Workshops Are Back

It’s been too long since I sat around a table and turned a bunch of want to be crocheters into fully fledged hookers! But, finally it looks like workshops will be running again this autumn. First up is a two day Crochet Weekender at Lakes and Fells in Renwick, near Penrith. This is a whole weekend of indulgent crochet, designed for beginners, this weekend is also suitable for anyone who wants to refresh their crochet skills and gain some confidence reading patterns and learning new stitches. The venue hosts are the lovely Liam and Lucy and their dog Rhubarb. They’ll keep us well fed and refreshed with tea, coffee and home made goodies throughout the weekend. I can promise you it’s going to be lots of fun. You can find full booking details on the Lakes and Fells website. Please note that accommodation is not included in the booking fee.

Then, in October I’m heading over to Keswick to teach a Sunday morning workshop at the Maker’s Mill, an amazing venue and craft space. I’ll show you how to make your own T shirt yarn and you’ll learn how to make a simple crochet basket of any size and using any yarn. This is aimed at beginners, but if you want to refresh your skills or just have a fun day out with other crocheters you’ll be very welcome.

More dates are coming soon and hopefully lots of bookings for 2022. It’s been a bumpy and unpredictable year, but rest assured all the venues I work with have done their best to provide a welcoming work space and have refund / rebook policies in place if Pandemic guidance changes. Believe me, after a year of shielding I’m as keen as anyone to get back to workshops, but I understand the need to keep everyone safe and feeling comfortable with their surroundings. 

Everything you need is provided on the day and I’ll have books, wool, hooks and crochet kits for sale too. I’m really looking forward to welcoming back some familiar faces and meeting new crocheters, so pop pver to the relevant venue for full prices and booking details.

Free Pattern: Bobble Cowl

Well hello Friday! It’s been a busy week here, lots of design submissions, sample making and even a bit of gardening (and yes, laundry, dusting, housework – I am the ultimate procrastinator!)

Speaking of which, five years since I shared the Bobble Cowl with you, I have finally made a new sample, photographed it and I’ll be uploading the patttern pdf to all the usual places next week.

Meanwhile, for you lovely readers, here is a free version just for you. These are instructions to make the green 4 ply version which I’m wearing in the photo – the grey DK version is made in exactly the same way, just with a bigger hook. You’ll need about 300m, so this is perfect if you have a 100g skein of 4 ply or sock yarn lurking in your stash. Make it bigger by adding more stitches or working extra rounds (you’ll need an odd number of chains).

The bobble stitch is very easy and with only one round to memorise, you’ll hook it up in no time at all. If you have a copy of 200 More Crochet Stitches, you’ll find some photos and a chart to help you with the bobbles on page 57 (Three Colour Bobbles).

So, gather up your yarn, a 3.5mm hook and you’re ready to go! Remember – I write in UK crochet terms.

Technically, this stitch is a cluster not a bobble – but let’s not split hairs! You’ll find instructions for making clusters on p 182 of 200 More Crochet Stitches or p90 of Crochet, Learn It, Love It. After the first round, you’ll be making all your stitches into the chain spaces, so it’s easy to remember where to put your hook – handy if you’re crocheting this in fron of the TV.

Special stitches:

Beginning Bobble (BegBob): 3ch, yoh, insert hook into stitch, (yoh and pull up loop, yoh, pull through two loops) twice, yoh and draw through all loops on hook.

Bobble (Bob): yoh, insert hook into stitch, (yoh and pull up loop, yoh, pull through two loops) three times, yoh and draw through all loops on hook.

Make 90ch, join to make a ring, being careful not to twist your stitches.

Round 1: 1ch (does not count as a stitch), 1dc in same place as join and 1dc in each ch to end, sl st in same place as first dc. (90dc)

Round 2: Make 1 Beg Bob in same place as sl st, 1ch, skip 1dc *Make Bob in next st, 1ch, skip 1dc; repeat from * to end, sl st in top of Beg Bob.

Round 3: Sl st into first ch sp. Make 1 Beg Bob in same place as sl st, 1ch, skip 1dc, *Make Bob in next st, 1ch, skip 1dc; repeat from * to end, sl st in top of Beg Bob.

Round 3: Sl st into first ch sp. Make 1 Beg Bob in same place as sl st, 1ch, skip bobble, *Make Bob in next ch sp, 1ch, skip bobble; repeat from * to end, sl st in top of Beg Bob.

Rounds 4 – 20. Repeat Round 3.

