Penguin Pattern

penguins

Get those needles out folks and knit up some fabulous stocking fillers. This easy knit pattern will delight the youngsters!

If, like me, you always want to change a pattern and put your spin on it, create the penguins – and snowmen if you like – in bright colours. I made some in the summer and called them penguins of paradise. The only difference from the pattern was that I used bright colours and added a tuft of hair.

I’ve lifted the penguin from the Winter Knits pattern book and copied it here for you, so no excuses please! All you need is a pair of 4mm knitting needles, scissors, small amounts of yarn, a scrap of toy filling and a darning needle to sew them together.

Penguin
A little intarsia needed here. If you’re not sure about intarsia, (knitting with more than one colour in a row) check out the intarsia notes below.

Double knitting yarn required: (approx. lengths)
12metres of black
3metres of white

Method:
abbreviations used in this pattern:
B: Black yarn, W: White yarn.
st/s -stitch/es
st.st. – stocking stitch (knit one row, purl one row)
NR – Next row

Back:
*With 4mm needles and black yarn, cast on 8sts.
Start with a knit row and keep to st.st. throughout.
Increase 1st at each end of first three rows. (14sts)*
Starting with a purl row, st.st. 17 rows.
Work 2 sts together at each end of next 3 rows (8sts)
Cut yarn, leaving a length for sewing up and thread through remaining sts. Fasten off by using a darning needle and sewing the end in to tighten the sts

Front:
Work as for back from * to *
Then, starting with a purl row, follow intarsia pattern:
NR: 4B, 6W, 4B
NR: 3B, 8W, 3B
NR: 3B, 8W, 3B
NR: 3B, 8W, 3B
NR: 3B, 8W, 3B
NR: 4B, 6W, 4B
NR: 5B, 4W, 5B
NR: 6B, 2W, 6W
Carry on in black yarn only, and starting with a purl row, st.st. 9 rows.
Work 2 sts together at each end of next 3 rows (8sts)
Cut yarn, leaving a length for sewing up and thread through remaining sts. Fasten off by using a darning needle and sewing the end in to tighten the sts.

To make up:
With right sides facing, sew round edges leaving a gap at the cast on edges to stuff. Turn right side out, stuff gently and sew up gap.
Using embroidery cotton or silk, sew features.

Intarsia Notes

If you’re unfamiliar with intarsia knitting, these tips may help;

*When joining a new colour, fold the new colour round the old, and work the first stitch using two strands of yarn. When you work this stitch on the next row, make sure you knit it as one stitch, not two.

*Always make sure you cross your yarns at the back of your work when changing from one colour to another in a row.

In this image, the next stitch to be purled will be red.

changingcolour

*Wind the yarn along the row by crossing yarn over at the back of work but carrying on in the same colour. Do this every 2-3sts to avoid pulling too tight.

*Yarn can get easily tangled. Either untangle after every 1-2 rows, or use yarn bobbins to help keep it all in order! You can buy yarn bobbins on Etsy and, I suspect, Amazon and Ebay. Or make your own.

And last but not least – practice!

As with any new endeavor, intarsia knitting takes a little practice usually but it’s worth the effort. Start by making the penguins and work your way up to fancy Fair Isle patterns.

Happy Knitting!
Linda x

P.S. If you’d like to download the pattern so you can make the Santa Claus and snowmen toys as well, you can find it over on the Knits U Love page.

 

Making Purses

N3-MakingPurses-pin

These purses or mini-bags are perfect for giving small gifts, decorating the Christmas tree or simply using for coins or bits and pieces!

These three simple purse patterns are from ‘Fun Knits for Beginners’. They use only about 12m of double knitting yarn each- allow 15m for button purse.

And you’ll need a pair of 4mm needles (U.S size 6 and old UK size 8). Use lengths of ribbon, leather or plaited yarn for handles/straps.

 

**”Please excuse the dates on the photos – can’t believe it was two years ago we took these pictures 🙂 Maybe time for another photo shoot!”**

PLAIN PURSE

plainpurse

To Make:
Cast on 16sts.
Starting with a knit row, st.st 30 rows.
Cast off.

