SANDS (Stillbirth And Neonatal Death Charity) Knitted & Crochet Blankets

The following post has been written by my awesome friend Judi, who along with her mum Jan developed the crochet blanket pattern for the SANDS (Stillbirth And Neonatal Death charity) ‘Always Loved, Never Forgotten’ memory boxes. For more information on why we chose to become involved, please click to read THIS post about our friends Indi and Trevor, and how the loss of their daughter Alice spurred us into action.

You can find the pattern here on the SANDS website.

Over to Judi:

So, it all started like this, an innocent little message from Emma requesting some help with the SANDS knitting blanket pattern. She had asked for a crochet pattern but as one wasn’t available, she asked if we’d have a look at it.

‘We’ and ‘help’ – hmmmm, I could see where this might be going! We immediately took up the challenge after hearing why Emma wanted to get involved.

The first job was to send the knitting pattern off to someone that can actually knit! That is not a skill that I am blessed with, unless the pattern calls for a triangle of dubious tension, full of holes. Lucky for me, my mum (Jan) had just retired and had a bit of time on her hands. Voila! As though by magic, a beautiful knitted blanket appeared. Well done mum, that’s a lot of knitting to squeeze on your needles.

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Once the ‘royal we’ could see what the knitted blanket looked and felt like, it was time to break out some baby white yarn, 2 brand new balls of double knit (DK). I wanted the finished blanket to have a nice soft drape so chose a size 4.5 hook.

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I chose a textured stitch for the body of the blanket. I had used this one a few times for smaller projects and love the texture it gives. It also uses basic crochet stitches; just chain, double and treble crochet, but the results are really effective.

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To get started, chain 104, as per the pattern – so far so good, as long as you keep count.

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Row 1 is just as simple – double crochet in every other stitch with a chain in between. In row 2, you double crochet in the double crochets, and treble crochet into the chain spaces. I stalled here for the night as it was getting too dark for pictures!

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First thing the next morning and before breakfast had even been devoured, I was on to row 3. In this row you double crochet in the double crochets and chain 1 in between. Be sure to read the actual pattern to keep track of where you are!

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Then you just keep repeating rows 2 and 3 over and over until it’s square! In between other jobs (gardening, dog walking and cooking!) I got this far before bedtime!

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The next morning I whizzed along and before I knew it the blanket was square. About 19 inches square in fact, which is roughly 84 rows.

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I love the pretty edging and I continued with this on a rainy day…

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By Bank Holiday Monday, the edging was complete, 3 lovely lacy rows.

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This was quickly followed by the picot detailing. Once the ends were secured and woven in I had one complete memory blanket ready to be checked and approved by SANDS.

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From Emma: We thought a visual reference to assist you while you work through the pattern would be great for those of you (like me!) who prefer to view photos to see what your work ‘should’ look like. Thanks Judi and Jan for your help! 

SANDS Crochet Blankets – Alice’s Army & Our Involvement

At the Open Day in July, we had an ‘Alice’s Army’ area, you may have seen it in the photos:

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We chose to support a cause close to our hearts and we proudly became part of ‘Alice’s Army’, raising funds in memory of Alice Lawrence, who was born sleeping on 7th September 2013. Her parents, Indi and Trevor, are friends of mine and I was devastated to hear of their experience. Indi had experienced a textbook pregnancy and was in excellent health. The shock almost a year later is still evident. This is why we chose to raise funds using the umbrella term ‘Alice’s Army’ (which is not a charity itself). We raised £250 at the Open Day. Half has been donated to the British Wildlife Rescue Centre, the other half to SANDS (the Stillbirth And Neonatal Death charity).

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Whilst I researched how we could support SANDS in particular, I discovered that one way to get involved is to hand knit blankets, as part of their ‘Always Loved. Never Forgotten’ memory boxes. These bring much comfort to parents at such a difficult time. The knitting pattern has been available for some time, but there have been lots of requests for a crochet pattern also.

I got in touch with SANDS to ask if we could help develop a crochet pattern, something I felt we could help with. I asked Emma’s Fabric Studio woolly superstars Judi and Jan if they could help me with this. In typical fashion, they were amazing at translating the pattern from knitting to crochet. After making up a knitted version to get the size, feel and texture, they went about writing a crochet pattern.

We worked with SANDS to get the pattern produced and ensure they were happy with the finished blanket. At the Open Day in July we had a tremendous response from our visitors. So many people took patterns and I was stopped in the village (whilst walking my dog!) by a lovely lady who had taken a pattern and was half way through her blanket. We were quite overwhelmed at the interest and response.

