No Knit & Natter Today

I just had a call from Tony, the Practice Manager at Alnwick Medical Group to let me know that this afternoon’s group is cancelled. He asked me to put something on the blog.

As they haven’t received full guidelines on how the surgery should respond to latest Coronavirus guidelines it was decided to err on the side of caution and try to let everyone know not to turn up.

I did wonder if this would happen. It seems sensible to play safe. In the meantime it is up to all of us to follow the guidelines to protect ourselves and others.

It’s also important to keep a sense of perspective. There’s a lot of misinformation on social media so let’s stick to reliable sources like the NHS…and keep calm!

Hopefully normality will return before long. I’ll be staying at home practising my brioche knitting instead this afternoon.

Has the Coronavirus outbreak made you change your plans today?

Knit and Natter Friday: 6th March – Knitting is Good For You!

We loved looking at this big colourful haul of gorgeous knits from the Knit and Natter Group, who meet at Alnwick Medical Group on Friday afternoons. At the top of the picture are baby jackets, mostly premature size. I love the contrasting edges on the ones at the top right. We also have some beautiful blankets and premature baby clothes from a lady who loves knitting but doesn’t come to the group. The multicoloured blankets left and front are knitted in beautifully soft chenille yarn. The pink/purple baby clothes and blanket were all made out of one big ball of ombre wool. The blanket is knitted in a design of alternating stocking stitch and moss stitch with a moss stitch edge. Isn’t it effective?

We were joined by a couple of members of staff from the practice today. Of course, we can’t let anyone visit us without doing any knitting so we found them some wool and needles and got them started. One had knitted before and soon picked it up again. The other was a complete beginner and after a bit of tuition she was doing brilliantly.

They were there to gather information for Social Prescribing Day (next Thursday, 12th March. Our knitting group was set up as part of the medical practice’s social prescribing work. At the end of the session we took part in a video interview and answered questions about the knit and natter group and what we get out of it. It was interesting to reflect on why we enjoy doing what we do. From my point of view……

  • It’s good to interact with a friendly, supportive group of people with a shared interest. We enjoy each other’s company.
  • We can share skills and learn from each other. There must be several centuries of knitting experience in the group!
  • There’s a shared sense of achievement in completing a project or learning a new skill.
  • Knitting for charity is a worthwhile use of our knitting skills to help others.
  • Communal knitting is fun!

One question that really made me think was about the importance of holding a knitting group in a doctors surgery. I think it legitimises knitting as a worthwhile activity that’s good for physical and mental wellbeing. I know that those of us that knit have known this for years, but there are still people out there that consider it to be a boring solitary hobby, primarily for elderly women! Nonsense!

There are real benefits to mental and physical wellbeing

  • The repetitive action of knitting has a calming effect, lowering heart rate and blood pressure (like stroking a pet or doodling)
  • It’s a mindful activity. By concentrating on the activity of knitting you can slow down, focus on what you are doing and reduce stress and anxiety.
  • It keeps your hands moving, good for the blood supply and muscle tone in the fingers.
  • There’s always something new to learn. Learning new skills encourages the development of new neural pathways, great for maintaining a healthy brain and improving memory.
  • Knitting groups are a great way of combatting social isolation and its effects of mental and physical health.

Now that this is being endorsed by healthcare professionals maybe more people will take up knitting!

What do you think are the benefits of knitting?

Knit and Natter Friday: 21 February (Part Two)

This afternoon was the weekly meeting of The Knit and Natter Group at Alnwick Medical Group, which is held every Friday from 2.30-4pm in the Lower Building Meeting Room.

This week’s completed charity knits include a hat, and some baby clothes, along with my twiddle mitts. We’ve also been working on some of our own projects, including socks, a baby cardigan for a group member’s first grandchild, due in May. One of the practice staff popped in for some advice on a top-down baby jacket they are about to start, also for an eagerly awaited first grandchild. There’s always some advice available and the little pink and turquoise top in the picture is a top-down construction too, so we had an example to show her!

