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Welcome to the Winter CAL 2015.   Today I’m introducing the CAL, providing information on requirements and the pattern for the first square motif, a ‘solid’ granny which should be pretty familiar and which will help you estimate your own requirements if you aren’t using the same yarn.

This post is rather long, so make a cuppa and settle down for a long read !

YARN

First let’s talk about yarn.  I’m using a double knit (DK) yarn and I’m making 2 blankets.

My first is a ‘sample’ blanket using 6 bright colours which cheer up winter and the second is also a bright colour palate but will be structured differently. I’m using the second colour set to crochet along with you.

Sample yarn:  John Arbon, Knit by Numbers DK, 100% merino, 100g/250m per skein.  2 skeins each of Blue (039), Pink (063), Yellow (052), Green (071) and Purple (029)  and 1 skein of Orange (015).  This is sufficient for a blanket 7 motifs square, so a total of 49 motifs and a small border.

John Arbon Knit by Numbers

John Arbon Knit by Numbers

CAL yarn: Stylecraft Life DK, 75% acrylic/25% wool, 100g/298m per ball.  I’m using 2 balls each of Teal (2416), Mint (2342), Aqua (2357) and Fern (2311) and 1 ball each of Daffodil (2394), Rose (2301), Melon (2359) and Zing (2356).    The blanket will be 7 motifs square also, the same as the sample, but I will put a larger border on this.

Stylecraft Life DK

Stylecraft Life DK

HOOK

I am using a 4mm crochet hook (US G/6)

MOTIF/TENSION

The motifs are square and each motif is approx. 19cm (just under 8in) square after blocking, using the ‘sample’ yarn.

ADAPTABILITY

You can use any yarn you like, as long as you use a suitable hook size.  And you can make it to any size you like.  It is a perfect stash buster.  Later in this blog I show you how to you estimate your yarn requirements.

COLOUR SCHEME

Some of the motifs in this design work well in just one colour, others work well in up to 5 colours.  So whatever you choose, I recommend you have at least 5 colours of yarn.  I used 6 colours in my sample blanket and I’m using 8 colours in my CAL blanket.

MOTIF DESIGNS AND TIMINGS

There are 8 motif designs, and you can use as many or as few as you like.    The first 2 designs are free and will be published on this blog, so you could use just these 2. The first design is published today, the second design will be published on 26th December.

The other 6 will be published weekly thereafter and will be included in a comprehensive pattern which will be available to buy on Ravelry, it will be published initially on 26th December and updated as each motif is released. Photos of the new motifs will appear on this blog, along with my progress updates.

SIZE

You can make the blanket any size you like.   The lap blanket I am making will be 7 motifs square – a total of 49 motifs.  It will be just over 1.3m/52in square with a small border.

HOW TO WORK OUT YARN REQUIREMENTS

This is an approximate way to work out your yarn requirement.

First make the motif in this blog.  I worked out it uses an average amount of yarn for all the 8 motifs, so is a good guide as to how much each motif will use.

Then measure your motif.  Using this measurement work out how big you want your blanket to be – so if the motif is 20cm and you want a blanket 120cm square then it will need to be 6 motifs square – that’s 36 motifs.

I prefer my blankets to have an odd number along each side, as visually I find odd numbers more appealing.  So you may prefer to aim for 7 by 7 (49 motifs), or 5 by 5 (25 motifs) or even 9 by 9 (81 motifs).

Whatever you decide, let’s just say the number of motifs you want is N

Now weigh your motif – it doesn’t matter if you weigh in grams or ounces.   Let’s just say that weight is W

For the motifs you need yarn with a total weight of N times W, but you need to add a margin for joining, colour matching/changing and a border.  I recommend a minimum of 10% (which works for a small border and if you are careful with colour matching) or 20% (which works well with a larger border) or 25% (if you aren’t confident about colour matching and/or don’t really know what you want to do for a border).

So take N by W, add 10%,  20% or 25% and then divide by the size (weight) of skeins/balls for the yarn you are using.

For my bright sample I had 49 motifs, each weighing an average of 20g – so 49 by 20 plus 10% is  1078g and the skeins come in 100g, so I need 10.78 – or 11.

The estimating works if you are using all the same yarn, if you use different brands of yarn then you should look carefully on the ball band to find out how many m or yd are in each brand – they vary quite a lot.  If yours vary, then you’ll have to do some more maths to work out your requirements.  Essentially you need to work out the meterage or yardage of your motif, rather than just the weight.  I’ll provide information on this in my Ravelry group here if you want it – so just join in the discussion and ask!