So, for the next Open Day (5th October 2014 at Tithe Barn in Lenham), we will again be supporting SANDS with their cause. They put this urgent request for help on Facebook this week:

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You can see at the time of me posting this, 4,000 people had shared their plea for assistance. The crochet pattern has been released by SANDS and can be found HERE.

If you would like to come along to the Open Day and pick up a pattern, speak to Judi and Jan and see the knitted/crochet versions of the finished blankets, we would love to see you! They will also be hand to help with any parts of the SANDS blanket pattern you might be struggling with. On the day we will collate and send any completed blankets to SANDS for you. If you complete your blanket after the Open Day we will ensure you have the address to send it to.

So if you would like to join our mini ‘blanket drive’ to help SANDS please do! All the details of the Open Day are at the bottom of this post. For a walk through of the pattern, with photos too, please click THIS link to take you to the separate blog post.

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Tara Tuesdays – Part 44 – The Perils of Pom Pom Production

Craft Heaven at the Yarn Palace

I’ve been on a MEGA productive streak of late and have made excellent use of my time off during the summer holidays to help pass the time as I haven’t had a holiday this year (fetch that violin!). I’ve been desperately trying (and hitting several brick walls in the process) to finish old projects that I have had on the go for some time. What is it with us crafty folk? I AM TERRIBLE and start SO many things that remain unfinished for AGES. Is it the sheer excitement of starting something new, finding your pattern, picking the yarn or fabric, that you find yourself rushing to try and finish rather than taking your time and enjoying making it, only to end up hating the making up part and sewing of ends in?! I don’t know. I know I am not alone here as most of my crafty buddies are exactly the same! One friend told me recently that she was STILL trying to finish a tapestry that she started when her daughter was 18 months old…….she is now 17 years old and she still hasn’t finished it! Now that DID make me feel a bit better!

Moving on, I decided to try and actually FINISH some projects before starting anything new. I am trying to build some stock up for a Christmas Fair that my friend is having in November as I don’t want to stress myself out come October time realising I haven’t actually made anything! So far my stock consists of: stockings, bunting, crochet pot covers, cushions, decorations (unfinished), garlands (unfinished), and knitted reindeer – I have knitted 17 but haven’t made any up yet! Actually, reading that back, I don’t think I am doing too bad really and should perhaps not be so hard on myself.

But then….cue tumbleweed and everyone stopping and staring at you when you walk into a pub that you are not a local of….I….met….Lois! OH….MY….GOODNESS! I know you all probably think I am a loon, but she is just as bad, IF NOT WORSE! Lois is the sister of one of my re-enactment friends, and we only properly met for the first time at a drinks party (a pub in London) at the back end of last year. We got on immediately and arranged to meet up in the New Year which never came off, but got talking on Facebook after she posted a picture up of her husband in a knitted Star Wars hat THAT SHE DIDN’T MAKE! I have to point that out now as she referred to me then as “O Crafty One”. Can you see where I am going with this?

Two weeks ago, the FABULOIS came over to see me for a day of “Craft Heaven at the Yarn Palace” (her words not mine). She had asked me beforehand if she needed to bring anything, I just said “whatever you are working on or nothing if you just want to chat”. I knew it was going to be a fun packed day when she arrived at my front door….with this……….

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After much hilarity at the trolley (it was full of her current projects), we got down to the important business of the day…..SHOW AND TELL! Being the excited, can’t sleep the night before person that I am, in an OCD fashion (most unlike me) I had neatly arranged all of my current projects on my dining room table which was to be our work space for the day….or so I thought!

Apart from excited sweats, masses of hysteria, giddiness, high pitched shrieking, flicking through magazines and books and lots of writing things down in beautiful “to do” list books, we actually were only able to achieve this…

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Lois had been telling me about this brilliant contraption that you make pom poms with that she had purchased. She gave me a demo and produced this beauty! HOW WE LAUGHED! Two grown women, beside themselves with crafty excitement only managed to achieve THIS… I must point out that Lois arrived at my house just after 10.30 and the pom pom catastrophe was at 15.55!!!!!!!!!! She did however redeem herself,  by making me a lovely pom pom and giving me one of her “here’s what I made earlier” efforts AND by bringing along this beautiful cake which we ate during the day.

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I had a go at making pom poms myself as I don’t ever remember making them as a child. I was delighted with my efforts and can admit to now being an ADDICT and have since ordered my very own set of pom pom makers.

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Not content with seeing Lois two weeks ago, we arranged to meet up again this week as well AND have a date in the diary for next week! This week was as much fun as our first meet. I nearly took the Postman’s hand off when my pom pom maker kit arrived, but didn’t get to make one until much later in the day… I can see a pattern emerging here! We did have LOTS of show and tells to discuss and it would seem we are most productive when we actually AREN’T together, funny that!