Make Up:
Fold in half and sew side seams. Thread a length of ribbon through top of purse to form a drawstring and strap.

SHAPED PURSE

shapedpurse

To Make:
Cast on 16sts.
Starting with a knit row, st.st. 14 rows.
NR: K2tog at each end of row
NR: P2tog at each end of row
NR: Inc. 1st at each end of row.
NR: Inc. 1st at each end of row.
Starting with a knit row, st.st. 14 rows.
Cast off.

 
Make Up:
Fold in half and sew side seams. Thread a length of ribbon through top of purse to form a drawstring and strap.

BUTTON PURSE

buttonpurse

To Make:
Cast on 12sts
Starting with a knit row, st.st. 24 rows
Keeping st.st. correct, shape as follows:
NR: Work 2sts together at beginning of row.
Repeat last row 5 more times. (6sts)
Cast off

Make Up:
Fold up sides of purse to shaping point and sew together. Fold over shaped part and form a small loop of yarn to fit button. Sew button in place. Sew on a length of ribbon or plaited cord for strap.

Happy Knitting!

Linda x
P.S. Quick leap to your favourite retailer and grab a copy now! 🙂

funknits-pin

 

Fun Knits for Beginners

Amazon US , Amazon UK , Etsy , Payhip , iTunes , Kobo , Barnes & Noble ,

 

Knitting for Christmas

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A couple of weeks ago, I collected all the Ekokid patterns published so far, edited like crazy and came up with a fabulous new book! With 10 patterns usually sold at £2 each, the book seemed far too expensive at £20 so I half-priced it at a tenner, but even that sounds far too much for a digital copy so halved it again! Now you can get all 10 patterns in one download for a fiver 🙂 Cool huh?!

But more to the point, it’s just in time to get knitting for Christmas – create a whole collection of dolls and their wardrobes before the big day. They’re quick to knit and once you get going with the patterns, you’re likely to come up with some new ideas for fabulous clothes to keep your teenage dolls happy and played with!

You’ll only need one pair of knitting needles for the whole book and some yarn of course. Here’s a list of the bits and pieces I use when knitting small items like dolls or toys:
I pair of 4mm needles (U.S size: 6 and old UK size: 8)
A darning needle, or similar, for sewing pieces together
A pair of scissors
Paper and pen/pencil

Good to have:
*Large headed pins. These are useful for marking features and pinning pieces together before sewing.
*tape measure – for measuring yarn to verify you have enough, especially if you are using very small oddments.

Materials you’ll need for the basic doll:

25g. (about 60 metres) of flesh colour yarn
8m of ‘boot’ colour or 4m of ‘shoe’ colour
15g. (about 35m) of ‘hair’ colour
Washable toy filling – non-allergenic toy filling is available from most craft outlets and needlecraft shops.
Embroidery cotton for features

Give them a go. These dolls are such fun to make and can be custom made for each child. And they are easy to dress and undress – no stiff plastic legs and arms to manoevre – so little hands can join in the fun too 🙂

All the Ekokid pattern books including Ekoknits are listed here Knits U Love

Happy Knitting!
Linda x

“Green Gifts”

Greengifts-pinterest

Green Gifts at Christmas:

When you see Christmas produce in the high street in October, it makes you realize that the next couple of months are going to fly by, as they always do.

Put your feet up for an hour or so and create a ‘natural’ Christmas gift list. Okay it may be necessary to buy the new games machines for the kids, but for everyone else, green gifts will be very much appreciated.
If you haven’t any flowers that will be blooming around Christmas time, make a note in next year’s garden journal to grow some specifically for green gifts next year. Fresh flowers in mid-winter straight from the garden brighten up your home and make great gifts. If you have got flowers that will be blooming at the right time, try your hand at a little flower arranging and see if you can’t come up with some really nice displays.

As well as cut flowers, winter plants in pots are a good present to give. Whether you buy the plants or grow them, decorate the pot with simple painted flowers or leaves, or buy a decorated pot from your local garden centre.