Now onto the pattern:

This is the first motif.  It is similar to one I used last year but this has more rounds in total, it’s a ‘solid’ granny square.

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

Solid motif

Solid motif

I made 8 of these in a variety of colours:

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 where you started the round 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 8: Repeat Round 2.  Each round the number of tr along each side will increase by 4, so at the end of Round 8 you should have 31tr along each side and 2ch in each corner of your motif.

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

COLOUR

In my sample blanket I made 8 of these motifs in just one colour each.   But you can use up to 8 colours, just by changing colour at the start of each round.  I will start my CAL blanket later today and I’m planning on using at least 2 colours on each of my 8 motifs.  I’ll post progress photos tomorrow.

LAYOUT

The ‘solid’ motifs can be positioned anywhere in the blanket but I thought it would help to give structure to the blanket if I positioned them around the edge of it.  So here is where I put them in my blanket (shown as 1):

Solid motif locations

Solid motif locations

If you want to chat about this, there is a discussion thread on my Ravelry forum here.

Or you could just comment on this post.

I’m looking forward to seeing what yarns you choose 🙂

Until tomorrow…..

Happy crocheting xxx

Last Christmas I hosted a blanket CAL designed to keep your hooks busy during the seasonal holiday.   It was a spontaneous decision to do the CAL, and I was happily surprised when so many people joined in at such short notice.

This year I am planning another blanket CAL to keep you busy during Christmas and beyond.  The design has 8 different square motif designs and can be made any size you like.  My sample blanket uses 6 different colours of DK yarn but you could use as many as you like and, yes, it would be a good stash buster.

My colours:

Yummy Yarn!

Yummy Yarn!

My sample blanket isn’t quite finished yet, but the squares are well advanced in design.  The yarn is John Arbon’s Knit by Numbers, a lovely soft DK yarn, and I’m using 11 skeins.  I’m enjoying making the sample so much that I have just ordered some more yarn to make a second sample, so that I can crochet along with you when the designs are released.   This second yarn is Stylecraft Special DK, which is a much more affordable option.

Here’s a brief outline of the CAL plan:

Next weekend, I will provide details and the first motif design here on the blog.  The first design is a basic square which many of you will be familiar with.  It will show you the size of each motif and uses an average amount of yarn for the all the designs, so will help in showing how much yarn each square uses. You could then estimate your yarn requirements for the size of blanket you want.

On Boxing Day (Saturday 26th December) I will release the next motif design on the blog. You could make a blanket just using these 2 motifs in a checkerboard layout, which I think would look very attractive, so I would love to see someone do this!  The first 2 motifs are both straightforward and would suit someone fairly new to crochet.

The rest of the pattern (6 more motifs, layout etc) will be provided in a downloadable pattern on Ravelry.  This will be a paid for pattern and each week I will add a new motif to it until it is complete.   I will share weekly progress on the blog.

As a reminder of previous blanket CALs on the blog here’s a couple of photos from the last 2:

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

 

Spring 21015

Spring 2015

I hope you join in the fun with this CAL.

Happy crocheting xxx

This time a month ago I was very happy that I had 2 designs feature in 2 different magazines – I blogged about it here.

It felt wonderful!  And I really didn’t think it could get better, but it has!  My latest design for Inside Crochet (issue 69) has made the front cover.   This is Autumn Beaches, a motif scarf that uses just one skein of Yarns from the Plains’ Mobberley DK.

Photo courtesy of Nic, Yarns from the Plain

Photo courtesy of Nic, Yarns from the Plain

It is called Autumn Beaches because the colours of the yarn reminded me the shades in the ripples of sand created by the tide going out.  It is reminiscent of childhood holidays, playing on the beach (British beaches because we never went abroad for holidays).

However, this colour is called Malted Chocolate and I love chocolate so couldn’t resist!  When I saw the yarn originally it wasn’t the colour name that attracted me, it was the yarn base name – Mobberley.  Why? Because I live in Mobberley!    Nic who owns Yarns from the Plain lives not far from me in Cheshire and all her yarn bases have names of local villages and towns, and when I saw Mobberley I just had to have a skein (mmmmm……maybe I bought more than one!).  And when I touched the yarn it was so soft, it is made of 70% Exmoor blueface/30% British Alpaca and is entirely British.   So British yarn, dyed in Cheshire, using Cheshire names and reminiscent of British beaches – it all fitted together well for me.

