Tin & Hairpin

Now, I know I said I was having a ‘hook hiatus’ but a few things have come up recently to bring my mind back to crochet, if not hands and wool yet. One is an article commission which regrettably hasn’t come together in time due to problems with images, but hopefully will go ahead this time next year when all that is sorted out..

The others were spotted on a trip to the Midlands to visit a friend for an all too brief couple of days. We tootled over to Stratford Upon Avon and couldn’t resist the lure of a secondhand bookshop where I spied a publication that I knew I’d regret not getting. Of course I bought it! Quite a rare find, I think.

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The other was a piece of filet crochet in the Mission Church (or the ‘Tin Church’ as it was also known) at the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings – where historic buildings retire when in danger of being pulled down! It’s worth a visit if you’re ever in Worcestershire. The tin church originally stood in Bringsty Common, Herefordshire, and was moved to the museum in 1995. I’m not sure if the crochet was also original – the information stated that the church had been maintained well after it had closed: the interior of the church was complete and that the font, lectern, pulpit, pews and vestments were rescued before dismantling, but the organ had to be restored.

It just goes to show…  crochet pops up even when you’re not looking for it (or trying to ignore it!)

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Fear of Floats

I’ve never been a big fan of Fair Isle and other stranded knitting. For some reason, the ‘floats’ on the reverse side put me off. But I really enjoy Kate Davies’ blog and have been inspired by some of her designs to give the technique a go.

Yesterday, I took part in Juju Vail’s Fair Isle workshop at Loop down here in London. It was an all day event and by 5pm, my mind was spinning like a whirligig beetle. We covered a lot, so there is much to practise in order to fix processes in my muscle memory. To start with, there was magic loop knitting, then continental knitting, then the Fair Isle method, and to round it all off, a look at steeking. Phew! I have to say, I’m not very fond of this magic loop malarkey. It seems very faffy, and all that extra length of cable doesn’t half get itself in the way. Annoying! But I’m not giving up on it just yet, and the Fair Isle itself was not as tricky as you might think.

I’m glad I attended a workshop – any problems or “eek!” moments are dealt with before too much frustration sets in. We all know how much this can hinder progress and motivation! For instance, someone in the class said she tried to teach herself magic loop, but the ‘ladder’ that appeared when switching back and forth between needles put her off. Juju assured us this was a temporary problem which would sort itself out as the piece of work grows, and blocking would help even this all out (unlike with dpns? I didn’t think to ask this..)

If you’re new to stranded knitting and live in London – or not too much further afield (like America! One woman on the workshop was from “the left side” of the States, and was in the UK for as much holiday crafting as she could squeeze in) – I recommend a workshop with Juju. She’s dynamic, patient, encouraging and positive.. as all good teachers are!

As for those Fair Isle patterns by Kate Davies that I’ve idly had my eye on for a while.. I’m that little bit closer to being able to make one. But there is a queue. Isn’t there always?!

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First attempts at magic loop, continental and Fair Isle knitting

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Friend or Foe?

… when an F.O. becomes an enemy!

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It’s taken me a while to get around to this pattern. It’s Dora Ohrenstein’s Perfect Fit Raglafrom issue 27 of Inside Crochet (way back in March 2012). I’ve finally hooked it up. and the result is a massive disappointment! It doesn’t fit, though I thought I’d swatched and taken correct measurements. Plus the seaming isn’t up to scratch – it ain’t easy sewing together lacy pieces, and I’m beginning to realise why people work seamlessly! I never really minded seaming before.. So this Finished Object became a Failed Object, thus a Fo(e)!

Phooey to it!

Okay, so ya win some ya lose some, right? Failure is an opportunity to learn and develop. However, I’ve also encountered obstacles in part 2 of the International Diploma in Crochet – namely, communication difficulties with my tutor. She just doesn’t ‘get’ what I’m saying or asking. I know communication is a two-way thing, but I don’t know how to make myself any clearer! It’s very dispiriting. So after raising the subject with said tutor, I’ve decided to have a ‘hook hiatus’. I’m returning to (ssh!) knitting for a while. Prior to the IDC, I knitted and crocheted in fairly equal measure, but have rarely picked up the needles since registering. I have a long-neglected queue of knit projects to be getting on with. This isn’t to say that I’ve outgrown crochet or that I think knitting is the better craft. I just require an interlude. My crochet will undoubtedly be better off for it.

