Tag Archives: Crochet blanket

Summer crochet – catch up

Many people give up the yarn arts over the summer, not so the (ever so slightly) obsessed of  us, and so now is the time that we start thinking about autumn and winter knits and crochet.

Personally there is no time when I don’t crochet, and I have made a lot of cotton items over the past couple of months.  I can only give hints here until they are published, but I have designed a cardigan and top in King Cole Giza cotton, a rangoli rug for DMC in Natura XL, and baby blanket for Woman’s weekly in DMC Natura Medium.giza-top-pink-eml 2016-06-21-13-14-362016-08-15-15-42-47

The ladies in our knitting and crochet groups also keep knitting and crocheting over the summer and here are some of their projects

Trish is still going strong on blankets… this made in babette type squares sewn together – cleverly using a load of 4ply she was gifted with – two strands together, gives a lovely tweedy effect on some of the squares (the photo was taken in the Angel Pub so not the best!)

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Estella, has been quietly working away and has suddenly produced this gorgeous shell stitch blanket, with a really interesting colour effect…

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Finally Gwen, who knitted this baby blanket, then gave it a super ribbon edge – really nice for baby!

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For me there is always the opportunity for some Crochet out doors!

My Hubby and I went to see our son ride very quickly (over 170mph in places!) on his motorbike – around Snetterton Race track, you can see the pits where we were stationed!  Sunny day, smell of fuel and burning tyres, what’s not to enjoy?!

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This is a very famous place – where my Hubby swam along the river with a couple of hundred others – I sat and enjoyed the peace and quiet for a while.

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Here he is swimming in the river – he is far left of the picture taking a breath…

2016-08-14-11-44-49And this is a picture from the position that made this place famous – have you guessed where it is yet?

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Constable country – Flatford Mill is where the Hay-wain was painted!

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Although I like this photo better, just something about the plants, the bench (and I love an arched window) is very inviting!

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I am looking forward now to the Autumn/Winter season, with several shows, workshops to plan and deliver and  a few more patterns I am working on that I can sell myself… watch this space…

How much are we worth?

I stumbled across this post yesterday.  it is a brilliant discussion about how we value handcrafts, follow the linky here  Please read first!

I found it really interesting.  When I was in the shop, I made a decision not to take crochet commissions,  I would make sample of crochet (or occasionally knitting) to show off a new yarn, or if I was going to a show, to exhibit.  People would ask if I would sell these samples, which of course I didn’t while I had the yarn in stock.  I did make some small things, the flower brooches above, were relatively quick and easy to make, sold at £7 (not minimum wage, and not including the cost of materials!)

When I closed the shop, I did sell off quite a few samples, but only at a cost that was just above what the yarn would sell for – the reason being I didn’t want to have all these samples hanging around at home, where they would not have a use.

However back to the first point – I wouldn’t take commissions because generally people would not see the worth in the time/skill that it takes to make the item.

So how much are we worth – should we think about minimum wage, about the standard of the crochet (or other craft) that we can produce?  How quickly can we produce that item?  Then we have people who just knit and crochet  ‘for fun’  this is great if you are giving away your items, but if you then sell them at really low price –  ‘just so that I can buy more yarn’   then are you devaluing other peoples work?  I have seen baby granny blankets being sold for £5 or less on ebay, but on etsy (which is an e-commerce website focused on handmade items) they are £25 – £40.

I think it is also down to the perception of the craft – if you are a sculptor or painter does that make you more of an artist?

I feel that I am an artisan (definition: a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand)

but I also design the things that I make, so am I a designer (def: A person who plans the look or workings of something prior to it being made, by preparing drawings or plans)

or an artist? (Def: A person skilled at a particular task or occupation)

I guess that relies on your definition of skilled…experienced, trained,  qualified, proficient,  practised, accomplished, expert, skilful, talented, gifted, adept, adroit, deft, dexterous , good,   competent.

So as a skilled Artisan/designer, could I receive the minimum wage? I have been crocheting for years, I constantly look to ways to improve my technique, and I practice (A LOT!) not qualified in crochet, but have studied textiles, including weaving, dyeing, and taken physical and online courses.

