Birthday bouquet and broomsticks


Yesterday my lovely ladies joined me for our crochet class after the summer break. During the last couple of months I have missed their company and enthusiasm for extending themselves with lots of different projects. We had a great morning – well, I did anyway!  I brought the broomsticks and they brought this most beautiful bouquet (it was my birthday)…..

…and so we started on our broomstick session.

Much concentration was required …….

…… and their efforts were rewarded. They all did a great job and managed amazingly well to manoeuvre hooks, yarn and broomsticks. I have to say that although I love the peacock-like effect of the stitches I do find it quite tricky to get into a rhythm when working this technique.

The class produced some excellent samples, though …

…and I shall not be surprised this winter to find them all wearing scarves, cowls and other accessories made this way.

Now that I am doing Part II of the International Diploma in Crochet my samples have to be submitted along with suggestions as to how they could be incorporated into a pattern. I took this opportunity to coincide teaching broomstick to my group of ladies with starting on the Part II broomstick samples.

The first one required is a piece of broomstick worked using sticks of three different sizes – I chose a DK yarn and broomsticks of 12, 15 and 20mm.

The sample did not increase in width as much as I thought it would using the bigger needles but I do have some ideas as to what it might be used for – wrist warmers, leg warmers, cape … ?? The one I shall probably select as my main suggestion is a lampshade cover but maybe worked in a finer yarn  – still considering this one.

The design element of the course is definitely stretching me but I hope that it will help me to think “outside the box” and extend my creativity potential…. hopefully!

Now, on the subject of design, I am going, this weekend, to a workshop at the Crochet Design Studio run by the IDC course organiser, Pauline Turner. It will be quite something to meet her and take part in one of her workshops – I’m excited and feel sure I’ll learn a huge amount.

Updates on that to follow.

In the meantime happy crafting adventures,

Jenny x




Broomstick, yoyo plus other crochet stuff


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


Canal crochet


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


Runner completed but time running out!

Hello everybody,

I have to apologise for neglecting my blog over the last couple of months. To be honest I’m finding it a bit difficult to find the time needed to keep up with the record of work required for my International Crochet Diploma and to blog as regularly as I would like.

I am thoroughly enjoying Part 1 of the course and have learned so much new stuff already – Tunisian and Broomstick as well as Filet crochet.  Certainly one of the things I’m noticing though is that the amount of time one can spend on “other” crochet activities is more limited: my “want to make” list is growing by the day. Christmas is fast approaching and along with the imminent arrival of two babies I want to make gifts for I am torn between my ICD samples and taking a break.

The good news is that Project No 3 is finished and has been submitted. I needed to use a fine thread and decided on a table runner in spider stitch – found the pattern on a lovely blog, Lace’n’Ribbon Roses. I already had a cone of Southern Comfort by Twilleys in my stash and used a 2mm hook which seems to show off the stitch pattern quite well.

Spider stitch

first attempt at the stitch pattern


pleased with the effect

pleased with the effect but the colour looks completely different!

Fortunately, I have a blocking mat which proved the perfect size for the runner……


….. and here it is ready to send off

difficult to photograph

My limited photography skills made it difficult to take a good photo of this but I do like the way the light behind picks up the stitch pattern.

And so, we are off on holiday for a month during which time I hope to catch up with some small bits and bobs – photos at the end of November, hopefully! I’m sure you will all be starting on some Christmas gifts too; good luck with all those projects and ….

……. keep crocheting!

Bye for now,

Jenny x







Tunisian … ta-dah!

Hello again,

It’s been ages since I wrote last – holidays, kitchen flooding and other bits and bobs have rather scuppered my writing of late. In the meantime, my IDC course has not been totally neglected: I was able to spend some time during our brilliant holiday in France on my third project – a household item worked in 2ply yarn/thread – but I’m getting ahead of myself …….

Before we went away I completed my second coursework project – a cushion cover in Tunisian crochet using Aran weight yarn with the addition of some fashion yarn …

flowers on the front

flowers on the front


striped back

striped back


buttons on back

buttons on back


flower in fashion yarn

flower in fashion yarn

Have to admit that I am surprisingly pleased with the result and I shall be sending the cushion off to my mentor this weekend and hoping for the best.

If you remember a while ago I attended a local workshop on Tunisian crochet before starting on the cushion cover. Quite coincidently, when we came back from France last week I noticed another workshop in Miju Wools, Gloucester; this time it is based on Broomstick crochet and that is indeed the technique which I have decided on for my fourth and final project.

I now have my latest crochet requirement, a single huge knitting needle purchased for 50p in a local Charity shop! I have to admit my initial attempts have been a bit clumsy! Maybe not surprising with an implement this large!

20mm needle and 4.00mm hook

20mm needle and 4.00mm hook

So, I’m off to embark on my latest new technique, armed with my “broomstick”. The stitch was originally worked with the handles of brooms …. can’t imagine how awkward that must have been!  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Happy crocheting!

Jenny x



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


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.



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