Tag Archives: Knitting and Crochet

Knitting for Peace and dementia

Nelson Knit-out in the Park

Nelson Knit-out in the Park (Photo credit: Grant Neufeld)

As my regular readers know I spend a lot of my time knitting. I do this because it helps exercise my arthritic fingers and keeps them supple and also because I am really bad at keeping my hands still when watching TV and sometimes even reading,….

So the next thing is – what do I do with all this knitting? It is quite good now, and in fact is better these days than a few years ago, but not as good as when I used to knit for myself and my children. Due to the arthritis the tension is far from perfect, so I need a charity outlet. I found through the Internet that there is a charity called Knitting For Peace. And so I knit for them.

Below is a photo of some of the things I have recently knitted for them whilst on my holiday in Scotland. As you can see from some of the patterns I have shown, I have used some vintage patterns which my mother-in-law passed onto to me. The issue with these patterns – demonstrated by the hooded coat in front – is that babies were clearly much smaller and thus you need to size up quite a bit – say 2 sizes – to fit current babies. but they are very pretty designs.

Knitting from Scotland

Knitting from Scotland

There are also some blankets there that I crocheted in the round – I can only do very simple crochet and in fact, the grandkids were helping me with this whilst we were together this week. They can undertake the simple simple chain. I shall be teaching them to knit properly as soon as they have the concentration, in the meantime they ‘help’.

The blankets are in response to the newsletter from the charity, which I am reproducing below. Do note that the link the to pattern they offer didn’t work for me, which was disappointing I thought. I found some lovely hand painted buttons in wood whilst in Scotland and have put some of those  on the green and yellow and white cardi.



Anyway, if any of you feel inspired to do some knitting for charity, they would be very pleased indeed, as you can see, to received the knitted goods and the blankets made from squares would be a lovely group project to undertake – teachers please note…! So, I shall carry on knitting jumpers are next on my list, plus some baby booties and mittens. I knitted some dolls clothes – I thought – a while back, and they sent me a lovely note saying they had gone to preemie babies, which I thought was wonderful, so even a small amount of wool, can be usefully knitted up.

k4p3 k4p2

Knitting: current and past

Once upon a time I was a great knitter and knitted all sorts of complicated patterns – aran, nordic, lace, fairisle and so on… some for me and some for the house – eg I was knitted a set of aran cushion covers, each cover was a different aran stitch; and of course, some for my children including jumpers with characters and even once a jazz inspired jumper for my au-pair. I then went onto to knitting with a machine, and had all the necessary extras – quite a collection in the end. I knitted for prizes for local charities even. then I got very busy with work and family life and the knitting machine went away in the spare room and then the loft. Then I got arthritis in my hands and I could no longer work a good tension. Then to cap it all my right thumb has been semi-detached from my hand – they had to cut a major tendon to stop it constantly contracting – and so my knitting suffered.

For many years after I was told that knitting was good physiotherapy for my hands I only knitted squares for blankets and even tried a simple circular crochet blanket effect. Then after the pain got too bad they injected steroids into my thumbs and lo and behold my knitting has improved! Such that I know knit all sorts for babies and charities. I confess my tension is still not all it could be and sometimes do to my fibro fog I make pattern mistakes but still I am doing better. So here are some examples of a) what I used to knit – a Kaffe Fasset cardigan I knitted in the 1980s and still have(!); and some things I have knitted more recently. The cardigan doesn’t look too bad for something that old that is still worn…

Now Kaffe Fasset was a very influential knitwear designer at that time and had lots of books out. Then things went quiet about him but recently I’ve started hearing more about his work again. He had a book out called Glorious Knitting in 1985 and this may have been where I got my pattern from. Anyway, you can look at his website on http://www.kaffefassett.com/Knitting.html to see some of his work and explore his ideas.

A hand-knitted Kaffe Fasset cardigan

A hand-knitted Kaffe Fasset cardigan

A collection of my knitted items

A collection of my knitted items: still colourful…

I find that I need to knit every day for at least an hour or I will wake up the next morning with pain in my fingers so… The only problem being where to buy cheap wool for these charity items. After all, as I give everything away that I knit, I can’t afford to buy expensive wools. I haunt charity shops for any cast-offs and markets for the cheapest.