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I decided enough was enough and ripped open my Pompom maker kit to have a go at making my own Pompom. In an Attic 24 style, are you ready to see my “ta dah” moment… brace yourself and make sure you are sitting down…

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How could it be possible that my pom pom looked just as rubbish as Lois’ first attempt! I blame the teacher myself, nothing to do with NOT reading the instructions… ahem!

My second attempt was MUCH better and I know I am going to add pom poms to EVERYTHING from now on! I even saw a kit where you can make 20 IN ONE GO! Can you imagine! Oh the possibilities are endless! No wonder I have trouble sleeping some nights! I am so going to have to get one of these kits!

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I will of course keep you posted on my progress with my pom pom projects and all other craft related loveliness that I get up to, so, watch this space!

Baby Shower & Baby Projects

We are all excitedly awaiting news of a new member of ‘Team Will Work For Cake’, Jenny (aka J Lo) is due at any moment and she spent her last few weeks of pregnancy finishing some of her baby projects. Last week she completed her crochet blanket using Rooster DK yarn, it looks beautiful. It had been noted that she originally planned to make a large blanket, but it greatly reduced in size when she realised she could make it baby sized. A shrewd move!

Jenny also called in the troops to help her with a baby supplies door hanger storage thingy. None of us really know what else to call it! We had been shopping to find one, but couldn’t find anything other than a hanging shoe rack. So, Jenny chose ‘Life In The Jungle’ fabric (she doesn’t know the sex of the baby so she went for a neutral pattern and colour). Ably assisted by Judi and Sam, they constructed their own. I popped by with the fabric and vilene and a few hours later the finished hanger was ready for use!

With the baby’s room a little tight on space, the brief was very precise and it was made to measure. Jenny did the sewing herself… with bump providing a little shelf for her pins!

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The week before the Open Day in July, we held a Baby Shower for Jenny, or J Lo as we call her. We transformed the small barn at Tithe Barn into a scene from the Nativity. We had resident Doctor Martin there too, just in case the excitement got too much! Click on the gallery below if you’d like to see how we put on a rustic, barn inspired baby shower! Thank you to Robyn at Stillbrook Designs for putting the beautiful graphic together for me.

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Tara Tuesdays – Part 43

KNITTED FACIAL TOPIARY

I received the KNIT YOUR OWN MOUSTACHE book for Christmas last year from my dear friend Cat and was beside myself with excitement when I actually looked through it and couldn’t wait for an opportunity to make some of the delights contained within!

The perfect opportunity arose before a recent visit to our best friends and God Children. There has been a bit of a “tache” theme going on in my family for a while now as my hubby often dons interesting facial hair! He has received several “tache” related gifts from our best friends and this visit was no exception when we exchanged Christmas gifts (yes, I know it is August!) A tache ice cube tray and a giant monster tache magnet for the Landy were included this year! Once we had opened all of our presents I was able to finally share my piece de resistance……

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Here, we have the WALRUS, DALI, SVEN, CLASSIC, HANDLEBAR & PSYCHIATRIST’S beard all hand knitted by me using patterns from the KYOM book. I can honestly say I have never smiled so much whilst crafting even when I went wrong with my first attempt on the HANDLEBAR. The beard was thrown across the room in a fit of rage and then unpicked as I couldn’t work out how to do it! Several deep breaths and glasses of red wine later, I managed it just in the nick of time….the night before our visit!

I had written down all of the names onto pieces of paper which we all picked out, I then handed out the taches/beard to everyone…… HOW WE ROARED when we all tried them on!

My plan for the weekend was to get pictures of us in the taches/beard and we had several opportunities to do this! Here we all are on the Chasewater Railway at Cannock Chase….

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CLASSIC

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WALRUS

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BEARD (my God-daughter bears a slight resemblance to Conchita Wurst…this years Eurovision Song Contest winner in this picture!)

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HANDLEBAR (emergency elastic repairs were required for this tache as it got broken due to overuse!)

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DALI

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I am still undecided as to what was my favourite and had to try the beard on as well!

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After several attempts we managed to get a super star jump pose and also this shot of us all! Hubby looks exhausted in this picture after all that jumping and his tache is in action mode too!

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2014 Christmas card me thinks!

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The author of this book Vicky Eames aka ‘Wife of Brian’ has her own website where you can find out more about her and her facial wares. I was so impressed with this book and can highly recommend it, hubby has since requested I crochet him a pipe from the book as I won’t let him have a real one, oh joy! Another project to add to my ever growing list!

Tara Tuesdays – Part 42

Emma’s Fabric Studio Open Day

I cannot believe that nine months have passed since Emma’s Fabric Studio’s first Open Day back in October 2013! Where has that time gone?!?!

