Some Big News

Well, here’s some rather exciting news – the Wool Clip have a new member – and it’s me! Regular Woolfest visitors will know the Wool Clip as the organisers of this fabulous annual celebration of all things wool. They also have a shop in Caldbeck village, Cumbria and a website.

It was a lovely surprise to be invited to join and a real honour for me. I’ll be working in the shop a few days each month and some of my ready made crochet items will be for sale online and in the shop. If you find yourself in Cumbria, do come along and say hello. You’ll find a wondrous selection of hand made items from woven wraps, to tufted rugs adn even Herdwick ties in a tin (the perfect Father’s Day gift perhaps?). I’ll be working on Bank Holiday Monday at the end of May, so do drop by and say hello if you’re nearby. You can find more information about  the Wool Clip and their address on their website.

Best of all, is the gorgeous selection of British wool. The selection includes hand spun and  hand dyed wool from native breeds, real wool with a real connection to the lakeland Fells. This is your perfect destination for wool that has been reared, sheared and spun here in Cumbria by members of the Wool Clip. I often used to visit the Wool Clip to buy wool for projects or to seek out gorgeous presents. It’s a hidden gem and right next door there’s a coffee shop selling delicious cakes and great coffee.

Have I tempted you to come and visit? Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting photos of some of the items I’ll have for sale. The best place to keep up with new additions to my stock is to follow me on Instagram (@GrannyCoolCrochet) or to follow my new shop account where all my stock will be added with links in my profile to buy direct from the Wool Clip or to download patterns. At the moment, most of my stock is blankets and small accessories to keep out chilly winds, but as time goes on I’ll be adding more gift ideas, kits and patterns.

Finally, don’t worry if you can’t make it to Cumbria – Woolfest 2021 will be online in June this year – you can find more details on the Woolfest website and I’ll be posting updates on Instagram.

Crochet Flower Crown

It feels like spring is in the air! I’ve noticed lots of crocheters are hooking up spirng floral designs – particularly this simple flower crown I designed for Inside Crochet Issue 104. There have been some lovely examples on Instagram this week, inclusing one lovely reader who made a version with brown and pink yarn to resemble cherry blosssom – what a lovely idea.

The pattern is very simple and can easily be made using oddments of cotton yarn in your favourite colours. You could also stitch the flowers to a brooch pin or hair clip. 

You can buy the crochet flower crown pattern on Payhip or this week it’s a £1 special offer on Love Crafts.

 

Vintage Flowers Blanket

Probably the most beautiful blanket I’ve ever made – and certainly the most colourful! This simple motif blanket was inspired by a version made by my Dad in the early 1970’s. He used oddments from clothes he had made for us girls, baby blankets, granny squares and to be honest any oddments he could lay his hands on! When Inside Crochet commissioned this, we chose Rooster Almerino DK to make the sample (above) , it had an excellent range of colours to make bold and bright motifs. The original version is shown below – you can see how many different colours were used!

I have included a suggested colour chart with the pattern, but to be honest I really would encourage you to just go wild and make each motif in a random collection of colours and yarns. One of the things I’ve noticed this week is that the oddments and left overs in my yarn stash seem to fall into distinct colour groups. There’s lots of blue, purple and grey, a little yellow and very little green which means that a blanket made up of oddments in your stash will likely reflect your own colour preferences.

Each motif uses just 5m of yarn and works up very quickly. I don’t do “how to” videos or step by step photos, but I have included a little collage here showing one or two steps just to illustrate how easy this is. If you haven’t used the “join as you go” method before, it’s really very simple and very satisfying to know you won’t have to sew all those motifs together at the end. If you feel daunted by making a complete blanket, you could make a cushion cover. Or, my plan for this year is keep a basket by my sofa and every time I complete a project I’ll make a flower motif to add to a blanket that will record my year of making.

You can buy the pattern on Payhip, or from Love Crafts (no affiliate links – just direct links to the patterns).

The original pattern appeared in Issue 76 of Inside Crochet, photos are by Kirsten Mavric and copyright Tailor Made Media.

‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly…

Stashbuster Bauble Wreath

Happy 1st December. As usual, I’ll be sharing some of my festive makes with you this month. All the designs are super speedy and super simple, ideal for quick makes in an evening or weekend (the ever popular Stashbuster Bauble Wreath will take a few evenings – but it’s a very portable project!) Every day I’ll be sharing a different design or project idea on my Instagram feed. You can also find a full list and description of all my current patterns on Payhip. I’ve released a few of my old favourites again this year too – the Felted Baubles and Elfin Booties are great present ideas and the Jolly Holly, Star and Mistletoe are great for combining to make a festive wreath. To get you started, you can find the free instructions for Mistletoe by clicking through to the 2016 post (there are even helpful photos to guide you along).

Happy festive Making xxx

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

It’s funny how those oft repeated saying from our childhood stay with us. I was reminded of after my swim this morning, struggling to fasten straps and pull jeans over hips in a chilly wind!

It’s the time of year when my hats, scarves and gloves sit in higgledy piggledy mountains by the door, ready to be pulled on every time I leave the house. This year I’m trying extra hard to add a little bit of style on my trips outdoors, maybe it’s the months of shielding and lack of socialising that have made every trip something of an “outing”! So, I have arranged my accessories in groups, picking out a particular colour in a hat to complement a scarf of a pair of wrist warmers, so at least it looks as if I’m trying to make an effort!

Wrist warmers are a great way to keep warm at this time of year, on their own they keep your pulse points warm while still allowng you to access your phone or keys. They are very useful to pull on over gloves when the wind is biting. Most of mine are in a single, solid colour and the All Buttoned Up Wrist Warmers have always been a favourite. It’s the buttons that realy make this project special. In reality they’re just two squares of double crochet, with a thumb slit and a shell buttonhole trim. But, add beautiful buttons and they’re transformed into something you could easily give as a gift. Why not make a few pairsfor friends and family this year? Or, put together a kit for those crafty friends? A ball of yarn in their favourite colour, a hook and of course beautiful buttons are easy to wrap and post. You can find the original pattern in issue 38 of Inside Crochet, or read all the pattern details and buy a single pdf here.

Buy My Patterns on Payhip

From this month, all my favourite crochet and knitting designs are available to buy as ad free pdfs on the Payhip platform. This is the simplest and most straightforward way to buy my patterns and you’ll find a great selection of designs for adults and children. Every pattern is priced at £2.00 until Christmas, so if you’re looking for some gift inspiration, this is the place to go. The Cavendish Hat and Wrist Warmers set is an ideal quick make for beginners and is ideal for everyone – we all need a beanie to stuff in our pockets! You’ll find a full product description along with yarn suggestions on Payhip.

On Sabbatical

Due to the continued ill health of my husband I am no longer undertaking design commissions, book or product reviews. Comments, emails and enquiries related to Granny Cool Crochet or my books will be answered as and when I can.

Please accept my apologies for delayed responses to enquiries. I hope you will all understand my priority at this time has to be my family.

Thank you for your understanding x

Make It and Mend It

5H5A6931.jpgWe all have items lurking in our wardrobe that we don’t wear any more, but can’t bear to throw away. Cardigans with a frayed cuff, a tear in the fabric of a favourite dress or a hole in the elbow of our snuggliest jumper. Instead of letting these much loved items languish in your wardrobe why not try revamping them? With a little imagination and some basic crochet skills we can easily give our wardrobes a new lease of life.

Enterprising crocheters may already be familiar with extending the life of handmade garments for babies and toddlers by adding a decorative frill to lengthen a dress or jumper. This was fairly common in my childhood, and a habit I continued with my own daughter’s wardrobe. A strategically placed piece of crochet applique can hide all manner of stains and fabric mishaps – and patches are no longer the preserve of 1970’s denim – think of a floral embellishment to cover a rip as a “woolly tattoo” or a badge of honour awarded to your favourite jumper for years of faithful service.  It may surprise you to know, that for some time it has been possible to buy “Clothes Plasters”, beautiful embroidered patches, designed to cover up holes, rips and stains in the most attractive way. In fact, it was coming across a display of these in a store which prompted me to pick up my crochet hook and make my own repairs.

