Tuesday, 13 June 2017

British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017

I am so grateful to everyone who took the time to nominate me within the 'Favourite Crochet Designer' category of the 2017 British Knitting & Crochet awards. I am chuffed to bits to report that I have made the short list of designers alongside some really big names and voting is now open!


You can vote in many different categories, from favourite local yarn shop to favourite authors, bloggers and yarn brands. You can follow this link to lodge your on line votes and simply by submitting your form you can be in with the chance to win some fabulous yarn goodies!

Awards like this one mean a lot to everyone involved, but for independent yarn dyers, designers and little yarn shops these awards are seen as an amazing recognition by the industry, so just to have been nominated means a huge amount.

Thank you! Janie x

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Sunshine and Showers - Part 2

I am a little tardy with this post today, so apologies if any of you have been waiting patiently for me to post part 2 of the patterns.


Late May and early June is a time when my garden usually looks it’s best, although we have recently had a major clear out so it is looking a little empty and, with the weather being so bad the last few days, I haven't got around to planting my hanging baskets, but as a general rule at this time of year the grass is still healthy and green thanks to the rain of late spring and all my favourite flowers are in bloom. 

I wanted to capture the colours and shades of an English garden in this month’s crochet along patterns. Within this set of patterns I will talk you through weaving and sewing in yarn tails, making puff stitches and working back and front loop double crochet which gives a lovely textural effect to your work.



The blog patterns are written for the Stylecraft Special DK version with the shade and hook alternatives for the Yarn Stories option written within brackets. You can choose to purchase a download version of the patterns for just 95p a copy (total of 12 patterns). There is a link to the download copy for the Stylecraft Special DK version here and for the Yarn Stories Fine Merino DK version here. Please note that all step by step images are for the Special DK version.

Yarns used this month:

Stylecraft Special DK 100g balls

1712 Lime 
1027 Khaki 
1023 Raspberry
1068 Turquoise
1241 Fondant
1820 Duck Egg

Yarn Stories Fine Merino DK 50g balls
2516 Spring Green 
2501 Bottle 
2509 Fuchsia 
3534 Iced Teal 
2514 Raspberry 
2507 Duck Egg 

Equipment Special DK:
4mm & 4.5mm hook
Sewing needle


Equipment Fine Merino DK:
3.5mm & 4mm hook
Sewing needle

Dealing with yarn ends: Sewing yarn ends in as you go along makes the finishing process much easier and means that you are less likely to loose stitches or make errors with your tension.

Hook Changes:
Please take note of changes in hook size. 

Pattern Repeat:

If you have chosen to make the blanket in a different size you will need to calculate your pattern repeats accordingly.

On Row 10 the Puff Stitch Flowers stems are worked over a repeat of 5sts + 1

Note: The pattern is written in UK terminology.

Method:

Undo last st and rework to the point where you can change yarn shade to Lime (Spring Green) on the final step of the st, turn

Weaving in: Rather than sew in all your yarn ends, you may wish to weave some of them in as you work. You can do this with Right Side or Wrong Side facing, but it is best to weave over just one yarn tail at a time and you must make sure that the yarn is carried to the back of the work. Weaving yarn tails in works best when you are crocheting double crochet stitches as on the next 2 rows:

Hold the tail end of yarn you wish to weave in in line with your crochet leading over to the left.




Work your crochet stitch over the yarn tail so that you trap it within the stitch
Weave the yarn end in on at least 10 stitches to ensure it is securely trapped within your row of stitches.
Trim yarn end

Row 8: (RS facing) Using Lime (Spring Green) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook, 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each st to end, turn (171sts)

Row 9: (WS facing) 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each st to end, changing yarn shade to Khaki (Bottle) on the final step of the last st, turn (171sts)




Row 10: (RS facing) Using Khaki (Bottle) & 4mm (3.5mm) hook 3ch (counts as 1tr), 1tr into st at base of 3ch, 2ch, skip 4sts * [1tr, 1ch, 1tr] into next st, 2ch, skip 4sts; repeat from * to final st, 2tr into final st, changing yarn shade to Raspberry (Fuchsia) on the final step of the last st, turn (35 flower stems made - 33 complete stems and 1 partial stem at each edge)



