Thursday, 8 December 2011

Baby Mittens Knitting Pattern

This is my pattern for baby mittens. They are knit on two needles and seamed. They are not knit in the round.
They are designed to go with my double knit weight hat patterns which are for sale on  EtsyFolksy and Ravelry
The first two sizes (0-6 months  and 6-12 months) are thumbless mittens. The third size (1 – 2 years) has thumbs.
Instructions for the larger thumbless  size are in brackets  ( )

Materials needed:
25 g double knit /light worsted/8 ply yarn. (11wpi) for one pair of thumbless mittens
35g double knit /light worsted/8 ply yarn. (11wpi) for one pair of  mittens with thumbs
Pair of 3.25mm (US size 3) knitting needles
Pair of 4mm (US size 6) knitting needles (main needles)

22sts and 30 rows to 10x10cm (4x4”) square in stocking (stockinette) stitch on 4mm
(US Size 6) needles
Please take a little time to knit a tension square. If your square is too small, try knitting again using a bigger pair of needles. If your square is too big, try knitting again on smaller sized needles.

K= Knit
K2tog = knit two stitches together
m1 = make one stitch – pick up the loop between the last and the next stitch and work into the back of this loop
P= Purl
tbl= through back loops
st(s) = stitch (es)
stocking st (stockinette)= 1 row knit, 1 row purl (knit row is the front of the work)

Instructions for thumbless mittens (0-6 months and 6-12 months) (make 2)
Using 3.25mm (US size 3) needles, cast on 30 [30] sts
1st Row:  K2, [P2, K2] to end
2nd Row: P2, [K2, P2] to end
These two rows form the 2x2 rib pattern for the cuff. Repeat these two rows 10 times
Repeat the first row once more
Next row: Rib to end, decreasing 1 st evenly across row for 1st size and increasing 1st evenly across row for 2nd size                                                                                                               29( 31)sts

Change to 4mm (US Size 6) needles and starting with a knit row work in stocking stitch for 16 (20) rows.
Shape top
Next Row: K2tog tbl, K10 [11], K2tog, K1, K2tog tbl, K10 [11], K2tog                         25 (27)sts
Next Row:  Purl
Next Row: K2tog tbl, K8 [9], K2tog, K1, K2tog tbl, K8 [9], K2tog                                 21 (23)sts
Next Row:  Purl
Next Row: K2tog tbl, K6 [7], K2tog, K1, K2tog tbl, K6 [7], K2tog                                 17 (19)sts
Next Row:  Purl
Cast off

 Sew up top and side seam. Fold back cuff.

Instructions for Mittens with Thumb – Size 1 – 2 years
Right Mitten
**Using 3.25mm (US size 3) needles, cast on 30 sts.
1st Row:  K2, [P2, K2] to end
2nd Row: P2, [K2, P2] to end
These two rows form the 2x2 rib pattern for the cuff. Repeat these two rows 11 times (24 rows in total)

Change to 4mm needles (US Size 6) and starting with a knit row, work 2 rows stocking st.**
Shape thumb
Next Row: Knit 16, m1, K1, m1, knit 13                                                                          (32 sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row: Knit 16, m1, K3, m1, knit13                                                                           (34sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row: Knit 16, m1, k5, m1, Knit 13                                                                          (36sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row: Knit 16, m1, k7, m1, knit 13                                                                           (38 sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row: K25, turn
Next Row: P9, turn
Working just on these 9 sts, work 6 rows in stocking st
Next Row: K2tog 4 times, K1                                                                                            (5sts)
Cut yarn, draw up through remaining sts and secure.

With RS facing, rejoin yarn to the base of the thumb. Pick up and knit 2 sts (one either side of the base of the thumb), knit to end.                                                                                              (31sts)

Starting with a purl row, work 9 rows stocking st.
Shape top
Next Row: K1, K2tog tbl, K10, K2tog, K1, K2tog tbl, K10, K2tog, K1                          (27sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row:  K1, K2tog tbl, K8, K2tog, K1, K2tog tbl, K8, K2tog, K1                             (23sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row:  K1, K2tog tbl, K6, K2tog, K1, K2tog tbl, K6, K2tog, K1                             (19sts)
Next Row: Purl
Cast off

