0

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

 

 

0

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

2

Runner completed but time running out!

Hello everybody,

I have to apologise for neglecting my blog over the last couple of months. To be honest I’m finding it a bit difficult to find the time needed to keep up with the record of work required for my International Crochet Diploma and to blog as regularly as I would like.

I am thoroughly enjoying Part 1 of the course and have learned so much new stuff already – Tunisian and Broomstick as well as Filet crochet.  Certainly one of the things I’m noticing though is that the amount of time one can spend on “other” crochet activities is more limited: my “want to make” list is growing by the day. Christmas is fast approaching and along with the imminent arrival of two babies I want to make gifts for I am torn between my ICD samples and taking a break.

The good news is that Project No 3 is finished and has been submitted. I needed to use a fine thread and decided on a table runner in spider stitch – found the pattern on a lovely blog, Lace’n’Ribbon Roses. I already had a cone of Southern Comfort by Twilleys in my stash and used a 2mm hook which seems to show off the stitch pattern quite well.

Spider stitch

first attempt at the stitch pattern

 

pleased with the effect

pleased with the effect but the colour looks completely different!

Fortunately, I have a blocking mat which proved the perfect size for the runner……

blocking

….. and here it is ready to send off

difficult to photograph

My limited photography skills made it difficult to take a good photo of this but I do like the way the light behind picks up the stitch pattern.

And so, we are off on holiday for a month during which time I hope to catch up with some small bits and bobs – photos at the end of November, hopefully! I’m sure you will all be starting on some Christmas gifts too; good luck with all those projects and ….

……. keep crocheting!

Bye for now,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 

 

3

Tunisian … ta-dah!

Hello again,

It’s been ages since I wrote last – holidays, kitchen flooding and other bits and bobs have rather scuppered my writing of late. In the meantime, my IDC course has not been totally neglected: I was able to spend some time during our brilliant holiday in France on my third project – a household item worked in 2ply yarn/thread – but I’m getting ahead of myself …….

Before we went away I completed my second coursework project – a cushion cover in Tunisian crochet using Aran weight yarn with the addition of some fashion yarn …

flowers on the front

flowers on the front

 

striped back

striped back

 

buttons on back

buttons on back

 

flower in fashion yarn

flower in fashion yarn

Have to admit that I am surprisingly pleased with the result and I shall be sending the cushion off to my mentor this weekend and hoping for the best.

If you remember a while ago I attended a local workshop on Tunisian crochet before starting on the cushion cover. Quite coincidently, when we came back from France last week I noticed another workshop in Miju Wools, Gloucester; this time it is based on Broomstick crochet and that is indeed the technique which I have decided on for my fourth and final project.

I now have my latest crochet requirement, a single huge knitting needle purchased for 50p in a local Charity shop! I have to admit my initial attempts have been a bit clumsy! Maybe not surprising with an implement this large!

20mm needle and 4.00mm hook

20mm needle and 4.00mm hook

So, I’m off to embark on my latest new technique, armed with my “broomstick”. The stitch was originally worked with the handles of brooms …. can’t imagine how awkward that must have been!  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Happy crocheting!

Jenny x

 

3

And now for something different ….. and a few loose ends to be tied up

Hello everybody.

A very special little girl that I know who loves musical theatre has recently auditioned and been chosen to play one of the daughters in Fiddler on the Roof. It  will be performed at the Bristol Hippodrome in October and, needless to say, there is much excitement in the air.

Now, any of you who are grandmothers will, almost certainly, identify with being asked for help with fancy dress costumes and the like for little ones going to parties or performing somewhere. Believe me I’m rubbish at sewing and have never been much good at fancy dress. On this occasion there’s a difference though as the costume designer at the theatre wants the girls to wear crocheted or knitted shawls and I am delighted to have been asked!

Some patterns have been suggested but as long as the shawls appear authentic – plain, darkish colours and look as if they would have been worn for warmth – any triangular design should work. So, I have been trying out a couple to see how the yarn drapes and what the resulting fabric looks like – it’s great fun! I think I could get “hooked” on shawls!

 

chakra neckerchief

Pattern 1 – chakra neckerchief

 

Middleton shawl

Pattern 2 – Middleton shawl

 

Dixie charm

Pattern 3 – Dixie charm

Finally decided on the Dixie Charm since it is a mix of lacy and more solid fabric without being too heavy for little shoulders.

So, over the last couple of weeks I have been working on this one and ta-dah, here it is …..

very blue in the blocking!

very blue in the blocking!

Back to my coursework…..

My progress on the IDC had stuttered a little when my mentor was unable to do any assessing. Since my first project and my Tunisian crochet samples had not been returned I felt a bit uneasy about sending any further pieces of work. The good news is that she is now recovering from a nasty accident and I have got the work back.

The fabric of the three Tunisian samples passed but there were some issues with the crab stitch edging on the two-coloured one so I shall have to redo it.

Tunisian simple stitch

Tunisian simple stitch

 

two- colour, tweed effect Tunisian with a double crochet and crab stitch border

two- colour, tweed effect Tunisian with a double crochet and crab stitch border

Now I can get on with my plans for Project 2 which is almost entirely in Tunisian knowing that my basic Tunisian technique is OK.

