Sunday, 27 April 2014

Beads and the Memories of Inherited Crocheting.

I sometimes think there is some telepathic link between me and my daughter. I have just been photographing my latest crochet discovery which involves beads only to find that part of Vicky's post is about beading too. I am almost too embarrassed to put my efforts next to her glorious grey beaded dress - I have seen it in the flesh so to speak and it is truly beautiful. If I had put the amount of time and effort into making such an heirloom I would not let it out of my sight - the person who commissioned this piece is getting something amazing. Not only that but Vicky has made the same person that lovely cream skirt she is a very lucky lady in my opinion.

Anyway I said almost  too embarrassed, so here is what I have discovered and been practising this week:  in the past I have made lots of pieces that involve beads but I have always either sewed them on afterwards or threaded them on the yarn before I started crocheting. Now I have realised that if you have fine enough yarn and a small hook you can crochet the beads in as you go along.

The thickest yarn used here is gold coloured, stranded embroidery thread - perhaps a yellow background was a bad choice for golden thread? The pink and the grey/ silver threads are fine crochet cotton about gauge 10 I should think. The technique is to make a foundation chain and then where ever you want a bead you push the hook through the hole in the bead, pick up the yarn and pull a loop through the bead and then yarn over hook to complete the double crochet. In between the beads I have worked double crochets, somewhere between 2 and 5 between each bead. As you can see from the pink bracelet I havn't got it quite right yet - not all of the threads that make up the dc are on the same side of the bead.

I am still excited by the fact that I can discover new techniques, new textures and some of the new yarns are incredible. In my last blog I was saying that after 50 years I was still finding out new things and Crochet Concupiscience made a really nice comment, but to be truthful I am 65 years old and was taught to crochet by my grandma when I was about 10 (or younger) so I reckon my maths tells me that it is more like 55 years that I have been crocheting - good grief! I may have been taught by my grandma but my mum was an amazing crafter who moved my skills on past just making trebles and chains.  I was reminded of her crocheting skills when I came across this pattern for a flowery dress.

Believe it or not my mum made this for me when I went off to university - it was made in deep pink with a pale pink lining. I loved it but it had two problems one was that at the time skirts were getting shorter and whenever I washed it it got longer so I  removed a row of motifs about once a month. The second thing was that from a distance it looked as if I was wearing nothing underneath - I am absolutely certain that was not my mum's intention  - but I didn't mind!
p.s I have just remembered that it was obviously not just me that loved it because eventually it was stolen from the university drying rooms - I am still annoyed!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Sneaky Peek

I am so excited and relieved.  I have finally finished two projects that have taken flippin' ages!  I feel like I've broken up from school for the summer hols.

The skirt was from a pattern sent to me by the client (sort of - I did jiggle the motif design and slightly adjust the stitch pattern in the main fabric) and the dress is my own design.

I'm a bit unhappy with the photo of the dress which makes it look wide in the shoulders and a bit boxy - it really isn't. It also looks blue.  In reality the colour is a very dark gun-metal grey - gorgeous and very stylish! I'm so proud of them both.  I think they've turned out really well I'm just a terrible photographer.

Sewing the beads onto the dress took nearly as long as the crochet!  There are hundreds and hundreds of them.  I had to put them on afterwards rather than crocheting them in because the beads I liked best had a bore too small for the thread :)

Both are made in Yeoman Yarn.  The skirt is Ecru from their Cotton Club and the dress is made in their Canelle Cotton - main colour 'Storm' now sadly discontinued, second 'frill' in 'Mouse'.

They've been posted and I am nervously waiting for the customer's verdict.  Will she like them?  Fingers crossed ...

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Using up scraps of yarn

In the last blog I was explaining a new discovery ( for me ) of how to join motifs together without all the sewing up. So this week, with my green hat on, I have been practising the technique by using up tiny bits of wool . The yarn I have used for this project is all acrylic, double knitting and the amount of each was somewhere between 4 and 4.5 grams. I have noticed that not all dk is the same thickness but this project seems to absorb these differences without distorting.

I have only used about 140g of yarn and I am astounded by how far it goes. 
This scarf/shawl is already 130cm long and about 28cm wide.

These are the tiny amounts of yarn I have used.

Of course if you use little balls of yarn eventually you get left with really small ends ( some less than 30cm long) so I just tied them together and crocheted a circle.

 I havn't decided yet if it will be a purse, a hat, a cushion or a table cover! It just depends on how many short ends Vicky and I can generate.
So give the amount of crochet and knitting we do I guess it could end up being a jumper for a blue whale!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A crochet discovery after 50 years, back copies of magazines and a very large friend.

