Tag Archives: handy hankers

Knitted Baby Blanket

After I knitted my first scarf a few months back, I had a hanker to make something a little more challenging. My friends and their daughter are staying with us this week, so a couple of months ago I thought I’d try to make a baby blanket for her first birthday.

As it was to be the third thing I’ve knitted, I was looking for a basic pattern that looked a little fancier than it was. After a bit of searching I found a pattern by The Wooly Knitter on Etsy called Bethan  that only requires knit and purl stitches but has a more complicated looking texture.

Susan in Mrs Moon helped me choose Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn, a cotton and wool mix in a gorgeous dark pink called Jelly Bean that you can stick in the wash and even in the tumble dryer (on a low heat).

So I set about knitting and was quite pleased with myself until I made a mistake a quarter of the way through. I kept knitting convincing myself that it wouldn’t be noticeable but it turned out it was very noticeable so, after trying and failing to fix it, I ended up unravelling it all and starting again.

With this little set-back I was rather behind schedule so have spent the last two weeks knitting frantically trying to get it finished in time. My husband has started affectionately referring to me as ‘the claw’, but despite the repetitive strain injury I’m quite chuffed with the finished blanket.

My hand knitted Bethan Baby Blanket

On one side is a wave pattern and on the other a woven pattern.

My attempt at The Wooly Knitter's Bethan Baby Blanket

And here is the little lady snuggling up to it with her milk on her birthday.

The finished blanket

Any recommendations on what I can knit next?

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Light Up, Light Up!

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last month or so, we’ve had a few sad weeks and I wasn’t hankering for anything that I could share with you here. But I’ve finally got my hanker back.

It feels like we’ve been decorating our bedroom for months, it started off as 1970s hideousness. Brown carpet, huge brown fitted wardrobes with smoked mirrored doors to make it even darker, gold spotlights, peach vertical hanging blinds, leaded windows that made you momentarily think you were in prison upon waking and an Artex ceiling. To make it more brown we had some beautiful but massive teak Lombok furniture that my husband brought with him when we moved in together.

We wanted rid of the brown and in its place a clean white room with navy and red accents. So once the ceiling had been skimmed, the double glazing replaced and the wardrobes removed we could think about the colour scheme. I had in mind chevrons or zig zags. (Don’t know the difference between a chevron and a zig zag? Discover it here). But after looking in all my usual places and more I couldn’t find any zig zag or chevron fabric in the UK that was just one colour on white, the few I found were a mish-mash of colours. It was while reading about Natasha’s wedding fabric on Writer Reader Baker Bride that I discovered Spoonflower, unlike Natasha I didn’t create my own fabric design but I did find the zig zags I was looking for.

Bias Zig Zag Navy on White by RuthiePearl at Spoonflower

In my excitement at ordering samples, I totally missed that Spoonflower are based in the US and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks had passed that I looked back at the website and found out. So it did restrict how much I ordered as I wasn’t sure if Her Majesty’s boys at Revenue & Customs might whack a little extra on when it arrived in the UK. But when my three yards arrived less than two weeks later it came straight to my door.

The fabric was for lampshades, I wanted two small shades over the bed instead of bedside lamps and a big lampshade in the centre of the room. As I’d never tried making lampshades before I bought two small kits from Needcraft and thought I’d make them first to figure out how to do it and then bought the parts to make a big drum shade 70cm in diameter. They were surprisingly easy to make, if a little fiddly getting the fabric on straight. It reminded me of covering my school books with sticky-backed plastic as a kid.

My homemade lampshades trio

Talking of school, I made the schoolgirl error of cutting the fabric for the small lampshades from the wrong edge of the fabric which meant I didn’t quite have enough for the big one and had to fill it in with a patch, which caused a fair amount of swearing at the time, but you can hardly tell now it’s up.

What do you think?

If you’re wondering how to make a lampshade you can watch a video here.

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DIY Baby Tail

Since writing about baby tails I’ve found a handy version for any of you hankering after the mermaid one but unwilling or unable to pay the £70 price tag.

Mermaid Cocoon Knitting Pattern - 4aSong

Order the knitting pattern from Etsy seller 4aSong and knit your own mermaid baby tail cocoon (or ask someone nicely to knit it for you) for $4 plus the cost of the yarn.

4aSong have plenty of other sweet patterns, admittedly not all very practical, there are lots of novelty ones for photo shoots. But this one would keep little legs warm out and about in the buggy or during a daytime nap.

If any of you give this a try I’d love to hear how you get on…

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Not Just For Grannies

When I was six or seven my granny taught me to knit. I wasn’t very good at it and would just knit one long thing and because I always forgot how to cast off I’d end up leaving it unfinished. But my granny knitted really well and always had a bag or cardigan on the go and would knit us amazing things like Scooby Doo and Super Ted toys, she would put pencils in their arms and legs to make them straight which would often poke you when you cuddled them, but on the plus side could come in handy for some impromptu drawing. They lasted so brilliantly I passed them on to my daughter and even though she’s too old for them now, they can get passed down to the next baby in the family.

I was thinking how nice it would be to make things to pass down through the family or to give as special gifts for friends’ babies, so I Googled knitting lessons and the first one that came up was Mrs Moon who, it turns out, are just down the road from me. The beginners knitting patterns on the website looked so impressive that I booked a Beginners Knitting class.

