using my pattern and that it was well written and thankou for all the extra hints and tips on my blog page (see the button at the top of the screen). If you're on IG, her username is RAFsweetheart. She has promised to email a photo to share with you, so I'll come back and add it as soon as it arrives.
Edit - here it is!!!

RAF Sweetheart, Tooty Stripey Blanket

She made a fabulous job of it! I still can't quite believe that I designed it - or that I managed to write up a chart for 80+ pattern rows that anyone managed to follow!!

I went on to make two more baby blankets as gifts using some of the leftover little bits from my Tooty Harmony Blanket - I called them Harmony Baby Blankets. The colours I used are the same - but one is then joined with cream yarn and the other with colours. They have different borders but apart from that, the pattern is the same. It just goes to show what a difference colour can make to a project!!

Tina's Allsorts, Harmony Baby Blanket

Tina's Allsorts, Harmony Baby Blanket

One exciting thing that happened this year was that we started to sell wool in the craft shop - that meant we could set up a knit and natter group! Or as I like to call it "Knit & Knatter, Crochet & Chatter"! It's a lovely little group of ladies, some of whom knit and others crochet - and some are very new to each. And they all knatter!!! It's the best two hours of the week!!

We have some nice baby wool in the shop and I bought a set which I used to make this baby blanket, using a free pattern I'd seen on Instagram (and yes, I made sure to say thankyou and give credit when I shared pics!). The pattern is called "Lost in Time" and was well named as you really could lose track of time while working on it. I put it in my Folksy shop and it sold to a lady in Scotland who bought it for her grand daughter.

Tina's Allsorts, Lost in Time

I had a message from her a few weeks later thanking me again for the blanket and saying it was so lovely, people kept admiring it more than her grand daughter!!! That made my day!

This little cardigan is a sample I made for the shop - it was also the first time I think I took a lot of time and effort photographing something  for Instagram. I'd read a tutorial somewhere on how to take better product shots and this was my dry run! Since then, I've always tried to take good shots against a neutral background - and try and make sure my name is on it somewhere too!

Tina's Allsorts

During the first half of the year, I took a holiday in the north east to visit a friend and she took me to Whitley Bay and the most amazing shop I've ever seen - Ring-a-Rosie Yarn. It was during this visit that I discovered and fell in love with hand dyed yarn. The owner Barbara is an indie dyer and this is just a taste of what she'd done -

Tina's Allsorts

I keep buying it and the colours are so lush - but I must stop buying 4 ply! I hate using 4 ply as it takes so long to make anything but very few of the indie dyers ever use anything thicker, although luckily Barbara did.

During the summer, I entered a tea cosie design competition in a magazine and won the runner-up prize!! This is what I made on a theme of the Blooming Great Tea Party for Marie Curie -

Tina's Allsorts, Blooming Great Tea Cosie

She's available for sale in my Etsy shop (link in sidebar) with all proceeds being donated to Marie Curie.

My prize was an awful lot of Sirdar Cotton Yarn which I've used before and is a dream to work with. I made myself a project bag to keep big projects in and put a pic on instagram. Well, I had a comment from someone asking if she could order one!! Well, yes, I said, that would be fine!! We agreed a price and I set to working on it. I modified the lining for her as she planned on using it as a shoulder bag rather than a project bag and then I posted it off to the US and waited for it to arrive. And waited. And waited... A full 2 weeks later, it did indeed arrive and she was very happy with it - phew!!

Tina's Allsorts

I did enjoy making it and there's now a beach bag design swimming round in my head!!

If you're a regular visitor, you will know I've been knitting a tunic dress for the great niece who received the Tooty Fruity Blanket. I decided to be clever and make it in the round but it took soooooo long!! It was also coming out quite small... Luckily it does fit her but won't last long!

It was at this point it dawned on me that after spending most of my life knitting, I do not work my purl rows rather loosely - I work my knit rows rather tightly!! Who knew?? It's taken me 40 years to learn that fact!!!! It would explain why I detest working garter stitch which is knit stitch on every row. I always found it a very tight stitch to work and avoided it like the plague - now I know why.

