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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

 

 

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

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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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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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Sock yarn but no socks!

Hello everyone,

What is it about sock yarn that makes it so irresistible? For me I think it is the colours. Don’t get me wrong, I like making socks and loved the sock-making classes which I attended at Miju Wools in Gloucester where I met some great knitters and had some expert instruction from Michelle  but when I see sock yarn it is not socks which come to mind first.

There are so many other ways to enjoy the colours of sock yarns ……

For ages I have wanted to try a sock yarn example of the granny stripes pattern from Lucy at Attic 24 and some recent stash busting led me to  this project.

an odd mix of colours

an odd mix of colours but I like them!

 

so pleased with Lucy's picot edging

so pleased with Lucy’s picot edging

 

During a visit to Get Knitted in Bristol for a Debbie Abrahams workshop on working up one’s stash I saw an example of this beautiful moebius cowl by Amanda Perkins. The choice of sock yarns there was quite amazing and the design such fun to work with the colour changes.

couldn't resist the yarn

couldn’t resist the yarn

 

The following pattern for a baby cardigan was designed by Frances Fletcher and can be found here.  I discovered it initially in a lovely little yarn shop in Hereford which has, sadly, since closed down. The yarn originally chosen was hand dyed and one skein was just enough for the project. This ensured complete originality on each garment. At the moment  I am making this for a friend’s new baby (pics of completed item to follow) and I am using Regia Kaffe Fassett Ombre Design for this one – I just love the muted colours which remind me of the heathery shades chosen by Kaffe during a visit to Scotland. He learned to knit on the train journey back to London and went on to complete his first striped sweater….. and the rest is history!

worked sideways

worked sideways

 

image

 

Another discovery has been the mitred square – using the pattern by Sue Ann Kendall found here I made this buggy blanket from oddments of sock yarn and incorporated one solid shade.

sock oddments well used

sock oddments well used

 

simple but structured

simple but structured

 

just love the way colours work together

just love the way colours work together

To me it is amazing that all the colours blend in so well and it is such a fun pattern to work. Each new square is added as you go so no seaming at the end. Brilliant!

The woolly prawn tie – well, I couldn’t not mention this could I since it is one of the patterns in The Woolly Prawn. The design is so simple but the finished tie can be so different depending on what type of sock yarn you use.

neat knot, sir!

neat knot, sir!

 

yarn bombing!

a spot of local yarn bombing?

So, you see, there’s no need to feel limited to socks when you browse through the wonderful colours of the sock yarns in the shops or online. There are so many ways of enjoying those shades or even using up remnants when your socks are completed.

Well, I’m off to enjoy the glorious spring sunshine now or, more precisely, to do a spot of gardening. Hope the weather stays fine over Easter.

Happy Easter everyone,

Back soon,

Jenny x