Left Mitten
Work as for right mitten from ** to **
Shape thumb
Next Row: Knit 13, m1, K1, m1, knit 16                                                                           (32 sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row: Knit 13, m1, K3, m1, knit 16                                                                           (34sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row: Knit 13, m1, k5, m1, Knit 16                                                                           (36sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row: Knit 13, m1, k7, m1, knit 16                                                                            (38 sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row: K22, turn
Next Row: P9, turn
Working just on these 9 sts, work 6 rows in stocking st
Next Row: K2tog 4 times, K1                                                                                           (5sts)
Cut yarn, draw through remaining sts and secure.
With RS facing, rejoin yarn to the base of the thumb. Pick up and knit 2 sts (one either side of the base of the thumb, knit to end.                                                                                               (31sts)
Starting with a purl row, work 9 rows stocking st.
Shape top
Next Row: K1, K2tog tbl, K10, K2tog, K1, K2tog tbl, K10, K2tog, K1                          (27sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row:  K1, K2tog tbl, K8, K2tog, K1, K2tog tbl, K8, K2tog, K1                              (23sts)
Next Row: Purl
Next Row:  K1, K2tog tbl, K6, K2tog, K1, K2tog tbl, K6, K2tog, K1                              (19sts)
Next Row: Purl
Cast off

Join top and side seams. Turn back cuffs.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

This Crazy Climate of Ours

Last May I didn't have any fruits on my strawberry plants at all. It took till the end of June for the ones I did have to ripen, and they were far and few between. It is now December, and although we have had a very mild autumn, we now have our fair share of morning frosts and snow is forecast for later in the week, and what have I got in the garden........strawberries!! Maybe, just maybe, as they are so close to the wall, these will survive the cold weather, and I'll have home grown strawberries for Christmas Day!
I am feeling much more positive this week. Some very kind customers have taken the time to send me photos of the wonderful hats they have knit using my patterns, and I'm feeling creative once again.

I have been making a quilt with a jelly roll that I bought at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC way back in August. Its a simple nine-patch, but it won't be an all-over design, just an off centre panel. I have some hand-quilting in mind for the plain sections on either side.
Of course my brain wasn't fully engaged whilst I was going round the quilt show, so I didn't buy any co-ordinating fabric and I really want a matching binding, and this fabric is now hard to get!
But the lovely ladies at came up trumps and I was able to purchase the last yard and half that they had of this:
Its probably a good job it will take a few days to arrive...... if I hadn't run out of fabric I would carry on quilting and no-one in this family would get any Christmas presents!!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Confidence is Oh so fragile

Its quite terrifying to find that we are so vulnerable,and our confidence can be knocked so easily.(I say we, I may be on my own in this!)
I had until very recently been quite proud of the fact that I have raised well over £1000 for Leukaemia and Lymphona Research, mainly through pattern sales on Etsy, and more recently through Folksy and Ravelry. It had given me a reason to continue the design process, the structuring of a project that I love so much. But a few days ago someone contacted me to say that although they like one of my patterns, they thought it was wrong of me to charge for it, as it was a basic pattern and there was a free version available.
Since then my confidence, not just in my designing, but in everything has been dashed. Nothing that I make or do seems worthy anymore.
I have always tried not to look at what else is out there, but just to design whatever pops into my head. There is so much available on the internet that if you spend time looking at other people's work you would never come up with an idea that you felt was original.
But the big question is - should we charge for patterns? For some people it is their livelihood,(as it was mine, at one time) and any author of a pattern book will include projects for beginners - people still buy them.
I had been looking at it from the other perspective - I saw it as a way of raising money for my charity, a way in which people received something in return for their donation. I do need to point out here that not all the money from sales goes to the charity. I have to take out the selling fees, the cost of materials and any other expenses incurred.
But now I am questioning everything I do - and I mean everything
My confidence and my happiness has taken a serious knock. I am not sure I can put any more patterns up for sale. The joy has all gone. My raison d.etre was always fragile - now it's in pieces.

If you have any comments, either from the designers perspective or the buyers point of view, I would be like to hear them. I might not like what you say, but I can't feel any worse than I do at the moment

Monday, 21 November 2011

Feeling Festive

As the days have got shorter my knitting needles seem to have been working faster. I spent several weeks working on some Christmas designs, and as soon as those were finished I launched straight into designing a family of penguins. I'm sure those penguins were in my head because I was still in Christmas mode! When I'm designing baby hats, I'm totally methodical and mathematical, but toys and ornaments just seem to "grow" on my needles, but being the perfectionist that I am, I usually want to change something... the shape of a head, the length of a leg.... after all, if its worth doing, its worth doing well, so now as I sit back and take stock before I launch into my next project, I'm looking down at a "graveyard" of legs and bodies that didn't quite make it to the finished item!! Poor things! What's worse for them is that I know I won't even give them a decent burial. I can use all that stuffing over again, so one day pretty soon "operation de-stuff" will take place and all those odd arms and legs will be cut open and the stuffing saved for another animal or doll. Waste not, want not as they say.
As for my next project....Mmmmn, I'm going to keep you guessing on that one!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Erin - A New Pattern

