Christmas CAL part 5

I am feeling pretty happy today, I have joined all my motifs and I love the way the blanket looks.  The colours are bright and fresh, and I have decided this will be my garden throw/picnic rug – it zings!

Today I am sharing my ideas for layout and how to join.

Let’s start with the joining.

I have opted for a very straightforward joining that doesn’t leave a ‘ridge’ on the front of the blanket. This is my preference, you may choose to join any way you like.

Remember I said to leave a long tail of about 3m at the end of each motif pattern?  Well I use that long tail to join the motifs.  Hold the motifs front sides together and slip stitch through the back loops of both motifs along the edges using the long tails.

Joining by slip stitch
Joining by slip stitch

Using the back loops means that the front loops of each motif are still visible on the front side along the edges making a nice straight edge where the motifs lie next to each, like this:

Front of join
Front of join

You can get a similar effect by sewing together using the back loops as well.

The layout of the blanket is 7 motifs by 7 motifs.  The following diagram shows how I planned my layout.

First the key:

Full Motif is no 1

Granny 2 motif is no 2

Granny 3 motif is no 3

Granny 4 motif is no 4

Granny 5 motif is no 5.

The colours are pretty obvious!

Layout 1
Layout 1

In my layout the colours are sort of random but there is a regularity to the motif style.  If you prefer the colours to be more regular then the following is an alternative:

Layout 2
Layout 2

You don’t have to follow either of these layouts, but I hope they give you some inspiration on how to make your blanket.

Tomorrow I will show you my little embellishment.  I haven’t decided whether to use it on my blanket, but we’ll see!

As always please share your progress on my Ravelry group here, and you can ask any questions on there (I know joining can be tricky).

Happy crocheting xxx

 

Now for the legal stuff – I designed this, it’s all my own work and is copyright. Please feel free to make as many as you like, but not for commercial purposes, and please credit me with the design. Thank you!

Christmas CAL part 2

How are you all doing?   Did you finish the motifs from part 1?

I didn’t do too much yesterday, I was far too busy eating and drinking!   But I did have a flash of inspiration after all that excess, a little embellishment for the blanket – so this will be included in one of next week’s updates.

I have seen some progress on Ravelry, and I know some of you have completed 9 squares and therefore must be ready for this instalment.  So here it is:

First a reminder of the ABBREVIATIONS:

The pattern is written in English crochet terms.

St = stitch

Ch = chain

Tr = treble (US dc)

Ss = slip stitch

Sp = space

Ch-sp =chain space

This is the second motif design, I am making 10, 2 in each of my chosen colours.  I call it the FULL MOTIF 1:

FULL MOTIF 1
FULL MOTIF 1

Foundation:  Make a 4ch foundation ch and join into a ring with a ss

Round 1: 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), (3tr, 2ch) 3 times into the ring, 2tr into the ring, join to 3rd st of first 5ch with a ss.

Round 2: ss into 2ch-sp, (note for this and each subsequent round: this ss is to position the start of the round in the right place) 5ch (counts as 1tr, 2ch), 2tr into the same 2ch-sp, 1tr into each tr along each side and (2tr, 2ch, 2tr) in each 2ch-sp on the corner, finish with 1tr in the first 2ch-sp and join to 3rd ch from start with a ss. You should have 7tr along each side and 2ch in each corner of your motif.

Rounds 3 to 6: Repeat Round 2. The number of tr along each side increases by 4 with each round. So after Round 3 you have 11tr, after Round 4 you have 15tr, after Round 5 you have 19tr and after Round 6 you have 23tr.

Break yarn and fasten off leaving a long tail about 3m long for sewing or crocheting together later.

Please share your progress on the discussion thread on my Ravelry Group here.

Stay tuned for the next instalment, which I aim to publish on Sunday……..

Happy crocheting xxx

 

Now for the legal stuff – I designed this, it’s all my own work and is copyright. Please feel free to make as many as you like, but not for commercial purposes, and please credit me with the design. Thank you!

Home Alone 2

If last weekend was rare, then this was unprecedented! Yes my readers, he was away again! It was a last minute decision and he was only away for one night, and I had planned some chores this weekend so I didn’t quite have as much time to do things just for me.

I did wake up on Saturday with ideas of doing some shopping. Unfortunately it rained, and rained, and rained some more. It was so bad I much preferred to stay inside, despite being in desperate need of a new camera, with a few more bells and whistles than my current one – and a replacement battery for said ancient beast. But even this desperation did not encourage me to go shopping! So I had half a day and one evening to fill, but no operational camera to share progress.

However, fortune shone on me and my brother arrived carrying his camera just as I was contemplating braving the camera on my phone. So today’s photographs are courtesy of him. I should add that this wasn’t some form of sibling telepathy. Photography is one of his hobbies, so he carries his camera with him most weekends.

My crafting comprised 2 items. First I finished this month’s Janie Crowfoot mystery blanket instalment:

Janie Crow May
Janie Crow May

It includes the piece which I think is destined for the centre of the blanket and is my favourite so far.

Earlier in the week I received a package from The Old Piggery. I had visited their stand at Wonderwool in search of some scissor keeper kits but they had none. However, they took my email and promised to send me details. Now I really wasn’t expecting an email from them, because my previous experience of leaving my email at a show never yielded any results. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email soon after Wonderwool offering me a choice of kits and providing photographs so I could choose the colours I wanted. This is the sort of customer service I like and I purchased several kits. So I spent an hour or so making one up yesterday:

Scissor keeper
Scissor keeper

Whilst visiting them at Wonderwool I was very taken with a skein of yarn that I spotted – the colourway is Moss and I managed to find two 25g skeins of it in laceweight. So last night, I wound the first skein and started my ‘June’ crochet scarf. I have only done a little but already the colour pools have stunned me. I hope it looks as good on film, but that will be a photo for another day – you will have to be patient.

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

A long weekend

This weekend is one of those long weekends in the UK which result from having a Bank Holiday – yay! I have had a lovely quiet weekend because my husband has been away partaking of his hobby on a racetrack at Castle Donington. So what do I do when he is away – well this weekend I planned absolutely nothing!

It is glorious to be able to wake up and do just what you like with no-one getting under your feet. Apart from the cat, that is. So we (the cat and I) have done just as we like. Naturally this involves a little crafting (crochet) but it also includes a little gardening (pruning), rather a lot of tidying (I have moved my craft room around for the 3rd time in a year – I think I need a bigger room), an unusual amount of cleaning (I cleaned all my kitchen cupboards and threw out lots of items that were chipped, cracked or just plain useless) and plenty of RnR.

Ok, I confess the crochet wasn’t exactly ‘little’. The May instalment of the Kaleidoscope mystery blanket came out this weekend, so I spent Saturday evening in front of the television watching all 6 episodes of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice back to back, with crochet hook in hand and cat cuddling next to me (except on several occasions when said cat decided the yarn was the best play thing in the world, even the decoy ball of acrylic I always have handy wasn’t good enough for her!). Sunday night wasn’t quite so intense but did involve crochet, as did Monday (a bit in the morning and another bit in the afternoon) – so I have finished May.

May Kaleidoscope - just getting a little big to photograph on the table
May Kaleidoscope – just getting a little big to photograph on the table

Part of this drive to finish May was because I was expecting the Janie Crow mystery blanket instalment on 5th May (why oh why did I challenge myself to do 2 mystery blankets?) and had to finish Kaleidoscope before it came out. Except I made a mistake – the next Janie Crow instalment comes out on 8th May – so I have 3 days yet. Ah well, maybe I should do some knitting………!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

Sunshine on a rainy day…………

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

At home

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

Spring?

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

February CALs

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

Colour in crochet

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: https://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: https://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

The Granny Square Blog Tour

If you have ever attended one of my workshops you will have heard me say ‘granny squares are like marmite’ because you either love ‘em or loathe ‘em. But whatever your views it seems granny squares are firmly embedded in the crochet world. Some people have very strong feelings about them, and some could not care less. So which are you?

I confess I used to hate them and I mean really hate them. Why? Well I think squares can be quite boring and I think the repetition of the design is, frankly, unexciting. And I had this view for many years.

In my teens I made a granny square blanket, it went to university with me part finished and I finished it in my first year. It came in very useful! But then I moved right on. And, I’m sorry to say, so did the blanket.

When formulating this blog I decided to have a look at what granny squares I had made recently and I was a little surprised. It seems in the last few months I have been making quite a few grannies:

Flower power cushion:

DSCF0803

DSCF0802

Pin cushion:

DSCF0683

Granny purse:

DSCF0916

Perhaps age has mellowed my views, but now I can see they have their uses and to me their primary use is, to put it simply, colour! Perhaps it is the regularity of the design, but they certainly enable everyone to experiment with colour and somehow bring out the rainbow in all of us. My current experimenting with colour is via Bohemian Rhapsody, perhaps not a true granny but lots of granny elements:

DSCF0840

Now you can experiment with colour in lots of way with crochet, and I absolutely adore the beautiful motif designs by Amanda Perkins – I think they enable more alluring colour experimentation and her blankets are just exquisite, to me so much more pleasing to my eyes than any granny square could be. Have a look at her blog here: http://amandascrochetblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/granny-squares.html she shows how beautiful crochet motifs can be.

The secondary use of granny squares is that they are simple, and thus they enable beginner crocheters to experiment with colour and make useful items with confidence. No-one is a beginner forever, so in time most crocheters do move on from grannies. However, I recognise that some do not – they love grannies so much they just keep making them! So be it – the world is big enough for everyone.

So I no longer hate grannies, I see they have their place in the crochet world. So this blog is part of a celebration of them – the ‘granny square blog tour’, which enables crocheting bloggers the world over to join in and have their say. If you have a blog and want to join in, then please comment on this discussion thread on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/agrarian-artisan-designs/2646102/1-25#11

Next on the tour is the talented Tracey Todhunter, look out for her blog early next week: http://bakingandmaking.com/

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx