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2017 and I’m back

Hello again,

It’s a bit late to wish you all Happy New Year but let’s hope 2017 brings us much crafting joy and success. I haven’t written for ages …. things got rather busy before Christmas but I’ve missed you all and it’s good to be back in touch now.

December brought the usual gifts to be made – mainly hats, beanies, gloves, cowls and a specially requested cushion for one granddaughter along with a fine shawl for another.

This was one of the most fun projects from a pattern found on the Crochet for Children website – Danyelpink Delaney Hat.

stripes and squiggles

stripes and squiggles

Then there was the cushion ……

love the colours

love the colours

This cushion is an exact replica of one I made some time ago using the stitch pattern from Little Dolally’s Bertie’s Baby Blanket – I was quite flattered that a nine year old should choose the same colour scheme.

Talking of babies … some good friends are enjoying their first grandchild and although he was born in November the crochet gift was not ready until early in January. Fortunately the weather is still sufficiently cold for him to need keeping warm.

bobbles for baby

bobbles for baby

buggy blanket to match

buggy blanket to match

cosy ears and toes

cosy ears and toes

Moogly’s Leaping Stripes and Blocks comes up trumps yet again – it really is a super pattern.

Now, it’s back to my International Diploma in Crochet and I have already got quite a bit to report from 2017 but I’m going to leave that for the moment and get this update published.

Happy crafting, everybody. It’s lovely to be back with you.

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

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

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

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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

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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

 

 

 

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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