I’d love to hear about any knit and natter or craft groups you are involved with.

Knit and Natter Friday: 21 February (Part One)

It’s the third Friday of the month and that means I spent this morning at the Amble Pincushion. Recently completed work by group members includes a toy cat, a cobweb scarf and some baby blankets. There’s a lovely sweater on the go too, in pretty heather, pink and cream, being knitted in a lovely light, soft alpaca mix boucle yarn.

We all fell in love with the stripy cat, made with yarn and magazine pattern won in a raffle held at a previous meeting of the group. He’s a cuddly toy, but could have a weight put inside to make him into a doorstop.

There are some great courses coming up at the shop in the next few months: I’ve booked on to the mosaic one. We’ve also arranged a trip to a knitting-themed show at the Alnwick Playhouse next month.

After meeting K for a lovely lunch, I took a leisurely drive to Alnwick, so I could pop to the shops before the second knit and natter group of the day. The wind was really getting up as I was leaving Amble and I pulled in by the river Coquet as there is a great view of Warkworth Castle.

The birds had come quite a long way up the river where it is more sheltered. I watched a couple of cormorants feeding. There were mallards and black headed gulls too. Usually you can see herons on this stretch of the Coquet. Today I could just make out three of them sheltering among the trees on the opposite bank.

Pretty well hidden aren’t they?

Double Twiddle

I made a couple of twiddle mitts this week. It’s been a while since I made any charity knits and the members of my Knit and Natter Group put me to shame with all their lovely work.

Twiddle Mitts are given to Alzheimers patients to distract them from picking at dressings and canulae when in hospital. Also, repeatedly twiddling the buttons and other adornments and stroking the different textures of yarn can have a calming effect. I was inspired to make these when a friend donated a pile of yarn which included some really interesting textures:there were fluffy mohairs, eyelash yarn, metallics, ribbon yarns and all sorts.. They are dead easy to make, so I thought I’d include a bit of a tutorial on here.

Using two strands of double knitting (or the equivalent) and 6.5mm needles, cast on 40 stitches and continue in stocking stitch (it’s easier to sew the embellishments on later if you use straight needles, but you could use circular). Change the yarn every so often to incorporate different textures. You could also vary the stitch to change the texture by using eg moss stitch, blackberry stitch or cable. When the work measures 23 inches, cast off. You end up with a long rectangle like this.

I use the duller colours for the first half which will form the inside of the mitt and save the colourful stuff for the outside.

Next, you add the embellishments…..beads, buttons and so on. I also added some tiny jingle bells and a crocheted flower.

It’s important to add embellishments to what will be the inside of the mitt too.

The most important thing here is to sew the items on very securely.

When everything is in place, sew the side edges together to form a tube (if you used circular needles you’ll already have one!)

Then, fold half to the inside and sew the cast on and cast off edges together.

I finished off by adding a little crocheted edging.

All done!

How do you use up your oddments of yarn?

Knit and Natter Friday 8th Feb

Here are some of the beautiful clothes for premature babies that some of our group members have knitted this week.

We have collected quite a haul recently and one of the members has kindly agreed to take them down to the Royal Victoria Infirmary Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Newcastle. A batch has already been sent to to the Special Baby Care Unit at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, Cramlington

The group, which was set up as part of a social prescribing initiative, meets at Alnwick Medical Group Lower Building every Friday afternoon from 2.30-4pm. Tea/coffee and biscuits are provided. Group members work on either charity knits or their own projects. Support and tuition is also available for novice knitters.

Knit and Natter Friday #10

It’s been another productive week for the Knit and Natter Group, who brought along these items for the charities we support. We meet every Friday from 2.30-4pm at Alnwick Medical Group’s Lower Building. Work in progress today included a jumper, a baby cardigan, a colourful bag, socks, and a hat to match the lovely purple and white premature baby coat in the picture.