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Phone Sock

What to do with a forsaken crocheted sock experiment? Turn it into a cover for my new phone, that’s what!

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I decided to get with the times and obtain a smartphone, seeing as the knackered old Nokia that I’d had for yonks had given up the ghost. In an attempt to be socially responsible, I went for the FairPhone 2 developed by the Phone Co-operative. Looking to the future, I thought a smartphone might be good when (if!) I eventually set up shop, and I now have the option of Instagram.

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My new purchase just so happens to fit snuggly into a top-down sock design I was working on a few months ago. I stopped at the heel, and this sock leg conveniently formed a woolly envelope to protect the phone from grime etc – I’m a gardener for a living, and have noticed that bits of nature find their way into the guts of gadgets surprisingly easily!

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It’s pleasing to re-purpose a UFO, utilizing something that has been hanging around for a while. Now to think of some good use for all those swatches I have sitting around being a nuisance…

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Roses in a concrete jungle

As my “work an octagon from the centre using some detail of interest” submission for IDC Part 2, I chose to do the rosebud motif I found on Dearest Debi’s website

http://dearestdebi.com/crochet-flower-bud-granny-octagon

I decided to use grey as the background rather than white, partly as I wanted to do a spot of stash busting, but also because I thought of a theme: greening up the cityscape. My suggested project is to turn this into a “Roses in a Concrete Jungle” bedspread, interspersing the rosebud motif with plain grey octagons..

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Well, of course I’m going to think of something like that – I’m a gardener for a living and found my vocation through an interest in environmental conservation and wildlife. As a city girl, I realised we can do a lot for biodiversity in an urban context through gardening. Clink.. is that the sound of a penny dropping..?

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Hidden Possibilities

There are hidden possibilities that lurk within limitation, like woodlice under a pot. Consider the humble, nay boring, double crochet stitch. I’m not a fan generally , but one of the compulsory submissions for IDC Part 2 requires that we produce a textured crochet fabric using only dc related stitches. This means no chains other than turning chains, no sneaky double trebles against a background of dc to create bobbles etc. Just dc, extended dc, dc in the back loop only, and such like.

This limitation is interesting because it forces us not to rely on the taller stitches to supply texture, but to explore the boundaries of the dc stitch itself. Here is what I came up with:

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Surprising, isn’t it? In addition to the basic dc, I used exdc, dc front loop only, and dc worked into the back loop of the previous row, as well as a kind of puff (with exdc substituting for the more usual treble).

Now I have to think what use I might put this fabric to…

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Challenges of P2

One of the challenges of Part 2 of the International Diploma in Crochet is the information we are required to include with each compulsory sample. (For those who don’t want to do pattern-writing, there is the option to do just the practical work.) It is requested we propose how the crochet submitted might be used in a project. This is beneficial as it encourages us to think creatively, even for stitches or techniques we may not enjoy or even downright loathe!

I’m finding it very easy to suggest ‘blanket’ for most submissions. But I’m sure Pauline (Turner, my tutor, and IDC founder) would not be impressed if I made the same suggestion for each submission! But as we should also include alternative ideas, this helps to ‘think outside the box’. I think it is a very useful process, so that we don’t churn out concepts or designs that are conventional and run-of-the-mill.

It’s not just the stitch that we must consider in our suggestions, but also the yarn which completed the stitch, and how together these might be utilised. Take this circle (okay, so it has hexagonal tendencies!) which was to be worked in double crochet using any dk yarn:

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I chose SWTC’s Bamboo yarn. I’ve never used bamboo fibre before, but I have read that it has good drape. This lead me to ponder.. hm.. maybe this sample could be made into a tablecloth, with some kind of motifs worked in as edging or something. I wonder if dk thickness is too chunky for this purpose, but I’ll wait and see what Pauline thinks… 

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