 I was really pleased to add a new pattern to my Etsy and Ravelry stores last nice. It's called Erin. It's funny that the name for it came to me half way through designing it, and I just knew that was what I was going to call it - no ifs or buts - that was it.
I really like this design as it ticks all the boxes. Its quick and easy to knit, so suitable for a relative beginner knitter, but with enough pattern and shaping to keep the knitter interested and happy.
It is also extremely versatile.
The thick strings came about because someone asked me to design one as a photoprop - photos of sleeping babies wearing only a slightly oversized hat with the bulky strings hanging down across their body, are very popular at the moment.
Its very easy to knit the string narrower though, and if the hat is slightly too big, the string will draw it in a little if its tied to one side of the chin.
If you want a really vintage girly look, then omit the string altogether, the eyelet pattern will then show up beautifully and you can sew on pretty ribbons.

If you are not into the feminine look, or want the hat to be gender neutral, omit the two rows of eyelet pattern and add plaited strings at either end.

You could also knit the flower in a variety of colours and sew them to hair clips. Knit the bonnet in a neutral colour and you can then clip on whichever flower suits baby's outfit that day. What a wonderfully versatile hat!!

Friday, 30 September 2011

We're Having a Heat Wave

......... a wonderful heat wave. The shadows are long and the daylight relatively short, but this sunshine is just fantastic.
I know the British always talk about the weather, but then part of its charm is that it constantly surprises us!
We have had a topsy turvy summer - heat wave in spring, pathetic summer and now another heatwave.
Suddenly the garden clear up ready for winter has stopped, the cover is back off the garden furniture and I'm enjoying every minute of it.
The great thing about designing knitting is that you can do it outside!
As the rsi in my hands is getting worse, I have to concentrate on designing patterns rather than finished items, and I'm loving it!
My head is bursting with so many ideas, I have so many hastily written scribbles in my notebook, that the challenge will be deciphering it when I come back to knit it up and test out the pattern, but for the time being
I'm going to sit on that garden chair, needles and notebook in hand and enjoy the sunshine.
I hope you get to enjoy it too!

Monday, 5 September 2011

7 dresses

Finally, these seven dresses have been parcelled up and posted off to KidsCompany.
Each summer I make dresses for deprived girls at Kids Company who might otherwise have to spend their summer school break in their usual T shirts and jeans. But this year, as well as some random size dresses that were sent off earlier, I agreed to make dresses for specific children. They gave me the sizes and the favourite colours of seven very needy girls, and these are the dresses I made for them. Unfortunately, I finished them just a couple of days too late to get them to them before broke up from school for the summer, so I've had to wait until now to send them off.
It looks as though summer is well and truly finished here (if it ever really got going!), but I'm sure they will enjoy wearing them with a T shirt and leggings, and they will appreciate receiving something that was made especially for them.

This one is my favourite - I think its the petite size and the bright colours that I particularly like. I was very pleased with the white edging stitch that I put on each ruffle with the overlocker.
I couldn't help thinking though, as I put a gift label on each dress, and parcelled them up, that 7 dresses is just a drop in the ocean I'd better that sewing machine out, and make some more!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Festival of Quilts

It was  9:50 am and I was already in the queue waiting for the doors to open to the quilt show at the NEC, Birmingham. I stood listening to the quiet hum of excitement as everybody made conversation with those around them. People had travelled from far and wide. I had a couple from Spain to my right, a whole group of ladies who had flown over together from Ireland on my left, and I could hear German being spoken  not far behind me. There was a good mix of veteran show-goers and newbies alike, the veterans all singing the show's praises and telling the novice attendees what to expect.
At last the doors opened and we made our way in. It was 2 years since I last went to the show, but thankfully the layout was much the same and I could head to the stands that I most wanted to see.

Nik from The Cotton Patch in Birmingham had designed a kit for a quilt that I wanted to have a close look at, as I had only seen it on their blog. The real thing was just as nice as I had hoped it would be ( I just love the Dan Bennett fabrics) so I grabbed a kit before they ran out, along with some extra yardage of some of the included fabrics so that I could make mine a bit bigger. This will be just right for my newly acquired guest bedroom!

My other favourite purchase was a Moda Pure Jelly Roll. I intend to make a new quilt for my own bed with this. I always find Moda fabrics appealing, and its nice to get away from the citrus colours that have been around a lot this year.

