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Chartbusting ……. literally!

Hello,

Last September my lovely crochet group said that the area of crochet in which they felt least secure was working from charts. So, I decided that the time had come to put them through their paces; I know from experience how helpful it is to have the facility to locate a stitch on a chart and see where it lies in relation to the rest of a piece of work. Increasingly crochet patterns offer both written and charted instructions … unlike some of the vintage crochet designs which can be so offputting.

Throughout the autumn my ladies hooked their way through more than eighty squares of different colours and textures, working both in rows and in the round without using a single written instruction. They worked from a variety of stitch pattern charts that I had been able to print off or draw out – linen stitch, trinity stitch, blackberry salad, “v”stitch, iris stitch, shells and fans, clusters, bobbles and popcorns to name but a few – until they had crochet symbols coming out of their ears!

I could not bear to think of all that hard work lying unused in box somewhere and so, in January, the decision was made to join the squares. Nine ladies each undertook to join nine squares which were then crocheted together to form a bright and cheerful afghan.

nine times nine all joined

nine times nine all joined

Disparate square size was a bit of an issue but we overcame that by using a flexible zig-zag join and I imposed some rather agressive blocking and steaming!  The central border, created initially to enlarge that particular square,  is repeated around the outer edge.

Centre

 

Border

I am so pleased with the result and really hope that the exercise has given my group the extra confidence needed to take on future projects.

a bit of sunshine

a hint of spring sunshine

It is amazing just how many of my group at the start of the project were convinced that they would not be able to use charts but now they find them easier to follow than the written words and abbreviations.

Well done everybody … be proud of yourselves. I am proud of all the perseverance, effort and hard work you put into your work.

What next? Who knows … the sky’s the limit!

Happy crafting,

Jenny x

 

 

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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

 

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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

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Motif mania

Hello again,
It’s twelve months now since my first attempts at covering pebbles – the interest began during our visit to beaches in North Cornwall last autumn. Well, we have just been back to the same beautiful spot and nothing has changed except that my pebble interest has now become a bit of an obsession …. nothing new there I hear you mutter!

It has never been easy to find patterns for the crochet covers and after the first couple of months of experimenting I soon found myself scouring the internet for new motifs.

Each different pebble seems to have a life of its own …. as well as a very individual shape! After trying out the most attactive internet patterns by designers such as Margaret Oomen, Ros Badger and Sascha I needed to experiment some more. Some of the most pleasing designs have been adaptations of squares from Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks and flower centres from Natura Crochet Flowers by Tash Bentley.  Some work better than others and adapting a square motif to fit a round or oval stone is very much a question of trial and error.

Edwardian Lace from Jan Eaton's book

Edwardian Lace from Jan Eaton’s book

Odd shaped stone with Jan Eaton's snowflake

Odd shaped stone with Jan Eaton’s snowflake

Star and round flower from Natura Crochet Flowers

Star and round flower from Natura Crochet Flowers

You can imagine my delight when a knitting friend returned from a holiday in Italy and allowed me to borrow Italian crochet motif magazines which she had found. Inside were a treasure trove of new motifs but since my Italian is not brilliant working them depends entirely on reading the charts! Definitely a challenge!

Italian mag 1

Back 1

Italian mag 2

Back 2

So …. there are just a few designs to add to my Pinterest board of stones patterns tried so far which you can find here! I have only managed one so far for reasons which you will discover in a few days and this is it.

Celtic hexagon - my first Italian (chart only) design

Celtic hexagon – my first Italian (chart only) design

Also, having promised our grandchildren some crocheted pebbles I have been doing some little ones for little hands – they are so quick to finish and so lovely to hold.

Made for grandchildren and other small hands.

Made for grandchildren and other small hands.

So, enough about stones for now – I have other prawn-related things to attend to. But, more of that later ….

bye for now,

Jenny x

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Pebble puzzles

Hello again.

Well, there’s good news and not so good news. I’ll start with the bad news, shall I, and get it out of the way?