I don’t usually time myself crocheting, but recently have started.  The first item I did a calculation of time on was this blanket.

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So given that this is a finely worked blanket in 4 ply yarn which is mostly wool with a little nylon in, with a repeating motif, how much would you pay?  £10, £25, £50?   In Marks and Spencer a (machine) knitted throw in one colour is £69.  In Harrods a baby shawl (machine knitted) £79.95.  So a handmade but professional blanket, should be worth more – £100 maybe?

If I tell you that the yarn cost approx £40, and that it took me over 100 hours to make – at minimum wage (£6.50) that should be £690!  Would anyone pay that much for a blanket – however good it is?

If it was an artwork – painting or similar, would it be worth more?  and this is controversial is it because there is less value attached to something made in a female dominated art/craft? Is there more skill in a painting than a crochet blanket – or is it a perceived difference in skill?

Maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle –  I know there are many more questions than answers here, so what do you think?

Missenden Abbey – Day 2

A second brilliant crochet day, we  packed in soooo much it is difficult to remember what we did this morning.!

We started with joining a couple of granny squares that the ladies had made yesterday, using a slipstitch join, we did it so that there was a decorative ridge on the front of the square so wrong sides together, and through both loops on the front and back squares.

After this we did the dreaded foundation chain – once you can master this, everything else seems easy!  We also did all the different height stitches – from double crochet to double treble crochet!2015-08-06 13.33.00

We then started a Granny stripe pattern.  I use the one from Attic24 as it is a really easy pattern to get to grips with, and has a lovely rhythm when you get going.

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After a lovely gammon and salad lunch, we tackled tr2tog, and tr4tog, making some little samples first, and then we tackled the Ripple patttern.  another from Attic24, I love this pattern but I do know that it can be tricky – especially the first row that you work into the foundation chain.

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Some lovely wiggly ripples

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but by coffee break all the ladies had managed the first row at least, and we treated ourselves not only with coffee and tea, but also with the absolutely delicious slices of bun!

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The Garden Room – our coffee and cake space!

By the end of the day and while there had been a lot of frogging, everyone had at least changed colour once.

We are looking forward to tomorrow and a 3D flower block, with the start of a larger crochet project that we can take home to complete!  Ripple, granny square or stripe – we will have to wait and see!

 

 

Missenden Abbey – Day 1

Gorgeous view out of my window this morning…

Phew, that was a long day!  I met my lovely ladies at 9.30 this morning, we started by doing a bunch of paperwork, then on to the real business of the day… learning to hold the hook and yarn (which they could all do quite happily!) and making a chain, then on to a sample, making a treble crochet, and working in rows.

We had a coffee break with delicious handmade biscuits, then back to work making holes – deliberate ones!  Which can be the basis of Filet crochet.

Lunch was lovely – shepherds pie or quiche and salad, with a delicious banoffee pie!

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After lunch – Granny squares!!! lots of counting and memorising of the pattern, but also colour changing, and how best to sew in ends – during the afternoon another coffee break and freshly made little doughnuts and then back to the grannies, we concentrated on making 3 round squares, some in the same colours, some in multi colours, we finished at 5pm, and then I stayed and set up the room for tomorrow, with worksheets, and lots more yarn to wind!

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An overall delightful day, and I am looking forward to tomorrow and wrestling with the ripple!

Granny square blankets…

It seems that everywhere you look at the moment people are crocheting and designing blankets, and I am no exception!

So what do you think of when I say Crochet blanket – something like this?  The Multicoloured granny square blanket with a black edging was very popular in the 60’s and 70’s, and remains the image many people have when thinking about this type of blanket.

photo from hellobinturong website, custom made items, click photo for link

Don’t get me wrong, I like granny square blankets very much, I love the rhythm of the crochet, and when I have been making something complicated I love going back to these squares – I just wish they could be called something else!

The next type of granny square blanket had a white border, and sometimes the centre of the squares was changed to make a circle/flower within a square,

picture from Joanne L. Craft Passion – click on image to free pattern and tutorial!

