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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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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

 

1

Ta-dah …… finally!

Hello again to all my crafting friends,

Yes, it has been ages since I wrote last – so long, in fact that you may not remember the afghan which I was working on with the wonderfully soft and beautifully coloured Tynn Alpakka yarn bought on holiday in Oslo earlier this year.

40 border squares completed

Well, I actually completed the throw a while ago but have just not had a moment to take photos and write up the final stages.

Here it is in all its glory and I have to say I am really pleased with the result. It is probably the project which has given me the greatest pleasure from start to finish.

my colours

my colours

 

Oslo afghan

The Oslo afghan

In the end I referred to Lucy at Attic 24 for the edging and chose a similar  style to the one which she used for her beautiful Ripple blanket.

corner detail

corner detail

 

Lucy's edging with picot

My version of Lucy’s picot edging

 

corner close-up

corner close-up

It seems to have worked and – amazingly(!!) – lies flat. This is one afghan I shall not be giving away!

November has taken me by storm ….. literally too! …. and suddenly Christmas projects come into play. No chat or photos though – for obvious reasons. There is, however, one very interesting event coming up: my eldest granddaughter’s class are starting a knitting project. They will learn to knit and each one will make a 5 inch square.  I have been invited along to support and encourage and my crochet group are involved too as they are making some crochet squares to complement the childrens’ work.  More about all this to follow and hopefully some photos.

That’s all for now.

Happy crafting!

Jenny x

 

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My own ta-dah moment …… well, not quite but maybe!

Hello everybody,

In my last post I hinted at something a bit special – well, this could be one of those projects.

I might, just might, have designed my very own throw/afghan: loosely speaking, of course, because the overall visualisation of the design came from the sunflower blanket which one of my ladies had made and the individual motif design is one of Jan Eaton’s from 200 Crochet Blocks.

It all began with our Baltic Cruise and the visit to Oslo where I found these beautiful colours in 100% Tynn Alpakka 4ply – I couldn’t resist!

bought in Oslo

my colours

my colours

So, when we returned from France in August I had to make a decision as to how I was going to get the best effect from this gorgeous yarn. I had already seen and favourited The Mercerie’s Crochet Sunflower Blanket on Ravelry and had loved it when it had been beautifully made by a friend.

sunflower corner

sunflower corner

 

I knew I needed a contrasting colour to show off my chosen palette of blues and purples and Drops Baby Alpaca Silk in silver grey seemed a good match in terms of both texture and weight ….. (it also had the advantage of being readily available in the UK which is not true of the Tynn Alpakka)

Having chosen the Willow motif for the centre and border it was great fun to randomly use the colours and then join them together with the grey ..

willow motif

willow motif

40 border squares completed

40 border squares completed

Central motifs

Central motifs

So far so good – and fortunately the granny stripes all seemed to work. I remembered to turn the work after each colour to avoid tilting and that does seem to have done the trick. Why did we crocheters not know of that before? So many tilted squares would have been avoided!

I'm pleased with the centre motifs

pleased with the centre motifs

the centre is nearly done

the centre is nearly done

Now the challenge is to fit the centre into the border of motifs – I suspect that quite a bit of trial and error will be needed here as I have not been counting exact numbers of clusters and spaces. I merely measured each completed motif and have aimed to finish the central square at the correct dimensions. The wool is quite stretchy though so who knows how the joining will go …. I am hoping to join with slip stitches on the final treble cluster round.

will this all fit together?

will this all fit together?

Well, that’s where I am at the moment and I’m really excited about finishing this project.  I shall then have to decide on a suitable edging using the yarn I have left – treble clusters, doubles, shells, picots or a combination of all these? Who knows?

I just wanted to update you but there’s work to be done yet so I’d better say goodbye for now and look forward to that final ta-dah moment sometime soon!

Have a great Sunday.

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

Motif mania

Hello again,
It’s twelve months now since my first attempts at covering pebbles – the interest began during our visit to beaches in North Cornwall last autumn. Well, we have just been back to the same beautiful spot and nothing has changed except that my pebble interest has now become a bit of an obsession …. nothing new there I hear you mutter!

It has never been easy to find patterns for the crochet covers and after the first couple of months of experimenting I soon found myself scouring the internet for new motifs.

Each different pebble seems to have a life of its own …. as well as a very individual shape! After trying out the most attactive internet patterns by designers such as Margaret Oomen, Ros Badger and Sascha I needed to experiment some more. Some of the most pleasing designs have been adaptations of squares from Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks and flower centres from Natura Crochet Flowers by Tash Bentley.  Some work better than others and adapting a square motif to fit a round or oval stone is very much a question of trial and error.

Edwardian Lace from Jan Eaton's book

Edwardian Lace from Jan Eaton’s book

Odd shaped stone with Jan Eaton's snowflake

Odd shaped stone with Jan Eaton’s snowflake

Star and round flower from Natura Crochet Flowers

Star and round flower from Natura Crochet Flowers

You can imagine my delight when a knitting friend returned from a holiday in Italy and allowed me to borrow Italian crochet motif magazines which she had found. Inside were a treasure trove of new motifs but since my Italian is not brilliant working them depends entirely on reading the charts! Definitely a challenge!

Italian mag 1

Back 1

Italian mag 2

Back 2

So …. there are just a few designs to add to my Pinterest board of stones patterns tried so far which you can find here! I have only managed one so far for reasons which you will discover in a few days and this is it.

Celtic hexagon - my first Italian (chart only) design

Celtic hexagon – my first Italian (chart only) design

Also, having promised our grandchildren some crocheted pebbles I have been doing some little ones for little hands – they are so quick to finish and so lovely to hold.

Made for grandchildren and other small hands.

Made for grandchildren and other small hands.

So, enough about stones for now – I have other prawn-related things to attend to. But, more of that later ….

bye for now,

Jenny x