Saturday, 31 August 2013

So Many Squares (Is this a Record) and a Blue Owl

The combination of discussing granny squares and the large number of unfinished projects has prompted me to look at the pile of motifs in one of my cupboards.

Fancy squares mostly by Vicky

 Left over from a blanket

                                                Fine pineapple stitch and one other

Suface crochet practice -with beads as well.

Nearly all granny squares.
Made with proper crochet cotton

What you may not have spotted is that some of these are piles not just single squares. Anyway I have counted more than 100. So I thought I would sell them on ebay but you know what it is like, I started thinking about what I might do with them and concluded that perhaps I won't get rid of them yet. But I do wonder if this is a record for unused squares?

I am still trying to do at least one thing towards Christmas/Halloween each day here is yesterdays. Isn't he lovely a result of the really thick yarn and big eyes. (I know safety eyes are expensive so I have sourced some at a lower price than usual) we will also be selling these on our etsy shop.

 I have been looking at crochet images and found some really beautiful examples of overlay crochet, which I have never tried but I will be. Look here  this is called Concuspience -  highly recommended . There is also a technique that is new to me at Hazels crochet. Look for the Sunny Daze flower project.

I am trying to branch out and share the things I find beautiful, clever and ingeneous. I hope you like them too.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Books, Bavarian. Buttons and More.

I have just been to Hay on Wye which is the place with so many second hand book shops that even the church yard is a book shop. I specifically went to add to my collection of crochet books but I didn't find one. There were books on practically every other craft, so it either means crochet is very popular or that we crocheting people are rare so not many books are published. I like the second explanation best but I suspect that the first is the true one.

On the journey to Hay I did a bit more to my Bavarian master piece?? On the way back I made some more windowpane snowflakes and a colouful but small dream catcher. TIP -These are made with a small silver bangle as the base.

You can probably see that I am half way through the red row and it amazes me how the character of the piece changes as the outer colour changes. I have decided to just keep going until I run out of this cotton, since it is already too big for a cushion.

This is specially for those of you who like the reverse side best. And here are some snaps of the tunisian crochet chain arm protectors

I am having real trouble uploading photographs tonight. These show the tunisian simple stitch and the edging - ( QUICK TIP by making the edge bigger and smaller you can make the project exactly the size you need),

Here are the minions that I mentioned last time - I am a bit worried about their position on a pencil but they do look fairly convincing and very uncomfortable.

And finally here are some wooden Halloween buttons that will be available from our Etsy Shop very soon. In the mean time why not look at the other goodies that you can buy. They are beautifully made and not too expensive. You could finish your Christmas shopping by the end of next week. Now be honest has that ever happened before?

Monday, 26 August 2013

Tiny Things - From Halloween to Housework

A momentous day - I finished a project, The tunisian crochet chair arms are finished. They just need blocking before the big reveal, probably tomorrow.
I have been doing other things as well and I realise that Halloween and Christmas are starting to blur in my mind. I suspect this is a bad thing.

Improved version of the pumpkin and skull, the new addition is the witch, I still have a ghost and a bat so the plan is to make a spider to complete the set of halloween pencil toppers. I wonder how the teachers would feel if I advertised these as back to school items?

These made me think that I could make a set for christmas as well.

The stars are sparkly and a Christmas icon. The tiny little owls have been made because lots of people buy them for christmas. I am now planning some more so I have a set of 6 - will let you know about the rest as the inspiration particles hit me.

I have also made a very small dream catcher/window pane snow flake and some really tiny scarves for Christmas snowmen perhaps?

The longest scarf is 23cm and the snowflake is 7cm in diameter.

Is there any mileage in writing a pattern for these pencil toppers - would any of you be interested?

I have obviously been having a miniature day lots of lovely tiny things that give almost instant gratification to the creative streak.I am now going to try Despicable Me Minions for my grandsons before starting motifs for a crocheted dress.

The trouble is the amount of housework I have done is also on a very small scale and I think I am about to disappear under a (not miniature) pile of dust, so maybe I should start with some cleaning tomorrow because I don't have any minions to do it for me.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Quick Tip

Are you like me?  Do you spend time winding balls of yarn from skeins?  I do a lot of this ... A LOT! The trouble used to be that once the ball is complete it becomes anonymous.  It can be very difficult to identify which is which - to rematch dye lots, to re-order or simply to organise.

