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

Buttons and braids (no! …. edgings actually!)

Hello,

Two of the samples required for the International Diploma in Crochet Part 1 are seven different, usable, crocheted buttons and three crocheted edgings in DK yarn appropriate for adding to the front edges of a plain edge-to-edge knitted/crocheted jacket. I have been working on these during the last couple of weeks and sent them off to be assessed last week.

Each of the buttons had to be different so I settled on covering a flat button (lime green), a button with a shank (turquoise), a small round one (cream) and a metal ring (multi) which I covered in double crochet before weaving in and out of wheel-like spokes.  These were all worked in fine threads of differing thicknesses in amigurumi style, spiral double crochet.

The remaining three needed to be firm enough to hold their shape by either stuffing or working very firmly on small hooks: a red disc of trebles, a small pink globe filled with toy stuffing and a turquoise, variegated flower.

Here they are …..

Buttons

Let’s hope my mentor approves!

I can’t truthfully say that I found this to be a fun exercise as I found it quite fiddly. The buttons also needed more finishing off with a needle than I ever would choose. My friends all know that I go for a crochet join rather than a stitched one wherever possible!

The edgings (they differ from braids in that one side has to be plain double crochet to stitch onto existing fabric) proved more interesting and it was fun trying out a few new effects with stitches …

Edgings

Dk tweedy mix

This first edging is worked in a tweedy Scandinavian yarn called Sandnes Garn Robust and the last two rows form the half treble crochet puff stitch which I found in Pauline Turner’s book of finishing techniques.

Htr and front loop only crab st

Wendy Ramsdale DK provided a lovely woolly look and feel to this edging where I experimented a bit with working into back loops only.

Front post trebles

Finally, an edging based on an American afghan border which I had, using a combination of trebles and front post trebles.

Aside from these samples, I just could not resist starting a couple of extra projects  …… different requirements for car journeys, watching TV, knitting group etc. Well, that’s my excuse!!

So, here’s a glimpse of a real stash-buster that I have on the go using one of my favourite stitches – linen stitch, also sometimes referred to as woven or up-and-down stitch. It’s not a fast grower but I love the way the resulting fabric lies so flat …..

What could it be?


Linen st

Last week, feeling that a visit to a local Craft centre was justified by my stash-busting I splashed out on this interesting looking Bergère de France yarn. It has a metallic thread running through it …

Bergère de France reflet

I have to say I am pleased with the way it’s growing into my next shawl/triangular scarf; the four-row pattern is designed by Elisabeth de Herraiz and featured in Issue 41 of Simply Crochet

Elisabeth Davis de Herraiz lacy shawl

So there we are …. plenty to keep me busy over the next few weeks not to mention coming to grips (unintentional pun!) with Broomstick and Hairpin crochet for my course.

Enjoy your knitting and/or crochet wherever you are and be inspired to try something new. We all know how beneficial any crafting is.

Best wishes,

Jenny x

 

0

Summer on my mind

Hello again,

It’s been a while since I wrote last I’m afraid. My decluttering has brought to light some interesting bits and bobs – amongst them a booklet of beautiful summer crochet patterns, “Crochet: Southern Comfort” by Twilley’s. Now, I know that I don’t usually make garments but one look at these designs had me hankering for a couple of these tops. I think it’s all to do with my passion for lace and crochet motifs.

My disappointment to find that Southern Comfort cotton had been discontinued turned to delight when I found the website A Woolly Tail selling their last 100g balls at £1.50 each – a bargain not to be missed!

summery colours of Southern Comfort

summery colours of Southern Comfort

So, I have started the top and in spite of a couple of shaping issues it is progressing well. The motifs are fun to do; it’s great how they join together to make a lovely fabric

Single motif

Single motif

one strip of motifs

one strip of motifs

I think the upper part of the top must be what is referred to as filet crochet which I have never attempted before.

armhole shaping

armhole shaping

One of my Christmas treats was some yarn from Liberty’s and so last week – on the day of the tube strike, coincidentally – we set off. The day proved a bit of a challenge with all the transport issues but Liberty’s was every bit as beautiful as it had appeared in the TV series shown last autumn. Every floor is a designer’s paradise and the displays are quite stunning.

Hooked now on summer crochet I selected Rowan’s Holiday Crochet and Panama yarn for another top …….. love the feel, colour and sheen of this cotton / linen mix.

love the sheen on this cotton/linen blend

love the sheen on this cotton/linen blend

fascinating ply

fascinating ply

I couldn’t resist the colours of Rowan’s very unusual thick and thin yarn either since I was being treated!

yummy colours

yummy colours

could look good crocheted with string

could look good crocheted with string

It looks as if it will work well woven with parcel string into crocheted storage containers …. but more of that next time.

Jenny x

0

Pebbles and patterns

Hello again,

It’s hard to believe that a scrap of cotton crochet can transform a stone into a thing of beauty. Admittedly they are those most sought after North Sea cobbles but nevertheless ….

unadorned

unadorned

I just pootle along with a bit of thread and a tiny motif, adding a round of double crochet here a few chain there until the cover looks big enough.

five rounds in

five rounds in

Then comes the moment of truth …. which stone or pebble will fit best inside?  A tug at one end, a little easing at the other and it’s in, ready to be secured with a couple more rounds.

it just kept growing and growing

it just kept growing and growing

Suddenly, what was just a trial piece is too nice to undo and so another crocheted stone appears on the hearth!

…. And another one – these are addictive!

Star by Ros Badger

Star by Ros Badger

There have been a couple of patterns in Crochet magazines recently … this design by Ros Badger featured in Issue Ten of Simply Crochet. I also found some online: Margaret Oomen has a few super patterns such as Sunburst, Shamrock and Radii on her website but others don’t seem easy to track down. This is frustrating because the detailed lacy patterns on these pebbles on Pinterest and other sites are so lovely that I just want to be able to try them myself.

sunburst and radii

sunburst and radii

I covered two stones for my daughter last week and they blend very well into her bathroom rock collection.

rock collection

rock collection

What’s more the backs of these stones are beginning to look a bit more professional – less trial and error involved as I get used to the shapes.

getting neater

getting neater

These covered stones are so lovely to do as each one turns out slightly different from the rest and the colours and shapes vary such from stone to stone. The other satisfying thing is that one can be completed in an evening.

Well, I’m off now to keep track of my other projects.

Back soon,

Jenny x