*************************************
This is a cute ‘green gifts’ idea I found on Amazon.
Plant Pot with Mini Hanging Fairy Garden

fairyflowerpot

Green Gifts – crafts:

Pressing flowers is a traditional craft, and can be easily done at home. Buy or make a press, and choose blooms from your garden that you can create a picture with. Set your picture in a frame and cover with glass.

A photo frame will do nicely. Small blooms can be used as well. They are more fiddly, but look stunning when arranged onto a picture. Pressed flowers can be used to decorate home made cards,larger items such as glass coffee tables, and even tiny badges.

“Note for next year: Collect blooms during the year and press them. Keep them safe until the winter nights start drawing in, then get creative!”

During the autumn months, woodlands are a great source of natural green gifts. Take a bag or two with you, wrap up warm and take the kids on a ramble round your local woods. Keep your eyes peeled.

Fallen branches are a wonderful base for making Christmas table decorations. Insects live under the bark so remove all the bark before you start. Varnish it if you want, or just smooth down with a little sandpaper.

Then glue on holly leaves and berries, mistletoe, dried grasses, whatever you happen to find that will work.

How about having a go at sculpture? Prepare and carve the wood into a shape, or an abstract design and let your imagination go with it! Use natural materials, dried grasses etc; to decorate your masterpiece. It’s a good idea to varnish the wood first if you’re intending to make a longer lasting creation.

Green Gifts – for Foodies:

mushroomgift

If you know your mushrooms, collect some for a foody friend and dry them.

Either hang over a range threaded onto string for a day or two, or slice and lay on baking trays, and place in a very cool oven ( the lowest temperature possible) with the door open for a few hours.

Turn over after a couple of hours. Lay the sliced mushrooms on grease-proof paper if your pans are not non-stick, or spread the mushrooms onto a wire rack. When they are cool, put them into a nice jar and label.

Closer to home, you may have an excess of produce this year. Have you lots of tomatoes at the moment, and don’t want to fill the freezer with tomato soups and purees? Sun dried tomatoes are a popular food, and make a lovely gift. Guaranteeing 3 or 4 days of sun is not always feasible though, so let’s cheat!

Cut the tomatoes in half and lay them on wire trays, sprinkle a little chopped fresh ( or dried ) basil on each tomato half. Flavour some with sea salt ( very sparingly ) some with basil, or any other herb you have available. Then, as with the sliced mushrooms, put trays into a very cool oven for a few hours, leaving the door open. Don’t turn them over. After a couple of hours, take out any that are totally dried, and check every half hour or so until they are all dry.

Cool completely and keep in an airtight glass container. Three sealable glass jars full of different flavoured ‘sun-dried’ tomatoes make a lovely gift.

“There are so many green gifts you can produce from your own garden, it’s well worth making a few notes in your garden journal for next year to grow a few Christmas presents.”

Green Gifts – more ideas:

lavendergift

 

Elderberry wine – elderflower grows well in most places, and produces very nutritious berries, perfect for wine, juices and syrups. And if you can’t wait for the berries, the flowers can be used to make elderflower champagne.

Scented flowers are wonderful for ‘pot pourri’. Collect rose petals as they fall, and dry them. Then fill simple cotton sachets or buy pretty ceramic bowls or small trays.

Create a sleep pillow. Make a small pillow from a cotton fabric. Fill the pillow with lavender flowers. The lavender pillow is placed under the pillow at night. Lavender is proven to help relax and calm the nerves and is an excellent gift for a stressed friend. If you are good at sewing, make a neck pillow, to relax into after a hard days work.

And if the growing season is over n your region, you could always buy organic produce and take it from there.

Nature is simply bursting with creative ideas. Taking a moment or two now to get in touch with them could save a lot of Christmas shopping traumas. Green Gifts must be best!

Organically yours 🙂
Linda x

 

Christmas Knits

ChristmasKnits-pin

Well, autumn (or fall) is in the air and the evenings are starting to get just that bit longer. Instead of moaning about the shorter days and chillier nights, I’ve decided to get Christmas knitting again!

Last year I made cozy slippers and gloves for everyone but I haven’t got enough yarn in my stash bag this year so thought I’d try my hand at knitting mini gifts instead.

