1

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

6

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

0

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

 

0

Spikes and Posts 2

Hello everybody,

Thank you so much for looking at my tribute to Wink. I hope her mandala designs are starting to fly off your hooks … there has been an amazing online response to the loss of such a talented designer.

Now back to posts for a moment ….. the spike samplers (in my Spikes and Posts 1 blog) have resulted in some wonderful coloured cushion covers ….

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!

My colours

Corner

Sue's

This recent interest in textures has reminded me of the lovely basket weave stitch which uses the front and back post technique. So many crocheters are put off when they see the terms postwork, raised stitches, relief work or the abbreviations frtr and brtr in patterns – I know I used to be as well.

In fact, once you have seen these techniques used a few times and can identify the post of a stitch they are really easy to do  – you simply work these stitches by inserting the hook around the stem or post of the stitch below, from the front or back of the fabric.  Interesting textures and effects can be produced this way … working from the back gives an elastic, ribbed effect rather like knitted rib and combining front and back in blocks produces a basket weave texture.

all stitches worked as front post trebles - gives deep ridges and the wrong side looks the same

all stitches worked as front post trebles – gives deep ridges and the wrong side looks the same

 

all stitches are back post trebles - wrong side of fabric looks the same

here all stitches are back post trebles – the ridges are slightly less pronounced and again the wrong side of fabric looks the same

….. now look at the wrong side …..

this is the wrong side view and texture ..... yes it does produce horizontal ridges on the back when there are vertical ridges at the front!

this is the wrong side view and texture ….. yes it does produce horizontal ridges on the back when there are vertical ridges at the front!

When you start to combine the front and back trebles some amazing results can be achieved …

here each row is worked in alternate back and front post trebles. The effect is of a firm but elastic ribbed fabric. The wrong side looks identical.

here each row is worked in alternate back and front post trebles producing a firm but elastic ribbed fabric which is reversible

…… and now the previously mentioned basket weave stitch ..

basket weave stitch - this uses a combination of front and back post stitches - groups of three back post trebles are worked as front post trebles on the reverse of the fabric and the sequence is changed on every third row to create boxes

this uses a combination of front and back post stitches – groups of three or more back post trebles are worked as front post trebles on the reverse of the fabric and the sequence is changed on every third row to create boxes

I hope these swatches inspire you to have a go at some textured stitches and not be put off by the terminology. There are so many excellent U-tube videos now to help us.

My Monday group continue to impress with their varied projects and enthusiasm for more complicated patterns and stitches. I just love it!

sunflowers and granny square

sunflowers and granny square

sunflower edge

sunflower edge

granny pastels

granny pastels

Oh, how I wish there were a few more hours in each day for hook and yarn … there are so many wonderful stitches, patterns and designs just waiting out there for us! In the meantime enjoy this beautiful summer weather and the tennis and keep crafting!

That’s all for now,

Jenny x

0

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

 

 

 

0

I’m back!

Hello again,

It’s been a while since I wrote last – sorry about the lapse. The New Year brought a sense of relief that all the Christmas stuff was done and dusted accompanied by a slight lack of direction. Now that we are well and truly into February, though, stirrings of enthusiasm for projects new and further challenges have brought back the spark.

It has been a joy since January to see my group of crocheters filling the lounge on Monday mornings with their happy chit-chat. They are working on a variety of excitingly different projects and I love to see their progress from class to class and to witness their growing confidence.

One of my New Year’s resolutions has been to use up some of my ever-expanding stash …… the sock wool bought for its exquisite colour combinations, the odd couple of balls of yarn fancied and purchased with no real aim in mind. You know what it’s like to see the most glorious skeins in a shop and be totally unable to leave the shop empty-handed.

Sock yarn

So, on the look out for a suitable pattern to get the ball rolling I came across The Sea Glass Blanket which uses the most amazing crochet stitch pattern. Working in an ever-increasing or decreasing triangle which retains an excellent shape you can create wonderful fabric from multicoloured yarn. The stitch pattern is not easy to track down but it appears to be called crosshatch stitch.

I started with a small swatch in a DK variegated yarn

glorious texture

glorious texture

 

my first project using crosshatch stitch and Stylecraft Vision DK

my first project using crosshatch stitch and Stylecraft Vision DK

the completed cushion

the completed cushion

Then I tried out a small triangular shawl in the same stitch using Wendy Happy bamboo sock yarn. It worked out beautifully – soft with lovely drape and colour distribution.

Wendy Happy sock yarn

Wendy Happy sock yarn

 

The ladies in my group seem to have gone mad about this stitch and have been busy too:-

crosshatch stitch in chunky Yarn

J’s crosshatch stitch cushion cover front in chunky yarn

 

T's shawl

T’s shawl

Close up

 

J's shawl

J’s shawl

close up

 

I think we all share a love of colour and cannot resist stripes and all the wonderful self-striping yarns available.

Another member of the group has been working on a baby blanket :-

S's granny stripes

S’s granny stripes

just love the colours!

just love the colours!

 

I just love the progress everybody is making and it is just so satisfying to see their confidence growing as they exchange ideas for projects, patterns, hints about yarns and so much more. These Monday mornings have become a very valued part of my life now; long may they continue.

On that note I’ll say goodbye for now. Keep crafting.

Jenny xx