Hello and thanks for visiting my blog. I have been knitting on and off for 50 years and I recently learned to crochet. I love looking for wool bargains and making them into something useful. I mainly knit for charity. I occasionally knit for myself and family members if I find a really good pattern or if they ask nicely!!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Another Insect Worry Monster...

After I wrote my pattern for an insect worry monster, I knitted one to make sure there were no mistakes. This one is 12 inches tall and has already gone off to Knit-for-Nowt from where it will join others that are used by therapists working with traumatised children. The monsters have to look scary. I am assured that these work well and the children love them. It takes all sorts!

I tried out a couple of new-to-me techniques. The wavy arms are knitted i-cord. You can also crochet i-cord. There are lots of videos about it on the Internet. It is a very versatile way to produce a tube because the size can be adjusted by changing the size of the needle and number of stitches.

The worry pocket is my first ever crocheted circle. I have tried before and given up. This time, I had a good incentive. It had to work and it eventually did after 4 attempts. I chose black and yellow as I think these are warning colours in nature. Just think of bees!

In case it was still looking too cute, I added a row of fangs by using Swiss darning. It is a very fine line between something that is cute enough for your favourite grandchild and something that is terrifying. It's now up to the therapist to chose which child can work with this without having nightmares!

There is a waiting list for these monsters. So if anyone feels like knitting, crocheting or sewing one just pop over to Knit-for-Nowt.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Free pattern for an insect worry monster....

Here is the pattern I wrote recently for an insect worry monster. I have donated it to Knit-for-Nowt and it is already on their website. 

This one is in intentionally scary colours. But it could easily be amended to make it less traumatising!


This pattern uses dk yarn doubled (i.e. two strands of dk yarn knitted together) and size 5.5mm knitting needles. It produces a Worry Monster measuring 12 inches long.

I find that doubling up the yarn and using 5.5mm knitting needles makes a strong fabric that knits up very quickly and contains the stuffing securely.

Don’t worry if the monster looks small when you are knitting it. It will look larger after you have sewed the seams and stuffed it.

Remember: the yarn is used doubled throughout except for the pocket, the wings and the facial features.

You will need
60g of dk yarn
5.5mm knitting needles
40g of toy stuffing
Felt or buttons for eyes

Start with bottom colour
Cast on 20 stitches

Change to body/face colour
Work 42 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)

Knit 4 stitches with the face colour
(you are now going to change to the mouth colour. But do not cut the face colour as you will need this on the next row)

Change to mouth colour
Work on next 12 stitches only as follows:
Knit across 12 stitches
Turn and knit back across 12 stitches (knitting both rows produces a raised, knobbly texture which is similar to teeth)

Change back to face colour
Knit across 12 mouth stitches and remaining 4 face stitches
Work a further 9 rows straight – (stocking stitch, commencing with a purl row and ending with a purl row)
Decrease one stitch at the beginning of the next 6 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)

Change to hair colour
Decrease one stitch at the beginning of the next 4 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)
Increase one stitch at the beginning of the next 10 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)
Work 14 rows straight – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)

Change to body colour
Work 38 rows – (stocking stitch, commencing with a garter stitch row and ending with a purl row)

Change to bottom colour
Work 4 rows – (garter stitch)

Cast off all 20 stitches

Making up:
Embroider facial features as desired
Create the antennae by making a thick plait and attaching it firmly to the top of the head
Sew up both sides
Stuff with approved toy stuffing and check that it is not escaping through any holes
Sew up bottom seam
Using a single strand of dk yarn, knit or crochet 2 squares measuring 4 inches for the wings and sew them firmly to the monster along 2 side edges and across the diagonal
Using a single strand of dk yarn, knit or crochet a square measuring 3.5 inches and attach it to the front as a worry pocket. (I find it easier to add the pocket after stuffing the monster. But you might prefer to add it first.)

