Granny Squares Rock!

The Rambler’s Granny Square Scarf

Yesterday was “International Granny Square Day”, you didn’t know granny squares had their own “day”? Well everything has it’s own day in the spot light  these days and so it’s no surprise someone decided to celebrate the humble granny. (Check Suregal27 ‘s Instagram feed for more background and pictures). Even though I learned to crochet as a young child, I didn’t make my first granny square until well into my 40’s. I always thought they were garish, just for blankets and not really my thing at all. Now I love my grannies and wear this tank top “all” the time!

I could easily fill a book (several books) with some of my favourite granny square projects. Luckily I don’t need to write a book, because Sarah London, Susan Pinner and Laura Strutt (among others) have beaten me to it, revealing the multitude of projects you can make using this basic technique. Over the years I’ve been asked to design lots of projects for books and magazine using the granny motif and it’s still the most popular of my workshops. There have been cushions, blankets and stool covers. I’ve tried to show that granny squares can be more than just a way to use up all those garish, clashing scraps in your stash!

Granny square pot holders for Homemaker magazine

Yesterday reminded me that it’s time we celebrated the granny again (after all, grannies are cool!) and so I want to start sharing some ideas that go beyond the usual blankets, cushions, hot water bottle covers and tea cosies that you can find online.

I’m going to give you permission to get playful and creative. Think about your favourite colour schemes and design aesthetic (are you boho, Scandi, vintage or just a magpie like me). We’re going to free our  scraps and make lovely things for ourselves and our homes. The gorgeous baby blanket (pictured left) was made using a palette of pale grey, blue and cream. The result is a modern, stylish and practical baby gift.

You can already find some of my designs online and in my books (shameless plug: “Crochet: Learn it, Love It” * has a whole section of step by step photos and instructions for making granny squares, hexagons and triangles). There are some fabulous tutorials and videos showing you how to make a granny square online, or find a local class. I’ll be running a few granny square classes in the autumn, here in Cheshire.

Find the instructions for this super bright cushion here on Granny Cool

Right, let’s get started. Dive into your stash, find some pretty colours. The next few weeks are going to be all about the grannies! To get you started, I’ve put together a Pinterest board, called Granny Squares Rock. It’s full of photos and links to some amazing granny square projects, and you can also find some of my patterns on Ravelry and Love Knitting.

let’s start with the  instructions for making a basic granny square cushion . You’ll need to be able to crochet a granny square, so if you don’t know how to make one and don’t have access to a book or magazine with instructions, you might want to look at this step by step guide to crocheting a granny square on Helen Free’s blog. The instructions are for a cushion made using chunky wool. You can use any weight of yarn and an appropriate size hook – you’ll just need to work more rounds to fit your cushion pad. Once you’ve made a cushion, you can make a blanket, just by working more rounds. Next week I’ll show you how to make smaller motifs and join them as you work to make a snuggly scarf, a wrap or a blanket.

Happy crafting x

 

  • Also published in the UK with the title “The Woman’s Weekly Guide to Crochet”).

 

 

Introducing Three Bears Yarn

(Sponsored Post).

Earlier this month, Lancashire based company Three Bears Yarn launched a new collection of cotton yarns to the public. When the company invited me to take a look at their yarn I agreed of course – great cotton yarns are always appealing to crocheters – and these didn’t disappoint.

I was sent two yarns to test, the DK “Affection” which comes in a range of  12 twelve colours (mostly pastel)  and I really enjoyed using it. I was also sent a selection of Chenille, also listed as a double knit. I have to admit, this was my favourite! Chenille yarn fell out of favour with designers, I’m not sure why and it definitely deserves a place in the crocheter’s toolkit.

20151014_092958Partly to test the yarn, and partly because I had a hankering for  a new scarf I set to work creating a ruffle scarf – a bit like chenille, the once common crochet ruffle scarf is set for a new lease of life and this simple pattern is a great introduction to both. I’ve posted the pattern below (you’ll need about 450m to make the scarf as written).