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While we’re used to crochet motifs embellishing our clothes, “visible mending” or the art of the decorative repair is less well known and I think it’s high time we began to think about celebrating those “battle scars” (the stains, the tears, the worn fabric) and putting a little effort into extending the life of our favourite garments There is a growing fashion movement which rejects the “fast fashion” of the high street, preferring instead to search out second hand, vintage or “preloved” clothes and alter them for modern figures and lifestyles. Once you begin to see the possibilities to revamp, repair or refresh a preloved garment with crochet you will begin to see stains and tears as an opportunity rather than a misfortune. And you’ll be in good company. The much admired textile artist Tom van Deijnen (known as “Tom of Holland”) has been championing the old and the imperfect for some time and his Visible Mending Programme has inspired many of us to see our wardrobes in a new light. He certainly reminded me that shop bought clothes deserve just as much care and attention as the ones we make for ourselves.

Just as the Japanese art of Kintsugi makes a virtue of cracks and flaws in pottery by infilling with gold and precious metal , a creative mend or patch enhances the original garment and tells the story of how it has been worn and loved. Once you begin to consider repair as a way to extend the life of your clothes, the mends, darns and patches become opportunities to personalise your wardrobe and each “fix” simply adds another detail. A patch can add a splash of colour, an embroidered flower turns a hand me down scarf into a brand new item for a younger child, while a darned sock reflects the pride taken in making the original pair.

The  projects shown here are garments from my own wardrobe, none of which I made myself. Nonetheless, they are much loved and I definitely consider them “wardrobe staples”. The cotton tunic which I wore so often the fabric began to fade and perish was no longer fit to be seen in public, yet I was loathe to throw it away.  Instead I chose a few complementary colours of 4 ply yarn and hooked up some simple flowers. I’ll admit that it took longer to sew them on than it did to crochet them, but an evening spent hand stitching has been well rewarded. The tunic now has a new lease of life. It is often admired and has sparked many conversations. Yes, it has to be hand washed, as I fear the patches may fade or shrink in the wash, but that is no real hardship for those of us who are used to handwashing our crochet or hand knits.

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The possibilities for embellishment and decoration are endless and only limited by the time you have available. They are also lessons in thrift and ingenuity.  The elbow patch pictured here was made using tiny scraps of yarn left over from a previous commission. Too small for anything else, these “ball ends” would most likely have been thrown away, so their reinvention as a floral elbow patch also rescued them from landfill.

The cardigan may look like a deliberate act of crochet enhancement, but it hides a frayed cuff. Now, instead of being a cosy “comfort garment” picked up for a couple of pounds in a charity shop, it has  been promoted to “going out” wear. I am tempted to add more buttons, more floral patches to the front and around the collar and each time I open my button tin I see more opportunities for enhancement. These days I look twice at clothes with small flaws, seeing a chance to get creative without the effort of making a whole new garment from scratch or spending and afternoon searching for a replacement on the high street.

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The simple projects here should be seen as inspiration, use them as a starting point to revive your own wardrobe and a chance to reveal your personality. Invest some time in creating a woolly tattoo or a crochet plaster – you’ll be in good company – and you’ll have a truly unique item of clothing.

This feature was first published in Issue 74 of Inside Crochet, photos by Kristen Mavric are reproduced with permission of Tailor made Publishing

I used two simple flower motifs, sew them together to make a larger patch or sew individually to cover those pesky holes in t shirts.

Flower One (written in UK crochet terms):

Motif is made in a spiral with right side facing. At the end of Rnd 1 do not turn or make ch, simply continue with next Rnd.

Make 6ch, join with a sl st to first ch to make a ring.

Rnd 1: 10dc into ring, sl st into first dc.

Rnd 2: 5tr in next dc (sl st in next dc, 5tr in next dc) 4 times, finish with a sl st into same place as sl st on Rnd 1. Fasten off yarn.

Weave in yarn tails and press lightly if desired before stitching to fabric.

Flower Two (used to make the elbow patch):

Make 6ch, join with a sl st to first ch to make a ring.

Rnd 1: (3ch, tr cl into ring, 3ch, sl st into ring) 5 times. Fasten off leaving a long tail. Weave in beginning tail.

Making up:

Sew 9 flowers together to make each patch (following photo as a guide to placement), using yarn tails to join each flower. Sew to sleeves of sweater using matching thread.

