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

3

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

2

Knit one, heal one

Hello again and Happy New Year to you all!

I hope you have all enjoyed good Christmas and New Year celebrations. It’s nice to be back and to be working on projects other than Christmas presents; more of those later.

A knitting friend sent me the link to this interview with Betsan Corkill who runs Stitchlinks, a support network for those who enjoy the therapeutic benefits of crafts such as knitting and crochet. This is the clip from a Boxing Day radio programme.

I listened to it this morning and it immediately set my mind racing. My first thoughts were that this is the same researcher that my daughter wrote about in the Knitting as Therapy article in The Woolly Prawn, the book which we published in December 2012.

the book

Amongst those of us who knit or crochet it has been accepted for some time that these crafts are beneficial in the treatment of pain relief, anxiety and depression as well as in the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered strokes.  It is good to hear this research being aired on national radio … let’s hope that every person who was inspired by the broadcast to pick up some yarn and needles or a hook may find a whole new healing world opening up to them.

When I listened to Bethan speaking I also thought of the late Marinke Slump aka Wink who sadly succumbed to depression last July after a long battle during which crochet had played such an important part in the management of her illness. Her designs are some of the most potent inspirations for those of us who love colour and crochet.

During the last six months the blogger, Kathryn Vercillo of crochetconcupiscence.com has worked tirelessly on a project called Mandalas for Wink to heighten awareness of how those who suffer from anxiety and depression can be helped by crafting. Kathryn has also written two books on the subject, Crochet Saved my Life and Hook to Heal.

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I strongly believe that knitting and crochet groups are so important: ideas and techniques are shared, problems are solved and support is given to huge numbers of people. Knitting and crochet can provide an outlet and focus which might not otherwise exist – let’s continue to extend and enjoy these social networks wherever possible. These are just a few of the projects completed by members of my lovely group of ladies:-

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Sue's

granny pastels

On that reflective but positive note I shall wish you all a very good day full of inspirational knitting and crochet fun and creativity.

Jenny x

 

 

2

It’s Christmas time!

Season’s Greetings everybody!

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Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all!

I know I haven’t written for ages but there has been plenty of crochet going on; just couldn’t share photos with you in the run-up to Christmas. I am really excited about my next project though and wilI be sharing it with you. I can’t wait to start it after all the family celebrations – five small grandchildren do not allow much time for crocheting!

I hope you enjoy a relaxing break and that 2016 brings loads of knitting and crochet fun.

My very best wishes to you all,

Jenny x

1

Back from Holiday

Hello again.

France was great – as always – and the weather exceptionally hot. The combination of having five grandchildren on the campsite with us (!!)and the high temperatures did not lend itself to a great deal of crochet activity but I did manage one small project.

Just before leaving for France I had learned that a local yarn shop was closing down and so was able to pick up this Italian cotton at a good price ..

Italian cotton

Italian cotton

It was just right to try out the corner-to-corner square featured in the Deramores CAL. Since I didn’t have enough yarn to do a whole afghan I decided on a cushion cover.

love the symmetry

love the symmetry

four square front

four square front

I just love the way this pattern takes shape and the symmetry of placing the four squares together – very satisfying.

I have decided to keep the back cover very simple – a single grey square

stitched up and ready to go

stitched up and ready to go

…….. so just need to find a cushion to fit now.

We met a very talented and creative jeweller on our campsite who had been working on some interesting necklaces through the winter. I was lucky enough to purchase two of them – one has some very fine crochet on it and the other some beautiful pebbles. They felt very appropriate to my particular interests.

campsite craft

campsite craft

autumn colours

autumn colours

such talent

such talent

pebbles

pebbles

gorgeous!

gorgeous!

How gorgeous are these and so individual – I’m really looking forward to having an opportunity to show them off.

For now though it’s time to settle back into a more normal routine and get back to my crochet sessions. I have some exciting projects to come which I’ll tell you about next time.

Keep those hooks busy,

Jenny x

5

Tribute to Wink

Hello,

The worldwide crafting community of crocheters and crochet bloggers has been deeply shocked and saddened today to learn of the death of one of its most talented designers, Marinke Slump, aka Wink, to her blog followers.

I should like to pay tribute to Wink whose blog has given so many of us such pleasure and inspiration over the last couple of years: amongst many other designs her mandalas are so beautiful and only a few weeks ago some of my lovely crochet ladies were practising their crochet-in-the-round skills from Marinke’s patterns ……

mandala 1

mandala 2

I find it amazing that all around the world, through the Internet, we crafters can feel so in touch with others who share our passion and enthusiasm – I don’t think I’m alone in saying that we love to read about their projects and see their designs.

We know too of the huge benefits that craft can bring to those who are going through difficult times – sadly, crochet could not save Marinke from her severe depression although it had done once previously. Our hearts go out to her family and friends at this most difficult time.

There is already a project up and running as a memorial to Wink and her marvellously creative work – details can be found here. It will also serve to raise awareness of the devastating effects of depression.

I feel sure that Marinke will live on through her work which will continue to be an inspiration and that her designs will be greatly treasured. I for one will be looking to create a project from one of Wink’s patterns which, I believe, will still be available from her blog A Creative Being.

Summer

Take care all of you,

jenny x