Let your imagination run riot
You could add two wings to each side to make a butterfly
You could add knitted or crocheted i-cord to make insect legs for a spider or grasshopper etc
Change the colours as required
Use all your left over oddments to make stripes

The inspiration for this pattern came from the BASIC PATTERN FOR A WORRY PUPPET by Diane Fenney

I tested this pattern carefully by knitting it again after writing it. It's amazing how many little glitches can be spotted that way. So I know this pattern works. But if you have any queries, just ask and I will help...

I have another pattern in the pipeline. Watch this space...

Monday, 19 February 2018

A Suffragette-inspired Worry Monster...

There has been a lot of publicity about the Suffragettes recently. Thanks to them, February 2018 is the centenary of some women being allowed to vote in the UK. They were given the right to vote if they were over 30 and they, or their husbands, met a property qualification. That was a partial  victory for eight million women. It was another 10 years before The Equal Franchise Act was passed in 1928 giving women equal voting rights with men. Fifteen million women over the age of 21 gained the right to vote in elections. The rest is history.

I decided to knit a Worry Monster in the Suffragette colours of purple and green, or as close as I had in my wool bag. The variegated colours are actually purple and green knitted together. The result is lovely in real life, though it looks a bit brown on my computer. I enjoyed doing a little bit of Swiss darning to make her lips slightly more feminine. I also added some perplexed eyebrows but stopped short of adding a monobrow. That would have been too cruel! 

I worked out how to add legs to a basic pattern already on the Knit-for-Nowt website. It was actually very easy to do and I have offered to add my amended pattern to those already in their collection. There is an appeal there for more patterns, so if anyone is a good pattern designer, we need your services! These Worry Monsters and Therapy Puppets are used with traumatised children and there is a waiting list of therapists who have asked for some.

I have just sent this little collection off to Knit-for-Nowt. It was lovely to receive an appreciative email back from Clare who runs the project. Some charities are definitely better than others at making their helpers feel useful. Most will acknowledge a parcel. But the odd one leaves people guessing or asking whether their parcels have arrived. Sadly, I tend to put them to the back of my list of places to donate to. Mini rant over!

What began as a small project to cheer myself up at the end of a gruelling 2017 has turned into something much bigger. Clare jumped at my offer to write some new patterns. I have 2 or 3 patterns in mind and, being a natural worrier myself, I am testing each pattern before I let it loose into the world. I was even dreaming last night about how to add certain features. I think I need to get out more!

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Another worry monster...

Here is another Worry Monster that I knitted for Knit-for-Nowt. It's about 12 inches tall, like my last one. These are used by therapists and the pocket on the front is for children to use as little post boxes for their worries. 

When I thought I had finished it, I was thrown by its very blank expression. I was worried that it didn't look worried enough (ha ha). So I decided to give it a monobrow. It was one of those magic moments when the stars align. I laid some black wool on its forehead and it just fell into exactly the right shape. I held my breath and sewed over the wool very carefully. It took no more than ten minutes (yes, I think I was a pearl diver in a former life) and I was really pleased with the result.

I hadn't heard of Worry Monsters until recently. I was amazed to discover that you can actually buy mass-produced Worry Monsters and that parents give them to their anxious children. How times have changed! I would have run a mile from one of these when I was a child.

I have one more monster to knit. This one will have stumpy little legs...when I have worked out the easiest way to add this space.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

A buzzy Worry Monster...

Here is my latest creation for Knit-for-Nowt. It is a stuffed bee measuring over 12 inches in length. Therapists and social workers use these Worry Monsters to encourage traumatised children to talk. I adapted a basic pattern that is on their website and turned it into a bee. At least I hope that is what it looks like. The wool was a donation from my sister and I struggled to decide what to use it for until I came up with the idea of a bee. Perfect.

In a moment of pure genius, I also came up with the idea of crochet squares for the wings. I learned to crochet 5 years ago. But I still have to look at a book when I start a granny square. Hey ho. Here is the back view:

Like everything else on my monster, the wings are sewn on REALLY well. This is going to be played with by children and I want it to survive!

These Worry Monsters are in HUGE demand. I finished this one a day after receiving the latest Knit-for-Nowt Newsletter in which there was a plea for more monsters as soon as possible because they have a waiting list for them. That is music to my ears. Anyone who is thinking of making one or more of these monsters can be confident that their work will be appreciated. They are a great way to use up odd balls of yarn and your imagination can run riot.