I just knitted some holly which I might turn into a badge – by attaching a safety pin to the back perhaps.

‘Winter Knits’ (Knits-u-love) may come in handy as well. The penguin, snowman and santa claus toys make cute little stocking fillers and they come with their own sleeping bags. A couple of months ago, I knitted a few penguins in bright colours, gave them a tuft of hair and they turned into penguins of paradise!

The best bit of all this, apart from enjoying the art of knitting – which also stops me from indulging in a chocolate feast every night – is the fact that all these little gifts and decorations are plastic-free.

Leaving it all to the last minute usually means grabbing whatever Christmassy stuff comes up that’s affordable – which often means plastic throwaway rubbish – I speak from experience 🙂

Even if you haven’t got yarn stashed, a couple of colours won’t cost much and will probably work out cheaper for your pocket while you’re helpng to save the planet – and everyone loves a home-made gift! – win-win-win!!

Pop over to knits u love – choose your pattern now and enjoy your autumn evenings 🙂

And if you haven’t got a knitting shop near you, Amazon seem to have just about everything you could possibly need… This pack of yarn will create lots of little gifts…

yarnfromamazon

 

Marriner Yarns Double Knit Bumper Pack | 20 x 100g Balls of Double Knitting Yarn (6000m Approx) | 100% Acrylic

Price: £26.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK.

 

Happy Knitting!

Linda x

Yay, it’s Monday

yayitsmonday-pin

Sometimes life just stands on it’s head! Had no internet over the weekend and crappy phone signal so most of the weekend plans went out of the window. I don’t have a TV either so rely on netflix for entertainment in zoning out times – which happen more frequently than I care to admit!

But this weekend was different.

I didn’t realize just how many times I ‘google it’ every day. Before mobile phones, in the days when libraries were our main source of information, did we not ask so many questions? And the questions we did ask were probably related to the bigger picture in all arenas.

I never went to my local library to find out if Spock was still alive, and do I really need to know that?

I’ve heard it said that we consume more information in one day than our ancestors may have done in a lifetime. This sounds an extreme statistic and I guess it depends on how many generations we want to compare with, but it kind of makes sense. Especially when we have information at our fingertips 24/7.

But what to do when you power-down?

I actually had a very relaxing and productive weekend, using the time to de-clutter and tidy stuff. From the flower pots in the shed to the documents on my laptop, the clutter was growing daily. Of course there’s more to do so have a few more things on my to-do list but the tidy bits are great! I might just declare next Sunday to be internet-free…..

Having said all that, I am so pleased it’s Monday and I’m connected to the world again, so yay, it’s Monday! Have a great week 🙂

Linda x

P.S.
De-cluttering is insanely good for the mind body and spirit. Need some tips and guidance? This handy download takes you step by step through the process. Choose from your favourite book store:

De-Cluttering

 

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iTunes , Kobo ,

Barnes & Noble , Payhip 

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Homemade Gifts

Homemadegifts-pin

Making gifts for family and friends is so rewarding and there are many crafts that can be turned into pleasing and organic homemade gifts.

And you don’t have to be a crafting expert to create beautiful gifts. A while ago, I wrote an article called ‘Giving Green which includes a few project ideas to inspire new ways of giving gifts.

We all tend to live busy lives and often realize a week before a special birthday or a celebration such as Christmas that we haven’t sorted out gifts and/or decorations. So, off we trot to the shops and buy something we hope will be gratefully received.

And if you’re living on a tight budget as many of us are, that purchase can be based on cost and will possibly create a hole in the budget that week or month.

A couple of years ago, I found myself with a huge amount of knitting yarn in October and very little money so I bought a knitting pattern from Etsy (only a few pounds) for a pair of cozy slippers and spent most evenings knitting for my family.

On Christmas morning, they were all delighted with their gifts. I also made some finger-less gloves and, to avoid buying plastic coated wrapping paper, I tied each ‘package’ with a wide red ribbon.

Altogether, I had to buy some stop slip glue – which, yes, is plastic based, but unfortunately I couldn’t find an alternative at the time. It seemed quite expensive – around £5 for a small bottle, but the bottle covered all 12 pairs of slippers.