I've had a little look to see what were the 3 most popular posts on my blog this year and they were -

Emma stripey blanket
Lost in time ta dah 
Ringarosie Yarns

I'm not surprised the post about Emma's blanket was so popular (I made it nearly 5 years ago and it's had almost 20k views on Ravelry!) but the other two did surprise me. I think the second one must have been mentioned on facebook somewhere as I suddenly had a lot of traffic from there after it had sold. And Ringarosie Yarns?? Well, such a wonderful shop deserves to come in the top three!!

I had a look at my top posts on Instagram too - I found a handy app that produced this for me -

Tina's Allsorts, "bestnine2017

All my favourite blankets, plus my Bargello Alliums - I really must get on and finish that!!
I was scrolling through earlier today looking at everyone elses best nine of 2017 and saw this -

At first I thought, hold on, that's MY BLANKET top right!! What's it doing there?? Then I read what Ali had put underneath and saw that she had tagged 9 people and her favourite pic from their page. IG have changed their algorithms recently, so if you have less than 2000 followers your pictures come up on fewer peoples feeds. So she thought she'd show her faves! How lovely!! Thank you so much Ali!!

I'd like to share two more things before I wish you Happy New Year - firstly, another little video. This time of our cat Fluffy having a whale of a time with the wrapping paper on Christmas Day!! Turn your sound up!

And secondly, a New Years Resolution. To use garter stitch!!!! 

Now that I know it was just my tight tension that was the problem, I'm going to give it a try.  Here are some pics of a sample piece I'm working on - this is using a scrap of hand dyed that I bought from Barbara of Ringarosie. It's a variation on the Hitchhiker scarf which is plain garter stitch (a pattern which Barbara told me about). I thought it would look good with some purl rows thrown in and some eyelets. 
The hand dyed yarn I'm going to use has been wound and I just need to check the tension with it before casting on. Watch this space!!!

Tina's Allsorts

Tina's Allsorts

Tina's Allsorts

Tina's Allsorts

And THANK YOU for stopping by!!
Tina xXx

PS Apologies if this post is a little disjointed - it took a long time to write as I kept popping back in and out!! I've got some things in the wrong order and have probably missed other things which should have had pride of place... and there aren't enough links!!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Christmas Carols

The Christmas tree lights in the Cathedral had their official turn on recently. The staff gather under the tree and the choristers sing a carol by candlelight.
This is a 2 minute video but the voices are so clear and magical I just had to share it with you. (Please excuse the people talking right at the start!) It's out of focus a lot I know but that doesn't affect the sound!

I took a photo afterwards,  trying to get in the whole tree. It wasn't til I looked at it later that I saw Father Christmas was there!!! He must have tiptoed in very quietly - but I think he's had some practise at that!!

On the crafting front I've nearly finished the knitted tunic for my great niece - just the sleeves to go. I'm not sure it's going to fit her mind...

And the 2 pairs of mittens have now had some shirring elastic added around the cuffs, so they have a better fit. I plan on getting plenty of wear out of them this winter. 

I bought a ball of the new variegated yarn cakes from James Brett this week and have started knitting a cowl. It's shaped so that as it gets longer you work decreases to give a better shape. This yarn is incredibly soft and should make a really cuddly cowl.
Isn't it a gorgeous colour?  It's shade number NL5. 

Well that's all I've got time for today.  Guess it must be a busy time of year...

See you again soon - and take care if you've had snow!   T  xx

Friday, 1 December 2017

More mittens!

So, following on from my pink mittens I made a red pair for my sister. I made them two stitches narrower across the palm than mine, and yet strangely, I still ran out of wool for both of them and had to buy another ball just to do the decrease and cast off row on each thumb. I'm not quite sure where I went wrong - although the red yarn wasn't quite as soft as the pink, even though it was the same brand so maybe that had something to do with it.  I made a little video so you can see the finger hole in action!

I dropped them off today and she just phoned - to say they're too big!!! They were just right on me... Lucky I was going to make myself another pair anyway! I'll have to measure her hands rather than assume they're the same as mine and make a third pair! Ah well, third time lucky maybe?!