I had a light bulb moment a while ago and now my life is much easier.   (This is so obvious that I'm sure most of you already do this and I am slow to catch-up)

I wind the ball as usual but retain label.   I then use this to create a ball band around my new centre-pull ball.  Sometimes the label isn't long enough to go all the way around the ball and I just add a piece of scrap paper to fill the gap.  

Ta da!  That simple.  A perfect solution.

Could it work with hand-wound balls too?


Bonus Tip - If you have an umbrella swift you can catch the tail-end
of your yarn between the spokes to stop it getting in your way.

Victoria x

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Finger Puppets and A Mandalla.

I am going to a naming ceremony tomorrow. The children who are the focus of this are aged two and a half and 4 months. I bought some finger puppets for the older child and then made this to keep them in.

The bag is a way of tidying away and keeping the puppets together. But you can put it on your hand and push the puppets through the slots so it is like a very small puppet theatre too. If I had more time today I would make flaps in the form of different coloured flowers to cover the slots. And I suppose a true crochet addict would make the puppets too. Well next time

Yesterday I tried to make another mandalla but it seems to have gravity problems so I will try tightening it up when I have finished the chair arm covers. I am pleased with the colours that I used on this one.

When I write these things I notice how often I say I will finish that later but before I do , finish it that is, something else grabs my imagination and I am left with another part completed project. When Vicky and I went to the Knit and Stitch Show last year there was a huge installation made entirely from part finished things that people had donated. Well today I booked us tickets for this years show so I am packing a rucksack with some of my unfinished objects. I plan to  take them with us so we can donate them or hide them in other peoples exhibits! Vicky can carry them.

By the way all the things I have written about today are made from the lovely Texere cotton yarns that I got from Fibre East 2013, except the puppets which I bought on line.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

the tools of the trade

I have mentioned before that I have a stash of yarn or a hoard as I prefer to call it but I have never admitted my other guilty secret, that is I also have a stash of crochet hooks! Today I made the brave decision to get rid of some of them by selling on ebay. As I was doing this it occured to me that we spend a lot of time looking at and talking about the finished crochet pieces but never about the tools of our trade.

Crochet hooks have been made of practically anything that is available where you live. So Robin Hood probably made hooks for Maid Marion out of wood whereas Nanuk of the north probably used fish bones or whale teeth or walrus  ivory for Mrs. Nanuk. The oldest ones I have are made from ox bone. The ones on the left are single ended and those on the right are double ended. What I like is the brown patina that is the result of use - I wonder what they made and who it was that used it.

These are all steel with different ways of making a grip. What I don't understand is why the one with a flap says 'Vicars Motors Cro Hook' on it.

Then there is plastic which is so cheap that some of these were just given away with magazines. Like the 4 little ones on the right, they are designed to fit into one another and were given away with one of my mothers magazines.

The reasons for showing you these: bottom one is so fine I can barely see that there is a hook on the end and yet it has been used so much that the pattern is nearly worn away - I wonder who did so much fine work? The one with the wooden handle is my current favourite type of hook. The orange one is plastic but someone has really tried to design a beautiful tool. The one at the top is aluminium and look how bent it has become with use. The long one in the middle is the one I am using to do my Tunisian crochet but it has a secret-------

It unscrews into three bits so you can change its length according to what you are doing. I have never seen one like this before but I do like its design.
Some of the modern hooks are truly amazing, especially those that are made to protect you from repetitative strain injury and those that give you a complete tool kit with only one handle.

I suppose this is another indication of my science background I am amazed at the clever use of materials and the thought and ingenuity behind some of the designs but most of all I like to think about the people who may have used these crochet hooks. Of course if they sell I will be able to think of what happens next.

If I am ever cast away on a desert island I will be able to make crochet hooks from cocoa nut shells, spin yarn from plant fibres and then crochet myself a three bedroom detached bungalow - well may be a tent and some blankets.

p.s. Vicky has an even bigger collection of hooks than me so this saga could be extended!

Yes mother - thanks for outing me!  Hello everyone.  My name is Victoria and I am a hook addict ...

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

From Bavaria to Tunisia and What the Granny Forgot

When I was nervously thinking about what to write about granny squares I got so engrossed in the prose that I forgot some of the crocheting I wanted to share. So the title 'a granny remembers, is rather ironic.

