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Birthday bouquet and broomsticks

Hello,

Yesterday my lovely ladies joined me for our crochet class after the summer break. During the last couple of months I have missed their company and enthusiasm for extending themselves with lots of different projects. We had a great morning – well, I did anyway!  I brought the broomsticks and they brought this most beautiful bouquet (it was my birthday)…..

…and so we started on our broomstick session.

Much concentration was required …….

…… and their efforts were rewarded. They all did a great job and managed amazingly well to manoeuvre hooks, yarn and broomsticks. I have to say that although I love the peacock-like effect of the stitches I do find it quite tricky to get into a rhythm when working this technique.

The class produced some excellent samples, though …

…and I shall not be surprised this winter to find them all wearing scarves, cowls and other accessories made this way.

Now that I am doing Part II of the International Diploma in Crochet my samples have to be submitted along with suggestions as to how they could be incorporated into a pattern. I took this opportunity to coincide teaching broomstick to my group of ladies with starting on the Part II broomstick samples.

The first one required is a piece of broomstick worked using sticks of three different sizes – I chose a DK yarn and broomsticks of 12, 15 and 20mm.

The sample did not increase in width as much as I thought it would using the bigger needles but I do have some ideas as to what it might be used for – wrist warmers, leg warmers, cape … ?? The one I shall probably select as my main suggestion is a lampshade cover but maybe worked in a finer yarn  – still considering this one.

The design element of the course is definitely stretching me but I hope that it will help me to think “outside the box” and extend my creativity potential…. hopefully!

Now, on the subject of design, I am going, this weekend, to a workshop at the Crochet Design Studio run by the IDC course organiser, Pauline Turner. It will be quite something to meet her and take part in one of her workshops – I’m excited and feel sure I’ll learn a huge amount.

Updates on that to follow.

In the meantime happy crafting adventures,

Jenny x

 

 

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Hello again!

I just can’t believe that it’s September already and I haven’t posted for weeks. Where did the summer go?

Well, the good news us that I passed Part I of my course, The International Diploma in Crochet.

According to the course info I’m now properly qualified to teach crochet skills to my group of lovely ladies – can’t wait to start again in a couple of weeks and get them trying out more challenging techniques. Broomstick and hyperbolic crochet have already been requested! Watch this space!

Apart from being away in France in July and August I’ve taken the opportunity to “weave” in a few loose ends over the past month or so …. and believe me there have been many of those, both literally and figuratively speaking.

Some time ago I started a table runner using the beautiful stonewashed colours of a pack of Stof and Stil Scandinavian yarn given to me last winter and which match the rug in our living room ….

Well, that’s finished. Worked in the yo-yo stitch it was fiddly but great to transport on our travels.

I also made some sunflowers for my granddaughters who took part in the musical Singing in the Rain just before our visit to France. Fresh flowers are the usual gift at the end of a performance but are often drooping by the next morning so I opted for these……..

……….. a well written pattern by Krawka and easy to piece together.

 

In preparation for exploring the techniques of working different shapes in the round I had a go at a granny circle stool cover – there was a certain amount of guesswork involved to reach the right size but the result looks fine.

 

 

There won’t be so much time for projects like these over the coming months, I suspect. I have enrolled for Part II of the course….. brave or foolhardy? Time will tell. My coursework has arrived ….

 

. …exciting but a little scary as there is a greater design element to this part and design is not my strong point. I’ll let you know how it goes!

I hope you’ve all had a good summer and found time for some craftwork.

Happy crocheting

Jenny x

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Broomstick, yoyo plus other crochet stuff

Hello,

Broomstick crochet is one of the techniques required for the International Diploma in Crochet. I had been putting it off as it looked a bit awkward but, in fact, it’s not too bad at all as it turns out.

My three samples all passed – just one or two issues with tension (again!)

You use a normal crochet hook and a huge 15mm knitting needle: loops are placed on the needle and then crocheted off in groups using double crochets.

The second sample shows that it is  possible to incorporate treble crochet between the rows of broomstick …..

I also had to show that I could use the same technique in a full size item so I used some gorgeous DK sock yarn bought in the USA to show off the open stitches.

 

A while ago a friend brought me a lovely pack of Scheepjes cotton in stonewashed colours. As they were mini balls I had no real plan as to what I would make but then, last week, I noticed the yo-yo stitch in a magazine.

I’d never met the stitch before but it looked as if it would work well in the different colour cottons which are similar in tone to the Turkish rug in our lounge and I could just visualise a coffee table centre to coordinate.

Apart from the obvious nuisance of having ends to weave in after every little circle the pattern is effective and I’m loving the way it is working up …..

The other good thing about this project is that it is very portable and as we have quite a few trips planned it should grow on our numerous journeys. Cotton is cool for working on hotter days as well so it will probably come to Greece with me in a couple of weeks.