Without a border, or with colourful borders – or random!

picture from beautiful crochet stuff

picture by adaiha on CraftStylish click image for website

Of course the other option is to make one great big granny square, I managed this quite successfully but I did have help – I used Noro Taiyo yarn, which is a gorgeous aran/chunky variegated yarn, so no colour changes, it was probably the quickest blanket I’ve made,

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My Noro Granny blanket, click to see the project in Ravelry

The other reason I love Granny squares, is the variety of colours and designs – just google images of granny square and see what you find – an explosion of colour combinations and styles.

So on the plus side they are great to cut your crochet teeth on; a repetitive pattern which turns meditative, when you are starting out they are great to practice with, to get your tension right, to be able to see if and where you are going wrong, and there are infinite variations.  On the negative side – I do get fed up with people ‘re-inventing’ the granny square – it is what it is, a brilliant versatile pattern!

Woolly crochet blanket colours decided!

After much, much experimentation, I have decided on the colours that I will be using for my multi-pattern crochet blanket.

I looove colour so I have gathered the brightest colours in the DMC Woolly range.  2015-05-31 18.42.41

  • Top row:   075, 086, 094, 051, 052, 065
  • Middle row:  077, 082, 093, 103, 055, 063,
  • Bottom row:  074, 081, 084, 102, 043, 054

broadly, 3 blues, 3 greens 3 yellow, 3 orange, 3 reds, 3 mauves, so quite matched up as far as primary and secondary colours, even though I didn’t really plan it that way!

The next stage is to start planning the design, there will be 6 different types of pattern, some of which are motif squares, and some stripes. I’m going to start with a type of square which is as easy as a granny, but a bit more solid, I’m thinking of a heart, star or flower square, and a circle to a square type.  For the stripes I want to do something with bobbles, and a spike stitch – but I am still working on the details!

I’m looking forward to starting this blanket in earnest now, so will keep you updated as the pattern develops.  what are you crocheting or knitting at the moment?

A-Z of designing!

I am about to embark on a new designing project in crochet, so I thought I would post about the whole process, from start to finish, it will also help to keep me on track if I make it public from the start!

I have wanted to design a blanket for a while, I really enjoyed making a variation on  the ‘groovyghan’ (Linky to Ravelry pattern) mostly because while you get the chance to repeat and practice motifs, but not so many that you get bored with them!

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The first decision is which yarn to use, the top one in bright colours was made in New Fashion Acrylic yarn, by Woolcraft, and the second one in Stylecraft Special DK.  For this one I wanted to try a wool yarn, and I haven’t crocheted in Merino wool for I while, DMC have a relatively new range called Woolly and I got 1 ball of each colour so that I could experiment with colourways.  The box arrived a couple of days ago!  Here is how they came…2015-05-14 19.36.14

I then organised them according to the colour chart…

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Photographed them on their side so I could see all the gorgeous colours…

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Put them back in the box… (obsessive – moi? not sure what you mean!)

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Mmmmmm don’t they look loooooovely…

And finally I started to make some little crocheted squares so that I can choose my colours.  I did think of putting the yarns onto clothes pegs, (I do really like that idea) and using them to shuffle the colours, and it would probably have made the labelling easier, but I think I like the look of the crocheted fabric to start.

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So this is just the start of the process, I will post some starter sketches, and all my finished squares with some colour combos soon.  Meanwhile dream of lovely soft squishy yarn, and leave a comment below!

 

More Crochet Cables…

I have been looking for some more inspiration for crochet cables so I did a search on Ravelry, and found many!  those that piqued my interest and I will be doing samples for are pictured below, they are all from free Ravelry patterns, and I will be making samples over the next couple of weeks to see what the techniques are like, and how they are different.

Tree of life – not conventional cables, but I like the idea of making a picture in the cables, with some twists and turns…

Another blanket, but with a lovely chunky cable in the middle that might be 9 stitches wide!

This one you would need to purchase, but I love that although wide, it is a delicate twist of thread!

I love a sampler blanket, there is something about doing lots of different squares, and bringing them together into a coherent whole..