Further inspiration:

Read this blog post from Dottie Angel on her love of the woolly tattoo and admire beautiful examples of her work

Tom van Deijnen holds regular workshops and writes about the art of the visible mend on his website, where you can also view examples of his work.

 

The Best of the Rest

So, while I’ve been hooking up stars, holly and garlands a whole gang of crochet designers have been sharing their makes too.

So, as I wrap up my blog until the New Year for my annual social media break here’s my round up of some great patterns you can find right now:

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I am definitely making a few of these cracker hats  by Emily. They are seriously the most original crochet make I’ve seen this Christmas. I think they’ll go really well with my crochet paper chains (search my 12 Makes for Christmas post for links).

I shall also be putting these on my list for next year’s making:

Just Pootling’s Christmas pudding mouse, A Toft Angel (in fact if Santa’s reading any of those gorgeous Ed’s Animals – they are so adorable. And, if you still need inspiration and ideas for this year, do make sure you’re checking out the hashtag #amigurumiadvent2018 on Instagram –  every day I’m having “I wish I had thought of that moment! I am constantly amazed by the creative genius of crochet designers.

I hope you all have a wonderful festive season – don’t forget to drop by my Instagram feed, where I shall still be posting photos of my festives makes, bakes and crafty inspiration.

Thanks for all your lovely comments and messages, I’m so glad that many of you have found something new to hook this month. I’ll be back in January.

Happy festive making x

Sprouts!

I love sprouts. Boiled, sauted with chesnuts and bacon, fried leftovers, even shredded in salads. I just can’t resist them. Now I have “sprouts a la crochet”! This garland is hanging in my kitchen, strung with lights and making me smile. It might be the ultimate in kitsch, but I love it!

These little sprouts are easy to make. I used DK cotton and a 3mm hook, but any yarn will do. They’re made in two parts, a centre ball and then a frill for the leaves.

Centre Ball (UK crochet terms)

Rnd 1:6dc into ring

Rnd 2: 2dc in each dc around. 12dc

Rnd 3: (1dc, 2dc in next st) 6 times. 18dc

Rnds 4 – 7: dc around

Rnd 8: (1dc, dc2tog) 6 times. 12dc

Stuff with hollow fibre toy stuffing.

Rnd 9: (dc2og) 6 times. Fasten off yarn and sew gap to close.

Frill:

Make 31ch.

Row 1: 1dc in 2nd ch from hook and in each dc across, turn. 30dc

Row 2: Ch2 (does not count as a stitch), [5htr in next dc, 1sl st in each of next 2dc] 10 times. Fasten off yarn.

Wrap frill around centre ball and stitch in place.

You can string the sprouts onto yarn or ribbon to make a garland, tie them to your tree with ribbons or stick them onto gift tags.

You can see more sprout photos on my Instagram page.

Scandi Baubles

Years ago, when I designed these decorations for Craftseller, hardly anyone had heard of Hygge, and the Scandi phenomenon was still  a twinkle in Instagram’s eye! But, I loved the simple colours and decoration and was very happy that they re-appeared the next year in a different magazine (same publisher) where they were declared “on trend” – probably the first – and only time I’ve been ahead of the curve! This pattern is currently available for free on Ravelry. You’ll find instructions for the tree and the heart. You can use any yarn. Cotton has a lovely sheen, 4 ply will make them smaller, DK or Aran will be bigger. I used pre – cut felt shapes from the high street and a little bit of surface crochet to decorate mine.

Their beauty lies in their simplicity, easy stitches, quick to make an so many options for decoration. Buttons, beads, embroidery, change the colours. Go to town with ribbons and make wreaths and garland. Believe me, I’ve tried them all over the years. I hope you enjoy them and that you’re enjoying the festive spirit that seems to be everywhere at the moment. I for one am starting to feel very festive – especially as Mr T hauled the decorations down from the attic today and finally have some fairy lights hanging in the kitchen! Now, back to those crochet sprouts …

Mistletoe

Here’s another little free pattern for you. These Mistletoe leaves look lovely hung in bunches or used to decorate a wreath. You can even sew them onto brooch pins and wear them all through the festive season. Here’s the link to my 2016 post, where I showed readers how to crochet mistletoe.