Best news to arrive with the work was that the cardigan passed …. yay! I had made more changes than are strictly allowed when using a commercial pattern but I got away with that because of an error in the instructions. Finding the mistake and commenting upon it as well as writing to the designer seemed to go in my favour … phew! ….. because I adapted the length and shoulder seam as well. Must say I am very relieved.

quite pleased!

Delighted that it passed!

Well, that’s quite enough for this morning. It’s quite busy in this household at present and I’m afraid there is not as much time for crochet activities as I would like. The summer months are just rushing by … let’s make sure we all keep a bit of time free for knitting and crochet!

Bye for now,

Jenny x

5

Project progress

Hello again,

In addition to the thirty-five samples required for Part 1 of the International Diploma in Crochet we have to make four full-size projects which showcase some of the skills learned in our samples.

The pattern I chose for my first project was Verna – a summer cardigan, designed by Anniken Allis for the magazine Let’s Knit. Maybe the word “flattering” in the description had something to do with my choice!

summer cardigan

 

After a couple of initial tension issues I enjoyed making it. But then came the sewing-up process …… joining the pieces together and setting in sleeves reminded me of why I have not really enjoyed making crochet garments in the past. Yes, you’re absolutely right …. the very best reason to learn the right way! Anyway, I got there in the end ……

quite pleased!

quite pleased!

This project has sleeves, shaping and fastenings and so, if it passes, it will have fulfilled three criteria and what’s more, I think I might actually wear it!

it fits!

it fits!

Moving on …….. to something with less shaping!

As you know, I have been doing some work on Tunisian crochet recently so, while it is still in my mind I have decided that my second project will be worked in Tunisian. The technique seems to lend itself to straight-sided pieces and the dense fabric produced is ideal for cushion covers. This then, worked in Aran-weight yarn, is evolving into an item to be used in the home ……

Neutral arans

 

Project 2

We also have to show the use of a fashion yarn – I found a single ball of something fluffy which matches my earthy toned Arans and managed to make a few decorative flowers along with a strip – think it might become the opening flap.

Flowers

 

sofa matching

Now, I just need to find a coordinating, solid shade for the back of the cushion cover.

So, progress is being made; I have learned so many new techniques already and enjoyed the first three months of the course. Maybe it’s appropriate that it will shortly be time to tackle more lacy types of crochet – Broomstick and Hairpin – as these can be worked in cotton yarns which are easier to handle in warmer temperatures. Well, we hope it will get warmer, anyway.

On that note I shall say goodbye for today and wish you all happy knitting and crochet wherever you may be.

Jenny x

6

Tunisian crochet

Hi everybody,

Time to update you on my IDC course. The feedback on my five braids …

image

 

…. was slightly disappointing as the two shorter ones lost marks for lack of length and my mentor did not really like my use of self-striping sock yarn on samples which cannot show off the full range of colours. I hadn’t thought of that but can see that these yarns need to be shown off in an item which does justice to the colour mix.

So, having reworked the two offending braids I decided to have a go at Tunisian crochet, also known as Afghan crochet, which was completely new to me. Initially, I found working with the metal Tunisian hook (a timely freebie from Simply Crochet magazine) a bit hard on the fingers as was mastering the best way to hold this long implement.

image

Things got easier when I realised that it was possible to get hold of a Knitpro Symphonie rosewood hook and attach it to the knitting cables which I already have.

much easier to hold and manoeuvre

much easier to hold and manoeuvre

The technique is something between knitting and crochet – it involves picking up loops across a row of stitches and holding the loops produced on the hook. This is called the forward pass. Then the stitches are completed and the loops dropped on the way back which is called the return pass. Sounds much more complicated than it is!  The fabric produced has a woven, dense texture and because it needs to be worked on a larger hook than one would normally use for the chosen yarn it grows quite quickly.

Very fortuitously, I got onto a Tunisian Crochet workshop at Miju Wools, Gloucester, which gave me some more practice before doing my samples.  This sampler in DK 100% Merino wool gives an idea of the fabric ….

Tunisian sampler: right to left - simple stitch, knit stitch, purl stitch, short row shaping and two-coloured tweed effect

….. right to left – simple stitch, knit stitch, purl stitch, short row shaping and two-coloured tweed effects

Part I of The International Diploma in Crochet requires three samples of Tunisian crochet: one in Tunisian simple stitch …. apparently this was popular among Victorian ladies who then embellished the resulting squared fabric with cross stitch embroidery …

Tunisian simple stitch

Tunisian simple stitch

…. this biggest issue for me on this one was achieving a straight left hand edge and I don’t think I’ll be starting on cross stitch any time soon!

The second sample has to be worked in two colours to produce a tweed effect …

tweed effect

definitely tweedy and a rather dense texture

This square has also been edged with a round of dcs and crab stitch which, in fact, hides the uneven tension at the side – think I should have used a larger hook for these samples.

The third example has to be of a textured Tunisian stitch and again the hardest part for me was achieving an even tension. I finally decided on a bobble stitch as described in Pauline Turner’s booklet on Tunisian crochet and although I have submitted it – hence no photo at the moment – I’m less than hopeful that it will pass.

So, I await the verdict on this fourth submission – hope to get it soon in order to keep up the momentum before summer activities such as gardening cut down my crochet time. The frosts of last week already seem long gone as we plan our first barbecue of the year.

Enjoy the sunshine and keep crocheting,

Jenny x