Row 11: Using Raspberry (Fuchsia) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st), 2dc into st sp between 2tr, 2ch, skip 1tr & 2ch & 1tr, 4dc into next 1ch sp (between 2tr made on previous row), * 2ch, skip 1tr & 2ch & 1tr, 4dc into next 1ch sp; repeat from * 31 times, 2ch, 1dc st sp between next 2tr, 1dc into 3rd ch of 3ch made at beginning of last row, changing yarn shade to Turquoise (Iced Teal) on the final step of the last st, turn. (35 flowers made)

Row 12: Using Turquoise (Iced Teal) & staying on 4.5mm (4mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into next st, 3dc into next ch sp made on Row 10 working around previous row also so that 2 lots of ch sts are covered, * 3ch, skip 4dc, 3dc into next pair of ch sp made on previous 2 rows as before; repeat from * to last 2sts, skip 1dc, 1dc into next dc, fasten off. Do not turn.

This is a good point to sew in your loose yarn ends. I tend to use a large blunt sewing needle:




Sew through the middle of at least 5 stitches – again it is easier if you sew at the reverse side of double crochet stitches. It is a good idea to sew back on your self a couple of times to ensure the yarn is secure.

MP (Make Puff)
On the next row you need to make some puff stitches as follows:

* Yarn round hook, insert hook into stitch and pull up yarn loop; repeat from * twice so that there are a total of 7 loops on the hook (one loop was already there before you started the puff stitch), yarn round hook, draw yarn through all yarn loops on the hook







Row 13: (RS facing) Using Fondant (Raspberry) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook, join yarn into top of 1st dc made on previous row by working 1ch + 1ch (counts as 1htr) 1htr into same st, 1ch, * skip 3dc made on previous row, working in front of 3ch made on previous row so that you are working into the sts made on Row 11 [MP into next st, 1ch] 3 times; repeat from * 32 times, skip 3dc made on previous row, 2htr into final st, fasten off. Do not turn



Row 14: (RS facing) Using Duck Egg (Duck Egg) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook, join yarn into 2nd ch made at beginning of previous row by working 1ch, 1dc into same ch, 1dc into next st, * working in front of ch sts made on previous row 1tr into central dc of next 3dc group made on Row 12 [skip puff, 2dc into next ch sp] twice, skip puff; repeat from * 32 times, working in front of ch sts made on previous row 1tr into central dc of next 3dc group made on Row 12, 1dc into each next 2sts, turn (170sts)

Row 15: (WS facing) 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each next 85sts, 2dc into next st, 1dc into each st to end, turn (171sts)

Working into the front and back loops:
On the next 4 rows you are going to work into the back or front loop of the chain that runs along the top of your stitches. This gives a textural appearance to your stitches.
It can be a little bit tricky to get used to this stitch as the back loop is not always visible as you are working along the row, my advice is to look down on your work a little more than you usually would.




Row 16: 1ch (does not count as a st), * 1dc into front loop of next st, 1dc into back loop of next st; repeat from * to last st, 1dc into front loop of next st, turn (171sts)







Row 17, 18: work as Row 16, turn (171sts)

Row 19: work as Row 16, place last st on holder




Work other piece to match. 

Depth of each individual piece is equal to 12cm (4 3/4in)

With a bit of luck by the time we get to July we will be basking in some glorious sunshine! I know I am not alone in hoping for a nice warm month so hopefully the patterns for July will be fitting to the weather - a sneak peek is below:




Next set of patterns will be posted here on the 4th July.

With thanks to the team at Crochet Now magazine.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Supersize Crochet

This lovely new book by Sarah Shrimpton landed in the office yesterday, along with some other fabulous titles (including Emma Varnham's super 'Cute Crocheted Animals' toy book), which will be added to the web site over the next few days. Supersize Crochet includes 20 quick crochet projects made using super chunky yarn - and when Sarah describes the yarn as super chunky she means it - the projects in this book use crochet hooks ranging in giant sizes right up to 40mm!  




The book has a range of great projects - theres a cat bed, baskets, bags, rugs, shrugs and hats to name a few and all of them will be quick easy and fun to make!


 
Using jumbo hooks takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get the technique there will be no stopping you and you can use just about anything to crochet with such as string and cut up strips of fabric, but there are also some great retailers selling scrumptious giant yarns too, such as Woolly Mahoosive and Hoooked and I particularly like the Rico Gigantic Mohair.

Big yarn and giant hooks are perfect for beginners as it is so easy to see and recognise stitches and the projects Sarah has made are simple in construction but well thought out, making them perfect for the novice crocheter. The styling of the book is retro yet wonderfully contemporaray and I particularly like the string hanging plant pot holder (which is like something straight out of my 1970s childhood) and the incredibly comfy looking cosy shrug which is now on my wish list along with a thousand other lovely projects!