And I bought a few metres of wide red ribbon (Instead of wrapping paper) which also only cost a few pounds. Oh, and the original pattern, because I couldn’t find one I liked in any of my knitting books.

All, in all, I spent around £12 and created 12 gifts. Now, I did have the yarn to begin with, but a lot of that yarn was bought in charity shops and some was recycled by un-ravelling previously hand knitted items.

knitting

Getting into recycling and handmade mode is incredibly good for the soul. Even if you have to go to work every day, there are still evenings or a couple of hours every day when you could be enjoying a creative hobby, and turning that hobby, not necessarily into a side hustle business, but a way of giving handmade and unique gifts as well as saving money.

And a special bonus, is that you have complete control over the materials you use, which means you can be plastic-free as far as possible.

Have a quick look at the ideas in ‘Giving Green‘ and come up with some of your own that suit you and your abilities. Crafting for a couple of hours or even 30 minutes a day frees your mind from problems and as an added bonus, helps eliminate snacking in front of the TV – no more diets necessary!!

Happy Crafting!

Linda x

P.S. I’ve just updated my knitting pattern designs which are available on Etsy, Amazon and Payhip. Check them out and get knitting now 🙂 Knits U Love

Put Your Feet Up

christmasrush

This quote always make me kind of chuckle at the craziness some of us – millions of us in fact – go through every Christmas.

And oh, it doesn’t have to be that way!

I’ve been guilty of remembering it’s Christmas on or around the 15th December -ish. In my defense I have an awful lot of birthdays in the family during the last three months of the year and I tend to prioritize those if I can.

But then comes the awful realization that gifts have to be got, wrapped and hidden. That’s a big enough job in itself without all the other Christmas paraphernalia, various pantomimes, school nativity plays, office parties… oh, I’m getting tired thinking about it all.

The year before last, I knew – as early as September – that a lot of the family were gathering together at Christmas – they are often scattered 🙂 . That gave me a definite advantage in the Christmas gift giving department. Yep, I got my needles out and started knitting. I even bought a pattern!

So, I had a lot of yarn, bits and pieces mostly but enough to make 12 pairs of cosy slippers 12 pairs of fingerless gloves and 12 neck scarves.

I bought a few metres of wide red ribbon and tied a pair of slippers, a pair of gloves and a scarf together – reasonably well matched – and got lots of oohs and aaahs throughout Christmas and the new year. 24 cosy feet make 12 happy people when its cold outside!

So, that’s my take on the Christmas rush/panic whatever you want to call it. Do a little planning now..

**make a list of people you usually buy for
**make a list of things you could possibly make, and match them up!

Knitting is just one idea. Have you other needlecraft skills? Or think outside the armchair a little and maybe take some cuttings of your plants and re-pot them as gifts.

Making gifts is a win-win all round.

**People love receiving something you’ve made yourself.
**Your creativity gets a chance to shine – that always feels good
**And by dabbling in home made stuff, you can avoid, or at least minimize, plastic packaging and cheap plastic toys.

There are hundreds of different things you could make as gifts to give others (and yourself!).

Start now, you don’t have to feel Christmassy – just think about winter/ all season gifts. Plenty of time to get Christmassy around the 15th of December 🙂

Check out the Knits U Love page for some knitting downloads for beginners. There’s a free spider pattern too, so that’s Halloween sorted!

Happy Crafting

Linda x

greatvalueyarn-ig

This looks like a handy pack to get going with if you’re making lots of little colourful things! Found it on Amazon. 12 colours, free patterns, good customer service and only just over a tenner – yay! Amazon Yarn

 

 

Rainy Day Zombies Begone!

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What is happening with the weather? Global warming seems to be the answer to any weather questions that come up, and maybe that is the answer. But it doesn’t really help on a day to day basis, when you’re trying to have a reasonable summer and it’s pouring with rain all the time.

Especially if you have children at home and they are all turning into zombies in front of their various devices. Bring them back!