We were talking about a tv programme that some of us saw the other night (about health). Apparently knitting is good for you! Of course we all knew that. If you learn new skills, then you lay down new neural pathways and that’s really good for your memory. Even experienced knitters are always learning new techniques. Reading patterns is a skill in itself, like learning a new language. Also, that gentle repetitive action of knitting has a calming effect (like doodling, or stroking a pet). Then there’s the social value of communal knitting and nattering and donating knitted items to charity. Basically its all great!

How do think knitting benefits you?

Knit and Natter Friday #9

Friday’s Knit and Natter at Alnwick Medical Group brought more lovely charity knits (including those pictured here). There are two “fish and chip baby” tops here (in peach and orange/brown/white), each with matching hats. These were among the first items the group started to knit, following news from one of the practice GPs, who had been doing voluntary work in a clinic in Africa – there was nothing to keep newborns warm in the maternity unit and they ended up being wrapped in newspaper (like fish and chips) – hence the name. These simple tshirt tops have been a great solution.

Also pictured are a couple of premature baby outfits, destined for the unit at the RVI, Newcastle. Both are very pretty and that lilac/white/pink one is a really lovely colour combination.

We also have a couple of fabulous hats here. The red and green one with the bobble was made by the husband of one of our members, using a knitting loom – she reports that he really likes using the loom. He’s one of the contributors who make charity knits but don’t actually attend the group – we have several ladies who make beautiful charity knits that are either dropped off at the surgery or send them with friends who do come along.

The Knit and Natter Group is held every Friday at The Lower Building on Infirmary Drive from 2.30 to 4pm. We make a voluntary contribution of £1 towards posting the charity knits to where they are needed and tea/coffee and biscuits are provided. Some members make the charity items, others work on their own projects. Some knit, others crochet. There’s always a lot of expertise and experience in the room to help out beginners or assist with problems.

Knit and Natter Friday #8.2

This afternoon it was our weekly Knit and Natter Group at Alnwick Medical Group, which runs from 2.30pm to 4pm on Fridays, in the Lower Building.

Once again, the members have made a beautiful selection of charity knits , but today we were focussing on some of the blankets made by our group. All of those in the picture are made of small squares sewn together. Whether these are knitted or crocheted (like the pretty pink and white one) , it’s a great way to get started if you are learning for the first time, with help on hand if you need some support

A lady recently brought a partly completed blanket into the surgery. She can no longer knit so couldn’t finish it. One of our members has now completed it (the lovely leaf design at the bottom of this picture). Haven’t they both done a great job?

Have you ever given someone else a project to finish, or completed one for someone else?

Knit and Natter Friday #8.1

It’s that busy Friday that happens once a month when both the monthly group and the weekly group I’m in are on the same day.

First up this morning was the monthly group at The Amble Pincushion. Knit and Natter sessions are on the 3rd Friday of every month from 10am to 12, cost £4.50, including refreshments , raffle entry and 10% discount in the shop on the day. This lovable giraffe toy was made by one of the group for her baby granddaughter. It seems to have started a trend because, by total coincidence, another group member won a knitting kit in the raffle, to make, as you’ll have guessed……a giraffe.

We were talking about the newly-refurbished Alnwick Playhouse too. The shop team have been getting regular updates from one of the staff members who is a member of the Alnwick Stage Musical Society who will be performing Jesus Christ Superstar in late March. This will be their first show to be staged since the renovations.

We were also discussing casting on and binding off. I learnt the cable cast on method when I was little and used nothing else for years until I learnt the thumb or long tail method fairly recently. I now know there are absolutely loads of variations to use depending on the look and amount of stretch needed. Some are very plain, others are quite decorative. We were all pouring over a book that one of the group was given recently, that had full instructions for each and suggestions of the sorts of project each would be most suitable for. It’s always great to learn something new.

Do you have a favourite cast on or bind off?