Sisters Karen and Susan opened Mrs Moon in 2009 and they’ve got some beautiful pattern books and yarn. In the shop they display a few samples they’ve made from the patterns so you can see what the finished product should look like. They also have a really gorgeous array of buttons.

Karen led the beginners knitting class at the back of the shop and it was nice and cosy with me and just one other person so I got lots of one-to-one help with casting on, knitting, purling and casting off. I was very chuffed with the little square of knitting I had created and amazed at how it all came back to me, I had been convinced I’d forgotten the lot. So, full of excitement, I chose some yarn and knitting needles with the help of Susan so I could go off and knit a scarf.

My Knitted Scarf - TheHankerer

I’ve been a bit under the weather this week but that means that I finished my scarf in just two sessions (and caught up on everything that I had recorded that I’m not allowed to watch if anyone else is in the room – One Born Every Minute, Masterchef etc.).

I popped back today for some red wool for a snood, I know it’s the wrong season but I don’t trust the British weather.

To be honest, when I mentioned that I was going to learn to knit I got more than a little teasing about it. I went along to this class thinking I’d be really rubbish and that it might be a waste of time but I really enjoyed it. I’m going to do a couple more easy patterns and then I think I’ll go along to another of their classes so I can make something a bit trickier. Karen and Susan are so friendly and helpful and got me really excited about learning something new. Pop over to their website and have a look, if you order online before 1pm they ship your order the same day.

To find a knitting course near you look at the list on the UK Hand Knitting Association website.

Have you got any knitting stories?

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Splendid Stamps from Yellow Owl Workshop

I’ve written about the LCD card from Yellow Owl Workshop before but I had to mention their stamps. There are some nice scenic stamp sets which would be great for kids but there’s lots of grown-up stamps too, I’m particularly hankering after the ones in their stamp activity kits section.

Make sure you take all the credit for your culinary creations and label your food gifts with this lovely red ‘From the kitchen of…’ stamp set.

From the kitchen of stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

If you like to share a good book but also like to get them back, stamp your books with this bright green stamp. That owl will give any greedy book borrowers a stern look.

Book plate stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

Or stamp your own place cards, gift tags or noughts and crosses game. These are all $19.50 and include a natural rubber stamp mounted on a maple block, ink pad and coordinating coloured pencil. I may have to explain the mix-tape gift tag to my younger gift recipients but I’m really hankering after this one.

Mixtape stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

Yellow Owl also have some cute place stamp sets. London features stamps of Big Ben and a double-decker bus, and just look at the Paris one below with the Eiffel Tower and café table and chairs. There are also sets for New York, San Francisco and Italy.

Paris stamp set = Yellow Owl Workshop

If you want to have a go at carving your own stamp Yellow Owl Workshop sell a kit to help you do just that. It comes with a Print Workshop book autographed by the author Christine Schmidt, a lino cutter and blade set, rubber block to carve your stamp from and an array of envelopes, cards and gift tags for you to show off your stamp creations. If you’re not confident carving freehand there are some templates included to help you. All this for $40 which I think is pretty good.

Carve a stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

What stamp would you create?

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Animals Stampede

Our spare bedroom was in need of some love. The brown and yellow patterned carpet had seen better days, the peach vertical office blinds were a) peach and b) not in an office and there was scary 1970s doll wallpaper in one corner where we had taken out the built-in wardrobe to make more space. It needed to be de-uglyed.

We currently use it as a spare room but at some point in the future we might want to put a little person in there. Given that decorating makes me quite angry (a case of big ideas coupled with inadequate decorating skills) I didn’t want to decorate it twice, so wanted something that would work as a spare bedroom or as a nursery.

I have been hankering after the Florence Broadhurst wallpaper design ‘Horses Stampede’ from Places & Spaces for about eight years now.

Stampeding Horses by Florence Broadhurst

It comes in quite a few different colour ways and coordinating fabric (John Lewis sells cushions) but when I saw the £220 price tag I realised I’ll probably still be hankering after it in another eight years.

Instead we settled on stampeding cows.

Iltavilli wallpaper by Brewers

This wallpaper from Brewers Marimekko 2 collection is still not cheap but we only needed one roll as it’s a wider width than normal. It’s good quality and thick enough that the edges don’t tear when wet with paste. My dad is a Wallpapering Master but even with his help we took some time lining up the design as it’s so busy, but it was worth it as you can’t see any of the joins. Each cow is slightly different and the hand-drawn feeling is really nice. It also comes with a bright background in either pink or green if you’re feeling bold.

Once the cows were on the wall I felt the urge to paint some of the cow’s noses pale pink to add a bit of colour, but instead of ruining the new wallpaper bought a bright yellow throw in the sale and added some bright cushions.

Our Spare Bedroom

To save some money we decided I’d try my hand at fitting the carpet. A carpet offcut cost us £50 from our local carpet shop and after some You Tube tutorials I got stuck in. It was much easier than I expected. Considering this was a first attempt and I did it on my own, although not perfect, I am quite proud! It probaly saved us around £100, which paid for the wallpaper, paste and tools.

We just need some curtains now…

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