Three Bears cotton yarns are available in 4 ply, dk,  aran and chenille via their website and are already proving popular with toy makers and bloggers. They currently offer a “hibernation pack” at a special price of £29.99 which is great value, You can find Three Bears Yarn on facebook and instagram, where they often share sneaky peeks of new designs and behind the scenes  at the mill. In addition, they have been a thoroughly nice company to work with and I’m delighted that at least one of my designs in their cotton yarn will appear in print soon.

Do check them out by visiting their website.

Edit: 29th October 2015

The pattern for my ruffle scarf will be available soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Buntings and Garlands (free patterns)

crochet paper chains 2I do love the summer, a chance to spend time in the garden with friends and families. I often decorate the garden with crochet bunting, especially for celebrations such as birthdays, weddings and christenings. I counted up, over the years I’ve published over a dozen patterns for garlands, wall hangings and bunting and I’m sharing two of my favourites with you today. You’re welcome to make and sell items from these patterns, but as always a credit is nice – and don’t forget – I love to see photos of your makes. You can share them on facebook, instagram or twitter or link to the ravelry listing for these patterns here.

bunting triangles 1Both are suitable for beginners (in fact the “Paper Chains” pattern used to be standard in my learn to crochet class). The triangle bunting is made using simple decreases and is great fun to embellish. It’s shown here with cute little felt balls, but you can add buttons, pom poms or even embroidery to make yours really special.

For some reason, July always makes me think of red, white and blue, probably reminiscent of 4th July parades or visits to French towns in the run up to 14th July. Whatever the occasion, these simple patterns look great in any colour and any yarn.  My preference is always for wool or cotton, raid your stash and make pretty multi coloured bunting or chose several tones of the same colour for an ombre style.  You can find the patterns below.

Happy crafting!

Paper Chains

crochet paper chainsThese also look great at Christmas or in shades of pink for a little girl’s room. No tension is given, make the first chain and if you prefer a tighter or looser fabric, adjust your hook size accordingly. The yarn used here is Rowan wool dk and I used a 3.5mm hook. Pattern is written in standard UK crochet terms. 1 ch at beginning of rows does not count as a stitch.

Make the first chain link:

Make 25 ch

Row 1: 1 dc in second ch from hook, 1 dc in each ch to end, turn. (24 dc)

Row 2: 1 ch, 1 dc in each dc to end, turn.

Rows 3 – 6: As Row 2.

Fold chain link in half and join side seam using dc (or if you prefer, fasten off yarn and sew side seam). Turn chain link “inside out” so seam is on the inside.

Second and following chain links:

Follow pattern above until the end of Row 6, slip the fabric around the previous chain link and join the side seam as before.

joinng paper chains first Fasten off yarn. Continue to make and join more chain links in the same way.

joining paper chains 1

joining paper chains 2Basic triangle bunting

This is just about the simplest crochet triangle you can make. No tension is given, make the first triangle, and if you prefer a tighter or looser fabric, adjust your hook size accordingly. The yarn used here is Rowan wool dk and I used a 3.5mm hook. Pattern is written in standard UK crochet terms. 1 ch at beginning of rows does not count as a stitch. bunting triangles 5

Make 16 ch

Row 1: 1 dc in second ch from hk, 1 dc in each ch to end, turn. (15 dc)

Row 2: 1 ch, dc2tog, dc to end, turn. (14 dc)

Rows 3 – 14: As Row 2

Row 15: 1ch, dc2tog.

Fasten off yarn weave in ends.

Edging:

You can edge each triangle in the same or a contrasting colour. Join yarn to top right edge  of triangle, 1 dc in each dc to end of row, 1 ch to turn, 1 dc in each row end to base, 1 ch to turn, 1 dc in each row end to start. fasten off yarn.