On the 4 ply version, I added a round of crab stitch to the top and bottom. You’ll find instructions for crab stitch on page 121 of Crochet. Learn it, Love It. Or, there are numerous tutorials online.

Fasten off yarn, weave in ends and wear with a smile!

So there you are, I told you it was easy! The beautiful green yarn is a skein of Eden Cottage Yarns Tempo 4 ply. The shade is “Cottage Original”, I’ve got at least 100m left, which I’ll use to knit the feet of a pair of scrappy socks and I’ll make up a few flowers for my Vintage Flowers Blanket. The grey yarns for the dk version were from my stash and I made it so long ago I cannot find my notes, nor can I remember the yarns! This year I’ve resolved to file away my design notebooks more carefully – let’s see how that works out..

Happy Making everyone xxx

Embellished Sweaters

5H5A6976 (2).jpgI am so thrilled to be able to share more photos of the embellished sweaters I designed for Inside Crochet’s 100th issue. These were a joy to make – a real chance for me to indulge my love of crochet embellishments. Claire Montgomerie and I worked together to come up with the final design, we wanted something wearable, but a bit quirky and so I embellished two sweaters. The first is one I could happily see myself wearing to the office, while the second is a bit wilder and the kind of thing I would wear for a night out or to a party.  It’s hard to choose a favourite, both are equally pretty and will give any crocheter a chance to show off their frivolous side.

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Even if you don’t want to commit to crocheting a full garment, you can easily add a few embellishments to make your wardrobe a unique reflection of your personality. Don’t be afraid to have fun with crochet. Embellishments are the perfect opportunity to get creative and enjoy your crochet. Pictured in the photo above is Kath Webber‘s beautiful Floribunda Bunting – isn’t it fabulous? I can just see this making an appearance at many summer parties this year. I also love this cute party hat designed by Sarah-Jane from the fabulous Flo and Dot blog. These sweaters both make their debut in issue 100 of Inside Crochet, which is on sale now and has a lovely cover gift. You can also buy digital issues here. The whole issue has a party vibe and the editorial team have created an issue that is filled with fun and practical designs by some of my favourite designers.

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Happy crocheting  x

Credits

Yarn: Scheepjes  (Catona Cotton)

Hair and Make Up: Julia Edwards

Styling: Claire Montgomerie

Photography: Kirsten Mavric

Five Crochet Blogs You Should Be Reading

OK, so we’ll agree I’m not the world’s most frequent crochet blogger (although you can read me over at Baking and Making). I’ve put together a list of some of my top crochet reads. I’m sure you have your own favourites to add. Check them out and enjoy some crochet inspiration.

In no particular order:

Emma Potter’s Potter and Bloom blog and podcast. Funny, helpful and full of crochet tips with a bit of knitting thrown in for good measure.

Stephanie Lau. Many of you will be familiar with the name. I chose Stephanie to design the Amigurumi project for Crochet. Learn It, Love It (Published in the UK as the Woman’s Weekly Guide to Crochet). She also designs accessories, reviews yarns and share snapshots of her creative life. Well worth finding her on Instagram too.

Leonie Morgan. Another contributor to my last book, Leonie has also written several books and releases single crochet patterns in gorgeous colours.

If you haven’t already signed up for the Crochet Project newsletter, go do it now! The website is full of tips and useful blog posts. You can also buy Joanne and Kat’s patterns and books directly from the site. If I had a pound for every pupil who has produced one of their patterns with the words “Can you help me make this…” I would be keeping Mr T in bike spares for years to come! Thoroughly nice and very talented ladies, I love their uncomplicated but stylish designs.

Sandra Paul’s Cherry Heart blog and podcast should also be on your “watch list”. A creative all rounder, Sandra produces designs in bright modern colours. Her podcast is a favourite among lots of my crochet pupils.

Finally, not a specific knitting or crochet blog, but two online yarn shopkeepers that I regularly visit. Tangled Yarn and Brityarn. Both run by women with a passion for yarn and crafting. You’ll find pattern inspiration, news about new yarns and special offers.

Hope that list of recommendations keeps you busy until I’m back with more new patterns, workshop updates for the autumn and a special item for Yarndale.

Happy making x

 

 

Chilli Garland

chilli_string_medium2My cheeky, but cheerful Chilli garland has another outing. This time, you can find the pattern in Simply Crochet magazine’s “Celebrations” special edition. The Chilli Garland is great for decorating your kitchen or even for hanging outside when you have a party or a BBQ (and yes, we’ll be having lots of those when summer comes – optimism is my middle name!)

You’ll also find my crochet picnic hamper in this issue. In fact, the whole issue is full of fun and colourful projects by some of my favourite designers. It’s well worth looking out for.