Reality may not be ideal at this moment, but there’s something to be said for the Power of Now (great book btw) and enjoying the moment. The little darlings may assure you they are having fun and anything you suggest will be totally boring, but we know better! So, time to kick your slippers off, find a few basic items and have a fun day without maxing out the credit card…. You’ll probably have to exercise a little authority as well, but in a fun way 🙂

All the creative stuff like baking cupcakes, crafting greetings cards, moulding salt-dough animals etc; is great and always rewarding and educational, but sometimes you don’t feel like finding all the aprons, table covers and gluepots. So let’s simply play.

colored-pencils

First find a few bits and pieces like:
-a regular pack of cards – yep, they’re still around and very affordable if you can’t find any in the house.

-6 numbered dice and a few counters (these could be home-made)

-plain paper – invest in a pack of printing paper – grab it when it’s on special offer if you can’t steal any from your home office.

-selection of pencils, pens, felt tips maybe or crayons

-the kid in you…. and you’re pretty much ready to go.

With these simple items, you can play hundreds of games and variations – and maybe make up a few yourself. There’s a whole month of rainy day games in Indoor Family Games listed on the good life page. Quick download and get playing!
But how do you drag them from their screens in the first place? That part is easier than it sounds. The best way to get your kids’ attention is to appear to be having more fun than they are! Simple ay?

The way you do this will depend on their ages, their mood and various other components, but you will know what these issues are. Change the dynamic by getting a little dynamic yourself.

dancing

Go for something different if you can. If the kids are used to seeing you dance like a crazy person to some cheesy 1980s music, they will just ignore you.

But if they’re not used to seeing you do this awful terrible thing, they will definitely react in some way.

Be aware of the general mood and flip it on its head. You can do this. You’re the grown up, and about to have a fun day behaving like a kid!

Find traditional games you can play for all ages. Google is only a click away after all – yes of course devices have their uses, we’re just trying to de-zombiefy a few individuals here.

**In a fairly kid-proof room, you could rig up a net and play balloon tennis to get some movement going on.
**Or, get some co-ordination skills in action and place a clean bin or large bowls in the centre of the room as targets and throw rolled up newspaper or soft balls.

Pick your moment. Have a few ideas stashed and bring them out at a moment that feels right for you. If you’re at home with the children a lot, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen next if you don’t step in right now.

So, whatever the weather and whatever the current mood is, get your fun on and enjoy playing with the kids today. You’ll nourish your body, mind and spirit and some of it may even rub off on the next generation.

Have fun!

Linda x

Circle of Fun

circleoffun-pin

I remember playing this game with my kids, but before I go any further I’d like to apologize for the non-PC title of the game. Back then we didn’t really think of racism or political-correctness and certainly no thoughts or feelings of racism came into the mix.

Anyway, titles aside – this game is more like crazy whispers and can be played all around the house. Whisper something to one of your children and they will love to run off and find someone else to whisper it to. Can get a bit confusing but that’s really the nature of the game.

Crazy + confused = fun and laughter.

I copied this straight from ‘Indoor Family Games’.

Chinese whispers

Why this game is called ‘Chinese’ whispers I have no idea. I guess that those of us who played in the West many years ago considered Chinese to be a language that made no sense at all to us. This game can certainly end up making no sense!

Position as many players as possible in a circle, or around a playing area. All players should be sitting. One person is chosen to start the game by thinking of a sentence of at least four or five words. This sentence is whispered to the next player.

The sentence must not be heard by anyone else and should only be repeated once.

If the player doesn’t hear correctly, they will have to decide what they ‘thought’ they heard and then whisper that sentence to the next player.

When all players have heard the whisper, the last player in the circle says out loud what he or she thinks they heard. Then the player who started the whisper has to say what they originally whispered. The starting phrase can be very different from the finishing one!

The more players there are will produce more variations on the original sentence.

Variation:

This game can be played outside and players don’t have to sit in a circle. As long as everyone gets a turn in the right order, players can be scattered all over the house and garden.

Enjoy!

Linda x

P.S. Indoor Family Games is available from various bookstores and is a handy digital download.

IndoorFamilyGames

 

 

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