Joining:

Make 20 ch in chosen colour, pick up first triangle, 1 dc in each dc along top edge, 15 ch, pick up second triangle, 1 dc in each dc along top edge. Continue until all triangles have been joined. Work second and subsequent rows in dc or trebles as you wish. Decorate hanging loop with ribbons or surface crochet (pictured here in blue).

Embellish your bunting as you wish and most importantly have fun.

These triangles are great fun for kids of all ages – minor imperfections are easily disguised and decorating  to suit your own taste is half the fun!

Ravelry Pattern Sale

Over the summer I shall be redesigning and re branding all my knitting and crochet patterns, some will be “retired” for ever and some are being made with new yarns in new colours. Before I remove them all from sale here’s your chance to grab a bargain. Most patterns are now reduced to just £1 (plus VAT), so head over to Ravelry and choose your favourites. They’ll only be available until 1st July.

 

 

Personal Project: Mouse House

20150614_094244This fabric Mouse House sits in an upstairs bedroom at my Mother in Law’s house. She made it over 20 years ago  and all the grand children have loved it. I have often said I would love to make a crochet version, but time and inspiration never seemed to allow the opportunity to sit down and really think about doing it justice. I have seen lots of versions on Pinterest, but none really appealed. They didn’t seem to have the cute, cottagy charm of Jean Greenhowe’s original.

20150614_09442720150614_09434720150614_094352I have searched online for inspiration, thinking how nice it would be to sit and follow someone else’s pattern, but there are very few examples on Pinterest or Ravelry (there are some gorgeous crochet toadstool houses, which are lovely, but not really what I’m looking for. I have seen this one (and versions of it) on Not on the High St and I like the idea of a “proper house”, but what seems to be coming off my hook is something a bit different, a bit quirkier.

Image from Loulou and Deer, finished house for sale on Not on the High St

It would be very easy to translate this traditional doll’s house into crochet. Meanwhile I have been sitting with my notebook and sketching little ideas, so that as I finish up work on the book and magazine commissions slow down for the summer, I can give some time to personal projects such as this. I’m not making it with the intention of writing up the pattern or as a gift for anyone in particular. It’s just a whimsical idea and I’ll keep you informed of progress.

Over on my Pinterest board “Crochet Inspiration” I’ve been pinning ideas which may find their way into the “Modern Mouse House”, do pop over and take a look (you may even find something to inspire your next project.

If I were to try and recreate a sewn toy house, I would definitely be looking at this on from UK Lass in US – the instructions look so easy to follow and the end result is beautiful. The idea of using plastic canvas for extra strength is brilliant – I may try that with mine. In fact, if I could sew as well as I crochet, I would just make this. I doubt it can be beaten for creativity.

PS: Jean Greenhowe’s pattern is sadly out of print, but you can read about the original design here.

 

New Pattern: Picnic Hamper

Image (c) Immediate media
Image (c) Immediate media

The May / June issue of Love Crochet goes on sale this week and I’m thrilled to see  a couple of my designs on the cover. My favourite has to be this picnic hamper, which was a challenge for me as it has a sewn lining (I’m no sewer!). The hamper is made in flat pieces and seamed to fit a cardboard box frame. The stitches used are very simple, making this ideal for someone new to crochet. The yarn I used is new for this summer, DMC Natura XL has all the features I love about the Natura Pure Cotton (great stitch definition, amazing colour selection), but in a chunkier weight, making it ideal for accessories, toys and home wares such as this hamper.

The leather straps were kindly supplied by Bag Clasps, a great online supplier of all manner of handbag making supplies (I am a big fan of her metal purse frames, which I used for my collection with Eden Cottage Yarns). The leather straps come in several colours, and I love the flash of red against the green yarn.

You can find Love Crochet in the shops now (or order online). For details of DMC yarns click here, and visit the Bag Clasps website, click here.

FInally, if you want to know what I’ve been up to when I’m not crocheting and designing, all non yarn related blog posts can be read here.

