Clara Bolster

This is another design that is perfect for using up all your odds and ends to make a multi stripe project, or if you have single balls of a similar weight, you can combine them to make repeating stripes. The original version used Rowan Pure Wool Aran, which has sadly been discontinued. But, there is a handy substitution guide on the Rowan website if you want to choose an alternative from their range. Or, substitute any Aran weight yarn – Paintbox Yarns Pure Wool Worsted would be great and has very generous yardage.

I used a variation of half treble, which is worked into the space between stitches to create a lovely linen stitch effect that is perfect for stripes. When you join theyarn for each round, simply work your first stitch into the same place you joined the yarn to create lovely even stripes. Work over the yarn ends as you crochet so you don’t need to weve them in when you finish.

This design first appeared in issue 49 of Inside Crochet and was reprinted in several compendium editions here and in Germany. Digital editions of the magazine are available from Inside Crochet or you can fnd the pattern pdf for the Clara Bolster on Payhip or 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.

Shop Your Yarn Stash

Photo credit: Kirsten Mavric for Inside Crochet

This year, with the continuing lack of access to bricks and mortar yarn stores due to the Covid restrictions I have been drawn back to my yarn stash.

My “stash” of yarn isn’t huge. I tend to buy what I need as I need it. But, I do have a few special skeins bought at yarn festivals or from my favourite wool shops. I also have lots of wool left over from design commissions and a few balls sent to me by yarn companies. These tend to sit in boxes or on shelves, forgotten and unloved. So, this year I have been inspired by the beauty trend to #shopyourstash – where beauty bloggers have been using their existing products instead of constantly buying new “stuff”.

Of course, there’s an environmental and sustainability angle to this – it’s much better to use what we have than to always be buying new, but this also about opportunities to use and love what we have in a time when our choices are restricted.

I know lots of us are reluctant to break into those “special skeins” of luxury yarns for sentimental reasons, or because we’re worried we won’t do them justice. So this year I’ll be encouraging you to be braver and more resourceful, to use what you have, to rediscover the joy of “making do” and making room – so that when are able to visit our yarn stores again we can stock up with a clear conscience (well, “clearish” at any rate)! Each week (I hope) I’ll be sharing a new design or an old favourite here and on my Instagram feed, some will show how you how to use up odds and ends of yarn, others will be single skein projects and others will combine yarns in new or unusual ways in order to make the best of what you have. I’ll give you ideas for suitable yarns and fibres, suggest an appropriate choice if you need to buy something new and hopefully we’ll all learn more about the qualities of yarn fibres and be more confident to wind those skeins and put them to good use.

I know lots of yarn bloggers and influencers have started stashbusting themed projects this year, but this is slightly different. It’s a challenge to myself and an opportunity to unpack the boxes of yarn that have sat in the corner of my craft studio since we moved a year ago. I hope you’ll feel inspired to join in and share your makes with me as we progress.

To start us off, this week’s project is a true stashbuster and one of my consistently popular downloads.

The Stashbuster Pouffe, first appeared in issue 54 of Inside Crochet magazine, so if you hang on to your back copies, you may already have it. Alternatively, you’ll find a purchase link at the end of this post.

This design is worked in rounds of double crochet, so the right side is always facing you. This means you can weave in the many ends of yarn as you go along – and any “mess” is hidden on the wrong side! The size is easily adjusted and you can use any yarns so long as they’re all a similar weight.

Before you begin, you’ll need to seek out all your left over scraps and part balls. Orgaise them by size, starting with the smallest oddments and begin with those. You can either put all your yarn in a big basket and choose at random, or pick colour sequences that appeal to you. Whichever method you choose, bold and bright is the way to go – and don’t be worried about clashing colours – it will all work out in the end!

One of the advantages of this design is you don’t need to complete each round in the same colour, in fact it looks better if you change colours in different places each round as this makes the colour changes less obvious.

Mark the first stitch of each round with a stitch marker to keep track of increasing and a row counter or scrap of paper and pencil will help you make the correct number of increases on each round.

My sample for Inside Crochet used cotton yarns, but you can use a variety of fibres, just make sure they’re all a similar weight or thickness. I used double knitting (DK) yarn, but you could use 4 ply or aran weight if you have lots of those in your collection.

Don’t forget, many of our favourite yarn stores also sell online, so if you can’t find the perfect yarn for any of these projects, you can always buy something new, confident that you’ll have a better chance of choosing an appropriate yarn.

Above all, have fun and enjoy your make. This is definitely the time of year for curling up with easy projects, with a cup of tea at your side and maybe your favourite box set on the tv or podcast in the background. Let’s be kind to ourselves, indulge in some fun projects and make the best of what we have.

You can buy the Stashbuster Pouffe pattern on Love Crafts

Next week, look out for the Vintage Flower Blanket – another stashbusting project, this one uses tiny motifs joined “as you go” to make a stunning blanket – this photo shows the one my Dad made in the 1970’s – still loved and used today!