Featured in Simply Crochet

Love Crochet picnicn basketSimply Crochet magazine have a seasonal special on sale now called “Celebrations”. Inside you’ll find all the instructions for this fabulous picnic hamper. I upcycled an old cardboard box to make it nice and sturdy and the bright cotton yarn just makes me think of those warm summer days that will be here soon (they will, I promise!) This pattern first appeared in Love Crochet magazine and back then, I had great fun choosing the vibrant spotty lining and the leather buckles (which were supplied by Bag Clasps).

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Look out for this special issue on sale now. Don’t you love that floral head dress on the cover – so vivacious!

Featured in Inside Crochet

mavric flowers 6Another pretty design in the new issue of Inside Crochet! These pretty hairclips are  perfect for using up all your odds and ends and look great as brooches or hair clips. I had great fun choosing lots of bright and pretty colours from my stash. You can find full instructions  in Issue 89 of Inside Crochet, which is the shops now.

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Credits:

Styling: Claire Montgomerie

Photography: Mavric Potography

Copyright: Tailor Made Publishing

 

New Crochet Pattern

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I am very pleased to say that I have just added one of my favourite cowl designs to Love Crochet and Ravelry online stores. The Linoleum Cowl first appeared in issue 73 of Inside Crochet and uses two of my favourite yarns from Eden Cottage Yarns. Askham and Milburn both have a silk content in combination with natural fibres (Askham has baby Alpaca and Milburn has Blue Faced Leicester), so they both have beautiful sheen and drape. The colours (and hence the name) were inspired by a photograph on Instagram of an old linoleum floor. The colours just looked so great I had to try and reproduce them in a design.

Over on Love Crochet I have suggested a few yarn alternatives as they don’t stock Eden Cottage Yarns, but you can always buy the pattern from them and then head over to Victoria’s website to buy the yarn – feel free to use the same colours I have or choose three balls from the same range – Milburn has some excellent colours to choose from – and the Blue Faced Leicester is British, so I have a particular soft spot for it. Askham’s blend of Baby Alpaca and silk makes it feel very luxurious and it is gorgeous to work with. If you’re looking for a different colour combination, I’d be tempted to choose Blossom and Air from the Askham range and Natural from Milburn to make a really feminine version. This is quite a speedy make, so if you’re looking for handmade gift ideas, this would be great.

I might also suggest that if you’re looking for a gift for a crocheter, then this pattern combined with three balls of Eden Cottage Yarns and a crochet hook, packaged together in one of Victoria’s beautiful project bags would be the perfect gift. (hint hint Todhunters – I’ve already mentioned a beautiful colour combo above).

Priced at £3.60 (inc VAT), the pattern is written in UK crochet terms and includes a chart for the motif used.

Happy Browsing x

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Inside Crochet

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The Chevron Scarf (again)

new zig zag scarf imageOver on Instagram this week, crocheters have been sharing their favourite scarf patterns. As always I “had” to post a picture of my Chevron Scarf. I know, you’ve all seen this plenty of times, but I love the simplicity. I often pick up skeins of self patterning yarn, intending to knit socks or try out a new crochet idea. Invariably, I end up making a scarf (or I sew the ends together to make a cowl. Self patterning, colour pooling and variegated yarns can be “problematic” for crocheters. Often they are factory made with knitters in mind, and few indie dyers consider crocheters when coming up with their gorgeous colours and patterns. The nature of crochet stitch construction makes it hard to replicate the repeating patterns that look so great on a pair of knitted socks. But, there are a few “tricks” you can try to get the best out of these yarns.

Try crocheting in the round. Space half treble and woven (sometimes called linen) stitch can be quite effective too. Try alternating two balls of yarn (this is particularly effective with multi coloured yarns such as the ones Noro is famous for) or try striping with two rows on patterned yarn followed by two rows of plain coloured yarn. The best advice I can give you, is try lots of yarns, experiment with different patterns or  techniques and don’t be afraid to rip out your work and try again. Use oddments and left over yarn to test out ideas.

If the worst happens and nothing seems to work, you can always try motifs. Not only can multi coloured motifs look amazing, but you can also cut the yarn to achieve a different colour on each round. This is not “cheating”, it’s simply a great way to get the best out of your yarn and it’s an easy way to produce many coloured motif projects where all the colours “work” together.

So there you are, a few ideas to try. Remember, if all else fails, there’s always the chevron scarf to come back to!

Sorry, the chevron scarf pattern is currently unavailable.