Love to Knit, Love to Crochet

Knitting Loves Crochet by Candi Jensen

I’ve always been “bistitchual”. I’m just as happy with needles and yarn as I am with a hook. I learnt both skills early on and sometimes I’ll even combine the two in a single project. (My knitted baby blanket for Craftseller for instance had a pretty crochet trim).  It always surprises me that other yarn enthusiasts think that combining both crafts is unusual or even a little bit “edgy”. For years knitters have been learning to crochet just so they can add a pretty trim to a baby cardigan or join knitted squares together. Both crafts have their strengths and like many yarn lovers I’ll choose the most appropriate tools for the job, stranded colourwork and fairisle just beg to be knitted (tapestry and jaquard crochet can never quite match the details, drape and finish) while amigurumi whips up fabulous toys, which are robust enough to withstand a toddler’s love and attention.

I’ve often wondered why there is such a fierce “rivalry” between knitters and crocheters? Just a couple of years ago a knitting magazine received sackloads of mail complaining there were “too many” crochet patterns in it’s latest issue and it’s rare to find a magazine that gives equal weight to both skills. I picked up a copy of Candi Jensen’s book “Knitting Loves Crochet” a few years ago, it’s now well thumbed and I still pick it up when I’m looking for inspiration or ideas. There are other books available which combine both skills, but this is my favourite.

So, how can you combine both skills in one project? Here’s my top three “bistitchual tricks” to entice knitters into the world of crochet:*

1. The crochet cast off.

This simple technique gives a firm edge You can find a video tutorial for the knitted cast off over on New Stitch A Day.

2. The provisional cast on.

A provisional cast on is used when you need to a “live” row of stitches, perhaps to graft the beginning and end of a project to make a cowl, or if you’re working a scarf and want both ends to be identical. You can find a really helpful guide to the crochet provisional cast on over at the Purl Bee blog.

3. A simple crochet trim.

A simple shell trim (or scalloped edge)  can enhance any knitters repetoire. Use it to edge a knitted blanket or to give a feminine touch to a plain baby cardigan. You’ll need some basic crochet skills for this one, ask a crocheting friend to show you how or take a look  Very Pink Knits  brilliant video explaining the technique( aimed at knitters), you can find it on Youtube. I’ve embedded her introduction to crochet for knitters above. If you haven’t come across Staci’s  tutorials before, check out her website. I recommend them a lot to my pupils (why make my own when someone else has done such a great job?)

I’d love to know, are you “bistitchual”, do you have  a favourite way to combine both skills in one project?

*I’ll look at knitting for crocheters in another post)

Free Crochet Patterns (& More to Come)

Button_mitts_medium2Slowly, very slowly I am adding all my free patterns to Granny Cool. It’s a slow process. The new book is at the editing stage (still lots of samples to make). We’ve done a couple of shoots and I’m desperate to share some images with you and tell you about the amazing collaborators who are designing and working with me. Meanwhile, if you click on the images in the right hand sidebar you can find the first of my free patterns. More will be added as and when I can.

Of course I’ve chosen a few of my favourites to start with. I’ve always loved this photo (taken by Britt Spring for Inside Crochet). She makes a simple design look so elegant don’t you think?). I was thrilled when they agreed to let me use this photo to accompany the release of these stylish wrist warmers.

Don’t forget, in between blog posts, you can follow me on twitter and instagram, I’d love it if you came and said hello.

 

Time to Celebrate

Issue 64 of Inside Crochet is now on sale, as always I cannot choose my favourite project from this issue, Claire Montgomerie’s Aster Wrap is beautiful (I’m loving the colour).

Aster Wrap, photo credit; Lucy Williams for Tailormade Publishing

Can’t you just imagine a summer evening, watching the sun go down with this elegant wrap covering your shoulders?

I’m also thrilled to say that I have a feature in this issue on the subject of crochet celebrations. The set has been beautifully photographed by Leanne Dixon and Claire (the editor) has styled it beautifully.  Along with the patterns for garland, bunting and little heart shaped “cake pops”, you’ll find lots of advice for hosting your own crochet party and tips for getting everyone involved in making a truly handmade celebration. Here’s a few images to get your creative juices going. Look out for Issue 64 in the shops now.