I am supposed to be an intelligent woman but sometimes I wonder! I like the effect of joining motifs together to make all sorts of things and I have often looked at those throws and bags made from motifs that join only at a few points. But I have shied away from them because I couldn't face the sewing together. There are those of you who are by now thinking why doesn't she join them together as she went along? This is the thing had never thought of it. even after more than 50 years of crocheting! I have a subscription to Inside Crochet magazine and I often get out back copies and look at them again. I found the 'Primrose Throw' in issue 47 which I really wanted to try so I read the pattern and discovered that you can join the motifs as you crochet!!!!

 So if you join the shapes together as you go and you crochet in the ends as you go, the piece is more or less finished when you think you have finished if you see what I mean.

Another co-incidence was that yesterday Vicky gave me some lovely brightly coloured double knitting yarn which I really had to try immediately. So having recently looked through my magazines I remembered the matinee jacket in issue 42 and so  made this.

It is a sweet little sleeveless jacket for spring/summer. You can make it in various sizes but I chose the smallest because it was just an experiment.  Once again I tried to improve my photography by using a pineapple but it makes it look like some kind of animated clothing from a ghost film!
These buttons are gorgeous though made from a deep pink mother of pearl.

So while I was looking through back issues of Inside crochet I remembered another unfinished project. I had run out of yarn so I put this aside while I waited for more to arrive.

It is nearly the pattern from issue 49 made using Drops Delight yarn which is 75% wool and 25% polyamide
and yarn thickness group A. I think this pattern suits this yarn better than the last one I made.

Finally this week a character that most people will recognise. I made him from all kinds of yarn and he is nearly a metre long.

 First he ate 80000 forget-me-nots. But he was still hungry.
 Then he ate 27 teasel leaves. But he was still hungry

He then set off across the patio to find more food................!

I have blue tits nesting in my bird box and when I started taking pictures of this creation they obviously thought all of their Christmases had come at once. They never would have got it through the tiny hole in the front of the box though!

Monday, 14 April 2014

A new discovery and another experiment with one row.

I had final information about our next show ( Wokingham on May 5th ) this week so I had to reluctantly withdraw from free-form in order to make a few more bits and look what I discovered.

 It is hard to believe that these hot cross buns can be assembled into the ball shown in the second and third pictures.
 Probably the most satisfying piece of crochet I have done for a long time. I made it and it assembled easily and precisely - really good pattern.

This is an Amish puzzle ball - I found the pattern on line and it is worth googling just to see the amazing variety . My personal favourite is the cross-stitch one with at least four different exquisite flowers on it.

I have also been experimenting with another one row pattern which makes a triangle. These are all the same pattern but different weight yarns and  an appropriate hook. Isn't it amazing how different the sizes are.
Pattern: ch 4 and join into a ring with a ss.
ch 3, 3 tr into the ring, (ch 3, 4 tr into ring ) x 2, 3ch join with a ss to the top of the starting 3ch.

The biggest and the smallest: 6mm hook and super chunky yarn, 3mm hook and 4ply yarn

The other two were made with tape yarn ( red ) and a lovely soft dk. cotton.( blue )

I have just had a lovely day with Ben and Danny and Graham. We have played crazy golf, had adventures in the adventure playground watched snakes and ladders with small boys as the counters, have eaten sausage and chips, watched my grandsons get eaten by a dinosaur and have ridden on tractors which had been cemented into the ground. But the highlight for us all was when grandad made some sand studded with gold and gems. He then gave the boys a bucket of water and my kitchen sieves so that they could pan for gold. I knew my huge bead collection would come in useful, but I never thought they would end up being sieved out of sand!

Friday, 11 April 2014

More free-form or jig-saw puzzles.

I have been making packets of buttons and beads and winding wool for our free form kits so I have not done much crocheting recently. What I have done has been to work on my addiction.

These are the yarns I am using this time. There are different thicknesses, different fibres and different textures. The beauty of free form is it doesn't matter what you use and it is the perfect way to use up scraps of yarn
 This is the incomplete piece. Some of the scumbles are not yet attached but I suppose it gives an insight into how I work - make a few patches then add them and sew together then make a few more etc.
This started out to be a shawl then I thought cushion but found I had no cushion pads. Then I started to shape it to make a bag , at present I am thinking it could be a jacket. My thinking seems to be free form as well as the crochet!
There is a tiny granny square again so "Where's granny?" continues.

I have decided that there are two ways of doing this kind of work. Some people make a few motifs and then link them together with a crocheted  open mesh, others - like me- use the jig-saw approach. Which is either find a place where the latest patch fits or crochet a patch to fit the space available and any tiny gaps are covered with buttons or beads. I have a bad feeling that this is a bit like cutting off bits of the jig-saw piece to make it fit.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Last of the free one row patterns? Upcycling and a free form bag

 I have thought of a few more one row patterns but I wonder if I am cheating by not counting the foundation chain?