I hope you all have some “cool” crochet on the go for the days ahead. Crochet and/or knitting as therapy is being advocated more and more regularly at the moment – having included a feature on the health benefits of these crafts in our book, The Woolly Prawn in 2012 my daughter and I are encouraged to hear of any real initiatives to promote this.  Those of us who enjoy knitting and crochet know the benefits. Let’s spread the word wherever we can.

Happy knitting and crocheting,

Jenny x

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Canal crochet

Hello,

One of the requirements of my International Diploma in Crochet is a written report. I have opted to research how much evidence of crochet – items, implements or patterns – exists in our local museums.

Over the past few weeks I have discovered that plenty of such items exist but, and it’s a big BUT, almost all of them are packed away in archives. If you want to see any of the above examples you have to make an appointment with an archivist and the waiting list can be as long as three months. By the time I contacted the third of my list of local museums I was becoming quite frustrated by this state of affairs ……. as are some  the ladies in the Boaters’  Crafts Group who told me of this sad situation when I enquired about canal crochet exhibits at The National Waterways Museum in Gloucester.

The group is made up of men and women who, having realised how little is on display to inform the public about the lives and crafts of the families who lived on the waterways, meet regularly at The National Waterways Museum. Their aim is to demonstrate and raise awareness of the domestic crafts practised by the boat people. They also give talks locally to spread the word and, hopefully, inspire others to explore these 19th century crafts.

I was fortunate enough to attend one such talk where there was a display of canal crochet and other items used and made by the boat people.

canal boat crafts

The ladies who gave the talk were all colourfully dressed in typical boat women’s wear, made by themselves.  Their crocheted shawls reflect the style and bright shades which were popular amongst the boatwomen. The decorative, but sturdy, bonnets add colour and feminine detail to the otherwise plain, utilitarian outfits of these hard working women while at the same time protecting their heads from the cold, the rain and the sun.

colourful crochet and embroidery

Crochet was the most popular craft of the boatwomen. The very fine filet style of the canal crochet is being reproduced in the Boaters’ Craft Group by a very talented lady affectionately referred to as their “crochet queen”.  She was taught the technique many years ago by a neighbour whose mother was, in fact, a boatwoman herself. During the talk the crochet queen demonstrated her skill and spoke of her aim: to teach present day crafters to make canal lace as beautiful as that which was being crocheted on a daily basis by the boatwomen.

crochet queen

They decorated the interiors of their cabins with shelf edgings ….

original edging showing rust where it was nailed on

…. curtains and porthole covers. They made yards and yards of crocheted lace edgings to embellish their bonnets, aprons and girls’ dresses. One of the most beautiful items on display at the talk was a horse’s earcap – a protective covering worn by the canal folk’s horse’s to keep the flies away from their faces and eyes. The swishing of the coloured tassels would keep away insects ….

horse earcap

There was embroidery on display as well – gorgeous coloured belts in intricate spiderweb stitches worked on tea towels or other squared material.

spiderweb stitch embroidered belts

The talk was both fascinating and informative. I was totally unaware of the extent and importance of canal crochet; my attempts at filet work have now taken on a whole new meaning and I am keen to try some of the original cabin lace designs.

How brilliant that this group of crafts people are passionate enough to give up their time and share their enthusiasm with the general public while museums do not seem to believe there is a need to display exhibits of such historical importance.

On that note, let me wish you all a very happy Easter. I hope you have time for a bit of crochet …… or knitting …..or embroidery – in fact, whichever craft inspires you.

Happy crafting, everybody

Jenny x

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Buttons and braids (no! …. edgings actually!)

Hello,

Two of the samples required for the International Diploma in Crochet Part 1 are seven different, usable, crocheted buttons and three crocheted edgings in DK yarn appropriate for adding to the front edges of a plain edge-to-edge knitted/crocheted jacket. I have been working on these during the last couple of weeks and sent them off to be assessed last week.

Each of the buttons had to be different so I settled on covering a flat button (lime green), a button with a shank (turquoise), a small round one (cream) and a metal ring (multi) which I covered in double crochet before weaving in and out of wheel-like spokes.  These were all worked in fine threads of differing thicknesses in amigurumi style, spiral double crochet.

The remaining three needed to be firm enough to hold their shape by either stuffing or working very firmly on small hooks: a red disc of trebles, a small pink globe filled with toy stuffing and a turquoise, variegated flower.

Here they are …..

Buttons

Let’s hope my mentor approves!

I can’t truthfully say that I found this to be a fun exercise as I found it quite fiddly. The buttons also needed more finishing off with a needle than I ever would choose. My friends all know that I go for a crochet join rather than a stitched one wherever possible!

