Hearts and Flowers

Happy February. In a spirit of joy and optimism and I am declaring this the month of crochet hearts and flowers!

This is the month when the garden slowly bursts back into life, with bulbs appearing and shoots making their way through the chilly soil to promise colour and joy all through summer! For me this is a month definied by friendship and (of course) love!

Over the years I have published a number of different versions of my crochet heart pattern, I love the simple construction and the way it cleverly uses increases and decreases to create a recognisable heart shape. The verys first version appeared in Issue 33 of Inside Crochet magazine. Later I published a smaller version in the same magazine as part of a feature on crocheting for celebrations. It has also found its way into other publications and most recently as a motif on an embellished cushion (pattern pdf coming soon!) I’m always surprised that more variations of this simple technique haven’t appeared on blogs or Pinterest. With a little imagination you could add embroidered embellishments, crochet frills and ruffles. I think stripes or textured yarn versions would be such fun to create!

The basic “recipe” is printed below, and you can find more detailed versions of the pattern, with abbreviations lists and yarn suggestions  in my Ravelry or Love Crafts stores (see links below). If you do make a version of this, please share it on my Facebook or Instagram pages.

Another one of my “old favourites” is the heart shaped wreath, which usually hangs on my front door during February. I shall post a more detailed description of how I made this next week, but if you want to try making one yourself try this post.

Basic Heart Pop (this pattern uses UK crochet terms and abbreviations):

Make two the same for front and back.

With 3.5mm hook and dk yarn make 6ch.

Row 1: 1dc in second ch from hook, dc to end, mark centre stitch, turn. (5dc)

Row 2: 1ch, 2dc in first dc, dc to centre st, remove marker, 3dc in centre st, replace marker in centre st of 3dc, dc to last st, 2dc in last st, turn. (9dc)

Rows 3 (4): As Row 2. (17dc)

Row 5: 1ch, dc to centre st, remove marker, 3dc in centre st, replace marker in centre st of 3dc, dc to end, turn. (19dc)

Row 6: 1ch, dc2tog, dc to centre st, remove marker, 3dc in centre st, replace marker in centre st of 3dc, dc to last 2dc, dc2tog, turn. (19dc)

Row 7: 1ch, [dc2tog] twice, dc to centre st, remove marker, 3dc in centre st, replace marker in centre st of 3dc, dc to last 4dc, [dc2tog] twice, turn. (17dc)

Row 8:  ch, dc to centre st, remove marker, 3dc in centre st, replace marker in centre st of 3dc, dc to end. (19dc)

Fasten off yarn and weave in ends.

Making Up:

With wrong sides together, sew a whip stitch or make a dc seam around the edge of the hearts leaving a gap for stuffing, stuff to make a plump heart and sew gap. Slip a cake pop stick through the reverse of each heart and tie a small ribbon bow. A tiny amount of glue can be used to secure the stick.

Alternatively, a piece of ribbon can be stitched to the top of the heart and they can be decorated with beads and buttons.

Happy making x

You can find some of my heart patterns for sale online:

Heart Pops on Love Crafts or Ravelry.  You can find the free flower pattern I used to make my heart shaped wreath in this blog post. For versions in your back issues of Inside Crochet, take a look in issues 33, 64 and 111.

 

Why Blocking Matters

Metropolis scarf
The Metroplis Scarf, designed for Inside Crochet issue 121, using Eden Cottage Yarns Nateby 4 ply.

Well I’m back – with many apologies and few excuses! We finally moved house in December and I’m slowly unpacking, getting used to my new surroundings and writing exceptionally long “to do” lists! High on the list for some time has been “get back on the blog”, but it always seems to fall below “get out and meet people” or “explore the footpath by the river” and way, way below the usual admin of informing banks, utility companies etc that we have moved house, finding a new GP and working out how not to get lost when I drive to the supermarket!

Well, putting aside all the excuses I was prompted to write this post after a lady from Craft and Chat asked me about blocking. What is it, why do you do it and is it really worth the bother? The short answer is yes, it matters. The longer answer is  it depends… So let’s talk about blocking. Why it makes a difference and how to do it.

