1

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

6

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

0

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

3

First IDC results -scary!

Hello everybody,

Well, it was with considerable trepidation that I opened the envelope to discover my fate ……. I had posted off samples of six different but fairly simple techniques from the list of thirty-five required.

With the pass mark for each sample set at 80% I was not at all confident that my work would be sufficiently accurate to to earn these comments:-

Pass          80-84%

Fine            85-89%

Good           90-94%

Very good    95-99%

Excellent      100%

What I did not see coming was the failure of my double crochet sample which should, of course, be the most straightforward stitch! I have obviously been working the turning chain incorrectly for ages – into the base of the turning chain instead of the turning chain itself. Pauline’s description of the problem made it easy to redo so now I know what I should be doing and have done a second sample to resubmit with my next lot. Phew!

double crochet - failed since first stitch of each row was worked into wrong place

double crochet – failed since first stitch of each row was worked into the wrong place

The other five sample comments more than made up for the initial disappointment and even the piece of filet crochet, a technique which I had never previously tried, passed muster.

trebles worked normally - very good indeed

trebles worked normally – very good indeed

 

double trebles - good

double trebles – good

 

open/lacy pattern based on trebles - excellent

open/lacy pattern based on trebles – excellent

 

shell or fan stitch - excellent

shell or fan stitch – excellent

 

filet crochet including an individual motif - very good

filet crochet including an individual motif – very good

I am so pleased with these comments and to know that my work is progressing along the right lines. Working the samples was really enjoyable and it was particularly rewarding to have taken care over every aspect of each one. It was great fun producing the filet heart to such good effect.

My next batch will contain, amongst others, examples of chevrons, a triangle worked from one stitch and a very tricky piece worked in increasingly taller stitches. I fear for that one!

Anyway, that’s my update on progress ………  so far, so good.

This blogger is becoming obsessed I hear you murmur and yes, you are right, it is a fine line between obsession and passion!  So, to prevent samples from taking over my life I have started on a beautiful colour project from a kit purchased last summer. I saw the Brighton Plaid blanket in a supplement to Simply Knitting magazine and could not resist the jewel-like shades. It is worked from the centre out in a mixture of different size squares using the gorgeous Madelinetosh Unicorn Tails ….

Unicorn Tails

Unicorn Tails

how best to display this gorgeous yarn?

how best to display this gorgeous yarn?

But more of that next time….

Happy crocheting (and knitting, of course!)

Jenny x

 

0

Coloured Catherine Wheels

Hello,

A new baby is always a reason to celebrate – to knit or crochet a favourite baby item. Phoebe Elizabeth is no exception and her arrival is very special.

Am I alone in getting itchy fingers to try out new stitch patterns after doing the well-known ones a few times? With a reasonable stash of merino and cash-merino baby yarns lurking in my stash I embarked on the never-attempted (by me!) Catherine Wheel stitch of Little Doolally’s Penny Baby blanket.

love this yarn hungry stitch and how the colours stand out

love this yarn hungry stitch and how the colours stand out

 

buggy blanket

buggy blanket

It took a little while to get the swatch to work and have reasonably straight sides and I have to admit to being a little fearful as to the outcome. Once mastered, though, the stitch works well and is very effective in showing off bands of colour.

penny blanket

penny blanket

The edging too was a bit hit and miss and since the pattern suggested that it could be too full I was not surprised to find the central panel pulling inwards. Ohh, the wonders of blocking ….. layers of towels, a hovering steam iron and patience over the weekend worked a treat and here is the finished article ready to be posted along with the little baby hat.

edging from Attic 24

edging from Attic 24

baby hat

baby hat

All in all a very pleasing project and, though I say it myself, not a bad finish either. I hope little Phoebe and her Mum will enjoy it!

Back soon with my next exciting project.

Happy knitting and crochet,

Jenny x

 

0

Spikes and Posts 1

No, ……… not what you put around gardens to protect them – in fact, it might have been a good idea if we had used some bearing in mind the events of the last few weeks!

These are crochet terms for different stitches which you can use to add texture to your work. The effects of using spike stitches with different colour stripes is amazing and the technique is nothing like as difficult as it looks. Double crochets and trebles are just worked by inserting the hook into a specified stitch or space below the row being worked at the time and drawing a longer loop of yarn up to complete the stitch.

Here are a few examples that I have come across lately:-

Leaping stripes and blocks

This is a most effective pattern which I discovered on Mooglyblog and works up a treat just by using the stitches a couple of rows below the row on which you are working. Check it out  ….

leaping blocks and stripes

quite a close texture – ideal for a hard wearing fabric

 

You might remember the cushion cover I did in this stitch a while ago.

texture of stitch

texture of stitch

Retro stripes – simple but striking

retro stripes

one of little doolally’s baby blanket stitch patterns – simple but effective

 

Eyelash – all sorts of variations on this exist by adapting the height of each spike stitch which is basically a very long double crochet.

eyelash

 

Spiked waves

I love the calm, methodical design of this – each wave is defined by the spike stitch and once you become familiar with the ten stitch repeat pattern it works a treat. My example is going to be a baby buggy blanket but I have seen it worked in beautiful textured wool yarns to produce a fabric which would be perfect for a cushion cover.

spiked waves

another blanket pattern from little doolally

……….. or a cushion cover. This design has been beautifully worked by one of my lovely crochet ladies. You can see why they fill my Monday mornings with joy!

fantastic use of scraps

fantastic use of scraps

what a difference the wool makes to the appearance!

what a difference the wool makes to the appearance!

 

Spikes and shells

My choice of stitch name for this design as I could not find it described anywhere. There is a good visual tutorial for it on the mypicot website.

spikes and shells

 

The same method of working into stitches below can be used in the round as well to produce striking motifs …….  separating petals with the spike stitches or just incorporating colour spikes.

These are some of the motifs from the Octie throw which I have been working on

green spikes

pink spikes

………. and the African hexagon flower blanket

blue to highlight petals

African hexagon flower

 

Not all of the above examples qualify strictly as spikes but hey, I like them and the effects they produce. What inspires me as well is the diversity of trying out these stitches with different weights and types of yarn and not being afraid to experiment with a whole range of hook sizes.

Oh for a few more crochet hours in each day ……..  and I haven’t even started on posts yet!

Happy crafting,

Jenny x

 

0

Chunky and scrunchy

Hello again,

Who could have imagined that I would ever be writing a blog post about chunky yarn and, wait for it ……. bearing in mind that I am a self-professed yarn snob ……… 100% acrylic to boot!!

I blame it all on Lucy of Attic 24 – do check out her totally amazing blog if you haven’t already. Love, love love it!

This adventure began with my rather large order of chunky yarn to make a draught excluder for my son-in-law before Christmas. I seriously overestimated how many balls I would need and ended up with what really looked like more than I started with!

My most inspiring blogger, Lucy at Attic 24 came to my aid with her infectious enthusiasm for Stylecraft Special Chunky. Her jolly yarn bag pattern immediately attracted me and, true to form, it worked brilliantly.

showing it off in my own yarny space

showing it off in my own yarny space

 

scrunchy, chunky flowers

scrunchy, chunky flowers

 

I still had plenty left so, using Ravelry.com to give me ideas about which patterns work well in chunky yarn, I began experimenting with swatches in different stitch patterns. Tamara Kelly of Mooglyblog uses some super interesting stitches and I am indebted to her for the leaping blocks and stripes design in my cushion cover. Combining texture with stripes is just such fun:-

love the effect of these spike stitches

love the effect of these spike stitches

 

coloured waves

coloured waves

 

retro spikes from mooglyblog

retro spikes

 

So, the cushion cover using the spike stitches began to take shape and because crochet in chunky yarn grows so amazingly fast it just seemed to appear!

spikey stripes at front

spikey stripes at front

 

half trebles at back

half trebles at back

 

texture of stitch

texture of stitch

These are not really my colours although it looks fine on the computer chair …….

Office chair

 

………. I wonder who will be the eventual recipient of this armful of chunky squashiness? I’ll certainly be trying one in another stitch pattern in my colours to keep at home.

Back again soon,

Jenny x