One of the very first things I sold.
A scarf in really chunky yarn

A poncho in rainbow colours

Today I have gone from Bavaria to Tunisia, as I am making chair arm covers in Tunisian crochet. I will photograph them when I have done so to be going on with I thought I would show you some Tunisian crochet.

This was one of those things where the buttons came first and the bag was made around them.
It has a delicious purple lining and was very easy to sell.

When you really want to try out new things and stitches and textures here is a way that ends up with something useful but you still get to do your experiments.

Treat this as a crochet puzzle and see if you can spot the tunisian panel in the spiral.

Finally my paranoia is showing again; one of the magazines (Simply Crochet) has a whole article on Bavarian crochet this month so it is a good place to find instructions if you want to try it.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Granny Square Blog Tour- I Remember by a Granny.

I am a granny and I was taught to crochet by my granny. I think that makes me a granny squared and perhaps eminently qualified to talk about the topic in the title.

One of the first things I did after I had learned to crochet was make my grandma a granny square needle case.  I was so hurt when she put it in her china cabinet and never used it. I now understand that she had put it with her treasures.

Next I remember making long suffering boy friends granny square ties. Which they wore valiantly even though they had to wrap them three times round their necks to avoid tripping over the ends     ( the yarn really did stretch).

This is just an example not the actual ties. There was no digital photography in those days

At university I was a hippy and a granny square blanket was almost compulsory, so I made one for me and then I made many friends as I helped them make their own.

Very soon after university I married Graham and had Vicky and then Matthew. As with most young couples money was short so we used to go to jumble sales and buy knitted garments. After the children were asleep, Graham and I sat together as he unpicked the jumpers and I made them into granny squares and then blankets. I wonder if these evenings were part of the cement that has kept us together for 43 years?

Vicky has talked about some of the granny square  things that I made for her and then my very precious grandsons in her blog on the same subject.

I also remember how thrilled I was when people gave me their left over bits of yarn. I think this is the reason that I now have a hoard of yarn (everyone else has a stash). I am truly dragon like, I look at it and organise it in colours, or fibres or thicknesses or what goes with what, I am also tempted to eat anyone that touches it! Occasionally I panic and think I must get rid of some yarn. Truly this is so that I can find space for some more. Everybody makes granny squares  to use small bits of yarn but not me these  use up whole cones of yarn that I know I will never otherwise  use.  Made with 6 strands or more of yarn and it keeps you really warm as you crochet.

 Now I am retired and helping Vicky with her crochet business. People still want granny squares like this.

Granny squares are wrapped up in my memories but do I like granny squares? It is like asking do I like bricks and the answer is no not really but I like the fact that they can make useful things like compost heaps, essential things like houses and beautiful things like cathederals and things that last like pyramids, I like the fact that people keep finding new things to do with them – there was no block paving in my youth! So it is with the granny square not only does it hold so many memories but people keep coming up with new, beautiful and useful ways of using it. So I say long live the granny square and the granny!

The orginal question - Do you like Granny Squares or not? - was posted by Valerie of:

Amanda :

Tracey :



Vicky:  On this blog 16th August

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A Grass Hopper Mind, Purses and Dream Catchers.

I am supposed to be making chair arm covers or completing the designs for halloween BUT.....
Yesterday I visited a charity shop and found some lampshades that nobody wanted ( only 50p each). I could see that they had upcycling ( or should that be recycling) possibilities. So at home I dismantled them and removed the support rings and this is the result.

Are they called dream catchers? They need tassles and feathers so I will try to make some tonight.

The other thing that happened was that the postman delivered some new purse clips, some of which are really tiny - well how can you resist???

I did do one thing to salve my conscience a bit:

This is the hair pin in chunky yarn to see if it would make nice chair arm covers. I think I might try some bigger samples because I like this effect.

There are so many ideas in my mind that I just have to try now, is it any wonder I have so many unfinished projects? I have just bought some of those bendy hair curlers - I wonder if I can use them to make poseable figures?
I am a crochet addict with a grasshopper mind. Is there a cure? If there was I am not sure that I would take it, crochet is too much fun.

p.s. here is the finished dream catcher.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Granny Square Blog Tour - Flying the Flag

There is something joyous about a granny square.  I know a lot of people find them naff or label them an old-fashioned crochet no-no.  For me that way lies with the lacy toilet roll covers and tissue box cosies – but that is for another post.  Granny squares are glorious.