Blocking is a strange word for a very straightforward process. In simple terms, blocking is the process of finishing you work.  If you’re making something that has pieces which will be joined together, it’s made of wool or animal fibres or has a lacy stitch pattern, the chances are it will look far better if you block it. Sometimes I’ve noticed bloggers and podcasters referring to it as “setting” or “finishing”. Your aim is to produce flat, evenly shaped pieces that will sew together easily or allow the stitches to settle.

Garments which have pieces that need to be sewn together should be pinned out to their finished dimensions before sewing up – this allows all the peices to lie flat and be of the correct size. This makes it much easier to sew them together. Motifs which will be joined to make a blanket will fit together more easily if they’re all the same size.

The simplest way to block is to pin your pieces or motifs on to a flat, absorbent surface such as a thick towel, spray them lightly with tepid water and allow to dry. You can speed up the process by using a steam iron instead. Hold the iron over each piece after pinning out and press the steam button, but make sure the iron doesn’t touch your work. Acrylic does not like heat, the fibres can melt and become shiny, at worst it will leave a sticky black mess on the bottom of your iron. Wool can shrink or matt if too much heat is applied, textured work will be flattened and it’s possible the wool might be scorched. You can cover each piece with a damp cloth and then apply steam if you want to take extra care.

Wool and animal fibres always look better after blocking, either pinned out as described above, or after a short soak in wool or tepid water, sometimes called “wet blocking”. You can buy specialist wool wash liquids that don’t need rinsing, these are great and can also be used for washing your makes if you choose to hand wash them. Fill a bowl with water, add the recommended amount of liquid and put your knitting or crochet in the bowl for 10 minutes. Gently squeeze out the excess water and place on a flat, absorbent surface to dry. You can read a really helpful and thorough  article about wet blocking on the Kelbourne Woollens website. You’ll also need to block your tension square before making garments – the change in size can be quite dramatic and there’s nothing more disppointing than skipping the tension swatch only to find your finished sweater is baggier than you expected it to be after it’s first washing!

Wool loves to be blocked. The short soaking allows the fibres to “bloom” and swell, it gets softer and any residual dye left over from processing is soaked away. Hats, mittens, cowls and socks can be soaked for a few minutes and then wrung out gently before being placed flat to dry (my favourite method is to roll items in a fluffy towel and squeeze out the excess water).

Acrylic doesn’t always “like” to be blocked, so go gently. Cheaper yarns often sag and become floppy if they spend too much time in water, so I generally recommend pinning out and spray blocking with warm water – better still – steam blocking will “fix” the fibres and help even out any wonky seams. Acrylic always seems to respond better to steam blocking than to wet blocking or soaking.

Cotton and plant fibres also have a tendency to “grow” after blocking, they should always be dried flat as the weight of wet cotton can stretch the fabric considerably.

Are you beginning to think blocking is a complicated and difficult process? If yes, then you’ll begin to see why so many makers will tell you they “never” block!  Please, don’t be put off. You can find a simple guide to blocking in all my books and the links you’ll find in this post are all really helpful. Just as  your hair can feel smoother, have more body and  look sleeker after a professional blow dry than if you leave it to dry naturally; so your knitting and crochet can respond well to a bit of pampering!

Finally, in case you’re wondering – yes I always block – except when I choose not to – and yes, I always regret it if I don’t!

 

Interweave ( the US publishers of my book The Step by Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches) have an excellent guide on how to block crochet squares. My favourite online yarn store Tangled Yarn has an excellent guide along with great photos.

 

A Crochet Bouquet

vase of daffodillsThe first daffodils signal the arrival of spring and remind me that warmer days are not very far away. I love making these tiny flowers as they bring colour to my home and mean that I can leave the real blooms in the garden, where they last much longer than in a vase. I’m posting the pattern here, but if you head over to Ravelry or the  Love Crochet pattern store, you can purchase a pdf with extra helpful hints, tips and photos of various steps to help you if you are a less confident crocheter.

IMG_5289

YARN: Any DK weight cotton yarn in Yellow for petals and pollen, orange for trumpet and green for leaves.