The design of the motif is one I swatched last year, ok I say ‘swatched’ when what I mean is ‘doodled’ because that’s what I do with a hook and yarn in my hand, I make crochet doodles.   Originally I was thinking of making a small pincushion and the design was my first attempt at a crochet cover for it……..but it never made it to a pincushion.  You see I doodled it in DK, and I loved the look of it in DK, so I set it aside and waited until the right yarn came along.

And it did….and it was perfect.  So that’s how Autumn Beaches was created.  Whilst it is beautiful in the Malted Chocolate colourway, I think Nic has some fabulous colours in Mobberley DK and I would love to see the design in some of these – I love Libby and Sweeties, and my favourite is Bewitched.  What colour would you choose?

Happy crocheting xx

I’ve just published the full and final pattern for the anniversary CAL.  So here’s the reveal:

Anniversary mandala cushion

Anniversary mandala cushion

As you can see, the front and back of the cushions I made are different, as I like a little variety.  Of course, if you make a cushion you could make the front and back the same…….but which would you choose?

The full pattern is now on Ravelry, Lovecrochet, Etsy and Craftsy and is now full price.   But there’s still time to join in the CAL on the Ravelry forum 🙂

Happy crocheting xx

 

 

The last few posts on this blog have been about the Anniversary CAL, but I have been doing a lot more than just finalising the pattern for the CAL.  Patterns are generally written well ahead of publication, then tested and refined – the publication hasn’t taken much of my time at all.

So today I will share a round-up of activity from the last few weeks.

First I was happy to have 2 designs published in different magazines both of which were released on the same day!  What a very happy co-incidence!   Again these were prepared and written months ago, but the excitement of receiving the magazines and seeing the designs in print (and beautifully styled) is immense.  And, of course, I give myself plenty of time to read the magazines over a cup or 2 of coffee!

The first item is the Lariat Belt I designed for Inside Crochet, issue 68. 

Lariat Belt

Lariat Belt

This one is a flexible design – it can be a skinny scarf, a lariat necklace or a belt – the perfect item to pack for holiday.   It is made in some of my favourite yarn, WillowKnits handdyed worsted silk, and it is relatively quick to make, so even if you are off on holiday next week I am sure you can make this in time.

The second design is a retro Boho Top for Mollie Makes, issue 56.

Boho Top

Boho Top

I had such fun making this!  It comes in 2 sizes and I designed it so it is made in one piece and requires very little sewing up.  I know that finishing a crocheted or knitted garment is generally one of the most disliked tasks, and I know of many pieces that languish in cupboards and drawers awaiting sewing up.   For the boho top the motifs are joined as you go and the bodice is made upwards from the motif section, the edging is incorporated into the bodice as you make it and there are probably less than a dozen sewing stitches required to  join the shoulders.    So once you finish hooking it takes minutes to finish the garment!

You may recall I mentioned a while ago that I treated myself on the spur of the moment to a set of Hamanaka crochet hooks from Janie Crow.   I had my eye on these for a while, they looked small and neat, and being double ended meant that I could carry a large range of hooks in a small bag.  They haven’t disappointed me at all.   I haven’t used anything else since I bought them!

I bought a set of 5 regular sizes, a set of 3 small sizes and a small case for them.   The hooks are lovely to handle and, for my small hands, a perfect size.   I added a small pair of scissors, some tapestry needles and stitch markers to the front pocket in the case and I now have a perfect little crochet kit.

Hamanaka - heaven in a hook!

Hamanaka – heaven in a hook!

I have been working on a simple granny square cushion in lovely handdyed 4 ply silk, and you can tell from this photo that I have used the hook a lot (evidenced by the dye accumulating on the handle near the hook shank – don’t worry, I know from experience that this will wash off easily).

Another thing I like about these hooks is that the 3mm and 4mm sizes are on the same hook, and these are the sizes I use the most – so if I want to travel light with crochet, that is the only hook I need carry.

I’ve also been indulging in some more mandala designing, this is a special mandala which is just in the pattern writing stage:

The special

The special

And I have been making some ‘mini bunting’ from a pattern by Emma Lamb published in Mollie Makes Crochet, another great selection of crochet patterns.  This now adorns the headboard of the spare bed.  Previously my Anniversary Crochet Flower mini bunting adorned the bedhead but I felt it was in need of a refresh and a narrower colour palette – 2 of Emma’s flowers from the book were perfect for this.

Mini flower bunting

Mini flower bunting

So what has been keeping you busy this last month?

Happy crocheting xx

Today part 2 of the Anniversary CAL is published.   You can find it on Ravelry and LoveCrochet.

