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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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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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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

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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

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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

 

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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

 

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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