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo Credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo Credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing

New Patterns for Sale

bobble wreathI have uploaded some new patterns to my Ravelry store. They are suitable for beginners. Most of the patterns are “bundles”, in other words, you get more than one pattern included (for example, the desk set has patterns for pencil pot, ipad cover, iphone cosy, flower garland and coasters). here are a few pics to show you what’s on offer this month: I know this brightly coloured bauble wreath will be popular as it’s so simple and makes a great portable project (the baubles are  made individually and then glued on).

This kitchen set has the pattern for chilli string, egg cosies and pot holders

The Rainbow Desk Set would make an ideal pattern for a teenager

A Vintage Style Bedroom Set

All the patterns will be for sale in my Etsy shop by the end of the week. Also for sale:

Crochet Doily Rug pattern

Free Patterns for Easter

2013-03-29 09.59.08My garden is full of spring bulbs, the dawn chorus has begun to wake us and Mr T has brought the wooden garden furniture out of hibernation. This can only mean one thing: Easter is almost upon us.  These tiny Easter eggs are made in just a few minutes and are ideal for using up your stash. They look fabulous strung with ribbon from tree branches, added to spring display or just for a bit of Easter whimsy! You can buy polystyrene eggs in most craft shops.

Pattern:

Each egg uses up a tiny amount of yarn. I used scraps of dk and 4 ply mercerised cotton and a 3mm hook.

Make 4ch, join to form a ring and work in spirals as follows:

Round 1: 6 dc into ring

Round 2: 2 dc in each dc (12dc)

Work in a spiral until the cover fits 2/3 of the way down the egg (working from pointy end downwards).

Round 3:  (1 dc, 2dc) to end of round. Work 2 rounds without increasing. Slip the cosy on the egg. Fasten off yarn and draw the tail through the last round of stitches. You can easily adapt this to any size egg.

I also discovered that if you use pure wool (not superwash), they felt quite successfully, giving all kinds of opportunities to embellish with a bit of needle felting or freehand embroidery.

If tiny eggs aren’t your thing, maybe this little fella is more your style?

bunny egg cosyThis pattern is amde in a spiral, do not turn and do nut join each round with a slip stitch.

Using dk cotton and a 3.5mm hook make an adjustable ring, make 6dc into the ring.

Round1: 2 dc in each dc. 12 dc

Round 2: [1 dc, 2 dc in next dc] 6 times. 18 dc

Round 3: [2 dc, 2 dc in next dc] 6 times. 24 dc

Continue in dc rounds until your cosy is your desired length. Fasten off yarn, weave in ends.

Make two ears by making 5 ch, 2 dc in 2nd ch from hook, dc to end of chain, Fasten off.

Sew the ears to the top of the cosy. Use tiny beads for eyes and a nose and small lengths of black thread for whiskers. With a few little tweak, he becomes a little Easter chick (just make in yellow, sew the ears to the sides as wings).

chick egg cosy 2

NB: Pattern written in UK crochet terms.

Circle in A Square Motif

This is one of the classic crochet motifs and one of my favourites. I wrote a simple version of the pattern for Craftseller magazine, way back in September 2012, and it’s one I use quite often.  You can easily join this motif to make blankets or even a small cushion like the one I designed for Craftseller.

I know that not everyone finds it easy to follow a written pattern (but persevere it’s a skill which opens a whole world of crochet patterns to you), so I was really happy to see fellow designer Vicki Brown had made a tutorial for this classic motif over on her blog. Even better is the fabulous little time lapse video she posted on her facebook page. Pop over and take a look I really admire Vicki’s designs and love reading her blog.

Don’t forget , if you’re looking for more crochet inspiration you can click on the free patterns tab here for more ideas and simple makes.