Use any yarn and a suitable hook.
Make a 30 chain. Tutn make two trebles in the third chain from the hook and then two trebles in every chain until you reach the end, At this point you can make another 30 chain to make the hanging loop or just fasten off.
This is another one of those magic crochet things because with only a little help the piece will make itself into a spiral.

People use them to decorate Christmas trees and I have incorporated them into free-form .
This is made with realy thick yarn. You can see it makes a spiral or an interesting flower.

The flower above reminded me that you can make roses with only one row.

ch 22, dc in second chain from hook.  ( work 5 tr in next chain and 1dc in next chain) repeat the stuff in the brackets until you run out of chain. Fasten off and roll the petals around each other to make the rose. When you are happy with the shape stitch it together.
I made these using a 2.5mm hook and 3ply cotton yarn. They would make a lovely corsage don't you think.


make a magic circle ( ch 6, ss  in the circle) repeat this 5 times more fasten off. Sew a bead in the middle to make the centre. 
I made the daisy in the middle with a scrap of tape yarn and the two to the left and right with cream 3 ply wool but they look a bit grubby compared to the pure white in the middle.

You may notice that the greenery around the daisies and the roses looks identical. Well this is mainly because it is! It is the piece that I explained in the last post and it seems to look well with both flowers. I leave the ends so that they are easy to sew on to things. A bunch of these looks fresh and spring like if sewn onto a cotton summer hat.

I haven't just been thinking about one row patterns this week. I have still been experimenting with free form.

I am a great believer in upcycling and recycling and, let's be honest saving money, when I can. So I was in a charity shop the other day and suddenly realised that you can buy bags for as little as a pound and that they have handles that would cost about £5 a pair. I bought two bags with the intention of cutting off the handles
but I got sidetracked into trying to cover one side of the smaller bag with scumbles. The other side is just an illustration of what can be done with one bag of our free form yarn. I have tried to let the thickness of the yarn do the shaping by starting at the bottom with the thickest and the biggest hook and working upwards to the finest yarn and the smallest hook.( I am a bit concerned that my beautiful hand made creations say Dorothy Perkins inside them.)
The photograph on the left was another attempt to improve my photographs but it has ended by looking as if the bag is about to be consumed by mechanical aliens.
By the way there is one draw back to recycling etc and that is that I have a house full of stuff that I can't bear to throw away in case it might be useful and it is starting to be difficult to move freely about the place because of the clutter.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Just a quickie

Mum and I have been doing lots of crochet for a new woolly company called Sixpence Designs.  Jane, who is the owner/designer uses exclusively Artesano Aran yarn - partly because they deal in small irregular wholesale orders - take note yarn companies/distributors - but mostly because it comes in absolutely gorgeous colours and is warm and soft.

We have made loads of cot and pram blankets, sofa cushions and floor cushions, toy box covers, nursery chair seat covers, Christmas stockings and bangles for Sixpence.

As is usually the case I forget to take photos to share but Jane has kindly passed on pictures of some of the stock we have made for her.  You will have seen them on Facebook yesterday if you follow us there but they are so lovely I can't resist sharing here too.  Let us know what you think.

You can just see matching cushions peeping out behind!
We can put you in touch with Jane if you'd like to buy any of these
Victoria x

Thursday, 3 April 2014

More One Row Crochet Patterns

I promised that I would explain how to make the other type of one row leaves it has proved really quite tricky to put what I do with my hands into words but I have made an attempt - please let me know if it is completely incomprehensible.

Made using a 2.5 mm hook and some size 5 pearlized dmc embroidery thread.

 Make a 10 chain. Turn and { *work 1dc. in second chain from the hook.
Work a dc in the next two dc.**
ch 4
 turn and repeat from * to **

ss into base of the first leaf }
work a ss into the next three ch (down the stem)
ch 7
 turn and repeat from { to }
 ss into each of the remaining chains down the stem.
 These are the finished leaves but it is the simplest form. If you make a longer starting chain and use a range of stitches to make the leaves you can make more complicated shapes.

I made these leaves using htr, htr, dc, ss.
But why not experiment and share what happens

I have thought of several other things that you crochet with only one row. Here is one but I have three others for the next blog and by then I might have thought of more?


These are all made with chunky yarn and a 4mm hook.
Small: make a magic loop ch 1 and then work 8dc in the ring. I didn't join with a ss because you get a much neater finish if you join with a sewing needle.
Next size: magic circle 2ch, 10 htr in ring.
Next: magic circle 3ch 12 tr in the ring
Big: magic circle 4ch, 16 hdtr in the ring.

These are the same circles but I just liked the picture and that doesn't happen very often with my photography!