As expected, the second Open Day at Tithe Barn in Lenham, Kent did not disappoint as my photos will confirm! Emma and her fabulous Team “WILL WORK FOR CAKE” did a fantastic job of getting everything just so and making the barn look as beautiful as it did.

I went along with my friends Mary and Mags and after posing for photos with the yarn bombed vehicle that stood in pride of place in the barn, we had delicious refreshments of cake and tea and a good look around at all of the gorgeous fabrics/yarn and haberdashery goodies for sale.  I took lots of pictures of the car from all angles as it looked amazing!

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I haven’t seen Emma since our Christmas get together and ashamedly haven’t been keeping myself up to date with her latest fabric ranges (I do follow Emma’s Fabric Studio on Facebook mind!) There were masses of loveliness to choose from and trust me if she had credit card facilities available, I would have spent a small fortune! I was rather restrained this time around and purchased some Essex Linen and some new Christmas fabrics that I just simply could not resist! I do have a thing for Nordic red & white at Christmas so these particular lovelies really appealed to me. I have no idea what I will use them for but just simply had to have them!

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Along with the beautiful Harris sewing machine that you may recall from the last Open Day, there was beautiful vintage Singer sewing machine on display that I was drooling over. I would SO love to fill my house with vintage machines! Where I would put them all I have no idea but I would still like to have them!037 (640x480)

There was some beautiful Hoop Embroidery on display and my particular favourite was this one!026 (640x480)

I was also rather taken with the yarn/wool area  display and thought this looked fabulous, so bright and cheery!042 (640x480)

Tithe Barn itself is stunning and the grounds it is located in are just perfectly English. It was a glorious day and although we had one huge downpour, it didn’t affect us.

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After a rather lovely afternoon, we headed back home laden with fabric, yarn and of course more cake!

If you missed the chance to go to this Open Day, please do try and get along to the next one, trust me, you will most definitely NOT be disappointed……023 (640x480)045 (480x640)049 (640x480)

The Creation of Hilly Billy The Vintage Citroen – Yarn Bombing at Emma’s Fabric Studio Open Day July 2014

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I have received some lovely feedback about our transformation of the vintage car at the July Open Day at Tithe Barn in Lenham.  Hilly Billy is an old Citroen who is still road worthy and can often be seen driving round the village with her owners Valerie and John Arthur.  They kindly let us give Hilly Billy a summer spruce up at the Open Day. Given how much interest there has been, we thought you might want to see how we went about the makeover and gave her a super cute/super star new look!

Judi, Chief of Yarn Bombing, has explained how we did the eyes, a particular challenge!

When we measured Hilly Billy for her new decorative overcoat I thought we would cover the lights from the back, a bit like a tea cosy, or light cosy.  It wasn’t until later when I  was looking at the pictures it occurred to me that they weren’t lights, of course they were her eyes!

So how do you go about making eyes for a vintage Citroen?

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I googled crochet eyes, not much help and certainly no pattern to fit a vintage car.  Well eyes are just circles right? So I found a pattern for a crochet circle, in this case it was a cushion cover, but the basics of how many increases in each round were fine – I was happily crocheting along until I had a circle big enough to cover the front of the light, then stopped increasing and carried on for 4 or 5 rows and that’s it – a plain white cover for the light but it doesn’t look much like an eye though.

A big debate came next in our household – what colour should Hilly Billy’s eyes be? – brown, green, mixed – no of course they should be bright blue.  So the right shade of bright blue was located in my ‘tiny’ wool selection and another circle began – using the same pattern but a lot smaller this time.

After that her eyes needed irises (not the floral type!) – I started making a tiny black circle, It looked ok to me – Stu had different ideas though. A long debate about how the iris should look and lots of cartoon drawings followed – this resulted in a ¾ circle.  I have to grudgingly admit that it does look better than my original circle did.

The final challenge – how to make eye lashes?  Should they be long and curly, thick and bushy – what should they be made from?  I contemplated pipe cleaners, fringing and various other options then it came to me, I could adapt the crochet rose pattern to make eye lashes – a few tries later and I got something about the right size.

So one eye complete – on to number 2!

For the remainder of the car, we pooled our collective crochet blankets, unfinished projects, etc.  We gave Judi anything wool related for her Hilly Billy vision.  Jan, our amazing Senior Yarn Bombing Engineer made a spare wheel cover, Sam (Chief of Pom Poms) prettied up the general look, using various other yarny creations.  Lorna (Chief Analyst, Director of Detail) ensured Hilly Billy was groomed to perfection.  Jo’s collection of crochet blankets were put to very good use.  My unfinished projects were put to great use too (thank goodness)…  Judi clearly had a look in mind and it turned out wonderfully! Have a look through the gallery for more detail.