How do I love them?  Let me count the ways:

Granny Squares provide an icon for crochet.  It is like having a flag for our craft.  We can wave a granny and it is almost universally recognised as crochet.   Everyone who picks up a hook knows how to whip up a granny square.  They unite us as a community.

I'm calling for this amazing piece by Kitsch Bitsch to be the new crocheter's uniform. It is one of my favourite crochet things ever.

They are easy to teach and easy to learn.  If I am teaching the granny square I can take a short workshop and have happy students.  They go away from their first ever crochet session with a finished and beautiful item.  First-timers also have the ability to progress on their own and turn their one square into many and then into a scarf, a blanket, a throw, a table mat ...  My mum and I sell at fairs and shows.  The first thing we always ask our customers is: "Do you crochet?"  It is really pleasing the number of people who say, "No, it's too difficult for me but I know how to make those square things." 

Kane's Granny Skirt in cashmere - beautiful.
Grannies come in infinite varieties.  You can choose colour combinations to suit any mood, style and fashion.  They can be sleek and haute couture, cute and soft, bright and jazzy, crazy and eclectic.  Just look at some examples of crochet fashion over recent and past years.  I was lucky enough to make up some of these in cashmere in the wake of the Christopher Kane collection.  They are a brilliant example of how grannies fit perfectly into modern design.   

They work in any yarn.  Cheap and cheerful to expensive and luxurious; lace to super chunky.  What's not to love!

One of my own recent granny designs.
Mini granny squares in Sirdar Calico.
They use up stash.  This is a very important consideration. If you're like me, you will always have loads of otherwise useless ends in your stash.  Mine go to grannies, freeform and flowers mostly :)

Granny Squares are a ‘gate-way’ crochety drug that leads you to all sorts of beautiful motifs.  Just google 'crochet motif' to see where the granny goes as it grows up. Complex, unique and original designs all born from the humble granny ... the granny of grannies ...

I have always known them.  I think I've said before that I remember my mum teaching crochet when I was really quite small.  I have grown up with crochet and I have grown up with granny squares.  They have simply been part of my world.  I suppose it's a bit like growing up by the sea and always missing it when you are not nearby.   Granny squares 'feel' right.  I still have two granny bags my mum crocheted for me to take away to university and a blue and white blanket with matching teddy (I can't remember when she made that).

My oldest, Danny, when he was a baby.  Having fun on one of Grandma Stotty's creations.

I still live with them.  Of course, now I have children, Grandma Stotty has created amazing granny blankets for them too so my boys are growing up surrounded!   (If you want to hear what my mum thinks she'll be bloggin about granny squares here at some time over the weekend too.)

Grannies are a big part of my professional life.  My first ever big commission after I'd started taking my crochet seriously was a pattern for a cotton cart-wheel granny blanket.  I still have some of the photos taken for the instructions.  Naturally, we still work in granny squares all the time.  They are appealing, fashionable and popular. Oh, and importantly for us, a granny square design will always sell.

Pile of cart-wheel grannies ready to be sewn together  (I don't join as I go.  I know it saves time but I much prefer the neat and professional finish of the back-loop whip-stitch.  Call me fussy - I am a bit OCD about my crochet.)
Making a multi-coloured
cart-wheel granny
Single colour cart-wheel adaptation

They make people happy.  Just look at the runaway success of @crochetali's granny bag recently.  She created the design for Slugson the Refrigerator's Crochet Camp and the crochet world went wild for it.  I can completely understand why.  

Ali's eye-popping bag!

I did a quick google search for Granny Square Blog and came up with over 2 million hits (by the way - search for Granny squares in images.  I defy you not to smile when you see them).

So I think it's quite clear where I stand :)   I love them.  They have a central and important place in crochet - both historical and current.  We should celebrate our grannies rather than hiding them away embarrassed in case someone reminds us of a 70s swimming suit in shades of brown and orange.  In fact, I'll meet you at the beach!

If you're interested in the debate head over to some of the other blogs on the tour (listed below) or come back here after the weekend to read my mum's point of view.

The orginal question - Do  you like Granny Squares or not? - was posted by Valerie of:

If  you're a Ravelrer (is that a word?) you can visit the thread here to find out where the tour is going next.  Why not join in and add your voice to the debate?