That's all for today,  back again soon.  T xx

Wednesday, 22 November 2017


Do you like mittens? They're one of those things that I like but at the same time they're a bit annoying because you don't have your fingers free. But on a day when you're walking, not shopping etc, I do rather like them. Especially on a really cold crisp day - there's  just something about them that says your fingers will be warmer than with gloves.
So yes, I like mittens - but I've never made my own before. I've yearned for a pair of hand knitted mittens for literally years. I'm perfectly capable of making them - I simply haven't.

But now I have!!! I found the most AWESOME baby alpaca from King Cole yarns for just £6 for 50g and I couldn't resist buying it.
I deliberated long and hard on what I could make with just one ball and decided to try the cowl that had been in last months Crochet Now magazine. It had a fabulous texture that reminded me of knitted double moss stitch that I really wanted to try on a cowl. Well, you know me - I had to adapt the pattern somewhat and when I got to the end of the ball of yarn I decided I just didn't like it as a cowl. Too soft, too floppy and the pattern made it want to curl over at the edge. So I had a rethink and decided to attempt the mittens I had always wanted.
I opted to combine a knitted cuff with a crocheted hand - and as ever, I made it up as I went along.... frogging the cowl as I went!

It took me a few goes to get a reasonable shape to the fingertip section but I did it - I even jotted down some very scrappy notes on the back of a ball band to remind me what to do on mitten number two!
I bought a second ball and made number two in one evening! I decided to leave a finger hole for my right index finger, so I can use my phone or camera without taking my mitten off. It looks a bit odd - almost like you've made a hole in your mitten, or like a buttonhole I suppose but it should do the job nicely.
(If you look closely you will see the tip of the thumb on the mitten with finger hole is a slightly different shade of pink. Yes, I lost at yarn chicken and had to cast off with a different length of yarn!)

I put a picture on Facebook when they were finished and one of my sisters immediately commented, saying could she buy a pair please! So I bought 2 more balls in a lovely dark red to make another pair.
I'll make them very slightly narrower though - firstly, so I don't run out of yarn again!  And secondly, because I think mine are going to need a little bit of shirring elastic around the cuff before too long. And I might even have a try at writing down the pattern properly. But don't hold your breath on that one!!

Want to see???

Tina's Allsorts, crochet mittens

Tina's Allsorts, crochet mittens

Tina'sAlllsorts, crochet mittens

Enjoy the rest of your week! T xx

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Shades of gold

The sky was the most perfect blue today but the wind! Boy, was the wind cold - blowing straight from the North Pole!! Brrrr!!!!

Driving home from the supermarket run I noticed the beech tree at the top of the hill was looking just STUNNING! We have a lot of beech trees in the neighbourhood - indeed, one of the school's I went to is called Beechwood School. We always have lots of local colour to enjoy at this time of year but with the wind doing its best to blow all the leaves off the trees,  I knew I had to go and snap a photo or two today - I won't see them in sunlight again until next Saturday and that may be too late.

So straight after lunch I walked back up the hill with my camera to try and capture the best of the colour.

I love to see the lush, vibrant green along with the shades of gold and copper. 
I carried on round the corner towards the infant school I went to Many years ago! I often played in the woods just outside the school as a child - you could then - and saw these trees.

They used to have bushes around them and we had a cosy den inside!  But the bushes are gone now and the trees are much bigger! 

Seeing these colours today makes me think about making a blanket in autumn colours. I've been pondering about it for a while and it turns out so has Lucy of Attic24 (I'm her greatest fan!). She's about to "release" an autumn colour yarn pack, which I think I might be ordering!!! But what pattern shall I do? There are so many I want to try! Maybe I'll do two at once again??

I hope you managed to enjoy some sunshine today,  wherever you are in the world. Till next time,  T  xXx

Monday, 6 November 2017

Blankety decisions

Remember my big beautiful Harmony Blanket? Well, I haven't done any work on it for ages, as I ran out of yarn and didn't want to join lots of scraps on each row. She is definitely big enough to use as a sofa blanket - and has been used for exactly that purpose even while I was hooking each row! - but she won't quite cut it as a bed blanket as she'd only just cover the width of a single bed.

