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

 

 

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Colour inspiration

Hello again,

What joy to see the sun in a blue sky and feel a real sense of Spring at last. The colours of these tulips have given me so much pleasure this week and remind me what an important role colours play in my knitting and crochet.

jewel colours

jewel colours

One of my lovely crochet ladies has recently been inspired by the shades of colour which she saw on holiday in India. This gorgeous Scheepjes cotton yarn pack on the Deramores website reminded her of those colours and she has created truly beautiful heart motifs and bunting with it. The finish is so professional – we all love it.

Colours of India

colours of India

perfect hearts

perfect hearts

subtle colour changes

subtle colour changes

The creative talent and attention to detail which I see amongst my crochet group is amazing and one of the things that please me most is that they are constantly challenging themselves with new stitches and techniques.

My Brighton Plaid blanket is coming along well; I am loving doing it as the yarn is an absolute joy to look at and work with. I’m on the last but one round now and am not rushing it as I know I shall miss this particular project when it is done.

pops of neon

pops of neon

image

on the way round

I have not mentioned my crochet course on this blog but since my last submission has been returned and another is almost ready to go I decided to incorporate an update on both those next time.

Enjoy the spring sunshine and happy crafting to you all,

Jenny x

6

Second batch results and braids to go!

Hello again,

I just thought I would update you briefly on how the crochet study is going. My second set of samples came back very quickly – pleased to report that they all passed, in the upper band of 90% or over. I was relieved that the sample of double crochet ……  should have been the easiest of all ……. was fine this time as I seem to have sorted the problem with the edges and turning chains. Phew!

My mentor for the course appears to place more emphasis on hook size than Pauline did when she marked my first pieces. I shall, therefore, have to consider more carefully matching hook size to yarn in order to achieve a better drape. I can see that in the creation of fabrics to wear this is important and, probably, not having made many garments has made me less aware of the need to crochet a looser fabric. As you know, most of my previous projects have been afghans, cushion covers and other household items.

So, here are the next five samples which passed muster:

1.

trebles into spaces

trebles into spaces

2. Working a triangle from a single double crochet stitch proved a real challenge so it was great to read that it is a “lovely piece of work”.

triangle in double crochet worked from a point

triangle in double crochet worked from a point

3. This next sample worked from slip stitches up to quadruple trebles – four rows of each using the same hook and same number of stitches – illustrates well the issue of hook size since it seems so tight at the bottom but far too loose and uneven at the top, the widest point. Even here a point was deducted for using a 4.00 mm hook instead of a 4.50mm.

basic stitches getting taller every four rows

basic stitches getting taller every four rows

4. I loved doing the chevron and incorporating some colour; hook size was an issue yet again and the lack of visual balance because the sample did not finish with the same colour as at the beginning. I’m pretty sure, though, that in a proper project such as a blanket or cushion cover I would not do that.

chevrons worked without holes

chevrons worked without holes

5. Sorry this is not a very good image of the basket weave stitch I used to show a heavily textured fabric in trebles. I love the finished texture but wow ….     it uses a load of yarn.

example of heavily textured fabric in trebles

basket weave stitch working round front and back posts

My next samples will be examples of five different braids. Pauline herself writes “What is or is not a braid is a debatable point” so students are indeed expected to interpret in their own way. I have opted for what I consider to be the safe option – strips of fabric with identical side edges. Who knows what my tutor’s view is? Let’s hope for the best.

five braids

five braids

Well enough of my ramblings! News of my first garment project to follow soon. In the meantime have a good weekend lots of happy crochet and knitting.

Jenny x

0

Buttons, braids and Brighton Plaid

Happy Sunday everybody!

Required sample No 32 for the International Diploma in Crochet is “A varied selection of seven practical and usable crochet buttons”.

Sample No 33 is “A selection of five crochet braids”.

I have been scouring my crochet books and have come up with a couple of button designs  ……

first two - rather plain

first two – rather plain

…… so one of today’s tasks is to find a few more decorative designs and try them out. I have covered pebbles in crochet so the concept of an enclosed spherical item is not a problem but the fact that the button must not show through is a bit more testing and seven different examples seems quite a few.

Braids, however, could prove more problematic since the definition of a braid seems to vary. What exactly is a braid and how does it differ from an edging? Must both sides be symmetrical as in a belt or bag handle or can one side be straight for sewing onto a piece of fabric? Some books describe braids as plaited which is something else again???

I love the fact that this course is challenging me to concentrate on all these ideas and concepts; I know that in order to extend myself I must take the plunge and some risks – safe is not an option in spite of it being my preference.

Last but by no means least ……  my Brighton Plaid blanket is coming along. I just love the yarn and the fact that because it is hand-dyed different shades of colour appear in different lights.

centre squares

centre squares

circles in squares joined with granny stripes

circles in squares joined with granny stripes

I am so, so pleased that it is a join-as-you-go design ……. from tiny to middle-sized it grows as I go and whichever random choice of colour yarn I choose for adjoining squares, they all seem to go together so well. I’d happily swap weaving in yarn ends as I go for seaming everything together at the end of a project!

mini squares

mini squares

At present I’m on the popcorn granny round; I thought the popcorns might prove tricky but not at all and the textured effect is lovely.

popcorn corner

popcorn corner

colour and texture

colour and texture

Well, I’m off to research some buttons and braids this morning. Each to their own as the saying goes!

Back soon,

Jenny x