Part 2 has a new motif – a large one!   And it is included in this mini cushion I made:

DSC00890

As you can see the 2 motifs work together well, I designed the sizes so that they did!  Part 2 of the pattern includes a suggested layout if you’d like to make a blanket or throw with just these 2 styles of motif, but there are plenty of other options available – just use your imagination (and maybe a little maths!).

If you haven’t already joined in the CAL, please do – I love seeing what everyone makes with the motifs.

Happy crocheting xxx

 

I am pleased to announce details of the Anniversary CAL 2015.

It is motif based and mandala inspired – so definitely colourful!

MCAL tiny peek

MCAL tiny peek

The pattern will be released in 3 parts and will be available on Ravelry and on LoveCrochet/LoveKnitting.  Part 1 will be published on 31st July and parts 2 and 3 follow at weekly intervals.

The motifs can be used together in just about any project using whatever yarn you like (stashing busting is very appropriate!).  I am making a cushion with mine, but I would love to see other uses – a blanket, a scarf or whatever you like.   As it is mandala inspired you may even like to make a set of mandalas!

The pattern costs £3.  However, on publication on 31st July I will release a coupon code for those purchasing on Ravelry – the first 10 people using the coupon code will be able to get the pattern free.   Once those coupon codes are used up the pattern will be automatically discounted on Ravelry by £2 for the first week and £1 for the second week.  These discounts will also apply on LoveCrochet/LoveKnitting, which will be handy for those of you purchasing yarn.

There will be a prize draw at the end of September, all finished projects published on the FO thread on Ravelry will be eligible for the prize draw – whatever the FO is!    Multiple entries will be allowed.  Prizes TBA in due course.

If you want to make a cushion then this is the yarn I used (but this isn’t compulsory!):
Drops Alpaca, 100% alpaca, 50g/164m/182yds per ball.  1 ball each of:
Goldenrod (2923), Red (3620), Orange (2915), Lime (7300) and Off White (Main colour) (0100)
3.0mm (US D/3) crochet hook
My cushion had a different front and back, if you want to have them the same you may need 2 balls of the Main Colour.

Any questions?  Join my Ravelry group and ask questions here: Agrarian Artisan 

Happy crocheting xx

I’ve just been shopping, I don’t normally go on a Saturday as I can go any day of the week and prefer to avoid the crowds.  But today I had to go because I was desperate to buy a copy of the latest Mollie Makes, issue number 55.  I should have received a contributor copy but it hasn’t arrived yet and I just wanted to see it to check  it was absolutely true that one of my designs is in it!   And it is:

Contents

Contents

I have worked as the crochet tech editor for Mollie Makes for a few years now, and it’s a great magazine to work for, not least because all the people I work with there are truly lovely.  However, I have never submitted any designs before; you see I don’t submit designs to any magazine often as I like to work at my own pace and don’t want the stress of deadlines.   In this instance I was partway through making the cowl and just sent a photo of it to the Deputy Editor (yes, partially made with lots of loose ends – in fact the photo didn’t look at all good!).   So I was very happily surprised to find they wanted it!

Pastel Cowl

Pastel Cowl

Having the evidence of the publication before my eyes, I settled down to a cuppa and enjoyed reading it.  I can’t help lingering over my design though – the photography and layout is wonderful, they have done me proud.  The cowl was a dream to make, because the motif is straightforward, quick to learn and easy to join….and the yarn I used was Drops Baby Alpaca Silk which is sooooo soft (and great value for luxury fibres at less than £4 per ball).

I would love to see any cowls made to this design, so if you are tempted to make one please do share a photo with me.

Happy crocheting xxx

 

My rainbow stashbuster cowl has been published here and here.

Luscious rainbow colours

Luscious rainbow colours

Whilst designed as a cowl, the motif can be used in anything and would be great in a blanket.  It is a little addictive and very easy to join as you go.  I used my leftover stash to make this – lots of colours of DK.  But it would be perfect in any yarn.

Cowl

Cowl

Pop over to my Ravelry forum for a little offer for the first 10 purchasers 😉

Happy crocheting xx

 

 

 

I have been working on a new design, a stash busting cowl.  Or rather an all round stash buster 🙂

I had a lot of double knit in a variety of rainbow colours so I designed a square motif which I put into a lovely colourful cowl.  I love the motif and I think it is a little addictive.  It would be perfect in a blanket.

The pattern is currently in test but should be published by the end of the week, meanwhile here’s a sneaky peek:

Stash buster

Stash buster

Do you have any ideas to share for stash busting?

Happy crocheting xxx

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