Almost halfway through April already….whoosh that time is really flying!

Whilst we have had some April showers, I have managed to spend a fair amount of time in the garden, doing some spring tidying and preparing the veg patch for my growing frenzy.

My hooks have also been on overtime, I completed the April instalment of Kaleidoscope:

April Kaleidoscope

April Kaleidoscope

It gets better every month.

I have started the April instalment of Jane Crowfoot’s mystery blanket. No photos yet but I promise one soon. This month there are some repeat blocks and a new beaded block. And funnily enough, after 2 months of getting rather fed up with endless double crochet rows and lots of end to sew in, I have at last started to enjoy this. The reason is that I have re-ignited my love of beading. There are plenty of beads in this month’s blocks and I am having fun with them. It even inspired me to make a beaded spectacle case as a gift for an elderly friend, but unfortunately I forgot to photograph it before gifting it. Doh!

I have done plenty of knitted beading in the past, I even put together an ebook of my beaded knitted bag and purse designs – Precious purses, beaded bags:.

Precious purses, beaded bags

Precious purses, beaded bags

It is over 2 years since I published this – what did I say earlier about time flying? Here is a link to the book on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/precious-purses-beaded-bags

I was pleasantly surprised to find Craftsy.com had featured my beaded bags one day last week.
So all these little reminders have made my thoughts turn to designing with beads, and maybe crochet this time…………….watch this space.

I also managed to squeeze in some time to publish this:

March Scarf

March Scarf

Not bad for only halfway through the month!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

I’ve been waiting for sunshine. All we have had in the UK this last week is haze and pollution. But I wanted sunshine because I wanted to share a photo with you – a photo of my Summer Garden Throw.
The forecast is for rain tomorrow, and Sunday and maybe Monday. And I can’t wait anymore………

So here it is:

Summer Garden Throw

Summer Garden Throw

For me this is a throw not a blanket, because it is airy and not warm enough for real winter snuggling. It is for summer in the garden.

Actually, I am pretty pleased with this photo. I thought I needed full sun but these rainy clouds didn’t hinder the beauty of the throw. I think the summer flowers have their own inner sunshine.

Throw again!

Throw again!

Ooops, couldn’t resist another photo! The yarn is by The Natural Dye Studio – their glorious Dazzle HT. You can see their yarns here: http://www.thenaturaldyestudio.com/

The Summer Garden Throw is my first magazine published throw/blanket. As you know, I don’t often submit to magazines, so this was quite an event for me. And I have to say Inside Crochet did me proud – I am a cover girl! Well, at least my throw is! And they have produced a beautiful spread in the magazine. If you can, please buy one – if you can’t then have a look here : http://www.insidecrochet.co.uk/blog/revealed-issue-52-s-cover

I was also very pleasantly surprised to see that Lucy at Attic24 is starting a new blanket here: http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2014/04/jollying-to-the-sea.html, with lovely sea inspired colours. This is quite a change for her – she usually does very bright colourful blankets. But as I mentioned before, I am starting to see a subtle change in the crochet world – less bright and (in my eyes) more beautiful

Happy crocheting xxxxx

I have just completed a very colourful scarf, quite traditionally crocheted using square motifs. It is one of a series of scarves that I am designing this year – one for each month. I am a little behind, almost the end of March and this is the February scarf!

February Scarf

February Scarf

It is unusual for me to design something using a square motif (you know how I love hexagons) and also very colourful when I tend to be a lot more subtle. But it is nice to have a little colour occasionally, isn’t it? I just hope it isn’t going to be a trend for me – lots of colour and lots of squares – feels a bit too traditionally ‘granny’ to me!

I was reminded about traditional crochet very recently. It is a long story that I will not bore you with, but a good friend told me she first thought of crochet being something used for those kitsch toilet roll covers – you must remember them, dolls with huge crochet skirts, frequently in pink. Oh, my how horrendous they were, I can laugh about it now but there was a huge trend for them when I was young!

My thoughts turned to how I use crochet in the home. I love throws and blankets, absolutely love them. Crochet lends itself extremely well to throws and blankets. I have them for the bed, the sofa, the cat bed (yes, a very cosy spoilt cat!), chairs, the garden – they are very useful and versatile.

Throws galore

Throws galore

I have made cushion covers also and I am making some now to match the colour accent in my lounge. Bunting also features – mainly at Christmas but I do have some in my shed, and sometimes drape some in my craft room. Some customised jar covers, which hold a host of hooks needles, pens etc. And finally a small curtain over the tiny window on our front door. And that’s about it – the total of my home use of crochet. For me that’s just enough but I expect some people may say it is too much.

Still thinking about this I picked up a couple of crochet magazines and looked at home crochet ideas (not that I plan to expand my home use!). I was surprised to see there is a huge amount. It didn’t used to be that way. Looking at older magazines I’d say roughly 90% of the patterns were garments and accessories and 10% home. Very recent magazines seem to be the reverse (mmmmmm………… maybe a tiny exaggeration!). Now if the home patterns were mainly throws and blankets I wouldn’t be too concerned, but it isn’t and I am fearful those toilet dolls will be making a comeback soon.

This worries me. Is this a dumbing down of the crochet world? I do hope it is a short lived trend, because there is so much more to crochet than little things for the home. It is a glorious craft and should not be confined to four walls – wear it and be proud!

So tell me – do you do much crochet for the home? And what do you think of magazine trends? I would love to know your views.

Happy crocheting xx

When I last posted I hadn’t finished the latest month of patterns in the Janie Crow Mystery Blanket Club…..but I have now!

Here’s what I did this month:

Janie Crow March

Janie Crow March

There were a few beads in this set. It is a long time since I used beads in crochet, so it was lovely to have the chance to do it.

Also I’ve been doing some detective work, and I predict some beaded ‘catherine wheels’ in a month or so and a large central beaded flower…. watch this space to see if I am correct!

Happy crocheting xx

I was hoping to show photographs today of both the monthly blanket clubs I am in. But I have only managed to complete one of them, so I can show only half.

Here is the Kaleidoscope Blanket for March:

March Kaleidoscope

March Kaleidoscope

I love this, it is a very satisfying make and flows off the hook. Each month the blanket takes on a new life. I can’t wait for April.

The Jane Crowfoot Blanket is taking a little longer. I have done more than half of March, but it doesn’t flow off the hook quite as quickly. I think the main reason for this is that I don’t like crocheting in cotton in large quantities, I find it hard work and not soft and gentle like wool and silk. So I am resigned to slower progress on this. I will share photos when I have finished March.

Meanwhile I have found time to publish a quick scarf design which I am calling the January Crochet Scarf.

January Crochet Scarf

January Crochet Scarf

I also have a February Scarf which I have swatched and a March Scarf in my head – this may turn into a regular theme!

Happy Crocheting xx

I will be donating 50% of my gross pattern sales in March 2014 to Knitforpeace to help support some of around 20 small independent yarn businesses affected by the recent floods in the UK.

If you wish to donate also, here is where you can: https://mydonate.bt.com/events/knitforpeacewoolshopappeal

Happy St David’s Day!

Yes, 1st March is St David’s Day and for me signifies a key date in the seasonal calendar – because I always think of daffodils on St David’s Day and that means spring is just around the corner. This week we have had some sunny weather here in the UK and I have managed to spend a good number of hours in the garden, which raises my spirits at this time of year. The snowdrops are well advanced, the hellebores are in full flower and many of the crocus are also flowering, and yes a few daffodils are starting to fill out their buds. So spring is in the air.
The met office say spring starts on 1st March, but I prefer to use the vernal equinox, usually around 21st March (but I googled it, of course, and found that this year the vernal equinox is 20th March at 12.57pm EDT – don’t ask – just google if you want to know why!).

1st March is also the official release date of the second hexagon in The Hexagon Project 2014. Unofficially I released it yesterday afternoon – because it was already 1st March in some parts of the world! Oh my, I’m not sticking to any firm dates this year am I?
Here’s a glimpse of it:

Hexagon no 2

Hexagon no 2

It’s available on Ravelry if you like it. Some of my testers found this hexagon a little challenging and their comments and queries made me work hard at ensuring the pattern read well. It is fabulous having such good testers, it helps me improve my pattern writing, so I can’t thank them enough.

I’m looking forward to seeing some colourful versions of this hexagon, and maybe someone will choose sunny spring colours!

Happy crocheting xx

CAL stands for crochet-a-long, a crochet project where lots of people join in and do it at the same time. There are always CALS going on somewhere, this year there is a worldwide mood blanket CAL, but I am not part of it.
However, I am participating in 3 CALS at the moment.

One is the Kaleidoscope crochet blanket, which I am blogging about monthly each time I complete something.
Then there is my own CAL – The Hexagon Project 2014, which I blog about also from time to time.
And the third is one I joined only recently. I hinted about it in my last blog post – it is the Jane Crowfoot Mystery Crochet Blanket CAL. Yes, another blanket!
I joined it on a whim, just as I had finished the February instalment of the Kaleidoscope CAL. I must be mad, as I have more than enough projects to keep me going as well as lots of ideas for designs in my head. But I love joining in CALs and I knew one of my friends was in the Jane Crowfoot club, so I just did it!

I know many of you will want to know how it is going. So here is a progress photo:

Jane Crowfoot Crochet Club

Jane Crowfoot Crochet Club

I’m sorry about the quality of the photo, I had such a problem today because the sun kept getting into all the shots. But that is a welcome problem!

This is the completed February instalment, or at least half – there are 2 of every motif. And the good thing is the March instalment comes out a few days into March, hopefully just as I finish the March instalment of Kaleidoscope. So the timing fits in perfectly.

You probably want to know how they compare – well here are a few facts:

They are different, very different – which is good.
One is in cotton yarn the other in merino wool, I find the merino (a single) much better to work with.
One has beads in the design.
One is join as you go, the other is join at the end – I prefer join as you go, and I am dreading the chore of joining at the end!

There is one other point, not a comparison of the projects but of the approach. There is activity on Ravelry for both CALs, but only one of the designers is active in this so far. I do hope the other designer pops up on Ravelry soon, because the Ravelry community is there only because of her design and she should be part of that community.

I am enjoying doing both CALs, it is good to ring the changes. And it will be interesting to see how they compare at the year end.

Do you join in any CALS? If so, please share your experience of them.

Happy crocheting xx

I finished the February instalment of the Kaleidoscope crochet blanket yesterday, yes only 5 days into the month! Here it is:

Kaleidoscope February

Kaleidoscope February

I love how this is growing, there are more blues in it now (I like blue) and whilst working on it I found it was beginning to feel like a lap blanket. I can’t wait for March……..

It’s strange but I now feel a void. I have plenty to do but I have discovered I really enjoy CALs like this. So yesterday I joined another crochet blanket club…..news on that another day!

Happy crocheting xx

I‘ve been thinking a lot about colour recently. Perhaps because I’ve been making colourful hexagons for a few weeks ahead of the launch of The Hexagon Project 2014 which I blogged about yesterday here: http://agrarianartisan.com/2014/01/31/the-hexagon-project-2014/

I like to think I use a subtle colour palette in what I do. If you saw my home youwould see it is fairly modern with plenty of oak and neutral shades everywhere – just odd splashes of colour for accent. But I do love colour in many things, just as long as it isn’t glaring out at me from every corner. So I am not afraid to use colour provided it fits in my world.

You won’t find much multi colours in anything I make or design – just look at my Ravelry project and design pages to see how I use colour!

However, my thoughts have made me reflect on the blankets I have made over the years.

The first blanket I ever made was a granny in shades of blue, mainly pale blue. It served me well at uni. It was thrown out years ago – so I don’t have a photo of it. Believe me when I say it was subtle, not glaring.

The second blanket I made was a small knitted hap blanket – beige with red highlights.

Hap blanket

Hap blanket

Then came Starry Night by Amanda Perkins, I made it in grey, silver and 2 shades of dark blue.

Starry Night

Starry Night

The fourth blanket I made was another design by Amanda Perkins called Lily. This time I started to use more colour – I wanted lots of red – and that is what I got!

Lily

Lily

The next blanket (knitted) was back to my neutral shades.

Heike's afghan KAL

Heike’s afghan KAL

Then no 6 was a baby blanket in ice cream colours

Baby blanket

Baby blanket

And then a small lap blanket in soft blue, green, cream.

Little Hearts

Little Hearts

Then I made a granny style blanket in lots of colour – quite a change for me! It is confined to the spare bed and is very practical. But I do quite like the colour pick-me-up as I walk in that room.

Poppet's Blanket

Poppet’s Blanket

The first blanket for this year is very colourful, it is another Amanda Perkins’ design and I blogged about it here: http://agrarianartisan.com/2014/01/25/kaleidoscope/

I have also made 2 other blankets recently, I’m not going to tell you about them yet, other than to say one is ‘nicely’ colourful and the other is back to my more subtle colour palette.

Now all of this has made me think about the world of crochet. There are so many fields of crochet in the world from the delicate old Irish crochet used frequently in crisp white doillies to the bright colourful world of simple but effective granny squares, with a myriad of styles, taste and colour inbetween. The recent growth in the crochet world has been predominantly in the colourful granny area – after all it is easy to see the impact of colour and grannies are quite quick and easy to make when you are just getting going.

Just recently I have started to sense a slow change in that colourful granny world, maybe, just maybe, it is growing closer to my preferences of subtlety. I think it is about time it should.

Personally, in the world of colourful crochet my preference is always in the direction of Amanda Perkins, her use of colour is exceptional. It is so much more sophisticated than the granny world. If we are to use colour in the world of crochet it is much better to do with sophistication don’t you think?

Yes, I would dearly love to know what you think, so please share your thoughts with me.

Happy crocheting xx

Edit: just after pushing the ‘publish’ button, I read the latest blog by Lucy of Attic 24 which only served to confirm my sense of colour shift! http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2014/02/colour-play.html

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