Walking round the gallery of quilts soothed my soul after the frenzy of the shopping area, and here are a few of my favourites

I forgot to write the name down, but I think this was called Ol' Blue Eyes, and I admire anyone who can do this with fabric!

                         Echinacea purpurea - one of my favourite plants in a quilt - how wonderful!

Spoonfed Love - there seemed to be far fewer mixed media quilts at the show this year, which is a pity because they are firm favourites of mine.

And finally Little Nannie's Quilt - quilting in its most natural and lovely form -  oddments of fabric, all as far as I could tell, hand pieced and handquilted - simply beautiful!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Keeping positive

I had promised myself that I wouldn't cry, but inevitably I did shed a few tears as I stood in the cool early morning sunshine in the airport car park, hugging my son and his wife goodbye as they left for their home in Canada.
It has been a wonderful summer, full of good times with family; a trip for me to Toronto to stay with them, returning home to help my youngest move into his first home, and culminating with the Toronto crew coming here and a whole family trip to a wonderful gite in Brittany.
A summer full of laughter, fun and reunions. But yesterday's early morning sunshine felt quite autumnal. It reminded me of the first days of a new school year, of settling into new timetables and routines, of all the good intentions that come with a new term.
It is the start of a new phase in my life too. I no longer need to squeeze  my crafty creations into a hectic family lifestyle. I have three whole rooms I can use for storage and as studios or workspace. So I too will have new routines and good intentions. My fabrics and yarns will be stored neatly and well organised (who am I kidding??) and I will have the time to experiment with new ideas and  techniques, and maybe work my way through some of the ever growing pile of unfinished projects.
But first I have a treat in store for myself - tomorrow I am going to The Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham, and I can hardly wait. There are so many quilts to see, in so many styles, and so many shops with fabrics and goodies to drool over - I'm not sure one day will be enough !
It has

Friday, 15 April 2011

Say Hi to Archie

Archie is the newest addition to the Taylor household!
After two years of wishing I had cute pictures of babies modelling my creations on Etsy, I've finally found a doll with a not-too-scary face to wear my baby hats, and hopefully help me sell more, and so raise more funds for Leukaemia and Lymphona Research.
I had previously tried getting my niece to model for me, but she wasn't having any of it. The average time a hat would stay on her head was, I would guess, 2 seconds at best - whereas Archie, well he sleeps through the whole photo shoot.
He has already earned his keep, with 3 sales coming in over night, so "thank you" Archie - keep up the good work!
To see Archie at his photogenic best go to

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A jewel of a find

Yesterday, whilst spending far too much time on Etsy as usual, I came across the most wonderful shop I have ever seen.
It is  the quiet home and sells knitting patterns for dolls
I fell instantly in love with shop and her designs - so much so that I felt the need to convo her and tell her.
She has a blog and I've listed it in my Bloglist below. Her entries are a joy to read
This is a picture of her latest knitting pattern, I love the soft and subtle colours of the variegated yarn and the pose of the doll with its thumb in its mouth.

I too have been busy with my knitting patterns.
I now have most of my Etsy hats also available as pdf patterns and intend to continue writing more patterns over the coming months.
It has been quite a challenge to discipline myself to transfer my well loved pencil scribblings to neat properly written pattern format, but worth it, for even though I know most of the patterns off by heart, it is good to have them secure on my laptop where I can recover them at any time.
Whilst typing them up I was also inventing loads more patterns in my head, so I can see I'll be busy for many months to come transferring what's in my imagination to knitted items and accompanying patterns.
Lets hope wehave a lovely warm summer  so that I can sit in the garden and work on them!

Monday, 28 February 2011

House and flowers quilt

Oh dear! I have been such a bad blogger lately.
I just don't know where the time goes. I think about blogging - just don't get round to actually doing it.

I have spent a large part of the past week thoroughly enjoying myself, making a quilt. Not an organic one (those will hopefully materialise soon). This quilt is for my youngest son and his girlfriend, who hope to buy their first house soon.
Just over a week ago, we took a trip to our local quilting shop to get some inspiration for their quilt. I just love  shopping for fabric (or anything come to think of it) when there are no set criteria - just walk in, have a browse and buy whatever jumps out at you.
Well what jumped out at us was a Moda Hunky Dory jelly roll strip, sitting all alone on a shelf. The colours are probably a little more "girly" than my son would appreciate on a bed quilt, but hey, I can add more blues to the outer edges.
I have only done the centre so far which has some pictoral sections - two houses, some flowers and this wonderful bird.

