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

Fabulous Bright Cushions

20150322_145423My new chunky cushions have been very popular this week. I am just in love with these colours and on a 6mm hook they can be made in just a couple of hours.

The wool is from Herdy and is 100% British Wool (yes – “properly British” – from sheep  reared and sheared right here in the UK), Herdy are based in Cumbria and make the cutest collection of products in addition to their range of wool. I first met them at Woolfest and loved them! No, the wool base isn’t Herdwick, but the wool is sourced in the UK and dyed in a vibrant range of colours. Some of the cushions are trimmed in undyed Herdwick (donated from my Mother in Law’s stash). You could say these are  a truly Cumbrian product, made in Cockermouth, with wool from a Cumbrian company and trimmed with local  wool. That’s not a bad provenance eh?

20150322_145002I will be releasing the patterns for some of the cushions  shortly. But, the “Big Granny” is easy to make for yourself without a pattern and I’ve written the instructions below so you can make one for yourself.

20150322_144943 Just in case you need a reminder of granny square basics, I’ve linked to a new video I found recently on youtube which is easy to follow (and uses UK crochet terms)*. Most learn to crochet books include a tutorial, check out your local library for books such as Emma Varnam’s “Learn to Crochet”, or Dorling Kindersley “The Complete Guide to Crochet” (shameless plug – you’ll find a couple of granny square projects by me in there!)

To make your own cushion:

You’ll need a 6mm hook and Herdy Wool in your favourite colours (if you want to make a plain or two colour  square you’ll need two balls), a 35cm cushion pad and a couple of hours.

  1. Follow your favourite granny square pattern until the square is just smaller than your cushion pad (that took 10 rounds for me). Fasten off yarn and weave in all your ends.  For a larger cushion, just make more rounds.
  2. Join the two squares with a double crochet seam around three sides (worked with wrong sides together). Slip in the cushion pad and complete the seam around the last side.

And that’s it, a simple cushion which will give any home the “Wow” factor! I also made some larger cushions by adding an extra round.

If you can’t crochet, don’t despair, the full range of cushions is for sale in Gallery Artemis, Main St, Cockermouth and they will be available in my Etsy shop very soon.

 Links

*You can find Sarah Shrimpton’s video on how to make a granny square here. (A word of advice – despite the current trend to use a magic loop for all crochet in the round; for homewares and items which will get a lot of wear and tear (such as blankets and cushions) I still recommend the chain ring. It’s easy to make, secure and won’t work undone! If the worst does happen, Claire Montgomerie walks you through the perfect granny square repair here).

You can buy Herdy Wool online from Baa Baa Brighouse, the friendliest online retailer and delivery is super speedy!.

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.

 

 

Granny Cool Loves…

House of Holland Granny Square Scarf

Granny squares – they never go out of style! A few years back House of Holland wowed the catwalk with their amazing granny inspired collection, including a granny square scarf  (the kind most of us crocheters have at least one of). Sarah London (another lover of the granny square wrote this piece about the collection and I’ve noticed several “instagrammers” recently sporting their own interpretation of this classic fashion accessory. Even the fabulous shop Tea and Crafting picked up the story this week!

My own favourite interpretation of the Granny Scarf is Claire Montgomerie’s Granny Square Cowl (which pre dates the House of Holland collection), but is ideal if you’re looking for a pattern to make your own. If you’ve never made a granny square, there are dozens of crochet tutorials online, check out Sarah London for a pattern and lots more inspiration.

Granny Cowl by Claire Montgomerie for Inside Crochet