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Tunisian … ta-dah!

Hello again,

It’s been ages since I wrote last – holidays, kitchen flooding and other bits and bobs have rather scuppered my writing of late. In the meantime, my IDC course has not been totally neglected: I was able to spend some time during our brilliant holiday in France on my third project – a household item worked in 2ply yarn/thread – but I’m getting ahead of myself …….

Before we went away I completed my second coursework project – a cushion cover in Tunisian crochet using Aran weight yarn with the addition of some fashion yarn …

flowers on the front

flowers on the front

 

striped back

striped back

 

buttons on back

buttons on back

 

flower in fashion yarn

flower in fashion yarn

Have to admit that I am surprisingly pleased with the result and I shall be sending the cushion off to my mentor this weekend and hoping for the best.

If you remember a while ago I attended a local workshop on Tunisian crochet before starting on the cushion cover. Quite coincidently, when we came back from France last week I noticed another workshop in Miju Wools, Gloucester; this time it is based on Broomstick crochet and that is indeed the technique which I have decided on for my fourth and final project.

I now have my latest crochet requirement, a single huge knitting needle purchased for 50p in a local Charity shop! I have to admit my initial attempts have been a bit clumsy! Maybe not surprising with an implement this large!

20mm needle and 4.00mm hook

20mm needle and 4.00mm hook

So, I’m off to embark on my latest new technique, armed with my “broomstick”. The stitch was originally worked with the handles of brooms …. can’t imagine how awkward that must have been!  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Happy crocheting!

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

5

Project progress

Hello again,

In addition to the thirty-five samples required for Part 1 of the International Diploma in Crochet we have to make four full-size projects which showcase some of the skills learned in our samples.

The pattern I chose for my first project was Verna – a summer cardigan, designed by Anniken Allis for the magazine Let’s Knit. Maybe the word “flattering” in the description had something to do with my choice!

summer cardigan

 

After a couple of initial tension issues I enjoyed making it. But then came the sewing-up process …… joining the pieces together and setting in sleeves reminded me of why I have not really enjoyed making crochet garments in the past. Yes, you’re absolutely right …. the very best reason to learn the right way! Anyway, I got there in the end ……

quite pleased!

quite pleased!

This project has sleeves, shaping and fastenings and so, if it passes, it will have fulfilled three criteria and what’s more, I think I might actually wear it!

it fits!

it fits!

Moving on …….. to something with less shaping!

As you know, I have been doing some work on Tunisian crochet recently so, while it is still in my mind I have decided that my second project will be worked in Tunisian. The technique seems to lend itself to straight-sided pieces and the dense fabric produced is ideal for cushion covers. This then, worked in Aran-weight yarn, is evolving into an item to be used in the home ……

Neutral arans

 

Project 2

We also have to show the use of a fashion yarn – I found a single ball of something fluffy which matches my earthy toned Arans and managed to make a few decorative flowers along with a strip – think it might become the opening flap.

Flowers

 

sofa matching

Now, I just need to find a coordinating, solid shade for the back of the cushion cover.

So, progress is being made; I have learned so many new techniques already and enjoyed the first three months of the course. Maybe it’s appropriate that it will shortly be time to tackle more lacy types of crochet – Broomstick and Hairpin – as these can be worked in cotton yarns which are easier to handle in warmer temperatures. Well, we hope it will get warmer, anyway.

On that note I shall say goodbye for today and wish you all happy knitting and crochet wherever you may be.

Jenny x

6

Tunisian crochet

Hi everybody,

Time to update you on my IDC course. The feedback on my five braids …

image

 

…. was slightly disappointing as the two shorter ones lost marks for lack of length and my mentor did not really like my use of self-striping sock yarn on samples which cannot show off the full range of colours. I hadn’t thought of that but can see that these yarns need to be shown off in an item which does justice to the colour mix.

So, having reworked the two offending braids I decided to have a go at Tunisian crochet, also known as Afghan crochet, which was completely new to me. Initially, I found working with the metal Tunisian hook (a timely freebie from Simply Crochet magazine) a bit hard on the fingers as was mastering the best way to hold this long implement.

image

Things got easier when I realised that it was possible to get hold of a Knitpro Symphonie rosewood hook and attach it to the knitting cables which I already have.

much easier to hold and manoeuvre

much easier to hold and manoeuvre

The technique is something between knitting and crochet – it involves picking up loops across a row of stitches and holding the loops produced on the hook. This is called the forward pass. Then the stitches are completed and the loops dropped on the way back which is called the return pass. Sounds much more complicated than it is!  The fabric produced has a woven, dense texture and because it needs to be worked on a larger hook than one would normally use for the chosen yarn it grows quite quickly.

Very fortuitously, I got onto a Tunisian Crochet workshop at Miju Wools, Gloucester, which gave me some more practice before doing my samples.  This sampler in DK 100% Merino wool gives an idea of the fabric ….

Tunisian sampler: right to left - simple stitch, knit stitch, purl stitch, short row shaping and two-coloured tweed effect

….. right to left – simple stitch, knit stitch, purl stitch, short row shaping and two-coloured tweed effects

Part I of The International Diploma in Crochet requires three samples of Tunisian crochet: one in Tunisian simple stitch …. apparently this was popular among Victorian ladies who then embellished the resulting squared fabric with cross stitch embroidery …

Tunisian simple stitch

Tunisian simple stitch

…. this biggest issue for me on this one was achieving a straight left hand edge and I don’t think I’ll be starting on cross stitch any time soon!

The second sample has to be worked in two colours to produce a tweed effect …

tweed effect

definitely tweedy and a rather dense texture

This square has also been edged with a round of dcs and crab stitch which, in fact, hides the uneven tension at the side – think I should have used a larger hook for these samples.

The third example has to be of a textured Tunisian stitch and again the hardest part for me was achieving an even tension. I finally decided on a bobble stitch as described in Pauline Turner’s booklet on Tunisian crochet and although I have submitted it – hence no photo at the moment – I’m less than hopeful that it will pass.

So, I await the verdict on this fourth submission – hope to get it soon in order to keep up the momentum before summer activities such as gardening cut down my crochet time. The frosts of last week already seem long gone as we plan our first barbecue of the year.

Enjoy the sunshine and keep crocheting,

Jenny x