The edgings (they differ from braids in that one side has to be plain double crochet to stitch onto existing fabric) proved more interesting and it was fun trying out a few new effects with stitches …

Edgings

Dk tweedy mix

This first edging is worked in a tweedy Scandinavian yarn called Sandnes Garn Robust and the last two rows form the half treble crochet puff stitch which I found in Pauline Turner’s book of finishing techniques.

Htr and front loop only crab st

Wendy Ramsdale DK provided a lovely woolly look and feel to this edging where I experimented a bit with working into back loops only.

Front post trebles

Finally, an edging based on an American afghan border which I had, using a combination of trebles and front post trebles.

Aside from these samples, I just could not resist starting a couple of extra projects  …… different requirements for car journeys, watching TV, knitting group etc. Well, that’s my excuse!!

So, here’s a glimpse of a real stash-buster that I have on the go using one of my favourite stitches – linen stitch, also sometimes referred to as woven or up-and-down stitch. It’s not a fast grower but I love the way the resulting fabric lies so flat …..

What could it be?


Linen st

Last week, feeling that a visit to a local Craft centre was justified by my stash-busting I splashed out on this interesting looking Bergère de France yarn. It has a metallic thread running through it …

Bergère de France reflet

I have to say I am pleased with the way it’s growing into my next shawl/triangular scarf; the four-row pattern is designed by Elisabeth de Herraiz and featured in Issue 41 of Simply Crochet

Elisabeth Davis de Herraiz lacy shawl

So there we are …. plenty to keep me busy over the next few weeks not to mention coming to grips (unintentional pun!) with Broomstick and Hairpin crochet for my course.

Enjoy your knitting and/or crochet wherever you are and be inspired to try something new. We all know how beneficial any crafting is.

Best wishes,

Jenny x

 

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Chartbusting ……. literally!

Hello,

Last September my lovely crochet group said that the area of crochet in which they felt least secure was working from charts. So, I decided that the time had come to put them through their paces; I know from experience how helpful it is to have the facility to locate a stitch on a chart and see where it lies in relation to the rest of a piece of work. Increasingly crochet patterns offer both written and charted instructions … unlike some of the vintage crochet designs which can be so offputting.

Throughout the autumn my ladies hooked their way through more than eighty squares of different colours and textures, working both in rows and in the round without using a single written instruction. They worked from a variety of stitch pattern charts that I had been able to print off or draw out – linen stitch, trinity stitch, blackberry salad, “v”stitch, iris stitch, shells and fans, clusters, bobbles and popcorns to name but a few – until they had crochet symbols coming out of their ears!

I could not bear to think of all that hard work lying unused in box somewhere and so, in January, the decision was made to join the squares. Nine ladies each undertook to join nine squares which were then crocheted together to form a bright and cheerful afghan.

nine times nine all joined

nine times nine all joined

Disparate square size was a bit of an issue but we overcame that by using a flexible zig-zag join and I imposed some rather agressive blocking and steaming!  The central border, created initially to enlarge that particular square,  is repeated around the outer edge.

Centre

 

Border

I am so pleased with the result and really hope that the exercise has given my group the extra confidence needed to take on future projects.

a bit of sunshine

a hint of spring sunshine

It is amazing just how many of my group at the start of the project were convinced that they would not be able to use charts but now they find them easier to follow than the written words and abbreviations.

Well done everybody … be proud of yourselves. I am proud of all the perseverance, effort and hard work you put into your work.

What next? Who knows … the sky’s the limit!

Happy crafting,

Jenny x

 

 

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2017 and I’m back

Hello again,

It’s a bit late to wish you all Happy New Year but let’s hope 2017 brings us much crafting joy and success. I haven’t written for ages …. things got rather busy before Christmas but I’ve missed you all and it’s good to be back in touch now.

December brought the usual gifts to be made – mainly hats, beanies, gloves, cowls and a specially requested cushion for one granddaughter along with a fine shawl for another.

This was one of the most fun projects from a pattern found on the Crochet for Children website – Danyelpink Delaney Hat.

stripes and squiggles

stripes and squiggles

Then there was the cushion ……

love the colours

love the colours

This cushion is an exact replica of one I made some time ago using the stitch pattern from Little Dolally’s Bertie’s Baby Blanket – I was quite flattered that a nine year old should choose the same colour scheme.

Talking of babies … some good friends are enjoying their first grandchild and although he was born in November the crochet gift was not ready until early in January. Fortunately the weather is still sufficiently cold for him to need keeping warm.

bobbles for baby

bobbles for baby

buggy blanket to match

buggy blanket to match

cosy ears and toes

cosy ears and toes

Moogly’s Leaping Stripes and Blocks comes up trumps yet again – it really is a super pattern.

Now, it’s back to my International Diploma in Crochet and I have already got quite a bit to report from 2017 but I’m going to leave that for the moment and get this update published.

Happy crafting, everybody. It’s lovely to be back with you.

Jenny x