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Hello again!

I just can’t believe that it’s September already and I haven’t posted for weeks. Where did the summer go?

Well, the good news us that I passed Part I of my course, The International Diploma in Crochet.

According to the course info I’m now properly qualified to teach crochet skills to my group of lovely ladies – can’t wait to start again in a couple of weeks and get them trying out more challenging techniques. Broomstick and hyperbolic crochet have already been requested! Watch this space!

Apart from being away in France in July and August I’ve taken the opportunity to “weave” in a few loose ends over the past month or so …. and believe me there have been many of those, both literally and figuratively speaking.

Some time ago I started a table runner using the beautiful stonewashed colours of a pack of Stof and Stil Scandinavian yarn given to me last winter and which match the rug in our living room ….

Well, that’s finished. Worked in the yo-yo stitch it was fiddly but great to transport on our travels.

I also made some sunflowers for my granddaughters who took part in the musical Singing in the Rain just before our visit to France. Fresh flowers are the usual gift at the end of a performance but are often drooping by the next morning so I opted for these……..

……….. a well written pattern by Krawka and easy to piece together.

 

In preparation for exploring the techniques of working different shapes in the round I had a go at a granny circle stool cover – there was a certain amount of guesswork involved to reach the right size but the result looks fine.

 

 

There won’t be so much time for projects like these over the coming months, I suspect. I have enrolled for Part II of the course….. brave or foolhardy? Time will tell. My coursework has arrived ….

 

. …exciting but a little scary as there is a greater design element to this part and design is not my strong point. I’ll let you know how it goes!

I hope you’ve all had a good summer and found time for some craftwork.

Happy crocheting

Jenny x

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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

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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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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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Spikes and Posts 1

No, ……… not what you put around gardens to protect them – in fact, it might have been a good idea if we had used some bearing in mind the events of the last few weeks!

These are crochet terms for different stitches which you can use to add texture to your work. The effects of using spike stitches with different colour stripes is amazing and the technique is nothing like as difficult as it looks. Double crochets and trebles are just worked by inserting the hook into a specified stitch or space below the row being worked at the time and drawing a longer loop of yarn up to complete the stitch.

Here are a few examples that I have come across lately:-

Leaping stripes and blocks

This is a most effective pattern which I discovered on Mooglyblog and works up a treat just by using the stitches a couple of rows below the row on which you are working. Check it out  ….

leaping blocks and stripes

quite a close texture – ideal for a hard wearing fabric

 

You might remember the cushion cover I did in this stitch a while ago.

texture of stitch

texture of stitch

Retro stripes – simple but striking

retro stripes

one of little doolally’s baby blanket stitch patterns – simple but effective

 

Eyelash – all sorts of variations on this exist by adapting the height of each spike stitch which is basically a very long double crochet.

eyelash

 

Spiked waves

I love the calm, methodical design of this – each wave is defined by the spike stitch and once you become familiar with the ten stitch repeat pattern it works a treat. My example is going to be a baby buggy blanket but I have seen it worked in beautiful textured wool yarns to produce a fabric which would be perfect for a cushion cover.

spiked waves

another blanket pattern from little doolally

……….. or a cushion cover. This design has been beautifully worked by one of my lovely crochet ladies. You can see why they fill my Monday mornings with joy!

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!

 

Spikes and shells

My choice of stitch name for this design as I could not find it described anywhere. There is a good visual tutorial for it on the mypicot website.

spikes and shells

 

The same method of working into stitches below can be used in the round as well to produce striking motifs …….  separating petals with the spike stitches or just incorporating colour spikes.

These are some of the motifs from the Octie throw which I have been working on

green spikes

pink spikes

………. and the African hexagon flower blanket

blue to highlight petals

African hexagon flower

 

Not all of the above examples qualify strictly as spikes but hey, I like them and the effects they produce. What inspires me as well is the diversity of trying out these stitches with different weights and types of yarn and not being afraid to experiment with a whole range of hook sizes.

Oh for a few more crochet hours in each day ……..  and I haven’t even started on posts yet!

Happy crafting,

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