I recommend Yarn and Colours for this project, but you can use your favourite brand. You will only need small amounts of each colour, so if you’re buying yarn specifically for this project you might like to consider the 25g mini ball ranges produced by Yarn and Colours, Rico and Scheepjes.

TENSION: There is no need to complete a tension swatch. Make your first flower using the recommended hook and then adjust if you find your stitches are too loose / too tight.

HOOKS AND NOTIONS: 2.5mm crochet hook. You will also need a tapestry needle, florist wire and tape to make the stems.

SIZE: Each flower measures approx. 6cm across

SKILLS: Double crochet, half treble and treble crochet, slip stitches, working in rounds. On the final page of this pattern, you’ll find some photos that may help you to visualise the different stages.

ERRATA: All known edits and errata are listed on my website, please let me know if you spot an error or have question about the pattern.

ABBREVATIONS: For a list of common UK crochet terms and abbreviations please click here.

PATTERN STARTS HERE:

The petals are made in spirals, with right side always facing, do not turn at the end of rounds.

With yellow yarn make 4ch, join with a sl st to make a ring.

Round 1: 6dc into ring. 6dc

Round 2: (2dc in each dc) 6 times. 12dc

Round 3: (1dcblo in next dc, ch5, 1dc in 3rd ch from hk, 1htr in next ch, 1tr in last ch, skip next dc) 6 times. 6 petals made

Round 4: (1sl st in next dc, 2dc evenly up side of first petal, 3dc in ch sp, 2dc evenly down side of petal) 6 times. Fasten off yarn.

Trumpet:

Join orange yarn to any unworked front loop of Round 2. Work Round 1 into the front loops only.

Round 1: 1dc in each dc around. 12dc

Rounds 2 and 3: As Round 1, do not fasten off yarn.

Picot frill:

Round 1: (1sl st in next dc, ch2, 1sl st in 2nd ch from hook, 1sl st in next dc) 6 times. Fasten off yarn.

Pollen:

Using yellow yarn cut five pieces, each approx. 3cm in length. Tie a knot in the end of each piece and thread unknotted end through centre ring. Once all five pieces have been threaded through, adjust lengths until you are happy with the final look and then secure on the wrong side using a tapestry needle to weave in ends.

 

Leaf:

With green yarn make 21ch.

Row 1: 1dc in 2nd ch from hook, 1htr in next ch, 1tr in next and all ch to end. Fasten off yarn. Weave in ends

Making up.

Slip one end of floristry wire through the back of your daffodil, bend the wire in half and twist to secure. Wrap floristry tape around the wire, starting at the top and working to the bottom. Wrap one or two leaves around stem and sew in place.

If you prefer, you can use a small amount of spray starch to stiffen each leaf before making up (Be sure to follow the instructions on the can and use on the reverse side only).

I hope these little daffs brighten your day!

Don’t forget, you can find a more comprehensive pattern for purchase on Ravelry and Love Crochet.

Let’s Celebrate (a free pattern)

garlandWell 2018 has started well, with a new design published in this month’s Inside Crochet and the new book is progressing well (fingers crossed it stays that way). So, I thought I’d share an old favourite of mine, perfect for cheering up those dull days before spring really does bring sunshine and flowers.

These little garlands are so simple and you can easily personalise them with buttons, ribbons and your favourite crochet flowers. I used children’s bangles brought from an accessory shop on the high street, you can also pick up similar ones online. The pattern first appeared in issue 64 of Inside Crochet, to accompany a feature on planning a crochet celebration. You can use any mercerised cotton, embroidery floss or scraps from your stash for this project.

Have fun with this one – I certainly did!

Image by Leanne Dixon for Inside Crochet Magazine

Crochet Flower Garland (Pattern in UK crochet terms)

To cover the bangles

Start with a slip knot on your hook, insert the hook through the centre of the bangle, yoh and pull through the loop, slip first loop over the new loop to secure yarn.

Rnd 1: 100dc into centre of bangle, sl st into first dc. Fasten off yarn

(You may need to adjust the number of dc worked to cover your bangle, the exact number of dc is not important).

Flower:

With 3mm hook and dk cotton yarn make 4ch, join with a sl st to make a ring.