And finally, these three amazing cable patterns which were inspired by the Book of Kells (an Irish medieval writing of the Gospels – which is illustrated with much celtic illumination)

  

Got to go and crochet now, loving cables!  Do you like crochet cables too?

13 Brilliant Crochet Blankets

As I am about to go to see the lovely ladies for our Monday night stitch group, I thought it would be a great time to share their crochet blanket projects, over recent months there has been a bit of a blanket obsession going on (ok, Annes cable blanket was started 2 years ago, but she has been doing other projects inbetween!) – and while I have put some of these in my newsletter, I may have missed some, so here they are – starting with granny squares and their variations…

1 Irene big granny square blanketIrene’s Big Granny square baby blanket

1 Trish granny square blanketTrishes enormous Granny square blanket which inspired us as a group to make a blanket for Jean…

1 Group granny blanket for Jean

Variations using one colour granny squares..

1 trish mario granny blanket  1 Wendy granny blanket

Mario by trish, and a quilt pattern by Wendy,

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A groovyghan by me, starting with granny squares, and morphing into other things…

1 Wendy baby blanket 1 Wndy basket weave

Two baby blankets by Wendy – a two colour combo stitch and a basket weave in post stitches…

1 Denise Teddy blanket   1 Densie crochet lions1 Denise knit with crochet owls  1 densise crochet owl

Three by Denise for her Grandchildren, Teddy bears, and lions based on motif squares, and a knitted blanket with some really cute crochet owls..

1 Anne Lily pad closer1 Anne lily pad blanket 1 Anne Cable blanket close1 anne cable blanket

And finally Annes amazing two blankets, a 3D flower, in Aran yarn, with large and small motifs, and the Cable blanket, every square is a different cable pattern, and there are 63 of them!

Al these ladies I taught to crochet, and they have been doing it for less than 4 years, so some really impressive work by everyone!

I hope you like these crochet blankets and are inspired to make your own, I would love to see what you have made!

 

 

 

Learn to Crochet – Missenden Abbey

The picture above looks lovely doesn’t it!  I am really looking forward to tutoring here in the summer!  If you would like to Learn to crochet and have struggled in the past, the one way to do it really successfully is with a teacher helping you out.  You could be an Absolute Beginner, or you may have started to crochet, but can only make Granny squares, can’t read a pattern, or are disappointed with how your crochet turns out.  This course will ensure that you have great foundations and fall in love with crochet!

When I first created my learn to crochet course, the one thing I wanted to do is to teach over a period of weeks, so that people could go home, practice their skills, and then come back with the pieces they made so that we could talk about them and all learn from any mistakes, but also to celebrate the successes.  Many ladies were really pleased about the progress they made when they compared the first week to the last week.  As a teacher I am also able to change what I’m teaching if we find that you know what to do I can adapt what I teach you – for example different ways of starting a new colour, how to crochet some of the ‘ends’ as you go, different ways of joining squares, or join as you go squares.

As far as pattern reading goes, we start with plain english, and then I have graded the patterns so that you will be learning more terms and other ways patterns work, until you will be confident about reading patterns.

I was at Ally Pally (The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace) last year, and had a chat with the people from Missenden Abbey, they do residential courses for adults in a really wide range of subjects, many of them creative.

As a result I have adapted my 5 week course to be over 3 days, six sessions.

Session 1: starting with a chain, working trebles on a ready made sample, to make rows with straight edges.

Session 2: Granny squares: working in the round and changing colours.

DSCF4839Session3: Working into the foundation chain, working in rows, intro to a Granny Stripe pattern.

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Session 4:  Increasing and decreasing,ripple patterns

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Session 5: following a commercial block motif pattern with a 3D element (a flower!)

Session 6:  Starting a larger project, good finishing, joining squares, blocking and any other crochet problems solved.

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My aim is to give you all the fundamental skills of crochet, and lots of potential projects for example scarves, blankets and cushions, While the course runs thought the day, since I will be resident too, I would be happy to help people during the evenings too.

If you would like any further information please leave a comment, or go to the Missenden Abbey website – linky, or for a direct link to the course click the linky here