Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I think I'll sign off now for Christmas. I have so much to pack into the next two days that this may be my last chance.

I just wanted to say a big thanks to those who follow me, read my ramblings and use my patterns. I'd like to also thanks the magazine companies for their commission work - I've enjoyed the challenges and it's made me proud to see my work in print.

This time last year I was still waiting to hear if my voluntary early release application had been accepted. It was and I haven't looked back. I miss my lovely work colleagues, but I've kept in touch and managed to see all of them from time to time.

I'm working harder than ever and earning much less - but hopefully that will change as time goes on. The main thing is that I'm really enjoying it and have so many ideas and plans to put in place - how exciting.

I'll be back with great gusto in the new year with more free patterns and some new designs and tips and tricks to make your work perfect.

Thanks to everyone who's supported me and I hope you all have the best Christmas ever xx

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Tale of Two Cities

I had a lovely week last week. It was 'Christmas Play' week, so my youngest had three nights of a very long play at our local primary school. We went to watch on Tuesday and thoroughly enjoyed the singing, acting, jokes and mishaps. The play was completely led by the children, so they had to help each other out with forgotten lines and forgotten props. Brilliant. It was rather long - a mere 2.5 hours and I had a very numb bottom at the end, but it was worth it to see my youngest dancing and joining in with some enthusiam. Most boys are not well known for wanting to be the centre of attention at 10, and I have to say that Master O wasn't best impressed at having to perform an egyptian dance. But he gave it some gusto and it made me smile a lot. A lovely night which made me feel more festive.

In great contrast, our middle daughter's school had their Carol Service at Chester Cathedral. What a magnificent setting, so beautiful and architectural; peaceful and powerful. Our daughter was lucky enough to gain a scholarship to the prestigious Hammond School in Chester where she is now training on their 3 year professional dance course. Her dream come true. The service was completely captivating, well rehearsed and perfectly delivered. It's a performing arts school so I'm sure you can imagine the quality of the singing. Who would have thought it - my little Miss I singing in Chester Cathedral. Amazing. Now were all starting to feel more festive although I still have quite a lot of work to finish before I can heave a great big sigh of relief. The yummy biscuits on the tree are keeping me going - in fact I do think it's time for one more - mustn't let them go stale......

Monday, 5 December 2011

Free Knitting Pattern #3 - Chunky Neck Cosy

At last, here's my free knitting pattern #3. A pretty, chunky neck cosy. Perfect for those cold, winter days that are inevitable at the time of year. After an enjoyable extended mild spell we been plunged into the depths of winter here in Congleton, Cheshire. It's snowed lightly over night and we've had hail this morning. Brrrrr. Had to put the heating on for an extra hour to as we were soooo cold...... I made this neck cosy for my daughter who is living in Chester as has a long walk to school each morning. Sometimes she has to be at school really early for extra ballet lessons, so I knitted this to help keep her nice and warm on her walk to school, as I'm not there to drive her around.

The cosy takes just one ball of Sirdar Big Softie, (or 2 for a deeper cosy), which is just £2.39 per ball at kemps online shop here. That's a great price for a knitted neck cosy. The cosy is knitted in a broken moss stitch, so it's really quick to knit and looks pretty too. I think it took me about 1 hr to make up, so it would make a great last minute gift. The broken moss stitch gives the cosy a good texture and helps it to stand up against your neck. You can fold the top over too if you wish.

I used 10mm circular needles, but if you don't have circular needles or don't like using them, you can use two straight 10mm needles and stitch the side seam together, using mattress stitch (full instructions are at the end). The cosy measures approximately 21 or 22 inches around.

Important: Some people have commented that their cosy turns out smaller. Tension with Sirdar Softie and 10mm needles working in stocking stitch should be:
9 sts to 10 cm
12 rows to 10 cm
If your tension is tighter, please use larger needles. 

Instructions for circular needles: Using Big Softie and 10mm needles, loosely cast on 48 or 50 stitches.
Round 1: k
Round 2: [k1, p1] to the end
Round 3: k
Round 4: [p1, k1] to the end
Repeat these four rounds until you have approximately 2 metres of yarn left. Cast off loosely.

Instructions for straight needles:
Using Big Softie and 10mm needles, cast on 49 or 51 stitches loosely.
Row 1: k
Row 2: [k1, p1] to the last stitch, k1
Row 3: k
Row 4: [p1, k1] to the last stitch, p1
Repeat these four rows until you have approximately 2 metres of yarn left. Cast off loosely. Sew the side seam using mattress stitch.
Wear and enjoy! x