Supersize Crochet by Sarah Shrimpton is published by SewandSo Books and is available from all good book shops for just £14.99!



Monday, 8 May 2017

Sunshine and Showers - Part 1

Link to Part 2 here

We are a little ahead of time as tomorrow officially sees the start of the (re launch) of my Sunshine and Showers Crochet Along project which was originally featured in Crochet Now magazine, but as we are still at the office I thought I might as well set this live this evening before we leave! You can access the patterns for the project on a monthly basis by following my blog posts from now through to next April, or you can download the PDF versions of the patterns by following the links posted lower down. If you want to follow the project in it's original form within the magazine you can still find back copies from issue 6 onwards and can subscribe to receive digital versions. The magazine features an average of 25 patterns a month from many other designers, stitch and technique tutorials, lots of interesting features and monthly columns.

The blanket project, which was previously launched as a mystery crochet along project with the complete design of the blanket only revealed within the magazine at the end of 12 months, is based on the seasons/months of the year and the pattern is worked in rows, with each month featuring a new technique and stitch pattern.  



The blanket is made by working a total of four pieces (2 x 2 repeats) which are joined together at the end. To make the blanket you will need to make 2 matching strips from May through to August and 2 more from September through to April 2018. 

The completed blanket size is approximately 90cm x 170cm. If you want to make it any bigger or smaller you will need to look at the pattern repeats for each month and work out how to make things work mathematically. I will try to remember to write in the pattern repeat numbers at the beginning of each pattern. As a general rule the stitch count is 171 sts, although this does vary on some rows. 

Tension:

Before you start work on your crochet along project I urge you to check that you are working to the correct tension, that is the number of stitches and rows measured over 10cm (4in). You will find lots of information about the importance of tension in my last blog post.

If you achieve a tension tighter or looser than the suggested tension you will find that your project will differ in size to mine, that you will use a different amount of yarn and possibly that your pieces won't fit together properly in the making up stages.

OK - So let's get started!

When thinking about the level of skill needed for the project I tried to design so that the blanket gets progressively harder so that crocheters can use it as a learning source, however there is an assumption that crocheters know their basic stitches and are able to understand written instructions. There are no charts.

The blog patterns will be written for the Stylecraft Special DK version with the shade and hook alternatives for the Yarn Stories option written within brackets. You can choose to purchase a download version of the patterns for just 95p a copy (total of 12 patterns). There is a link to the download copy for the Stylecraft Special DK version here and for the Yarn Stories Fine Merino DK version here. Please note that all step by step images are for the Special DK version.

May is the month when the grass is at it’s greenest and the British Countryside is bright and fresh. When designing the first part of the Sunshine & Showers sampler blanket I wanted to capture the idea of green rolling hills and lush meadows. Within this set of patterns I will talk you through basic stitches, colour changes and show you how to make a wave stitch pattern.

Yarns used this month:

Stylecraft Special DK 100g balls
1820 Duck Egg
1722 Storm Blue
1027 Khaki
1065 Meadow

Yarn Stories Fine Merino DK 50g balls
2507 Duck Egg
2535 Bluebell
2501 Bottle
2510 Leaf

Equipment Special DK:
4mm & 4.5mm hook
Sewing needle

Equipment Fine Merino DK:
3.5mm & 4mm hook
Sewing needle


Dealing with yarn ends: Sewing yarn ends in as you go along makes the finishing process much easier and means that you are less likely to loose stitches or make errors with your tension.

Hook Changes:
Please take note of changes in hook size. 


Pattern Repeat:

If you want to make the blanket in a different size you will need to calculate your stitch count accordingly.
 
Wave pattern (Row 4 - 6) is worked over a repeat of 10 stitches with a remainder of 11sts.

For example - Row 4 pattern repeat = * 3dc, 2htr, 3tr, 2htr; repeat from * (10st repeat)

To make the repeat work with 171sts the pattern has 4sts at the beginning of the row before the repeat starts and 7sts at the other end of the row after the last repeat finishes.


Note: The pattern is written using UK terminology


Method:
Using Duck Egg (Duck Egg) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook make 172ch.

When working your foundation row it is important that you do not twist your chain. The image below shows the Right Side (RS) of the chain on the left and the Wrong Side (WS) of the chain on the right.


To help when counting the chain you could decide to put a marker in at every 10 or 20 sts.