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Featured In Simply Crochet

yourcrochetchristmas2016-768x1024It might be a little early for most of you to be thinking about Christmas, but not for designers and magazine publishers  – we’ve already moved on to planning spring issues!

If you really want to get ahead with some festive decorations or gift making, this special edition of Simply Crochet magazine has plenty to offer. “Your Crochet Christmas” is packed with inspiration and  simple makes and is the perfect excuse to sit down with a cuppa and start making a list. I was thrilled to see my bright bauble wreath featured on the cover. I loved making this – and felt exceptionally chuffed to see it featured so prominently  – you see Christmas doesn’t have to mean red, green and bit of sparkle!

Anyway, it’s in the shops now, so go take a peek in your local newsagent. Simply Crochet comes out monthly and is always full of great makes, if you can’t find it locally, you can buy a digital subscription here.

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A Zero Waste Blanket

grannytastic stashbusterI will admit to being a little over obsessed with granny squares and crochet motifs in general over the past few weeks. In times of stress (and there has been much of that lately) I turn to simple motifs to relax, to empty my mind and to feel the joy of hook in hand with no deadline pressures and  no anxiety about writing up patterns.

I came to granny squares late in my crochet life – I had always believed them to be too simple, too obvious – and I’d grown up in a house adorned with motif blankets and cushions so I felt like I’d had my fill of them!

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Then I realised how many crocheters (and customers in the yarn shop where I worked) loved the simplicity of the granny square. They sought out other motifs and looked for projects that would allow them to indulge their love of colour. Crochet blankets were always popular, and they still are. I am constantly overwhelmed by the popularity of blanket CALs (crochet alongs) and while I’ve never felt the need to join in or to buy huge quantities of colourful acrylic and crochet the latest “must have” blanket. I will admit to a growing collection of indulgent throws and covers (let’s not mention my crochet cushion cover habit – fed by dozens of magazine commissions and a desire for instant colour updates in my living room).

craftseller cushion paleI am often tempted to sell them as they take up so much space and Mr T is reluctant to turn the house into a crochet show room! Instead they lurk under beds or in cupboards, occasionally allowed to adorn a sofa or spare bed. The truth is, there are so many, in so many colours and styles that I really don’t have anywhere to do show them off properly.

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The latest addition to my collection is the “grannytastic” stashbuster, a true “zero waste” blanket, made up scraps too small for other projects, but which I cannot bring myself to throw away. My annual project to use up all the yarn left over from magazine and book commissions usually becomes a baby blanket. I hate waste of any kind and yarn “leftovers” are an occupational hazard.  Unused balls are donated to charity of seized on by ladies at knit group (we have a thriving sideline in yarn swaps).  These blankets have their origins in times past, when patchwork throws or rag rugs would be made from worn out fabrics. Starting with the smallest quantities, each round is worked in a different colour.

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The sequence moves from pinks and mauves, through to cream, yellow and mustard. I set out with no plan in mind, just a desire to use up the odds and ends. It now measures 120 x 120cm and shows no sign of ending. It is made in 100% natural fibres. Pure wool, superwash merino and a little bit of alpaca; yarns that cannot be composted. I could not bear to think of these scraps going to landfill, so they sit in a box until I can no longer find room to store them. I wrote on Instagram today that I’m tempted to keep on going until it covers my king size bed, but that would involve the purchase of more yarn as I have now used up every scrap large enough to complete a round and so it would no longer be a true “stashbuster”… For now, I have “parked” it, a new set of commissions and deadlines approaches and “real” crochet must take over for a while. On sunny days, I shall take my grannytastic blanket outside, enjoy the colour and the comforting warmth it provides when there is a chill breeze and contemplate adding just one more round…

 

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One Cool Granny

Let me introduce you to Melanie, she’s one very cool Granny. In fact, she’s only been a Granny for a couple of weeks – congratulations Mel!Melanie Blanket blog version.jpgMelanie came to one of my crochet workshops a year or two ago. She’s a very accomplished needle woman and picked up crochet very quickly. Last week, she emailed me a photo of this new blanket. She’s been working on it as a gift for the new addition and based it on the colours her daughter had chosen for the baby’s changing bag (here’s a tip. Consult new Mums on your colour scheme ideas  – they can be very fussy – I know because I was one very fussy daughter in law back in the day! )

I can’t tell you how proud it makes me to see pupils making such amazing stuff. This is a blanket that will be treasured, so much love, optimism and time went into choosing colours and making it. I’m sure you’ll agree, Mel is one very cool Granny.

Take a bow lovely lady xxx