Well, would you believe that I’m running out of pebbles. Yes …. that huge bag of North Sea Cobbles is almost at an end and what’s more all the best of them – round and symmetrical – have gone, leaving behind  some rather quirky shapes which are proving quite a challenge to cover.

very odd shapes

very odd shapes

More on that subject later!

Now to the good news …. I’ve found a product which transforms the rather grey stones into a far more acceptable pebble to crochet around. A most helpful young man at our local Post Office came up with the idea of painting the stones with Mod Podge – yes, that really is what it’s called – to enhance the colours of the rocks. You know how much more attractive pebbles look when wet – well, it doesn’t quite reproduce that look but it definitely helps.

the marvellous Mod Podge

the marvellous Mod Podge

 

glossed and ready to go

glossed and ready to go

 

So, with some unusual shapes lined up I have been searching the internet for some appropriate shaped motifs to use. I’ve seen images of beautiful designs …. leaves, ferns, swirls and other fantastical shapes … But there are never any patterns for them. The problem, you see,  is framing the central motif in such a way that it enhances the shape of the pebble. The perfectly round patterns which I started on last autumn work well but now I want to create something different for each stone. It’s become a bit  obsessive and I have taken to scouring all my crochet magazines for different motifs and doily centres which I can adapt to the shapes of my stones.

My attempts at covering a rather beautiful oval shaped stone have not achieved quite what I wanted: having spotted and worked a leaf outline design from the beautiful new book Natura’s Crochet Flowers I was disappointed to find the finished result too fussy so that the central motif is lost. This is one pebble which is about to be uncovered!

attempted leaf!

attempted leaf!

 

Some have turned out better, though, and I shall certainly be trying the windmill, spider’s web, spiral cross, snowflake and granny rectangle again.

windmill design by Anita Mundt

windmill design by Anita Mundt

 

spider's web by Lucy Croft in Simply Crochet

spider’s web by Lucy Croft in Simply Crochet

 

granny rectangle from Simply Crochet

granny rectangle from Simply Crochet

 

snowflake from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks

snowflake from Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks

 

I can’t quite believe I have now made twenty-one different covers and even the designs which I have made more than once look different each time.

For anybody who really does want to see the designs I’ve used so far –  all my covered pebbles can be seen on Pinterest here.

So, that’s all for now. I’m off on a large pebble hunt.

Jenny x

 

 

 

 

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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

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Happy New Year

Slightly belatedly I know, but best wishes for 2014 to everybody. Let’s hope it’s going to be an excellent crafting year for all of us. I can’t wait to get started on some different projects now that all the gifts have been given.

All my Christmas projects seem to have been well received …. Here as promised are some photos of the finished items.

Enjoying a rest!

Enjoying a rest!

Spike the dragon

Spike the dragon

Murray the reindeer and Spike the dragon

Murray the reindeer and Spike the dragon

His and hers

His and hers

Bold colourways

Bold colourways

On the whole I was pleased – one or two items could have been finished off more professionally and I have certainly made a resolution to start earlier next year. We say that every year, don’t we? Will it happen in 2014? Very doubtful I think.

Talking of resolutions – the one decision I did make in the autumn was to store my stash in a more user-friendly way. Some more appropriate storage was needed to deal with the craft-related clutter which has spread to almost every room now!

Well, we have been to Ikea and the flat packs have been purchased. Since it was our first experience of buying at IKEA I’m afraid we pleaded ignorance and a very kind assistant came to our aid finding us all the elements we needed.  All that remains now is to assemble the units!! Fortunately my son-in-law has agreed to help …. does he really know what he is letting himself in for?

So now it’s back to my North Sea cobbles and their crocheted covers; now that I have some decent stones I can’t wait to try out the motifs I was experimenting with before Xmas. I also want to try out a scarf pattern which I bought in the USA a couple of years ago … came across it during the initial stages of my grand sorting out project. It involves directional knitting which I have never done before so I’m not sure how it will turn out. We shall see.

Well, that’s all for now,

Jenny x