Foundation Row: skip 1ch, 1dc into each ch to end, turn. (171sts)

At the end of the row your tail end will be to the left hand side. When you have the right side of the work facing you the tail will always be to the left hand side.
 
It is common for crochet to want to curl up, so don’t panic if you have some twisting going on at this stage. To count your stitches over double crochet, count the chains that run along the top of the row. It is really important that you count your stitches all the time to make sure you haven’t lost any along the way!


Row 1: 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each st to end, changing yarn shade to Storm Blue (Bluebell) on the final step of the last st, turn. (171sts)

Change yarn shade as follows: 


Do not complete the final stitch of the row so that 2 yarn loops remain on hook.


Draw the new shade through the loop on the hook to complete the stitch.


Change hook size by slipping the yarn loop onto the new hook.

Row 2: Using Storm Blue (Bluebell) & 4mm (3.5mm) hook, 3ch (counts as 1tr), skip st at base of 3ch, 1tr into each st to end, turn. (171sts)

Working rows of crochet is rather like preparing to build a brick wall in that the height of the next row of stitches is set before you start your row or round of stitches. This is done by working a turning chain (tch). In this case working 3ch makes the turning chain. The 3ch counts as the first stitch of the row.

 
You need to skip the stitch directly at the base of the 3 chain stitches and work your next treble crochet stitch into the next stitch.



Work a treble crochet stitch into every stitch to the end of the row.


Row 3: 3ch (counts as 1tr), skip st at base of 3ch, 1tr into each st to end, working final st into 3rd ch of 3ch made at beginning of last row, changing yarn shade to Khaki (Bottle) on the final step of the last st, turn. (171sts)

Unlike knitted stitches, crochet stitches do not sit directly on top of each other on every row, instead they work in a brick like formation. This makes it easy to start loosing stitches over subsequent rows. To count your treble stitches, count the posts made by the stitches and not the chain that runs along the top of them. In order to keep your stitch count correct (remembering that your first 3ch counted as your first stitch) you will need to make a stitch into the turning chain (3ch) made at the beginning of the previous row. You will also need to change your yarn shade by drawing the new shade through on the final step of the last stitch.





Row 4: Using Khaki (Bottle) & 4mm (3.5mm) hook, 3ch (counts as 1tr), skip st at base of 3ch, 1tr into next st, 1htr into each next 2sts, * 1dc into each next 3sts, 1htr into each next 2sts, 1tr into each next 3sts, 1htr into each next 2sts; repeat from * 15 times, 1dc into each next 3sts, 1htr into each next 2sts, 1tr into each next 2sts, working last tr into tch on previous row, turn. (171sts)

The pattern you have worked is called wave stitch. The pattern can be made up of lots of stitch variations -  for this one I have used double crochet (dc), half treble crochet (htr) and treble crochet (tr).


Row 5: Using 4.5mm (4mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each st to end, changing yarn shade to Meadow (Leaf) on the final step of the last st, turn. (171sts)



Row 6: Using Meadow (Leaf) and 4mm (3.5mm) hook, 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each next 2sts, * 1htr into each next 2sts, 1tr into each next 3sts, 1htr into each next 2sts, 1dc into each next 3sts; repeat from * to end, omitting 1dc on final pattern repeat, turn.


Row 7: Using Meadow (Leaf) & 4.5mm (4mm) hook 1ch (does not count as a st), 1dc into each st to end, place last st on stitch holder. (171sts)

You can cut yarn ends to approx. 10cm length.



It is a good idea to sew your yarn ends in at this point. This cuts down on the amount of sewing you need to do at the end of the project. When sewing in behind double crochet, thread your sewing needle through the reverse side of each stitch as in the image below. After a few stitches work a stitch back over a yarn loop to create a small knot and then sew away from the edge for a few more stitches.





When sewing in behind treble crochet, thread your sewing needle up through the post of the first treble (or 3ch) to get the yarn to the point between the rows of stitches where the fabric appears to be at it’s thickest. Sewing along the row (in the same way as for double crochet) at this point means you are less likely to see the yarn end.


When all yarn ends are sewn in you can trim them.




Make another piece to match.

Next month I will show you how to make puff stitches to form a pretty flower design and how to work double crochet into the front and back parts of a chain to create a textural stitch. 

Below is a preview image of the design for June:



The next part of the Sunshine and Showers CAL will be available here on the blog on the 6th June.

Have fun! Janie x