I keep wondering whether to stop now and just use her as she is on the sofa, or to keep going but that would mean buying a lot more yarn - and a lot more time. And then I saw someone on Instagram who has started making her own stripey blanket using my Tooty Stripey Blanket pattern.
The colours she chose are beautiful rich autumn tones and it looks amazing and that made me think well, actually I'd quite like to start something new - so decision made, yesterday she went in the wash and then the tumble dryer!!

I will work a couple more rows to finish the pattern section I'd reached and I'll probably try and do some kind of edging along the short sides - just to finish it off,  you know. But apart from that she's big, she's beautiful, she's SOOO soft, and she's warm and snuggly.

If I'd thought of it,  I would have taken a load of close ups yesterday. But I didn't... so here's just one to be going on with.

Tina's Allsorts Tooty harmony blanket

The little dress/tunic that I'm making for my great niece is coming along rather more slowly than I would have liked. I think perhaps because I'm working in the round my knit rows have quite a tight tension, so it's coming out bit shorter than the tension on the pattern suggests - maybe I should have used a slightly bigger needle?
But it is lovely. The wool is beautiful, the colour is lovely, the pattern is lovely, I even like the little cable. So at the moment I'm still knitting. At this rate she might get it for Christmas!

Tina's Allsorts

That's all for today, see you again soon! T xx

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Zip top project bags

I keep seeing people using zip top project bags for their crochet WIP's on Instagram and felt the urge to join in and make my own. I bought this fabric several months ago with the intention of making a friend a "knitting bag" - you know the type that has a wooden frame, not just a bag?? Well, I hunted the internet for ages and just couldn't find anyone who sold just the frame and it seemed such a waste to buy a completed version and pull it apart just to use my own fabric - so that fabric never got used. Until now!

I still had the template from the zipped pouches I made a couple of years ago, so I just enlarged it a bit, then went through my stash to find a contrast fabric for the lower part and the lining. And would you believe, I also have a stash of zips...

Here's the first one I made, with a cowl I was working on at the time spilling out the top. (The yarn is lovely to work with and the stitch is crochet moss stitch. The cowl is finished but needs the ends stitching in...)

Tina's Allsorts,  Project bag

And here's a little photo shoot of the second one I made. I was going to keep the first one for me - it has lime green as the contrast and pink gingham for the lining. But once the second one started coming together with shades of greyish blue fabric, I think I might have changed my mind!!

I went back and looked at the tutorials I've bookmarked in the past for a quick refresher and how everything goes together, then I got busy getting everything cut to size and backed with iron on interfacing, so I could just crack on and sew.

If you'd like to make your own, then these are the best tutorials I found -




The first is the one I found most helpful,  especially with fitting the zip. The second shows how to make your own pattern,  and finally,  the third details how to make a pouch without a seam across the bottom.

Getting everything cut to size

Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Adding a pin or two with the help of my pin dalek!
Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

A little detail for the inside
Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Tabs on the ends of the zip

Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Zip installed!
Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Add an internal pocket - it's wide enough to lay a crochet hook in it and has a "fake" button to reduce the width of the opening

Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Ok. Not a good photo!  It's supposed to show the side seams where they meet the zip

Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Here's the corners stitched to make the flat base

Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Forgot to leave an opening to turn it right side out, so had to unpick a few stitches!

Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Turning through!
Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Nearly there
Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag


Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

Tina's Allsorts, Project Bag

I do like that blue. ... maybe I'll keep this one and list the green trimmed bag on Folksy? Or list both and see what sells first? ?

I'll take some better photos in the morning and get them listed.

I've been doing a spot of knitting this week too.

This is for my great niece - the recipient of the Tooty Fruity Blanket. I thought it might work up quicker if I made it in the round but boy, is it Slow Going! That waffle patten takes an absolute AGE! Almost wish I hadn't offered to make it...

I've started playing around with ideas for another baby blanket too. I thought a coloured centre ringed with cream, then join on round 3 with colour. But do I join with squares, or hexagons for a change??

I'll have to make some more samples, although I'm leaning towards hexagons - not made them for years.

And remember the crocheted project bag I showed you last time? Well, I have another on the go now as someone who saw it on instagram asked if I could make one for them! Woo Hoo!

Oh, and one of the harmony baby blankets has been delivered to a little cutie who arrived 5 weeks early. The grandparents  (my cousin) chose the one with all the colours.

See you again soon!  T  xXx