Ask Jean Revisited 2

As the giving season approaches, why not consider the gift of teaching your little ones to knit? Sturdy, colourful needles parcelled up with fun yarn from your stash might at first seem like an unexciting gift, but the kids will soon find out what a gas it is to actually make something with it. So here's a question from my Ask Jean archive to help you get them  interested. 
Q  I’ve always loved knitting but neither of my daughters share my passion.  I now have a grand-daughter, Chloe, who’s nearly eight and would like to pass on the craft to her. Can you suggest projects which would be suitable for an eight-year-old?
Charlotte Morris, Morecambe
A  Make it fun, quick and attractive and I don’t think you’ll go far wrong.  Colourful, interesting fibres and quick and easy knits are what’s needed. Scarves, hats, beanbags, lavender bags, washcloths and simple toys, can all be made using plain or striped garter stitch, which has the bonus that the edges don’t roll.

Knitting rhymes are a fun way of getting a child to understand how to make the stitches – here are a few old ones:
How to Knit  
In through the front door
Around the back
Out through the window
And off jumps jack.

How to Purl  
Under the fence
Catch the sheep
Back we come
Off we leap.

For the very young
Into the bunny hole
Run round the tree
Out of the bunny hole
Away runs he

Continental knitting
Under the fence
Catch the sheep
Back you go
Off you leap

A good book to invest in would be Melanie Fallick's KidsKnitting, a paperback published in 2003 by Workman Publishing (ISBN-10: 1579652417 ISBN-13: 978-1579652418).  

In it you'll find fifteen easy projects, from bouncy beanbags to a rolled-edge sweater. Young beginners learn the basics and more, but best of all, they get to have fun creating things they can actually use -bookmarks, backpacks, bracelets, and other great ideas. 

Good luck, Charlotte, knitting's not taught in schools anymore, so we definitely need to pass on the skills to keep the needles clicking.  

There was always a bottle of malt vinegar in the cupboard when I was little and my mother told me that if she could only have one item in the larder it would be that.  Good for preserving, delicious on chips, helps rheumatic pain and it was probably the original fabric conditioner.
Q  I have rescued a crocheted blanket  which has been in the garage for a year or two.  I have washed it and it looks great, but it is has an unpleasant smell, probably due to being damp for some time.  It is not mildewed.  Is there something else I can wash it with?  Would borax do the trick?  I hesitate to try anything without someone else's experience to go on.  Various reference books like Mrs Beeton are not helpful.
Lindy Wiltshire, Alton, Hants
A  My grandmother always swore by vinegar. To remove smells from clothes and blankets add 1 cup of vinegar to very hot water in bathtub, and steam article above. If the odour is really bad you may need to do this two or three times, but it should do the trick eventually. Another tip is to add 2 cups of vinegar to the rinse cycle in your machine and this will leave your blanket soft and fluffy.

The neatest buttonhole as far as I'm concerned is the one-row bottonhole.  Once you've got the hang of it you'll never go back to the ones that always seem to have a small hole at one side no matter how much care you take.
Q  Help!  My buttonholes always look a mess.  Is there a perfect buttonhole that always looks good?
Lesley Coneybere , by email

A  The strongest and neatest buttonhole is worked on one row only and needs no further reinforcing.  Shown left the lower buttonhole is worked from the right side and the upper slightly neater one is worked from the wrong side.

Work to buttonhole, bring yarn to front, slip a st purlwise. Yarn to back,  *slip next st from LH needle, pass the first slipped st over it.  Repeat from * for the number of sts to be cast off for buttonhole , keeping yarn at back. Slip last cast off stitch to LH needle and turn work.

With yarn at back, cast on one more st than the number you cast off using the cable cast on:  *insert RH needle between the first and second sts on LH needle, draw up a loop and place it on LH needle.  When all sts are cast on, turn the work.

With yarn at back, slip the first stitch from LH needle and pass the extra cast-on stitch over it to close the buttonhole. 


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