The Newsletter specifically requested large monsters with 2 eyes (more popular than Cyclops monsters, apparently), and other details such as hair, hands and feet. Luckily mine ticks most of the boxes. I'm already planning my next this space...

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Therapy puppets and a project bag...

Following my last blog post about worry puppets, I have just finished sewing two therapy puppets. These are for the same organisation Knit-for-Nowt.  They are used, as before, by therapists, social workers and teachers, but differ slightly from the worry puppets. The therapists have requested that these puppets should have a sad face on one side and a happy face on the other side. This makes them useful in role play and discussions about emotions. They also do not have a pocket for the written worry. 

The pattern I used is on this page. It is the basic (unstuffed) hand puppet. I thought it would be quicker than knitting a worry puppet. It was a VERY easy pattern. But there was such a lot of hand-sewing involved that it actually took as long (or longer) than the knitted puppets. That wasn't a problem as I like sewing by hand. The main body can be sewn by machine. But the hair, facial features and fiddly hemming have to be done by hand. As requested, both my puppets have a sad face and a happy face. 

I deliberately chose a hair colour that is not natural so that children wouldn't have any problems identifying with the puppets. I remember completely rejecting a doll when I was about 6 because it had blonde hair. The irony is that photos show I also had fair hair at the age. My parents had dark hair and I just assumed I did too.

The material came from a discarded sweatshirt, seen here:

I cut off both sleeves, then cut the pattern pieces. One of the puppets came from lower down the sleeves, hence the cuff effect. The rest of the sleeves became the heads and second puppet. I was a bit surprised that I had only enough material for two puppets. Of course, I could have made a few more from the body of the sweatshirt. But I needed a project bag to replace the tatty, plastic carrier bag that was sitting on my sofa with knitting needles poking out at dangerous angles. This is what I made:

It probably took less than an hour to make. I simply cut across the chest of the sweatshirt and sewed the cut edge with a double seam for strength. I rounded the corners slightly to avoid the Mary-Poppins-carpetbag effect. The top of the bag didn't need any hemming as it is the lower ribbing of the sweatshirt. I sewed on two handles that I removed and saved from a fancy Christmas gift bag. It is a very wide bag simply because the sweatshirt was large. But it is perfect for holding balls of wool and long needles. Anyone getting rid of children's outgrown sweatshirts could use this same method to make little bags for holding toys etc.

I have already started my next project. I am making more worry puppets, but this time I'm amending a double knit pattern to suit Aran yarn. That isn't as straightforward as it sounds. The brain cells are definitely having to work overtime....

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Worry puppets...

2017 was a  year I will be happy to forget for lots of reasons. By December I felt just about ready to knit something daft but useful. I don't often knit toys. But a charity I have knitted for in the past (Knit for Nowt) has changed its focus from hats and blankets to therapy puppets and worry monsters. These are used by social workers, therapists and teachers all over the UK who are helping children through various traumas. The idea is that the child writes down a worry and posts it into a pocket on the puppet. This acts as an ice-breaker which, hopefully, leads to discussion and eventual help for the child.

There are lots of patterns ranging from knitting to crocheting and sewing available on the Knit for Nowt website. The pattern I chose is on this page. It is the seventh pattern in the list and is called "Another Worry Puppet". Clicking on the link brings up a word document containing the pattern. Your imagination can run riot when making these puppets. I think my imagination was only strolling along as my puppets are very plain compared to some of the other wonders on the website. I simply gave mine blue jeans, a cream jumper and a big red pocket for a mouth.

But I think I have now caught the bug. There are lots of good ideas on the Knit for Nowt website and their latest newsletter shows just how much these puppets are used and appreciated. It even mentions that there is a high demand for finger puppets. I know some people love to make these; but I'm not one of them! They are far too fiddly for me. However, Hubby finished with a perfectly good cotton jumper today and I just saved it from the bin. I'm intending to print off some sewing patterns for glove puppets from this page. Watch this space...