If you have any suggestions of good places – especially on the Internet – where I can buy wool at around £1 per 100 grams, then please do let me know.

Knitting, patterns, wool and charity

Nelson Knit-out in the Park

Nelson Knit-out in the Park (Photo credit: Grant Neufeld)

English: Man of Taquile knitting. He is also w...

I said I would blog about my knitting at some point – so here goes.

As I have osteoarthritis in my hands I am no longer able to hold pens and paints and needles very well. I have also had one of the tendons for my right thumb cut so it is has little grip left. This means that my ‘old’ craft and painting activities are now not really available as I have such difficulty gripping. Though my thumbs are less painful since I had steroids injected earlier this year.

My main craft activity is now knitting. This is actually recommended for people with arthritic hands as it keeps the fingers mobile and indeed if I miss a day or two then my fingers all hurt…

Since my injections my ability to keep a tension has improved and so I have started knitting more seriously, as for the past many years all I’ve done is knit blankets and taken them to a charity shop – any one that would accept them. Oxfam no longer accepts blankets as they prefer to use special rather than knitted items when sending abroad.

I have however, found another charity – or two- that not only will accept blankets but other items also, so I have sent them a couple of large parcels just recently. Luckily their HQ is not far from where I live and my husband bikes the parcels round to them.

I sent them some baby jackets and hats I had knitted and some blankets of various sizes and shapes including some for dolls – some of the clothes were for dolls too, and was very pleased when a letter came back from them saying:

We recently  sent a large delivery of knitted goods to street children in India and Afghanistan, orphans in S. Africa’s Cape Flats as well as refuges and asylums in the UK. A number of the smallest blankets were also sent to the premature baby unit at Stoke Mandeville.

So my dolls blankets have gone to prem babies! How nice.

The charity runs groups when it can see http://knitforpeace.org.uk/, and offers free patterns especially for particular projects such as for babies in Sierra Leone which the UN says is the most dangerous place in the world to give birth. The charity is non-aligned to any religious groups and indeed the idea of the knitting groups is to encourage a a cross-section of people to take part even in prisons – as they say: groups are placed where there is a pre-existing community that could gain real benefit from a knitting group, and as such, are open only to people from those communities.

I have also knitted coats for dogs – very small dogs that are not in homes but being fostered and the site http://www.ukhandknitting.com/knitting_for_charity.php has lots of ideas for charity knitting.

I mainly use free patterns which I find on the web, there are great archives out there, and try and find my wool at charity shops or pound stores – I resent paying more than £1 for wool I then give away to charity, but it is getting harder to find good wool at that price [I’ve seen balls at over £20 in some ‘posh’ shops!] – some stores such as Lidl and the Pound Stores do stock wool from time to time but often very strange stuff… funnily enough seaside towns are often the best place to find wool, I wonder why?

My grand-daughter loves the very big balls that you sometimes get, and plays with them. She drags them around behind her as a ‘dog’ and so on. But she has requested some cardigans for her ‘Katie’ doll, I have just completed them with some leggings and hats to match. This reminded me that the weather was getting colder so I decided to knit some winter garments for the charity. Hats no problem – scarfs also easy, but mittens… I challenged myself to re-learn how to knit on four needles and produce some mittens. The thumbs are a real challenge not get holes in the base and to make them look a good shape. So far I’m getting the hang of that again, but my sizing is way off! Much too large, so I’ll keep trying and maybe someone will have big hands!

I have also been requested to knit a ballet cardigan for my grand-daughter as the hall is chilly. Problem is what size is she? I’m guessing here as the pattern is in inches not ages. Still it’ll fit the younger one if not the older and I can always knit a larger size if needs be…. When looking for a pattern I met an owner of a knitting shop who agreed with me that knitting is the best physio for arthritic hands – so I’m not alone in this.

I am off to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace with a friend on Sunday – looking forward to seeing / hearing the sonic wallpaper that plays you music – yes really – check out the website below: