Odds and Ends

I planned a quiet weekend, with time to work on a design that is proving tricky. But things don’t always go to plan, and I find that leaving a tricky problem at the back of my mind and getting on with other things is the best way to solve it. Somehow the little grey cells keep on working on it in the background.

So instead of devoting a weekend to this tricky problem, I devoted a few hours then set about finishing the Janie Crowfoot Mystery Blanket – at last it is done. I did tweak it a little, mainly because I didn’t like the large triangular holes in the middle, and to use up more of the yarn on the border. Here it is:

Janie Crowfoot Blanket
Janie Crowfoot Blanket

I still need to give it a final blocking, and then I need to decide where to display it.

I have yarn leftover from this project, in small quantities, and some beads. So today I spent an hour doing a few little crochet ‘doodles’. The end result – first the Leilani flower, which was a tester for the blanket and I decided not to make it until the blanket was finished.

Leilani Flower
Leilani Flower

Then a small trinket pot.

Beaded pot
Beaded pot

And finally I am working on a small textured and beaded bag/pouch, seen here with the pot.

Leftovers pouch
Leftovers pouch

I hope you have had a productive weekend.
Happy crocheting xx

Happy Sunday

Happy Sunday to my readers!

How is your summer going? Here in the UK it is warm, probably the warmest summer we have had for a few years. So evenings have been balmy, wine has been quaffed and a gentle calm fills the air (inbetween the hayfever sneezes!).

My knitting and crochet normally slows in warm weather, warm hands and wool do not mix well. But this July has been different, maybe because one of my long term projects has been in cotton – the Jane Crowfoot mystery blanket CAL. The last clue for this was published a few days ago – I had one large flower motif to make, then a lot of joining and edging. The flower motif is blocking and I have a plan to slowly sew the pieces together rather than get bogged down in too much sewing – I will share the finished project in due course..

I have also completed the July clue of Amanda Perkins’ Kaleidoscope mystery blanket CAL – I’ve told you before that I love this pattern and the yarn, it seems to flow off the hook easily. Here is July:
JULY
My plans for my own mystery CAL are well advanced. I have made a sample and started pattern writing. Just as well, because the first clue will be released on 24th July. The CAL will be hosted on my Ravelry forum here: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/agrarian-artisan-designs/2967692/26-50#33

MCAL
Anyone joining the forum and signing up for the MCAL before 1st August will receive all clues free. It is motif based, and can be a scarf, wide scarf/wrap or even a blanket. Suggestions for yarn quantities for 4 ply/fingering and double knit will be provided. It is all about colour, which I am sure everyone will love, and the motif basis is slightly different to normal, which I love but I await response to the final design!

Also I have published my July Scarf which is made in silk. Following the June theme, this scarf is a row of granny squares made in one long piece:
July Crochet Scarf

Pattern can be found here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/july-crochet-scarf-continuous-grannies
It is on sale at half price until the end of July using the coupon code JULY

Happy summer knitting and crochet xxxxx

I’m sorry!

You should have told me off – yes, you should! It has been more than 2 weeks since my last blog, so I have neglected you. I am so sorry. Next time please shout at me to remind me!!!!!

What can I share with you today? Well, first is my new bag – I LOVE it! It was a kit, a present from Karen and Ruth, I can’t thank them enough. I was addicted to it as soon as I put the first stitch on my hook. Yes, I changed it a bit (I always do, I am either perfectionist or personalisationalist, if that is a word!!!). I absolutely loved making it and decided it needed a good finish. So my sewing machine was dusted off and I lined it, PROPERLY. I even put some good strong cotton tape in the handle. And now it is my everyday bag to carry beloved crochet and knitting projects to knitgroup or anywhere!! It is made from rug yarn – very strong and capable of outliving most other yarns, I want more of this yarn!

Hooked bag
Hooked bag

If you want something similar, then it came from http://www.hookedbydesign.co.uk . Lots of gorgeousness on her website.

Also, I published my June scarf. I am rather surprised that I have managed to keep up with this personal challenge – halfway through the year already and 6 designs complete. Here it is:

June
June

The colours were inspired by the colours in my garden at the time I designed it – blue of gernanium and lime green/yellow of alchemilla mollis.

I already have plans for July. And August is my Ravelry forum anniversary – so the August scarf will be a mystery CAL. I am looking forward to that – A LOT!

Finally, I have to share another photo with you. I love my little Anniversary Flowers, I see them every day jostled together in a little basket. But yesterday I decided they needed a real purpose in life. So I turned them into mini bunting which now adorns the headboard of the spare bed. I think they look very happy there. What do you think?

Flowers a plenty
Flowers a plenty

Happy knitting and crochet xxxx

An anniversary gift…

To celebrate my first blog birthday, I thought I should give all my readers a little gift. So I sat down a couple of days ago with my hook and designed a little flower. I got carried away, I couldn’t just make one…….I became a little addicted.

Here it is:

Anniversary Crochet Flower
Anniversary Crochet Flower

I have written the pattern below, but I have also charted it. If you want the chart you can find it as a free download on Ravelry here.  It is also available on LoveCrochet here.

So here is the pattern:

ANNIVERSARY CROCHET FLOWER

This is written in English crochet terms and uses standard abbreviations.
It is made in the round, like a little motif. It is written as if the same colour of yarn is used throughout, so if you want to use a different colour, just break the yarn at the end of the round, fasten off and start with new yarn at the start of the next round.

Abbreviations used:
MR = magic ring – hold thread in hand and wrap working yarn around forefinger twice to create ring, slip ring off your finger and insert hook to pick up first st, 1 ch, then work the necessary sts for round 1 and close the ring tightly by pulling the loose end.
st = stitch
ss = slip stitch
sp = space
ch = chain
dc = double crochet
tr = treble
htr = half treble

I used a 4mm hook (US G/6) and some DK weight yarn, but you can use any yarn as long as you use a suitable hook.

3 colour flower
3 colour flower

Round 1 – make a MR, 1 ch (does not count as a st), 6 dc in ring, pull end tight, ss to 1st dc to join. (NOTE: sometimes this ss wants to be a st! And you may find when you do round 2 that you have one st too many, to remedy this just do 5 dc not 6 dc)
Round 2 – 1 ch (does not count as a st), [1 dc, 3 ch] in each st around, join to 1st dc with a ss (you have 6 3ch sps)
Round 3 – 1 ch (does not count as a st), [1 dc, 1 htr, 3 tr, 1 htr, 1 dc] in each 3ch sp around, join to 1st dc 1ith a ss. Break yarn and fasten off.

Sew in all ends, then enjoy!

You can get a different look depending on how many colours of yarn you use. For some flowers I used one colour for rounds 1 and 2 and a second colour for round 3. On others I used a different colour each round.

What to make with these flowers? Well, lots of things – brooches, hair clips, embellishments, string up as bunting………….just use your imagination. And please let me know what you make.

Happy anniversary xx

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 do not copy the pattern and please credit me with the design. Thank you!

Almost a year!

I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, I know because I’ve just paid a renewal fee on my domain name! I can’t believe how quickly this last year has gone. I guess I must be enjoying life because I haven’t stopped to review or consider the year, I’ve just ploughed on and enjoyed!

Today I took another big step – I started a facebook page. Just search for Agrarian Artisan on Facebook and you should find me!

In the next few days I will publish the next hexagon in The Hexagon Project 2014 and self publish the Molly Shawlette. And that will bring me to 101 designs (at least that is what Ravelry tells me!). Wow! I need a drink!

Here’s the prototype of Molly:

Molly Prototype
Molly Prototype

And a glimpse of motif no 4 of The Hexagon Project 2014:

Hexagon Project 2014 no 4
Hexagon Project 2014 no 4

Happy knitting and crochet 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

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