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It’s been a long time!

Hello again.

It has, indeed, been ages since I last posted …. my crochet mojo suffered a bit of a dip in 2018 and I didn’t achieve anything like as much as I would have liked. This year has started much more positively though: my lovely crochet ladies never cease to inspire me with their brilliant ideas and projects and the International Diploma course still figures in my crafting activities.

By far the greatest inspiration during the last year has been Molla Mills, the Finnish designer whose two crochet books, Modern Crochet and Crochetterie I love. Tapestry crochet has been one of our themes during Monday morning sessions … I love the monochromatic colours

….. and you can see some of the striking results in the group

As we’ll as making a mat for the bedroom I have been trying out some “upcycling” ideas too from Molla’s first book. Stripping off the fabric from the old shade was the hardest part – it was fun working around the metal frame.


……. very pleased with the result although I’m not sure my husband quite appreciates the minimalism!

Part 2 of the IDC course is proving to be quite time consuming with the written patterns, charts and design sheets but it certainly is helping me to gain confidence in producing patterns for my ladies. This seems particularly important these days …….  we have recently come across published patterns with so many errors and/or ambiguities.

My last set of samples were of broomstick crochet ….. not my favourite technique as I can’t seem to manage the large broomstick pin very smoothly. These pieces show how the fabric changes with different size pins, different numbers of loops in the groups and loops lying in different directions.


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Loving The Loop

Hello,

For my birthday my husband treated me with a visit to London including that very famous yarn shop in Islington, The Loop. I’ve read and heard so much about it  …. it certainly did not disappoint!

 

It was a fabulous experience, if only to see the amazing array of Woolly loveliness on offer …. brilliant colours, walls full of yarn goodies which most of us can only dream about!

Even the samples cry out to be touched!

Sophie Digard is a name which I have always associated with crocheted beauty – I did not expect to see so many of her things in the shop.

 

I’m sure we all recognise her subtle colourways from Pinterest – her designs and intensity of colour remind me of Kaffe Fassett’s patterns.

A few crocheted items caught my eye ….

 

… making me wish I had more time to experiment and reminding me of textured samples which still need submitting for my IDC course.

As my birthday present I chose from the hand-dyed 4ply section – I had already decided to buy yarn with which to crochet items from The Scarf Project by Joanne Scrace. Something soft, in beautiful colours and with good drape ……

….. just some of the possibilities.

my choices

Really excited to get my hook out and start with these gorgeous, squishy yarns but I must be patient. This was a very special present from my husband who appreciates my passion for yarn; I’m very lucky and can’t wait to start on one of the shawls in the New Year. For the moment, though Christmas gifts are top of the list – I expect they are on yours too.

Happy crafting,

Jenny x

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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