Rnd 1: 10dc into ring. (10dc)

Rnd 2: 1dc into first dc, [3ch, miss next dc, dc in next st] 5 times. Do not turn

Rnd 3: 1 sl st, 5tr, 1 sl st in first ch sp [1 sl st, 5tr, 1sl st in next ch sp] 4 times. Fasten off yarn.

For each garland make three flowers. Sew a button to the centre of each flower. Sew flowers to wrapped bangle. Use a small piece of ribbon to make a hanging loop.

 

Free Pattern: Crochet Flowers

mavric flowers 6Today I’m off to teach a crochet flower class at the Ditzy Rose Makery in Tattenhall, Cheshire. I’m sharing the pattern we’re going to use here, so even if you can’t be there in person you can join in the crochet flower fun!

This pattern first appeared in Inside Crochet magazine (issue 89), this simple motif has so many uses, stitch them to brooch backs or hair clips. Sew lots together to make bangles or embellish a favourite sweater.

Have fun and happy crocheting!

mavric flowers 3

Crochet Flowers (UK crochet terms)

For small flowers use 4 ply yarn and 3mm hook. For larger flowers choose thicker yarn and a  larger hook).

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

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

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

Fasten off yarn. Weave in ends.

Leaf

Make 8ch.

Rnd 1: *1dc in second ch from hk, 1 htr, 1 tr, 2tr in next ch, 1tr, 1htr, 1dc in last ch **, 1ch. Do not turn, work into the underside of foundation ch from * to **, sl st into next st. Fasten off yarn. Weave in ends.

If desired, small running stitches can be added to each leaf to imitate veins (see photos as a guide).

Finishing:

Sew buttons or beads to the centre of your flowers and arrange on your chosen brooch back or hairclip (use photos for inspiration). Stitch in place using a needle and cotton thread.

Photo credit: Mavric Photography for Tailormade Publishing

 

Pretty Flower Pin Cushion

This isn’t a new pattern, I’m slowly moving patterns over from Baking and Making and this has always been one of my favourites. The flower is the same one I used for  the  Crochet Baby Hat I designed for Craftseller magazine a few years back, it’s such a versatile little pattern it can be used for almost anything. To make the pin cushion, you’ll need to stuff a tea cup with  a small sachet filled with hollow fibre toy stuffing or a small shop bought pin cushion. You’ll have to use your judgement about how many flowers you’ll need to make to fill your tea cup. I use mine as a pin cushion, but it could equally be used as a centrepiece for afternoon tea (very vintage).

crochet flower

I also like to sew a small brooch bar onto the back of a flower and a couple of leaves to make a pretty spring corsage and I’ll be teaching a class at Nettle in June for anyone who would like to try crochet. For details, click on the Workshops tab above  (or click here).

Flower Pattern:

With 3.75mm hook and chosen yarn make 27 ch

Foundation Row: 1 dc into 2nd ch from hook, dc to end of row. (26 dc)

Row 1: 3 ch, 4 tr into 4th ch from hook, ss in next dc, [5 tr in next dc, ss in next dc] 4 times, [ 5 htr in next dc, ss in next dc] 5 times, [5 dc in next dc, ss in next dc] 4 times.

Fasten off yarn leaving a long tail for sewing up. Roll petals into a rose shape and stitch securely using long tail.

Leaf

With 3.75mm hook and chosen yarn make 8ch

Round 1: *1dc into 2nd ch from hook, 1htr in next ch, 1tr in next, 2dtr in next, 1tr in next st, 1 htr in next, 1dc in last st**, 1ch. Do not turn, work into under side of foundation ch from * to ** ss into next st.

Fasten off yarn and weave in all ends.

Pattern is written in UK crochet terms.

NB: This flower pattern started life as the “Tatton Corsage” designed for Fibre and Clay in 2011, it then appeared in Craftseller as a decoration on a hat, then as a wreath for Valentine’s day. It has so many uses and it’s appeared in several magazines in several different disguises. This pretty heart wreath is one of my favourites! Just bend a piece of wire into a heart shape. Thread on the flowers (made as above, I made about 18), fasten the ends of the wire and tie a bow at the centre .

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