Appliqueing him, adding a button eye and some very long zig zag stitch legs was definitely  my favourite bit so far.

The flowers below the bird and again in the bottom left corner are not finished yet. The next stage is to add a lot of random strips to either side of the panel to make it more square, then there will be a frame and a blueish border - a nice theme for a first home quilt, I think. 
I'd better stop blogging and get back to quilting.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Putting an end to all those UFO's

Over the last week or so I have been putting together  a parcel for KidsCompany. This is an organisation based in London that offers practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children.

Their  services reach 14,000 children across London, including the most deprived and at risk whose parents are unable to care for them due to their own practical and emotional challenges. For many, the roles of adult and child are reversed.
These exceptionally vulnerable children not only negotiate significant challenges in their family homes, they also face immense threat within their neighbourhoods. Often they are exposed to relentless violence, some are forced into working as drug couriers or prostitutes, and many experience chronic abuse.
Kids Company provides a safe, caring, family environment where support is tailored to the needs of each individual. Their services and support empower children who have experienced enormous challenges to lead positive and fulfilling lives.

As I do not live particularly near to London, my support is limited to making some items of clothing for these children and teenagers. This is something I take great pleasure in doing, and love looking at the type of items in stores that I think the kids would like and then trying to create something similar out of the off-cuts and bolt ends that I can find in the bargain sections of fabric and yarn stores. The children always thank me with a beautiful hand made card and it is lovely to read the newsletters, giving me a small insight into the children's lives. For more information go to

Out of three yards of blue cord I was able to make 6 pairs of pants ranging in size from 6 months to 3 years
and these earflap hats were made with all the single balls of yarn that I had over from other projects.

I am particularly pleased with the three rabbits in the top picture. I was just about to send off my parcel when I found a link on a friend's Facebook page :
Its all about minimalist living, and the "eco-friendly, don't buy it if you don't need it " crafter inside of me just had to take a peek!!
Well, I am now slowly on my way to minimalist living! I say slowly, because rarely used kitchen gadgets I can re-home without a problem, but all my crafting stash - now that's another matter! You just never know when you are going to need that 3" of lace or the book on macrame that you bought ** years ago! You never know when it might come back in fashion!
It did make me take a serious look at what I had, and I decided that the first job was to do something useful with all the UFO's (un-finished objects!) in the back of the cupboards. So these three rabbits evolved from several heads, limbs and half finished clothes that had been the practice bits for the rabbit pattern in my Etsy store. They may be made form odd body parts, but I think they turned out rather cute, don't you!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Grandma's Apron

The other day I was browsing through apron patterns on-line.
I particularly like this Stella apron from A Grand Revival designed  by Tanya and Linda Whelan

Then, quite by chance I received a round robin email from a friend with this narrative  about the wonderful uses that Grandma used to put her apron to, so I thought I would share it with you!

I don't think our kids know what an apron is.
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids..

And when the weather was cold Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.

After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

Mmmmn, suddenly I think I'd better get working on that apron - its going to be so useful (not sure about the cleaning the ears bit though!!)

Friday, 7 January 2011

Many times during last summer I remember pausing for a moment, feeling the sun on my face, taking in the feel of the dew on my feet as I walked barefoot on the lawn in the morning, enjoying the moment as I sat knitting in the garden, watching the late afternoon shadows moving across the grass, or just relishing the fact that I could work with the patio doors open. I took in those moments, thinking, I must remember this and store it up to get me through those long dismal winter days, just as a squirrel stores acorns to get him through the lean winter months.
Well. today is one of those days when I need that store!
I woke in darkness to that bitterly cold rain-come-snow stuff that doesn't have the beauty of snow, but is just thoroughly miserable to look at. It hasn't really got light all day, and motivation has been thin on the ground.

I do have new plans for my Etsy store though, so I shouldn't be wasting these days. I have bought some more organic cotton and look forward to designing some lovely little dresses with it.

Organic fabric is INCREDIBLY difficult to get in this country, so I end up importing most of it from the US. This does make me feel rather bad about its carbon footprint. It is also often out of stock, so I can't reliably offer to make custom orders. I love making things with it though, so for now I shall just continue to make up whatever takes my fancy and hopefully sell it in the size that I have in stock. My dream is that one day soon enough people will demand organic that I will be able to source it locally!

I have also been playing with some new sewn items - I'm not giving too much away just yet. I'm a perfectionist and although my first designs were thought by most people around me to be just great, I have a few areas I want to perfect a little more work on, before I let you see them!!
Hopefully, it won't be too long before you see some brand new sections in Lovefibres store.

Happy New Year to you all