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

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

 

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

 

0

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 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